Fall 2019 Undergraduate History Course Descriptions

HST 101 American History to 1865
This introductory course will survey American history from the pre-colonial era to the Civil War. We will approach this period of history through a discussion of three themes. The first covers the period from the founding down to the middle of the eighteenth century and focuses on how Europeans from a medieval culture became Americans. The second theme explores the political, social and economic impact the Revolution had upon American society. And finally, we will focus on the modernization of American society in the nineteenth century and how that modernization was a major factor in causing the sectional crisis.

In addition to the two lecture classes a week, you will attend a small discussion class taught by one of the teaching assistants once each week.

Concentration: U.S. / Period: Modern

HST 111 Early Modern Europe: 1350 to 1815
This course covers the history of Europe from the Black Death, which marked the end of the Middle Ages, to the French Revolution – the beginning of the modern world. While it will cover the major events of the period – the Renaissance, the Reformation, the English, French and scientific revolutions, the rise and fall of Napoleon, the growth of the modern state – the emphasis will be on changes in the lives of ordinary men and women. There will be a midsemester, a final, and two short (c. 5 page) papers.

Concentration: Europe / Period: Pre-modern

HST 121 Global History to 1750
This course introduces students to global history from the thirteenth century through 1750 by focusing on social, economic, political, intellectual, and religious developments in major regions of the world: Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas. Beginning with the Mongol’s Eurasian empire, their transformation of the continent, and the spread of Islamic empires from Central Asia to the Atlantic, it traces the historical patterns of different world regions in the fifteenth century through the trans-Atlantic slave trade and European imperialism.  What types of exchanges were facilitated by maritime trade and trade diasporas? How were human interactions with their environment circumscribed by climate change and disease? The latter part of the course looks at global connections and local particularities facilitated by the spread of Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. Course themes include empire, disease, environment, slavery, religion, state-formation, and the rise of global trade. Topics will be covered thematically in general chronological order. Lectures will be supplemented by maps, visual materials, music, documentaries and films. All students are required to attend lectures and one discussion a week.

Concentration: Global / Period: Pre-modern

HST 208 Middle East Since the Rise of Islam
This course is an introductory survey of Middle East history from the rise of Islam in the seventh century to 1900. It discusses major empires in Middle East covering topics such as culture and society, science and technology, and women and politics. We will approach the Middle East through the theme of exchange, considering the connections between Southwest Asia and North Africa and neighboring regions, as the crossroads of Asia and Europe. Other prominent themes include multiculturalism, reform, and modernization.

The course meets twice each week. There is no discussion section.

Concentration: Global / Period: Pre-modern

HST 210 The Ancient World
This course surveys the history of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, and explores the classical roots of modern civilization. We will begin with the first civilizations of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, the roots of western religion in ancient Israel; then proceed through Bronze Age, archaic and classical Greece, the Persian wars, the trial of Socrates, the conquests of Alexander the Great, the Hellenistic world, the rise of Rome, and end with the fall of the Roman Empire and the coming of Christianity. The course will treat political, social, cultural, religious and intellectual history. We will focus on issues that the ancients themselves considered important – good and bad government, the duties of citizens and the powers of kings and tyrants – but we will also examine those who were marginalized by the Greeks and Romans: women, slaves, so-called "barbarians." The course will emphasize reading and discussion of primary sources, in order to provide a window into the thought-worlds and value systems of past societies.

Concentration: Europe / Period: Pre-modern

HST 213 Africa: Ancient Times to 1800
This course is a survey of pre-modern African history, presenting an overview of the main themes and chronology of the development of African culture and society. It provides an exposition of the regional and continental diversity and unity in African political, economic, social and cultural histories with special emphasis on major African civilizations, processes of state formation, encounters with the Euro-Asia world, Africa’s role in the international Trans-Saharan, Indian Ocean and Atlantic trades, ecology, and urbanization.

Concentration: Global / Period: Pre-modern  

HST 222 American Sexual History
This course examines sexuality in America from the colonial period to the present, exploring how American views of sex and desire have changed over time. We will study not only sexual behavior through history, but also its changing meaning, and attempts to control its expression. Topics will include colonialism, slavery, race, religion, class, prostitution, women’s rights, birth control, masculinity, and gay and lesbian history.

This course will combine lecture and discussion of course readings. Course assignments will include a midterm and final examination, two short papers, and short writing assignments.

Concentration: U.S./Period: Pre-modern/Modern   

HST 300 Food in Pre-Modern Europe
What did people eat in pre-modern Europe? Then as now, food was more than fuel for the body. It was also a way to celebrate and socialize, to show status and taste, to assert power, and to honor God. By studying how food was grown, bought, cooked, served, and eaten (or thrown away), we will gain insight into the daily life, politics, economy, culture, religion, and tastes of pre-modern Europeans and how these things changed over time.

Each week will feature a combination of lecture and discussion. Grades are based on in-class exams, written assignments, and discussion.

Concentration: Europe / Period: Pre-modern  

HST 300 American Military History
Is there, as some historians have claimed, a distinctive ‘American way of war’ traceable over the four centuries since the beginning of the European colonization of North America? If so, what are its characteristics, how has it changed over time, and what does it reveal about a peculiar American attitude to state violence and the relationship between military and civilian society? In this course, we will examine the ‘small’ and ‘big’ wars of the United States from the colonial period to the ongoing campaigns in Afghanistan and Syria. Class meetings will be a mixture of lectures and discussion. Students will complete a number of primary and secondary source readings. Assessment will be based on class discussion and several reading and writing assignments."  

Concentration: U.S. / Period: Modern 

HST 300 Herodotus and the Persian WarS
Herodotus has been called the father of history, the first anthropologist, the first ethnographer...and the father of lies. His History is our principal source for the fifth-century B.C.E. Persian invasions of Greece. This was a dramatic moment in the history of the ancient Greeks, and especially for its two leading states, Athens and Sparta, as the unlikely Greek repulse of the Persians gave new self-confidence to the Greeks and led to a cultural flourishing, typically called the Classical Age, especially in democratic Athens. But beyond ancient Greek history, the Persian invasions have symbolized the triumph of a way of life in the western intellectual tradition. Earlier European and American thinkers saw the Greek victory against the Persians as a victory of culture over barbarism; as the salvation of western freedom and rationalism over "oriental despotism." This dimension of our subject matter is very much at the heart of contemporary culture wars, leading to questions about the value of the ancient Greek historical experience for us today, the proper place of the ancient Greeks in today's educational curricula, and whether we can say, or should say, that there is anything special and exceptional about the ancient Greeks in relation to other ancient societies in today's multiethnic, multicultural, and diverse American culture. 

Concentration: Europe / Period: Pre-modern 

HST 300 Middle East Media
This course examines the history, politics, and culture of media in the Middle East. Through a series of case studies, it will offer a broad overview of the development and evolution of regional media from print journalism to social media. The class will examine Middle Eastern media in the context of European imperialism, the Cold War competition between the United States and Soviet Union, the use of state-based radio and television by regional powers and rivals, the media strategies of non-state actors, the rise and expansion of satellite television, and the social media revolution. Students will be introduced to a range of media sources in regional languages (with translation) as well as English-language media based in the Middle East. 

Concentration: Global / Period: Modern 

HST 301 Practicum 
What is History? How do scholars “do” history? This seminar introduces history majors to the methods and goals of historical study, and to the skills needed to conduct independent historical research. The first part of the course will be spent discussing what exactly history is and has been. We will then move on to discussing the kinds of history that have developed across the century in the American Historical profession. Finally, students will spend a large portion of the course familiarizing themselves with the analytical and practical skills needed to develop their own research projects.  


HST 305 America in Crisis
The Civil War was a second American Revolution, and considerably more transformative than the first. Through lectures, readings of primary and secondary-source texts, discussions, and films, this course will show why. We begin by asking what led Southern states to secede in 1861, why the North resolved to restore the union by force of arms, and how emancipation evolved from a military expedient to a defining war aim. We will ask how changing military strategies and tactics related to political struggles over the objectives of the war, and why the war took so many lives. The role of political and military leaders – Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee, to name a few – will be placed alongside the experiences of soldiers, slaves, and civilians. Our examination of Reconstruction will pay particular attention to the efforts of freedmen and women to secure their freedoms despite the hostility of white Southerners and the indifference of Northerners. Care will also be taken to understand the Civil War and Reconstruction in relation to larger social, economic, and cultural developments in nineteenth-century America, and to place them in global context. Finally, we will look at how Americans have remembered the war, from struggles over memorialization, to the persistence of "Lost Cause" mythology, to changing interpretations of the war advanced by historians in the twentieth century.

Concentration: U.S. / Period: Modern  

HST 306 The Civil Rights Movement
This semester we will take an unconventional look at one of America’s defining social and political movements: the struggle for black freedom in the mid-twentieth century. Our exploration of the fight against Jim Crow segregation ranges across more than a half-century of activism and highlights long traditions of protest from labor activism in the 1920s through Black Power in the 1970s. Students will explore the ways that law, violence, international politics, gender, and radicalism shaped the course of the movement and the nation.

Concentration: U.S. / Period: Modern  

HST 308 Recent History of the United States: 1960-Present
This course will examine a number of major developments in recent American history. Among the subjects considered: the informing experience of the forties and fifties; The Cuban crises of 1961 and 1962; to Dallas 1963; the Civil Rights movement and after; the Great Society; the Vietnam War at home and abroad; the multi-faceted social upheavals of the sixties; Watergate; the shattering economic defeats of the seventies; the hostage crisis and the election of 1980; the conservative reaction in the eighties and the rise of the New Right; Ronald Reagan’s America; the shaping of American military policy; the road to Iran-Contra; the end of the Cold War and the confrontation in the Gulf; recession and Bill Clinton’s victory; the economic successes of the nineties; the politics of scandal in the Clinton years; the bizarre election of 2000; September 11, 2001 and after – the “War on Terror”; the Bush doctrine and the road to Iraq, the economic crisis of 2008 and the wrenching recession, Obama’s victory and domestic and foreign challenges 2010-2016; the new technology and its wide-ranging impact; the Trump phenomenon and the even more bizarre election of 2016.

Concentration: U.S. / Period: Modern   

HST 311 Medieval Civilization
This course explores European civilization from about 800 to about 1200. We will study kings, saints, and villains; faith and violence, love and hatred; ideas and beliefs. Our questions include: how did these people make sense of their world? How did they respond to crisis and opportunity? How did their civilization work? What was life like in medieval Europe? To answer these questions, we will mainly read primary sources that show us what medieval people themselves had to say about their world. Our goal will be to understand the past on its own terms. We will also emphasize the skills of close reading, strong argumentation, and clear expression of ideas.

Concentration: Europe / Period: Pre-modern

HST 314 Bismarck to WWI
This course examines European history in the half century leading up to the First World War. Conventionally understood as an era of great progress, we will highlight the double edge of modernization as both progressive and restrictive, creative and destructive. The class is organized around four main themes: nations and nationalism, industrialization and its discontents, imperialism, and cultural conflict. To name only a few, we will consider topics such as the far-reaching repercussions of nation-building in Central Europe, the emergence of radical dogmas ranging from socialism to scientific racism, the globalization of inequality, and the many clashes of culture ranging from language to religion. Lectures, discussions, and readings will cover much of the continent including Britain, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy, as well as European overseas colonies especially in Africa, and a number of important developments on the European periphery in both Russia and the Ottoman Empire.

Why should you care? The period studied in this class sets the stage for the following century. It witnessed the rapid growth and radicalization of international socialism; it globalized scientific racism; it birthed both modern anti-Semitism and modern Zionism; and it both consolidated and undermined faith in unending progress. This half century remains crucial to this day as a major turning point in some of the most foundational issues in the modern world: mass politics, mass culture, scientific racism, social justice, and advanced globalization, to name just a few.

Concentration: Europe / Period: Modern 

HST 315 Europe in the Age of Hitler and Stalin
This course covers the major political, social, and cultural developments in Europe during the period of the two world wars. Major themes include the failures of liberal democracy and capitalism, the rise of authoritarian and totalitarian dictatorships, and the decline of Europe. In addition to a textbook, course materials include historical monographs, memoirs, novels, and films. Assignments include papers, in-class exams, and quizzes.

Concentration: Europe / Period: Modern

HST 320 Traditional China
In this course we will survey Chinese history from earliest times to the end of the Ming dynasty in 1644.  This seemingly remote time witnessed the formation of a complex government and society whose influence extended to much of East Asia. Ranging over the centuries, the class will explore some of the main currents in Chinese political, cultural, social, and intellectual history. These include:  Confucianism, Buddhism, Daoism, and Legalism as competing and sometimes intersecting philosophies; the imperial system and major changes in its form over time; the changing roles of women in society; popular rebellion and heterodox religion; and the place of science and technology in the Chinese past.

We will read a variety of texts in addition to a concise textbook.

Concentration: Global / Period: Pre-modern  

HST 323 Modern Latin America
This survey course introduces students to the history of modern Latin America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean from approximately 1820 to the present. Course themes include studying 19th century attempts by elites at nation-building and their response to demands from new groups fighting for citizenship, such as workers and women. We look at the rise and fall across the 20th century of experiments with the state’s ability to address the needs of civil society, while at the same time seeking ways to modernize their economies. Lastly, we adopt an inter-disciplinary perspective to analyze the many challenges facing the region in the 21st century, including political turmoil, the escalation of the drug trade, and endemic violence.

Through a combination of lectures, discussion, and written assignments, the course also teaches students about history as a discipline. It introduces them to different modes of historical inquiry, such as gender analysis and oral history, as well as more traditional forms of economic and political history.

Concentration: Global / Period: Modern


HST 331 Race and Sport 
This course explores the subject of American sport as a lens through which to view race relations in U.S. History. Sports have long served as important symbolic sites of both resistance and assimilation for individuals from various racial and ethnic groups. Our readings and discussions will consider the role of individual athletes, key events, and sports as cultural and corporate institutions in an effort to understand how organized athletics have shaped racial identity and political protest in American history. Key topics will include how sport has influenced discourses of manhood/womanhood, citizenship, and power as we navigate the events, lives, and sociopolitical changes from the era of slavery to the present day.

Concentration: U.S. / Period: Modern  

HST 332 African American History through the 19th Century 
Participants in this course examine cultural, economic, political, and social phenomena that shaped experiences of people of African descent in North America. Our exploration begins with the Atlantic slave trade to North America and extends through the nineteenth century. We consider foundations of collective identity for this population as well as factors that reveal its diversity. Topics include enslavement, slave resistance, connections to Africa, the process and character of American freedom, gender constructions, labor patterns, religious organizations, reform efforts, and political activism. In addition to investigating historical developments, we explore interpretive and methodological questions that shape the practice of African American history.

Concentration: U.S./ Period: Modern   
 

HST 347 Modern American Politics through Fiction
Open to HONORS students only.

In this course we will examine major themes in the political consciousness of twentieth century American society, as those themes are reflected in contemporary fiction. The focus will be on both particular events and movements (Progressive reform, the Cold War, women's liberation, civil rights, terrorism) and on more generalized and persistent concerns (alienation and depersonalization, discrimination, authoritarianism, violence, sexuality, bureaucratization, conformity, resistance, corruption). During the term, each student will read ten or eleven novels, will write four short papers, and will lead a class discussion. Class sessions will place a decided emphasis on discussion--some led by the professor and others by students in the class.

Concentration: U.S./Period: Modern 


HST  352 History of Ancient Greece
Survey of ancient Greek political, economic, social and cultural history based on interpretation of primary sources, both literary and archaeological, from the Bronze Age through Alexander the Great.

Concentration: Europe / Period: Pre-modern


HST 353 The History of Ancient Rome
A comprehensive survey of ancient Roman political, economic, social and cultural history based on the interpretation of primary sources, both literary and archaeological, from the foundation of the city through the dissolution of the Empire in the west. Special focus is given to important topics and themes in Roman history, including Roman foundation legends, the interrelationship of Roman statecraft and Roman religion, Roman aristocratic ethical values and imperialism, the Roman reaction to Greek culture and literature, the imperial cult of the Roman emperor, the position of women in Roman society, the Roman institution of slavery, the origins and early growth of Christianity, the third century CE military and economic crises, and modern ideas on Rome's transformation into medieval Europe. Short paper, mid-term and final examinations. 

