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Undergraduate Courses

This page shows a small selection of undergraduate courses offered in the Department of History. Please see SPIRE for a list of current course offerings and to register for courses. For extended course information, see our course guides to the right.

100 Western Thought to 1600 (HS)
This lecture course focuses on major thinkers and schools of thought from ancient times through the age of the Reformation. Authors include: Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Old Testament, New Testament, Augustine, Aquinas, Christine de Pisan, Machiavelli, Leonardo da Vinci, and Montaigne. The course also covers the modern interpretations of certain older texts; for example, the debate in the 19th and 20th centuries about how to interpret particularly violent sections of the Old Testament. 

101 Western Thought Since 1600 (HS)
This course is devoted to the history of the Western world from the seventeenth century to the present. We will explore topics including political ideologies, scientific innovations, revolutions and war, industrialization, nationalism and imperialism, and gender and popular culture. The course has two main goals: first, to provide you with a broad overview of ideas and events throughout the period, and second, to introduce you to the methods and skills of the discipline of history. 

110 World History to 1500 (HS G)
This course is devoted to the history of the human experience across the globe from the earliest civilizations up to approximately 1550 CE. The course is organized into four distinct sections, each representing a major approach to studying global history. The readings of the course include a variety of primary and secondary sources in order to better analyze and understand the diversity of global norms and values and the way they change over time. The course work will emphasize the development of critical thinking and writing skills. This class fulfills the following requirements: pre- 1500 and Non-Western requirements for the history major as well as the historical studies in global perspective (HSG) portion of the General Education program. This course is taught using a Team-Based-Learning classroom. Open to freshmen and sophomores only.

112 Introduction to World Religions (IG)
Religions may have divine origins, but religious belief and practice, like everything else human, have their own histories. This course has three goals. First, we consider how the west came to understand and define religion. Second, we turn to the origins and development of some of the world’s major religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Finally, we will consider the new religions of the twentieth century, the confrontations and conversations between different religions, and the processes and effects of secularization. We will examine not only religious belief but also ritual practice and the place of religion in today’s society. Understanding why we think about religion in the ways that we do, the history of religions, and issues of importance to the practice of religion today is a vital part of being a citizen of a democracy in this global age. 

112H Introduction to World History (Honors; IG)
World Religions introduces students to historical, geographical, scriptural, and ideological aspects of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and indigenous practices.  The first part of the course will be mastering facts about these traditions, with exams used to determine grades.  The last weeks of the class will stress class discussion, covering broader questions such as: "Are the religions studied ideologically compatible or irreducibly incommensurate?"  "Are the mystical strains of these traditions compatible with their mainstream manifestations?"  and "How are the religions used to promote military conflict?  Could they actually reduce the likelihood of war?" Readings will start with Huston Smith's The Illustrated World Religions, with excursions into Scriptural and anthropological sources that embellish the themes raised by Smith.  This class is open to honors students only.

115 Modern China, 1600-Present (HS G)
This is a survey of Chinese history from 1600 to the present day.  We will cover topics including: the rise and fall of the Qing Dynasty; Chinese-Western encounters; internal threats to the Confucian state; transformation of Chinese thought and culture in the 19th century; the revolutions of the 20th century; the rise of Mao Zedong; the People's Republic of China; the Cultural Revolution; and the dramatic transformations China is undergoing today as a result of economic and political reforms since Mao's death. No prior study of Chinese history is assumed.

116 History of Japan (HS G)
This survey class is a journey through the social, cultural, political economic and religious developments in Japan since 1800. We’ll go from the 18th-century kabuki stage and the samurai castle to the military barracks and factory floor behind Japanese imperialism to the crowded trains and hip-hop-filled streets of Harajuku in 21st-century Tokyo. We will examine how much Japan has changed, but also much about the lines of continuity that run from the past to the present through a textbook and a few short scholarly pieces. The course also aims to humanize the history of the Japanese people through first-hand accounts ranging from diary, letter, newspaper, play, and novel excerpts to government documents, comic books, paintings, photos, and other sources. Students will leave this course equipped with the information and tools needed to acknowledge and understand the vividness and complexity of Japan, its position in East Asia and the world, and its special relationship with the United States.

120 Latin America: Colonial Period (HS G)
General view of the cultural, economic, and political development of Latin America, 1492 to 1824. Topics include the Iberian and Indian backgrounds; Spanish and Portuguese imperial organization; role of Indians, Blacks, and Europeans in the New World; the coming of independence.

