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History Course Descriptions: Fall 2021

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. Seeley's "Atlantic World."

History 222  Hellenistic Greece and Republican Rome

Professor Stevenson  

This course begins with a look at Alexander the Great's career, which made possible the political and social institutions of the Hellenistic world. As Greek became the cosmopolitan lingua franca, and the laissez-faire successor kings enabled free trade and travel, the whole known world from Spain to India came together for the first time.   After establishing this context, students will use it to explore the rise of Roman hegemony, the erosion of Roman republican practices and values, and the foundation established for Roman imperial culture.

History 236  Russian Empire, Soviet Union, and After

Professor Brandenberger

Political, social, diplomatic, and cultural overview of the fate of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union from the Napoleonic Wars through the end of the Cold War with special focus on nationalism, socialism, Stalinism, and the fall of the USSR.

History 290  Britain and the World

Professor Bischof 

Survey of British history from the late eighteenth century until World War II, 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 world wars, and the making of welfare state. 

History 299  Major Court Cases of the 20th C U.S.

Professor Holloway

This course examines on US Supreme Court cases that shaped the 20th century. Focus areas include free speech, civil rights (gender, racial, and LGBT discrimination), national security law, and the rights of criminal defendants. Students will read court opinions and other legal documents as well as historical accounts that place the case in historical context.

History 299  Women and Gender in African History

Professor Summers  

From creation stories to today’s politics, economics and culture, this course examines women’s perspectives, ideas, categories and initiatives as vital parts of Africa’s past. We will be studying the lives and experiences of women ranging from the Muslim scholar Nana Asma’u to the nobel Laureate and environmentalist Wangari Maathai. And we will be exploring how gendered identities and institutions grew and changed through key eras such as the expansion of the slave trade, the development of colonial ideas of domesticity, and the rise of post-independence informal economies and gendered development initiatives. Further, we will consider key revisionist ideas about how gender has worked and people have worked gender in the past and the present in complex contestation between diverse precolonial systems and those imported through colonialism and globalization.

History 321  History of Work in Europe

Professor Watts 

Historical study of the world of work in early modern and modern Europe. Focus on the nature of work itself, how it framed mentalities, created social classifications, informed economic thought, and shaped the political process. Topics include history of wage labor and guilds, early (proto) industry from countryside to cities, working class formation, gendered division of labor, and policing labor.

History 326  Communism

Professor Brandenberger  

An examination of the historical and philosophical issues surrounding the modern communist experience via the work of nearly two dozen major thinkers. A course in intellectual history, it pays special attention to the changing makeup of this supposedly monolithic ideology.

History 341  WWII in East Asia

Professor Loo  

Examination on the lingering controversies surrounding the history of WWII in East Asia.  The focus is on the intersections of history and memory, and the politics of remembering and representing difficult historical events associated with the war.  Issues include the Nanjing Massacre, comfort women, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Battle of Okinawa.

History 400  Atlantic World

Professor Seeley  

This course will explore the Atlantic World and the migrations that connected Africa, Europe, and the Americas from the fifteenth century to the age of Atlantic revolutions. Touching down in multiple locations over time, we will examine how European colonization, the development of plantation commodities, the forced migration of enslaved people, and the extraction of natural resources spurred conflicts over land, labor, sovereignty, and trade. How did imperial conflicts and the movements, forced and free, of Africans, Europeans, and Indigenous people produce new worlds for all? Taking an Atlantic approach to this question means widening our frame of reference to treat the Atlantic itself as a zone of cross-cultural contact between Africans, Indigenous people, and Europeans. The first part of the course will introduce students to the major questions and texts that have defined the field of Atlantic History. The majority of this course will be devoted to crafting and executing a substantial research project examining some aspect of the Atlantic World before 1800.