Wintersemester 2012/13

Hauptseminar Neuzeit: "Westward Ho!" - Eine Geschichte der nordamerikanischen Westexpansion (1600-1880) [An History of the Old West, its Myths and Legacy]

PD Dr. Josef Johannes Schmid

Kurzname: HS.FNZ.Westward
Kursnummer: 07.068.270c

Empfohlene Literatur

William Deverell (ed.), A Companion to the American West, Oxford 2004.
Gary J. Hausladen, Western Places, American Myths: How we Think about the West, Reno 2003.
Nicolas S. Witschi (ed.), A Companion to the Literature and Culture of the American West, Chichester 2011.
Philippe Jacquin et Daniel Royot, Go West ! : Une histoire de l'Ouest américain d'hier à aujourd'hui, Paris 2002.
Joe Hembus, Die Geschichte des Wilden Westens 1540–1894: der Stoff aus dem die Western sind; Chronologie – Mythologie – Filmographie, München 1997.

Zusätzliche Informationen

Die propädeutischen Kenntnisse der Epoche werden vorausgesetzt.

Blockveranstaltung, 18.-20. Februar 2013
For the linguistic prerequisites, please see section D: "Additional Information".
The seminar is intended to be a real multilingual course; thus any contribution can be made in English, French or German. Therefore, an at least good passive command of these languages is inevitably required. Please consider your personal qualifications before applying.


Few subjects of historical research evoke such a variety of opinions, feelings and impressions as the “Old West”. It was, and undoubtedly is, still a field of wide contradictions: extinction of entire indigenous populations and “civilizing” progress, racial hatred and altruistic self-sacrifice, brutal massacre and undaunted courage. Figures like Samuel de Champlain and Fr. Marquette, Lewis & Clarke, David Crockett and Jim Bowie, Col. Custer and Sitting Bull, Doc Holiday and Wyatt Earp still impress or haunt our memory. The cinema-going eye reflects the great trails, the west-heading wagons, the myth of the eternal frontier. And finally, there was the railway, the “iron horse”, the peaceful, but only weapon that could successfully win and unite the new explored regions. Hence, our perception – being historians or not – remains linked to the brave Indian tribes fighting for their freedom, to the not less courageous troops of the US Cavalry – the best light cavalry the world ever knew – moving on against the bright setting sun of adventure and death, to tiny and filthy towns peopled with gangsters, speculators, honest sheriffs and drunken gunmen.
Do these images correspond to any kind of reality? Was the West won or invented?

The purpose of our seminar will be to give at least partial answers to some fundamental questions, such as: Why did people move west? What real attitude did the Indians manifest? Was there any kind of “Indian politics”? Was the winning of the West a direct and immanent result of the often quoted “Manifest Destiny”? And furthermore: Was the West only a result of Anglo-Saxon enterprise? If not, how important were/are the French, Spanish and Russian contributions?
Extra topics will treat the conditions of every-day life in the West, from the settlers to the soldiers, from the gunmen to the railway-builders. A special and final attention will be given to the memory-making of the West – from Karl May to Hollywood.

Voraussetzungen / Organisatorisches

B.A. Geschichte: Dieses Hauptseminar ist Teil des Aufbaumoduls Neuzeit. Dieses Aufbaumodul setzt den erfolgreichen Besuch des Basismoduls Neueste Geschichte voraus. Das Hauptseminar wird mit einer benoteten Hausarbeit abgeschlossen; die Note der Hausarbeit bildet die Modulnote. M.A. Geschichte, M.Ed. Geschichte: Das Hauptseminar wird mit einer benoteten Hausarbeit abgeschlossen; die Note der Hausarbeit bildet die Modulnote. Staatsexamen/Magister: Studierende der alten Studiengänge können auf der Grundlage einer Hausarbeit einen benoteten Schein erwerben.


Datum (Wochentag)UhrzeitOrt
18.02.2013 (Montag)09.00 - 17.00 Uhr00 411 P6
1141 - Philosophisches Seminargebäude
19.02.2013 (Dienstag)09.00 - 17.00 Uhr00 411 P6
1141 - Philosophisches Seminargebäude
20.02.2013 (Mittwoch)09.00 - 17.00 Uhr00 411 P6
1141 - Philosophisches Seminargebäude

Semester: WiSe 2012/13