Course Offerings | History

Division of Social Studies

Clarence Wyatt (chair), Thomas Baker, Steven Beaudoin, Richard Bradshaw, Michael Hamm, Thomas McCollough, James Morrison, Elizabeth Perkins; students: Susan Courtwright, Scott Spence



The History Program offers survey courses in world and American history and a variety of specialized courses in American, European, and non-Western history. The program’s fundamental purpose is to encourage an understanding and, through research, an application of historical consciousness—that is, "the coherent organization of experience in historical time"; a just appreciation of the interrelationship of past, present, and future; and the knowledge that social change in this context is inevitable.

The History Program trains students in analytical writing, helps them learn how to organize and utilize various kinds of evidence, and provides perspectives that enable a better understanding of human behavior and cultural difference. History majors have gone on to careers in law, journalism, teaching, government and diplomatic service, library and museum work, banking, and business.


Recommended Freshman-Sophomore Preparation

History majors are encouraged to plan their academic programs to include as broad a
distribution of courses as is possible, depending upon their vocational objectives. Students who are planning to do graduate work in history should consult with an appropriate member of the faculty early in their undergraduate careers and should pay particular attention to the study of foreign languages and to developing appropriate computer and statistical skills.


Requirements for the Major

HIS 110, 120, 230, 240;
HIS 500;
One upper-level course in American history (United States and Latin America), courses numbered 360-379 or 403-415;
One upper-level course in European history, courses numbered 301-329;
One upper-level course in non-Western history (Africa, East Asia, Middle East, Russia-USSR), courses numbered 330-359;
One additional history course numbered 300 or higher.


Requirements for the Minor

Six courses to be selected from the following: HIS 110, 120, 230, 240, and HIS courses numbered 300 or above. At least two of the courses must be drawn from HIS 110, 120, 230, 240.


History Courses

HIS 110 Development of the Modern World-I
A survey of the major Western and non-Western civilizations to the mid-19th century. Considerable attention is given to the factors that made each civilization distinctive and to the interaction of these civilizations over time. The rise of the West as the world’s dominant civilization and the progenitor of modern ideas is an important focus of the course.

HIS 120 Development of the Modern World-II
An examination of the most important issues and events from the mid-19th century to the present in a global context. Such issues as the origins and consequences of the world wars, the Great Depression, the emergence and collapse of the totalitarian orders, and the impact of Western colonization on the non-Western world are discussed.

HIS 230, 240 Development of the United States-I, II
A survey of the major trends, conflicts, and crises of a society characterized by growth and change from the Age of Discovery to the present. The internal and external aspects of the United States are examined in an effort to encourage a clearer perspective of our history in its global context.


Studies in European History

HIS 301 History of Ancient Greece
A survey of ancient Greece from prehistory through the Roman Conquest. Topics include: Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations, the rise of the polis, Greece colonization, the invention of science and philosophy, Athenian democracy, the invasion of Xerxes, the Golden Age of Athens, the Peloponnesian War, the campaigns of Alexander the Great, the Alexandrian Library, and Cleopatra. This survey relies on primary sources, while also venturing to consider politics, warfare, citizenship, slavery, the status of women, religion, and the alphabet. (Also listed as CLA 301.)

HIS 302 History of Ancient Rome
A study of ancient Rome from its founding to the fall of the empire. Topics include: prehistory, founding, establishment of the Republic, the Punic Wars, expansion of Rome, provincial administration, the careers of Cicero and Julius Caesar, the civil wars, citizenship, slavery, status of women, the destruction of Pompeii, rule by the emperors, the coming of Christianity, and theories explaining the end of the empire. (Also listed as CLA 302.)

HIS 303 Medieval Civilization
A study of the emergence and development of European civilization from the decline of the Roman Empire to the 14th century. (Also listed as REL 322.)

HIS 304 Renaissance
A study of the various facets of European civilization (focusing on Italy) from the mid-14th to the mid-16th centuries with emphasis on new developments in politics, economics, society, philosophy, religion, science, the arts, and letters. Prerequisite: HIS 110 or permission of the instructor.

HIS 305 Reformation
The course focuses on European history from the mid-15th to the mid-16th century. Locating the origins of the Reformation in the late Middle Ages, the course focuses on the theological, philosophical, and historical forces at work which culminated in the reform movements in Germany, Switzerland, and England. While Martin Luther is the central figure studied, attention is also given to Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin as well as several figures from the Radical Reformation. (Also listed as REL 324.)

HIS 306 The Age of Religious Wars, Europe 1500-1648
An examination of the religious turmoil in Europe centered around the Reformation and its consequences in the political and intellectual realm. Topics discussed include the rise of the early modern state, European exploration and discovery, the rise of skepticism, and military innovation.

HIS 307 The Dawning of Modern Europe, 1648-1789
How did the modern Western world come into existence? An investigation of the intellectual, political, and economic origins of modernity as developed in Europe at this time. Attention is given to recent critiques of modernity.

