Course Offerings - Catalog 2012-13

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Division of Social Studies

The History Program offers survey courses in world and American history and a variety of specialized courses in American, European, and non-Western history, as well as thematic courses which cross regional boundaries. 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.


Amos Tubb (chair fall), Steven Beaudoin (chair CentreTerm and spring), Stephen Dove, Jonathon Earle, Sara Egge, Michael Hamm, Peter Lavelle, Tom McCollough, James Morrison, Clarence Wyatt


Ashley Eklund, Alec Hahus

Recommended First-Year/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

Three of the following courses: HIS 110, 120, 230, 240;
HIS 500;
Five additional history courses numbered 300 or higher, chosen so as to represent at least three of the catagories of upper-level courses:
Upper-level courses in American history (United States and Latin America), courses numbered 360-379 or 460-479;
Upper-level courses in European history, courses numbered 301-329 or 408-429;
Upper-level courses in non-Western history (Africa, East Asia, Middle East, Russia-USSR), courses numbered 330-359 or 430-459;
Upper-level courses in thematic studies in history, courses numbered 380-399 or 480-499

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 but no more than three 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 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 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 that 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 307 Early Modern Europe, 1400-1700
A study of the major developments in European civilization during the early modern era. The course explores the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Age of Religious Wars, the Scientific Revolution, as well as tracing the political, social, and economic developments that transformed Europe from an inconsequential area to arguably the most dynamic region on the planet.

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, 1914-39, 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. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or permission of the instructor.

HIS 310 Europe from Hitler to the Present
A history of Europe from the rise of Hitler 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.” Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or permission of the instructor.

HIS 311 Modern France
An examination of French politics, economics, society, and culture since the Revolution of 1789. Particular attention is focused on the often violent struggle to define the values and ideals that make up French identity, from the political revolutions of the 19th century to the current debates over immigration and social welfare.

HIS 312 World War II France
This course considers how the French experienced the Second World War and the consequences of those experiences. Topics range from the “strange defeat” of 1940, the rise of both resistance and collaboration, French complicity in the Holocaust, and the various ways the war has been remembered over the years.

HIS 313 Roman Culture
An examination of Roman public and private life as revealed by literary and artistic sources. A course in translation.

HIS 314 Ancient Greek Society and Culture
An exploration of the distinctive and influential features of ancient Greek culture. Focus is on three areas: a detailed exploration of Homer's Iliad with a consideration of oral poetry, archaeology, religion, heroism and the heroic code, Achilles in Vietnam, etc.; Athenian democracy with an exploration of its development--and how it contrasts with modern democracy and the Spartan constitution, position of women, tragedy, comedy, and panhellenism; and philosophy and science with a look at its origins and culmination with Hippocratic medicine and the Aristotelian world-view. A course in translation.

HIS 322 The Holocaust
This course examines the event of the Holocaust by exploring its history and background, its impact on the Jewish community in Europe and worldwide, the responses to the event, and its consequences. The course deals with a variety of disciplinary frameworks, including history, theology, literary studies, and political science.

HIS 330 Imperial Russia and 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. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or permission of the instructor.

HIS 331 The Soviet Union and 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. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or permission of the instructor.

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 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. (Conducted in Vietnam)

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. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or permission of the instructor.

HIS 337 Modern Japan and China
An introduction to the interlocked histories of Japan and China in the modern era. The course compares and contrasts the history of these two countries from about 1750 to the present and examines such major historical events as the Meiji Restoration, the Taiping Rebellion, the Sino-Japanese War, World War II in Asia, and the emergence of the People's Republic of China and Japan in the aftermath of the war.

HIS 338 The Ottoman Empire
A study of the rise and fall of the vast and complex Ottoman Empire. The course examines the evolution of central instituitons and leadership, foreign relations, and social and economic change. The course also surveys the development of the beautiful and distincitive forms of Ottoman art and arechitecture. As the head of the Ottoman Empire was also the leader of Islam, the course also affords the opportunity to explore the development of Islam with particular attention given to Sufism. (Also listed as REL 323.)

HIS 339 Precolonial Africa and the Partition
An exploration of the history of precolonial Africa and the initial stages of the European Partition of Africa. It focuses on how Africa's incorporation into the international economy influenced state-formation and political economies in Africa during the 19 th century. The initial impact of European imperialism on precolonial states and peoples is also examined. Students chose a particular precolonial state and study its rise and fate during the Partition for their research papers.

