The Chesapeake Bay region during the colonial era — comprised of the colonies of Maryland and Virginia — has been one of the most fertile fields of early American scholarship.  Incorporating the first permanent English settlements in the New World, the evolving Chesapeake society was marked by a cultural richness borne of the mixture of Native American, African, and English peoples.  The society and culture that resulted had a prominent place in the development of the emerging American nation, and thus has particular relevance to today’s world.

The work of scholars from a range of related disciplines — historians, archaeologists, architectural historians, museum curators, and other material culture specialists — have joined forces to gather evidence from a variety of sources to bring to bear in studying this time and place.  Students will have the opportunity to adopt those roles in gathering, manipulating, and interpreting primary data — both on-site and online — to address a number of issues related to the development of Chesapeake culture and society

Assignments include:

• Attendance and participation in class discussions

• Leading class discussion on a selected topic

• Four short exercises in gathering and analyzing primary data

• A capstone project and presentation to the seminar, in collaboration with one or more classmates, on a research question of your choice that will be an extension of classroom work.

Readings include:

Students will read a variety of secondary sources written by specialists in the study of the Colonial Chesapeake; online resources will include a number of recently compiled data bases of primary evidence comprising:  early Chesapeake buildings, enslaved African-American housing, archaeological collections, and primary documents

Viewings include:

Field trips to colonial Chesapeake buildings and sites in the area; Bostwick house, the mid-18th-century home of the prominent Lowndes family, which is located in nearby Bladensburg, will serve as an ongoing laboratory for investigating topics related to Chesapeake architecture and cultural dynamics.