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History 416/516

Paul Moyer
Office: Brown 145
Office hours: MF 1:15-2:15pm, TR 11:30am-12:30pm, or by appointment
Office phone: 395-5681

HST 416/516
Colonial North America
Fall 2008
TR, 9:45-11:15am, Edwards 106

I. Course Description & Objectives:
     This course is designed to meet three goals: first, to familiarize you with the history of colonial North America from the advent of European overseas expansion in the 15th century to the collapse of North America’s European empires in the late-18th century; second, to expose you to a wide range of scholarship in this field; and, third, to provide you with an opportunity to produce an substantial independent research paper on a topic dealing with colonial North America.
     The course is organized both chronologically and topically. In order to highlight how the dynamics that shaped colonial North America changed over time, I have divided the class into four parts: the first focuses on the 16th century, the second on the 17th century, and the last two on the 18th century. Besides this temporal framework, there are three themes that thread their way through this class: (1) we will focus on colonial America as a cultural frontier—on how it became the setting for the interaction of diverse Indian, African, and European peoples; (2) we will look at colonial America from an imperial perspective—examining how Spain, France, England, and Holland approached empire building in North America and how the continent and its inhabitants became a prize over which these European powers struggled; (3) we will explore how colonial societies took root and evolved in North America.
     These themes reflect what I see as the multiple and not always complimentary agendas of any course on colonial North America. On the one hand, knowledge of colonial (especially British) America is a critical foundation to any later study of the American Revolution and the foundations of the United States. On the other hand, any colonial history course worth its salt cannot simply be a search for the origins of the United States and American nationhood. Indeed, the greatest lesson colonial history has to offer is that early American history is not simply a story of British colonists taming a wilderness and becoming “Americans.” On the contrary, it is a tale that cannot be told without including the perspectives of non-English, non-European peoples and without casting our eyes beyond the borders of the present-day United States.
     To succeed in this class you need a basic familiarity with early American history (HST 211 or its equivalent) and a solid foundation in historical research methods (HST 390). Moreover, you must faithfully attend class, be attentive and inquisitive during class lectures, carefully read and thoughtfully reflect upon class readings, consistently share your views in class discussions, clearly articulate your ideas in writing assignments, and diligently work on your independent research projects.
II. Class Readings: There are no assigned books for this course—all readings are in the form of articles and book chapters available on e-reserve though this course’s “Angel” web-page (see Part VI of the syllabus for directions on how to access Angel). You are required to make your own copies of these readings and bring them to class on the days we discuss them. Your inability to download readings will not be considered an excuse for you not to be prepared for class discussions. In other words, don’t wait till the night before a reading is due to try to print it out!

III. Requirements & Assignments:
A. Class Participation & Attendance: I cannot stress enough that this course depends upon your thoughtful and consistent participation. In short, participation in class is not optional and I expect each of you to carefully read class readings and to share your thoughts in class. Of course, you have to come to class in order to participate in it. Thus, the quality of your attendance will have a significant impact on your class participation grade. Accruing more than two unexcused absences will be considered grounds for receiving a failing grade for class participation. Additional unexcused absences will result in additional penalties. If possible, be sure to let me know before you miss a class if you have legitimate reason is for doing so. Doctor’s/health center notes and other forms of documentation may be required to obtain an excused absence.

B. Class Discussions: Discussions of class readings are a core feature of this course. During these sessions you will have the opportunity to exchange ideas and express your views. The quality of these discussions is critical to the success, not only of the class as a whole, but to your individual efforts to grasp the readings’ arguments.
To properly analyze class readings and prepare for class discussions, follow the five-step process outlined below. My expectation is that each of you will be prepared to address these questions during class discussions.

  1. Find the author’s thesis—what essential point(s) is the author trying to make about their topic?
  2. Map out the author’s argument—what major points does the author make to prove their thesis—in what order does he/she present these points and why?
  3. Evaluate the evidence—what evidence does the author present to support his/her argument—is the evidence they present adequate—what are its limitations?
  4. Make connections—how does the author’s work relate to other class readings—how does it challenge or confirm their arguments?
  5. Strengths & weaknesses—what does, and doesn’t, the author do well in terms of presenting and proving their argument?

