Published Date

January 1, 2016

Resource Type

AHA Resource, For the Classroom


Migration, Immigration, & Diaspora, Social, Teaching Methods

AHA Topics

Teaching & Learning, Undergraduate Education


United States, World

This resource was developed as part of the AHA’s Globalizing the US History Survey project


By Shannon Bontrager

Institution: Georgia Highlands College

Location: Rome, GA

Year: 2016

Is the United States a local or global creation? Is it a nation? Is the United States exceptional or part of larger Atlantic and Pacific Worlds? Who is an American and where do they come from? How did mosquitoes fundamentally shape the United States? Why were Native Americans so influential in shaping the country? Were colonists who ventured across the Atlantic free or unfree? Was the Revolutionary War revolutionary? Who is more important to the cause of liberty, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, George Washington, Toussaint Louverture, or Frederick Douglass? Why was the Civil War fought? Where did chocolate come from and why did Americans hate it? Why did they love Peruvian bird guano? How does religion shape perceptions of the New World? What is the difference between History and Memory and how does our misunderstanding of the two frame our understanding of the past?

This course examines texts, art, speeches, historical events, memories, mosquitoes, and many other sources to place the origins of the United States in a global framework. It asks whether the world made the United States or whether the United States made the world, and it explores the many possible answers through student-led interaction, innovative assignments, and stimulating source materials.


Required Texts

Breen, T.H. and Stephen Innes. Myne Owne Ground. NY: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Jacobs, Harriet. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself. NY: Simon and Schuster, 2012.


Final Exam:
The Final Exam will consist of multiple choice, identification, and essay questions based on the ideas presented in class and in the texts.

Memory Review Project:
Each student will identify a site of memory of a subject within the chronology of this course and critique it. These sites might be monumental, artistic, literary, or other such cultural expressions of America in the Atlantic or Pacific worlds. Each student will write a 5-8 page bibliographical review of their respective site and critique its cultural value as well as its representation of history and memory. This bibliographical review will be annotated and include at least 10 sources. It will have an introduction, proposed thesis, and conclusion.

ChronoZoom Project:
Each student will work as individuals or in groups of 2 or 3 to create a ChronoZoom presentation. This project will be based on and continue the work begun in the Memory Review Project. Students will upload their ChronoZoom project to the ChronoZoom website and be evaluated on its quality of content.

Pecha Kucha Presentation:
Each student will deliver a Pecha Kucha presentation based on their work in the Memory Review Project and the ChronoZoom project. These presentations require 20 slides in a PowerPoint presentation and can go no longer than 6 minutes and 40 seconds (20 seconds per slide or 20 x 20). This work culminates with a live presentation in front of an audience at an off campus establishment at the end of the semester. This project will be worth 200 points with the potential for add-on points. For an example of what a Pecha Kucha presentation is see: (you will have to sign up and login) or see (For an extended description of this project see my blog post, “Pizza, PechaKucha, and Pedagogy,” on AHA Today.

Social History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade:
This assignment will investigate the transatlantic slave trade using the slave voyages website. Details of this assignment can be found in the assignment description included in these resources.

Tentative Schedule

Aug. 19 – Introduction: An American Empire?
Aug. 21 – Historiography – Reading #1
Aug. 26 – Before European Hegemony: The Pacific
Aug. 28 – Before European Hegemony: The Atlantic
Sep. 2 – The First Americans: Origins, Diversity, and Cultures
Sep. 4 – The Columbian Exchange: Imaginings and Mentalities – Reading #2
Sep. 9 – The Columbian Exchange: Chocolate and Reformation – Reading #3
Sep. 11 – The Columbian Exchange: Mosquitoes and Microbes (Memory Review First Draft due)
Sep. 16 – The Atlantic World: Rethinking Georgia and the Carolinas
Sep. 18 – The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade – Reading #4
Sep. 23 – Slavery in Virginia
Sep. 25 – Myne Owne Ground
Sep. 30 – Exporting the Reformation: Massachusetts
Oct. 2 – New England Society: Witches and Whaling

Social History of Slavery Project Due (Friday Oct. 3)
Oct. 7 – The American Enlightenment: Pennsylvania and Maryland
Oct. 9 – Hispanic and Francophone Borderlands – Reading #5

Memory Review Final Draft Due
Oct. 14 – Fall Break; No Classes
Oct. 16 – British Americans in the Pacific and Global Commerce

ChronoZoom Project Due (Friday Oct. 17)
Oct. 21 – American Independence and Atlantic Revolutions
Oct. 22 – Last Day to Withdraw with a W
Oct. 23 – The New Nation: A republican Empire

Pecha Kucha First Draft Due
Oct. 28 – The Early Republic: A Pacific Endeavor – Reading #6
Oct. 30 – Native Lands and Borderlands: Native Americans in the East and the West – Reading #7
Nov. 4 – American Expansion and the Pacific
Nov. 6 – Bridging the Atlantic and the Pacific

Pecha Kucha Second Draft Due
Nov. 11 – Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Nov. 13 – Trans-Atlantic Abolitionism
Nov. 18 – Pecha Kucha Rehearsal
Nov. 20 – Causes of the Civil War
Nov. 25 – Causes of the Civil War
Nov. 27 – Thanksgiving Break; No Classes
Dec. 2 – Reconstruction – Reading #8
Dec. 4 – Connecting the Atlantic and the Pacific

Pecha Kucha Final Presentation (Friday Dec. 5 at Mellow Mushroom)


  1. Jack P. Greene, “Perspectives on American History,” Indiana Magazine of History 91 (2): 179-88.
  2. Karen Ordahl Kupperman, “Atlantic Memories,” in The Atlantic in World History (NY: Oxford University Press, 2012).
  3. Karen Ordahl Kupperman, “Food, Drugs, and Dyes,” in The Atlantic in World History (NY: Oxford University Press, 2012).
  4. Selections Olaudah Equiano
  5. Selections Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands/La Frontera
  6. Ryan Tucker Jones, “Running into Whales: The History of the North Pacific from Below the Waves,” American Historical Review 118 (2): 349-77.
  7. Jeremy Adelman and Stephen Aron, “From Borderlands to Borders: Empires, Nation-States, and the Peoples in-Between in North American History,” American Historical Review 104 (3): 814-41.
  8. Eric Foner, “Blacks and the U.S. Constitution,” in Who Owns History?: Rethinking the Past in a Changing World (NY: Hill and Wang, 2002).