HIS 308 19th-Century Europe
A topical examination of central issues in Europe during the age of industrialization.

HIS 309 Europe in the Age of Hitler
An examination of European history, 1914-45, with special attention to the rise and consequences of fascism and Nazism. Traditional and psychohistorical analyses of Hitler are used. The difficulties of statebuilding in Eastern and Central Europe and the consequences of the Great Depression are also emphasized.

HIS 310 Europe from 1945 to the Present
A history of Europe from the end of World War II to the present with emphasis on the loss of empire, the creation of the Soviet bloc, the ultimate collapse of communism and the ongoing efforts to create new social and political orders in Eastern Europe, and the creation of a "United Europe."

HIS 311 France in the Age of Absolutism, 1550-1715
An analysis of French absolutism from the French Religious Wars to the death of Louis XIV. Topics considered include the functions of the absolutist state, the civilizing of manners, and the nature of peasant rebellions.

HIS 312 France from the Enlightenment to Napoleon, 1715-1815
A study of French history centered upon the rise of the Enlightenment, the diverse origins of the French Revolution, and the course of the revolution through the defeat of Napoleon. Special emphasis is given to the historiography of the French Revolution.

HIS 320-329 Special Topics in European History


Studies in Non-Western History

HIS 330 Imperial Russia & Early Soviet Society
A study of Russian history from the medieval Kievan state through the 1920s. The distinctiveness of Russian politics and culture, ethnic and ethnoreligious conflict, the rise of the Communist movement, the Russian Revolutions of 1917, and the Soviet government's early social experiments are among the topics discussed.

HIS 331 The Soviet Union & Its Successors
An analysis of the Stalinist transformation of the Soviet Union beginning in the 1930s, the Khrushchev reforms, the "era of stagnation" under Brezhnev, and the disintegration of the Communist order under Mikhail Gorbachev. The legacies of communism and ongoing efforts to create viable democratic governments, market economies, and civil societies in Russia and other successor states are also be discussed.

HIS 332 Modern China
An examination of Chinese history from the rise of the Qing (17th century) to the present. Special emphasis is given to the issue of Chinese modernization from different perspectives.

HIS 333 Japanese History
A survey of Japanese history from the mythical past until the present with a focus on topics such as the influence of China, the origin and development of the samurai class, the Westernization of Japan, and the remarkable transformation of Japan after World War II.

HIS 335 Middle Eastern Civilization
A survey of Arab, Iranian, and Turkish history and culture since the rise of Islam. Twentieth-century issues such as the evolution of nationalism, the Iranian revolution, the Palestinian question, and the role of the Middle East in world affairs are emphasized.

HIS 350-359 Special Topics in Non-Western History

HIS 351 History of Central Africa
An introduction to the history of Central Africa focusing on the social, economic, and political history of Central African societies during the pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial eras. The continuity in the lifestyles of Central African peoples is stressed as well as changes that resulted from slave raiding, French colonialism, and incorporation into the world economy. Offered in Central Africa.

HIS 352 Modern Africa
A survey of sub-Saharan Africa in modern times which emphasizes social and cultural characteristics of the area, the impact of external forces especially in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and the changes which have occurred there since the decline of colonialism in the years after World War II.

HIS 353 African Lives
A survey of 20th-century African history through the lives of men and women of very different backgrounds and experience. The study of these lives is linked to an examination of major themes in modern African history and to a critical evaluation of popular perceptions about Africa.

HIS 354 Gandhi
The life of Mohandas Gandhi is critically examined from a political, economic, and religious perspective. Gandhi’s efforts to integrate the political, religious, and economic dimensions of his life and his criticism of the compartmentalized perspectives and methodological assumptions of social science disciplines are studied.


Studies in American History

HIS 360 American Diplomatic History
An examination of the origins, goals, and practice of American diplomacy from 1776 to the present. Particular emphasis is placed on the domestic political, economic, and cultural influences on American foreign policy.

HIS 361 American Environmental History
A study of the human impact on the North American environment over the last 500 years. Utilizing a variety of interdisciplinary techniques, the course pays particular attention to the reciprocal influences operating between human society and the natural world.

HIS 362 Vietnam
This course considers how and why the United States became involved in Vietnam and the consequences of this involvement for American society. Special care is given to understanding the origins and nature of the Vietnamese Revolution.

HIS 363 Witchcraft in Early America
What caused the witch scares in Salem and other towns in 17th-century New England? Strained family relations? Social tensions unleashed by the forces of commercialization? Hallucinations arising from microfungi in a bad barley crop? The course examines these and other explanations of witchcraft in America as a means of exploring the nature of historical method and interpretation.

