Course Descriptions

Fall 2020 Course Descriptions

Choose from the tables below for descriptions of the courses, the professors teaching the courses, and the days of the week the courses are offered.


United States History

HIST 3101—Early America, 1941-1789

MWF 9:00-9:50
Dr. Bryan Rindfleisch

We will explore Early America from the pre-Columbian era to the creation of the U.S. Constitution. We will focus on the convergence of European, Native American, and African worlds in North America, and how they collectively created a “new world.” Themes include colonization and decolonization, empire and revolution, slavery and resistance, religion and witchcraft, cross-cultural negotiation and conflict, transatlantic trade and exchange, migration and mobility, metropoles and peripheries, among others.

HIST 3103—The New American Nation, 1787-1836 

TTh 12:30-1:45

Dr. Kristen Foster

In this course we will explore together the era of the early American Republic: from the years of the American Revolution through the rough and tumble years of Andrew Jackson and the market revolution. We will investigate the reasons for the independence movement and how a diverse population understood the meaning of liberty, equality, and republicanism.  We will study the founding generation, the formation of a workable national government, the continuation and expansion of slavery, westward expansion, the War of 1812 and the rise of the market economy, Indian Removal, American identity, the rise of democracy, Andrew Jackson and the endless optimism of the young republic. Each week we will combine lectures with discussions. The course requirements include avid class participation, a debate, papers and exams.

 HIST 3118—American Military History

TTh 11:00-12:15
Dr. David McDaniel

History 3118 will undertake an analysis of the military history of the United States from the colonial period to the present. This course considers the role of the U.S. armed forces in relation to the social, cultural, political, economic, and technological development of the United States. It will not only address such themes as wartime strategy, operational tactics, and combat technology, but also the impact of warfare on society and the reflections of ordinary men and women in uniform.

HIST 4113/5113—American Foreign Relations 1

MWF 12:00-12:50
Dr. Michael Donoghue

This course will examine the rise of the United States from colony to empire from the years 1776 through 1913.  We will analyze the imperial context of British colonists prior to the Revolution, the diplomacy of the War for Independence, U.S. attempts at maintaining neutrality during the 1790s, the Louisiana Purchase, the War of 1812, conflicts with Amerindian nations, the Mexican War, westward expansion and Manifest Destiny, the diplomacy of the Civil War, the imperialist surge of the 1890s-1910s, the Open Door controversy in China, and the building of a U.S. empire in the Caribbean Basin.  This course will especially explore the intimate connections between foreign and domestic policy, the role of slavery in U.S. international relations, and the influence of racial and gendered ideologies in the formation of American empire.  The course will be reading intensive with a midterm, a final exam, short in-class writing exercises, and 3 short papers. 

HIST 4130/5130—Religion and American Life 

TTh 12:30-1:45
Dr. Steven Avella

Religious beliefs, institutions and religiously motivated men and women have played an important role in the shaping of American culture. We will begin by an examination of the religious world of Native Americans. Then we will revisit the (hopefully) familiar narrative of U.S history and determine how religion has played a role in national life and development.  Religion influenced politics, debates over moral issues such as slavery, treatment of the poor, abortion and international affairs. 

HIST 4140/5140—American Urban HIstory

MWF 1:00-1:50
Dr. Sam Harshner

 American attitudes about the city have always presented a contradiction.  On one hand the city has been lauded as the site of economic dynamism and cultural innovation.  On the other it has been criticized as a cesspool of moral dissolution and political corruption.  Throughout American history, questions of citizenship and exclusion have been inextricably tied to conceptions of the city.  Ideas of race, class, immigration, sexuality and gender have all developed in concert with perceptions of the urban landscape.  Though seventeenth-century burghs have little in common with modern megalopolises, the nation's anxiety about the urban environment has consistently played a prominent part in American political, economic and cultural thinking.   This course will trace the American city and from its modest colonial origins through its commercial, industrial and post-industrial incarnations.  

HIST 4320/5320—United States-Latin American Relations 

MWF 10:00-10:50

Dr. Michael Donoghue

This course will explore the often troubled and complicated relations between the United States and Latin America from the American Revolution through the present day.  We will analyze the early and continuing perceptions of nations on all sides of this equation regarding race, gendered, cultural, and ideological differences.  Conflicts over revolution, independence, U.S. expansion, foreign intervention, the Cold War, and immigration marked the interactions of nations, individuals, and groups within this hemispheric crucible.  Special attention will be given to U.S. desires for hegemony countered by resistance, defiance, and alternative hopes for development and integration from the Latin American side of an often volatile relationship.  The course will call for close reading of assigned works, engaged discussion, two short papers, a midterm, and a final examination.

