Undergraduate Level Courses

Fall 2021

The World I sections examine the history of the human experience from a global perspective. The bulk of the semester concerns societies and states from the time of ancient civilizations to about 1500 AD. The course pays particular attention to political, economic, and social changes, but also considers cultural, technological, and ecological history. The evolving relationship between human identities and their social and material environments forms one of the major points of analytical focus for this course. The overarching goal is to provide a general framework for the history of the world to help students understand the big picture, and to help them to contextualize what they will later study about history, politics, religion–in short, about the human experience. The Europe I sections offer an analysis of the major political, social, economic, diplomatic, religious, intellectual, and scientific developments in European Civilization to 1789. A quarter of the seats have been reserved for first years.

HIST 099 is one of the required core classes in History.  All sections of HIST 099 fulfill the same role, though each instructor will develop a specific topic.  Students are urged to consult syllabi available on line or at the History Department.

The general aim of HIST 099 is to introduce students to various elements of historical work and thinking, within the context of looking at a particular historical period, event, or theme in some depth. Though lectures and discussion will focus on particular topics, there will also be class exercises, assignments, and readings that will allow instructors and students to explore how historians identify, define, and employ primary sources of all types, how historians analyze those sources, how they formulate questions, how they engage with the work of prior historians, and how they aim to reconstruct various elements of the human experience in particular times and places.

Offerings for Spring 2021:
Rio de Janeiro – Bryan McCann
Italian Renaissance – Tommaso Astarita
World War II – Aviel Roshwald
Material Culture – Susan Pinkard
US Working Lives – Joseph McCartin
Caliph and Emperors – Osama Abi-Mershed
Voting and Elections – Michael Kazin
American Revolution – Chandra Manning
Becoming American [on CALL Campus] – Molly Thacker

Please note that if you receive AP/IB placement or credit, you cannot take HIST 099 (or 007 or 008) for credit.

Please note that HIST 099 must be taken at GU and cannot be transferred.

Enrollment by tutorial form and permission of Department only Majors may petition to attach a 3-credit tutorial to an outside internship during the Fall or Spring semester. Eligible internships will require at least 10 hours a week, and include substantial research and writing, in an area at least somewhat related to historical work. The petition should include a description of the internship and a statement of how the student sees the internship fit with the student’s academic progress. The internship tutorial will consist primarily of meetings with a faculty supervisor to discuss the progress of the internship research and work and to review work written for the internship, and of writing a reflection paper that, among other things, connects the internship experience with the student’s academic work.

Atlantic World draws together the histories of four continents, Europe, Africa, North America, and South America, to investigate the new Atlantic world created as a consequence of the Columbian encounter in 1492. The class traces the creation of this world from the first European forays in the Atlantic and on the coast of Africa in the fifteenth century to the first wars for colonial independence and the abolition of slavery. Topics include the destruction and reconfiguration of indigenous societies; the crucial labor migrations of Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans; and the various strategies of accommodation, resistance, and rebellion demonstrated by the many different inhabitants of the Americas.

Pacific World focuses on the Pacific Ocean world, which has historically been regarded as a vast and prohibitive void rather than an avenue for integration. Yet over the last five centuries motions of people, commodities, and capital have created important relationships between the diverse societies situated on the “Pacific Rim.” This course examines the history of trans-Pacific interactions from 1500 to the present. It takes the ocean itself as the principal framework of analysis in order to bring into focus large-scale processes–migration, imperial expansion, cross-cultural trade, transfers of technology, cultural and religious exchange, and warfare and diplomacy. This “oceans connect” approach to world history brings these processes into sharp relief while also allowing for attention to the extraordinary diversity of cultures located within and around the Pacific.

From humble beginnings nearly 1500 years ago, to enormous power and prestige in the Middle Ages, to political decline and foreign occupation in the modern era, Islam has developed into a highly diverse, global tradition representing nearly one quarter of the world’s population. Yet it is most widely known through caricatures of terrorists and despots. This course examines that phenomenon. It focuses on the historical development of Muslim communities and their interactions with European and other powers. It emphasizes the impact of those interactions on Islam’s ideological and political developments. The interaction between religion and politics is a major sub-theme of the course.

