Course Descriptions

Fall 2019 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 3104—The Civil War Era

TTh 11:00-12:15
Dr. James Marten

The Civil War Era (HIST 3104) will explore the origins of the sectional conflict between the North and the South, the most important military campaigns and battles of the Civil War, and the efforts to reconstruct the Union after the Confederacy surrendered.  Among the topics that will be addressed are slavery, in its moral, constitutional, economic, and human contexts; expansion; the debates over Congressional power versus states’ rights; the effects of the war on American society; and the legacies of the Civil War in the century since the conflict ended.  In addition to readings and essay exams, students will complete a collaborative digital history project.  Grades will be based on the digital project, short papers, and essay exams.

HIST 3106—Gilded Age to the Progressive Era, 1876-1920

MWF 12:00
Dr. Alison Efford

Last time I taught this class, students recommended I rename it The Birth of Modern America. Between the Civil War and the end of WWI, the United States grew from a decentralized, rural nation into an industrialized world power. Telegraph wires and railroads spanned the North American continent, only to be superseded by telephones, radio broadcasts, and automobile traffic. Such technological innovation and the extraordinary economic growth of the period were connected to the dispossession of Native Americans, the conquest of overseas territory in Latin America and the Philippines, the ratification of Jim Crow segregation, and exploitative labor practices. Many Americans protested these injustices, making for tumultuous politics with interesting parallels to our own times. History 3106 follows a dramatic interpretive narrative and uses primary sources to expose an array of experiences, especially those of women, African Americans, and working-class immigrants. 

 HIST 4155/5155—A History of Native America

MWF 10:00
Dr. Bryan Rindfleisch

In this course, we will explore the Indigenous cultures of North America from the pre-Columbian era to the present day. We will consider the collective experience of the Indigenous Peoples of North America – “Indians” – while also appreciating the complexities that made, and continue to make, each Indigenous Peoples and cultures distinct from one another. This class will also focus on the themes of colonization and decolonization, settler colonialism, cultural inclusivity, violence and intimacy, removal and survivance, assimilation and allotment, along with sovereignty and self-determination. Altogether these themes provide the core narrative for a history of Indigenous America, as this class also grapples with contemporary issues related to Native Peoples and histories, the most recent being the Standing Rock protests (#NoDAPL).

HIST 4955—Undergraduate Seminar in History: America's Wars in Cultural Memory

M 2:00-4:30
Dr. J. Patrick Mullins

In this seminar, advanced History students will engage in classroom discussion of readings on a specialized subject: America’s wars in cultural memory. Specifically, students will explore how Americans have interpreted three national wars: the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the Second World War. We will analyze commemoration of these wars through such cultural forms and processes as political speeches, art and film, memorials and monuments, preservation of historic buildings and battlefields, etc. We will examine the role that public memory formation has played in shaping national identity, and the degree to which that national identity has been hotly contested by different groups of Americans. While studying the subject of America’s wars in cultural memory, students will contribute to public memory formation themselves, by going through the process of producing an original research paper on a related historical subject. This process includes doing archival research and field work, considering historiographic debates among academic historians, and learning how to analyze different kinds of evidence, including documents, images, objects, and places.

HIST 4931-101/FOLA 4931-102Topics in History: Introduction to Latinx Studies 

MWF 11:00
Dr. Sergio Gonzalez

This course explores the diverse histories of Latinx people and the communities they have developed in the United States. We’ll explore a wide variety of topics relevant to the study of Latinx communities, including: migration and immigration, ethno-racial and cultural identities, labor and class, imperialism, bilingualism and education, Latinx in the media, gender, and sexuality

HIST 6110—The British Atlantic World to the American Revolution

M 2:00-4:30
Dr. Bryan Rindfleisch

Early American History, 1491-1776: We will explore the history of early America from the pre-Columbian era to the American Revolution. We will focus on the social, political, economic, religious, intellectual, and transatlantic dimensions of early America from the 15th-18th centuries, how such phenomena developed over time, and how these processes shaped the “American” past. More specifically, we will examine the themes of colonization and anti-colonization, empire-formation and nation-building, transatlantic networks and infrastructure, cultural adaptability, slavery and race, violence and resistance, mobility and migration, and other themes that provide the core narrative for a history of early America.   

European History

HIST 3297—World War II

TTh 9:30-10:45
Dr. Steven Avella

World War II was a global war that raged over three continents and inflicted horrendous destruction on both military and civilians. The sheer level of violence related scenes of ghastly mass murder and torture. Images from Nanking, China, the genocidal project of Nazi Germany, destructive air raids and, to date, the only use atomic weapons have seared the minds and consciences of people to this day. The war also dealt a serious blow to colonialism and opened the way for a period of international rivalry between the US and the Soviet Union. The war also created a historical memory as its "lessons" are still invoked by people today.

 This course will explore the origins of the war, its main trajectories on the European and Asian-Pacific fronts, and its aftermath. We will focus on the role of the US in the war, but will also situate this great conflict in its international setting. We will study persons, policies, military technology, significant battles, and diplomacy. This course requires unit and book exams, classroom discussion and questions, and other forms of active class participation are planned. Class attendance is mandatory.

