An Early American Canon?

Over at Cliopatria, I’ve done two posts about the difficulties of creating a graduate-level readings seminar in a field whose geographical, temporal, and methodological boundaries have grown exponentially in the last two generations of scholarship.

What are your top five books in early American history, broadly defined?

Leave your thoughts here in the comments, or over at Cliopatria.


7 thoughts on “

  1. Do like the professor of my first PhD class–say forget it and assign 60+ books plus suggested readings. And get newbies like me who don’t know enough to raise an eyebrow.Seriously, this reminds me of trying to read for comps and not wanting to miss the “big” works in each field. For early America, I am absolutely no help, but good luck!

  2. Hello Rebecca! Or is that yor cat’s name? I can’t figure out which. Anyways… You have no pics of yourself. I love cat’s too and not only that my husband and i are naming our first child Rebecca. (Rebecca Isabelle) isn’t that nice? I like how it sounds.She’s due any day now! I can’t wait!

  3. In no particular order….1. AMERICAN COLONIES by Alan Taylor2. THE RADICALISM OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION by Gordon S. Wood3. PURSUITS OF HAPPINESS by Greene4. THE EVOLUTION OF AMERICAN SOCIETY ed. Henretta5. COLONIAL AMERICA ed. Katz and MurrinI’m an Americanist who specializes in a later period. But I found these books interesting and helpful. COllections of essays are not as intimidating to read and they get many viewpoints across. Good luck.

  4. Elle–Well, I’m hoping not to assign 60 books. I’m trying to limit it to no more than 20 whole books, plus many more books chapters and articles.I wish I had enjoyed my general exams more. It would be nice, now, ot have two years to kick back and do nothing but read. 🙂 Of course at the time I was too stressed out about my looming oral exams to enjoy the process much, or, at all.Just Me–Alan Taylor’s book is on the “recommended list.” I had to buy Katz’s collection six years ago, but now I know that all those titles are available on JSTOR. So, I’m pulling selections from it but directing the students to JSTOR instead. Cheaper for the students and they get to read the same stuff. “Pursuits of Happiness” will be somewhere in the body of the course but I haven’t yet decided where (as will Wood’s “Radicalism”).Anonymous–My name is Rebecca and my cat’s name is Pepper.

  5. Have you considered using A Midwife’s Tale? It would be a useful example of microhistory, and could also incorporate women’s history into the mix. For that matter, Ulrich’s Good Wives is excellent as well. Another great microhistory is The Murder of Helen Jewett, although it doesn’t really fall under your category of early American history (I suppose it depends where you draw the line).

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