Schedule Colloquium Courses Projects Links


As a part of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Project, faculty and graduate students are encouraged to offer new upper-level undergraduate classes, perhaps devoted to original research, through their respective departments. These classes are designed to fall under the conceptual umbrella of the exploration, acquisition, and development of the American West.

Spring 2004

  • ARTH 491-4: Imagining America's West
    Maurie McInnis
  • The bicentennial of the trans-continental expedition led by Lewis and Clark has generated considerable attention. As part of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Project, this class will explore the many different ways in which visual artists have defined and redefined the West. In the early nineteenth century artists such as George Catlin, Albert Bierstadt, and Thomas Moran were fascinated with the western landscape and the Native Americans encountered there. Their images helped codify the mythic west in the American imagination. Later artists like Frederic Remington and Charles Russell helped popularize a western genre that was picked up in later movies and television. For other artists, including modernists Marsden Hartley and Georgia O’Keeffe, the western landscape inspired sustained exploration. This course will examine the work of these and other artists in exploring what the “West” has meant to the American imagination. Each member of the seminar will select a specialized research project and produce an oral presentation with slides and a formal research paper. There will also be two short writing assignments earlier in the semester.

  • ENAM 482C: Literature of the West
    J. Frank Papovich
  • In this course will examine a number of texts that evoke the landscapes, cultures, and modes of thinking, especially the imaginative--that were major components of the journey of the Corps of Discovery and the Journals of Lewis and Clark. While we will read broadly in the Journals, we will spend most of our time considering their resonance in modern and contemporary literature set in the West. The contemporary texts will be the work of several western authors will join us in late March as part of the University's Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Project's Celebration of the Literary West for a variety of private and public events. These events will include a visit to this class, a featured public panel discussion held on Friday evening, March 26, in Old Cabell auditorium as part of the Virginia Festival of the Book, and several public readings.. Please note that you must attend several public events scheduled as part of the University's Literary West celebration.

  • HIUS 220/TCC 200-6: Nature and Technology
    Betsy Mendelsohn
  • People make their place in the world by shaping its resources to their ends, and as toolmakers we shape these resources powerfully. Historians describe the United States as exceptional among nations because we are "nature's nation" and thrive on an abundance of natural resources, because we are a self-governing experiment initiated by the Revolution, and because our precocious ingenuity originated an "American system of manufacture" or factory production of identical objects with interchangeable parts. The three subjects of United States history, environmental history and history of technology come together in this survey. You will learn about big dams, industrial agriculture, remote sensing from satellites, urban planning, wildlife conservation, pollution control, and the role of the United States in international environmental problems and treaties, among other topics. In your three writing assignments for this class, you will write well organized essays about the interactions among nature, technology, the individual, and society. This class fulfills the CLAS second writing requirement and the SEAS requirement for TCC 2XX (HSS) courses. It meets twice weekly for lectures and once for section with Teaching Assistants Amanda Mushal and Eric Stoykovich.

  • HIUS 327: 20th Century American West
    Douglas Seefeldt
  • This course explores the twentieth-century American West on the ground as well as in the mind. On the map, the West appears to encompass much of the North American continent, including Alaska and Hawaii. We will study continuity and change in the recent social and political history of the region through such broad issues as economic development, urban growth, rural life, the politics of race, ethnicty, class, and gender, along with the environment and the role of the federal government. As an idea, however, the West seemingly knows no bounds; we will encounter Western imagery at nearly every turn, in popular film, fiction, and music, as well as in advertising, tourism, and religion.

    There are ultimately many American Wests, home to a variety of cultures with many stories woven together into a complex pattern of interconnectedness. The West is, as historian Richard White so profoundly puts it, "a series of doors pretending to be walls." Over the semester we will examine these doors for their potential links as to help us make connections between individuals, families, communities, regions, nation, and the world. Through books, videos, and discussions, we will venture through these doors in our quest to understand the modern American West.