Concentration: Europe/Period: Pre-Modern   

HST 362 Nazi Germany and the Holocaust
In 1933, a radical and dictatorial regime came to power in Germany, remade the German state, and went on to orchestrate a vast program of mass murder in pursuit of a vision of biological purity and to launch a war of world conquest, ultimately killing millions. This course examines the history of German fascism, the Nazi state, and the Holocaust according to three primary lines of inquiry. In the first part of the course, we will address the question of how the Nazis came to power. What was Nazism, and why did it gain a popular following? Why did the Weimar Republic, the parliamentary democracy founded in 1918, fall (first to dictatorship and then to Nazism) in the early 1930s? In the second part of the course, we will examine the politics of Nazism in power. What was everyday life like for various Germans under the Nazi state, and why did many Germans come to support the regime? The course’s third section addresses war, genocide, and the legacies of Nazism and the Holocaust.  How did Nazi genocide policies develop, and how was it possible to implement them? What can the history of Nazi Germany teach us about other state-run mass murder programs?  How have Germans grappled with the aftermath of Nazi Germany?

Concentration: Europe / Period: Modern  

HST 365 Russia in the 20th Century
This course examines the historical experiment in communism that played out in the lands of the former Russian Empire in the twentieth century. In 1917, radical revolutionaries seized control and attempted to create a multi-ethnic state dedicated to the realization of Karl Marx’s utopian plans for a communist society. Yet the seventy years that followed were dominated by mass repression, genocide, world war, and crushing dictatorship in all spheres of life. When the USSR abruptly disappeared in 1991, few mourned its passing. What (if any) promise did the communist revolution hold for the residents of Tsarist Russia? Why did the utopian ideals propounded by Russian Marxists lead to Stalinist dictatorship? And did the USSR have any chance to reform after Joseph Stalin’s death in 1953, or was the system fatally flawed and doomed to collapse? In addition to addressing these issues, this course will provide a glimpse of what life was like for people who lived through the “experiment” itself.

Concentration: Europe / Period: Modern

HST 366 Modern East Africa 1850-Present
This course focuses on the history of Modern East Africa from the second half of the nineteenth century to the present. More specifically, it examines the global connections between East Africa and Asia and Europe, Western  imperialism, colonialism, slave trade and abolition, race and society during the colonial period and after, labor, nationalism, decolonization, political transformation, Pan-Africanism in the postcolonial period, and postcolonial challenges to development and state-building, as well as inter-state relations since independence. While focus will be concentrated on the core East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zanzibar, the course also looks at such countries as Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Somalia.

Concentration: Global / Period: Modern  

HST 369 The World at War
Fall 2018, the 100th anniversary of the momentous final year of the Great War and the 75th anniversary of critical, turning point battles in World War II, this course will study major developments in the military history of the first and second world wars. These were the conflicts that dramatically changed the course of history across the globe.

On World War I:  The setting for the war in the struggle for mastery in Europe to 1914.  The Schlieffen Plan and its fate in the critical early months of the conflict.  The creation of the killing ground of the western front trenches by 1915.  The massive attrition battles in the arenas of death at Verdun, the Somme and in Flanders Field.  The war in the east and its implications for the fate of Russia.  The war at sea to Jutland and after.  Warfare beyond the European battlefields.  The war in the air.  American entry and the final encounters 1917-18.

On World War II:  The heritage of Versailles and the rise of Hitler.  After appeasement and isolationism – the war begins in Poland with blitzkrieg and the shaping of new tactics and strategies as well as the use of new weapon systems.  The Fall of France and the Battle of Britain.  Barbarossa and Hitler’s run of victories against the Red Army.  Pearl Harbor and America’s road to war.  Counter-attack in the west and the making of allied strategy.  From Stalingrad to the Kursk Salient and beyond as the war changes course in eastern Europe.  The Pacific war from Midway to the offensives in the Central and Southwest Pacific.  Holocaust – the war against the Jews.  Closing the ring in Europe.  Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the decision to use the atomic bomb.

Films will be used as one tool for understanding the nature and scope of the wars that changed the world.

Concentration: U.S. or Europe / Period: Modern  

HST 372 Caste and Inequality in Modern India
Caste, an institution unique to South Asia, is a highly visible but not easily understood aspect of Indian society. This course examines caste in modern India, paying particular attention to society and politics in the twentieth century. Drawing upon a wide range of primary and secondary sources including autobiographies, poems, films, and historical texts, we will attempt to understand what it means to belong to the lower castes in modern Indian society or to be considered “untouchable” – in short, to study politics at the margins. Themes that will be explored include the place of caste in Indian society; constructing colonial knowledge of caste; experiencing “impure” personhood; critiques of caste hierarchies; the relationship between caste and gender; segregation of rural and urban spaces; subversion of social norms through literature and landscapes; policing and violence on the lower-caste body; affirmative action and state policy; and the role of caste in democratizing postcolonial politics.

Concentration: Global / Period: Modern   

HST 379 Gender, Race, and Colonialism
This course will explore the intersection of gender, race, and colonialism in colonial ideologies and imperial practices in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  Beginning with a theoretical approach to the study of gender (as distinct from the study of either women or men), colonialism, and Orientalism, themes include the role of gender and race in discourses of modernity, civilization, and domesticity, the construction of national identity, imperial masculinity, race and science in colonial empires, the representation of women in consumer culture and imperial propaganda and contemporary issues relevant to the understanding of race, gender, and power. The readings concentrate on British and French colonialisms in the Middle East, India, and the Caribbean in comparison American and Japanese imperialism. These include the examination of how colonial expansion and racial ideologies influenced gender and social relations within Europe.  Though our focus is on the historical contexts of colonialism, our readings represent a variety of disciplines including anthropology, literature, feminist theory, and cultural studies, in addition to history.

Concentration: Europe

HST 385 United States Legal History
This lecture course examines the role of law in the history of the United States from its origins as a British colony to the present day. It looks at law not only as a functional response to American social transformation, but also as both a powerful constitutive force shaping everyday life and as a principal component of American political mythology. The course will examine constitutional, common, and statute laws, as well as legal culture and institutions. Key subjects include economic expansion, southern slavery, the civil War amendments, laissez-faire constitutionalism, legal realism, the New Deal, and the civil rights movement. Assignments include midterm, final, 10-12 page paper, and short presentations on the readings.

Concentration: U.S./Period: Modern 

HST 393 Socialism in East Asia
Before globalization became the buzzword in East Asia, socialist thought based on Marxist-Leninism was the dominant discourse and played a major role in shaping the region from the beginning of the twentieth century to today.  Socialism has been one of the most influential forms of “modernity” for over a billion people in communist East Asia (China, North Korea, Vietnam and pre-1990s Mongolia).  Non-socialist countries (South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and today’s Mongolia) have also been influenced or “subverted” by socialism.  Since its introduction to East Asia, socialism has crossed borders, classes, groups, gender and cultures, shaping and reshaping the maps, lives, politics, economies, scholarship, art, literature and public and private spaces of East Asia, altering how the various peoples of the region construct their realities, define themselves and their pasts, and view the world.

This course examines how socialist theory was adapted to fit East Asia and the resulting historical consequences.  It is not a rigorous analysis of political theory or governmental structures, nor does it idealize socialism. Rather, it provides a sweeping historical account of how socialist East Asia arose, developed, “failed” and responded to the challenges of globalization in the twentieth century. The course begins by briefly examining socialist thought and its introduction to East Asia at the end of the nineteenth century, its popularity among radical study groups in the 1920s and its appeal to anti-foreign and anti-colonial nationalist movements. Next, we examine how socialism in one form or another became the dominant scholarly, political, and cultural trend or “threat” in East Asia.  It ends with the political, economic and social changes taking place throughout socialist East Asia today. Through a chronological, geographical and topical approach, the course examines such issues as: the tensions between tradition and “socialist” modernity; the formation of communist parties in China, Japan and colonial Korea, and the various reactions against them; the role of the Soviet Union in East Asia; communist “revolutions” in Mongolia, China, North Korea and Vietnam; revolution and women; spaces and places in public and private socialist architecture; art and literature; economic development and lifestyles; “subversion” by radical socialist groups and leftist scholarship in South Korea and Japan; US involvement in East Asia during the Cold War (including the Korean and Vietnam Wars); the crisis for socialist East Asia after the collapse of the USSR; and the transition underway from centrally-planned to market-oriented economies and the resulting implications for these societies and the peoples who live in them.

