Print Page

History

Chair: Associate Professor Paxton
Associate Professor: Bardsley, Lempa; Assistant Professors: Aguilar, Berger, Keshodkar; Adjunct Faculty: Fry, Muhlfeld, Peucker

The program in history acquaints students with the nature of historical inquiry and the antiquity and variety of human experience. Instead of relying on factual narratives, the program focuses on the analysis of primary sources, understanding history as a contested field of interpretations, and the skills of producing histories. The program prepares students to enter careers and graduate study in a variety of fields, including teaching and research, education, museums and historical restoration, library work, journalism, business, law, and public service.

The Major in History

The history major consists of 10 course units. Ordinarily students complete:

  • Three 100-level courses: one dealing with Europe; one with the United States; and a third with an area outside Europe or the United States.
  • Four 200-level courses, one of which must be History 270: Historical Methods and Interpretations.
  • Three 300-level courses, one of which must be History 371: Senior Seminar. Only one of the courses numbered 381-388 may be used to satisfy the major requirements.

The Interdepartmental Major

A student wishing to use history as Set I of an interdepartmental major is required to take History 270: Historical Methods and Interpretations and five other course units. Two of the remaining courses must be at the 200 level and a third at the 300 level.

The Minor in History

The history minor consists of History 270: Historical Methods and Interpretations and four other courses to be selected from at least two of the three major areas in the department curriculum (Europe, United States, outside the United States and Europe). In addition to History 270, at least one other course must be at the 200 or 300 level.

The History Fellowship

The History Fellowship is a program for highly motivated history and history/education students of at least second-semester sophomore standing and a GPA of 3.50 or above in the major. Students accepted into the program will become History Fellows for one of the lower-level survey courses (previously taken by applicants who have received a grade of at least A–). A History Fellow will be expected to:

  • Write a research paper of 20 pages in the area covered by the survey class.
  • Attend all class meetings, as well as individual meetings of students with the professor, and assist with class preparation.
  • Assist with or lead group discussions; tutor; moderate Blackboard discussions.

The fellows will enjoy one-to-one interaction with the faculty member(s) who serve as mentor(s), gain a sense of responsibility, learn to think strategically about pedagogical issues, and deepen their knowledge of the course material.

These teaching fellowships will be available to those who qualify for them and succeed in a competitive application process including an interview with the department chair.

Departmental Recommendations

  • 100-level courses are introductory surveys satisfying the M1 or M5 LinC requirements. Students will be introduced to the importance of primary sources in producing historical knowledge and some of the issues involved in interpreting them. These courses are open to all students without prerequisite.
  • 200-level courses address a wide range of thematic topics, with the emphasis on historical interpretations and historiography. Usually they do not satisfy LinC requirements (except a few courses that meet M5). They are open to all students who have completed a 100-level history course.
  • 300-level courses are seminars that encourage original research from primary sources (often in translation and in published form). These courses provide an environment for students to apply skills in historiography and source analysis developed in previous courses. Open to all students who have completed a 100-level history course and History 270: Historical Methods and Interpretations. Only one course numbered 381-388 may be used to satisfy the major requirements. A grade of C or better in History 270 is required to enroll in 300-level history seminars. In rare cases, exceptions can be granted by the department chair.

Courses in History

110. Latin America in the Colonial Era. Spanish and Portuguese colonization of the Americas and struggles for independence, including ancient American civilizations, Iberian background and influence, Age of Discovery and conquest, development of colonial institutions, cultural and intellectual development, race and racial mixtures, colonial rebellions, wars of independence. (M1)
Aguilar

111. Modern Latin American. Tradition and revolt in Latin America, the Hispanic-American caudillo, U.S.-Latin American relations, republican histories of Argentina, Mexico, and Cuba. (M5)
Aguilar

112. How Was Hitler Possible? War, Society, and Culture in Europe Since 1500. The history of Europe gives us initial insight into how the human construct called Western civilization has emerged. By exploring this history, we locate ourselves in time and place, thus helping us judge our position and possibilities. The course is an intellectual adventure in which we find our basic assumptions and values constantly challenged. What do we mean by "state" or "race"? What about our civilization is Western, and what is non-Western? (M1)
Lempa

113. The United States to 1877. American society, politics, and culture from the first settlements through Reconstruction, including the colonial experience, the Revolutionary War, the new political order, transformation of economic and social systems in the Jacksonian age, and the crisis of the republic in the Civil War. Designed to give overall perspective and an introduction that can be followed by more specialized coursework. (M1)
Paxton, Muhlfeld

114. The United States since 1865. American politics, society, and culture from the Civil War to the present, including Reconstruction, late 19th-century urban-industrial world, Populist-Progressive era, America's emergence as an international power in two world wars, the 1920s, Great Depression, and 1945 to the present. Designed to give overall perspective and an introduction that can be followed by more specialized coursework. (M1)
Berger

