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Department of Anthropology

Course Offerings

FYS: Twenty Thousand Years on Turtle Island: A Deep History of North America

Anthropology 136 - Fall 2020

The twin premises of this course are that humans are the subject of history, and that history should begin at the beginning. American history courses normally begin with the colonization of the New World by Europeans beginning in the 15th century, sometimes with a cursory chapter dedicated to the 20,000 years of history that came before. This class will invert this structure and place what we normally think of as American history in the context of a much longer story by drawing on sources from many disciplines, including archaeology, ethnography, ecology, geology, linguistics, and oral history. We will focus on a contested events or issues, where our sources tell different stories, and consider what is at stake for defenders of different narratives. Throughout the course, we will ask how the lack of written records limits our understanding of North American history, but also how other sources of evidence about the past can be used to include populations and themes normally underrepresented by textual histories. The goals of this course are 1) to put recent American history in its proper context; 2) to show how historical narratives are constructed and contested; and 3) to give students tools other than written records with which to construct history. Course is for first-year, non-transfer students only.

Section 01

First-Year Seminar: Twenty Thousand Years on Turtle Island: A Deep History of North America
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