Settling the Trans-Appalachian West, ca. 1774-1830 module (HY42052)

Examine the origins of United States' westward expansion and its social and cultural impact on white migrants and Native Americans

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Module code


The image of the frontier has a central place in shaping modern American culture. Examining how White Americans converted millions of acres of Native American land into the heartland of the United States, and how the image of the heroic frontiersman was formed, helps us to understand the origins of many aspects of modern America.

This module explores the development of the early American frontier, focusing on the Trans-Appalachian West from the arrival of the first white colonists during the era of the American Revolution until 1830, when this region ceased to be a frontier or backcountry.

What you will learn

In this module, you will:

  • lean about the society, culture, and economy of the early American frontier
  • examine how warfare shaped both white and Native cultures and societies
  • study how westward expansion shaped views of race and gender and shaped popular images of white masculinity
  • analyse how experiences in the early West shaped the lives and experiences of women and African-Americans
  • work closely with a range of primary source materials including extensive collections of first-hand accounts from early white colonists

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • explain how the image of the frontier and the frontiersman was created, shaped, and developed
  • understand the different forces that shaped the development of the early American West
  • explain the responses of Native people to the colonisation of the Trans-Appalachian West
  • build upon your experience working in primary sources to develop your own research

Assignments / assessment

  • extended research-based essay (50%)
  • module blog (35%)
  • class presentation (15%)

This module does not have a final exam.

Teaching methods / timetable

  • three-hour student-led seminars


This module is available on following courses: