Understanding the present is what the study of history is all about. We all struggle to understand the world presented to us on the evening news. Eventually, most of us realize
that we need a historical perspective to make sense of the dramatic changes and events in our world. That's why our classes are so popular.
The students in our classes aren't all history majors, but they are all driven to find answers about the present. And we know that many of those answers are buried in the past. Our faculty are experts at helping you find answers, whether they are embedded in the history of the British empire or American Indian history or Latin American history. But remember, as you dig through history for answers, you may find that the questions change. That's why this is such an exciting field of study.
Core Requirements? We offer many of them!
Need to fulfill your Humanities requirement? Most of our courses (except HI 200, HI 331, HI 395, HI 399) carry the HM designation.
Need to fulfill your Cross-Disciplinary requirement? Several of our courses carry the Experiential, Gender, or Intercultural requirement.
HI 399: Senior Thesis
HI 300O: Gender in United States History
HI 347: Modern Britain
HI 358: United States Since 1960
HI 300A: Atlantic World
HI 300N: Latin American Migrations
HI 331: Medieval Mediterranean
HI 346: Cold War Europe
HI 347: Modern Britain
HI 115: East Asian History (HM)
Dr. Richard Bohr, T/TH, 9:55, CSB
A survey of continuity and change in the modern transformation of China (including the PRC, Hong Kong and Taiwan), Korea, Japan and Vietnam. This course examines each country's role in the other's development; the impact of Western imperialism on the "modernization" of the region since 1800; and the implications of the "Asian Century."
HI 118: Islam & The West (HM)
Dr. Jeffrey Diamond, M/W/F, 10:40, CSB
This class will provide an introductory history of the Islamic World through a comparative analysis of Muslim societies in the Middle East and Asia. We will study the rise and spread of Islam, the emergence of the great early modern Islamic empires, and contemporary Islamic social movements. We also will concentrate on the interactions between Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, highlighting issues that include the influence of colonialism, Muslim-Christian-Jewish relations and Islam as a political, social, and religious force in the contemporary world.
HI 317: Peoples Republic of China (HM)
Dr. Richard Bohr, T/TH, 1:05, CSB
An evaluation of China's socialist revolution since 1949. Explores the rise of Communism in China; the China of Mao, Deng and beyond; and U.S.-China relations since 1972. Previews the integration of the PRC, Hong Kong and Taiwan into a post-communist "Greater China" during the twenty first century."
HI 122: Modern Latin America (HM)
Dr. David LaVigne, M/W/F, 2:10, CSB
This course examines Latin American history from the region's independence from Spain and Portugal in the 1820s to the present day. Students will investigate how the region's newly independent nations sought to modernize their societies, cultures, and economies beginning in the mid-1800s and how the results of these projects fostered social strife, civil war, and revolution in the 1900s. The course will conclude with an examination of Latin America's recent trend toward globalization and the discontent this process has caused.
HIST 300N: Latin American Migrations (HM, Intercultural)
Dr. David LaVigne, M/W/F, 1:00, CSB
Mexican immigration to the United States is today a familiar issue in discussions of U.S. society and politics. The topic of "Latin American migrations," however, involves much more than this singular migration pattern. Prior to the 20th century, immigration to Latin America was far more important than emigration from Latin America and included processes of colonization, the slave trade, and "whitening" policies. Moreover, throughout all time periods of Latin American history, the number of individuals participating in internal migrations, such as movement from country to city, has vastly out-scaled the number of international migrants. As such, this course examines migration to, from, and within Latin America and the Caribbean from the period of initial European colonization to the present. While contemporary immigration to the United States is an important part of this narrative, the course approaches migration from global and comparative perspectives rather than focusing on the immigration history of any one particular nation. Two points of comparison, in particular, will be central. First, we will compare and contrast the migration histories of different regions and nations within Latin America and the Caribbean. Secondly, we will identify connections between historical and modern-day migrations. In so doing, students will gain a better understanding of the processes and patterns of migration, the various causes for migration, the complexities of immigrant incorporation, and state monitoring of migration.
HI 152: American Experience (HM)
Dr. Shannon Smith, T/TH, 1:05, CSB
This course surveys the history of the United States from the end of the Civil War to the present day. We will explore the social experience of living in the U.S., the cultural ideas Americans used to understand their world, and the political and economic structures that shaped individual lives. We will specifically address the meanings of equality and citizenship. Who has been included or excluded from being an "American," and how has this changed over time? How have differences in sex, race, region, and socio-economic standing affected citizens' experiences and opportunities? Along with discussion of key events and famous figures, we will focus on the experiences and actions of ordinary Americans.
HI 152 American Experience (HM)
Dr. Jonathan Nash, M/W/F, 9:30, CSB
What is the American Experience? This question drives our exploration of the North American past from the early-seventeenth century to the mid-nineteenth century. The historical themes of violence, empire, liberty and faith guide our study. To help us understand these themes and the experiences of Americans, we will read and discuss historical monographs and primary documents. During the semester, you will have opportunities to strengthen your analytical reading, critical thinking, argumentative writing, and public speaking
HI 300A ATLANTIC WORLD (HM, Intercultural)
Dr. Jonathan Nash, T/TH, 11:30, CSB
This class provides you with a thematic introduction to Atlantic history, one of the most exciting fields of recent historical scholarship. Historian J.H. Elliott defines Atlantic history as the study "of the creation, destruction and re-creation of communities as a result of the movement, across and around the Atlantic basin, of people, commodities, cultural practices, and ideas" between the late-fifteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries. We will begin by exploring the methodology of Atlantic historians and conclude by reflecting on the use of the "Atlantic World" as a historical concept. In between, we will study the meetings and migrations of Europeans, indigenous Americans, and West Africans; trans-Atlantic exchanges of commodities such as chocolate, tobacco, and sugar; competitions for land, labor, souls, and wealth; how slave traders tried to transform captured Africans into slaves; how enslaved people asserted their humanity; and, lastly, revolutionary upheavals. While learning the histories of the Atlantic World, you will have opportunities to strengthen your analytical reading, critical thinking, argumentative writing, and public speaking.
HI 300O: Gender in US History (HM, Gender)
Dr. Shannon Smith, M/W/F, 10:40, CSB
This course will examine how gender and changing attitudes toward sexual behaviors have influenced U.S. history. Using gender as a tool of analysis, we will explore how gender and sexuality have influenced Americans' personal identities and interactions with others. Historically, in what ways have Americans defined what it means to be a "man" or a "woman"? How do those definitions and supposed "natural" characteristics influence one's opportunities or limitations in life and their status within the nation? Furthermore, how do those ideals differ by race, class, religion, region, education, and other cultural and social markers? In this course we will explore the varied meanings of "masculinity" and "femininity" from the American Revolution to the present day, and how those meanings have changed based on the needs or anxieties of the time-even for events and issues which seem to have little to do with gender or sexuality. One goal of the course is to help you think critically about documents and other sources you encounter in this class and in daily life: who produced it, what assumptions about gender or public/private life does the author make, and how those assumptions influence one's understanding of cultural identities.
HI 358: United States Since 1960 (HM, Gender)
Dr. Kenneth Jones, T/TH, 9:35, SJU
Political, economic and social change in recent America. A central theme will be the way that the social/political changes of the 1960s, and the reaction against them, has divided our nation and shaped our recent history. Specific topics include the struggle for equal rights for minorities, the changing roles of men and women, the domestic consequences of our foreign wars from Vietnam through Afghanistan, the growth of political power among cultural conservatives, the causes and impact of growing income inequality amid expanding affluence, and arguments over the power of the Presidency and the primacy of the Federal government from the administrations of John Kennedy through Barak Obama.
HI 365 American Indians 1865-Present (HM)
Dr. Julie Davis, T/TH, 2:40, CSB
In this course, we explore the complexity of Native people's experiences in the part of North America that became the continental United States. The course provides an overview of significant events, developments, and themes from the pre-Columbian period through the 1970s. Topics include federal and state Indian policies and their consequences; interactions and relationships among Native and non-Native people; dynamics of cultural loss, adaptation, persistence, and revitalization; and the ways that Native individuals, families, and communities have responded to and shaped their changing worlds over time. Course work includes readings in national and Minnesota Native American history, analysis papers, exams, small group work, and extensive discussion.
HI 142: Europe Since 1750 - Revolution & Reconciliation (HM)
Dr. Cynthia Curran, M/W/F, 1:00, CSB
This survey examines European history since 1750, prior to the French Revolution, and concludes with transformation of the continent in the European Union. Students will examine various themes that shaped this period of revolution, modernization, and transformation in European society.
HI 331: Medieval Mediterranean (Intercultural)
Dr. Theresa Vann, M/W/F,11:50, CSB
The culture of the Mediterranean world shaped the development of Western European civilization and created a framework for contacts between Eastern and Western cultures.
This course will explore these contacts, beginning with the hegemony of the Roman Empire, the rise of Christianity, the expansion of Islam, the influence of the Byzantine empire, and the conflicts between Christians and Muslims in Spain, Sicily, and the Middle East.
HI 332: Roman Empire (HM)
Dr. Margaret Cook, T/TH, 11:10, SJU
An overview of the growth of the Roman Empire, emphasizing the period from the late republic through the principate and the early empire. In addition to reading such primary historical sources as Cicero, Caesar, Sallust, Suetonius and Tacitus to study political and military developments, we will also consider the literature and social history of the period, with readings in such primary sources as Horace, Virgil and Catullus, as well as looking at contemporary art and architecture.
The culture of the Mediterranean world shaped the development of Western European civilization and created a framework for contacts between Eastern and Western cultures.
HI 346: Cold War Europe (HM, Intercultural)
Dr. Gregory Schroeder, M/W/F, 3:20, CSB
After the Second World War, European countries entered a new era shaped by the ideologies of the victors: the era of the Cold War. The conflict divided Europe politically, economically, culturally, and even physically between the US-oriented West and the Soviet-dominated East. This division, which ultimately spread from Europe to the rest of the globe, determined much of the world in the second half of the 20th century. We will begin with an overview of the Cold War era to explore basic political, economic, social, and cultural developments after the unprecedented disruptions caused by the Second World War. Then we will examine more closely four case studies: Poland and its postwar memory; Czechoslovakia and its culture under communism; East and West Germany and their divided nationality; and France and its postcolonial identity and society. Course materials will include a basic textbook, scholarly books and articles, literature, films and documentaries, and primary sources. Students will be evaluated on the basis of discussion and several essays.
HI 347: Modern Britain (HM, Gender, Intercultural)
Dr. Cynthia Curran, M/W/F, 9:30, CSB
This course examines the main social, economic, political, and cultural features of Britain from 1760 until the present. These exciting and complex 250 years encompass the emergence of Britain as a modern state and powerful empire-builder, and its subsequent decline to a rather minor role in the world power structure.
While we shall proceed along a chronological framework, the class will adopt a thematic approach to British history. By the end of the semester, students will have a firm grasp of cause and effect, in addition to understanding such themes as the true nature and scope of industrialization and the emergence and decline of the welfare state. We will not neglect many of the dominant concerns of social historians which include a sensitivity to class and gender.
HI 200: History Colloquium - Germany from Weimar to the Third Reich, 1919-1945
Dr. Gregory Schroeder, M/W/F, 11:50, CSB
History Colloquium has several goals for students: to understand history as interpretation, to learn to analyze and interpret primary sources, to make and assess historical arguments, and to solidify their identity as historians.
This course will focus on Germany during the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich, two vastly different societies. After World War I, Germans faced questions about national identity, economic crisis, political revolution, utopian ideas about the future, sex, racial policy, war, genocide, and more. Should we support the Bolsheviks and spread revolution to Germany? Why are women voting and holding public office now? Can I borrow your sex manual? Aren't you afraid "modernity" will destroy the German people? Why doesn't everyone like the Nuremberg party rally as much as I do? Why do my neighbors exclude me just because I am Jewish? Why is there a satellite concentration camp in my town? What is really happening on the Eastern Front?
The course will include readings on Weimar and the Third Reich, but a substantial proportion of the materials will be primary sources such as novels, oral histories, government documents, art works, film, newspaper articles, and the like. Students will have many opportunities to become historians using the sources from this fascinating period.
HI 381: Readings Seminar - Asia and Empire
Dr. Jeffrey Diamond, Tuesday, 8:20-11:20 am (3 hour block)
While academics and pundits debate if the 21st Century will be the Asian Century -- due to the rise of the economic, military, and political power of India and China, it is important to understand the historical roots that both helped and hindered the rise of Asian countries. During the later 18th century through the early 20th century, European nations were the rising economic, military, and political powers and Europeans used this influence to assert direct colonial control and indirect influence on various Asian societies. Although research historically has often centered on the rhetoric and actions of the colonizers, contemporary historical works have also emphasized how different Asian societies and individuals responded in a variety of ways to European influence -- as collaborators, resistors, and nationalists. We will explore these perspectives through a variety of books in the field that highlight topics such as nationalism, subaltern studies, and gender.
As we explore the history of colonialism and nationalism in Asia, we will read recent historical monographs as well as 'classics' in the field that exemplify different approaches and methods of historical analysis. We will evaluate the methodology, arguments, and evidence of each monograph in order to develop critical historical skills through detailed seminar discussions and a series of essays. Learning how to "read a history book" is an important and rewarding skill to master, and we will discuss and analyze engaging topics in modern Asian history as we develop that skill.
HI 395 Historiography and Methods - Interpreting Northern Ireland
Dr. Julie Davis, Tuesday, 6:15-9:15pm
In this course we'll investigate how historians have interpreted the history of Northern Ireland, mapping changes in interpretation over time and analyzing them within the context of their creation. We'll also explore how Northern Irish history has been represented in public spaces and popular culture. By studying the historiography and public history of this complex, conflicted, beautiful, baffling place, we will gain insight into other places that have been shaped by similar histories. Students also will gain a better understanding of methods and theories through which scholars construct interpretations of the past.
In the last part of the semester, students will apply course skills and insights to the conceptualization, research and writing of a substantial historiographical essay on a topic of their choice. As the essay is meant to help students build a foundation for their senior thesis projects, they will have wide latitude in choosing their topics.
Students will build skills in critical reading, comparative analysis, and historiographical synthesis. In addition to the final essay, course work will include reading analysis papers and lively class discussions. We'll also experiment with using some very cool digital tools for data visualization and research project management.
HI 399 SENIOR THESIS (Experiential)
Dr. Gregory Schroeder, TH, 8:20-11:20 am (3 hour block)
The primary concern of this course is the theory and practice of historical research. Students will learn research strategies and techniques as well as explore questions about the validation, analysis, and interpretation of historical evidence. Each student will participate in class discussions about the historical theories and practices in question, submit periodic written and oral progress reports about individual research projects, and write a major paper about your research project.
Research topics may deal with any time period, and geographic region, and use a variety of methodological approaches to history. The instructor will work individually with each student as s/he moves through the stages of the research project. In some cases, depending on the topic the student's research may be directed by another history faculty who will serve as a co-sponsor.