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Grundkurs I: Einführung in die Amerikanische Kulturgeschichte PD Dr. Ursula Prutsch

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Grundkurs I: Einführung in die Amerikanische Kulturgeschichte PD Dr. Ursula Prutsch Mittwoch 8,30 - 10 h im HS S 007 (= E 07 ). Welcome!.

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Grundkurs I: Einführung in die Amerikanische Kulturgeschichte

PD Dr. Ursula Prutsch

Mittwoch 8,30 - 10 h im HS S 007 (= E 07 )

  • “Grundkurs 1” is basically a crash course in US history. It covers a time period from the beginnings of European colonization in North America to the end of the American Civil War and its aftermath, - until 1893.
  • The class will focus on political, social, and cultural developments and on interpretation of textual and pictorial sources.
  • The “Grundkurs” is the basis of the entire program in American Cultural history. It will be expected from you in seminars.


materials and tutorials
Materials and Tutorials
  • Textbook: Mary Beth Norton et al, A People and a Nation, 6th, 7th or 8th ed., see library, Amerika-Institut).
  • Tutorials:

Jonas Anderson, Mo 12-14 Uhr: R 201

Matthias Gerl, Di 18-20 Uhr: R 201

Jens Käppler, Mi 12-14 Uhr, R 106

Robert Winkler, Do 12-14 Uhr, R 106

  • Download course material at:
  • Office hours: U. Prutsch: Mi, 10-12 Uhr,

R 203


  • Exam: February 02, 2011 (PP lect. 1-24, Textbook: chapters 1-16) ): 100 points
  • You will need 61 points to pass
  • The exams will be in English and could be answered in English or German
  • The textbook and the lectures are relevant to the exam
  • Exam questions include:

Chronology (14 points)

Map Quiz (15 points)

Keyword Identifications (27 points)

an analytical essay of 2-4 pages : the topic depends on the “Übung”

you choose (44 points)

Bonus questions: (5 points)

A chronology box from the textbook


how to pass this class
How to pass this class
  • This is a difficult class, which a considerable number of students fail each year. To avoid that:
    • READ THE ASSIGNED TEXTBOOK CHAPTERS EACH WEEK. Expect to spend several hours reading each week.
    • Make excerpts from the textbook.
    • Bring a printout of the lecture presentation to class and take additional notes on it.
    • Go to a tutorial.
    • Come to class
    • Form study groups.


01 a new world
01. A “New World”
  • Purpose: To gain an understanding of European efforts of exploration and colonization in the 15th and 16th centuries
    • The “discovery” of America
    • The Spanish empire
    • The Caribbean as a central theatre of European colonization
    • North America as a peripheral theatre of European colonization
    • The “lost colony” Roanoke
  • Timeframe: ca. the mid-15th to the early 17th century

01. A "New World”

1 1 an age of exploration
1.1 An Age of Exploration
  • 15th to 16th century in Europe was a time of technological, social, political, and religious innovation and change.
  • Search for new trade routes inspired voyages of exploration, most often under Portuguese or Spanish flag.
  • Early Spanish and Portuguese colonization efforts:
  • These European powers established sugar cultivation as an economic model as well as the slave trade.

01. A "New World”

1 2 discovering america
1.2 “Discovering” America
  • The “discovery” of America was a result of the 15th century drive for exploration.
  • It was Christoph Columbus’ voyages in 1492 and later that established permanent contact between Europe and America.
  • John Cabot explored the North American coast for Henry VII of England.
  • Jacques Cartier sailed down St. Lawrence river in 1534.
  • The continent was named by German mapmakers Martin Waldseemüller and Mathias Ringmann for Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci.

Voyages of Norse, Columbus, Cabot, and others

01. A "New World”

1 3 precolumbian indian cultures
1.3 Precolumbian Indian Cultures
  • Debate: When did the first Indians come to America?
  • “Clovis First”-theory (12.000 B.C.)
  • Adovasio-Theory (about 30.000 B.C.)
  • The Kennewick Man
  • Hunter-Gatherer Cultures
  • Anasazi
  • Hohokam
  • Mogollon
  • Mississippi Mound Culture and Cahokia

01. A "New World”

1 4 the spanish empire
1.4 The Spanish Empire
  • Spain turned to conquering the “New World” for profit and religious mission
  • The Caribbean basin became the first stepping stone.
  • Hernán Cortés displaced the Aztec empire in Mexico in 1519-21.
  • Francisco Pizarro’s conquest of the Inca empire (1530s) extended Spain’s territory south.
  • Juan Ponce de León conquered Florida in 1512.

Spanish conquerors quickly mixed with Native Americans and African slaves giving rise to mestizo and mulatto populations.