This course examines the history of modern Africa from the 19th century to the present. We will explore major political, economic, social, religious and environmental changes on the continent, but we will also think about how historical knowledge is created and how historians assess evidence about the past.

The first goal of this course is for you to acquire historical background to contemporary Africa. By looking at general patterns as well as specific places and events, we’ll examine some of the major themes in Africa’s recent history. We’ll study Africa’s role in the 19th-century global economy and the political and social impacts of this early globalization; European conquest of the continent and African resistance to European domination; the political and economic impact of colonialism; major cultural, social and religious changes of the early 20th century; and how independence from colonialism was achieved and what it meant. Then we’ll turn to the era of independent African nations and explore the historical context of some of the issues facing present-day Africa. We also will examine dynamics of age, gender, class, and ethnicity within African societies. And throughout the class, we will consider how Africans have acted to create their own history within the context of larger global and historical forces they do not control.

A second goal of the class is for you to begin to think about the origins of knowledge: to ask how we know what we think we know. What do terms such as “African” and “European” mean in practice, and what do they obscure? How has “the West” created knowledge about “Africa,” and what are the implications of this?

A third goal is to think and write like historians. We will ask questions and explore puzzles about the past. With Africa serving as the context, you will practice the art of historical analysis. Questions we will ask throughout this class include: Why did something happen when it happened and what were its consequences? How have unequal relations of power shaped the kinds of historical evidence we have today, and how can we interpret that evidence? To what extent can history explain the world we now share?

This course forms the first part of the Chinese history survey. It is taught with a somewhat different time frame on the main campus and in Doha at SFSQ. On the main campus: The course, subtitled “Origins and Imperium,” is introductory, has no prerequisites, and assumes no prior knowledge of China or its language. The organization of the course is basically chronological, but within that framework we will be approaching China from a wide range of viewpoints, taking up political, economic, social, religious, philosophical, and artistic developments. In this fall semester, we will cover the formation of China’s social, political, and intellectual culture and its development through various dynastic regimes, up through the end of the Ming Dynasty in the late 16th century. In addition, in this semester we will explore the historical roots of several claims made by the People’s Republic of China in the 21st century, including linkages with Xinjiang, Central Asia, and Tibet; the “Silk Road” origins of the 2013 Belt and Road Initiative, and China’s aspirations for a blue-water navy. The course has two basic goals: (1) to present a basic introduction to the traditions and legacies of the history and culture of China, including conflicting, even contradictory, interpretations of these traditions/legacies; and (2) to use the specific study of China as a means for developing more general skills in the discipline of historical analysis. On the Doha campus: China I: The History of Late Imperial China Since 2013, the leading slogan of the People’s Republic of China has been the achievement of the “China Dream.” Xi Jinping has referred to this as the “Great rejuvenation of the Chinese people (Zhonghua minzu de weida fuxing 中华民族的伟大复兴).” The slogan is thoroughly modern (The phrase “Chinese people” didn’t exist until the 1890s)—yet clearly referential to the country’s past. How do we make sense of these tensions? How do people in China understand their past? Who were they? How has this past shaped the present and how might it influence the future (the “dream”)? This course is an investigation of the history of China from 1200 through the early 20th century in order to understand how the recent “rise” of China has both built upon and diverged from its imperial foundations. We will examine how Confucianism became embedded in a range of social institutions, from the bureaucracy to the family. Special attention will be paid to China’s multiple roles in the development of the economy of the early modern world and the transformation of “China” into a vast, multi-ethnic empire during the seventeenth through eighteenth centuries. We will then examine how during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, people in China grappled with the legacies of the imperial past and its intellectual traditions as they sought to build a rich and powerful state to compete with Europe, the US, and Japan.

This course begins a two-part sequence offering a general history of Japan from the earliest records of Japanese civilization through to the present. The course is introductory, has no prerequisites, and assumes no prior knowledge of Japan or its language. The organization of the course is basically chronological, but within that framework we will be approaching Japan from a wide range of viewpoints, taking up political, economic, social, religious, philosophical, and artistic developments. In this fall semester, we will cover the formation of Japan’s social, political, and intellectual culture, including the formation of Japan’s distinctive identity and the tensions between centrifugal and centripetal forces. We will also examine changes in Japan’s relationship to East Asia and, by the 16th century, the rest of the planet. The course ends with the collapse of the last of the shogunal/military governments in the 1860s, paving the way for Japan’s “modernization” in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The course has two basic goals: (1) to present a basic introduction to the traditions and legacies of the history and culture of Japan, including conflicting, even contradictory, interpretations of these traditions/legacies; and (2) to use the specific study of Japan as a means for developing more general skills in the discipline of historical analysis.

