History Course Offerings
HIST 112 History of Western Civilization 1: From the Bronze Age to the Renaissance (Core: WT)
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, theater and politics; Roman imperialism and urbanism; Christian origins; Islamic contributions to the West; Medieval monarchy, universities and the papacy; and 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 (Core: WT)
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 an 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. Fall semester.
HIST / AMER 114 History of the United States 1 (Core: DD)
This course will trace the political, social and cultural development of the U.S. from its pre-Columbian origins through the Civil War. From encounters between early colonists and Native Americans, to midwives tending to colonial women, to 19th-century laborers adjusting to industrial changes, and finally to the slave trade, this course will pay particular attention to the role of race, class and gender in shaping society and politics.
HIST / AMER 115 History of the United States 2 (Core: DD)
This course will trace the political, social, and cultural development of the U.S. from Reconstruction to the present. From Jim Crow segregation, to labor organizing during the Great Depression, to women’s rights movements, to the debates over immigration, this course will pay particular attention to the role of race, class and gender in shaping society and politics.
HIST 118 Survey of African History (Core: BB)
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 (Core: BB)
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 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 Modern East Asia (Core: BB)
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 (Core: BB)
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 210 Making History: Truth and Myth
This course is designed to give history majors a better understanding of the many ways in which the past has been retrieved, sorted and recorded to create what we call “history.” Often this process has involved a search for the truth, based upon verifiable evidence, in order to explain the present; perhaps just as often, it has also meant the distortion of facts, the invention of traditions, and the (re)making of myths in the service of some political or other agenda. We will begin by surveying several of the better-known schools of historical writing, starting with the classical Greeks and ending with the post-modernists and world historians. Next, we will investigate some examples of historical writing as they apply to the history of the Middle East. Ultimately, we will hope to better understand what is meant by the expression “the use and abuse of history.” Spring semester, 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.
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 / AMER 322 American Immigration and Ethnic History
This course traces the history of immigration to the United States from the 19th century to the present. In the 19th century, waves of immigrants arrived in the U.S., building communities and sparking outrage among native Americans. Today, many descendants of these immigrants call for tighter border control. This course will examine immigrant characteristics and motivations, as well as legislation that has defined what it means to be American and changed patterns of migration. Throughout, we will ask, what does it mean to be an immigrant in this nation, and what does it mean to be a nation of immigrants. Alternate years.
HIST / AMER 324 Poverty, Charity and Welfare in American History
This course will examine the poor in modern America: from orphans in Chicago's Home for the Friendless, to sharecroppers in the Great Depression, to Reagan's notorious welfare queen of the 1980s. We will analyze primary and secondary sources to understand why people were poor and how they coped with the insecurity and instability of poverty, and to investigate America's various anti-poverty crusades. Finally, considering the majority of non-white men and women living below the poverty line, we will pay particular attention to race and gender, and ask how Americans have responded to, and at times perpetuated, this disparity. Alternate years.
HIST / 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 the world would be without the vibrant and creative culture of ancient Greece. Fall semester, alternate years.
HIST / AMER / WMGS 327 Women and Gender in United States History
This course will explore women and gender in American history from colonial America to the present. Students will examine how gender norms changed throughout history and how individuals interacted with those norms. They will analyze how women and notions about gender shaped American politics: through cultural trends like fashion; through family and daily life; and through social movements such as suffrage, temperance, and welfare rights. We will ask, when did gender constrict the choices that individuals faced, and when did individuals expand and even disassemble gender norms? Alternate years.
HIST / CLAS 328 The History of Ancient Rome
This course is an exploration of Roman civilization from its origin in a tiny Italian village in the 8th 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 multiculturalism; 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 the 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. Spring semester, 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 / 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. Fall semester, alternate years.
HIST 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. Students are introduced to a wide range of materials on the topic. Spring semester, alternate years.
HIST 341 Islam and Victorianism in Nineteenth-Century Africa
This course focuses on the lives and legends of two charismatic figures of the nineteenth 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. Fall semester, alternate years.
HIST 343 The 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. Fall semester, 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; anti- colonial movements; and missionary activity in Africa. The novels will be supplemented by more conventional historical materials including a brief African history text. Fall semester, alternate years.
HIST 345 Slavery in World History (Adv. Core: WT)
This course contrasts American slavery with forms of unfree labor in other parts of the world. Six topics are covered, the precedents – slavery in the ancient world, Islamic Middle East and pre-colonial Africa; the slave experience in the Americas, including Brazil, the Caribbean and the U.S.; the economy of slavery and its effects in Africa and the Americas; slave resistance; the abolition of slavery in Africa and the Americas; and 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 (Adv. Core: WT)
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 / 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 women 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 material and autobiographical, literary, missionary and travelers’ accounts to investigate these events. Spring semester, alternate years.
HIST 354 Issues in the Contemporary Middle East
This course allows History majors with an emphasis on the Middle East to examine the historical roots of the most pressing issues in the region today. While the course content is expected to change somewhat each time it is taught, subjects of likely interest are U.S. involvement in the region since World War I, the Shi’ite revival since the Iranian revolution, the spread of political Islam (e.g., the Muslim Brothers, al-Qa’ida, and ISIS), and the revolts of the “Arab Spring.” Students are encouraged to take HIST 343 before this course to familiarize themselves with 20th century developments. Prerequisite: HIST 120. Spring semester, 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, 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, Hu Jintao, and Xi Jinping. 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 Korea and South Korea (1945-present). Alternate years.
HIST 368 The Asian American Experience (Adv. Core: DD)
An examination of the immigration of East Asians (Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans) to the United States and the formation of Chinese-American, Japanese-American, and Korean-American communities from the 19th century to the present.
HIST 370 The End of the World (Adv. Core: WT)
This course examines the many ways that beliefs about a final judgment and an end-time event (“Apocalypse”) have been put into action in Western and non-Western societies during periods of acute crisis. Students will be exposed to a variety of disciplinary approaches to the study of millenarian movements, and will be expected to reflect critically in class discussions and essays on the values that these movements reflect and their change or continuity across space and time. The course concludes with an examination of contemporary American millenarian beliefs. Spring semester, alternate years.
HIST 389 Special Topics (2 or 4 credits)
A course taught at intervals by a member of the faculty, 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 (2 or 4 credits)
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 faculty member.