History Course Offerings
HIST 112 History of Western Civilization 1: Ancient and Medieval Europe – GS 7
This course explores the development of Western Civilization from its origins in ancient Iraq to its flowering in Renaissance Europe. Key topics include society and belief in the ancient Near East; Greek philosophy, theatre and politics; Roman imperialism and urbanism; Christian origins; Islamic contributions to the West; Medieval monarchy, universities and the papacy; Renaissance art and humanism. This course seeks to provide students with a keen awareness of our debt to past cultures and with new perspectives on where human civilization may be headed. Fall semester.
HIST 113 History of Western Civilization 2: Early Modern and Modern Europe – GS 7
This course will examine the development of Western civilization from circa 1500 to the end of the Cold War. After a brief treatment of the intellectual expansion called the Renaissance, this survey course studies the Age of Exploration and European expansion beyond its geographical borders, thereby introducing the theme of colonialism in Western history. Other major themes of the course include the evolution of ideas, mentalities and, more broadly, Western culture; the development of political systems; and the emergence of various structures and forces in social and economic life. As a historical overview, this course gives attention to famous leaders and dramatic events, as well as examining ordinary people, their daily lives and the continuities in Western civilization. Spring semester.
HIST 116 / AMER 116 History of the United States – GS 6
The course will trace the political, socioeconomic, diplomatic and cultural development of the U.S. from its pre-Columbian origins to the present.
HIST 118 Survey of African History – GS 7
This course surveys select topics in the social, economic and political history of Africa to the present. It begins with an examination of the great medieval West African kingdoms and empires and discusses the importance of Africa’s resources, including gold, to the medieval world economy. The second half of the course traces the development of interactions between Africa and the West, paying particular attention to the Atlantic slave trade, colonialism and African nationalist movements. Spring semester.
HIST 120 Survey of Middle Eastern History – GS 7
This course traces the major political, social, economic and intellectual developments that have shaped the Middle East over the past 1,400 years. Beginning with the career of the prophet Muhammad and the rise of Islam in the seventh century, it follows the processes of political unification and cultural integration from early Arab and Turkish rule to the aftermath of World War I. Special attention is given to Islamic civilization – what it achieved and what it has meant to the people of the Middle East. Fall semester.
HIST 122 / PHLP 122 Modern East Asia – GS 7
An introductory survey of the major developments in China, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia from 1600 to the present. Topics include modernization, the reaction to the West, nationalism, communism and postwar trends. Fall semester.
HIST 130 History of Latin America – GS 7
After examining the Native American and Iberian civilizations of the late 15th century, this course will survey the European conquest and colonization of Latin America, the evolution of colonial society, and the reforms and revolutions that led to Latin American independence. The course then traces the history of the major Latin American nations to the present, emphasizing the themes of political development, the role of the military, social justice and economic development. Fall semester.
HIST 309 / WMGS 309 Women in Latin America
This course examines the diverse experiences and roles of women in Latin American history. While emphasizing diversity, this course also addresses common themes in women’s lives such as cultural ideals and norms, marriage and family, work and economic influence, and participation in public life. Additionally, in the shrinking global village, women everywhere are increasingly involved in and connected by international issues such as cultural imperialism, human rights and the global economy. International issues will be explored and comparisons with women in other regions of the world will be made. Alternate years.
HIST 311 Mexico Since Independence
This course examines the political, economic, social and cultural development of Mexico from its attainment of independence in the early 19th century to the present. Major topics include the emergence of political strongmen and patron-client relations, Mexico’s relations with the U.S. and other foreign powers, the Native Americans’ loss of their land, and agrarian reform, urbanization and migration, the Revolution, and the development of the one-party state. This seminar course also emphasizes students’ development in the areas of critical and analytical thinking and effective oral and written expression. Alternate years.