Beginning with a survey of the diverse societies of the Americas before 1500, this classes focuses on the coming of Europeans, the deadly impact of the disease they brought, and the integration of the hemisphere into European empires and a new global economy during three subsequent centuries. We will emphasize how the long state-organized peoples of regions subjected to Spanish rule adapted socially and culturally to sustain silver as a key global commodity; we will explore how Africans were dragged in bondage to Atlantic America to labor in booming sugar economies ruled by every European power: Portugal, Britain, France, Spain, and more. The interactions among Europeans and the diverse peoples who produced everything focus much of the analysis—culminating in the rising resistance that challenged Europeans in regions from the Andes to Haiti in the late eighteenth century.

This is an introductory course on the history of modern South Asia, tracing its history through the colonial nineteenth to the post-colonial twentieth century. From the Partition onwards, South Asian nations have wrestled with their identity and destiny as post-colonial nation-states in the face of various sub-nationalisms, whether ethnic, religious or linguistic. Moreover, these competing nationalisms have not only created violent conflict in the region, but have also raised difficult questions regarding the nature of liberal citizenship and democratic statehood in general. How does a democratic state justify violence against its own citizens? How does a “secular” state negotiate a religious citizenry? What constitutes the difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist insurgent? Do democratic states have certain advantages in managing difference compared to non-democratic states? This course will explore these questions through a survey of modern South Asian history, focusing particularly on India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Readings with include ethnographic and historical accounts, theoretical texts, film and literature and primary sources, including speeches and legal judgments.

Through lectures, readings, class discussion and audio-visual material, this course examines the history of the Middle East from the late sixth to the late seventeenth centuries. The lectures focus on broader topics, such as the emergence of Islam; the history of major Middle Eastern empires; changing geo-strategic and cultural conditions; and the evolution and functioning of classical and medieval Muslim institutions. Discussion sections will enable students to deepen their knowledge regarding local diversities within the unifying systems of Muslim beliefs, law, and administration; the material and intellectual exchanges and interactions between the Muslim world and non-Muslim communities and polities; and Muslim reactions to the Crusades and the Mongol invasions. Some seats have been reserved for first years.

The Slavs, Origins of Russia, Kiev, the Mongol period, Muscovy, Imperial Russia to 1825 with special attention to autocracy, serfdom, foreign policy, the Orthodox Church, Westernization, society, culture, and the birth of the revolutionary movement.

A survey of East European peoples and states from the rise of the Medieval Kingdoms to about 1800. The course will trace the influence of the multi-national Jagiellon, Habsburg, Ottoman, and Romanov empires in the region. Topics will include: the formation of ethnically and religiously diverse societies, the role of noble democracy, and the influence of the Enlightenment and Romanticism.

Profound political, cultural and environmental transformations occurred in Europe between the fourth and the tenth centuries CE. As the Roman Empire gave way to “Dark Age” kingdoms, the ways of life of ordinary people and elites, within and beyond Rome’s former limits, forever changed. This course draws upon traditional historical sources as well as the material record (bones, buildings, soils and trees) to delve into the human and natural processes that defined the era. Diverse topics are addressed, from saints and popes, to barbarian migrations and recurrent plague, to multiculturalism and Christianization, to climate change and economic fragmentation. Although focused on Europe, the course also considers connections with Rome’s Byzantine and Muslim heirs.

This course will study major issues and developments in Christian life and thought during the Reformation era. It will begin by examining problems of Church and theology on the eve of the Reformation, and will trace the development of the Reformation in the theology and actions of the major Protestant reformers. Similarly, it will examine the currents leading up to the Council of Trent and its reforming impact on Catholic religious life. Finally, it will deal with the consequences of the Reformation on Christian life in general, including its effects on popular culture, women, gender, and sexuality. Readings include a mix of primary and secondary sources, covering the history, theology, politics, and culture of the sixteenth century.

