Tuesdays, 9:40–11:05, Apr. 24–May 15
Instructor: Richard Stillson
The past and present of the American West have captured the imagination of people throughout the world like no other region of the country. The cowboy herding cattle across dusty plains and the Indian fighting to maintain traditional lands and ancient cultures are but two iconic symbols of the West. But what is the West? Where does the West begin? Who are westerners? How did this region acquire such an impact on the imagination, economy, society, and culture of the country? Focusing on the 19th and 20th centuries, this course explores the diverse geography, cultures, and economies of the region throughout its history. In addition to cowboys and Indians, we will examine how the environment, the federal government, agriculture, mining, movies, and the military influenced diversity, conflict, and change in the West. We will also look at both the historical record and fictional accounts through film and literature.
Richard Stillson has a PhD in economics from Stanford University. After a 25-year career at the International Monetary Fund, he retired to indulge his passion for history. He earned his PhD in history from Johns Hopkins University and has taught history as an adjunct professor at George Mason University. Stillson is the author of Spreading the News: A History of Information in the California Gold Rush.