Upcoming Course Descriptions

Spring 2024

199 Oral History: Theory and Practice (Kis)
Units: 1 – Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

This course introduces students to major theoretical debates in oral history along with hands-on practical training in the application of this knowledge. Class discussions are based on texts exploring different perspectives on (dis)entanglement of individual memories and collective trauma, (in)equalities in researcher-narrator relations, pitfalls of ethical and legal issues in oral history, etc. Students learn the best practices and basic principles of doing oral history in order to interview methods and techniques suitable for anthropological, historical, and sociological research. Special attention is be paid to challenges of doing oral history in post-totalitarian (including post-soviet) contexts and in societies in/after crisis (war, revolutions, genocides). Students acquire first-hand experience in oral history by conducting their own projects, starting with a thorough project design, followed by field research, primary processing of collected materials and the presentation of research outcomes.

199 Anthropology of the Gulag (Kis)
Units: 1 – Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

This research-based course is focused on the everyday life in Stalinist concentration camps and aims to explore multifaceted experiences of prisoners and personnel within this penitentiary and repressive institution as it evolved from the early 1930s until the late 1950s. Besides retracing the evolution of the Gulag in terms of its changing structure, size, management, rules and regulations, economy etc. students will learn about the prisoners living conditions (housing, hygiene, work, nutrition, health issues, death rates etc.) against the backdrop of the Gulag economy and demography. Reading the Gulag survivors’ memoirs and visiting virtual exhibits of the Gulag artifacts students will explore variety of prisoners’ daily activities – arts and crafts, religious practices, literary and poetic endeavors, amateurish performances, celebrations etc. Prisoners’ survival strategies, coping techniques, and accommodation practices as well as various forms of resistance to the destructive effects of camp regime on their bodies and minds will be subjects of critical inquiry. Ambiguous relationships between different groups of prisoners (political and criminal) as well as between prisoners and civil personnel will be analyzed. Special attention will be paid to the role of gender and ethnicity in defining a person’s experiences in captivity, including sexuality and motherhood behind bars. Students will be encouraged to identify manifestations of resilience, humanity, agency and belonging, to ponder on dynamics of power and violence, to discuss the role of trauma and silence in the Gulag narratives.

199 Presidents & Precedents: A History of the American Presidency (Mack)
Units: 1 - Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

This course explores the evolution of the American presidency from the Washington Administration—at the outset of the new republic—to the modern presidency of the twenty-first century. It places a special emphasis on the role of historical precedent in transforming the executive office. We will examine the evolution of the executive branch by exploring pivotal American presidencies, including the administrations of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan. We will consider the presidency within the context of its times, considering how presidents acted both inside and outside their proscribed constitutional duties, often responding to extraordinary times with unprecedented measures both in domestic affairs and foreign affairs. We will consider how presidents have used such mediums as newspapers, radio, and television to convey their messages to the public. We will consistently discuss the importance of historical precedents set by earlier presidential administrations, and ask how the study of past presidential behavior might help us better understand the American presidency of our modern age.

199 Making of Civil War America (Mack)
Units: 1 - Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

It is hard to overstate the significance of the American Civil War to shaping modern American history. By settling the question of whether the Union would endure, after years of intensifying sectional strain, the American Civil War set the stage for the nation’s rise to become a major global power. The American Civil War would end slavery within the United States, enhance the authority of the federal government over the states, substantially shift the balance of power between North and South, rupture the global economy, while shaping the lives of millions of ordinary Americans. Beginning with the election of Andrew Jackson and the rise of the so-called Democracy, this course will probe the major issues that plagued Americans during the Antebellum period, which all culminated in a gristly war between North and South that would claim over half a million American lives. We will examine how competing world views in Antebellum America hardened in response to divisive legislative, legal, and political acts. Due to growing sectional tensions, the existing party system collapsed, paving the way for ascent of the Republican Party and Abraham Lincoln’s election in 1860, as well as the secessionist movement in the South. The latter part of the course will examine how both regions mobilized for war, and consider how the war’s goals, conduct, and meaning changed over the duration of the war. We will conclude our course in early Reconstruction with the reunification of North and South and the congressional passage of the thirteen, fourteenth and fifteenth amendments.

199 Patriotic Histories (Brandenberger)
Units: 1 - Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

Modern states and mass movements often use history in order to mobilize social support and public opinion. “Patriotic Histories” examines this instrumental use of the past by a variety of modern political actors in countries such as China, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Poland, Russia, Ukraine and the US. Students also develop their own case studies on the basis of work with both primary and secondary sources.

199 Putin's Russia (Brandenberger)
Units: 1 - Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

A survey of post-Soviet Russian history from 1991 to the present that focuses on political institutions and the relationship between state and society. Issues like Putin’s superpresidency, ideology, “managed democracy,” foreign policy and the fate of post-Soviet reform efforts are discussed, as are the roles played by oligarchs, the hydrocarbon economy, the Soviet legacy and Russian “civilizational” claims. Special attention is cast toward historicizing Putin’s presidency and the changing nature of the Russian relationship with its geopolitical rivals and the former Soviet republics (especially Ukraine).

199 The Age of Revolutions in Latin America (Ardila Falla)
Units: 1 - Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT) 

This course studies the main conflicts and tensions that shook Spanish and Portuguese America during the second half of the eighteenth century and first half of the nineteenth century. Through close readings of primary and secondary sources, we will reflect on the different meanings and implications that reform, revolution, and independence had throughout the region. During the semester we will look at the Bourbon and Pombaline Reforms, the Tupac Amaru Rebellion in Peru, the Comunero Revolt in present-day Colombia, the French Revolution in Latin America, the Haitian Revolution and its impact throughout the region, the dissimilar processes of independence that shook Spanish and Portuguese America, and the many challenges the new nations faced following independence, including their gradual processes of abolition and manumission. The course invites students to reflect on the idea that the formation of new republican nations throughout the Americas was not an inevitable outcome nor was it something desired by all its inhabitants. It encourages students to think about the social and political reforms that the Age of Revolutions brought about as well as on the persistence of colonial and monarchic structures.

202 Early American Republic (Seeley)
Units: 1 - Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

This course will examine the uncertain beginnings of the United States to ask what kind of republic early Americans envisioned and what kind of empire they made. Our conversations will begin in the era of the American Revolution and end in the 1830s. We will range over broad terrain to think about the many ways that the founding of the United States changed life in early North America. We will explore key debates about high and popular politics, slavery and emancipation, Indigenous sovereignty, African American and women’s rights, constitution-making, immigration, and political economy. We will investigate revolutions in religion, science, technology, and sexuality. Many of these foundational debates still reverberate in politics today. At the center of our inquiries will be the question of how early North Americans conceived of the rapid transformation of the lands east of the Mississippi River from Native ground to U.S. states and territories.

206 African American Women’s History (McCommons)
Units: 1 - Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

From social movement calls to Say Her Name and Protect Black Women, the public cry to acknowledge the social, political, and cultural importance of Black women is stronger today than it has ever been. Studying African American women in historical context is one way to trace this growing consciousness on Black women's lives. Through the burgeoning field of Black women's history, this course centers the experiences of African American women in the history of the United States from the sixteenth century to the present. Through primary and secondary sources, we will explore their histories as leaders, organizers, and theorists. We will examine their position at the intersections of race, class, and gender, and their local, national, and international activism. We will also trace their intellectual contributions, especially their theorizations on the meanings of democracy and women’s rights.

212 Modern US Social Movements (Holloway)
Units: 1 - Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

This class looks at the history of four social movements in the 20th century United States: The African American civil rights movement, the anti-abortion movement, the disability rights movement, and the LGBT community’s response to the AIDS epidemic. A central focus of the class is the legacy of the African American civil rights movement and its impact on other social movements. Themes that we will consider across all the movements are the role of protest, civil disobedience, and violence; the connections between protest, legal action, and partisan politics; and the role of religion, specifically Christianity.

216 American Culture, 1945-2000 (Sackley)
Units: 1Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

Mass Culture. Counterculture. Culture Wars. From Hollywood film and rock ‘n roll to art and intellectual manifestos, cultural forms influenced the turbulent US political and social debates of the post-World War II era. HIST 216 surveys US artists, entertainers, activists, and intellectuals in their historical context. Topics to include: war and society, consumer culture, youth and rebellion, gender and queer history, the Black freedom struggle, ecology, the counterculture, conservatism, and reality TV.

223 The Roman Empire (Stevenson)
Units: 1

Rome's imperial period traditionally begins with the princeps Augustus consolidating an empire stretching from Spain to Persia, Ethiopia to Russia, under attempted bureaucratic control. The period ends with Rome's Islamic successor driving two tiny survivors, Byzantium and Charlemagne's Holy Roman Empire, back under cover. This course will outline the evolving imperial strategies and their social effects. It will also attempt to explain the vast shift from Augustus' laissez-faire conglomeration of peoples and kingdoms to Diocletian's vision for a centralized state, from the great pax romana (Roman peace) to the endless battles with wave after wave of barbarians, from syncretic polytheism to the theocracy of Justinian and his Muslim followers, in short, from antiquity to the "middle age.”

248 Europe in Crisis, 1881-1945 (Brandenberger)
Units: 1 - Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

"Europe in Crisis" surveys the political, social and cultural history of Europe over the course of the first half of the twentieth century. Its sweep focuses on major developments, devoting special attention to political and social thought, state building, the development of institutions, the causes of domestic and international instability, and the ramifications of unrest and war. Other concerns range from industrialization to ideology and the great populist movements of the twentieth century: nationalism, socialism, and fascism.

