Early America & Narratives of Violence

Early America was a violent place. Competing cultures, clashing agendas, and a series of unsettling conditions all encouraged conflict. This is the prevailing historical narrative today that defines Early America, circa 1492-1800. However, violence was only one response to the complex and intimate interactions between Native Americans, African Americans, and Europeans in the New World. Collaboration, compromise, and negotiation similarly - if not more importantly - defined these peoples and their encounters, exchanges, and connections over the course of three centuries. This seminar, then, will explore this alternative history of Early America sans violence, while at the same time understanding how and why violence became a part of this history, but not the defining characteristic. Finally, this seminar will grapple with the questions of why violence is central to the narratives and histories that we create about ourselves and teach others, and how we might frame the history of Early America in different ways.