In the modules covered so far, we have covered how white Europeans came to North America and expanded through the continent, creating a new American identity through Revolution and war, and laying claim to the territory as their “Manifest Destiny.” In each module, we have looked at these events from the perspective of other minority groups to investigate how identity was shaped by societal and cultural pressures such as the existence of racial slavery causing racial hierarchies, territorial expansion challenging indigenous identity, or gender discrimination compounding the inequality of minority women. Reflecting on what you have learned at the midpoint of the semester is an important way to develop metacognitive skills and understand how historical interpretations are created and revised.
As students explore the historical development of the United States, they should be able to evaluate and synthesize different positions, support analysis with relevant evidence, and create evidence-based interpretations of:
major subtopics in United States history, such as Native Americans and their interactions with the U.S. government; slavery and its legacies; the foundational ideals of the American Republic; colonization and territorial expansion; economic development; political reform and reaction; immigration to the United States and the experiences of immigrants; foreign relations; wars and conflicts; movements including religious, labor, civil rights, feminist, and environmental.
multiple perspectives related to, for example, diverse cultures, communities, and environments; age, gender, and sexuality; the history and experience of racial, ethnic, and religious minorities; the experiences of people with disabilities; and patterns of race and class relations.
The reflective essay will ask students to consider course materials up to and including Module 7. In a short (2-3 double-spaced pages) essay students will reflect on what they have learned about the formation of coalitions and conflicts between different ethnic groups in the early United States, and how this confirms or challenges their understanding and relationship to the past. Historians must support their claims with evidence so your reflections should draw on examples from course resources including assigned readings, document activities, and documentaries. Outside research is not required as the assignment is based on your reflection on course materials. You can draw on your own reflections in video journals and discussion posts etc, but you should not copy and paste your work as this is a new assignment where you should synthesize your reflections. Any ideas or information that do not come from your own knowledge should be properly cited in whichever citation style you are most familiar with in your discipline (MLA, APA etc) or with a simple parenthetical citation. eg (Takaki, 81)
In your reflection, answer the following questions:
- Which module most challenged your existing knowledge about United States history by presenting a different perspective of events?
- Which conflict between different identity groups did you find most significant and why?
- Which coalition between identity groups did you find most significant and why?