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History Course Descriptions: Fall 2022

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 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 read through the list, and see what looks engaging. There are no prerequisites for these courses.

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 Honor's Research Seminar.

  • History 199 - Populism in Latin America. Professor Morales Fontanilla. In this course, we delve into how historical scholarship has understood Latin American populism. Our objective is to examine relevant historiography and explore how it approaches the topic, what analytical tools it uses, and what kind of sources it explores. We will also critically engage with different social theories of populism, assessing their importance for historical interpretation from an interdisciplinary perspective. This approach will highlight some of the most fundamental intricacies of historical literature and its production. In Populism in Latin America, we will expose ourselves to primary sources (texts, images, songs, material culture) and historical literature focused on the topics pertinent to the class.

  • History 199 - Introduction to African-American History. Professor McCommons. What does it mean to study history from an African American perspective? How might it change our understanding of United States history? This course introduces African American history from the period of the Transatlantic Slave Trade to the present. Major themes include slavery and emancipation, citizenship and resistance, and contemporary Black lives. Using primary and secondary sources, our main objective is to deepen our understanding of how African Americans actively shaped the past. Doing so enables us to understand the diversity and complexity of the African American experience, and to examine the historical and sustained impact of African Americans on contemporary society.

  • History 205 - Tobacco. Professor Sackley. This course offers a foundation in “historical thinking,” that is, the way that professional historians explore, understand, and make sense of the past. The rich and varied history of tobacco will be our window onto the broader study of history. Rather than study history through presidents, wars, or social movements, we’re going to follow a commodity across time and space and see how it has shaped the lives of people and changed the course of US history. And not just any commodity.  Tobacco—one of the most significant and revolutionary crops in the world—has particular implications for the history of the United States, the history of Virginia, and the history of our University’s city: Richmond. Crosslisted with AMST 391.

  • History 212 - Modern US Social Movements. Professor Holloway. This course examines and compares movements for social change in the 20thcentury, specifically efforts by individuals to form movements for collective action to change political, social, economic, and cultural systems. We will evaluate the origins of some of these movements, consider connections between them, and explore the tactics that leaders of these movements employed to achieve their goals.

  • History 218 - State & Society in Modern America. Professor Yellin. Examination of the relationship between political and social developments in the mid-twentieth-century United States. Topics include immigration policy and ethnicity, the American labor movement, the New Deal, World War II, urban crises and suburbanization, the postwar civil rights movements, the politics of gender and sexuality, the career of the modern American welfare state, and how all of these movements intertwined and connected to form the political and social ideas of twentieth-century America. 

  • History 227 - The High Middle Ages. Professor Drell. An examination of some of the principal social, political, and cultural developments in Europe c. 1000-1300 with special attention to the increasing vitality of urban culture, the varying position of women, the formation of bureaucratic "states," and the emergence of such concepts as romantic love and individualism.

  • History 240 - Human Rights and Revolution in the Atlantic World. Professor Watts. An exploration of the Western concept of human rights and how it emerged in an era of revolution from 1750 to 1850. Born of philosophical inquiry, political debates, public protests, and mass uprisings, the claims of political and civil rights for marginalized peoples took center stage in the US, France, and Haiti. On what basis were rights claimed? Under what means could equality and liberty be guaranteed? 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. Crosslisted with WGSS 203.

  • History 245 - Stalin's Terror. Professor Brandenberger. This interdisciplinary course introduces students to historical issues and methodologies through an investigation of Stalin’s Terror, a period during the interwar years that culminated between 1936 and 1938. Aside from probing explanations for this savage period of bloodletting, this course examines the meaning of revolution, authoritarianism, the Marxist-Leninist dictatorship of the proletariat and the popular impact of propaganda and everyday life in an authoritarian society.