115. History of Africa. History and cultures of sub-Saharan Africa. Topics include human evolution in Africa, traditional lifestyles and beliefs, development of African kingdoms, Atlantic slave trade, European colonialism, and problems of modern African states to the present. (M5)
Staff

116. Medieval Europe. The emergence of Western European civilization from the remnants of Roman and Germanic cultures, c. 500-1500 CE. Topics include the spread of Christianity, evolution of aristocracy and peasantry, the growth of towns, clashes between church and state, the emergence of universities, and the demographic disasters of the plague and warfare of the late Middle Ages. (M1)
Bardsley

117. England through the Reign of Elizabeth I. Survey from the Neolithic era to the start of the 17th century. Topics include Roman Britain, Anglo-Saxon Britain, Viking invasions, the Norman Conquest, the growth of law and Parliament, relationships between church and state, the Black Death, the Reformation, and everyday lives of members of each social class. (M1)
Bardsley

118. The Ancient Near East, Greece, and Rome. Explores the history of the ancient Near East and Europe from prehistoric times to the medieval era. Among the civilizations surveyed are those of the Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans. (M1)
Bardsley

119. Arab-Islamic Civilizations. The Near Eastern world from the late Byzantine through emergence and development of Arabic-Islamic civilization. Reviews pre-Islamic Arabia and the Near East, achievements of the Prophet Muhammad, establishment of the Islamic religion, the caliphate, and the Arab Empire, including Spain, North Africa, and the Middle East. Islamic religion, law, mysticism, literature, art and architecture, and the Arabic-Islamic renaissance and its impact on the West via Islamic Spain. Ends by considering the Arabic-Islamic world in modern times. (M5)
Keshodkar

129. Mexico: Revolution and Globalization. This course allows students to explore the issues associated with political revolution and economics globalization in Latin America by focusing exclusively on the modern history of a single nation, Mexico. After a brief survey of Mexico's indigenous and colonial experiences, this course primarily covers elements of Mexico's evolution during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, beginning with a comparison of Mexico's independence movement to the American Revolution. It continues through the circumstances surrounding the Mexican Revolution of 1910, the impact of NAFTA of 1994, and the political transition fostered by the 2000 elections. (M5)
Aguilar

219. Bismarck to Hitler to Fischer: History of Modern Germany. Traces Germany's historical path from 1848 to 1990, starting with the German states' struggle toward modernization and unification in the late 19th century. Explores Germany's experience and role in World War I; the cultural euphoria, political misery, and economic despair of the Weimar Republic; the Nazi seizure of power in 1933; and the Holocaust. Discusses Germany's role in the Cold War and the cultural battles of the 1960s, ending with the surprising national reunification in 1990.
Lempa

220. The Holocaust. (Also Interdisciplinary Studies 220) Discusses the persecution and mass killing of European Jews by Nazi Germany. Describes anti-Semitism in historical context and explores the complexities of ultimate moral choices by asking how a cultured civilization produced mass killers and an educated class went unprotesting to its extermination. Students will explore the experience of those who were sent to the camps, how they constructed a kind of everyday life, and how gender influenced their experience. Finally, we study how and why the world outside Germany—foreign governments, intellectuals, religious and humanitarian groups—reacted to or failed to confront the Holocaust. (U2)
Lempa

222. History of 18th-century Moravians. Bethlehem is a fine example of an 18th-century Moravian community. It was part of a world-wide network of Moravian communities and mission stations. In this course, we will explore the Moravian world. How were their congregations organized? What did Moravians believe and how does this relate to other religious groups? How did they perceive their own history and how did Moravians record history? 18th-century Moravians were highly controversial and we will take a look at some of the polemical writings. In the course we will also explore issues of gender, race, and sexuality.
Peucker

227. Modern South Africa. (Also Political Science 227). This course will introduce and analyze the modern history and politics of the Republic of South Africa and its neighbors. The course will emphasize the development of political, economic, and social structures; current actors; and prospects for change. Specific topics will include British, Afrikaner, and Portuguese colonial policies; the development of African nationalism and the transition to majority rule; and the policies and prospects of modern Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. (M5)
Staff

237. Popular Culture in Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Customs, beliefs, and activities of ordinary people during the Middle Ages and early modern period. Topics include witchcraft, riots and rebellions, carnivals, and heresies. Attention to historians' methods of approaching the lives of ordinary, non-elite people of the past and the ways in which they explore the lives of subalterns using sometimes hostile sources.
Bardsley

238. Women in Europe 500-1700. (Also Women's Studies 238) Experiences of women and attitudes toward women in medieval and early modern Europe, especially on ways in which women's lives were shaped by social status, marital status, and religion. Students will develop their ability to identify arguments within historical writing, assess ways in which historians use evidence, and understand some of the major debates among historians about women and their status.
Bardsley

