The approach of American Life and Culture has two dimensions. First, topics are covered in objective essays of some 3,000-5,000 words. Second, an equal amount of primary material excerpted from letters, diaries, memoirs, and contemporary news accounts is included to augment the narrative entry. The purpose of the essay is to provide an overview and context; the purpose of the primary material is to provide specific first-hand detail to elucidate the essay.
American Life and Culture volumes are designed with College Board AP American History course descriptions in mind and will cover major topics taught throughout the social studies curriculum and at the college level. The volume template of American Life and Culture volumes covers the AP history themes identified by the College Board, and the volumes follow the U.S. History Development Committee’s topic outline of recommended coverage.
American Life and Culture comprises freestanding volumes, each focused on a distinctive cultural or social group or major event or era. Each volume will comprise some 40 to 60 entries on a significant aspect of social interaction organized under a dozen standard categories.
Each entry will consist of two parts: 1) an objective explanatory essay about a specific topic (3000-4000 words); and 2) primary sources (3000-7000words). The essay will provide an overview; the primary material will provide first-hand accounts and the documentation to support the overview. Typically primary materials will consist of oral history, letters, diaries, newspapers, and autobiographies; the journalistic record is a basic resource. Visual matter, such as posters, graphs, and occasionally photographs, will also be included, as appropriate. Primary material may also be drawn largely from slave narratives and contemporary newspaper accounts as well as memoirs, speeches, sermons, etc. In the case of Slave Revolts and Law and Enforcement, legal documents will be used, and they will be accompanied by informal opinion as expressed by principals in personal correspondence and diaries.
The average entry will be 6,000-10,000 words, of which on average half will be the explanatory essay.
Dr. Brian Johnson
Associate Professor of English
Johnson C. Smith University
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