Survey syllabi

First half

Ben Wright’s first half (to 1865) lecture-oriented syllabus using The American Yawp, The American Yawp Primary Source Reader, Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, and Solomon Northrup’s Twelve Years a Slave. Assignments include weekly quizzes, two short book-based essays, and argument-driven final essay based on primary sources.

Second half

Ben Wright’s second half (1865 to present) lecture-oriented syllabus using The American Yawp and Eric Foner’s Voices of Freedom primary source anthology. Assignments include weekly quizzes, two short essays based on 1930s radio and 1950s-1970s television, and argument-driven final essay based on primary sources.

Specialized courses syllabi

America Behind Bars: Mass Incarceration, Private Prisons, and Punitive Justice

This course examines the history of the prison system in the United States. It traces the evolution from rehabilitative to punitive justice and pinpoints the origins of privatization. The course moves through nineteenth-century prison tourism, the turn-of-the-century Progressive impulse on jails, and the twentiethcentury prisoners’ rights movement. Throughout the history, underpinnings of racism emerge in legislation, prison reports, and public reactions to incarceration. We will hear the voices of prisoners who doubled as activists, alongside debates by politicians, business interests, and the public. These multiple perspectives will allow us to examine both prison culture and the impact of prisons on American culture. By examining the prison as an institution that is central to the American identity, we will make sense of its role in larger political and social debates.