Fall 2003

  • ANTH/HIUS 229: American Wests
    Jeffrey Hantman, Peter Onuf, Douglas Seefeldt
  • Anthropology professor Jeff Hantman, history professor Peter Onuf, and postdoctoral fellow Doug Seefeldt will lead this new and innovative course about the peoples and cultures of the American West. The course will range in chronological scope from initial human settlement through the twentieth century. Students will explore the many different ways in which Americans, and others, have defined and redefined the West. Sponsored by the University's Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Project, American Wests will incorporate the perspectives and methodologies of a number of other disciplines. Students can anticipate guest lectures from, for example, art historians, biologists, environmental scientists, and English professors. Topics will include images of the mythical West, Native American peoples and cultures, the environment and the extraction of natural resources, the development of public policy, and visual representations of the American West.

  • HIUS 271: American Environmental History
    Douglas Seefedlt
  • Humans have interacted with this continent since their arrival, and it is these various physical, social, and cultural interactions that we study this term. Part of our focus will be on the "how" when we survey the changing ways that humans depend upon and transform the natural world. Another part of our investigation will be into the "what" as we examine the various ways that humans perceive the natural world and attach different meanings to it. Finally, we also question the "why" as we consider the role nature plays in changing economies. In this way, the environment is an active participant in human history, not simply a passive backdrop to American progress.

Spring 2003

  • ANTH 368: Colonizations of the American West
    Lisa Lauria & William Carter

    This course examines the American West as a series of overlaid colonizations beginning with the initial migrations of people into the North American Continent and continuing through the present day. You will be exposed to the diversity of peoples, cultures, and environments of the American West and provoked to think critically about the West and its multiple colonizations. A focus on colonization will help us realize these goals by highlighting the movements of different peoples across the land, their adaptation to it and alterations of it, and their often violent confrontations with earlier occupants. Throughout, we will pay attention to how race, class, gender, and ethnicity conditioned peoples’ experiences. We will also consider how peoples’ physical and spiritual relationships to the land shaped and modified their colonizing efforts. The complexities of colonial encounters are a central topic in anthropological research, but Anthropology itself has been labeled a colonialist enterprise. We acknowledge both roles by looking not only at national, cultural, environmental, and religious colonizations, but also at intellectual colonization of the American West--primarily the rise of American anthropology.

  • ENAM 482F: Literature of the West: The Literary Legacy of Lewis & Clark
    Frank Papovich

    In this course will examine a number of texts that highlight the landscapes, cultures, and modes of thinking­-especially the imaginative--that were major components of the journey of the Corps of Northwest Discovery and the Journals of Lewis and Clark. While we will read broadly in the Journals, we will spend most of our time considering their resonance in modern and contemporary literature set the Great Plains, the Northern Rockies, and the Pacific Northwest. Authors will likely include Willa Cather, Wallace Stegner, A.B. Guthrie, Larry McMurtry, James Welch, Scott Momaday, and William Kittredge among others.

  • EVSC 376: The Watersheds of Lewis and Clark
    Janet Herman

    In this bicentennial year of the Lewis and Clark expedition, we will use their route to guide our exploration of the geology and hydrology of the western U.S., and, like John Wesley Powell, we will use the watershed as a unifying concept of the landscape. We will consider the geological history of North America in the context of how various terrains of the West formed: the High Plains, the Yellowstone region, the Snake River Plain, the Columbia Plateau, and the Cascade Mountains. We will look at processes that modify the landscape, including the action of glaciers and of rivers. We will investigate the environmental impact humans have had on the landscape that Lewis and Clark first described for us, especially how dams have changed rivers and watersheds.

    An appropriate background for this course would be a good Earth sciences course in high school, EVSC 101 Introduction to Environmental Sciences, or a general geology course such as EVSC 280 Introduction to Physical Geology. We will develop the needed geological and hydrological concepts, and the course will be more qualitative than quantitative. This course is appropriate for Environmental Sciences majors who want a more site-specific investigation of geological processes or an applied treatment of hydrological processes in a geological context. This course counts toward the major. This course is also appropriate for non-majors with a particular fascination for the landscape of the western U.S., the rivers that Lewis and Clark followed, or the environmental impact of human actions over that last 200 years. This course counts as a science elective.

