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HIST-111 - United States History I - Erik Altenbernd, PhD

Course:United States History I
Professor:Erik Altenbernd, PhD
  • Online
Course Length:
  • 16 Week


Dear Student,

Welcome to History 111, a survey of US history from the Precolumbian Era to 1877. This course is a 100% online course. Thus, this course does not include direct, in-class instruction or face-to-face meetings between me, you, or the other students in the course. All the assignments for this course (quizzes, discussions, exams, and essays) will be completed and/or submitted entirely online. This means that you can complete the work for this class anywhere and anytime. However, it also means you will need regular, uninterrupted access to the internet to successfully complete the class.

Although we will not meet regularly week-to-week for this course, I will be available on a regular basis to answer your questions. I want you and everyone enrolled in this course to succeed, so please feel free to contact me whenever necessary. I will be contacting you on a regular basis through course announcements and on the course message boards. I hope these regular channels of communication will help you feel as though you are not alone in this class—that I am available to you and that you are one of many others enrolled online. Hopefully, we’ll all work as a team as we learn about modern US history.

To succeed in this course, you will need to check Canvas on a regular basis for course assignments and information. I recommend you check the “Announcements” section of Canvas no less than two times per week. In addition to the course announcements, I also recommend you first familiarize yourself with the “Syllabus,” “Modules,” and "Assignments" sections of the course during the first two weeks of the semester. Each of these sections contain important course information, including the course schedule, readings, and assignment due dates.

Again, if you have any questions about any of these matters, feel free to reach out to me via email or a message on Canvas.

Course Description

This class is a survey of the political, economic, social, and cultural history of North America and the United States from

Precolumbian period to the end of the Civil War and Reconstruction (1865-1877). The major topics and themes of this course include:

  • the development of ideas of race and the centrality of racial identity and discrimination in American society;
  • social class and the paradoxes of income and wealth inequality in a democratic society;
  • the patterns of Paleoindian and Native American settlement;
  • Euro-American patterns of settlement;
  • the development of slavery as an economic, social, cultural, political, and legal institution;
  • European-Indian and US-Indian relations;
  • mercantilism and market capitalism in the First British Empire;
  • the American Revolution and the development of American nationalism;
  • early industrialization and market capitalism;
  • Manifest Destiny and US territorial expansion;
  • the cultural politics of abolitionism and social reform before the Civil War;
  • the Civil War and Reconstruction.

What to Expect in this Course

There are no timed objective (question-based) quizzes or examinations in this class. 

Instead, this course is comprised of a variety of (mainly short) writing assignments.

Most of the assignments will be one of two types of short writing assignments: descriptive/definitional writings or short online discussions. The descriptive assignments, focus mainly on content-acquisition (the Who? What? Where? When? of history) and summarizing the basic features of a specific historical actor, event, development, or concept/term. The discussion assignments focus more on historical analysis, which is to say, the Why? of history---on assessing why a historical event occurred the way it did or why it remains significant today.  

The course also includes two short essay assignments on two different feature films; a midterm essay; and a final essay.

Types of Assessments

Description and summary writings (200-300 words) Online discussions (200-600 words) Film analysis essays (500-600 words) Midterm essay (approx. 1000 words) Final essay (approx. 1500 words)

Textbook Information

This is a Zero-Textbook-Cost (ZTC) class which means the textbooks assigned in this class can be accessed for free.

  1. Joseph L. Locke and Ben Wright, ed., The American Yawp: A Massively Collaborative Open U.S. History Textbook, Volume I: To 1877 (2019). ISBN: 9781503603715 (paperback edition).

    NOTE: To access this book for free, click on the link above, copy and paste the following web address--- search the web using the title of the book and the editors’ names. The address above directs you to the homepage for the textbook, which lists the chapters for volumes one and two of the book. Scroll down past the book chapters to the bottom of homepage to find the links to the PDF versions of the book and click on the link titled “Vol. I” to download the PDF of volume two for free. Print and digital formats of the book can be purchased or rented through the COC bookstore but purchasing or renting the book is optional and therefore not required.

  2. Jonathan Earle, John Brown’s Raid on Harpers Ferry: A Brief History with Documents (2008). ISBN: 9780312392802. NOTE: Multiple copies of this book are on reserve—and, thus, accessible for free—at the Valencia campus library. Print and digital formats of the book can be purchased or rented through the COC bookstore but purchasing or renting the book is optional and therefore not required. Additional readings will be distributed electronically via Canvas.

Other Relevant Course Information


Additional Resources


This course can be accessed on the first day of class via Canvas at Log into Canvas using your CanyonsID single sign-on:

  • CanyonsID Username is your COC student email address (Ex:
  • CanyonsID Password is your COC student email password

Please visit the Get to Know Your Online Classroom page for help logging into Canvas and for tips on using Canvas and Zoom. Canvas Chat Support is also available 24/7 for any Canvas related issues.

Online Education

Check out the Online Education website for more information on a variety of topics that can help you be a successful online student such as: exam proctoring, learning styles, computer skills, and tips for student success. If this is your first online course, feel free to take our online learning readiness assessment to assess your skills.

The Learning Center (TLC)

The TLC provides FREE online tutoring resources to COC students!

Academic Accommodation Center (AAC)

College of the Canyons AAC provides educational services and access for eligible students with documented disabilities who intend to pursue coursework at COC. A variety of programs and services are available which afford eligible students with disabilities the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of the college programs and activities through appropriate and reasonable accommodations. For more information on their services visit the Academic Accomodation Center website.

Online Counseling

The Counseling Department offers appointments online. You can schedule an appointment by visiting the Online Counseling website. Counselors can help you map out a plan to reach your educational goals as well as advise you on course selection and registration.

Management of Stress and Mental Health

Often the pressure on our students is very strong, involving academic commitments, relationships, outside jobs and family pressure to name a few. The staff and faculty of College of the Canyons are here to see you succeed academically and care about your emotional and physical health. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential student services, including counseling and mental health services available on campus by visiting the Student Health & Wellness Center in the Student Services Building (across from the bookstore). The phone number is 661-362-3259 that you can call 24/7. You can also e mail for an appointment at At the Canyon Country Campus the Health Center will be in the new Student Services Building.

Also, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline number is now 988. All students at COC are encouraged to enter that phone number in their cells. You can call it when you, or someone you know, is having thoughts of suicide or is in severe distress.

You can also now use the Crisis Text Line: Just text "Courage" to 741741. Someone will get back to you immediately. Its free, 24/7, and confidential.

Veterans Resource Center

The College of the Canyons Veterans Resource Center is a department within the Student Services Division at the college, created to help veterans and veteran dependents with applying to College of the Canyons, enrolling in classes, and requesting VA Education or Vocational Benefits. For more information please visit the Veterans Resource Center website, email or phone (661) 362-3469.


The Library provides live online and in-person research help, access to a full range of e-resources and physical materials that support the curriculum, individual and group study areas, and much more!

Last updated: 10/08/2021 Sub#: 837