Amanda I. Seligman, Assistant Professor
Freshman Scholars Seminar, Spring Semester 2000
office: Holton Hall 324
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
phone: 229-4565 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Class meetings: TR 9:30a.m.-10:45a.m. office hours: Mondays: 3:30 to 5
Class location: Holton 341 Thursdays: 11:00 to 11:45
This course aims to teach students three things:
1) the importance of historical context in shaping people’s lives; 2)
basic skills for reading and writing history at the college level; and 3) how
scholars produce their work, which is not so very different from how students
produce theirs. The tools for
achieving these goals include reading, writing, and group discussion. This class is structured as a seminar. Students should come to class having done the reading and
prepared to discuss it with their peers and instructor.
In addition to discussing reading assignments together, class members
will critique each other’s written work.
There will be several opportunities to revise and improve writing
This spring there will be an unusual opportunity to attend a conference
in Milwaukee on a topic closely related to this course.
Marquette University will host an academic conference on “Childhood in
Urban America.” The details of
the conference are listed below in the schedule (see May 5-6) and will be
discussed in class. You will be required
to attend a portion of this conference and to write about your experience there.
Students with jobs and other conflicting responsibilities should make
plans now to fit the conference into their schedules.
Readings for this course include both books and articles. The reading assignments are listed in order in the schedule
section of this syllabus. Several
books have been ordered through the UWM bookstore.
They are also available on regular reserve at the UWM Golda Meir library.
These books include include:
Note: All four of these texts are available online at the following URLs:
I make this information available to you because I can imagine that there will be times when it might be useful to you have access to an electronic edition of the text. For example, if you went to the library to study and then realized that you had left your book at home, you could still do the reading assignment by using a library terminal (or using the printed version available on regular reserve). Or if you want to take advantage of the ability of some web browsers to search for a particular word or phrase in the text, an electronic version is indispensable. I encourage you to purchase a copy of each book, however, so that you can bring it to class for reference during class discussion. Having a good quality print edition of the book by Jacob Riis is especially important, as we will be discussing the photographs as well as the text.
Most of the other reading assignments will be available via electronic reserve at UWM’s Golda Meir library. Instructions for using electronic reserve are available through the web page for the library, at http://www.uwm.edu/Library/b4eres/access.html. The readings are listed in the order in which they are assigned for this class. I recommend that you print out the reading assignments stored electronically so that you can mark them up, bring them to class, and review them whether or not UWM’s servers are up. DO NOT try to print the electronic reserve texts from the reference room in the UWM library—the printers are set with a very low memory and it will take you longer to print out the assignment than it would to read it. Instead, go to the electronic reserve room (east wing) and print from one of the workstations there. We will go over the use of electronic reserve as a class on the first day.
Where is the Reserve Room for the Golda Meir library? The library’s reserve sections are located on the first floor of the east wing of the library. You cannot reach these rooms through the west wing. You can retrieve the paper copies of the reading assignments from regular reserve counter, which is the first thing you will see when you walk in to the room. The Electronic Reserve room is in a hallway to the left of the regular reserve counter and is staffed with people ready to help you locate the assignments. Additionally, of course, you can reach items on electronic reserve by going to http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/Library/ERES/seligman/448-192s.html.
Grading in this course has two components: participation, and written assignments. Participation will count for 20% of your final grade and writing assignments for 80%.
Participation means that you engage with the readings and come to class prepared to discuss them with your classmates. You should be prepared both to share your ideas and to listen to those offered up in class. Participation does not mean striving to talk the most—it means that you play an active role in your learning and that of your colleagues. Your participation grade will reflect the quality of your participation rather than its absolute quantity. Because your participation is critical to the overall success of the seminar, attendance is mandatory. Do not schedule job interviews, doctor’s appointments, or other conflicts during class meeting times.
Writing assignments are listed in the schedule section of
this syllabus. The paper for
February 3 will be brief and is a lead-in to the essay due on March 2; the
assignments for March 28 and April 4 feed into the paper due April 13; and the
writing assignment for May 9 will be short answers to question about your
attendance at the Marquette conference on Childhood in Urban America.
In addition, you will have the opportunity to revise and resubmit a paper
on March 16. The writing
assignments will be weighted in the final grading as follows:
The revised paper due on March 16 will replace the lower grade of the papers due on February 15 and March 20. You do not have to revise the paper with the lower grade in order to maximize the improvement of your final grade. Instead, you should revise the paper which it will benefit you the most intellectually to continue to work on. If you would like to revise the paper due on April 13, please come and see me to discuss a due date and its effect on your grade.
All assignments should be typed or word-processed; double-spaced, and leave at least an inch and a half on the right hand margin for comments. Please do not come to class expecting to find a stapler.
