History Courses

HIS 107 and 108 European Civilization: Ideas and Experiences - 3 credits each term

An introduction to the historical and cultural legacy of western civilization through the study of a series of exemplary works, from classical antiquity to the present. Several critically important works of philosophy, history and literature are studied in the context of the cultural epochs which produced them and whose essential character they express or embody.

HIS 121 and 122 Survey of United States History - 3 credits each term

A study of American history from the first Afro-European contact with North America to the present. The principal focus of the course is political, economic, and social, but attention is also paid to architecture, literature, and popular culture where appropriate. Students are encouraged to explore these areas in their independent research.

HIS 210 Liberal Democracy and Capitalism - 3 credits

A study of the development of liberal and democratic systems of government and free market economies from the end of the 18th century to the present. The political revolutions in America and France are studied, as is the emergence of industrial capitalism in England and America. Substantial attention is given to the philosophic principles that support liberal democracy and private enterprise, including those articulated by the writers of the Enlightenment, by the English classical economists, and by such 19th-century thinkers as Alexis de Tocqueville and John Stuart Mill. The course concludes with a consideration of the thesis that “history has ended,” i.e., that liberal democracy and capitalism have triumphed and face no further fundamental challenges. This last consideration acquires particular urgency in the light of September 11th, 2001, and the conflicts that have followed.

HIS 211 Twentieth Century Dictatorships - 3 credits

A study of the causes, character, and consequences of dictatorial rule in the twentieth century, this course uses Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and Communist China as the major examples. Both the similarities that link these dictatorships and the differences that separate them are studied in detail. Particular attention is paid to the ideas on which dictatorial rule has been based, including those of Marx Nietzsche, Sorel and Lenin. The course examines the popular appeal of revolutionary and counterrevolutionary ideologies as alternatives to parliamentary democracy and the social and economic programs these regimes put into practice. Propaganda, coercion, and forms of resistance are also considered.

HIS/ART 215 Selected Movements in Art and Architecture 1750-1900 - 3 credits

A study of the major artistic styles of the late 18th and 19th centuries, a period characterized by revolution and the birth of the modern era. Topics include neoclassisism, romanticism, realism, impressionism, the academic style and symbolism. These movements are studied against a background of dramatic political and social change and in the context of a continually evolving market for artistic production. Careful analysis of individual works, together with readings from primary source material, structure this investigation.

HIS 218 The City as History - 3 credits

An examination of several European capitals as built environments and as public stages for the enactment of a variety of social and cultural roles. The design of urban space through art, architecture and engineering is studied, as is the reflection of changes in urban life that can be found in literature, criticism and film. Historical events, as they were witnessed and experienced in these cities, provide continuity and context for explorations in art and culture. Cities studied include Rome, Paris, London, Vienna, Budapest, and Berlin. For non-Honors students, permission of instructor required.
Cross listed as Honors 218.

HIS 220 Film and History: Visions and Revisions of the Past - 3 credits

From “Schindler’s List” to “Valkyrie,” historically based films have been attracting big box office receipts. This course introduces students to the historical fiction film as a work of creative art and to the techniques filmmakers use to construct their “vision” of past events. Through critical analysis of several dramatic films that take historical events as their subjects, students learn that what they see on screen is not necessarily what happened, but rather what might have happened. Films studied include “The Leopard,” “Burnt by the Sun,” “Rosenstrasse,” “1900,”and “Sunshine.” For non-Honors students, permission of instructor required.

HIS 221 The American Revolution and the Early Republic - 3 credits

An examination of the American struggle for independence, the ratification of the Constitution, and the early years of the Republic. Particular attention is paid to the transformation of American cultural, economic, and political institutions during this period. The rising power of the Supreme Court is treated in detail.

HIS 223 The Civil War and Reconstruction - 3 credits

An examination of the events that led to the American Civil War. Particular attention is devoted to slavery. In addition, the political, economic, military, and cultural implications of the Civil War, as well as its aftermath during Reconstruction, are treated in detail.

