History of the Western U.S.

Northeastern University, Spring 2018

Course Description | Assignments | Policies | Schedule

Place Analysis Unessay

Select a particular location and analyze its history and geography within the broader context of the western U.S. How you define the location is up to you. It can be a particular building (the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas), street (San Francisco’s Mission Street), neighborhood (Compton), geological feature (the Grand Canyon), or community (Vail Ski Resort). Some questions to consider: What are some of the important events, people, or processes that unfolded at this place? What was this place’s significance for the region? How does understanding this place help us understand the West?

You will be presenting your analysis in an alternative format from the traditional 1,500-2,000 word final paper: an “unessay.” This can take any format you like: podcast episode, sculpture, restaurant menu, board game, meme collage, fictional short story, etc. I want you to think creatively and apply whatever skills and interests you have to the assignment. For those who find this assignment daunting, I will provide guidance for a “default” option: an online exhibit of historical sources related to your place using the Omeka platform. For those of you who select this option, you will need to complete the following tutorials: Miriam Posner, “Up and Running with Omeka.net” & Miriam Posner, “Creating an Omeka.net Exhibit”.

Regardless of the format of your unessay, the key requirement is that you must present an analysis and interpretation of your place that is supported by both primary and secondary sources. The interpretation must be well-articulated (written, painted, sung, etc.) with a clear interpretation about the particular place and its significance for understanding some dimension of the history of the western United States. The best unessays will demonstrate not only solid analysis, but creativity in how that interpretation is presented.

Each analysis will include an annotated bibliography of primary and secondary sources consulted and, depending on the format of your analysis, a written overview introducing and explaining the project. This final project can be completed individually or in groups of up to three students. You are required to meet with me during office hours to discuss your idea, a plan for completion, and to ensure that it is both feasible and meets the goals of the assignment.

You will present your unessay in class on Wednesday, April 11th. If needed, you will then have an extra two days to polish and submit the final version by Friday, April 13th.