To receive full credit, all papers must be turned in at or before the beginning of the class period on the day they are due (or, in the case of the final paper, at the time listed in the schedule). Late papers will be penalized at the rate of one step of a letter grade per day (e.g. a paper otherwise written at A quality becomes A-). Failure to complete all required components of the course may result in a failing grade for the course as a whole. Thus omitting a single paper or unexcused absences from class may result in a final grade of F.
If you need special accommodations in order to meet any of the requirements of this course, please contact me as soon as possible.
If you have any concerns about the course, want to talk about your academic progress, or are interested in knowing more about history, please come and see me in my office hours or send me email. I am also available for appointments at times other than my scheduled office hours.
I encourage you to take advantage of UWM’s Peer Mentoring Center, located in Bolton Hall, room 192 (first floor). They can help you with a variety of problems, including using computers, finding help at UWM, and coping with the stresses of college life. For example, if you have trouble remembering how to access the course readings that are held on electronic reserve, you could go to the Peer Mentoring Center and ask for assistance. Their telephone number is (414) 229-5385. Additionally, you should be aware that only students who have completed a freshman seminar are eligible to become Peer Mentors.
Note: To the left of each reading assignment listed in this schedule there is a symbol. A (p) means that the book is available in print and is recommended for purchase at the UWM bookstore. An (e) means that the text is available through UWM’s electronic reserve system. An (r) means that the book is available in Golda Meir’s regular reserve room.
January 25: First Class
The syllabus. There will not be a quiz on the syllabus, but it is a good policy to make reading the syllabus the first thing you do in any class.
(e) John Demos and Virginia Demos, “Adolescence in Historical Perspective,” Journal of Marriage and the Family (November 1969), pp. 632-638.
(e) Joseph F. Kett, Rites of Passage: Adolescence in America, 1790 to the Present (New York: Basic Books, 1977), chapter 8.
Children in Colonial America
and the Early Republic
(e) John Demos, A Little Commonwealth: Family Life in Plymouth Colony (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970), chapter 10, “Coming of Age.”
(e) Joseph F. Kett, Rites of Passage: Adolescence in America, 1790 to the Present (New York: Basic Books, 1977), chapter 1.
Write: One paragraph that answers the question, “What is Joseph Kett’s main point in chapter 1 of Rites of Passage?” Do not use any direct quotations—the point of this exercise is to work on your prose and your expression of ideas. Bring to class two copies: one to turn in, one to work with in class.
In class: writing workshop
(e) Christine Stansell, City of Women: Sex and Class in New York, 1789-1860 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987), chapter 5.February 10
(e) Paul Boyer, Urban
Masses and Moral Order in America, 1820-1920 (Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, 1978), chapter 3.
Write: Using the arguments and evidence presented in Stansell’s City of Women and Boyer’s Urban Masses and Moral Order, write a short paper (2-3 pages, approximately 750 words) discussing what it was like to be a young person in New York City before the Civil War. Your essay should have a clear and concise thesis statement, be developed with a logical argument, and contain supporting evidence.
In class: writing workshop.
class session may be the most important you attend at UWM.
Do not miss it!
Important Note: At this point in the course, the length of assigned readings increases. If you have trouble keeping up with the assignments, please come and see me about strategies for reading effectively.
(p) Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave
Girl, chapters 1-17.
Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, preface by William
Lloyd Garrison, letter from Wendell Phillips, and chapters 1-7.
(p) Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, chapters 18-30.
(p) Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, chapters 8-11.
Write: A short paper (2-3 pages, approximately 750 words) in answer to this question: Does Joseph Kett’s model of semi-dependence apply to the case of slavery in the United States? Your answer should make use of both Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Bring to class two copies: one to turn in, one to work with in class.
In class: Writing
(p) Horatio Alger, Ragged Dick, preface and chapters 1-7.
(e) Jane Addams, Spirit of Youth in the City Streets (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1909), chapter 4.
(p) Horatio Alger, Ragged Dick, chapters 8-9.
(r) David Nasaw, Children of the City, pages 1-61. Note: The Golda Meir library owns only one copy of this book. Please respect your colleagues’ right to share access to this text and plan your time in the reserve room accordingly.
(p) Horatio Alger, Ragged Dick, chapters 10-11.
(e) Paul Boyer, Urban Masses and Moral Order in America, 1820-1920 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978), chapter 7.
(p) Horatio Alger, Ragged Dick, chapters 12-14.
Write: Revise one of the 2-3 page papers you have written so far for this class (they were due on February 15 and March 2). The grade on the revised paper will replace the lower of the grades earned on the earlier papers (not necessarily the one you choose to revise).
(have fun, but be sure to look ahead to the assignment due on March 28!)
(p) Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives, chapters 1, 3-5, 11-12, and 14.
(p) Horatio Alger, Ragged Dick, chapters 15-16.
Look ahead to the paper that is due on April 13, for the segment of the
class about “Children in Industrial America.”
Bring to class a list of three topics raised in the readings by Alger,
Nasaw, Boyer, Addams, and Riis that you might want to write a paper about.
