Spring 2024 Undergraduate Courses

HIS 142 World History Since 1500

This course will examine major civilizations in world history since roughly 1300, with particular attention to the foundational ideas and beliefs that have both inspired and challenged them. Human civilizations have been continuously evolving, adapting, expanding, fragmenting, and interacting with one another for thousands of years. Understanding the history of civilizations requires attention not only to material and technological changes over time, but also to the belief systems, ideologies, and structures of power that have defined civilizations and shaped our lived environments. Has the rising intensity of global interaction over the past several centuries led us on a path of convergence toward a single civilization? Or does the past demonstrate that despite high levels of contact and exchange, human civilizations remain as varied as ever? PRE

HIS 143 Global Inequality and Power

The increasing interaction of peoples and nations we call globalization benefits some more than others.  This course focuses on the historical origins and consequences of a world divided between the rich and poor, the privileged and excluded, the mainstream and the marginalized.  Students will consider, among various topics, the emergence of racial and ethnic categories, which accompanied the divergence of a small number of wealthy nations, primarily in the northern hemisphere, from many more poor ones, primarily in the south.  They will examine resulting hierarchies that structure other realms of social life, including gender relations, religious conflict, access to education and technology, and environmental degradation.  The course also explores how individuals, communities, and societies have challenged dominant understandings of the world, advanced alternative perspectives, and struggled for social justice. AAL

HIS 161 US History I

This is not your high school history class. We won't ignore presidents and generals but we will also push beyond them to look at ordinary people, popular culture, and the unexpected ideas that shaped American history from Native American settlement to the aftermath of the Civil War. We will pay particular attention to the interaction among Europeans Africans and the Native Peoples of the New World. We will also explore historical methodologies, practice critical thinking, and discuss how this history has shaped the country we know today. We will use film, music, and compelling stories to show that history is not just a list of names and dates; it is a gripping drama of individuals and groups from foot soldiers to farmers striving to create a new nation. USH

HIS 162 US History II

This is not your high school history class. We won't ignore presidents and generals, but we will push beyond them to look at ordinary people, popular culture, and the ideas that shaped American history from the end of the Civil War to the present. From Robber Barons and Captains of Industry; to radical unionists and free-lovers; from the rise of Jim Crow to civil rights activism; from Victorian bustles to flappers and feminists; from the New Deal to the Tea Party; we cannot understand the present without understanding how these stories have transformed America over the last century and a half. We will use film, music, and compelling stories about men and women living through the issues of their day to show that history is not just a list of names and dates. USH

**NOTE: HIS 161 is not a prerequisite for HIS 162. Students may register for one, both, and in any order.

HIS 182 Asian Civilization II

Introduction to major themes and events in the histories of China, Korea, Japan, the Indian subcontinent, and Southeast Asia in recent centuries. Considers the impacts of colonialism and imperialism, the emergence of nationalist and revolutionary movements, decolonization and the Cold War. Our goal is to understand the historical forces and transformations shaping contemporary Asia, the common experiences that different areas of Asia have shared in the recent past, and what distinguishes the histories of particular Asian nations within a comparative perspective. This course is the same as  AS 182 and course repeat rules will apply.  Students should consult with their major department regarding any restrictions on their degree requirements. AAL

HIS 202 Roman Civilization

Survey of Rome's mythical beginnings to the time of the emperors that covers the full spectrum of Roman cultural expression. Topics covered are not only literature, painting, sculpture, and architecture but also details of everyday life in the Roman world, as well as the roles played by marginal figures (women, slaves, foreigners). This course is the same as CL 223 and course repeat rules will apply.  Students should consult with their major department regarding any restrictions on their degree requirements. PRE

HIS 209 The American Civil War

Introduction in to the causes of the American Civil War, its impact on the American nation, and its continued significance for American politics and society. Topics covered include: the role of slavery in antebellum politics and the crisis of the 1850s, army life, the changing nature of warfare and introduction of total war tactics, changes in gender relations and women's political activism, Abraham Lincoln and his assassination, slave emancipation, Reconstruction, and the memorialization of the war from the nineteenth century to the present day. We will read a variety of primary and secondary source documents, as well as literary treatments of the period and films, in order to obtain a fuller cultural understanding of this pivotal moment in American history. USH

