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Contributed by Vivian Bruce Conger on 08/26/2014
Honors students (and qualified non-honors students) are welcome to experience life in colonial Boston and revolutionary New York City. “The Power and Fate of Republics in Early America,” consists of two elaborate games, set in the past, in which students are assigned roles. Class sessions are run entirely by students; I advise and guide students and grade your oral and written work.
The Trial of Anne Hutchinson recreates one of the most tumultuous and significant episodes in early American history: the struggle between the followers and allies of John Winthrop, Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and those of Anne Hutchinson, a strong-willed and brilliant religious dissenter. The controversy pushed Massachusetts to the brink of collapse and spurred a significant exodus. The puritans who founded Massachusetts were poised between the Middle Ages and the modern world, and in many ways, they helped to bring the modern world into being. Yet the puritans’ passionate struggles over how far they could tolerate a diversity of religious opinions in a colony committed to religious unity were part of a larger historical process that led to religious freedom and the modern concept of separation of church and state. Their vehement commitment to their liberties and fears about the many threats these faced were passed down to the American Revolution and beyond.
Patriots, Loyalists, and Revolution in New York City, 1775-76 draws students into the political and social chaos of a revolutionary New York City, where patriot and loyalist forces argued and fought for advantage among a divided populace. Can students realize the liminal world of chaos, disruption, loss of privacy, and fear of victimization that comes with any revolution accompanied by violence? How do both the overall outcome and the intermediate “surprises” that reflect the shift of events in 1775-76 demonstrate the role of contingency in history? Could the Brits still win? What were the complexities, strengths, and weaknesses of the arguments on both sides? How were these affected by the social circumstances in which the Revolution occurred?
To see a brief video about the course and its methodology, go to my web site at faculty.ithaca.edu/vconger/powerandfateofrepublics/
Interested non-honors students, please contact me immediately to discuss the course.