Syllabus for “Guns and Gun Violence in American History”

This spring 2018 quarter (which begins March 8) I will teach for the first time a class called “Guns and Gun Violence in American History,” which I have created and designed myself. When I mentioned this class on Twitter, a number of people asked to see the syllabus, so below I have laid out all the readings we’ll use in the course (more or less in the order in which we’ll read them). Just a couple of quick caveats: for most books listed below (with the exception of Cornell, Haag, and Winkler), we’ll just read excerpts, typically a chapter. Also, I should note that Louisiana Tech University operates on a ten-week quarter system, which inevitably limits the amount of material we can address in a quarter.

Class Readings

BackStory podcast, “Straight Shot,” 2013.

Richard Hofstadter, “America as a Gun Culture,” American Heritage, October 1970.

Jill Lepore, “Battleground America,” New Yorker, April 23, 2012.

Ruth Igielnik and Anna Brown, “Key Takeaways on Americans’ Views of Guns and Gun Ownership,” Pew Research Center, June 22, 2017.

John Donohue, “How U.S. Gun Control Compares to the Rest of the World,” The Conversation, June 19, 2017.

Adam Winkler, Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America, 2013.

Peter Charles Hoffer, “Falsification: The Case of Michael Bellesiles,” in Past Imperfect, 2004.

Saul Cornell, A Well-Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America, 2008.

Alexander DeConde, “Reconstruction, Cheap Guns, and the Wild West,” in Gun Violence in America: The Struggle for Control, 2001.

Laura Browder, “Maid Marians and Bad Mothers: From the Gungirls of the 1920s to the Gangsters of the 1930s,” in Her Best Shot: Women and Guns in America, 2006.

Scott Melzer, “Frontier Masculinity, America’s ‘Gun Culture,’ and the NRA,” in Gun Crusaders: The NRA’s Culture War, 2009.

Pamela Haag, The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture, 2016.

Mike Spies, “A Historian’s Revealing Research on Race and Gun Laws,” The Trace, November 24, 2015.

Excerpt from Robert F. Williams, Negroes with Guns, 1962.

Akinyele Omowale Umoja, “‘Ready to Die and Defend’: Natchez and the Advocacy and Emergence of Armed Resistance in Mississippi,” in We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement, 2013.

Excerpt from Charles E. Cobb Jr., This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible, 2015.

C.J. Chivers, “The Accidental Rifle,” in The Gun, 2010.

Jennifer Carlson, “Policing Guns, Profiling People,” in Citizen-Protectors: The Everyday Politics of Guns in an Age of Decline, 2015.

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