HIST 312 Social History of the United States
This course will study those people of the U.S. who have not made headlines but have nonetheless made history: at home (the family), at school (education), at worship (religion), at work (labor), at play (leisure), in community (race relations) and in conflict (crime and punishment). It will trace their journeys from the country’s colonial past to the present and will assess their impact on the nation’s successes and setbacks. Fall semester, every third year.
HIST 314 Diplomatic History of the United States – GS 11
The diplomatic history of the U.S. necessarily includes the diplomacy of Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the former Soviet Union, Europe and Latin America. This course will study the past influences on present U.S. relations with each of these regions by examining the cultural and geopolitical motivations of all of the interested parties. Fall semester, alternate years.
HIST 315 Constitutional History of the United States
This course is an inquiry into the philosophical, economic and political sources of the American Constitution from its English origins and the impact of judicial decisions on the American system. The course pays particular attention to the role of the Supreme Court in addressing civil liberties and civil rights in the past 75 years. Fall semester, every third year.
HIST 316 The Americas – GS 11
Unity and diversity have characterized the history of the Western Hemisphere. This course will compare and contrast the political, socioeconomic, diplomatic and cultural influences which have united and divided the U.S., Canada and Latin America since 1945. Fall semester, alternate years.
HIST 319 / AMER 319 / RELS 319 The Catholic Contribution to the United States
This course will explore how and why Catholics of diverse gender, race, class and religious commitment have contributed to the socioeconomic, cultural, political and intellectual development of the U.S. The course will examine Catholics and their church from Spanish North America to St. Norbert College, from immigration to assimilation, and from conflict to consensus. Fall semester, every third year.
HIST 321 The Spanish Conquest of the Americas
This course examines the historic encounter of the Native Americans and the Spanish in the first decades after 1492. The course focuses on the political organizations, social structures, economic systems, and cultures of Spanish and indigenous civilizations; it explores Spanish and Indian perspectives; and it assesses the historical consequences of conflict and accommodation in 16th-century America. Alternate years.
HIST 326 / CLAS 326 The History of Ancient Greece
This course explores ancient Greek civilization from its dawn in the second millennium B.C. to its absorption by the Roman Empire in the third century B.C. Key themes will include tyranny and democracy; innovations in philosophy and science; competition through warfare and athletics; mythology, poetry and history; and new standards in art and architecture. This course seeks to illustrate how different our world would be without the vibrant and creative culture of ancient Greece. Fall semester, alternate years.
HIST 328 / CLAS 328 The History of Ancient Rome
This course is an exploration of Roman civilization from its origin in a tiny Italian village of the eighth-century B.C. to the decline of its vast empire in the fifth century A.D. Key themes include political, administrative and legal achievements; conquest, imperialism and multi-culturalism; the shift from republic to empire; daily life in town and country; the impact of Christianity; and architecture and urbanism. This course is designed to provide the student with a firm grounding in the Roman experience and a keen awareness of what we today owe the Romans of the distant past. Spring semester, alternate years.
HIST 329 The History of Medieval Europe
This course examines the dynamic period of change in Europe from the fading of the Roman Empire through the flowering of the High Renaissance. Key topics include the fusion of Roman, Germanic and Christian cultures; warfare and kingship; the relative powers of church and state; creation of representative assemblies and universities; theology, philosophy and science; Europe and the Middle East; heresy and reform; and Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance art and architecture. This course seeks to illustrate how different medieval people were from us, yet also how we are very clearly their political, cultural and spiritual descendants. Fall semester, alternate years.
HIST 331 History of Byzantine Empire
This course will introduce students to the “other half” of Europe’s Middle Ages, the eastern half with a focus on the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantine Empire had tremendous theological, artistic and legal influence on Western Europe in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It served as a model of advanced politics and diplomacy, of trade and commerce, and as a military bulwark against Islamic invaders, preventing their assault on Eastern Europe for nearly 800 years. Alternate years.
HIST 332 The History of Imperial Spain
This course surveys Spanish history from the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella to Spain’s loss of its American colonies in the early 19th century. Topics include religious unity and conflict, the roles of empire and war, society and culture, 18th-century reform, and Spain’s rise and decline. Alternate years.