  • History 249 - Cold War Europe, 1945-1991.Professor Kahn. This course explores one of the Cold War’s major ideological battlegrounds: Europe. Devastated by the destruction of World War II, Europe quickly became divided by the imagined “Iron Curtain” between the Soviet-influenced “East” and U.S.-influenced “West.” Alongside geopolitics, ideologies and economics, we will consider how the omnipresent hostility of the Cold War underlay Europeans’ experiences with other significant political, social, and cultural developments of the time. Topics include but are not limited to: Cold War psychologies and ideologies; U.S. and Soviet cultural influences; the nuclear arms race, espionage, and surveillance; political protest movements; decolonization, migration, and racism; gender and sexuality; the fall of communism; and the changing meanings of “Europe” since the 1990s.

  • History 250 - Modern East Asia: 1600-1960. 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 255 - Meiji Japan: An Emperor and The World Named for Him. 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 273 - The Great War in the Middle East. Professor Yanikdağ. Since hostilities did not actually end in the Middle East in 1918 as they did in Europe, this course views 1914-1922 as the “long” Great War.  Approaching the war from social, cultural, political, environmental, and medical perspectives, it explores the consequences of this catastrophic event on soldiers and civilians in the region. The war destroyed the Ottoman order, resulted in further colonization of the Arab lands by Europeans, and created the causes of further conflicts t are still ongoing.

  • History 291 - Histories of Public Health and Biomedicine in the Global South. Professor Summers. Historical examination of modern public health experiences, knowledge, and policy in the Global South. Using case studies from Africa, Asia and Latin America in the period from the late 1800s to the present, will examine what biomedicine and public health initiatives have meant to subjects, citizens, physicians, patients, scientists, rulers and activists.

  • History 299 - Asians in America: History, Identity, & Activism. Professor Loo. This course is team-taught with Dr. Jennifer Erkulwater and uses the disciplinary perspectives of history and political science and the experience of Asians in the United States to examine the construction of racial identity and its consequences for social activism.  The themes it explores are:  the triangulation of Asian identity between the black-white racial binary and the native-settler dynamic; the conditions that contribute to or hamper the emergence of a politicized racial identity in immigrant communities; and the place of Asians in contemporary political contests related to Asian and white nationalism and state-sanctioned violence toward nonwhites. Crosslisted with PLSC 379.

  • History 299 - Sport, History, and Power. Professor Morales Fontanilla. Sport is a tool that can help us answer important questions about the past and the present. Its analysis can give us a more comprehensive understanding of the human experience. We will historicize the development of modern sports from a regional, national, and transnational perspective. With a time frame from the 19th century until the present, we will first analyze the patterns of exclusion and participation of  Women, African Americans, Latinx, Asian Americans, and Native Americans in U.S. sports. We will then examine the relationship between sport, history, and power across the globe, including concrete examples from  Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. This approach aims to show sport's centrality for contemporary popular culture and its importance for globalization processes. In Sport, History, and Power, we will use primary sources (texts, images, songs, material culture) and sophisticated interdisciplinary scholarship on the topics pertinent to the class.

  • History 392 - Humanitarianism & Development. Professor Sackley. Seminar examining how the categories of "humanitarian," "human rights," and "development" emerged; how they became integral to the work of nation states, multilateral institutions, and NGOs; and how they have shaped local politics and the lived experience around the globe from the late 18th century to the present.

  • History 399 - Identity/Nation in Modern Turkey. Professor Yanikdağ. Focusing on identity-construction and nationalism, this course examines the persistent historical and historiographical questions since the founding of the Republic in 1923. In selectively weaving together history, memory, myth, tradition and symbols, these narratives of national identity have been largely socially constructed. We will analyze how they have been created, maintained, and challenged.

  • History 400 - Researching Genocide. Professor Kahn. As the required senior seminar of the history major, this course poses the central question: how do we research the history of genocide? Focusing heavily on the craft of writing and revision itself, the course guides students toward the step-by-step production of an original thesis-driven 25-page research paper on a topic of their choosing related to the history of genocide that is grounded in primary sources and situated within secondary literature. The papers must be rigorously researched, astutely analyzed, sensibly organized, and elegantly written. Class time is devoted not only to discussion of assigned readings, but also to practical research and writing workshops, individual meetings with the instructor, and extensive peer review of classmates’ works-in-progress.

  • History 412 - Honors Research Seminar. Professor Sackley. Research and writing of honors thesis in history.