C. Lectures: A portion of each of our meetings will feature a lecture. They serve two goals: first, to furnish you with a broad overview of chronology, events, and major issues in the history of the American frontier; and, second, to provide background and context for our class readings. I like to make my lectures as interactive as possible—I encourage you to ask questions and I will certainly pause from time to time to pose questions to you. Moreover, in order to help you more systematically reflect on the information and ideas you will encounter in my lectures, I will usually devote about 10-15 minutes of class to a more formalized period of discussion. Specifically, I will ask you to break into small groups and give you about 5 minutes to come up with a question concerning the day’s lecture. Each group will then present their question as a way to spark further dialogue.

D.  Integrative Essays: You are required to write two 5-6 page “integrative essays” over the course of the semester. In each you will have to answer a question using class readings and lecture notes to support your argument. I will give you more details on these papers, including the questions you’ll need to address, closer to their due dates.
     The purpose of these papers is to get you to think critically about material presented in this class. Moreover, they are designed to improve your skills in constructing an argument and presenting it in clear, persuasive prose. To do well in these assignments you must not only articulate a point of view, but also adequately back up your ideas with supporting evidence (i.e. with specific references/examples drawn from course readings).
     These papers must be handed in during class on their due dates (see Part V of the syllabus). Late papers will be penalized one whole letter grade for each day they are late (i.e. a “B+” paper handed in a day late would only receive a “C+”). Papers more than three days late will automatically receive a failing grade. This does not mean that you should not hand in a paper if it is more than three days late: failure to turn in one of your papers is grounds for receiving a failing grade in the class.
     Finally, to help you develop your writing skills, you have the option of turning in a draft of your interpretive essays. You must turn in your drafts at least a week before a paper is due (e.g. for a paper due on a Thursday, you must turn it in by the previous Friday by 12pm). I will get your drafts back to you by the class before the paper is due at the latest. You should use the comments I make on your draft to guide your efforts in revising it. Finally, when you hand in the final draft of your paper you must also turn in your first draft.

E. Research Paper: In addition to your two short papers, each of you is required to write a 18+ page research paper (25+ pages for graduate students) on a topic dealing with colonial North America. Your final research paper must meet the following criteria:

  • It must have a clearly articulated thesis.
  • It must forward a clear argument supported by evidence.
  • It must contain well-written sentences that are organized into well-structured paragraphs that coherently follow one another.
  • It must incorporate both “primary” and “secondary” historical sources.
  • It must avoid all forms of plagiarism and contain properly formatted citations of all sources.

F. Research Paper Progress Reports: Besides handing in the final copy of your research paper, you are required to hand in a series of research “progress reports” over the course of the semester (see Part V of the syllabus for due dates). I will give you more information on what I expect for each assignment closer to their due dates. Failure to hand in these reports or handing them in late will lower your research paper's final grade.

  • Research paper proposals: You must hand in a list of 3 potential research paper topics. Each entry should clearly state its topic in no more than 3 sentences.
  • Preliminary paper prospectus & bibliography: Your draft paper prospectus must include a brief description of your project and a preliminary bibliography (using Chicago Manual of Style format) containing at least 6 sources, 1 of which must be a primary source.
  • Final paper prospectus & annotated bibliography: Your final prospectus must include a 1-2 page description of your research paper. You must also hand in an annotated bibliography (using Chicago Manual of Style format) containing at least 10 sources. Each bibliographic entry must be followed by a 2-3 sentence “annotation” that briefly describes the source’s content and relevance.
  • Outline of research paper: To complete this assignment you need to hand in a 1-2 page outline of your research paper.
  • Draft introduction of research paper: You must hand in a draft of your research paper’s introduction (should be about 2 pages). It must be grammatically sound, have properly structured paragraphs, and include properly formatted citations.
  • Partial draft of research paper: You must hand in a partial draft of your research paper of approximately 6 pages in length that builds upon (includes) your draft introduction. It must be grammatically sound, have properly structured paragraphs, and include properly formatted citations.
  • Complete draft of research paper: You must hand in a complete draft of your research paper including a title page, properly formatted citations, and bibliography. This draft must be grammatically sound, have properly structured paragraphs, and exhibit a logical flow between paragraphs. You must hand in your complete draft with your final version of your research paper. 