241. Early America. Background and settlement of North American colonies, development of British colonial policy, colonial civilization, and the revolutionary movement to separate colonies from the empire and create a new nation. Fall.
Paxton

243. The United States from The Market Revolution to the Civil War. Internal development of the U.S. from the War of 1812 through the Civil War and Reconstruction, including the westward movement, reform impulses, social and economic effects of early industrialization.
Paxton

245. The United States 1945 to the Present. Topics include the Vietnam War, the civil rights revolution, the counterculture of the '60s, conflicts in Israel and the Gulf War, the Nixon administration and its moral and constitutional crisis (Watergate) in the '70s, the "Reagan Revolution" of the '80s, and the Clinton administration and its moral and constitutional crisis in the '90s.
Berger

250. The History of Canada to 1885. An introduction to major themes in the history of Canada from pre-contact times until the Northwest Rebellion of 1885. Special attention will be given to major historical debates and the changing nature of historical interpretation around such topics as relations between Europeans and First Nations, the fur trade, women and society in New France, Loyalists, the rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada, responsible government, Confederation, and the Riel Rebellions.
Paxton

255. The United States and Latin America: History of Their Relations. Explores the historical creation and transformations of a variety of relations connecting the nations of Latin America with the United States. Students will discuss issues of national sovereignty, economic development, political revolution, defense strategy, human rights, and immigration as they pertain to these relations. Attention to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America in their interaction with the United States. (M5)
Aguilar

260. Environmental History. Explores the changing relationship between human agency and the environment over the course of world history. Themes include the agricultural and industrial revolutions, the integration of world ecozones, historical epidemiology, and the impact of technological change on the environment.
Staff

270. Historical Methods and Interpretations. The first half of the course introduces the main philosophies and schools of historical analysis: Marxist history, psychohistory, Annaliste, women's, social, and cultural history. Topics include contributions of major historians and current historical debates and controversies. In the second half, students receive a systematic introduction to historical research, including major research tools in the field, research methods and strategies, models of historical research, preparation and evaluation of formal presentations on historical topics. Required for history and historical studies majors. Prerequisite: Any history course.
Staff

288. Internship in History. This course will accompany students as they complete internships, providing them with a structure and format for reflecting on their experiences. Students will meet as a group once per week and complete at least 8 hours per week of fieldwork. Fieldtrips will examine the ways in which public history is constructed and presented. Students will also explore their own career plans.
Staff

371. Senior Seminar. Students will prepare a research paper suitable for delivery at an undergraduate conference. Topics, which must be approved by the instructor, may be from any area of study covered in the department courses. One member of the department will direct the seminar and hold its weekly meetings, but all history faculty will serve as advisors as the students prepare their projects. Prerequisites: Senior standing and completion of at least one history seminar and History 270, or permission of instructor. Fall. One 2-hour period.
Staff

374. Seminar: History of the Emotions. What are emotions? How have they been used and manipulated throughout history? Was a middle-class man (or woman) entitled to have emotions? What is love, and what have been its institutions over time? The seminar will examine the emotional background of French and German dueling in the 19th century, as well as the emotions and reactions of those whose duty was to destroy all enemies of the nation. This research seminar explores one of the most profound features of human identity over the last 500 years, and one that has received little attention from history.
Lempa

375. First People of North America. Provides an introduction to the interdisciplinary methodology of ethnohistory with which students will explore the history of First People within the U.S. and Canada. Because of the diversity and complexity of First People's cultures, this course will explore select themes, including but not limited to oral history, cosmology and religion, colonization, disease, trade, and cultural change and continuity. Using primary sources, students will write an ethnohistorical research paper on a topic of their choice.
Paxton

376 (also Medieval 376). Medieval Peasants. Provides an introduction to the primary sources, methodology, and historiographical debates surrounding the late-medieval English peasantry. Topics covered include the effects of the Black Death, the extent of community and cohesion within peasant villages, changes in inheritance practices, and mechanisms of charity. Students will write article-length papers based on both primary and secondary sources. Prerequisite: Completion of History 270 with a grade of C or better.
Bardsley

385. History Fellowship. Highly motivated history and history/education students may be chosen as History Fellows: teaching assistants for the lower-level survey courses. They will assist the professor in preparing the class; serve as tutors; and lead group discussions and moderate Blackboard discussions. The fellows will enjoy one-to-one interaction with faculty, gain a sense of responsibility, learn to think strategically about pedagogical issues, and deepen their knowledge of the course material. The fellowship ends with a substantial research paper or journal. Prerequisites: Second-semester sophomore standing (or higher) and GPA of 3.50 or above in the major; a grade of at least A– in the survey course to which the fellow is assigned; competitive application process, including interview with department chair.
Staff

190-199, 290-299, 390-399. Special Topics.

286, 381-384. Independent Study.

288, 386-388. Internship.

400-401. Honors.