121 Modern Latin America (HS G)
This course examines the creation of modern Latin America, concentrating on struggles over land and labor, the creation of nation-states, and the conflicts within those states over issues of citizenship and social justice. The course also addresses the contentious role the United States has played in the region.

130 Middle East History I (HS G)
This is a survey course about the Middle East from the rise of Islam in the 7th century until 1300. It covers the formation of Islamic belief systems and cultures, the creation of "Islamic" polities and societies, and challenges from outsiders, whether Crusaders from the West, or Turks and Mongols from the East.

131 Middle East History II (HS G)
Survey of the Middle East from 1500.  For course purposes, the Middle East includes the territory from Algeria to Iran and from Turkey to the Arabian Peninsula. Course focuses on the political, economic, and intellectual trends that have shaped the Middle East as we know it. General topics include the Ottoman and Safavid Empires, the impact of European imperialism, the construction of nationalism, Zionism, Islamism, capitalism, the "Arab Spring" and how all of this impacts current events in this complex region. 

150 U.S. History to 1876 (HS)
This course covers topics in social, political, economic, and intellectual history in the United States from the colonial era through the U.S. Civil War. Topics may include: colonial societies; slavery the slave trade; the American Revolution; abolition and social reform movements; territorial expansion and war; Native American communities; immigration; art and literature; presidential politics; the Sectional Crisis and Civil War. Students will be expected to read both primary documents and secondary literature on these topics. 

151 U.S. History Since 1876 (HS)
This course will provide students with an understanding of the contours of American history from the period of Reconstruction through the late twentieth century. The course explores the politics and culture of the period, as well as the interactions of race, class, and gender in U.S. history. Particular attention will be paid to African American history, Native American history, and women’s history. Primary source readings will be emphasized.

161 History of Africa Since 1500 (HS G)
Topics to be covered include African and European imperialism, colonialism, nationalism, and independence.  The main objective of the course is to assess how these developments have changed the lives and cultures of African people. No pre-requisites. 

170 Indigenous Peoples of North America (HS U)
This course is an overview of the historical experiences of indigenous peoples in North America from the early contact period to the present day. While we can only cover a few culture groups in depth (the indigenous peoples of North America spoke over 500 different languages before European contact), the major themes relate to all groups: pre-contact histories and the writing of academic history; colonization and resistance; subsistence and dependency; Native religions and Christianity; changing family and gender relations; the impact of the American Revolution and Manifest Destiny; scientific racism; education and (non)assimilation; Red Power; and current issues including struggles over land, sovereignty and treaty rights.

180 Western Science and Technology I (HS)
Hist 180 and its companion Hist 181 have two goals: first, to explore the ways in which science and technology have helped various Western societies make sense of, and manipulate, their worlds and themselves; and second, to appreciate how science and technology reflect their historical periods and contexts. Part I explores the Greek fascination with modeling the cosmos and with the nature of formal scientific explanation; the roots of Western technological dynamism in the Middle Ages; the role of Scholasticism and the medieval university in the institutionalization of scientific thought; and the creation of a new quantitative framework of experience by Renaissance explorers, engineers, merchants, and astronomers. Part II covers the centuries from the Scientific Revolution to the Space Age. Both parts are designed to meet the University’s requirements for General Education and Historical Studies by introducing you to subjects and perspectives you might not otherwise encounter, and by offering opportunities for the exercise of skills of reading, writing, and analysis. They should also open up a fascinating past and help us all become critically informed participants in and consumers of modern technoscience. There are no pre-requisites, although some background in Western Civilization is a great help.

181 Western Science and Technology II (HS)
This sequel to History 180 surveys Western science and technology in their cultural context from the Scientific Revolution to the Cold War. The course introduces students to key scientific ideas of the modern age through the lens of social, political, and intellectual history. Important themes include the social organization of science, the creation scientific spaces and sites for the production of scientific knowledge, and the role of technology in both science and the basic infrastructure of modern life. Course topics will vary widely, including subjects such as the Copernican view of the universe, Darwinian evolution in science and society, the quantum revolution in 20th century physics, and the Space Race. Readings will consist of primary and secondary sources; short research and response papers will be assigned. No pre-requisites, although previous exposure to a course in modern European or American history is helpful.