HIST 1130: Introduction to the History of the United States
Professor Cameron Blevins (he/him/his) | c.blevins@northeastern.edu
M/W/Th. 10:30-11:35am, Science Engineering Complex 142
Office Hours: Meserve Hall 237, M/W 12:00-1:00pm & by appointment
Teaching Assistant: Claire Tratnyek (she/her/her) | tratnyek.c@husky.neu.edu
TA Office Hours: Meserve Hall 218B, W/Th. 3:00-4:00pm

Course Description

What does it mean to be an American? How has the idea of the United States and the meaning of American identity changed over the course of U.S. history? What are some of the major issues, themes, and turning points that have shaped this process? These questions are at the heart of HIST 1130, which provides an overview of U.S. history from the 1600s to the present. This class is not your typical introductory history “survey.” So what makes this class different?

  1. This course will NOT attempt to “cover” everything that happened in U.S. history in a single semester. That would be impossible. Instead, we will be moving through different periods of American history by focusing on one topic or theme from that period at a time. This means that we will be skipping past major events and even entire decades of U.S. history. That’s okay!
  2. You will NOT be evaluated on how well you can memorize a series of events, people, and dates. Contrary to what you may have learned in high school, history is not “just one damn thing after another.” History isn’t about what happened; it’s about analyzing evidence and material from the past and then using that evidence to building larger interpretations, stories, and narratives. This course is focused on developing your ability to think historically rather than the accumulation of historical facts.
  3. You will NOT be learning just about the past. Throughout the semester, we will be connecting things that happened in the past to things that are happening today, including activities such as attending a federal immigration detainee court hearing or learning about the upcoming 2020 election. The ultimate goal of this class is to equip you with the knowledge and skills to understand how American history continues to shape the present world.

Student Learning Outcomes

What will you learn by the end of the semester? This can be broken into two categories, Skills and Knowledge.


  • Evidence: Put historical documents, materials, and other sources “on the witness stand” and interrogate them as potential evidence for understanding the past.
  • Interpretation: Assemble evidence into interpretations, stories, or narratives about the past, taking into account things like causation, continuity and context.
  • Empathy: Develop the ability to see the world from the perspective of other people in both the past and present.


  • Major Themes: Become familiar with some of the key issues and topics in U.S. history and their significance for understanding both the past and present.
  • Identity and Citizenship: Develop your own definition of what it means to be an “American” and how that idea has changed over time.