HIS 215 Death in America

This course examines death in America from before Columbus until today.
Through lectures, movies, music, slides, and the internet, we will investigate how people have thought about death throughout American history.  Because people have always been fascinated with death, they left behind numerous sources that allow us access to their innermost thoughts: diaries, letters, gravestones, songs and artwork.  We will examine these sources to learn how attitudes towards death and dying have changed over the last several centuries.  Topics include Indian burial practices, Puritan death, the problem of infant mortality, the meaning of death in the Civil War, capital punishment today, and physician-assisted suicide. USH

HIS 216 Crime and Punishment in America

In colonial America, practicing witchcraft was against the law. Beating your wife was not. Convicted wrongdoers faced hanging, flogging, even branding - but not prison. There has always been crime and punishment in America, but just what counts as crime, which crimes are committed, which are especially dreaded, how criminals are prosecuted, who they are and what kinds of penalties they face has changed from century to century. USH

HIS 244 American Business History

This course analyzes the historical development of business in the United States from the time of the country's founding until the present, with a particular focus on the twentieth century. In addition to tracking important changes in the American business growth and activity, the course also explores impact of technological change, the relationship between business culture and society, race, class, and gender, consumerism and the role of the worker. Much of our discussion will explore the ways in which managerial decision making, technological choices, and relationships between capitalists, workers, government, and consumers have been shaped, and also shape, culture and society. USH

HIS 293 The Second World War

The Second World War was the most destructive and profoundly transformative conflict of modern world history. This course will examine the origins, key decisions, major turning points, and consequences of the war from several perspectives. Because war constitutes one of the most terrible and all-embracing aspects of the human experience, considerable time will also be devoted to non-military aspects: daily life, propaganda, culture, and some of the ethical and practical dilemmas faced by ordinary people and leaders alike. EUR

HIS 294 Holocaust: History, Culture, and Memory

How did the Holocaust happen? How was the Final Solution developed and executed? How have victims, perpetrators, and bystanders written and re-written the accounts of what happened? And how do we remember this today? This course places the Holocaust in the broad context of Western history, thought, and culture by focusing on a variety of sources that include survivor testimonies, novels, and political theory. We will study classic texts such as Elie Wiesel's Night, Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem, and Art Spiegelman's Maus. We will also view selected films, among them Claude Lanzmann's Shoah, and Alain Resnais' Night and Fog. This course is the same as JDS 208, and course repeat rules will apply.  Students should consult with their major department regarding any restrictions on their degree requirements. EUR

HIS 301 Historical Writing

This course is designed to help students develop the essential skills of good historical writing:  the ability to synthesize a wide variety of secondary information, construct nuanced interpretations of primary source material, formulate original historical arguments, and tell engaging, meaningful stories about the past.  Students will practice these four foundational areas (synthesis, analysis, argumentation, and narration) through a variety of informal and formal writing assignments, including blog posts, in-class writing, book reviews, and a research essay.  In addition, students will gain experience presenting their work orally and visually.

HIS 302 Latin American Colonial History

A survey of the conquest and colonization of Latin America from Pre-Columbian civilizations through independence in the early nineteenth century, this course focuses on the creation of new societies in the Americas, shaped by the interaction of Europeans, Indians, and Africans.  We will concentrate on the three great poles of colonial development in the New World-central Mexico, highland Peru, and coastal Brazil but our inquiry will also include the Caribbean and other regions.  Emphasis is on social and cultural history, including such topics as popular religion, native labor systems, slavery and the slave trade, race relations, marriage and the family, and the challenges of daily life. AAL, PRE

HIS 306 Special Topics: The Ottoman Empire 1300-1600

The Ottoman dynasty was the longest ruling dynasty in world history.  At its height, its borders stretched from Hungary and the Ukraine in the north, to Algeria in the West, to the Caucasus and Iraq in the east, and Yemen and the Sudan in the south.  The course will focus on the history and historiography of the Ottoman Empire, along with a chronological narrative of key economic, political, and social developments.  We will examine the political, social, and economic structures of the empire.

