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Fall Course Descriptions

Fall 2018

 We have a range of 200 and 300 courses available at any one time, and these should be the core of your major or minor. Over the course of your major, consider taking both classes that offer both wide-ranging context (eg. Modern East Asia, the US and the World, etc.) and closer explorations of specific topics or locations (eg. Human Rights, Communism, Food, Turkey). Consider something that introduces you to a new area or question (eg. the Ottoman Empire or the Great War), or a course that makes you see new ideas and questions about things you thought you knew (eg. Historian’s Workshop, Reagan’s America, or The Early Republic). Keep the distribution requirements in mind, and remember that most courses are not offered every single semester. Each semester’s offerings will be different, so you should plan to be flexible as you pursue your interests.

Remember that History majors should take at least two 300 level History colloquia, and can take even more. Individual topics may be offered irregularly. So look through the list, and see what looks engaging. None of these courses has specific pre-requisites.

Finally, make sure that if you are a senior History major you have a plan to complete a capstone seminar, or an honors project. The fall capstone seminar is Prof. Sackley’s “Dissent in America” and we plan another seminar in the spring semester.


  • History 110.  Professor Wray.  Topical study of western heritage from Classical Greece through Reformation.
  • History 202- The Early American Republic.  Professor Seeley.  This course will explore the history of the Early American Republic from the end of the American Revolution through the 1820s. Our course covers a short time period, but it does so with a broad lens. Many of the concepts and institutions that structured early American life were transformed during the early national period. We will study these transformations through an examination of government and politics, social movements, slavery and freedom, economics, science and medicine, religion, gender and sexuality, Native American history, and diplomacy. Ultimately, this course will encourage students to reorient themselves to the past to better understand our present.
  • History 215- U.S. and the World since 1945.  Professor Sackley.  Examines one of the most transformative half centuries in the history of U.S. engagement with the world: The Cold War.  The Cold War was a 45-year struggle between two “superpowers,” the United States and the Soviet Union. It was also a global conflict that enveloped peoples and nations around the world and profoundly influenced U.S. domestic culture, politics, and economics. From Russian-American diplomacy to the “war on terror,” its legacies reverberate to the present day.
  • History 220-  Reagan’s America.  Professor Yellin.   Survey of United States political and social development in the late twentieth century. Topics include the Richard Nixon, the Oil Crisis, the rightward shift in American politics, second wave feminism, AIDs, Ronald Reagan's presidency, and welfare reform.
  • History 250- Modern East Asia.  Professor Loo.  Exploration of the journeys that China, Korea, and Japan took that have resulted in the shape of East Asia as we know it today, examining their long history of interconnection and philosophical, cultural, and political traditions and the different ways they respond to similar issues at the same time.
  • History 272- Ottoman Empire.  Professor Yanikdağ.  This course explores the history of the Ottoman state from the late 13th century to its demise after the First World War (1914-1918).  Inheritor of Turco-Mongolian, Perso-Islamic, and Byzantine imperial legacies, the Ottoman dynasty started as a small frontier principality surrounded by much larger rivals quickly turned into a multi-ethnic and multi-religious world empire stretching over three continents.  We will examine the 600 plus years of Ottoman history in a rough chronological framework by considering its institutions, economic structures, and cultural and social forms and patterns. Special emphasis will be placed on its diverse social make up, the evolution of imperial and provincial governments’ relations with various socio-cultural groups, legal practices, elite military slavery, and inter-communal relations. Students will learn how the Ottomans religio-legal principle of “commanding good and forbidding wrong” worked by taking up cases of alcohol and coffee. Furthermore, students will investigate some of the current historiographical debates.          
  • History 299- Human Rights in the Atlantic World, 1750-1850.   Professor Watts.   This course examines the Western concept of Human Rights and how it emerged in an era of revolution. Born of philosophical inquiry, political debates, public protests, and mass uprisings, the claims of political and civil rights for marginalized peoples took center stage for newly declared nations in France, America and Haiti. On what basis were rights claimed? Under what means could equality and liberty be guaranteed to all people? This course focuses on the rights of women, Jews, free blacks and enslaved peoples, drawing on case studies to emphasize how radicals disrupted and disputed prejudice and sought (sometimes violent) change.
  • History 299-2  The Great War: Modernity & Memory.  Professor Yellin.   This seminar will ground students in the global history and culture that provided the context for the Great War’s outbreak, allow them to see the meanings of the war “over there” here in the United States, and reveal the connections between Americans and the world in the early twentieth century.
  • History 390- Food and Power in Africa and Asia.   Professor Summers.  How have people sought and fought power by managing the production, processing, distribution and consumption of food? This class will draw on case studies from premodern, colonial, and revolutionary contexts to explore how people in China, India, and Eastern and Southern Africa have connected food with power. We will explore how, in some of these contexts, managing the food supply allowed states, societies, and families to delineate legitimate power, moral rules, and social obligations. And we will examine what happened with scarcity, starvation, and collapse. Exploring both empirical details and ethical commitments, the course will allow us to use History to understand and assess divergent policies, and their implications.   
  • History 395- The Historian’s Workshop.  Professor Seeley.  How do historians and the public write about, remember, and recount the past? This class will examine the public spaces and forums where we construct history. Beyond students and professors, history-making belongs to a range of people and institutions: archivists, curators, museums, history societies, politicians, amateur historians, and ordinary people. Through guest visits, we will talk to practitioners who do history in public every day. The course will also offer opportunities for field trips and hands-on practice. We will act as consultants on a number of projects that are important to representing the past in Richmond. By the end of the course, each student will have the opportunity to propose their own public history project that might become the basis for future work in the city or at UR. 
  • History 399-2- Communism.  Professor Brandenberger.   Although most treatments of the communism, both academic and not, tend to assess communist thought through a treatment of recent Soviet or Chinese history, this course devotes much more time to ideology than politics.  It examines an array of tracts, manifestos and broadsides from a broad swath of 19-20th century communist movements, from Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin to the CPUSA, the WPK of North Korea and the Kampuchian Communist Party. In so doing, this course introduces students to historical and philosophical issues surrounding the modern communist experience.  Special attention is paid to the changing makeup of this supposedly monolithic ideology.
  • History 400- Dissent in America.  Professor Sackley.  This research seminar explores the histories of protest and dissent in twentieth-century America. American political life is often depicted as a simple struggle between two political parties. But a much bigger cast of people and organizations have used tactics from direct action to civil disobedience to challenge prevailing legal, political, and cultural norms: pacifists, anarchists, John Birchers, black nationalists, survivalists, and radical environmentalists, to name a few. Students in this class will select and research a particular dissenter, protest movement, or consequential event and delve deeply into primary sources and local archives.