History 3327 • Spring 2018

Earth, Wind, & Fire: Nature & History in America

Professor Mark Stoll

Holden Hall 135

E-mail: mark.stoll@ttu.edu   Web: http://www.markstoll.net/

Office Hours: Tuesday 12:30–1:00 p.m., Thursday 9:30–10:50 a.m., and by appointment


Through lectures, readings, and film, the course explores two evolving topics in American history: the interrelationship and mutual impact of humans with the land and its plant and animal life; and cultural attitudes and thinking about nature and the environment.


William Cronon, Changes in the Land

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra

Stradling and Stradling, Where the River Burned

Donald Worster, Dust Bowl

Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma


17.5% each

Midterm examinations


Final examination


Six book quizzes


Analytical book review

Exams: Exams will be essay exams. Students will have an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of environmental history as well as to engage issues raised in lectures, discussions, and readings. The final exam will have the same format as midterms, with the addition of a cumulative section.

Book quizzes: Short quizzes given on the discussion day for each book will encourage students to have read the books and be ready to discuss them.

Papers: Students will write an analytical book review on a book of their choice.
Instructions for the analytical book review: For this review, students will select a book on environmental history from the bibliography of American environmental history on the professor’s Website (excluding edited collections of essays or books required for the course). There is a full bibliography here: http://www.markstoll.net/Bibliographies/US/Environmental. htm. Students may select another book if the professor approves it. The book review will be four to six pages long and have three sections:

1.      A short summary (not a table of contents or outline) of the book’s contents; this should not take more than a paragraph or two.

2.      An explanation of the book’s thesis, with a discussion of how the author has supported the thesis. You can often find a statement of the book’s thesis in its preface, introduction, or conclusion. Reread these sections after you finish your book. (Ask the professor, if you have any doubts. Many students miss or confuse the thesis!)

3.      Most important, an analysis of the book, including how successful it is (or is not!) in supporting its thesis, what the author’s bias (that is, its point of view) is, whether it agrees or disagrees with other class material, how it might be improved, how well it is written, and whether you agree with the book’s conclusions. Would you recommend it to others? Give examples to support each point of your analysis.

Papers will be printed in 12-point Times New Roman, double spaced, with 1" margins all around (or 1¼" right and left margins and 1" margins top and bottom). Do not add space between paragraphs (and if your word-processing program does so automatically, adjust the “Paragraph” settings). If you quote directly from the text of your book, cite your source by adding the page number or numbers in parentheses immediately after the quotation. For example:

The poet wrote, “That is the way the world ends” (42).

No footnotes or bibliography are necessary. Grammar and punctuation must be correct. For links to online writing advice, see http://english.ttu.edu/uwc01/Resources/default.asp. Also the University Writing Center (paid for by your fees!) would be happy to help you polish your writing. They can help you in person or via the Internet, and can be reached through their Website: http://english.ttu.edu/uwc01/.

 Attendance: The professor will call roll at the beginning of each class. Students with a perfect attendance record will receive three bonus points on their final grades. Students with more than two absences will receive 1½ points off their final grades for each absence over two. The instructor will accept excuses in cases of true need if appropriately documented.

 Plagiarism: Using text written by someone else (even in a close paraphrase) is academic dishonesty. It is strictly against university and departmental policy. Papers that have been plagiarized in whole or in part receive a 0 for the assignment, and a further penalty of 10 points will be deducted from the student’s final grade average.

 Electronics in the Classroom: Because electronic devices distract both the student and other students around them, all electronic devices must be turned off during class time. This means no texting or other use of cell phones, and no laptops. Students using cell phones in class will be asked to leave and will be counted absent for the day. Laptops may be used only if the instructor gives permission, but students must use the computer for class-related activities only, such as note-taking. This means no e-mail, social media, Internet surfing, video watching, or other non-academic activities. If, during an exam, a student is seen using any electronic device, the exam will be collected immediately at that moment and receive a failing grade.


Note: Any student who intends to observe a religious holy day should make that intention known to the instructor prior to the absence.  A student who is absent from class for the observance of a religious holy day shall be allowed to take an examination or complete an assignment scheduled for that day within a reasonable time after the absence.  See University Standard Operating Procedure 34.19.
Note: Any student who, because of a disability, may require special arrangements in order to meet the course requirements should contact the instructor as soon as possible to make any necessary arrangements. Students should present appropriate verification from Student Disability Services during the instructor's office hours. Please note: instructors are not allowed to provide classroom accommodations to a student until appropriate verification from Student Disability Services has been provided. For additional information, please contact Student Disability Services in West Hall or call 806-742-2405.

The professor reserves the right to change this syllabus at his discretion. Changes will be announced in class and posted at the Web address listed above.





Jan 18


Jan 23

Were Indians environmentalists?

Jan 25

Arrival of the Europeans: ecological imperialism

Jan 31

Reading: William Cronon, Changes in the Land

Feb 1

Slavery and the Southern environment

Feb 6

Southern culture and the environment

Feb 8

Puritans, New England, and the natural environment

Feb 13

Reading: John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra

Feb 15


Feb 20

First Midterm Exam

Feb 22

Transformation of the West

Feb 27

Industrialization and the rise of the cities

Mar 1

Urban environmental problems

Mar 6

Reading: Donald Worster, Dust Bowl

Mar 8

The Progressive conservation movement: rise of conservation

Mar 10–18

Spring Break

Mar 20

The Progressive conservation movement: conservation achieved
Book review due

Mar 22

After the Progressives: The 1920s

Mar 27

The New Deal

Mar 29

New forces, new fears: radiation

Apr 3

Reading: Carson, Silent Spring

Apr 5

Dams and wilderness

Apr 10

Second Midterm Exam

Apr 12

The 1960s: Johnson and the Great Society and environmental crisis

Apr 17

The 1970s: Nixon and the environmental decade

Apr 19

The 1970s: Carter and the Energy Crisis, Toxic Waste, and Nuclear Power

Apr 24

Reading: Stradling and Stradling, Where the River Burned

Apr 26

The 1980s: Reagan and the End of an Bipartisan Environmentalism

May 1

Environmental Justice; International Solutions to Acid Rain and Ozone Depletion, but Not Global Warming

May 3

A New Environmentalism for the Twentieth Century?

May 8

Reading: Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma

May 12

Saturday, 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.: FINAL EXAM