Discussing the political and social conditions in thirteenth-century Asia Minor, the course analyses the transformation of the Ottoman principality into a leading world power. The course also covers the institutions, which were pillars of the Islamic societies for centuries, justice and tolerance in Ottoman society; aspects of socio-economic life; the Ottoman cities; and the Ottoman Middle East along with the Pax-Ottomanica idea. Overall, the course emphasizes the empire's role in the larger context of world history.

What was the impact of the Ottoman Empire on major European developments? Was the Ottoman Empire a continuation of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire under another name?  How did the Ottoman Empire facilitate the coexistence of a multi-religious, multi-linguistic and multi-ethnic society for centuries?  How did the Ottoman Empire approach conflicts that continue to haunt people in the Balkans and Middle East? These are some of the questions that will be examined in this course.  

HIS 318 History of Ireland

This course is an introduction to the history and historiography of Ireland from the seventeenth century to the present, with an emphasis on Ireland's social, cultural and political history from the Cromwellian invasion to the Good Friday Peace accords. While the past is important to most modern cultures, it is particularly central to modern Irish society. The past (or various interpretations of the past) is so often used as ammunition in the on-going battle over the relationship between the Republic of Ireland, Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The goal of the class will be to untangle the intertwined threads of history, legend, propaganda, and folklore which comprise the Irish vision of the past. Topics covered include: the 1798 United Irishmen's Rebellion, the creation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Catholic Emancipation, the Great Famine/An Gorta Mor, the Gaelic Renaissance, the Home Rule movement, the Troubles, the Irish Diaspora, and the roles of the religion, sport, music, drama and literature in the creation of the Irish nation. EUR

HIS 324 Medieval Judaism

Medieval Judaism is an exploration of Judaism as a minority religion living between the Crescent and Cross, the Islamic and Christian empires between the 9th to 16th centuries.  We will explore the dual nature of the medieval period for Jews: part intellectual and cultural flourishing and part persecution and tragedy. Topics to be discussed include: the origins of anti-Semitism, the crusades, philosophy vs. mysticism, the Maimonidean controversy, Jewish-Christian dialogue and polemics, the inquisitions, marranos, responses to tragedy and the Renaissance. This course is the same as JDS 329 and RSP 329, and course repeat rules will apply. Students should consult with their major department regarding any restrictions on their degree requirements. PRE, EUR

HIS 325 20th Century Britain

This class will examine the dramatic transformation of Great Britain from world power in 1900 to a reluctant partner in the European Union in 2000.  Topics to be covered include: the world wars, Britain's relationship to Ireland, decolonization and the growth of the commonwealth, the rise of the welfare state, Thatcherism, British pop culture, the changing demographic face of the UK, and British politics from Salisbury to Blair.  Readings will include fiction and non-fiction and the class will use film and musical evidence to explore Britain's changing place in the world.  EUR

HIS 331 Special Topics: Drugs & Global Capitalism

Drugs have been crucial objects in the development of the modern world. Drug profits drove European empires and transnational capitalism, even as “drug wars” built and expanded an unequal infrastructure for global governance. This course examines major episodes in global drug history, including (but not limited to) opium and the British empire; cigarettes and the origins of multinational corporations; cocaine and global drug control; and pharmaceuticals and the global biopolitics of health. We will see how drugs have served as instruments of control, but also vehicles for resistance, in the contested development of global capitalism.

HIS 351 Colonial America to 1763

This course examines the history of North America and the Caribbean in an Atlantic context from 1492 to 1763. The colonies established by Spain, England, and France in this region formed crucial connections between the Old World and the New. Peoples from Europe, Africa, and North America interacted, shaping the Old World even as they created a New World. Class sessions consist of lecture and discussion. Assignments include several short papers, a take-home midterm, and a take-home final. USH. PRE

HIS 359 Christianity and European Society, 1400-1700

For over a thousand years, the Christian religion has helped shape western thoughts, emotions, and actions; and because of Europe's imperial conquests, Christianity's impact has also extended to other societies around the world.  Today, about 30 percent of the world's population identify as Christians, and Christian ideas and imagery shape the outlook of many non-believers as well.  Understanding Christianity-- its belief systems, practices, and indirect impact-- matters for understanding the world we live in today. 