What factors have influenced the U.S. government’s and Americans’ interactions with the rest of world? Who has shaped these encounters? What has the relationship been between these relations and U.S. domestic affairs? How have foreigners responded to U.S. actors and influence? We will analyze U.S. foreign relations, a broader category than simply foreign policy by examining the political, military, economic, religious, and cultural influence of the U.S. The course begins with the Declaration of Independence and ends with World War II. In particular, we will discuss how the U.S. became a global power through topics such as the U.S. acquisition of the Philippines, the World Wars, U.S. business intervention in Latin America, and missionary involvement in Asia. We will also consider the different ways historians have sought to explain U.S. foreign relations.

This course introduces students to the historical study of the world economy by tracing the emergence of a global capitalist economy from early modern times to the present day. It looks at how capitalism first emerged, how it expanded globally, and how it has been transformed over the last millennium. It does so by looking at the history of international trade, finance and banking, labor and slavery, industrialization, agriculture, and the environment. It also considers how global capitalism developed in response to transformations in the global balance of power between rival empires and nations and in response to large-scale technological change. The course will conclude by looking at how the future of global capitalism may develop in the wake of the intertwined economic, public health, and political crises of 2020. This course does not require any prior study of economics.

Please note: The content and organization of this course are subject to change, contingent on the university’s decision about the fall mode of instruction. In this course we will explore the relationship between humans and the non-human world in African history. The course inquires into the ways that people and plants, animals and microbes, and ideologies and physical landscapes have shaped the African environment and human experiences. Our objective for the course is to understand the complicated histories behind contemporary environmental issues that affect Africa and the globe. We will begin with deep histories of the African environment. We will look at how historians have drawn on sources from the natural world—waterways, rainforests, plants, and pests—as a window into the local and global dimensions of the continent’s distant past. In the second unit of the course we will examine environmental conquests. We will consider how ecological traumas of colonization shaped European and Africans ideas and interactions with the environment. Next we analyze contemporary African environmental issues in historical perspective, including battles between poachers and rangers in wildlife preserves, agricultural development and degradation, and conflicts over natural resources. The course concludes with a session on the future of African environments and global climate change. Our readings and discussions will center on several key questions: How do we understand the relationship between humans and the natural world? How might we take apart the category of “nature”? How have local environments been shaped by regional and global encounters? What can local histories tell us about global environmental change? How does colonialism shape contemporary debates about preservation, degradation, and overpopulation in Africa?

Using the occupation of Japan as an access point, students will explore how the stationing of U.S. military personnel overseas connected Okinawa, Korea, and Vietnam to the other side of the Pacific Ocean in Hawaii, California, and even Michigan. Exploring the impact and afterlives of military forces in these areas will allow us to better understand what it is like to live alongside a foreign military force, how post-World War II events in Asia shaped the United States, and how that legacy affects the current state of affairs in the Asia-Pacific world.

Now, in the twenty-first century, we are so accustomed to living in a consumer society that it is easy to overlook the fact that, like all cultural forms, it has a history.
In Elizabethan English, to consume something meant to destroy it: fire consumed fuel, decay consumed corpses, disease consumed organs of the body, spending on unnecessary objects consumed wealth. The medieval church condemned luxurious consumption as a sin. In the era of the Renaissance and Reformation, consumption continued to be seen as a morally dangerous activity that could waste resources and undermine social order. By the middle of the eighteenth century, however, demand for an ever-expanding range of goods came to be widely seen as a constructive force. It was the motor of global economic development, indeed, the very source of the wealth of nations. As one writer observed at the time, “the luxuries of our ancestors are necessities for us.” The spread of consumer goods beyond a narrow elite was linked to the diffusion of polite manners and refined tastes. Shopping became a popular pastime for the affluent. Possessions came to be seen as reflecting or even constituting the character of the person who owned them while also serving as powerful markers of class in a profoundly unequal world.
Such changes created the conditions that inspired businessmen to greatly expand production using techniques of industrial manufacturing, including the division of labor and steam powered machinery. In turn, this industrial revolution transformed many aspects of nineteenth-century life. Soon railroads and steamships brought a dazzling array of manufactured goods at all price points to towns, villages, and otherwise remote rural areas. Architecture and urban spaces were adapted to facilitate an ever-denser concentration of industrial and commercial activities given over to the acquisition and display of goods. The notion of a mass “consumer society,” in which the acquisition of new and often superfluous goods was seen as a fundamental right, became both ubiquitous and controversial.
This course will explore the emergence of modern patterns of consumption and the ideas that both legitimated and challenged them from the era of Jane Austen to the age of Mad Men. Although this is officially a course in European history, American material will be incorporated, too, especially towards the end of the semester. Our sources will include classics of social thought and works of fiction, a wide selection of other primary documents, and recent scholarly literature as well as images and objects from the period under study.

