American Studies

Teacher: Beth Olesen
Extra Help: Tuesday, 3 - 4 PM in Room 149 or by appointment.

American Studies Due Dates

Course Overview

Essential Questions: How have the American ideals of equality, justice, liberty and freedom developed over time? How have these ideals been in tension with each other, with governmental and individual actions, and with American culture?

Course Summary: The idea behind the United States was revolutionary at the founding of the country: that people ought to govern themselves. While countries continued to be controlled by monarchies (people born into royalty), the United States elected its own leaders with the idea that the people, not divine right, were the basis of any government. Of course, the story is not one of heroes; whether it is possible to have the people actually control their own government has been tested from the very start of the country. Though we often cite the Founding Fathers as having believed in equality for all, they gave the right to vote to only white men with property. Moreover, black men did not gain the right to vote until 1870, and women not until 1920. People have had to fight and sacrifice for every advancement in civil and political rights. And yet, there is a strong sense that the American ideals of equality, justice, liberty, and freedom for all matter and have always guided the U.S.’s development. It will be our job to “make history prove its ideals” by interrogating the past and determining when, where, and how the country and its people has and has not embodied and realized those ideals. 

   Semester I: The Formation of a Nation

Course Introduction


Unit 1: Colonialism


Essential Questions:  How and why do people create new settlements? What challenges and conflicts do people encounter when creating new settlements?

Project: Creating a Colony Project

Unit 2: American Revolution

Essential Questions: What causes a group of people to rebel? Was the colonies’ break from Britain the right decision? What is propaganda and how can it be used to influence political and social events?

Project: Break From Britain Debate & Response Paper

Unit 3: Constitution: Formation and Application


Essential Questions: What were the key issues in the debate over the creation of the Constitution? How is power distributed in the Constitution? How do we see the Constitution reflected in our lives?

Project: Landmark Legislation & Supreme Court Cases

Please see the Syllabus (attached at the bottom of the webpage) for Course-Specific Policies and Procedures

Academic Integrity

Academic honesty and integrity are essential to our school, classroom culture, and to your development as a student.  Everyone is expected to complete and hand in their own work. Cheating and plagiarism (presenting another person’s ideas or words as your own) are not acceptable. Consequences include receiving a zero for a plagiarized assignment, being asked to redo the assignment for no credit, and/or a failing grade for the course.  Please see the Student Handbook for more information.

 When in doubt, cite or quote. One major way to avoid plagiarism is to properly cite other people’s work.  The History Department at IACS uses the MLA (Modern Language Association) format for citation. A good source for MLA citations is Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab’s MLA Formatting and Style Guide at Bookmark it – we will use it for all research projects.

Tom Hinkle,
Aug 27, 2014, 7:22 PM