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Fall Course Descriptions

Fall 2019

 We have a range of 200- and 300-level 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 and closer explorations of specific topics or locations. Consider something that introduces you to a new area or question, or a course that makes you see new ideas and questions about things you thought you knew. 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. Meyer's “Encounters in the Americas.”


  • 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 240 - 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 248 – Europe in Crisis 1881-1949.  Professor Brandenberger.  A survey of the history of the first half of what is often called the "long 20th century" (1881-2001) from a variety of subdisciplinary perspectives: political history, social history, cultural history and diplomatic history. Case studies are also examined on the history of gender, race and empire.
  • History 255 – Meiji Japan.  Professor Loo.  Examination of the reign of the Meiji emperor (1868-1912), considered to be the period in which modern Japan emerges, as a loose unifying metaphor for the many radical shifts in Japanese society, politics, and culture that occurred in his time.
  • History 271 – Modern Middle East.  Professor Yanikdağ.  This course deals with the social, cultural, economic and political history of the Middle East from the late nineteenth century. Among other topics, we will examine the impact of imperialism on the region, the emergence of nationalist movements and the challenges of decolonization, the formation of modern nation states, the rise of Islamic political movements, the politics of oil, and regional and international conflicts.
  • History 306  American Identities.  Professor Yellin.  This course is a weekly seminar focused around historical issues of identity development and construction in the twentieth-century United States. The course is intended for advanced history students and discussions will focus on historiographical debates and issues.  For example, what do historians mean when they talk about “identity”?  How do historians use categories like race, class, and gender to understand the American experience?  How have historians approached issues of status, power, and individuality?
  • History 399: ST: Humanitarianism and Development.  Professor Sackley. Humanitarianism and development are today global initiatives involving billions of dollars in aid and elaborate international networks. They also have histories. This seminar examines how historians have studied the emergence of these concepts and categories in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; how they became integral to the work of multilateral institutions (United Nations and its agencies), religious-based groups, and international philanthropy; and how they have shaped international and local contests over national identity, human rights, public health and science, race and gender, economics, and the environment.  The seminar will introduce students to the fields of international history, the history of philanthropy, and the history of the United States in a transnational context.
  • History 400- Encounters in the Americas.  Professor Meyer.  This course examines the various types of relations and contacts between peoples and states in the Western Hemisphere over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  It explores these encounters as possible sites and spaces of negotiations, contestations, and co-operations.   Such investigations can yield insights into nationalisms, statecraft, national identity, racial and ethnic identities, and gender dynamics.