HIST 333 Cuba: Colony to Castro
This course examines the history of Cuba from the late 18th century to the present; this period begins with a sugar boom and the development of African slavery in the Spanish colony and ends with Cuba’s current difficulties in a post-Soviet world. Other topics of the course include the Cubans’ struggles for independence from Spain, relations with the U.S., monoculture and the export economy, political institutions and political change, race and class relations, and the Cuban Revolution (a significant portion of the course treats Cuba since 1959). This course aims to enhance the students’ knowledge and understanding of Cuba’s past and place in Latin American and world history. Alternate years.
HIST 335 / WMGS 335 Women and Work
This course examines the topic of women and work historically, with attention to changes over time in the work histories of African and American women. Throughout, we will explore women’s working lives in the context of the gendered social norms within which they have lived. Within this general framework, the course will examine occupations including domestic work, prostitution, farming, market trading and professional/managerial work. The course will also explore the intersections of work with marriage and parenting and the effects of race and class upon women’s working lives. Spring semester, alternate years.
HIST 340 / PEAC 340 Israel/Palestine: The Roots of the Arab-Israeli Conflict
This course examines the origins and development of Jewish-Arab rivalry in the Middle East, beginning with the advent of Zionism in the 19th century and concluding with a review of current events. Social and economic dimensions of the conflict are considered alongside the political history and students are introduced to a wide range of materials on the topic. Alternate years.
HIST 341 Islam and Victorianism in Nineteenth-Century Africa
This course focuses on the lives and legends of two charismatic personalities of the 19th century – Charles G. Gordon, the Victorian martyr-hero and Muhammad Ahmad al-Mahdi, the Sudanese holy man and revolutionary. After considering the ideals which each man died trying to uphold, we examine a variety of accounts of their lives in an attempt to understand the cultures that created these men and the discipline of history that explains them. Alternate years.
HIST 342 History of South Africa
This course examines the origins and development of racial conflict in South Africa. Beginning with the arrival of the Dutch in the 17th century, it then treats the complex relations between Boers and Bantu, the rise of Afrikaner nationalism, the interests of imperialism and the creation of a mining economy. After discussing the establishment of apartheid as an official policy (1948), the course reviews the varieties of resistance to white supremacy. The course concludes by assessing the current situation in South Africa. Alternate years.
HIST 343 Modern Middle East
This course is designed to introduce students to the central issues of 19th- and 20th-century Middle Eastern history: imperialism, nationalism, secularism, modernization and Westernization, and the resurgence of militant Islam. The course begins with the decline of the Ottoman Empire and then examines in detail the experiences of several countries, including Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. The course concludes with a survey of the present conflicts in the region, seeking to understand them in their historical dimensions. Prerequisite: HIST 120 or instructor’s consent. Alternate years.
HIST 344 Colonialism in Africa Through the Novel
This course examines Africa during the years following 1900, when most of the continent came under European political control. Six novels written by Africans will be read which, in contrast to standard histories of Africa, give the reader a rich understanding of what the colonial period in Africa meant for Africans in their daily lives. Topics to be addressed include the effects of colonialism on existing African social, economic and political institutions; African responses to colonialism; the impact of colonialism on colonial movements; and missionary activity in Africa. The novels will be supplemented by more conventional historical materials including a brief African history text. Alternate years.
HIST 345 Slavery in Africa and the Americas – GS 10
This course contrasts American slavery with forms of unfree labor in other parts of the world. Six topics are covered: 1) the precedents: slavery in the ancient world, Islamic Middle East and pre-colonial Africa; 2) the slave experience in the Americas, including Brazil, the Caribbean and the U.S.; 3) the economy of slavery and its effects in Africa and the Americas; 4) slave resistance; 5) the abolition of slavery in Africa and the Americas and 6) the legacies of slavery in the Americas: miscegenation, racial identity and relations, and economic development. Spring semester, alternate years.
