Spring 2022 Undergraduate Courses

HIS 142 World History Since 1500

Instructor: L. Vardi

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? 

HIS 143 Global Inequality and Power

Instructor: N. Mbah
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.

HIS 162 US History 2

Instructor: C. Casteel

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.

HIS 182 Asian Civilization II

Instructor: M. Nathan

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.

HIS 216 Crime and Punishment in America

Instructor: T. Thornton

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.

HIS 244 American Business History

Instructor: C. Casteel

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.

HIS 273 The Art and Practice of Fashion

Instructor: P. McDevitt

The design, production, and dissemination of textiles and clothing have been central to global trade for millennia, and these material products have long been imbued with profound symbolic meanings. Thus, clothing has come to be a vital element in the constitution of a vast number of social hierarchies including gender, race, sexuality, ethnic and nationality, and class. The now established field of fashion studies also engages the business of fashion, which encompasses trade, production, shopping, consumerism, advertising, social media, and celebrity culture. This course will investigate clothes both as artistic creations and as consumer products and will pay particular attention to the interplay between the two. In sum, "Making Fashion: Art, Ethics, and Practice" will engage students in thinking critically about art, cultural production, history, and the rise of consumer capitalism through clothing and the practices of dressing in which students and indeed all individuals participate. While the history of fashion has long been focused primarily on the West since the Renaissance, this class will endeavor to place so-called "birth of fashion" in Europe into its global context by comparing and contrasting the art and practice of fashion around the globe and in an extended chronology. 

HIS 293 The Second World War

Instructor: S. Pack

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. 

HIS 301 Historical Writing

C. Casteel
K. Stapleton
M. Daxenbichler

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

Instructor: H. Langfur

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.

HIS 314 Modern Africa: Globalization and Imperialism Since 1800

Instructor: N. Mbah

The second of two introductory surveys of African history offered by the Department of History. In this course, we focus on African history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The course covers the increasing encroachment on African by European colonialism and the historical responses of Africans to colonial rule. Among the larger themes that the course will focus on are the responses of African societies to the ending of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, Islamic reform and activism in the nineteenth century, colonial political economies, religious change, labor mobilization and migration, urbanization, African political mobilization, and anti-colonial nationalism. The course will also consider some of the historical outcomes in post-colonial Africa.

HIS 321 Victorian History, 1832-1901

Instructor: P. McDevitt

In 1851, when the Great Exhibition opened in the new Crystal Palace in London, Britain's position as the pre-eminent great power in the world seemed unrivaled. The Crystal Palace was a massive glass structure that covered almost nineteen acres of ground and showcased some of the most spectacular examples of British ingenuity produced by a century of industrial growth in canals, railways, and factories. HIS 321 will look at both the self-congratulatory and hopeful world of Great Britain and the British empire during the reign of Queen Victoria as well the underside of that world that included new depths of Dickensian poverty, famine in Ireland and the grisly East End of Jack the Ripper. We will explore a range of themes, including: urbanization, class tensions, industrial change, imperialism, gender, socialism, rural nostalgia. In particular, the class will chart the rise of industrial wealth, the problems of urbanization, the expansion of the British empire, and the development of an interventionist state.

HIS 329 US History Since WWII

Instructor: V. Wolcott

A survey of modern United States history from WWII to the millennium that examines popular culture, social movements, foreign and domestic politics, and economic developments. 

HIS 336 History of the Old South

Instructor: J. Barclay

This course explores the history of the Old South from the colonial period until the Civil War (1600-1860). Topics to be covered include: the development of the chattel slavery, the creation of sectional identity and the idea of the southern exceptionalism, the rise of "King Cotton," southern cultural and religious practices, the plantation community, and proslavery ideology. This class considers the construction of southern identity though the experiences of white and black southerners, both slaves and free, as well as experiences particular to women. The class will combine both lecture and small group discussion. 

HIS 337 Intellectual History of Europe

Instructor: J. Dewald

An introduction to the intellectual history of Europe since the Enlightenment studied through analysis and important documents of philosophy, political and social theory, literature and art. A central focus of this course will be the consciousness of a crisis of modern society and culture that permeated broad sections of nineteenth and twentieth century thought. The course begins with an examination of the humanistic values of the Enlightenment, traces their fate in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and concludes with the question of their survival in our time.

HIS 354 American Transition, 1877-1901

Instructor: C. Emberton

Social, economic, and political transformation of the U.S. during the last decades of the nineteenth century.

HIS 356 Social history of Women in the U.S. 1875-Present

Instructor: M. Daxenbichler

This class will examine women as political activists, women in popular culture, and women's diverse experiences of work, family and sexuality. We will compare late 19th century women's reform movements, culminating in the successful drive for women's suffrage in the 1910s, to the second wave feminist movement spawned in the 1960s and 1970s. We will also explore popular culture as a realm of performance and a powerful site for the creation of female images and ideals. Finally, we will examine birth control, abortion, sexual danger and sexual pleasure as important personal as well as political issues in women's lives. How much have women's lives changed since the 19th century? Have women of varied ages, racial/ethnic communities, and social class been empowered by these changes? How do we assess or measure social change, power, and gender hierarchy? 