HIS 364 Cultures of Early America
An exploration of the contact, conflict, and cooperation of Indians, Europeans, and Africans on the continent of North America from 1550 to 1794. The course has a dual focus: (1) examining the process of cultural conflict and change from the perspectives of all three cultures, and (2) investigating the variety of techniques historians use to get at the histories of ethnically different peoples.

HIS 365 America: Revolution to Republic
An examination of the ideas and forces that shaped the coming of the American Revolution, the conduct of the Revolution itself, and the resulting governments and society.

HIS 366 Work and Leisure in Industrializing America
An examination of the transformation of the United States from a predominantly agricultural society to the world’s most powerful industrial economy. Using the techniques of social history, considerable attention is given to the beliefs and behavior of American working people.

HIS 367 America: North and South
A study of the crisis of the American Union, 1830-1876, with emphasis on the growing cultural, economic, and political differences between North and South, and how American society dealt with these differences.

HIS 368 Cold War America
This course considers the nature of U.S. relations with the Soviet Union from 1945 through 1989 and the impact of that relationship on the United States domestically and internationally.

HIS 369 History of Mexico
A survey of Mexican history from the pre-Columbian era until the present. Attention is focused on the rise of the Aztecs, the Spanish conquest and centuries of colonial rule, the struggle for independence, the Mexican Revolution, and the transformation of Mexico in the 20th century.

HIS 403-415 Special Topics in American History

HIS 500 Junior Seminar
Historical research, interpretation, and writing are discussed and a research paper written and presented to the class. Prerequisite: majors only.


Special Topics Offered 1998-2001

HIS 15, 45B European Travel Literature
A survey of travel literature written by Europeans about the non-European world, beginning with the exotic medieval accounts of writers like Marco Polo, continuing through the writings of Discovery-era travelers like Christopher Columbus, and arriving at the imperialist literature of those like Mary Kingsley. Special attention is paid to the gender and racial imagery employed in these texts, and the cultural meanings such imagery conveyed.

HIS 15 Popular Music in U.S. History
An exploration of the broad spectrum of popular music aimed at understanding its place in the history of American culture. Some issues addressed include the tension between music as art and music as commodity; the role of technology in the development of musical tastes; the power of music to influence political and social consciousness; and the role of music in fostering racial, ethnic, and personal identities.

HIS 15, 45B Representations: The Middle Ages
A sweeping study of the variety of ways the medieval era has been represented in literature, art, and film from the Renaissance to the present. Focuses particularly on what the Middle Ages have symbolized for subsequent eras and the relation of those representations to current historical understandings of the period.

HIS 45A American Popular Culture
A survey of the origins and development of U.S. popular culture from 1800 to the present. The course uses an interdisciplinary approach to explore the relationship of literature, drama, art, film, and other popular amusements to the nation’s culture as a whole.

HIS 45A Race in American Film
A critical exploration of the issue of race (broadly defined) in the history of American cinema. Consideration of relevant contemporary social issues supplements close viewing of films.

HIS 45A Topics in U.S. Intellectual History
A topically oriented introduction to the study of American intellectual history. The course focuses on controversies over the nature of democracy, the impact of science and technology, and attitudes toward race and ethnicity.

HIS 45A/HIS 45C Black Diaspora: 1500-Present
A social, economic, political, and cultural survey of the migrations (forced and otherwise) of Black Africans to, and between, the Americas and Europe over the past 500 years. Emphasis is given to comparative study of the transatlantic slave trade, liberation movements, and cultural identity.

HIS 45A/HIS 45C Vietnam
This course considers how and why the United States became involved in Vietnam and the consequences of this involvement for American society. Special care is given to understanding the origins and nature of the Vietnamese Revolution. Conducted in Vietnam.

HIS 45B From Fields to Factories in Europe
An examination of the transformation of Europe from a predominantly agricultural society to the world’s first industrialized civilization, and the impact this had on politics, culture, and society. Emphasis is placed not only on general patterns, but also on national particularities.

HIS 45B Gender in Western Society
This course explores the history of gender in Western society since the Renaissance with a dual focus: (1) the various meanings attributed to sexual difference – including how and why they have changed, and (2) the impact of sexual difference in the lived experiences of both men and women.

HIS 45B Modern Britain
An examination of British history from 1714 to the present, focusing on the Enlightenment and the era of revolutions, imperialism and decolonization, Victorian political and social reform movements (like abolition and suffrage), the World Wars, and the class and cultural conflicts of the mid to late 20th century.

HIS 45B Riots, Revolts and Revolutions
An examination of the cultural and social factors behind popular rebellions in Europe since the Middle Ages. Topics include early modern bread riots, aristocratic revolts against royal authority, and the liberal and socialist ideologies that promoted revolution in the nineteenth century.

HIS 45B Tudor-Stuart England
An examination of British history during the turbulent reigns of the Tudors and Stuarts, 1485-1714. Focuses on political struggles, including the English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution, religious difficulties of the Reformation era, and intellectual and cultural movements such as the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution.