Historical geography of North America-essay assignment

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The Purpose:

The purpose of this assignment is to allow you to reflect on and discuss concepts related to the geographic evolution of North America .

The Assignment:

The Issue: Two terms that are continually in our consciousness as we examine the geographic evolution of our country are “West” and “Frontier.” What do these terms mean to you? What do they mean to the authors of your textbook? ( McIlwraith, Thomas F. and Muller, Edward K., 2001 (2nd edition); North America: the Historical Geography of a Changing Continent) In the last few weeks of this class, we are looking at the western half of the country – the American West of fact and fiction; yet, prior to that we studied the Trans-Appalachian West. So, clearly there is ambiguity in the term “West.” Is it a place or a process?

And, “Frontier” – Where is that? What is that? Is it a place or a process? There are no clear answers to these questions; but you are all capable of offering some enlightened, and informed, opinions.

Your tasks in this assignment are as follows:

The West as a Place…..(minimum of 450 words)
1) First, spend some time just looking at various maps of the United States, maps that show any combination of attributes of physical and cultural geography. You may see political boundaries, the physical landscape, cultural features, etc. Then after several hours of quiet contemplation…..and talking with friends and family members:

2) Identify the boundaries of the geographic region that we know as the American West – north, south, east and west, or whatever. Explain in detail why you selected the boundaries as you did? Attempt to “think outside the box.” Be creative, be different, be original! The important thing to remember is that there is NOT any one correct answer. Perhaps you will define the American West in a way that nobody has thought of before. Eh?

3) After completing the previous task, write a serious and thoughtful essay in which you justify your definition of the region – why the boundaries are where you put them and what common characteristics of geography (cultural and physical) bind the region together. In other words, what is the West, where is the West, and what distinguishes it from other regions of the USofA.?

The West as a Process….(minimum of 350 words)

4) Now take on the task of defining the “frontier” in American history. What was it? What is it? Where is it? What characteristics define it? Do the terms “west” and “frontier” mean different things to you? I realize that these two essays overlap, and that is OK; but please attempt to write two separate, stand-alone, essays. You can do it – you are good, and you are creative!

Write a really good essay to accomplish this task and be sure to use some examples to support your comments

Final Note: Your formal essays must include proper citations to the sources you use; and I do expect that you will use some sources for this assignment – sources in the library, in your textbook, and/or online – this new world of web site citations is difficult, and the links below are a good guide. For those of you who need minimum requirements, you are required to use a minimum of five (properly referenced) sources for this assignment

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