Goals: By the end of the semester, students will be able to think and write critically about nuanced historical issues; understand the major differences between Chinese, North Korean, Vietnamese and Mongolian forms of “socialism”; have an in-depth knowledge of the degree to which socialism has influenced all levels of society throughout East Asia; and articulate how the collision between socialism and globalization has radically altered East Asian societies today.

Concentration: Global/Period: Modern 

HST 398 Saints and Sinners
Quite often the middle ages are regarded as a period with few changes. Concepts as kingship, belief, knighthood, feudalism, or institutions such as the church, monasticism or cities are taken for granted and regarded as the unchangeable constituents of medieval life.

This course aims at training to question these concepts and to develop sensitivity for the silent long term developments within the medieval worlds – and especially those which have a strong influence on our own collective identity and cultural perceptions. The general theme is the history of medieval morality – as a key to the understanding of the development of medieval cultures and institutions. This topic will be approached from two sides: the function of saints (and their representation in texts) as role models, political agents and keystones for collective identities on the one hand and the development of morality and the techniques of social disciplining and implementation of norms and values in medieval societies on the other hand.

Saints: the cult of relics and relic theft; holy men as role model and as a carrier of other people’s sins; miracles and the perception of the world; pilgrimage; local and national saints; the function of hagiography.

Sinners: the invention of confession; penitentials; the seven deadly sins; sodomy, simony and church reform; discipline and punishment in urban culture; the pastoral revolution after 1215; explosive poverty; sinful priests and pure heretics; the trade in indulgence and the reformatoric response.

The course is designed as a seminar rather than a lecture course. Active participation is expected. Assignments include two papers (one creative paper, one research paper), written assignments on the weekly readings and a midterm exam.

Concentration: Europe 

HST 401 Violence in American History
This seminar will focus on a question: why was the United States, the world’s first democratic constitutional republic, also one of the most violent nations on Earth?  This research seminar looks at the persistence of force in a free society.  We will consider topics such as the conquest of indigenous peoples, slavery, gun ownership, political violence, the Civil War, strikes, the police, gangs, and crime waves.               

Students will write 25-30 page papers utilizing primary sources on a subject of their choice. During the first four weeks, the group will discuss research techniques and historical approaches to the subject.  After this, class will meet only intermittently, but students will confer regularly with the professor to show their progress through proposals, bibliographies, and rough drafts.

Concentration: U.S. / Period: Modern 

HST 401 Genocide in the Modern World
This course examines genocide, atrocity, and political violence in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The term genocide initially referred to the Nazi massacre of millions of European Jews during WWII.  Since the defeat of Nazism, the term has been applied to many instances of mass killing that occurred before and after the Holocaust. This course seeks to answer several important questions about genocide. What constitutes genocide? Why study genocide as a unique historical phenomenon? What are the implications of labelling an incident of mass killing “genocide?” Many scholars also agree that the label “genocide” is limiting and politicized. Therefore, the course will also pursue alternate understandings of mass killings, atrocities, and violence by reading and discussing new and emerging scholarly literatures. Finally, the course will explore genocide, atrocity, and political violence through multiple lenses, including race, class, and gender.

Concentration: Europe / Period: Modern

HST 401 America and the Middle East
This is a research and writing seminar that will focus on the historical interactions between the United States and the area now called the “Middle East.” Students will examine a particular aspect of that relationship (political, social, economic, military and/or cultural) during a defined time-period in a 25-page final paper that relies largely on primary sources.

Concentration: Global / Period: Modern


HST/AAS 402 Slavery and Abolition

Historical survey of the struggle for Black freedom under American slavery. Abolitionist movement in the North. Antislavery in New York State.

Our exploration of the American crusade to abolish slavery introduces students to the struggle between proponents of freedom and the forces upholding chattel slavery. Constructed in ten modules, the course makes use of online materials, text readings, and student involvement in online forums. Special attention is given to "North Star County," that part of upstate New York where Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Beriah Green, Gerrit Smith and other notable reformers were active. Students use primary and secondary sources in projects that involve making nominations to the National Abolitionist Hall of Fame and Museum. 

Concentration: U.S.  / Period: Modern