G. Paper Format: For all written assignments, follow the guidelines specified in the History department's "Writing Style" handout attached to this syllabus.

H. Presentation: You are required to make a formal, 10-minute presentation concerning your research project at the end of the semester. I will give you more details on this presentation, including its specific requirements and advice on how to approach it, as the semester progresses. 

IV. Grades & Grading: Your final grade will be calculated as follows.
A. Course Grade: For HST 416: research paper = 40%; class participation = 20%; integrative essays = 15% each (total of 30%); class presentation = 10%.
    For HST 516: research paper = 50%; class participation = 20%; integrative essays = 10% each (20% total); class presentation = 10%.

B. Written Assignments: I evaluate papers based on the following categories: 1) Does your essay meet the basic requirements of the assignment? 2) Do you present a strong thesis statement/argument? 3) How thorough and persuasive is your analysis? 4) Is your paper well written—is it organized, clear, and grammatically correct? 5) Does your paper follow the guidelines laid out for its format? I assign grades as follows:
A         Your essay demonstrates complete mastery of the material presented combined with some originality. It is well organized, well written, and largely free from errors in grammar, usage, and format.
B          Your essay shows a solid command of the material with some minor gaps or mistakes. It is generally presented in an orderly fashion with supporting evidence. It is well written and free from serious errors in grammar, usage, and format.
C         Your essay reflects an uneven understanding of the material with some major gaps/mistakes in its analysis. It exhibits substantial lapses in organization and evidence and contains some serious errors in grammar, usage, and format.
D         Your essay only demonstrates a minimal knowledge of the material. Its analysis is confused, disorganized, and unsubstantiated. It contains numerous, serious errors in grammar, usage, and format.
E          Your essay fails to engage the material. It is incomprehensible both in terms of analysis and writing.

C. Oral Presentations: I evaluate class presentations based on two major criteria: (1) “delivery”—your pacing, level of eye-contact, audibility, and how engaging the presentation is overall; and (2) “content”—your ability to clearly, thoroughly, and accurately convey the material you present. I assign grades as follows:
A         Your presentation was engaging, clear, and thoroughly covered all relevant points within the time allotted.
B          Your presentation demonstrated efforts to make it engaging, was generally clear, and adequately covered all relevant points within the time allotted.
C         Your presentation demonstrated some deficiencies in terms of its delivery and suffered some lapses in terms of clarity and coverage. It filled the time allotted.
D         Your presentation suffered from serious deficiencies in terms of its delivery and major lapses in clarity and coverage. It did not fill the time allotted.
E          Critical failures in terms of delivery, coverage, and length.

D. Class Participation: I establish class participation grades based (1) on your level of participation and (2) on its quality. When evaluating quality, I consider whether participation has been voluntary or involuntary (i.e. I’ve had to call on you) and to what degree you’ve taken on a leadership role in discussions. I assign grades as follows:
A         Outstanding participation both in terms of quality and quantity.
B          Consistent, high-level, voluntary participation (a few times or more per class).
C         Consistent, low-level, voluntary participation (at least once per class).
D         Irregular participation (less than once per class)—only respond to prompts.
E          Consistent non-participation—failure to respond to prompts.

V. Class Schedule: Below you will find a listing of lectures (marked “L”) and discussions (marked “D”). The due dates for class assignments are set off by asterisks “**”. I will try to stick to this schedule as much as possible, but I reserve the right to make any changes I deem necessary. It is your responsibility to find out about any changes in the schedule.