HIST 6115—The American Revolution and the New Nation

T 4:30-7:00

Dr. Kristen Foster

In this colloquium we will look at the birth and early development of the United States beginning with the French and Indian War when the future states were loyal colonies of Britain and ending in 1831 when a solar eclipse, a bloody slave rebellion in Virginia, and the publication of William Lloyd Garrison‘s Liberator suggested that the strength and durability of the new nation would be tested in the years to come. To this end, we will begin by exploring the ways that historians have explained the colonial break with Britain and ultimately the American Revolution. Then we will explore together the era of the early American Republic: the years of defining the meaning of the Revolution, of nation building, and of national definition. We will see how historians have tested the founding generation‘s reasons for their independence movement against the experiment that they set in motion as the United States. We will also explore the visions that a variety of groups had for the republic's future based on their understandings of revolutionary ideals. We will study the formation of a workable national government, the bid for empire, westward expansion, slavery and its impact on American identity, the rise of democracy and Andrew Jackson, and the endless optimism of young republic. As a colloquium, the emphasis in this course is on shared readings and intense discussion.

HIST 6120—The Sectional Conflict, Civil War, and Gilded Age

M 2:00-4:30

Dr. Alison Efford

This readings class will introduce graduate students to historians’ interpretations of the United States from roughly 1848 to 1900. During that period, a controversy over slavery became a war, Reconstruction gave way to Jim Crow, the United States industrialized and attracted immigrants, and the American empire spread west and eventually overseas. All the while, ordinary men and women struggled to prevent these developments from defining their lives. American Indians resisted the expansion of the United States, and groups of African Americans, immigrants, workers, farmers, and women demanded citizenship on their own terms. We will both examine classic works and grapple with new trends.  Grades will depend on class participation, book reviews, a historiographical paper and presentation, and a short “thought piece” on periodization. 


European History

HIST 4245/5245—Women in Western Civilization

TTh 2:00-3:15
Dr. Carla Hay

A survey of European women’s experience from prehistoric times to the present with particular emphasis on the period since 1500, the course will analyze the changing roles of women in the family, in the work force, and in the community.  Illuminating the myths and realities of women’s experiences, the course discusses gender as a dynamic component in human institutions and experiences.  The grade in the course will be based on examinations and written assignments. 

HIST 4251/5251—War and Revolution in Britain: 1603-1815

TTh 11:00-12:15
Dr. Carla Hay

A lecture course, History 4251/5251 focuses on one of the most dynamic and important periods in British history.  Peopled by political icons such as Oliver Cromwell, rakish King Charles II, “mad” King George III, and the “iron” duke of Wellington, and by intellectual giants such as

Hobbes, Locke, Newton, Hume, Smith, Bentham, Burke, Paine, and Wollstonecraft, the era was captured in the paintings of Van Dyke, Hogarth, Gainsborough, and Turner, and the poetry and prose of Milton, Dryden, Pope, Fielding, and Austen.  Punctuated by Civil War in the seventeenth century and the American, French, Irish, and embryonic Industrial revolutions of the eighteenth century, the era of the Stuart and Hanoverian monarchs saw Britain’s evolution as a constitutional monarchy and a formidable imperial and economic power poised for global preeminence during the nineteenth-century Victorian Age. The student’s grade in the course will be based on examinations, quizzes on assigned readings, and a paper.  The course counts towards the Military History major/minor as well as the traditional history major/minor. 

HIST 4255/5255—The British Empire

MWF 1:00-1:50

Dr. Timothy G. McMahon

This course is intended to provide an overview of the history of the British Empire and Commonwealth since the 1750s, including significant selected themes: the complex interactions of peoples in inherently unequal power relationships; the difficulties of administering a vast multi-national empire in an age of nationalist ferment; and the often stark clash between preindependence nationalist expectations and post-colonial realities.  To achieve this rather ambitious aim, we will examine Empire through three lenses: an imperial lens; a lens that probes the interactions between colonizer and colonized as expressed through official state actions and through popular culture; and a subaltern lens that focuses on indigenous peoples whose “pre (British)-imperial” histories and experiences of empire varied enormously and continue to shape their relationships in the present.     

HIST 4271/5271—The Russian Revolution and the Soviet Union

MWF 11:00-11:50
Dr. Alan Ball

HIST 4271 is a survey of modern Russian and Soviet history that begins with an introduction to tsarist Russia in order reach an understanding of the revolutions in 1917 that swept away much of the old regime and left the Bolshevik (Communist) Party in power.  The bulk of the course will concentrate on the Soviet period, featuring the tumultuous development of “the world’s first socialist state,” the emergence of the Soviet Union as one of the world’s two superpowers, and the country’s recent fragmentation.  In particular, we will examine the Bolsheviks’ aspirations in 1917 and then see to what extent these hopes for a new society were realized as the Communist Party confronted both domestic and foreign challenges.  The course is composed of lectures, a few Soviet films, and eight periods set aside for discussion.  On these eight weeks, in place of a Friday lecture, students will meet with me in small groups to discuss sources pertaining to major topics in the course.  These readings include a variety of primary documents, memoirs, and selections from the wealth of Russian literature that provoked tsarist and Soviet authorities alike. 

HIST 4953/5953—Readings in History: Germans and the World

Th 2:00-4:30

Dr. Alison Efford

This course examines how Germans formed connections with people outside of Europe through migration, conquest, and commercial and cultural exchange. It traces the global dimension of canonical events in German history such as the Revolutions of 1848, the formation of the Kaiserreich in 1871, WWI, and WWII, asking both how the world changed Germany and how Germany changed the world. Topics along the way include naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, the nineteenth-century refugees known as “Forty-Eighters,” German churches and saloons in the US Midwest, ethnographers in German Samoa, cotton cultivation in Togo, Jews trying to flee Nazi Germany, and the Patagonia Plot of 1939. The course as a whole provides ways to think about Europeans and race, nation, and empire since the eighteenth century. As an upper-division colloquium, the course will have a significant reading load, and the class periods will be largely discussion-based. Students will write regular reading responses, complete a midterm book report, and finish the semester with a 12-15-page paper and class presentation based on secondary source material.

HIST 6250—Twentieth Century Europe

W 2:00-4:30

Dr. Alan Ball

The topics covered by this course have varied over the years, along with the selection of books, but they commonly include themes associated with World War I and its aftermath, the Russian Revolution and the formation of the Stalinist state, the emergence of fascism, the Spanish Civil War, World War II, the Cold War, and efforts by historians to address the period in an overarching fashion.  Something on a more specialized topic might also be included in the mix, depending on the availability of suitable recent books.  Grades will hinge on participation in the weekly discussions and a significant paper.


Additional History Courses

HIST 3201—Ancient Greece and Rome

MWF 10:00-10:50
Dr. Jennifer Finn

This course will trace the history of the Ancient Greeks and Romans, though we will begin with some background in the Mesopotamian period. From the earliest Greek city-states, we will study the wars, institutions, and religions that shaped Greek society, viewing their world through the rich tradition of Homer, mythology, and historiography. A special focus will be placed on Alexander the Great and his legacy in the newly imagined Hellenistic World. From there we will move to the foundation of Rome and follow its progress from a revolutionary Republican government to its expansion as a great empire, studying the characters of its imperial leaders, its transformations in conflict and diplomacy, and the beginnings of institutionalized religion. Our last focus will be the cause of the fall of the Roman Empire, and its legacy to the present day. We will explore Greco-Roman history through primary (in translation) and secondary sources, and the students will have the opportunity to work on two major projects that coincide with their own interests in the ancient world. 

HIST 3205—The Byzantine Empire

TTh 11:00-12:15
Dr. Phillip Naylor

Byzantium or the Byzantine Empire is often understated in Western Civilization textbooks. It officially began with the founding of Constantinople in 330 and ended with the fall of that city to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. Thus, the course surveys a millennium of fascinating history that bridged late antiquity to early modernity. The empire straddled three continents—Europe, Asia, and Africa—providing ample opportunities to apply “transcultural history,” the history that deals with encounters and interactions between and among civilizations and societies. Students will discover an array of emperors and empresses who sustained Greco-Roman Civilization while Western Europe experienced its formative German-Roman fusion. Studying Byzantine history also includes studying the history of Eastern Orthodox and Roman Christianity. Byzantine-Muslim relations will be particularly studied. Classes will feature a lecture-discussion format. Students should expect subjective and objective components on exams and a research paper. Since our library holds exceptional resources, including all the Dumbarton Oaks Papers, research papers will permit deeper considerations of Byzantine economics, politics, society, culture, and religion.

HIST 4100/5100—Public History: Artifact, Place, and Memory

W 2:00-4:30 
Dr. J. Patrick Mullins

For communities as for persons, we are what we remember, and it is the responsibility of archivists, curators, and preservationists to serve as the guardians of public memory. These public historians determine which artifacts and structures should be conserved, how they should be interpreted, and on what terms they should be made accessible to researchers and exhibited to the general public. Thanks to the ongoing “material turn” in historical thinking, academic historians have a new appreciation for the work of public historians. While the research of academic historians today is confined mainly to digitized text, this seminar will reacquaint is with the original physical evidence for our understanding of the past. Graduate students and undergraduates will explore together the practical advantages and theoretical challenges of working directly with historic artifacts (such as archival documents, archival photographs, artworks, and weapons) and historic places (such as buildings, battlefields, cemeteries, and gardens). We will contemplate the historical importance of artifacts and places through such methods as first-hand field work with artifacts and buildings, classroom discussion of books and articles on material culture, photographic analysis, museum curation, historic preservation, architectural styles, etc., conversations with public history professionals during field trips to local museums, archives, and historic buildings, and a class project (Museum Lab) in which students will research and write an original exhibit catalog for a new exhibition at the Haggerty Museum of Art on the political art of the American Revolution. 

