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Propose a New Historical Monument
This semester, we talked a lot about the removal of monuments. We studied the ways that localities around the globe removed monuments that enshrined histories of racism, colonization, and conquest – histories that no longer reflected the priorities of the community. What should replace these toppled monuments? Think about the people and events that we discussed this semester: What or who embodies who you want to celebrate? Write a proposal for a new historical monument and explain your reasoning using historical evidence.
Be a Public Historian
You have been hired as the new Head Curator of the Early American History wing of the Smithsonian Museum. Your first job is to design an exhibit for one of the three main areas we discussed in this course: 1) North American Empires, 2) The Age of Revolution, or 3) Becoming and Unbecoming American. Focusing on one of these areas, pick THREE objects, images, or documents you will highlight in your exhibit. Describe why you picked them, what you want them to illustrate, and how you will present them.
Home for the Holidays
For many of us, winter break means spending time with family and friends. Sometimes, this means participating in conversations about history with people who don’t know much about history at all. Many well-meaning people who have never taken a history course, read a historical book, or studied primary sources think they understand the American past. Lucky for them, you’re here to help! What are some of the myths you might encounter in family conversations about early American history? Write a script outlining such a conversation, explaining how you might win an argument over some widely held misconceptions about North American history. Be sure to use primary sources, course readings, and evidence to support your claims.
Design a Lesson Plan
You be the teacher! Pick a week, a theme, or a reading from this semester and design a lesson plan to teach to an age level of your choosing. What core issues do you want your students to learn? What kinds of questions will you ask of your students? What kinds of exercises, assignments, or sources will you have them do? Justify and explain your lesson plan in your paper.
Write the Final Lecture of This Course
You be the Professor! How do you want to wrap up this class? What are the big takeaway lessons from nearly 400 years of North American history? How might you emphasize to your students why history matters and what examples will you use to illustrate your main points? You can write this summation chronologically, thematically, geographically, or through individual characters. The choice is yours – it’s your class!
So many of the individuals and events we discussed this semester would lend themselves to social media. What individuals do you think would use social media well and how? Do you have ideas about how to harness the power of social media to illustrate, inform, explore, and educate the public about an episode of American History? If so, go forth and experiment. Use some form of social media to explore a particular theme, event, set of ideas, document, reading, or individual from this semester. Record a podcast, generate memes, craft a Twitter thread, start a tumblr, make some gifs. Always ground your ideas in course material and evidence but go forth and surprise me.
Are you artistically, musically, poetically, cinematically, or otherwise creatively inclined? Are you going to write the next Broadway smash “Ona Judge: The Musical”? Do you want to create a movie trailer for your Pox Americana film pitch? Are you an animator with made skills? A poet moved by history? An actor who wants to do a dramatic reading of a historical text? Work to your strengths and create an “unessay” project that brings together lessons, insights, evidence, or reflections on our course material in a meaningful creative project. You have a lot of free rein here. Dazzle me. Make me proud.