Part I: The Genesis of Colonial North America, 1400-1600
Week 1:
T, Aug. 26:  Course Introduction
                    (L) The Indians’ Old World
R, Aug. 28: (D) Neal Salisbury, "The Indians' Old World" (435-53/19 pgs)
                    (L) Europe at the Crossroads

Week 2:
T, Sept. 2: (D) Nicholas Canny, “The Ideology of English Colonization” (24 pgs);
William & Carla Phillips, “The Quest for Trade & Christians” (27 pgs)
                  (L) Outposts of Empire
                  ** Research paper proposals due**
R, Sept. 4: (D) Patricia Seed, “Taking Possession and Reading Texts” (27 pgs)
                  (L) Natives & Newcomers

Week 3:
T, Sept. 9: (D) James Axtell, "Through Another Glass Darkly" (19 pgs); Karen
Kupperman, "Reading Indian Bodies" (36 pgs)
                  (L) The Consequences of First Contact


Part II: Indians, Colonists & Empires in the Formation of
Colonial North America, 1600-1700
R, Sept. 11: (D) Bruce Trigger, "Early Native North American Responses to
European Contact” (21 pgs)
        (L) New Worlds of Warfare
        **Draft prospectus due**

Week 4:
T, Sept. 16: (D) Adam Hirsch, "The Collision of Military Cultures” (26 pgs); Daniel
Richter, "War and Culture” (32 pgs)
                    (L) A New World of Goods & Trade
R, Sept. 18: (D) Richard White, "The Fur Trade" (94-119, 128-41/40 pgs)
                    (L) The Battle over Belief

Week 5:
T, Sept. 23: (D) James Ronda, "We Are Well As We Are” (17 pgs); James Axtell, "The
Invasion Within” (41-62/20 pgs)
        (L) Empires of God
R, Sept. 25: (D) Amy Turner Bushnell, "Ruling ‘the Republic of Indians’” (17 pgs)
        (L) Empires of Settlement

Week 6:
T, Sept. 30: (D) Virginia Anderson, “Migrants and Motives” (339-56, 364-83/36 pgs);
James Horn, “Servant Emigration to the Chesapeake in the 17th Century” (51-87, 94-95/37 pgs)
                    (L) Empires of Commerce
R, Oct. 2:  (D) Peter Moogk, “Reluctant Exiles” (463-87, 497-505/33 pgs)
                  (L) The Indians’ Struggle for Independence
      ** Final prospectus due**

Week 7:
T, Oct. 7: (D) Virginia Anderson, "King Philips' Herds” (24 pgs); James Drake “Symbol
of a Failed Strategy” (31pgs)
     (L) Rebellion & Reform in British America


Part III: The Evolution of an Anglo/Afro-American Society, 1670-1760
R, Oct. 9: (D) Darrett & Anita Rutman, “The Road” (61-62, 69-93/27 pgs)
                 (L) The Southern Colonies
    **Integrative essay #1 due**


Week 8:
T, Oct. 14: Mid-semester break—no class
R, Oct. 16: (D) T.H. Breen, "Horses and Gentlemen” (19 pgs); Rhys Isaac, “Occasions:
Court Days, Race Meetings, Militia Musters, and Elections” (27 pgs)
                  (L) The Africans’ New World
                  ** Research paper outline due**

Week 9:
T, Oct. 21: (D) Ira Berlin, “From Creole to African” (252-72, 276-88/33 pgs); John
            Thornton, “On the Trail of Voodoo” (18 pgs)
      (L) Africans & Slavery in British America
R, Oct. 23: (D) Allan Kulikoff, “The Origins of Afro-American Society” (33 pgs)
                  (L) The Northern Colonies
      **Draft research paper introduction due**

Week 10:
T, Oct. 28: (D) Michael Zuckerman, "The Social Context of Democracy” (22 pgs); Gary
Nash, "The Transformation of Urban Politics” (28 pgs)
                  (L) Religious Awakenings & Consumer Revolutions
R, Oct. 30: (D) Frank Lambert, “’Peddler in Divinity’” (26 pgs)
                   (L) The Emergence of an Anglo-American Social Order 


