11th 12th History Course Selection

Please choose from one of the following history courses for the 2017-18 school year:

Advanced Study of Culture: Trade, Technology, and the Spread of Religion -- Dr. Austin

This course is built around things that move, which translates as the themes of Trade, Technology, and the Spread of Religion. Each of these broader phenomena by itself would tell a suitably complete story of civilization, but we will consider separately the question of commodities and markets, the domestication of plants and animals, the development of tools from paper to steam engines to malware, and their respective impacts on the way human societies develop and interact.Geography, which, as Jared Diamond tells us, "sets the ground rules for civilization" will always be central to the discussion. Religions as such will not be a focus of inquiry, but understanding the historical emergence and adoption of new ways of explaining both the seen and the unseen, and of mapping our place in the cosmos, is critical to understanding how societies shift and change in the ways they do. In addition to the primary source focus that is central to War and Empire, this advanced course will include significant attention to historiography. This begins from the position that History is not merely "what happened," but "the story we tell ourselves about ourselves." All such stories are written from identifiable points of view and for particular audiences or moments in time, and if we become skilled at recognizing how those factors shape what is written and how we read it, we will be better equipped to make good use both of the histories we consume and the history we make.

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American Philosophy: The Minds that Made America -- Ms. Barenkamp

This course examines the American intellectual tradition from the early 17th century to the present. It investigates how a variety of thinkers interpreted, analyzed, critiqued, and in many cases, contributed to major events in American history. It studies how Americans have responded to the challenge of modernity, concentrating on social, cultural, philosophical, and political thought. First semester, we will use the Protestant Reformation, Enlightenment, Romanticism, Reformism, and the Civil War as starting points as we concentrate on religious, philosophical, political, social, and cultural thought. We will cover major topics such as Puritanism, transcendentalism, and women’s rights, while addressing essential concepts central to the formation of the nation’s identity, including piety, citizenship, democracy, equality, freedom, liberty, natural law, order, reason, and progress. Second semester, we will examine Pragmatism as America’s main contribution to philosophy, and learn what about pragmatism was so inspiring to judges, educators, politicians, poets, and social prophets. Finally, we will evaluate the legacy of major trends in American thought and determine just where we are today and where we should look to go in the future.