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Featured Courses

Below are the upper division courses on offer by the Department of History for the Spring 2018 semester. You can find more detailed information (such as location and course syllabi) on the current Department of History class schedule. To register for History courses, login to CIS.

(HIST 3100) The Historian's Craft

This course is an introduction to the methods and practices of the discipline of history. It explores how historians produce knowledge, equips students with the skills to evaluate the arguments of historians, and prepares students to undertake their own historical research and writing.  It also introduces students to some of the ways historians can use their skills and knowledge to make a living. Taught by Professor Eric Hinderaker.




(HIST 3530) Modern Japan

The objective of this class is to introduce students to the historical development of early Japan through lectures, visual presentations and discussion of readings by Japanese authors in translation. The course surveys pre-modern Japan from its early kingdoms to the close of the Tokugawa era in the 19th century. It examines both social and political aspects of this history, highlighting the political and institutional contexts of classical court culture, the rise and decline of the warrior class, and the process of urbanization and changes it brought to the merchant and peasant classes. Taught by Professor Wes Sasaki-Uemura.


(HIST 3560) Modern India

This survey course covers the Indian subcontinent’s history from c. 1500 to the present. From this time, India experienced two related phenomenon: first, the establishment of larger and more centralized empires beginning with the Mughals and then the British and other European powers. India was increasingly incorporated into the world’s economy and culture through contact via European colonialism. The Portuguese, Dutch, French and British all made claims to different parts of the subcontinent, and in doing so, incorporated India into their own world. This course will explore India during this period of great empires, both Indian and foreign. Second, it will explore India’s nationalist movement and independence. From this, the modern nations of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and subsequently Bangladesh were all born. Most recently, these countries have emerged (again) to be Asian superpowers not only in economic and military terms, but culturally as well. Taught by Professor Ben Cohen.

(HIST 3910) Histories of the Pacific Islands

This class provides an introduction to the history of the Pacific Islands, also known as Oceania. The Pacific Ocean is vast - covering over 30% of the earth – but often depicted as empty, marginal, or isolated from the rest of the world. Yet, imperialism and colonialism in the region has long served significant economic, political, and military needs of Western countries. This class will analyze the histories of both Indigenous framings and Western framings of the Pacific, including the origins of the Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia divisions imposed by Europeans in the eighteenth century. We will analyze various forms of imperialism and colonialism in the Pacific as well as Indigenous resistance and movements to achieve decolonization. Taught by Professor Maile Arvin.


(HIST 4020) Roman Empire

Why was Julius Caesar assassinated? Did Nero really fiddle while Rome burned? How did Christianity manage to sweep through the Empire? This course will answer these questions and more as we examine the history of the Roman Empire from the beginnings of monarchy at Rome in the first century BCE to the fall of the Western Empire in the fifth century CE. We will consider the creation of the imperial regime; explore military, social, and religious challenges to the Roman state; discuss the unity and diversity of Roman imperial culture; and analyze the transformations of Roman society and culture. Taught byProfessor Nicole Giannella.


(HIST 4260) The French Colonial Empire from New France to Algerian War

This course examines the history of the French colonial empire from the establishment of Acadia and New France in the early 17th century to the end of the Algerian War of Independence in 1962.  We will cover the expansion of New France into the Ohio Country and Louisiana during the 18th century, the development of the sugar colonies in Saint-Domingue, Martinique, and Guadeloupe, and the loss of many of France’s Western Hemisphere colonies in 1763 after its defeat by the British in the Seven Years’ War.  We will also examine the resurgence of colonial expansion by France in the 19th century, in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Sub-Saharan Africa as well as in Indochina and the Pacific islands.  We will discuss the imperial culture that developed in metropolitan France in this period, and especially the implications for France of being a Republic within an Empire.  Finally, we will examine the process of decolonization after 1945, especially the disastrous wars in Indochina and Algeria. Taught by Professor Jim Lehning.


(HIST 4290) The Americas After Columbus

This course concerns cross-cultural interaction among Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans in a variety of colonial settings throughout the Americas.  Beginning with the regions of the Americas that were colonized in the sixteenth century and moving forward to the early nineteenth century, the course explores the development of labor regimes, racial ideologies, religious beliefs and practices, and the various struggles for political independence from European powers.  Spanish, Portuguese, English, and French American colonies are traditionally treated in isolation and understood primarily in terms of European national differences.  In the US, the story of English colonization emphasizes its exceptional nature, its traditions of liberty, self governance, and equality, in contrast to other regions of the Americas which are typically cast as failed versions of the US experiment.  In this course, we will emphasize shared patterns in the colonial experience that cross national boundaries.  We also emphasize the critical role local (human and material) resources played in the development of colonial societies. Taught by Professor Rebecca Horn.


 (HIST 4380) U.S. Environmental History

This course examines the interactions between human beings and the natural world that shaped the history of the United States. The first phase of the course will explore the ways in which Native Peoples and Europeans differently used and shaped the American continent in the pre-contact and colonial periods. The second focus of the course will be on the rationalization of nature for profit, with emphases on urbanization, industrialization, and commercial agriculture. The final phase of the course examines the impact of environmental politics in American life from the early conservation movement, through the rise of the modern environmental movement, to current debates concerning climate change and environmental justice. Taught by Professor Greg Smoak

 (HIST 4400) Introduction to Islam

Islam is the faith of over a billion followers. Most Muslims live in Indonesia, India, and Pakistan; the majority of Middle Easterners and many Africans are Muslims. The strong political engagement of the United States in the contemporary Middle East has made familiarity with Islam an urgent contemporary issue. This course will introduce students to Islam in its many forms, and help them to gain a better understanding of this world religion in its contemporary transnational and international dimensions. Taught by Professor Peter Von Sivers



 (HIST 4410) Arabian Days

Al-Wasiti (13th century), Caravan traveling to Mecca

Arabian Nights is the most famous piece of literary fiction in Islamic civilization. Arabian Days is a course that focuses on this civilization during its formative and mature periods (700-1259 C.E.) During these periods, Muslims were at the center of the world, connecting China and India with the West. Wealthy, diversified, and sophisticated, the peoples of the Arabs, Persians, and Turks shaped their religion, science, arts, architecture, and literature all of which to be investigated in this course. Taught by Professor Peter Von Sivers


 (HIST 4740) U.S. Economic History

The course examines the historical development of the American economy between the Second Industrial Revolution of 1880-1920 and the end of the post-WWII “American Quarter-Century,” or roughly 1975.  Sub-topics include the emergence of a national market, the rise of the industrial corporation, the shift from pure competition to administered prices, the relentless pursuit and exploitation of new “creatively destructive” technologies, the role of the federal government in sponsoring growth via Keynesian policies, the political significance of mass consumption, and the origins of de-industrialization and the transition away from manufacturing towards a service economy: essential preconditions for the post-1973 surge in income inequality. Taught by Professor John Reed

 (HIST 4990-001) Senior Seminar: Conspiracy Thinking in American History

The Senior Seminar is the capstone of the History major.  It is research and writing intensive.  In our seminar, we will discuss the how and why of conspiracy thinking in American History, with the main focus on the period since 1900.  We will ask how conspiracy theories develop and are transmitted?  Who weaves events into plots? What makes conspiracy theories attractive to believers?  What makes some more reasonable than others? How do key American institutions encourage conspiracy thinking?  What impact does conspiracy thinking have socially and politically?  Taught by Professor Bob Goldberg.

(HIST 4990-002) Senior Seminar: Saints and Barbarians: The Early Medieval World, 300-1100

 In this course we will examine subjects, topics, and source-types that can provide background to your chosen research topic. The class will examine late antique society through sources that illuminate two essential influences in the making of late antiquity and the formation of medieval Europe: the culture of Christian religion in the later Roman Empire (including monasticism), the so-called “fall” of the Roman Empire, and the role of barbarian settlement and kingdoms in the formation of medieval Europe and medieval Christianity. The class as a whole will read a selection of primary and secondary sources. Independently, you will write a 20-25 page research paper on a related topic. Taught by Professor Isabel Moreira.

(HIST 4990-004) Senior Seminar: Resistance 

This course around the theme of “resistance.”  In particular, we will be reading and theorizing about resistance and how to research resistance efforts particularly among those without power.  More specifically we will be interrogating notions of resistance, agency, power.  A majority of the material we will be reading will likely come from the fields of African American, Early American, and Women's History.  Students are open to defining “resistance” broadly and are welcome to explore this theme in any time/space/place.  In other words, although the class will use African American, Early American and Women’s history as a lens to access this theme,  students may look at any topic, as long as it falls into the theme of the course. topic. Taught by 
Professor Noel Voltz.

Last Updated: 11/6/17