HIS 224 America as a World Power - 3 credits

An examination of the rise of the United States as a world power in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the growth of American interest in East Asia and the Caribbean region, the American participation in World War I and World War II, and the U. S. role as a super power in the Cold War and post Cold War eras. The course also explores how certain domestic events – the Red Scare, the Great Depression, and the civil rights movement – influenced or were influenced by America’s role in international affairs.

HIS 230 The American South since the Civil War - 3 credits

An examination of the South from the end of the Civil War to the present. Special attention is devoted to the social, economic, political, and artistic contours of the Southern past. Topics include the Ku Klux Klan, the Populists, the demagogues, the Southern literary renaissance, the modern civil rights movement, and the rise of the so-called New South.

HIS 231 American Cultural Traditions - 3 credits

An examination of the cultural lives of ordinary Americans from the colonial period to the present. In particular, the course will look at the evolution of popular painting and illustration, and the transformation of American domestic architecture from the post-Medieval house to the rancher. In addition, the course will study such literary forms as the dime novel and the mass market magazine; stage entertainment like burlesque, vaudeville, and minstrelsy; and the advent and evolution of radio and television.

HIS 232 The African American Freedom Struggle - 3 credits

An examination of the history of the African American struggle for freedom, equality, identity, and economic success. Particular attention is paid to the Jim Crow and post-World War II eras. The work of such leaders as Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X is studied in detail. In addition, the course explores the activities the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Black Panthers, and the Nation of Islam. The Harlem Renaissance and the development of blues and jazz are also studied. Finally, the course looks at the African-American freedom struggle in an international context, comparing and contrasting it with similar movements in Africa and elsewhere.

HIS 250 Germany and the Path to the European Union - 3 credits

Provides students with a critical understanding of German history from the middle of the 19th century to the present and of Germany’s impact on the European Continent. A central focus is whether or not Germany’s historical development followed a divergent path from that of England, France and America and, if so, for what reasons and with what consequences. Since the Cold War and with reunification, Germany’s efforts to fashion a new leadership role in Europe and in other international political and economic contexts are examined. Substantial attention is directed to problems of history, memory and responsibility that continue to occupy Germans today.

HIS 251 Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia - 3 credits

An exploration of the historical development of Russia and the Soviet Union from the eve of the 1917 Revolution to the present. Students are encouraged to study the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union as global powers, well before the more familiar role the USSR played as America’s principal adversary during the Cold War. With post-Soviet Russia seeking to define its place in world affairs, students will learn how this task is complicated by the enormous historical deficits accumulated through the years of Communist rule. Students have opportunities to research subjects of special interest, including the use of comparative perspectives on politics, economics, social relations, and culture.

HIS 260 Special Topics - 1-3 credits
HIS 270 China and Japan in the Modern Age - 3 credits

A comparative look at the political, social, and cultural histories of modern China and Japan. This course begins with the first Opium War (1839 to 1842) and continues to the present.

HIS 278 Terror: The History of an Idea - 3 credits

This course seeks to provide a historical, sociological, and cultural context to the phenomenon of terrorism as it is understood in today's world. The course will explore the different meanings, over the last two or three centuries, that the words "terror," "terrorism," and "terrorist" have carried. Students will explore the historical origins of terror as an idea or ideology, the different forms of terrorism has taken, and the presentations of terrorists in literature, social thought, art, and film. This course does not provide a comprehensive history of terrorism. It does provide a historical and cultural context that may help us to understand what terrorism is, who terrorists are, and why the idea of terror dominates contemporary politics.

HIS 350 Research Seminar (CAP) - 3 credits

Advanced study of the important research techniques used by historians. In addition, it requires students to employ such techniques to develop, pursue and complete a lengthy research paper (based, in part, on the substantial use of primary sources) appropriate to their program and interests. Particular attention is paid to the use of indicates, databases, and on-line services; the pursuit and critical evaluation of writing. With its emphasis on logical thinking, quantitative analysis, clear writing, and other college-wide goals, this class serves as the history major's capstone experience.

HIS 390 Independent Study - 3 credits