This course explores a critical time in the long history of Christianity, the three centuries after about 1450.  During this period, Christians across Europe redefined their beliefs, and they sought to remake their institutions and even their daily lives so as to conform to their new ideas.  We'll ask what it meant to be a Christian in these years and how that meaning changed; and we'll examine what caused these transformations and what effects they had on politics, economic life, and social relations.

HIS 375 The U.S. and Asia

Asia from the eighteenth century to the present. Depending on the instructor, the course may focus on East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, or West Asia (the Middle East). AAL

HIS 389 Pirates, Drifters, Fishers: Maritime Southeast Asia

This course examines key moments and longer-term dynamics of Southeast Asia's maritime history.  We will consider how the sea affected state-building from its earliest days, its impact on pre-colonial international relations, its role as a conduit of the desire for conquest and for exotic goods, and the question of piracy, past and present. This course is the same as AS 389, and course repeat rules will apply.  Students should consult with their major department regarding any restrictions on their degree requirements.

HIS 390 Plagues and Pandemics

Black Death to COVID-19: Plagues and pandemics have been significant in world history since the ancient period, and in our contemporary society. How did diseases shape understanding of contagion over time? What kinds of measures were taken to combat disease, and did those steps stigmatize or isolate individuals? What kinds of political, economic, and cultural impacts did the diseases, and public health measures have on individuals and communities? We will cover a number of prominent examples of epidemics, including the Black Death, cholera, AIDS, and COVID-19, exploring their unique, dynamic, and connected histories around the globe. By learning the histories of diverse cultures, we seek to build a better understanding of some of the most urgent epidemics today. AAL, PRE

HIS 401 Altered America: Alcohol and Drug History

Do you use drugs? You probably do. And you're not alone: most Americans regularly use at least some drugs, whether it be beer, coffee, cigarettes, Adderall, NyQuil, marijuana, OxyContin, heroin, or something else. Drug taking is something most Americans share.  Yet what we share also divides us. Some drug markets are legal and well-advertised, others are illegal and clandestine. Some drug use saves lives, other use kills. Where a person's drug use falls on this spectrum; whether it harms or helps, brings praise or condemnation, raises stock prices or fills prisons; does not depend on the pharmacological characteristics of the drugs involved. Instead it is determined by social contexts of manufacture, commerce, and consumption. These context, in turn, are shaped by culture and politics: by our understanding of disease and the configuration of our medical system; by our understanding of morality and the configuration of our criminal justice system; by our understanding of self-fulfillment and the configuration of our consumer culture; and by our understanding of race, class, and gender and the configuration of our social hierarchies. In other words, they are shaped by history.

This course explores the history of alcohol and other drugs, using selected readings and a guided primary research paper to discover how drug takers, drug sellers, and drug police helped make and remake modern America. USH

HIS 403 Special Topics: Muslim Empires

The course examines the common intellectual heritage of the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal societies through the study of their political institutions, religious doctrines, economic structures, and cultural sources. In addition to reading modern scholarship, we will examine primary sources from the fields of theology, political science, literature, and the arts in order to gain a more intimate knowledge of the ideological trends of the period. This course provides an overview and context for a deeper understanding of modern Middle East through a close study of its history and culture in the early modern period.

HIS 403 Special Topics: Frontiers and Borderlands

As Europeans pushed beyond Atlantic coastlines in increasing numbers after 1492, histories of cultural encounter, cooperation, and conflict unfolded throughout the inland expanses of North, Central, and South America. Even so, most of the hemisphere’s territory remained the domain of independent Indigenous peoples well into the nineteenth century. Where they encountered settlers, they struggled to respond to a momentous process of territorial dispossession. Frontiers, borderlands, contact zones: the terminology varies but the scholars who study the peoples transformed by this process share a fascination for their multiethnic interactions, ranging from destructive confrontation to creative negotiation. Ranging from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, this seminar explores the history of frontiers and borderlands, concentrating on the vast expanse of the Americas colonized by the Spaniards and Portuguese. We will consider how Europeans, enslaved Africans, and their descendants encountered Amerindians, interacted, collaborated, and competed for land, labor, resources, and cultural authority.