Using a mixture of film and written sources (memoirs, autobiographical accounts, collections of documents), we will examine the question of collaboration and resistance in the decades around World War II.

This course will look at the origins, practice, and nature of Fascism as it developed in Europe between the world wars. To that end, readings by Fascist theorists such as Mussolini and Hitler, as well as by historians who analyze and describe the phenomenon will be used. Films from and about the era will also be part of the material for the course. In addition to discussing historical Fascism, the course will also take a look at what, if anything, connects the meaning of Fascism as it existed in the past and how that term is used today.

This course examines Islamic warfare from the earliest Muslim conquests through WWI. After discussing classical Islamic conceptions of war and peace, the course examines the early Muslim conquests, the Crusades, the Mongol invasion of the Islamic world, and the wars of the Mamluk, Ottoman, and Safavid Empires. In the second part of the course we consider topics such as land, naval, and siege warfare, military manpower and military slavery in Islam, war financing, military technology, weapons and tactics, logistics and provisioning, fortresses and border defense, and the impact of war upon societies. The last phase of the course studies military modernization attempts of the Ottoman Empire and Egypt in the nineteenth century, and the ultimate defeat of modernized Muslim armies by the combined forces of ethnic nationalism and Great Power imperialism. In this section we also consider the increased destructiveness of modern warfare for non-combatants and the displacement of civilian populations.

Processes of historical change have become increasingly global during recent centuries. This seminar explores diverse approaches to historical globalization: political, diplomatic, economic, ecological, cultural. In addition, it examines the relations between globalizing processes and history as it is experienced, discussed, and debated in nations and communities. It asks why historical understandings have focused on national developments, while the forces of change have operated on ever larger scales.

Disease and Public Health within Middle Eastern History – Wars and conflicts that some Middle Eastern countries are currently experiencing bring with them humanitarian crisis and re-emergence of infectious diseases that threaten global health and a century of global efforts to eradicate killing diseases. Public health and the availability of medical assistance is hardly apolitical. Public health institutions, measures and policies are intricate and entangled with political agendas, social and cultural customs, and religious considerations. Therefore, history of medicine is part and parcel of the larger picture of the history of the Middle East. It provides a window to understanding the social, cultural and political changes that unfolded in the region. The technological advancement and imperial expansions during the long nineteenth century led to the globalization of new diseases and to the fast spreading of epidemics. As infectious diseases know no borders or national frontiers, they impacted the political, cultural, and social changes globally and Middle Eastern societies are no different. They influenced the rise of modern medicine and the modes of its adoption in various societies, and they impacted the development of public health strategy such as vaccination campaigns, quarantine, sanitary movements, and the choice to hide or report infectious diseases. This course will touch on the major infectious diseases that contributed to the historical changes in the region with the rise of modernity, global imperial competition over territories, nationalism, colonialism and the nation-state.

This course examines Russia’s multi-ethnic, multi-confessional empire in the 19th and 20th centuries. In this seminar, we shall focus on the multifaceted relationship between imperial and Soviet Russia’s center and its Eastern European, Caucasian, and Central Asian periphery. Beyond territorial boundaries, we will explore divisions along the lines of class, religion, and gender. Using a wide variety of literary, visual, and academic sources, we will consider how shifting physical and conceptual borders shape local and national identity, from the shtetl to the steppe, to the Gulag, to the radioactive Zone, and even into outer space.