For each of the three topics, write a question that could structure your
(r) David Nasaw, Children of the City, pages 62-129.
(p) Horatio Alger, Ragged Dick, chapters 17-19.
(p) Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives, chapters 15-17, 19-23.
(p) Horatio Alger, Ragged Dick, chapters 20-22.
Based on the feedback to your March 28 writing assignment, choose one
question that you will answer in your April 13 essay.
Write it out (so that I know which one you will be answering) and write a
thesis statement that answers it.
(r) David Nasaw, Children of the City, pages
Begin writing a draft of your April 13 essay.
I encourage you to come to my office hours on Monday April 10 to discuss
how your essay is going. You may
also email me or call me for an appointment.
(p) Horatio Alger, Ragged Dick, chapters 23-27.
In class: Writing
(e) Paula Fass, The Damned and the Beautiful, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977), chapter 4.
(e) Alain Locke,
“Negro Youth Speaks,” pp. 47-53 in Alain Locke, The New Negro:
Voices of the Harlem Renaissance (New York:
(e) Richard A. Reiman, The New Deal and American Youth (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1992), pp. 11-45.
(e) Robert H.
Bremner, Children and Youth in America:
A Documentary History (Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, 1970-74), pp. 108-114 and pp. 1603-1610.
(e) Beth L.
Bailey, From Front Porch to Back Seat (Baltimore:
The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988), pp. 25-66, chapter, “The
Economy of Dating.”
Graebner, “Outlawing Teenage Populism: The
Campaign against Secret Societies in the American High School,” Journal of
American History, vol. 74 No. 2 (Sept. 1987), pp. 411-435.
(e) Allen J. Matusow, The Unraveling of America: A history of liberalism in the 1960s (New York: Harper & Row, 1984), chapter 10.
(e) Theodore H. White, The Making of the President, 1968 (New York: Pocket Books, 1970), chapter 3.
How do the youth described by Matusow and White differ?
(e) William Wei, “Hmong American Youth: American Dream, American Nightmare,” chapter 18, in Generations of Youth: Youth Cultures and History in Twentieth-Century America, edited by Joe Austin and Michael Nevin Willard (New York: New York University Press, 1998).
(e) Eric C.
Schneider, Vampires, Dragons, and Egyptian Kings: Youth Gangs in Postwar New York (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1999), pp. 106-136, chapter 4.
Special Opportunity: Friday, May 5 and Saturday, May 6: Childhood in Urban America Conference, Marquette University
This is a rare opportunity for you to discover how scholars produce the kinds of writing that you have been reading for this class. Giving a paper in a conference setting is one way that scholars test out their ideas before publishing them. At conferences they find out how people react to their ideas and get new ones. You can think of conference papers as the “rough drafts” of the articles and books you read in your classes.
This year, there is a special conference on Childhood in Urban America being held at Marquette University. You should attend at least one session of this conference. Each session lasts 2 hours (from 9-11 a.m.; from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.; and from 2:45-4:45 p.m., on both Friday and Saturday). In each session there will be several scholars delivering and commenting on each other’s papers. Other scholars will sit in the audience, listening to the papers and asking questions. There will also be students from Marquette who are taking a class on the history of childhood in America with Professor James Marten, who organized the conference.
For the conference schedule, see http://academic.mu.edu/hist/martenj/198/cuap.htm.
The schedule will also be distributed in class, along with details on
where the conference takes place. There
is no registration fee for the conference, so you are free to attend for as much
of the time as you wish.
Because you are to attend the conference on Childhood in Urban America at Marquette over the weekend, there is no reading for today. In class, each of you will give a brief (no more than 5 minutes!) report on ONE of the papers you heard at the session you attended. If there is more than one of you at a given session, you should agree ahead of time which paper each of you will report on. You may take notes during the session to aid your memory.
Write: One paragraph in answer to each of the following questions. You are not required to write the kind of formal prose we have been working on during the term; but you should be attentive to matters of spelling, grammar, etc. Be sure to give the name of the speaker, the title of the paper (see program), and the title and time of the session.
Last Day of Class
Assignment: Bring with you something that symbolizes what you have learned in this course. We will discuss the symbols in class, and then we will do course evaluations.
Final assignment: Due Monday, May 15, noon. Turn in to Amanda Seligman’s mailbox, at the Department of History, Holton Hall. Mailboxes are just to the left of the elevator (if you are facing the elevator). If you would like to have your paper back promptly, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Be sure to use a large envelope and include sufficient postage. Otherwise, you may pick your paper up in the fall semester.
Write: Some historians have argued that there was no distinctive “youth culture,” or even a distinguishable phase of childhood or adolescence, in the United States until the 20th century. Write an essay (3-5 pages) that assesses the validity of this claim. You do not need to do any outside research to write this paper, although if you do, of course you should document your sources thoroughly. In the paper, you should use at least 4 of the readings assigned in this course. At least 3 of these sources should be works we have read since April 18.