01. A "New World”

1 5 the columbian exchange

Old World to New World:

New World to Old World:


Smallpox MeaslesChicken PoxMalariaYellow FeverInfluenza



Horses CattlePigsSheepGoatsChickens

TurkeysLlamasAlpacasGuinea Pigs


Rice WheatBarleyOatsCoffeeSugarcaneBananasMelonsOlivesDandelionsDaisiesCloverRagweed

Corn (Maize)PotatoesBeans TobaccoPeanutsSquashPeppersTomatoesPumpkinsPineapplesCacaoManioc (Tapioca)Avocados

1.5 The Columbian Exchange
  • While conquest massively destroyed Native American lives, European diseases proved disastrous.
  • Smallpox, Measles, and other diseases, killed millions, depopulating entire regions.
  • New crops transformed agriculture and diets on both sides of the Atlantic. Horses transformed transportation in America. Tobacco created a new cultural phenomenon in Europe.
  • Some crops involved in the Columbian exchange formed the basis of a plantation economy.

01. A "New World”

1 6 the caribbean
1.6 The Caribbean
  • The islands of the Caribbean formed the most contested center of colonial attention for European powers.
  • Spain possessed Hispaniola, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica.
  • Privateers / pirates such as Francis Drake threatened Spanish shipping, as did the buccaneers.
  • In the 17th century, England established colonies on St. Kitts, Barbados and Jamaica.
  • The French and Dutch also got involved; French colonists settled on Western Hispaniola.

The Caribbean

01. A "New World”

2 1 colonizing north america spanish efforts
2.1 Colonizing North America: Spanish Efforts
  • For Spain, establishing foothold north of Mexico was primarily a consideration of securing the imperial periphery.
  • Spain originally claimed all of America west of the demarcation line of the 1494 treaty of Tordesillas, including all of North America.
  • Settlements in Florida were primarily forts to keep out European rivals.
  • In the 17th century, most Spanish efforts north of Mexico were missions with some military protection, such as Santa Fe.

Spanish and other outposts in Florida

01. A "New World”

2 2 new france
2.2 New France
  • France was the first European power to seek a foothold in continental North America in the 16th century.
  • Jacques Cartier’s first attempt on the St. Lawrence river failed due to illness and Native American resistance.
  • Huguenot attempts in Florida were crushed by Spain.
  • The most important settlement was Quebec (1608) which formed the nucleus of French Canada.
  • The French sought Native American allies, such as the Hurons, whom they aided against the powerful Iroquois confederation.
  • French settlers became heavily involved with the fur trade.

01. A "New World”

2 3 new netherland and new sweden
2.3 New Netherland and New Sweden
  • After 1588, the newly independent northern Netherlands (Holland) became a major naval and colonial power.
  • In 1609, Dutch explorer Henry Hudson sailed up the river now bearing his name.
  • In 1626 the Dutch established New Amsterdam (modern-day New York) on Manhattan island.
  • New Netherland had also trade links to indigenous tribes, esp. to the Mohawk Iroquois.
  • In the early 17th century Sweden also started a colonial venture near the Delaware river. It became part of New Netherland in the middle of the 17th century.
  • French and Dutch Indian allies warred upon another. After the defeat of the Hurons, the Iroquois became the major power in the region.

01. A "New World”

3 1 english migration to north america
3.1 English Migration to North America
  • In the long run, the English colonies proved more successful than others.
  • The main reason for this was the great number of migrants that left England in the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • Between 1600 and 1660, more than 200,000 Englishmen and -women went to America.
  • Most went to the Carribean basin, but even in North America, the English were the largest European group.

01. A "New World”

3 2 reasons for english migration
3.2 Reasons for English Migration
  • Demographic reasons:
    • Population growth
    • Internal migration to cities
  • Economic reasons:
    • Decline in real wages
    • Farm enclosures
    • Mercantilism
    • Joint stock companies
  • English power increase:
    • Victory over the Spanish Armada, 1588
  • Religious unrest

01. A "New World”

3 3 roanoke the lost colony
3.3 Roanoke, the Lost Colony
  • Roanoke, the earliest English colonization attempt, was a disaster.
  • In 1580s, Walter Raleigh planned the colony as an economic venture and an outpost against the Spanish in modern-day North Carolina.
  • In 1587, 117 colonists landed at Roanoke.
  • Due to war with Spain, no relief ships came until 1590. The settlers had probably moved to Croatoan Island, where they vanished.

North Carolina coast: Roanoke and Croatoan

01. A "New World”

  • European voyages of exploration initiated contact between the “Old” and the “New World”.
  • Over the course of the 15th and 16th centuries, Spain built a spectacular empire in the Americas, conquering indigenous empires, destroying Native American lives and initiating the Columbian exchange.
  • America north of Mexico was initially peripheral to European considerations; 16th century attempts at colonization were largely unsuccessful due to Spanish opposition and problems of survival.
  • In the 17th century, however, less powerful European nations successfully established colonies in North America: New France, New Holland, New Sweden as well as English efforts.

01. A "New World”

sample keyword
Columbian Exchange

Transfer of diseases, plants and animals between Europe, Africa and America resulting from European exploration of the 15th and 16th centuries. European diseases, esp. smallpox and measles devastated Native American populations. Syphilis in turn came from America to Europe. Other examples included horses, cattle, pigs (from Europe and Africa) and maize, potatoes, beans (from America), transforming diets on all three continents.

Sample Keyword

01. A "New World”