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History and Culture of the New England region examining the varieties of New England life from Colonial Plymouth to modern Boston, as well as the continuities of New England tradition in education, religion, seafaring, and milling. 3 credits
Roger Williams University Catalogue

Well, we'll do some of the above.   American Studies as a mode of investigation borrows insights and methodologies from a wide variety of disciplines.  This time around, we will be using concepts drawn from cultural geography, gender studies and material culture studies to a greater degree than ever before.  I've made these changes out of a conviction that these have been under represented in the courses I've offered to this date.    Newness always brings a degree of risk.  The books used are likely to be quite different from other books with which you are familiar, and we'll have to work hard at understanding the concepts which underlie the work.  The chief question we're going to be investigating is how the land and land settlement patterns influenced the shape of New England Culture as it emerged.  We'll be looking at the New England Village in fact and myth, at the web of social relationships which underlay village life, at some of the types of homes which formed the state on which that life was lived out, an at contributions New England makes to American Culture generally, through the activities of persons important in New England history, and through some of the attitudes and ideologies which seem important in contemporary New England.
American Studies 335
New England
Roger Williams University
CAS 228
M, W. &  F  11:00-12:00
Fall Semester, 2008
Michael R. H. Swanson, Ph. D.
Office:  CAS 110
Hours: M, F,   9:00-10:00
T, Th 11:--12:30 or by appointment
Phone:  254 3230
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The Week's Work

Wood, William
New England's Prospect, edited with an introduction by Alden T. Vaughan
Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1993
Wood, Joseph S.,
The New England Village
Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1997
Hansen, Karen V.
A Very Social Time: Crafting Community in Antebellum New England
Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1996
Drake, Samuel Adams
New England Legends & Folklore (reproduction of 1883 edition)
Edison, NJ: Castle Books, 1993
Internet Requirement
Work and Evaluation
Very shortly I will stop using paper to distribute instructions. There will always be a hard copy version available through the Internet for those who like to keep such things handy, but in the interest of tree-saving, I’ll leave the decision about whether to print off a hard copy to the individual student. Note: you will be able to print off anything which is web-based.
Grading will be based on approximately these proportions:

I’m looking forward to sharing this semester with you.  One of the joys about teaching New England is that the region is so very compact.  If you’re willing, and interested, we may schedule trips to one or more of the easily accessible New England locales: Plimoth Plantation, Sturbridge Village, Mystic Seaport, New Bedford, or even Martha’s Vineyard.  I’ll get you talking about this early on in the semester.

Mike Swanson
Note 1: The locales for the New England Legends
We'll use these four texts in the order given. After the first units of this course we'll be working in more than one text simultaneously, so you will need to purchase them all early in the semester.

I will also ask you to download and read some materials from the internet, as well. It will be most efficient if you buy a three ring notebook in which to keep those materials.

American Studies 335 is one of a group of American Studies course with a focus on the relationship between geography and culture.  The nature of New England is shaped by the nature of the land itself, and we’ll be exploring that relationship all semester.  The four books for the course reflect this:

More and more, academic literacy and scholarship cannot be said to be complete without a knowledge of the internet as a resource and tool. There will be a number of exercises in this course which will require significant time spent online. Those of you with computers will not find this too difficult. In fact, internet resources are available 24 hours a day, barring the occasional system crash. For those of you who do not own a computer or do not have access from your home or dorm room, there are many public machines available In the Library and on the second floor of the Gabelli School of Business. If you are uncomfortable with using the "net", I'll be happy to assist you during office hours or by appointment. Resources and tutorials are available through a website I’ve created for this course at for this course at This is a work in progress, and you will be expected to visit it weekly as assignments for the following week will be posted there.

We will make extensive use of Blackboard in this course as well.  Written work will be submitted through it.  I will also offer opportunities to submit rough drafts prior to submission for final grades.  I will introduce Blackboard early in the semester.  If you are not familiar with it an need help operating it make an appointment and I’ll provide a quick and easy tutorial.
The vast majority of the work you prepare for a grade in this course will be written outside of class. Most assignments will be fairly short (3-5 pages), and I'll accept an informal style of documentation. However, I won't be happy with work which is mentally or grammatically sloppy. Some of this work will be more like take-home examinations:  in other words, there will be a question or questions to which each of you will respond. The rest of it will be more free form:  perhaps involving some private investigation of your own with a report of the results.  I expect that there will be three of these, all told. 
The first of these papers will be presented to you about the third week of class, and will be based upon William Wood’s book and the internet assignment materials I send you to find and think about. You’ll have about 10 to 11 days (a week and the weekends around it) to work on each paper There will also be a required class presentation, based on work which you will turn in in writing.