HIS 353 African Lives
This course provides an introduction to African history by examining the lives of various individuals from different parts of the continent. It draws on life histories, biographies, films and a wide variety of other publications and online sources about the lives of Africans. Students will write a research paper on the life of an African, and will be expected to participate actively in discussion about reading assignments.

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 365 American 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 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 373 Colonial Latin America
First half of a two-course introduction to Latin American history. The class begins with Iberia and America around the time of Columbus and then explores the conquest of this vast region and the centuries of colonization, struggle, resistance, and accommodation that followed. In an attempt to understand how Latin America became Latin American, the class explores the following themes: land, labor, and colonial economies; migration and demographic shifts; race and ethnicity; religion and the Catholic Church; the crown and colonial politics; and gender and family. The course concludes with an examination of independence struggles and their ambiguous legacies for modern Latin America.

HIS 383 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 384 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 385 Gender and Sexuality in Western Society
This course explores the history of gender and sexuality in Western society since the Enlightenment. Particular focus will fall on the impact of sexual difference in the lived experiences of both men and women; changing attitudes toward various sexual practices and their relation to gender ideals; the processes by which societies established and changed gender roles and sexual norms; and the interconnections between gender and sexuality, on the one hand, and large-scale transformative developments like industrialization, on the other.

HIS 387 The Crusades
This course examines the European crusading movement and how it still impacts the world today. Topics range from stereotypical images of the Crusades—quests, exotic locales, and chivalry—to the darker implications of this medieval undertaking.

HIS 388 Lawyers, Guns and Money
This course explores the history of the world economy from the 16th century to the present, with a special focus on people, institutions, practices and ideologies that sustained long-distance commerce. We will consider the major participants and their roles, the organization of global commerce, and the impacts that such trade produced.

HIS 430 The Holy Land: Historical and Theological Studies of Israel
Judaism, Christianity and Islam claim the land of Israel as sacred space. This course studies the ways in which this has evolved and been expressed in the history, theology and architecture of these religious movements. (Also listed as REL 311.)

HIS 461 American Military History and Leadership
The course covers the history of the American military from the colonial period to the present conflict in Afghanistan. Issues examined include military traditions, the role of the military in American society, the impact of technology on warfare, and the various missions given to the military to perform. Also examined are the major U.S. military conflicts and the leaders of these engagements.

HIS 462  Slavery, Memory, and the College
This course will examine how slavery and its demise are remembered and commemorated in the United States by our nation’s colleges and universities. Increasingly, American schools are confronting how their institutional histories entwined with the African slave trade, American slavery, and abolition. The course will highlight how colleges often simultaneously supported, opposed, and benefited from slavery. We will also discuss how these histories of slavery have been remembered and forgotten, and the politics of the contemporaneous struggle to unearth the enslaved past of many institutions across the country. The culmination of this course will be an exploration of Centre College’s own history with its past with both slavery and abolition.

HIS 463  The Help: Domestic Service in American History and Culture, 1650-2010
Millions of readers have devoured The Help, Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 novel featuring African-American domestic workers and their employers in early 1960s Mississippi, and a film adaptation in 2011 brought the story to an even wider audience. Why? What about this subject has generated such strong positive responses and how justified are critiques of its historical accuracy? To help answer this question the class surveys the history of this broad segment of the labor market—housekeepers, maids, cooks, nannies, nurses, drivers, gardeners, and caregivers whose primary site of work has been their employer’s home—from the early colonial period to the present when more and more of such work is corporatized. Students will use scholarly texts, primary documents, films, television and fieldwork, along with discussion and some lecutures, to analyze and examine intersections of economies, races and ethnicities, gender, and classes over time and across space. 

HIS 464 Race and Slavery in the United States
Between the fifteenth and early nineteenth centuries, enslaved Africans outnumbered Europeans immigrating to the western hemisphere by nearly five to one. This course examines those enslaved persons and their descendants who arrived in the United States and the world they helped create. Students explore the creation, evolution, and eventual fall of slavery within the context of the United States and how these changes influenced the concomitant development of race. The role of free people of color in American history is also a principal focus of the course, and particular attention is paid to the diversity of the enslaved and free experiences of Africans and African Americans from their first arrival in North America to the Civil War.

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