Adopting American Yawp

“I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.” —Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”

For 550 students enrolled in United States history survey courses this academic year, a freely available textbook has broadened access to scholarly insight and primary sources. Instructors for AMH 2010 and AMH 2020, which explore the history of the U.S. before and after Reconstruction, have adopted American Yawp, a “massively collaborative” textbook with contributions from over 200 scholars.

By adding this textbook to their syllabi, Department of History instructors have made their courses more affordable, either choosing to use this text on its own in combination with library resources or choosing to adopt it in combination with a smaller number of topical books for purchase. An estimate of student savings based on a recent study indicates the move to free course materials, or “open educational resources,” can save each student about $117 per course. Considering the high enrollment for these courses, that means potential savings of nearly $65,000 each year!

Instructors commented on several aspects of the textbook that foster student engagement:

  • Making a normally “bulky” textbook “easy to navigate” in a digital format.
  • Providing access to a companion primary source collection that is “great” for discussion. Two instructors even use these primary sources in combination with the Perusal annotation tool in Canvas.
  • Relying on the textbook “as a supplement” to “deep dive” books and course lectures, especially for survey courses that cover a large amount of material in one semester.

"Switching to this digital and affordable method has benefited my class discussions tremendously."

—Kaitlyn Muchnok, AMH 2020 Instructor

Cover of Stanford University Press print edition of American Yawp

Published by Stanford University Press and edited by Joseph Wright and Ben Locke, the book is available in digital and print formats. The book has been adopted by numerous instructors at UF over multiple years; in 2020-2021 that includes Steven Noll, Lauren Pearlman, David Meltsner, Kaitlyn Muchnok, Timothy Blanton, Elyssa Gage, and others.