Week 1 :: American Nations by Colin Woodard : Introduction

Thought Questions

  • How does the author use concepts from Cultural geographers to explore history?
  • What is the main thesis of the book? 
  • What geography does the book cover and exclude? Why does the author make this choice? 
  • What are the eleven regions outlined in the Introduction and what are their characteristics and non-American origins 
  • How does the author organize the main body of his book?

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “America’s most essential and abiding divisions are not between red states and blue states, conservatives and liberals, capital and labor, blacks and whites, the faithful and the secular. Rather, our divisions stem from this fact: the United States is a federation comprised of the whole or part of eleven regional nations, some of which truly do not see eye to eye with one another.”
  • “I’ve also intentionally chosen not to discuss several other nations that influence the continent but whose core territories lie outside what is now the United States and Canada. Cuban-dominated South Florida is the financial and transportation hub of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. Hawaii is part of the greater Polynesian cultural nation and was once a nation-state of its own. Central Mexico and Central America are, of course, part of the North American continent and include perhaps a halfdozen distinct nations—Hispano-Aztec, Greater Mayan, Anglo-Creole, and so on. There are even scholars who make persuasive arguments that African American culture constitutes the periphery of a larger Creole nation with its core in Haiti and a domain extending over much of the Caribbean basin and on to Brazil. These regional cultures are certainly worthy of exploration, but as a practical matter, a line needed to be drawn somewhere.”