  • HIUS 100A: Legal Resources on the Frontier
    Betsy Mendelsohn

    As Europeans settled North America, they traveled from established communities to the frontier. In addition to moving into less populated places with looser governance, people moved to strange new environments where they had to learn how to sustain the health and wealth of their communities. They took legal principles that worked in their old neighborhoods and analogized from them to create workable laws for their new situations. The laws we will examine closely concern public goods: land, water, air, public space, infrastructure, and wildlife. The process of people moving into new environments occurs worldwide, but the United States celebrates the frontier experience as part of our national character. We will identify the physical frontiers of human settlement from the 16th to the 21st centuries, always examining the interfaces among society, law and environment. We will learn how people settle wilderness and apply technology and law to making the land work for them. We will also find examples of people turning old landscapes into new ones through urbanization, suburbanization, industrialization, and redevelopment. We will identify particular efforts to conserve or restore landscapes to a particular moment in time, through historic and nature preservation. Throughout, we will notice that strongly held beliefs about private rights and public power shape the laws that steward natural resources for society.

  • HIUS 100B: How the West was Lost, 1850-1950
    Jack Brown

    This reading seminar examines the interplay between technological and environmental history in the American West. In concluding the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, Thomas Jefferson and his contemporaries believed they had created an enduring environmental foundation for an American economy based upon yeoman farming. In turn, they believed that economy would assure the continued vitality of the republican experiment. Within a century, that vision of the nation's ecology and political economy had been all but obliterated. The frontier "closed" in 1890, signaling the end of freely available agricultural land. By that time, large corporations engaged in railroading and mining played dominant roles in the Western political and ecological landscape. Through its control over public lands, the Federal government exerted powerful influence across the region. These and other western phenomena played crucial roles in the national shift after 1900 toward Progressive government and the activist Roosevelt presidency that signaled the final demise of Jefferson's republican vision. These changes in the land, and the political responses they evoked, also signaled the formation of modern America.

  • MDST 354: Media and the Mythic West
    Douglas Seefeldt

    Throughout the nineteenth century, biographies, fiction, exploration journals, art, dime novels and journalism created romantic, heroic, and often mythic, stories and characters set in the American West. Around the turn of the nineteenth century, Edward Curtis's photographs of Indians and historian Frederick Jackson Turner's "frontier thesis" challenged popular notions of the West. Geological surveys brought photographers to document remote areas, regional writers wrote compelling counternarratives critiquing the heroic accounts of explorers and settlers. These new naturalist views of the past rejected some of the earlier romantic visions of the "Wild West," and suggested a more complicated West. However, during the first decades of the twentieth century, popular western-themed works by authors such as Owen Wister and Zane Grey, and visual artists like Frederic Remington and Charles Russell, reached wide audiences both at home and abroad, establishing the "western" genre. During much of this past century, the mediums of film, music, radio, and television have expanded the appeal of the western throughout the nation and beyond its borders. But even as the traditional western stories took a firm hold, a revisionist trend emerged as writers, photographers, artists, and filmmakers explored the complicated "new" western stories that they encountered and envisioned in the modern American West. This course will explore examples of these various themes and examine the transformation of western stories from the late eighteenth-century biographies of Daniel Boone to the late twentieth-century films "Lone Star" and "The Unforgiven." We will ask a series of questions of each example, including, what contemporary attitudes and values inform these stories? And how does each particular medium contribute to the mythic West?

Fall 2002
  • ANTH/HIUS 229: American Wests
    Jeffrey Hantman, Peter Onuf, Douglas Seefeldt
  • See above.

Spring 2002

  • HIUS 100B - How the West was Lost, 1850-1950
    Jack Brown
  • See above.

  • MDST 354 - Media and the Mythic West
    Douglas Seefeldt
  • See above.

  • TCC 402 - The Engineer, Ethics, and Society: Technology in the U.S. West
    Betsy Mendelsohn
  • This class helps engineering students to prepare their senior theses and teaches engineering ethics. Case studies permit students to place themselves in the shoes of a decision maker, usually an engineer, who must decide how to do the right thing in a murky situation. The technologies and case studies we discuss are distinctive of the late 19th and 20th century U.S. West. They include big dams on the Columbia River, atomic weapons and energy in the Southwest, Silicon Valley and high technology, and Enron¹s rise and fall.

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