Where are we?
This course will examine the rich political, social, and cultural history of upstate New York, with an emphasis on central New York in the first half of the nineteenth century.
As the eighteenth century came to a close, upstate was a borderland between European settlers and Native Americans. In the antebellum years, the region became a hotbed of radical social movements—including both anti-slavery and women’s rights—and an economic powerhouse where canals and railroads encouraged agricultural prosperity, the beginnings of industrial development, and tourism. Before the Civil War, utopian communities, religious experimentation, and new institutional forms flourished; remnants of many of these movements and markets can still be found on the landscape today.
Using the history of upstate New York to explore historical issues with nationwide significance or impact, this course will also develop students’ appreciation for historical actors and phenomena that are unique to this area and introduce students to the theoretical and methodological challenges that surround the public preservation and presentation of history. During the semester, students will develop an original research paper on one aspect of New York State history using local primary sources, and will complete regular public history “labs”: conversations and activities with practitioners from around the state engaging the fields of museum studies and public history.
Together, we will pair studies of this particular time and place with discussions about the 21st-century possibilities and challenges of sharing local histories with a broad range of audiences.
The syllabus may not be applicable to the current semester. Be sure to verify content with the professor(s) listed in the document.