History Department

History Department Course Descriptions

General Topics Courses

HIST 190 History & Film (HP)

This course subjects films on historical topics to discussion and analysis. It probes how filmmakers treat historical subjects and introduces students to the methods historians might use in evaluating the accuracy and impact of such films.

HIST 300 Historiography (HP, W2)

This course focuses on two major topics: ways of historical thinking and methods of historical research. Among the varied topics of consideration are historical method, the philosophy of history, the history of historical writing, the life and works of several historians, and conflicting interpretations of historical events.

HIST 480 Senior Capstone Seminar

Senior history majors choose an existing paper written for a previous course and engage in an intensive editing process to create a presentation-quality work. Students read and discuss works by professional historians at varying stages of the editorial process as well as evaluate each others’ works in order to develop essential editing skills. They also receive training in public presentation.

HIST 497 Advanced Research and Writing [UR]

This year-long course begins in the fall of the senior year. It is directed toward the production of a substantial piece of historical writing based on primary sources. Working closely with an advisor, students devise a topic and conduct research. They also meet with other students in the course and their mentors in a seminar format. Students also make a public presentation of their work during spring semester. Prerequisite: consent of the department.

American History Courses

HIST 110-A North America to 1865 (HP)

Spanning ancient North America through the American Civil War, this course considers how different North Americans shaped their societies, economies, cultures, and the natural environments that shaped their experiences. Student also consider the nature of historical interpretation and learn to interpret primary documents and evaluate historical arguments.

HIST 111-A U.S. History since 1865 (HP)

This course examines major political, social, cultural, and economic themes in American History since the end of the Civil War giving special attention to the United States’ increasingly significant role in international affairs. The course also introduces students to how historians work to construct interpretations of the past.

HIST 135-A U.S. History: Uses and Abuses (HP)

This course examines the changing ways in which Americans have interpreted their nation’s past and used those varying interpretations in their civic, professional, and personal lives. Topics include an introduction to the academic practice of history, public history and its engagements with popular and academic history, the rise of internet genealogy, and the politically fraught nature of historical memory. Students consider debates about public momuments, history textbooks, and changing interpretations of iconic events in the North American past.

HIST 140-A Leisure, Work, and Consumption in U.S. History (HP)

This course examines ways in which Americans’ ideas of work, leisure and consumption have evolved together from the Colonial Era to the present. We study the theoretical literature on leisure, and examine how historians have used the study of leisure to write history “from the bottom up,” providing new frameworks for analyzing the everyday lives of ordinary people and the distribution of power and resources. Special emphasis is placed on the role of leisure, work and consumption in the construction and reconstruction of gender, class, race, ethnicity, and regional identity in US History.

HIST 150-A Great Wars, the Great Depression, and the Great Gatsby, 1914-1945 (HP)

This period between 1914 and 1945 was a time of hardships that tested the American people, producing spectacular changes in the nation’s role in the world, in leisure and consumerism, and in the place of government in people’s everyday lives. We focus on topics such as civil liberties during World War I and World War II, radicalism during the Great Depression, race and the military, and social change during the “flapper” era of the 1920s.

HIST 151-A Era of the American Revolution

This course examines the social, cultural, economic, and political dimensions of the struggle for American independence. Attention is given to the military and diplomatic course of the war. Finally the Articles of Confederation and the making of the Constitution are examined as initial attempts to resolve issues of nationhood exposed by independence.

HIST 212-A American Environmental History (HP, VA, CW)

This course examines the use and transformation of the American environment from the pre-Columbian era to the present. The course also considers the interpretations and perceptions of nature, wilderness, and the environment that various Americans held and developed over this period. By focusing on conceptions of nature as well as the physical interaction between people and their environment, this course challenges students to see the ways in which a cultural perspective is critical to understanding environmental issues.

HIST 214-A Poverty and Welfare in America (HP)

This class uses primary and secondary sources to examine the many ways in which Americans have understood the existence of poverty and the poor. With emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, we investigate the roots of poverty in the American economic system, in order to examine why so many people remain poor in the richest nation on earth. We also look at the evolution and larger macroeconomic purposes of the American welfare state and use first hand accounts by poor people and antipoverty activists themselves.

HIST 217-A The American West (HP)

This course provides a history of the American West from European colonization and settlement to the present. Issues explored include migration and settlement, the exploitation of peoples and resources, federal power and intervention, western community and urban form, and tourism. The course also focuses on the ways myths of the West have made the region into a simulacrum for American identity and ideals, obscured the realities of western history, justified the degradation of the environment, and countenanced the appropriation of land and abuse of peoples in the region.

HIST 218-A Gilded Age and Progressive Era (HP)

Spanning the late nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries, this course examines the transformation of the United States into a modern nation. We analyze what a “modern nation” might be, paying attention to factors such as domestic upheaval, ethnic and racial conflict, economic instability, and conflicted ideas of gender. We link cultural and social history with the new political history, through the emergence of a global role for the United States abroad, and the expansion of the reach of the state at home.

HIST 230-A Native North America (HP, VA)

This course examines the experiences of Native North Americans from their initial peopling of the continent through the present day. Topics include pre-Columbian history, American Indian responses to European colonialism, the era of Removal, the development of the reservation system, Allotment, and the politics of sovereignty and self-determination in the 20th and 21st Centuries. The course also introduces students to the interdisciplinary scholarly method of ethnohistory and ethical considerations.

HIST 256-A The American Century, 1945-Present (HP)

The post-1945 period was an era of dramatic change in American history, one whose repercussions still shape the world in which we live today. This course focuses on major developments of the period, including the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the dramatic shift in gender roles that has changed the lives of both women and men. We also cover related subjects, such as the domestic war on poverty and the foreign war in Vietnam.

HIST 270-A Arkansas History (HP)

A history of Arkansas from earliest times to the present.

HIST 290-A African American History to 1865 (HP)

This course examines the major topics in African American history from the emergence of the ancient African Kingdoms to the Civil War. Emphasis is placed on the use of a multidimensional approach to analyze African American culture, lifestyles, and related issues. Major themes related to the African American experience in America, as well as experiences throughout antebellum society, are examined.

HIST 295-A African American History since 1865 (HP)

This course examines the major topics in African American history from the Civil War to the end of the Civil Rights era. Emphasis is placed on the use of a multidimensional approach to analyze African American culture, lifestyles, and related issues. Major themes such as racism, assimilation, separatism, Pan-Africanism, desegregation, and civil rights are examined.

HIST 308-A Ecology in American Indian History (HP)

This seminar examines the history of American Indian interactions with the natural environment. Topics include the importance of place in American Indian worldviews, changes in land use before and after the arrival of Europeans, the impact of colonial epidemics, Native interpretations of environmental change, and environmental issues in Indian Country today.

HIST 342-A Revival, Revolt, and Nation-Making in North America, 1800-1815 (HP)

This seminar focuses on the United States and its borderlands from Thomas Jefferson’s election in 1800 through the end of the War of 1812. Topics include diplomatic upheaval, American Indian responses to U.S. Territorial expansion, religious revivalism, the early U.S. political party system, the military history of the War of 1812, and the making of nations among Anglo-Americans, Cherokees, and Creeks.

HIST 345-A Issues in Archives and Public History (HP) [SP]

This course encourages students to examine the role that archives and archivists play in the public discourse around history. Students examine how presentations of history and record-keeping practices have evolved over time as public demands have changed.

HIST 353-A American Civil War and Reconstruction (HP) [UR]

This course offers an analysis of the sectional conflict leading to the secession crisis, the impact of war on American society, the reunification of the nation during Reconstruction, and the memory of the Civil War in American culture. Students complete and present a major primary research project based on local collections where students visit and conduct archival research. Students also complete a primary research project on some aspect of the Vicksburg campaign and, over a weekend in the middle of the semester, travel with the class to Vicksburg.

HIST 360-A Vietnam and the 60’s (CW, HP)

This course uses the Vietnam War as a bridge to a larger inquiry into the social upheavals of the 1960s. Starting with the 1950s, we look at the war’s role in social change within the United States. We analyze major movements, including the Civil Rights Movement, the Anti-War movement, the Women’s Movement, and the New Left and New Right. We place the war in the context of global developments such as the Cold War and decolonization. Students also read Vietnamese perspectives on the war, and study Vietnamese culture and history.

HIST 420-A Topics in American History (HP)

A seminar or research course devoted to a particular topic in American history. Student suggestions for the selection of a topic are especially encouraged. Topics might focus on particular historical epochs, individuals, movements or themes.

European History Courses

HIST 169-E Modern Europe, 1789-1945 (HP)

This course surveys European developments between 1789 and 1945. Particular attention is given to the major powers of Europe. Topics include Europe’s revolutions, the rise of the nation-state, and warfare.

HIST 221-E England to 1688 (HP)

Beginning with Roman Britain, this course traces the social, cultural, political and religious evolution of England up to the Glorious Revolution. Particular attention is given to the growth of the Common Law, the rise of parliament, and other developments of significance to our own country.

HIST 224-E German History and the Jewish Question (HP, VA)

This seminar considers the long and often troubling history of German-Jewish interactions. Readings pertain to the treatment of Jews during the medieval Crusades, Protestant reformers’ ideas about Judaism, Enlightenment debates over Jewish identity, Jewish ‘emancipation’ during the Napoleonic Era, Jewish assimilation and integration during the 19th and 20th centuries, the Nazi Era, and Holocaust commemoration.

HIST 225-E Medieval Europe (HP)

Beginning with the decline of the Roman Empire and the rise of Christianity and ending with the crises of the fourteenth century, including widespread famines and the Black Death, this course covers Western Europe from about 400 to 1400. We focus on the political, social, cultural, and material changes that marked this period.

HIST 226-E Renaissance and Reformation Europe (HP)

This course examines the changes in areas including art, philosophy, medicine, science, printing, exploration, and religion that have traditionally been labeled the Renaissance and the Reformation in Western Europe during the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries. The course explores the consequences resulting from these changes.

HIST 227-E Medicine and Disease in Pre-Modern Europe (HP)

Ancient Greek humoral theories about the human body and holistic styles of medical care remained authoritative in Europe until the development of germ theory in the nineteenth century. This course examines the development and dissemination of these and other medical beliefs through medieval and early modern Europe, and also considers the impact of disease on social structures.

HIST 294-E Topics in Classical History (HP)

Cross-listed as CLAS 295

HIST 301-E Greek Civilization (HP)

Cross-listed as CLAS 301.

HIST 302-E Roman Civilization (HP)

Cross-listed as CLAS 302.

HIST 317-E Crusades and Contact (HP, SB)

This course explores the multiple ways in which Europeans viewed other cultures before 1492, and how those other cultures viewed Europeans. Through travel literature, accounts of wars, romance and even merchant account books, we discover how Europeans interacted with those whom they imagined as outside their own culture, whether because of where they lived, what religion they practiced, or how they dressed.

HIST 318-E Magic and Witchcraft in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (HP, SB)

This course examines the relationship between magic and religion from the early Middle Ages, through the Great Witch Hunts of the early modern period, and into the Enlightenment and Romantic fictionalizations of the witch figure. We approach both popular and elite understandings of magic and witchcraft, and the interactions between the two.

HIST 336-E From Reason to Revolution (HP)

This course examines Europe’s turbulent 18th-centry Enlightenment with an eye toward determining the causes of the upheavals that followed. The French Revolution of 1789 and Napoleon Bonaparte’s later conquest of Europe are then considered. Particular attention is given to intellectual, political, and military history.

HIST 338-E Crime and Punishment in Medieval Europe (HP, SB)

The Middle Ages saw an increase in governmental control over human behavior though law codes and judicial systems. This course examines those legal mechanisms, looking particularly at changing beliefs about what constitutes a crime, how the justice system should operate, and what kinds of punishments were appropriate.

