Fall 2020 - HIST 442W E100

America's Empires (4)

Class Number: 8467

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 5:30 PM – 9:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including nine units of lower division history. Recommended: At least one of HIST 208, 209W, 212, 213, and 223.



Explores the various empires (Indigenous, Spanish, French, Dutch, British) that sought dominance in North America after 1500, and discusses the usefulness of 'empire' as a way of thinking about history and power. Writing.


Welcome to Hist 442! The purpose of this course is to investigate the historically contingent nature of the concept of “Empire” through the history of the Americas, from the early modern period up through the nineteenth century.  This semester, we will narrow in on contexts that will be a bit more familiar to us in Canada and the United States, particularly middle and later eras of the history of the British Empire in North America. However, we will also glance outwards and beyond—to the rest of the Americas, to other empires (French, Portuguese, Spanish, American), to Indigenous communities and their complex relationships with European empires and to each other, and to other communities of newcomers to American shores whose fates were wrapped up in various imperial entanglements (eg. the Irish, enslaved and freed Africans, etc.).

This is a seminar, so we will read and discuss several books this semester, likely 4-5. This is also a W course, so we will narrow in on a few key genres of historical writing through online discussions, reflective writing, book reviews, and historiography, as ways of interpreting and accessing history.

This course will be taught synchronous.


  • Participation: 20%
  • Course Diary (periodic reflective pieces): 20%
  • Final draft of a revised/expanded diary entry: 20%
  • Book Review Essay (done in drafts): 20%
  • Independent research project: 20%



All required readings and other sources will be made available to you free via either the course homepage on Canvas, via SFU Library, or elsewhere online. This includes the books we will read (likely 4-6 in total), which are available for free through the SFU Library, so none need to be purchased.  The book list will be finalized on the official syllabus in September, but will include, among others:

Adele Perry, Colonial Relations: the Douglas-Connolly Family and the Nineteenth-Century Imperial World (Cambridge University Press, 2015)

James Sweet, Domingos Álvares, African Healing, and the Intellectual History of the Atlantic World (University of North Carolina Press, 2013)

Michel Ducharme, The Idea of Liberty in Canada During the Age of Atlantic Revolutions, 1776-1838 (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2014

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/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.

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Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).