Spring 2020 Courses

To apply for the Pace–Gilder Lehrman MA in American History Program, click the “To Apply” menu option.


Spring 2020 courses begin on February 6 and end on April 29. The tuition deadline for the Spring 2020 semester is January 2, 2020. For students registering after January 2, payment is due within 24 hours of registration.


Women in the American Revolution

with Professor Carol Berkin, Presidential Professor American Colonial and Revolutionary History, Baruch College, CUNY 

This course examines the many roles women played in the War for Independence, from the earliest protests and boycotts to the American victory at Yorktown. It also looks at the changing gender roles and ideal—from “notable housewife” to “Republican woman”—spurred by women’s participation in the creation of the new republic. The course does not focus solely on white women who favored independence. It also looks at the impact on the course of the war of Native American, African American, and loyalist women as well as the impact of the colonial victory on their communities and their lives. Over the course of these lectures you will encounter—probably for the first time—women propagandists, poets, and fund-raisers; thousands of women who traveled with the army; and the many spies, messengers, soldiers, and saboteurs who risked their lives to aid the political cause they embraced.

Registration information: CRNs: Lecture Section: 23975, Lab (Discussion) Sections: 23976-23980


The American West

with Elliott West, Distinguished Professor of History, University of Arkansas 

The American West has played an enduring role in the popular culture of the nation and the world. The images are familiar: cowboys and cattle drives, Indian wars, wagon trains, rowdy mining towns, and homesteaders. All in fact were part of the story, but behind the color and drama of films, novels, and art were developments critical to the creation of the modern American nation and its rise as a global economic, political, and military power. The West was as well a showplace of the industrial, social, technological, and scientific forces remaking the world beyond America. This course will trace the expansion of the United States to the Pacific, the exploration of the West, the defeat and dispossession, and profound tragedy of its Native peoples, and environmental transformations matched at few if any other places on earth. Within all of this were compelling human stories that are part of our collective national identity.

Registration information: CRNs: Lecture Section: 23969, Lab (Discussion) Sections: 23970-23974


American Immigration History

with Madeline Hsu, Professor of History, University of Texas at Austin

Widely considered a wellspring for US greatness, immigration has also been an abiding site of our deepest conflicts. The republican foundation of the United States with its promises of democracy and equality for all seem to strain against high numbers of immigrants from parts of the world barely conceived of by the Founding Fathers, much less as sources of new citizens. What is the breaking point for the assimilating powers of US democracy, and how much does national vitality rely upon continued influxes of a diversity of immigrants with their strenuous ambitions and resourcefulness? Today we remain embattled by competing beliefs about how immigration shapes our nation’s well-being and to what ends we should constrain whom we admit, whom we exclude, and who can become citizens and in what numbers. This course guides students to better understand the terms by which immigration functions as a core aspect of US national identity and its contested history into our present quandaries.

Registration information: CRNs: Lecture Section: 24024, Lab (Discussion) Sections: 24025-24029


Origins of the Civil War

with James Oakes, Distinguished Professor of History, CUNY Graduate Center

Barely had the guns been silenced at Appomattox when the fighting over the causes of the Civil War began. Southern partisans sometimes called it “The War of Northern Aggression.” Yankees called it “The War of the Rebellion.” Some scholars—known as “revisionists” said that slavery had nothing to do with the war. Others—the “fundamentalists”—insisted that it was a war about slavery. Nowadays historians pretty much agree that slavery was the cause of the Civil War. But what does that mean? How did slavery cause the Civil War? That’s the question this course sets out to answer. We trace the origins of the war all the way back to the American Revolution, when a group of states began to abolish slavery, creating a section that came to be known as the North. Those states that retained slavery are known as the South. The conflict between the slave and free states was already present at the constitutional convention of 1787. So we start there, with the compromises that created a nation half-slave and half-free. And we finish in the secession crisis of 1860–1861, when eleven slave states seceded from the Union in order to protect and perpetuate slavery, and compromise was no longer possible.

Registration information: CRNs: Lecture Section: 23995, Lab (Discussion) Sections: 23996-24000


Historiography and Historical Methods

with Andrew Robertson, Professor of History, Lehman College and CUNY Graduate Center

Historiography is the study of historical writing. Students enrolled in in this course will journey through American history guided by Professor Andrew Robertson and seven other professors (Zara Anishanslin, University of Delaware; Ned Blackhawk, Yale University; Kristopher Burrell, Hostos Community College; Sarah King, SUNY Geneseo; Lauren Santangelo, Princeton University; Nora Slonimsky, Iona College and the Institute for Thomas Paine Studies; and Wendy Wall, Binghamton University). Students will read and discuss historical interpretations of the American past as they have changed over time in specific chronological periods: colonial/Revolutionary history, the early nineteenth century to Reconstruction, the Gilded Age to the Cold War, and the 1960s to the present. This course will also present lectures on the evolving historiographies of African American history, Native American history, and women’s history by scholars specializing in those fields. The historical methods portion of the course will teach students to interrogate primary sources and to read secondary sources with a critical eye.

Registration information: CRNs: Lecture Section: 23960, Lab (Discussion) Sections: 23961, 23962, 23963


Thesis/Capstone Course

The Thesis/Capstone course will be offered every semester.

Registration information: CRNs: Lecture Section: 23950, Lab (Discussion) Sections: 23952, 23953, 23954, 23956


To apply for the Pace–Gilder Lehrman MA in American History Program, click the “To Apply” menu option.