The Russian Empire played a major role in global debates about the nature and purpose of political power after the French Revolution. In this seminar, we will discuss works by prominent Russian conservative, liberal, and socialist thinkers, including Dostoevsky, Herzen, and Lenin, in order to understand how Russia developed as a hotbed of ideological experimentation culminating in the revolutions of 1917. Topics will range from terrorism to religion, from economic thought to the rights of women and national minorities. We will pay particular attention to the relationship between Russia and other parts of the world, especially Europe and the United States.

Conservative thinker Richard Weaver once wrote, “Ideas have consequences.” This colloquium examines the evolution of the American Right – as both an intellectual phenomenon and a political movement. It focuses on the period since 1945, when conservatism became a mass phenomenon. We will pursue such questions as: how have conservative ideas changed? What impact did the Right have on cultural change in the U.S. and vice versa? Were conservatives able to convert their electoral successes into major changes in policy? Readings include primary texts and recent scholarly works.

HIST 400 will be completely online and asynchronous. This 1-credit workshop course is required for all senior History majors who are not pursuing the Honors program (and thus are not enrolled in HIST 408). It is offered in the Fall of senior year. The purposes of this course are to provide a common capstone experience to senior majors; to help them reflect on and highlight what they have learned in the course of their studies; to help them develop and present the skills they have gained; to assist them as they prepare either for further studies or for entering the work force; and to give them a chance to gain essential experiences in the presentation of their own work and accomplishments. Students will not need to prepare much new work for this course, but they will present work they have already done, offer reflections on it, and learn to present it in different ways. Registration in this class requires instructor/departmental approval.

By permission of Department only. HIST 408-409 form a two-semester study of History as an intellectual discipline. Enrollment is by invitation of the Department. Fall: Readings and discussions with departmental faculty on the various methods, concepts, and philosophies of history, and the development of a research prospectus with a faculty mentor. Spring: Research seminar under the guidance of the mentor and Seminar Director. (Enrollment only by permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies). Students must commit themselves for the full two semesters.

Neighboring Worlds: The Moon, Mars, Venus, and Asteroids in History We may be on the verge of a new era in humanity’s expansion into outer space. Space agencies in the United States, China, and Russia have all committed themselves to establishments settlements on or near the Moon, and are building enormous rockets to make that possible. A growing number of space agencies have now dispatched satellites or rovers to the worlds near Earth: the Moon, Mars, Venus, and nearby asteroids. These machines have revealed cosmic environments to be more dynamic places – with more dynamic histories – than scientists previously imagined. Companies led by ambitious tycoons are introducing revolutionary technologies that will allow them to reach, and perhaps even colonize, the Moon, Mars, and possibly Venus. This course will guide you through the long and often surprising history that has led us to this new era. You will discover, among other topics, how what happens in space has helped shape life on Earth; how early astronomers mapped and often misinterpreted environments on the Moon, Mars, and Venus; and how sudden environmental changes on Earth and on Mars provoked sightings of canals – and fears of alien invasion – across the western world. You will learn about the twin “space races” that led humans to the Moon and robots further afield; the plans to establish military bases on the Moon; the Martian dust storm that inspired the idea of nuclear winter on Earth; the shocking greenhouse effect on Venus that strengthened theories of global warming on Earth; and the history of a radical ambition to turn Mars into a world like Earth. You will also study the history of the quest for life on Mars, the Moon, and Venus, and the schemes to mine the rich resources of Near Earth Asteroids to save our world from environmental catastrophe.

After the United States and Haiti, Spanish and Portuguese America achieved political independence from European powers. In an age where monarchy was the dominant political formation of “civilized” countries, the new nations, with the exception of Brazil, chose a republican form of government. How to organize a country and create a nation from a colony? Who counted as a citizen? Who wanted to count as a citizen and how did they perceive their own roles within the new state? What territories could be included in the new state? All those questions and more were asked in the nineteenth century in Latin America as the different countries emerged from their colonial condition. Many of these issues, especially regarding the full integration of people as citizens into the nation-state persist into the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries. This course will explore many of these questions, based on some of the new exciting research that has been published in the past decade. The course examines these issues through theoretical perspectives, biography, intellectual history, and the new cultural/political history.