The Courses: History 217 and 218


These courses are College of William and Mary introductory-level seminars.  Participants earn four academic credits by engaging in college-level studies of America's past. The academic program includes daily field trips to historic sites and/or museums, afternooon discussion seminars, afternoon and evening speakers, evening programs, and optional weekend archaeology digs. Although most field trips will be for the morning only, several field trips will be all day due to the distance of these historic sites from campus.  

Students have a choice of taking one of two fast-paced, in-depth classes:

HIS 217: From Jamestown through the American Revolution guides students through a study of 17th and 18th century American history. Beginning with the founding of Jamestown, the course analyses the progress and development of politics, society and culture in the eighteenth century with a focus on Williamsburg in the colonial era. This course culminates with the American Revolution and the victory at Yorktown. 

HIS 218: From the American Revolution through the Civil War begins with Yorktown, and progresses to examine the devlopment of the new nation with visits to several presidential homes. The course advances into the antebellum era with a focus on the coming of the Civil War. This course culminates with visits to several Civil War battlefields and sites in and around Richmond.

This immersive course will include a high degree of interaction with people actively engaged in researching and presenting the American past. There will be special talks and performances by interpreters, behind-the-scenes tours with curators and archaeologists, and conversations with historians and other scholars who are working in the field of American history in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries.

Above all, there will be discussion, both formal and impromptu, about every aspect of the course. Participants in the W&M Pre-College Program will be divided into seminars of no more than a dozen students, each seminar with its own instructor selected from advanced doctoral candidates and recent Ph.D.s in History and American Studies. Students will have nightly readings to prepare for the next day's field trip and discussion. Professor James Whittenburg, Pullen Professor of History in the Lyon G. Tyler Department of History at the College of William and Mary, and Dr. David Corlett, NIAHD Interim Director, head the instructional staff and guide students through select site visits.

Students will also produce analytical essays of their readings and site visits to examine and reflect upon what they saw, heard, said, touched, and read -- and especially how this has reinforced, contradicted, or extended their understanding of the American past. Their writings will focus on weekly thematic studies of American history.  Essays are submitted online in the form of a private blog accessible only to program participants.

Guest scholars, special performances of music and dance, and evening movies will supplement the site visits, readings, and class time.


Students' final grades will be based on their participation in seminar discussions and their analytical essays.