Advanced U.S. History

Course Description


Full-year course. This course will prepare students to take the College Board’s Advanced Placement U.S. History Exam. Students will learn to “do” history while also gaining a deeper appreciation for the crucial role that history plays in the contemporary world. We will pay particular attention to colonial discontent, nationalism, and the move toward independence; nationalism, state-making, and the changing role of the federal government; slavery, sectionalism, and the Civil War; westward expansion, the destruction of indigenous populations, and U.S. imperialism; industrialization, urbanization, and Progressive-era reform; eugenics, immigration reform, and reproductive politics; the vicissitudes of capitalism, the Great Depression, and the New Deal; and globalization, warfare, and the Cold War Era. To explore these and associated processes, we will make use of primary sources such as newspapers, maps, films, cartoons, government documents, diaries, and memoirs in addition to the required textbook. Key analytical frameworks will include transnationalism, race, disability, gender, and violence.

Students enrolled in the advanced course will supplement the work of the traditional U.S. history course with an extra lecture devoted to the analysis of scholarly articles and discussions of various trends in historiography (the history of how historians have talked about the past). They also will become comfortable with the AP U.S. History test format and requirements. We will read an average of one article per week, though this may vary throughout the semester. Students in the advanced section will complete writing assignments and examinations that reflect their comprehension of all course materials. Exams are modeled on the AP U.S. History Exam so that students may become familiar with the exam’s expectations, in terms of pacing, comprehension, and skill sets.  

When taken in combination with our Literature of the New World course, students will receive the integrated Great Books and History coverage recommended in The Well-Trained Mind. 

Example Syllabus (Download the PDF)

Course texts:

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  • American Stories: A History of the United States, Combined 3rd Edition
  • Major Problems in the History of North American Borderlands
  • Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders
  • Princeton Review Cracking the AP U.S. History Exam, 2017 Edition
  • Barron’s AP U.S. History Flash Cards, 3rd Edition

Class meets twice per week for 50-55 minutes.

Class cap: average 12 students.

Designed for grades 11-12.

Students in grades 9-12 may be awarded 1 Social Sciences credit upon completion of this course.

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