Important announcements, assignments, and deadlines

Due to our crazy, whacked out schedule the last two weeks, I want to remind you about a few things:

1. Make sure you read the posts on the blog for chapters 24 and 25 (front page and archives), since they help make up for all the classtime we have lost. If it’s there, it’s to help you prepare for your upcoming FOUR CHAPTER TEST. Make sure you note that chapter 26 is due on Tuesday!

2. Next week, your big assignment will be to read Frederick Jackson Turner’s seminal historical essay “The Significance of the Frontier in American History.” You need to read the (excerpted) essay (it’s several pages long) and be ready to discuss it thoroughly (I would prefer a good discussion to assigning you an essay on it, and I bet you would too).There are questions I wish you to answer thoroughly that will be listed on this post and will be used to help you discuss this essay. These questions and this discussion take the place of outline notes or questions for chapter 26. The questions over the essay will be due (and the discussion will take place) Wednesday or Thursday of next week, depending upon your class period.

You can find the essay online first of all in the chapter 26 archive, where I posted it last year. If you want to be more adventurous, you can also find it  here or here , or you can pick up a hard copy from me on Tuesday. I would not wait that long to start this assignment! I will update the essay in the archives to put it on this page on Sunday morning, as well. I just don’t want to push all the other posts on chapter 25 too far down the page just yet.

My true champions can also get the complete essay in a .pdf here, but that would be going above and beyond the call of duty, and is not really necessary (but might interest you…)

I want you to see an example of historical analytical writing, and this is one of the most well-known ones by a progressive American historian. Some of you are still struggling with emphasizing analysis in you writing rather than narrative, so please pay attention to HOW Jackson uses his information as well as WHAT he is saying.

Questions– Turner’s Frontier Thesis
1) In your own words, what is The Frontier Thesis? What role has the frontier has played in American history, according to Turner?
2) What does Turner say about American distinctiveness (or “exceptionalism”) in the essay? What evidence does he provide for his argument?
3) Trace the process which Turner identifies as “Americanization.” How does that process proceed? What are the steps and stages along the way?
4) Turner is often identified as a “Progressive” historian, meaning that he views history as the inevitable process from chaos to improvement, with the underlying assumption that change is for the better. What “Progressive” assessments of history appear in Turner’s thesis? Does he identify any threats to that progress?
5) Think about America in the 1890s. What are the major social changes shaping peoples’ lives during this era? How does Turner’s thesis reflect these changes, try to make sense of them, or sound a warning call for ways in which America might be losing its way as a result of the changes?
6) What makes it possible for Turner to argue that the land on the other side of the “frontier” is “empty,” despite Native American and Spanish settlement in the region? Of what is this area really “empty?” How does this relate to the understanding of Manifest Destiny in the middle of the 19th century?
7) Examine the language used by Turner. What does his use of such terms as “savagery” reveal about his social philosophy? How is he a product of his times?
8) Who is Turner’s “normative” American? (Look it up!) What activities, identities, geographic locations, etc., reveal that American’s normative status? In what ways is Turner’s thesis a statement of American hegemony (Look it up!) at the moment of the 1890s, both with regards to that normative American and American territorial expansion?

EXTRA CREDIT for those who include a summary of criticisms of Turner’s thesis by other historians.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by AP Student on January 14, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    Thank you SOOOO MUCH for the extra credit Scoop!!!

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