Course Offerings | History

Division of Social Studies

Elizabeth Perkins (chair), Steven Beaudoin, Richard Bradshaw, Michael Hamm, James Hoover, James Morrison, Clarence Wyatt; students: Kristen Harris, Ryan New



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 expansion of the West and its rise to global prominence 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.

HIS 250 Teaching Kentucky History
A course designed for students who will be teaching fourth grade Kentucky history. The focus of the course is a study of the development of Kentucky from the 17th century to the present with attention given to such themes as its different cultural and geographic divisions, early settlement, effect of the Civil War, the role of leaders, political and economic development, and modern development. In addition, attention is given to the Kentucky Core Content and national history standards; to studying the History Alive! approach to teaching history; to writing lesson plans, including History Alive!-type plans, that can be used in elementary schools; and to compiling resources useful in teaching Kentucky history, inclding historical sites. Open only to teacher education students.


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 - 2002-2003 Topics:

HIS 320 France and Africa
A study of France's impact on Africa and Africa's impact on France in the 20th century, including an examination of how African cultures have been changed by French imperialism as well as how French culture has been changed by the immigration of Africans to France. Students interview French and African residents of Strasbourg to learn about the history of Franco-African interactions. Offered in Strasbourg.

HIS 321 Profiles in Power
A critical examination of the lives of important world leaders. Students choose a major leader and compare and contrast at least three significantly different accounts of his or her life. Changes in the way that historians have depicted and analyzed the lives of these leaders, as well as the possible reasons for these differences, is a primary focus of the course.

HIS 323 The British Empire
A study of the origins, rise, and fall of British imperialism, from the conquest of the "Celtic fringe" and the East India Trade to the decolonization of Africa, the Falklands War, and the return of Hong Kong to China. The course focuses on the theme of the British Empire as a matrix of globalization, exploring three key questions: What were the dynamics of socio-economic and political power in the Empire? How did British culture and political traditions achieve global significance through the development of the Empire? Finally, how did the Empire change Britain and shape world history?


HIS 325 Ancient Rome, Renaissance Florence, Modern Italy
Seventeen days in Italy, exploring the literature, history, art, and culture of Ancient Rome, Renaissance Florence (and Rome) and modern Italy. Includes visits to museums, archaeological sites, churches, and modern businesses in Rome, Naples, Florence, Padua, and Venice. Emphasis is on continuity and tradition over the past 3000 years.

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 334 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 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 - 2002-2003 Topics:

HIS 355 France and Africa
A study of France's impact on Africa and Africa's impact on France in the 20th century, including an examination of how African cultures have been changed by French imperialism as well as how French culture has been changed by the immigration of Africans to France. Students interview French and African residents of Strasbourg to learn about the history of Franco-African interactions. Offered in Strasbourg.

HIS 357 Ancient and Medieval India
A study of the history of India through the Mogul Period. The course takes as its beginning framework the history of the major religions in India - Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam - and related developments in society, social structure, gender, state formation, philosophy, and economics, among other topics.

HIS 358 Modern India
A study of South Asian history from the late Mughal period to the present day. Main topics include the fall of the Mughal Empire and the rise of successor states in the 18th century; the East India Trade and the Anglo-French struggle over its control; the conquest of South Asia by the British East India Company; the development of the colonial state and Indian resistance; the independence movement; and the themes of democracy, development, and conflict in the postcolonial age.

HIS 359 Hindu-Muslim Conflict in South Asia
A study of Hindu-Muslim conflict in South Asia within the larger context of communal violence. The course begins with an introduction to Hinduism and Islam in modern India. The topics addressed in the course include the pre-colonial origins of communalism; the intensification of communal identities under British rule; the division of Hindus and Muslims during the Indian independence movement; and the rise of religious nationalism in post-colonial South Asia.


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 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 450 Museums, Knowledge, and Power
Using London as a laboratory, this course examines museum-going as a cultural experience. Questions include how museums are related to the idea of modernity and the notion of public space, how museums have shaped narratives about nationalism, and how they have defined the ethnographic other. Offered in London.

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