HIST 4250/5250—Tudor England 1485 to 1603

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

Focusing on such dynamic personalities as Henry VIII, Thomas More, Mary Queen of Scots, and Queen Elizabeth I, the course details the political, economic, and social development of Great Britain during the age of the Renaissance and the Reformation.  The student’s grade will be based on quizzes on assigned biographies, full-period examinations (including the final exam) and an 8-10 page paper based on an analysis of a Shakespeare play.

HIST 4953/5953—Readings in History: The French Empire

Th 2:00-4:30

Dr. Phillip Naylor

This course will consider the causes and consequences of French imperialism. It will feature Haiti (Saint-Domingue), Indochina, and Algeria. Other topics will include the French (and foreign) imagination of the empire; the metaphorical role of the Foreign Legion; and France's post-colonial global presence and policies. Students should expect objective and subjective tests and a research paper.

HIST 6954—Graduate Seminar in History: The Cold War

M 4:30-7:00
Dr. Alan Ball

HIST 6954 is a research seminar that offers students an opportunity to explore topics pertaining to the Cold War—a phenomenon that influenced the domestic climates of nations around the world and helped shape their relations with each other in the second half of the twentieth century.  During the early part of the semester, each student will consult with the instructor and devise a topic that connects his/her area of interest with some aspect of the Cold War.  The bulk of the semester will be devoted to the research and writing of a paper (approximately 25 pages) on the chosen topic, relying on primary sources as far as possible.  During the last week or two of the semester, we will schedule group sessions to discuss the fruits of our labors.


Additional History Courses

HIST 3200—Ancient History's Unsolved Mysteries

MWF 11:00
Dr. Jenn Finn

There are many unknowns in different periods of history, but none provides more mystery than the Ancient World. In this course, we will look at some of the burning questions of Ancient History: Where is the lost city of Atlantis? How (and why) were the pyramids built? Where is the tomb of Alexander the Great? What was the Antikythera mechanism used for? What did the Greeks do in their mystery cults? How can we explain the disappearance of the 9th Spanish legion of the Roman imperial army? The course will run in a lecture-style format, but the students will work together with the professor to locate and interpret literary, mythical, archaeological, and anthropological material towards the creation of a historical narrative surrounding the unsolved mysteries covered in the course. The course will culminate with a final project that will ask the students to investigate a mystery of their own choosing.

HIST 4350/5350—The Caribbean

MWF 9:00
Dr. Michael Donoghue

This course examines the history of the Caribbean from pre-colonial times to the 21st century.  We will explore major topics such as colonialism, slavery, race, gender, the transformation of work and the economy, state formation, U.S. intervention, and competing political systems.  These topics will be discussed in the context of an island or a region, depending on each week’s focus.  Emphasis will be given to the differences in historical experience and to the complex interactions of the diverse peoples and cultures that make up the Caribbean. 

HIST 4500/5500—Modern Japan

MWF 1:00
Dr. Michael Wert

This is an intense survey of modern Japanese history from the nineteenth century to the present. Topics include: dynamic changes that occurred at all levels of Japanese society in the nineteenth century, the creation of Japan as a modern nation-state, its development as an empire-building power, and how these affected people‘s lives (gender, ethnicity, nationhood and culture). A major portion of the course is devoted to WWII and postwar issues: how Japan coped with military defeat, how it regained its regional and global influence and contemporary attempts to deal with its past. Grading will be based on (in order of importance): three short papers (five pages), midterm/final and informal essays.

HIST 4953/5953—Readings in History: Histories of Race

M 4:30-7:00
Dr. Peter Staudenmaier

This upper level Readings in History course will explore the development of Western racial thought and practice from the Enlightenment era to the age of the genome. Though presumed to represent a permanent biological reality, racial ideas are remarkably mutable and have shifted and changed continually over the past three centuries. Examining the many ways people have thought about race, past and present, particularly in European and North American societies, we will trace the impact of racial beliefs in economic, political, and judicial contexts. Through critical appraisal of writers, scientists, government officials, and cultural figures, we will consider how and why they sorted people into various racial groups, what they thought racial differences meant, and why these questions continue to cause controversy today.

HIST 6100—The Art and Craft of History

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 6510—Studies in Medieval History: The Global Middle Ages

T 2:00-4:30
Dr. Lezlie Knox

This readings class is not just for Europeanists!  We will explore not only what was global about the medieval period, but also consider what the premodern era can contribute to the field of global history.  We will seek to balance these two concerns by developing an understanding of the historical context (main narratives, research themes, sources) for Europe, c. 300-1600, along with its so-called sibling cultures of Byzantium and Islamdom.  If those cultures are remembered as the heirs of Rome, we will evaluate the degrees to which it makes sense to talk about medieval Japan or China, medieval sub-Saharan Africa, or even apply medieval to the pre-conquest Americas.  What connections existed between these regions?  Our goal will be to ask broader questions about methodology and pedagogy so this class will be especially useful for students interested in teaching global histories.  

 Possible readings include texts such as Cameron’s Byzantium Matters, Fauvelle’s The Golden Rhinoceros: Stories of the African Middle Ages, Hansen’s The Silk Road, and Heng’s The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages.   Auditors are welcome as long as they are willing to do the main reading for the week’s discussion.

HIST 6540—Studies in Asian History: China in Revolution

W 2:00-4:30
Dr. Dan Meissner

Description to be added.