HIST 339-E Epidemics and Society (HP)

This course use cases studies of particular epidemics in order to consider how different cultures have responded to disease. While the course discusses the epidemiology of these diseases, the main focus is on medical, political, social, and cultural responses to disease and how these changed over time.

HIST 425-E Topics in European History

This course focuses on topics in European history that reflect faculty and student interest.

Global History Courses

HIST 130-G Colonial African History (HP)

This general survey course explores African history from the era of the partition of the continent in the late 19th century to independence. The course examines such topics as the colonial state, resistance movements, problems of independence, and development.

HIST 160-G East Asia to 1600 (HP)

This course surveys the political, social, and cultural history of East Asia from antiquity through the end of the sixteenth century. This course examines the emergence of distinctive East Asian political, social, and cultural traditions, focusing largely on early developments in China and on its interactions with its various neighbors. The course also looks at how these traditions continued to evolve in China and how they were absorbed and modified in Korea and Japan and reflected back to China.

HIST 228-G The Medieval Islamic World (HP)

This course covers the Islamic world from the foundations of the religion to the early Ottoman Turkish Empire. It focuses on the growth of the early Islamic Empire, its fragmentation, and the development of distinct cultures in Spain, Egypt, and Persia.

HIST 243-G The Modern Middle East (CW, HP)

This course surveys Middle Eastern political and cultural developments. Particular emphasis is placed on the last 200 years of the region’s history. Topics include the rise of Arab nationalism, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the challenges of Islamist movements, and terrorism.

HIST 244-G Modern China (HP)

This course surveys the recent Chinese past from the late imperial dynasty to the late 1980s. It explores the revolution in China through a study of the people, events, and personalities that have given Chinese history its its dramatic and often tragic tone. Particular attention is also paid to the social, cultural, and intellectual currents that lay behind the more visible manifestations of change.

HIST 246-G Modern Japan (HP)

This course surveys the political, social, cultural, and environmental history of Japan from 1800. The course examines early modern Japanese politics, society, economy, and culture, taking note of the dynamic developments well underway by the mid-nineteenth century. Next, we look at the upheaval of Japanese society from the mid-nineteenth century through the beginning of World War II. The course also examines the origins, experiences, and legacies of the Pacific War (1931-1945), then look at developments in Japan during the postwar period, the years of the Japanese economic “miracle” and the late decades of the twentieth century.

HIST 250-G History of Southern Africa (HP)

This course explores the History of South Africa as a regional powerhouse in the sub-continent. The course begins with the history of the Khoisan, the earliest inhabitants of the sub-continent, and traces developments in the economy, culture and politics to the end of the Apartheid era in 1994.

HIST 251-G History of Central Africa (HP)

This regional survey explores equatorial Africa, focusing on the social structures that shaped societies of region, the impact of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, and finally, the problematic politics of independence. (PM)

HIST 280-G Contemporary Africa (CW, HP)

This course focuses on the challenges of political independence in Africa. Using case studies of selected African countries, this course examines the prospects for democracy, the problems of economic development, the challenges of political corruption, and the legacy of colonialism in Africa today.

HIST 281-G Aid, Humanitarianism and Development in Africa (HP, VA)

This course encourages participants to think more critically about the definition and practice of development in Africa. This course provides an historical survey of what people and institutions have meant by the term ‘development’ and asks why, despite enormous amounts of investment and earnest effort, Africa has remained a place that is still ‘developing.’ How have theorists, practitioners and people in Africa explained Africa’s place in the world? Students engage in case studies that highlight historical definitions of development and the projects that emerge from such ideas. Prerequisite: HIST 280 is recommended but not required.

HIST 285-G Twentieth Century East Asian-American Relations (HP)

This course provides a survey of the changing relations between East Asian countries and the United States in the 20th century, with an emphasis on East Asian countries. Beginning with early encounters between East Asia and the U.S., the course explores the major political, economic, military, and cultural developments, as well as the dynamics underlying them, that have shaped confrontation and cooperation between various East Asian countries and the U.S. Offered every other year.

