Fall 2018 - HIST 436 D100

British Columbia (4)

Class Number: 5164

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    AQ 5038, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including nine units of lower division history. Recommended: HIST 101 and 102W.



Selected problems in the social, cultural, economic and political development of British Columbia.


Land of Incomplete Empire and Unfinished Conquest

This senior seminar course examines the history of the region currently known as British Columbia from social, cultural, economic, art historical and political perspectives beginning with British, Russian and Spanish competition for North America’s Pacific Coast in the late eighteenth century. Making use of Matthew Restall’s concept of the “Myth of Completion” (Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest), students will engage with British Columbia as in incompletely conquered and colonized place and with its political boundaries as just one of a set of competing claims of political jurisdiction and title.

Similarly, due to the late date that the region claimed as British Columbia came to be bounded within its current borders, students will be acquainted with early colonial interventions in the region in a non-teleological fashion. By the same token, early Chinese, Japanese and Hawaiian settlers and entrepreneurs will be examined both as traditionally subordinated and racialized migrants and as occupying the limits of Asian and Pacific imperial projects. In addition to connective approaches to settlement, migration and conquest, students will be offered a variety of comparative metrics for understanding BC, placing BC in context with other rentier states, white settler states, etc.

Students will also be introduced to genres of academic writing required in graduate-level history courses and to MA and PhD-level seminar discussion and presentation protocols.

It is expected that students enrolling in the course will be equipped to participate in focused seminar discussion and share some discussion leadership duties with the instructor. Similar co-leadership and self-direction will be expected of students with respect to research and writing. They will also be expected to participate in discussion in a way that is focused on the assigned readings in a disciplined manner. In addition to course objectives with respect to method (i.e. proposal-writing, academic book reviewing, etc.), students will also be acquainted with the broad region historiographies within which BC falls, of the West and of Canada and with topical historiographies such as diaspora and colonization.  


  • Attendance and Informed Participation 25%
  • Reading Response and Seminar Leadership 15%
  • Essay Proposal 10%
  • Book Review 15%
  • Research Essay 35%
  • Students will be evaluated based on oral and written participation



Readings will come primarily from an electronic reader posted to the course’s Canvas web site. These will comprise book chapters, scholarly journal articles and primary sources. In addition, students are expected to purchase three books from the SFU Bookstore.

Cole Harris, The Resettlement of British Columbia: Essays on Colonialism and Geographic Change (Vancouver: University of BC Press, 1997)

Patricia Roy and John Herd Thompson, British Columbia: Land of Promises (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005)

John Vaillant, The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed (Toronto: Vintage Press, 2006)

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html