249 Cold War Europe, 1945-1991 (Kahn)
Units: 1 - Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

We often associate the Cold War with propaganda, espionage, nuclear explosions, and the ideological clash between U.S.-style capitalism and Soviet-style communism. But to what extent did these global tensions actually impact the everyday lives of ordinary people on both sides of the “Iron Curtain”? Alongside ideologies, geopolitics, and economics, we will consider how the omnipresent hostility of the Cold War underlay Europeans’ experiences with other vast transformations in the realms of society and culture. Topics include but are not limited to: post-war reconstruction, the consolidation of the European Union, decolonization and neo-imperialism, social movements and activism, gender and sexuality, and immigration and racism.

261 Modern Latin America (Ardila Falla)
Units: 1- Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

This is an introductory course to Latin American history from the early nineteenth century to the present. During the first half of the semester, the course studies Latin America’s dissimilar processes of independence, its gradual and irregular processes towards abolition, the new nations’ projects of state formation, their efforts to build national identities, the rise of caudillos, and the region’s uneven immersions into the global economy. During the second half of the semester, the course explores Latin America’s processes of industrialization and urbanization, the emergence of populist leaders, the region’s periods of revolution and counterrevolution, the Cold War in Latin America, the political instability that has shaken the region in recent decades, and the central role of soccer in Latin American society. The course stresses Latin America’s cultural diversity, its social and racial divisions, its continuous struggles for progress and development, its political fluctuations, and the region’s persistent economic and social inequalities. The course invites students to reflect on how legacies from the past continue to shape Latin American society. Students will have the opportunity to engage with numerous primary sources that will enrich their understanding of Latin American history and will enhance their critical thinking skills.

290 Britain and the World (Bischof)
Units: 1 - Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

Survey of British history from the late eighteenth century to 1918, including Britain’s relationship with its empire and the wider world. Topics include social relations during industrialization, imperial crises in Jamaica and India, feminism, the making of the welfare state, and the First World War.

299 Special Topics: Jews in the United States (Yellin)
Units: 1

The history of Jews in the United States is unique, both in comparison to the histories of other Americans and to the experiences of Jews elsewhere in the world. This course will examine and interrogate that uniqueness: How did it come about? How did American Jews experience that uniqueness, both its opportunities and its challenges? How did those experiences shape how American Jews interacted with other Americans? Topics will include the first Jews to arrive in North America, expansion of the Jewish community in the US, immigration, race and racism, antisemitism, religious diversity, postwar suburbanization, and Jews in popular culture. This is not a course in Judaism or religious studies.

300 Claiming the American Revolution (Seeley)
Units: 1

For nearly two hundred fifty years, Americans have debated the symbolic weight of the American Revolution in defining the character of the United States. This course will consider the changing uses of the American Revolution in politics, public debate, and scholarship over time, from 1783 to the present. We will begin by exploring key moments in which early Americans argued over the meaning of the war in the decades after its conclusion. The second half of the course will examine how historians and the public have clashed over interpretations of the American Revolution, particularly in the present. By evaluating and critiquing the arguments that have defined scholarship and debate about the American Revolution, this course will consider how events in the past gather meaning over time. Our answers to these questions are more than academic. They have justified social and political movements, given weight to speeches in Congress, and informed our popular representations of the early United States in TV shows, movies, and museums.

329 Brexit: A History (Bischof)
Units: 1

Explores what it has meant to be British in the past two centuries as a way of shedding light on contemporary debates over Brexit.

398 Historiography (Sackley)
Units: 1

Introduction to principles and practices of historical writing. Although some attention is paid to the history of historical writing since classical times, focus will be on contemporary modes of historical writing.

399 Writing the History of a Warming Planet (Traugh)
Units: 1 

How do we write the history of a warming planet? This course looks at how historians and other scholars have tried to explain the global climate crisis and other forms of environmental change in the modern era. We will consider scholarly debates about the origins of climate change, about whether humanity or capitalism is to blame for the climate crisis, and about whether humans should be at the center of every history. The course takes a global approach to environmental history, jumping from east to west and north to south. We will read about efforts by colonists to cool the climate in the Pacific, fossil fuels and state-led development in postcolonial India, and the racial politics of conservation in contemporary South Africa. We will also consider how the imperative to combat climate change has shaped the concerns of scholars as they look back on the past and think about the future of the planet.

413 Honors Research Seminar (Sackley)
Units: 1 - Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSHT)

Research and writing of honors thesis in history.
*prerequisite: HIST 412 with a minimum grade of D-