HIST 291-G Japan’s Pacific War, 1931-1945 (HP)

This course examines the origins, experiences, and legacies of Japan’s fifteen year war, known in Japan as the Pacific War (1931-1945). We seek to understand the causes, immediate consequences, and lasting effects of this devastating conflict, which saw the death and dislocation of millions of people across two continents, and which continues to stir emotions in East Asia and around the world. Topics include imperialism, racism, war atrocities and war crimes trials, the Cold War, and war memory. In the course, we view the war both as a global conflict and as a personal experience.

HIST 292-G The Two Koreas (HP)

This course surveys the history of Korea from prehistoric times through the twentieth century, concentrating on the divisive events of the twentieth century. The course traces the process of state formation and the development of a politically and culturally distinct society on the Korean peninsula, culminating in the Choson Dynasty (1392-1910). The course also examines how this society was affected by Western and Japanese imperialism, the introduction of new totalizing ideologies, the devastation of modern warfare, and political division in the twentieth century.

HIST 293-G Korea: The Forgotten War (HP)

This course examines the origins, experience, and memory of the Korean War, at once a civil and global conflict that took the lives of more than two million people, laid waste to the entire Korean peninsula, and ceased after three years without significant territorial gains by either side. After exploring the roots of this conflict, this course examines the execution of the war. We also look at lasting political, social, and cultural legacies of the conflict, which left Korea divided, highly militarized, and deeply traumatized.

HIST 306-G Crime and Punishment in East Asia (HP)

This course examines the conceptualization of crime and corresponding theories, practices, and institutions of punishment in East Asian history. The course traces the development of ideas and institutions of criminal punishment in China, Korea, and Japan from early times through the nineteenth century. We then turn our focus to the adoption and adaptation of Western penal forms and principles in East Asia from the late nineteenth century through the twentieth. We address assumptions and stereotypes about “oriental barbarism.”

HIST 307-G Gender and Society in East Asia (HP)

This course examines the formation, contestation, and negotiation of meanings attributed to sexual difference at various points in time in China, Korea, and Japan. After surveying theoretical approaches to using gender as a category of historical analysis, we consider case studies, looking at how philosophical, religious, and political traditions, along with significant historical events and changes in technology and production, combined in various constellations to shape the way people in these societies conceptualize femininity, masculinity, and sexuality, utilizing primary documents, literature, art, and secondary studies.

HIST 310-G The Iraq War

This course examines the Iraq War that began in 2003. While a variety of background topics are covered, including the United States’ historical relationship with Iraq, Operation “Desert Storm,” and the impact of 9/11 on U.S. policy toward the Middle East, emphasis is placed on the more immediate build-up to the 2003 war, the execution of that war, and the challenges that face the Iraqi state.

HIST 325-G Africa and the Americas (HP)

This is an introduction to the interconnected history of the Americas (Brazil, Caribbean, United States) and Africa. We examine the impact of the Atlantic slave trade on African peoples and follow the transportation and settlement of enslaved Africans to the Americas. Our focus is the contribution of African peoples to the history, culture, and politics of the Americas.

HIST 330-G Culture and Colonialism (HP)

This seminar focuses on selected readings in cultural and African history. Topics may include gender and representation, Christianity and conversion, health and medicine, etiquette and authority, art and identity, and theory and method.

HIST 334-G Comparative Genocides (CW, HP, VA)

This course examines the major genocides that have occurred during the 20th and 21st centuries. The course’s case-studies include Armenia, the Holocaust, Cambodia, Rwanda, the Balkans, and Darfur. These are investigated with an eye toward determining the causes of genocide in the modern era.

HIST 341-G The Arab-Israeli Conflict (CW, HP)

This course treats the on-going Arab-Israeli conflict. Emphasis is placed on the political, military, and social history of the period starting with the rise of Zionism in the late 19th century and continuing through to the conflict’s most recent developments.

HIST 430-G Topics in Global History (HP)

This reading course focuses on topics in global history that interest students and the instructor.