Part IV: Indians, Colonists, & Empires in the Struggle for
Colonial North America, 1680-1780
Week 11:
T, Nov. 4: (D) Pauline Maier, “Popular Uprisings & Civil Authority” (33 pgs)
                 (L) Strangers in their Own Land
     **Partial draft of research paper due**
R, Nov. 6: (D) Michael McConville, "The Ohio Indians' World" (26 pgs); James Merrell,
“The Indians’ New World: The Catawba Experience” (29 pgs)
      (L) Imperial Policy & Society in French North America
Week 12:
T, Nov. 11: (D) Brett Rushforth, “Slavery, the Fox Wars, & the Limits of Alliance” (28
pgs); Winstanley Briggs, “Le Pays des Illinois” (27 pgs)
        (L) Indians, Colonists & the Struggle for Empire
R, Nov. 13: (D) Fred Anderson, “Why Did Colonial New Englanders Make Bad
Soldiers?” (20 pgs)
        (L) Britain’s Ragged Edge of Empire

Week 13:
T, Nov. 18: (D) Warren Hofstra, “’The Extension of his Majesties Dominions’” (1281-
98, 1311-12/19 pgs)
        (L) Crisis & Expansion in the Spanish Borderlands
         ** Complete draft of research paper due**
R, Nov. 20: (D) David Weber, “Bourbons and Bárbaros” (25 pgs); Steven Hackel, “The
Staff of Leadership” (347-66/20 pgs)
Week 14:
T, Nov. 25: Class presentations
R, Nov. 27: Thanksgiving Break—no class

Week 15:
T, Dec. 2: Class presentations
R, Dec. 4: Class presentations
                 **Research paper due**

**Integrative #2 due Thursday, Dec. 11 by 12pm**

VI. Final Notes:

  • I will not accept late work without penalty unless there is an unavoidable medical or family emergency--computer glitches are not considered unavoidable emergencies.
  • You must complete all required assignments in order to pass this class. Incompletes will not be given except under extreme and documented circumstances.
  • Plagiarism will not be tolerated. See the "Academic Honesty Code" in Your Right to Know & Academic Policies and Procedures Handbook to see what constitutes plagiarism. Also refer to the attached departmental policy concerning plagiarism.
  • I urge all of you to take advantage of my office hours if you have any questions about assignments, class readings, lectures, or if you just want to come by and share some of your ideas. Please feel free to schedule other meeting times with me if you cannot make it to my regular office hours.
    • University statement on students with disabilities: “I would appreciate hearing from anyone in this class who has a special need that may be the result of a disability. I am reasonably sure we can work out whatever arrangement is necessary, be it special seating, testing, or other accommodation.
    • This syllabus, class announcements, and all other course handouts will also be posted on the web via the university’s “Angel” course information system. To access Angel: 1) Go to the SUNY Brockport homepage ( and click on “Online Services,” 2) Click on “Angel,” 3) To log onto Angel enter your username and password (the same ones you use to access your campus e-mail account), 4) Click on the course you would like to access.
    • Electronic device policy: All electronic devices must be turned off during class. If you need to be available to receive calls, then you must tell me this in advance and, if I give consent, you can keep your cell phone on vibrate. I do not allow the use of laptop computers in class unless you need them for a registered disability. Any exceptions to these policies will be made on a case-by-case basis. 

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Last Updated 7/21/10


Our sincere congratulations to Matty Lynn Kuhar who won the 2016 School of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Undergraduate Award!

Dr. Alison Parker has been invited to be this year's Harriet Jacobs Lecturer at Purdue University. Her talk is entitled Mary Church Terrell, Black Women, and the Rise of the Democratic Party. 

Dr. Nishiyama has been invited to give a talk (title "Kamikaze Technology and Culture for War: Japan and the USA, 1941-2001") at the RIT.

Dr. Alison Parker facilitated significant donation of historical papers to Oberlin College and participates in its celebratory symposium on the life of racial justice advocate Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954).

Congratulations to Dr. Jose R. Torre on winning the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching!


History Forum will host Region 11&12 Meeting of the Association of Public Historians of New York State, on 4/30 (Saturday, from 9am to about 4pm) at McCue Auditorium (LAB104).

History Department Graduation Ceremony will be held in New York Room, Cooper Hall, at 10:30 am, May 14 (Saturday).