HIS 374 History of the Spread of Christianity in Asia

Instructor: Dodge

This course traces the introduction and spread of Christianity in Asian history, focusing primarily on East Asia and giving special attention to Korea. It begins with an examination of Jesuit missions to Japan and China, as well as the role that India played in the establishment and maintenance of these missions. The different Jesuit strategies for accommodating or rejecting indigenous religious beliefs and customs are compared and considered, as well as the Nestorians in China much earlier. Then we turn to the unique way in which Catholicism was subsequently established in Korea, where Christianity has enjoyed unparalleled success in East Asia. We will look closely at how Christianity has affected and been affected by socio-political developments, its interactions with and influence upon traditional Asian religions, its relationship to nationalism since the late 19th century, and its tensions and conflict with colonialism and Communism in the 20th century. It concludes by asking what factors might have enabled Christianity to have such success in Korea (and the Philippines) and compare these to the situation in China and Japan. This course is the same as AS 374 and course repeat rules will apply.

HIS 379 African American History Since 1877

Instructor: J. Barclay

This course analyzes the history of African-Americans from 1877 to present. It addresses a number of themes including the experiences of freed persons during the period immediately following slavery, the legal and socio-economic development of racial segregation and discrimination, along with the persistent and varied forms of resistance that African Americans engaged in as avenues of redress. The course also treats the arts and discusses the development of black vernacular arts during the period, linking, for example, the rise of musical forms such as blues and jazz to the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement. 

HIS 390 Plagues and Pandemics

Instructor: C. Schen

Plagues and pandemics have impacted world history since the ancient period – and in our own century. This course will study diseases, to understand transmission, risk factors, and morbidity and mortality and how the diseases were understood and treated in the past. But the course will also tackle historical questions about how pandemics impacted individuals, their families and friends, and the communities in which they lived. What kinds of political, economic, and cultural impacts did pandemics have? We will have to be selective about which diseases and epidemics are covered, but we will make selections from around the globe and across time.

HIS 421 Topics in British History

Instructor: C. Schen

We will read selectively on the history of Great Britain between about 1500 and 1800, a time of great social, political, economic, cultural and religious, and intellectual change. The course culminates in a research project and paper on a topic chosen by the student with the professor¿s guidance. You could choose from among science and medicine, religious belief and practice, political upheaval and civil war, piracy, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, travel and trade, art and architecture, or another topic entirely.

HIS 432 Problems in Modern European History

Instructor: J. Dewald

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

HIS 433 Latin American Native Peoples

Instructor: H. Langfur

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. 

HIS 447 Health and Illness in American History

Instructor: M. Daxenbichler

In the 21st century, Americans are debating whether to legalize marijuana. But how did marijuana get to be illegal in the first place? Who decided that some drugs are so dangerous we should fight a war against them, while others are so beneficial that entire industries should be devoted to encouraging their use? Why are American debates over drugs so intense and so complex, and why have they produced such a contradictory legal and cultural landscape? This course answers such questions by exploring the rich history of alcohol and other drugs in America: from the Pilgrims¿ beer riots to Prohibition, from cocainized Coca-Cola to ¿crack¿ cocaine, from Bayer¿s Heroin to Purdue Pharmas OxyContin, from the Marlboro Man to vape lounges, from vipers to hippies to ravers. We will track the changing worlds of drug discovery and commerce; drug use and drug-using subcultures; drug regulation and policing (domestic and global); drug treatment and addiction science; and the shifting, racialized cultural politics of drugs.

HIS 459 Special Topics: Pandemic Public History

Instructor: M. Rhodes

This is a public history course revolving around the COVID-19 pandemic in partnership with the Journal of the Plague Year: An Archive of COVID-19. We will learn about oral histories (focused on the ethics and logistics of conducting, processing, curating, and exhibiting COVID-19 oral histories), and digital archives (focused on the ethics of rapid response archives, documenting the pandemic, curation and exhibit-making using Omeka-S). We will encounter readings on the ethics and methods of oral history, archives, and public history. You will also receive practical training and execute a culminating project such as an oral history collection, data remediation project, or exhibit centered around the Buffalo community, your hometowns, or some other group to which you have access or theme about which you are passionate.

HIS 485 Twentieth-Century China Politics

Instructor: K. Stapleton

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.

HIS 492 Poisons, Drugs, and Panaceas

Instructor: Y. Liu

What is a poison? How do we understand the effects of poisons on our body? How do we make the best use of these potent matters that can benefit us and the society at large? These are some of the fundamental questions to the history of medicine, and driving ones for this course. Examining the history of poisons through twelve case studies, we will explore the complexity of poison materiality by contemplating the intimate relations between poisons, medicines, and foods. We will learn how the experiences of the body shaped the conceived values of poisons. We will examine the circulation of poison knowledge across social and geographical domains. Using specific poisons as the anchor of our analysis, we will explore the social fabric and cultural milieu in which particular ideas and practices of poisons emerged, flourished, or diminished. One key aspect of the course is to introduce a comparative perspective to the study of medical history. By studying above topics in both European/American and Asian contexts, we will identify surprising parallels, striking differences, and hidden connections between these traditions. Finally, we will ponder how knowledge of poisons in the past illuminates our notions and habits of ingesting and experiencing drugs today. This course is the same as AS 492.