HIST 4105/5105History and Memory

MW 2:00-3:15
Dr. Michael Wert

This course has been newly created specifically for the university core discovery tier, under the theme "Cognition, Memory, Intelligence."  Keeping with the exploratory nature of the discovery tier, the content of this course will differ each semester depending on the interests of the particular instructor. For the fall semester of 2020, this course will include content, methodology, and assignments that reach beyond the traditional confines of the history discipline, and include approaches from film studies, psychoanalysis, literature, and even creative writing. Students will explore the relationship between history and memory broadly defined. Topics might include, but are not limited to, popular culture and memory, trauma and memory, psychoanalytic theory and history, politics and commemoration, and public history and memory. 

HIST 4460/5460—Modern South Africa

TTh 9:30-10:45
Dr. Chima Korieh

This course is an economic, social, political and cultural survey of the history of modern South Africa from the Dutch settlement to the present. The goal is to understand the major historical forces that progressively shaped what became a turbulent socio-cultural, economic, political, and racial frontier. We will examine major themes including, European settlement and colonization, mineral discoveries and their impact, industrialization and social change, the establishment of the apartheid system, African resistance and post-apartheid South African society. Particular attention is given to how the state-dictated system of racial segregation and discrimination affected the lived experience of South Africa’s diverse population. 

HIST 4550/5550—Medieval East Asia

MWF 9:00-9:50
Dr. Daniel Meissner

How may we define "medieval" in East Asian history?  What separated this historical period from ancient or modern eras?  What political, social and economic developments characterize this period?  Are these developments unique to Chinese or Japanese cultures?  How does life in East Asia during this period compare to that in medieval Europe?  This course addresses these and others compelling questions through a variety of historical and literary readings in medieval China and Japan.  It provides students with a "cross-sectional slice" of life – religious beliefs, political intrigues, commercial innovations, aesthetic conventions, social developments and military exploits – that offers insight into the remarkable peoples and times of the Tang and Song dynasties (618-1279) and the Heian and Kamakura periods (794-1333).  

HIST 4953—Readings in History: Food in History

T 2:00-4:30
Dr. Laura Matthew

 This first half of the capstone experience for senior History majors, linked to HIST 4955 "Food in History" in Spring 2021, prepares students to produce a sophisticated historical argument based on primary research. Students will identify a research topic, build a secondary source bibliography, and formulate a research question that will serve as the basis of their 4955 project in the spring. We will use food as a lens into different aspects of the past (environmental, cultural, social, economic, racial, political, scientific, etc.), and also as something that itself has a history. Common readings throughout the semester will explore food as a subject and object of historical study in a variety of temporal and geographical contexts. Students may choose any region or time period to address in their independent research. This is an intensive readings course that also requires significant initiative outside of class and individual meetings with the professor. 

HIST 4955—Undergraduate Seminar in History: Christianity and Culture: Clashes, Concessions, Conversions

W 4:30-7:00

Fr. Michael Maher

This course will examine the underlying themes in cultural interaction and apply these principles to  various  interactions between Christianity and the wider culture in which Christianity existed, noting both failures and success and why events occurred as they did.  By examining these patterns of cultural encounter, we will be able to identify principles that can be used for successful cultural encounters in the present.

HIST 6100—The Art & Craft of History: Introduction to History and Theory

W 4:30-7:00

Dr. Michael Wert

This course will introduce all first-year graduate students to the methodologies, theories, and analytical reading/writing skills required of professional historians. We will cover broad historiographical issues applicable to all fields of history. Weekly active reading, engaged discussion, and professionally written papers are expected. 

HIST 6954—Seminar in History: The Long Black Freedom Struggle

Th 2:00-4:30

Dr. Robert S. Smith

This course explores scholarly examinations of the struggle for African American equality since Reconstruction through the Modern Civil Rights Era of the 1950s/60s. We will consider the broader historical narratives scholars have advanced regarding the various ways the struggle for equality has been waged, and the ensuing realities of contemporary struggles and gains. Graduate students will produce an article-length essay on a key topic connected to the course's themes and topic.