HIS 412 Topics In Women's History

This course will explore the history of women in the United States. Seminar readings will begin with the colonial period and continue through the mid-20th century. Topics of focus include women's work and family lives; women's political movements and relationship to the state; differences and conflicts across race and class; the expression and regulation of female sexuality; and changing definitions of femininity and womanhood. We will also read articles on feminist theory that are relevant to historical interpretation. USH

HIS 419 Special Topics: Rage Against the Machine

HIS 419/550: Rage Against the Machine is a class that explores the history of white supremacy in and beyond the United States. No topic could be timelier and more important in light of the recent racist massacre in Buffalo New York. Students in "Rage" will have the opportunity to work on a project with peers in a CSE 440/441/540 Machine Learning and Society. Students from both classes will work together on a project aimed at ending white supremacist radicalization online.This class offers a unique opportunity for humanities students to work with computer scientists in a truly cross-disciplinary collaboration centered on social justice. Indeed, your work will directly address a pressing problem in our world.

HIS 423 Problems in Modern European Society

Varying topics in modern European history, as chosen by the professor. EUR

HIS 431 Myth and History

This course explores the space between myth and history, examining the way in which these modes of recounting and retelling the past intersect and diverge from one anther. Beginning with the notions of mythistory and metahistory, the course will acquaint students with some of the major historiographical debates and theoretical issues of the past several decades. Questions have been raised about the extent to which we can really access the “truth” about the past, and some have pointed to the important role of narrative structures in historical writing and other forms of mediation. We will ask not only what it is that historians do and how they do it, but also how they know and communicate it. This will be compared and contrasted with another form of stories about the past: myth. Students will learn about the major theories of myth that have been put forward since the late nineteenth century. Members of the class will investigate a major theorist of myth, presenting the ideas, approach, and background of this historical figure to their classmates. Finally, we will conclude by reading and discussing several works that take an unconventional approach to explaining past events in ways that intersect with the theoretical issues tackled in this course.

HIS 433 Latin American Native Peoples

Examines the struggle for dominion and survival among indigenous peoples in colonial Latin America as they encountered peoples of European and African descent between 1500 and 1800.  Focusing on social and cultural themes, students will explore how warfare, violence, subjugation, resilience, and ethnogenesis shaped indigenous societies, destroying some, transforming others and giving rise to more. AAL, PRE

HIS 440 Stalinism

The Stalin era was one of the most turbulent periods in Soviet history. Between 1928 and 1953, the Soviet Union was dramatically transformed by rapid industrialization, collectivization, state violence and terror, and war. In this seminar, students will explore the major events and turning points of this period. We will also learn about key debates and themes in the historiography of Stalinism.

HIS 459 Special Topics: Histories of Travel

Travel is both a major driver of the modern global economy and a deeply embedded aspect of the human experience. People travel for a range of reasons, freely or coerced, to familiar or alien destinations, with the intention of remaining or of returning. Although motivations for journeys are as varied as the people who set out on them, the experience of leaving home and navigating a new environment while on the move is widely shared across all cultures and peoples, dating to the earliest homo sapiens. This course considers how humans have traveled over time, how travel has shaped human history, and how we may consider the various forms of travel as part of our shared humanity. Readings will include travel diaries, essays on travel, and analytical historical texts. Students will research and present on different travel cultures, and for a final project develop an annotated itinerary of a voyage they might wish to undertake. 

HIS 460 Special Topics: Landmarks and Local History

This project-based seminar will enable students to undertake a research project on a local history topic or landmark. Students will use a landmark designation or historic marker as the foundation of their project and work in local history resources and digital documents and materials. The course will begin with some readings on history and heritage before turning to an analysis of digital scholarship tools as well as digital research resources. Students will research a topic and then present it in a non-traditional format, in digital scholarship, handmade book or art, video, podcast, or another creative format.

HIS 485 20th Century China Politics

China changed more radically, arguably, than any other country in the twentieth century. This seminar explores these changes, which have had and will continue to have major impacts across the world. After a broad and rapid survey of Chinese social and political history in the 19th and 20th centuries, subsequent units examine particular topics in greater depth. Students will complete research projects based in part on primary sources in English translation. AAL

HIS 497 Honors Thesis II

All seniors in the History honors program are required to take this two-semester sequence. The first semester consists of weekly seminars that will help students choose a good topic and teach research strategies.  The second semester involves a research project arranged with and carried out under the guidance of a faculty member.