HIST 350 The History of Modern Europe – GS 10
This course explores the political, social, economic, military and cultural aspects of modernity in the European context from the French Revolution to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Key topics include Enlightenment values; revolution and reaction; industrial society; Romanticism, socialism and communism; nationalism, imperialism and totalitarianism; World Wars and Cold War; and Europe united. This course seeks to illustrate how the ideas, movements, conflicts and personalities of modern Europe have shaped our contemporary ways of thinking, feeling and living. Spring semester.
HIST 351 / WMGS 351 Women, Gender and Imperialism
From the 1850s through the 1950s, Western women played significant roles in the British colonies in Africa and India in the fields of education, public health and missionary work. These woman believed that they could improve the lives of non-Western women by acculturating them to the norms of their own middle-class, Western and Christian lives. The course will explore how these women tried to reshape key social institutions in Africa and India such as marriage, parenting, medical practices and religion. This course will also explore how the women and men these individuals came to “civilize” in turn shaped the cross-cultural encounter through their powerful reactions to the often unwelcome acculturating messages they received. The course draws upon historical materials and autobiographical, literary, missionary and travelers’ accounts to investigate these events. Spring semester, alternate years.
HIST 352 East Africa – The Swahili
The Swahili people of the East African coast developed an extraordinarily wealthy and sophisticated urban culture and a complex social system, when they emerged as a distinct ethnicity around 900 AD. This course will explore their world from 900 A.D. to the present. We will study their ethnic and religious roots, their involvement in the international Indian Ocean trading network which connected East Africa with the Middle East and Asia, their cities and architecture, their cultural practices and beliefs, and their position in contemporary East Africa. Alternate years.
HIST 361 Modern China
This course examines the values and institutions of traditional China as they functioned during the last dynasty (the Qing Dynasty) and the process of Westernization/ modernization which resulted in the disintegration of many of these values and institutions. The course covers the period from 1644, when the Qing Dynasty was founded, through its overthrow in the 1911 revolution, to the fall of the Republic of China in 1949. The bulk of the course will deal with the century from the Opium War in 1840 to the victory of the Chinese Communists in 1949. Alternate years.
HIST 362 Modern Japan
A study of Japan from 1600 to the present, but focusing primarily on the period after 1853 and the arrival of Commodore Perry. This course studies the Tokugawa period and its downfall, the initial attraction to, and later estrangement from, the West, the role of ultra nationalism both domestically and in foreign policy leading to the Pacific War and finally, the American occupation and post-war development. Alternate years.
HIST 363 Communism in China
A seminar which examines communism from its beginnings in 1921 to the present, with an emphasis on the period after 1949 and includes the rise of Mao, ideological development, foreign policy, relations with the U.S., the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. Alternate years.
HIST 364 Modern Korea
An examination of Korea’s history, culture, society, politics and foreign relations during the 19th and 20th centuries. Topics include traditional Choson Dynasty Korea and its decline (1392-1910), the coming of the West, Japanese imperialism and big power rivalry, domestic factionalism, the colonial period and the resultant independence movement, including the role of overseas Koreans (1910-45), the American occupation, division into hostile regimes, and current issues facing both North and South Korea (1945-present). Alternate years.
HIST 368 / PHLP 368 Asian-American Relations –- GS 11 & GS 12
An examination of the U.S. interaction with East Asia (China, Japan and Korea) during the 19th and 20th centuries focusing on economic, diplomatic, cultural and political aspects. Also includes an examination of immigration and the formation of Asian communities in the U.S. Spring semester.
HIST 389 Special Topics
A course taught at intervals by a member of the staff, dealing with a topic in European, Latin American, Asian, African, Middle Eastern or U.S. history. The topic will be announced each time the course is offered. The course, which counts as an advanced course in the area of concentration in which the topic falls, may be taken more than once, for credit, if the topic is different.
HIST 490 Independent Study
A tutorial course for majors only involving either a directed reading program in an area of special interest to the student or a project based on research under the supervision of a staff member.