Opportunities

Academic Opportunities

History at Grinnell

The discipline of history poses complex questions about the experiences of humans over time. Historians develop, challenge, and revise narratives and interpretations of the past with an eye toward understanding both the subjects of their study and the implications of such knowledge for the present.

History classes are grounded in the careful analysis of texts and documents. Students develop fundamental skills in the framing of historical questions, the pursuit of independent research, and the eloquent and persuasive presentation of their ideas. Such skills place historians in dialogue with many other academic disciplines and are central to the experience of a true liberal arts education. History majors are therefore well-equipped for a broad spectrum of career paths including (but by no means limited to) public service, museum practice, teaching, scholarship, and the law.

While the members of the history department faculty vary widely in areas of expertise and classroom styles, we share a commitment to research, teaching, and learning in a collaborative environment, where students and faculty engage together in the processes of intellectual inquiry.

Planning the Major

The basic requirement is 32 credits of work in history with a grade of C or higher, 20 of which must be earned within the History Department of Grinnell College, with at least two 300-level history seminars taken at Grinnell (each taught by a different professor). All students must take HIS 100, as well as courses at the 200-level in at least three different geographic regions. With permission, four of the 32 credits may be taken in related studies. The department strongly recommends that students complete a history curriculum that embraces chronological diversity by including at least one course that focuses on history before 1850 and at least one course on history after 1850. Since knowledge of mathematics and foreign languages is essential for serious study of history, the department also recommends that students take at least one course in quantitative analysis and the equivalent of at least three semesters of a modern foreign language or two semesters of a classical language. To be considered for honors in history, graduating seniors, in addition to meeting the College's general requirements for honors, must have completed both recommended and required work listed above, and must also submit a substantial piece of historical writing by the Friday before spring break for evaluation by a faculty panel appointed by the department chair. These papers should be the result of work that began in a 300-level history seminar, MAP, or some other form of advanced independent research. The faculty panel will decide by majority vote which papers qualify for honors.

Planning the Major Form

Mentored Advanced Project (HIS 499)

A history MAP normally follows work begun in a 300-level history seminar, so that the student can undertake exhaustive research on a precisely defined topic to produce a paper as close as possible in quality to the articles published in history journals. MAP proposals unrelated to a seminar will be considered, but in that case students must demonstrate that they are already familiar with the most important scholarly works published in their proposed field of inquiry. MAP proposals, which must be submitted to the history department chair at least one week before they are due at the office of the Associate Dean, should include an essay of 1200-1500 words to explain the historical problem to be investigated and the questions left open by existing research in the field, and a bibliography detailed enough to demonstrate that the project is feasible. A faculty committee appointed by the department chair will review all proposals, which will only be accepted if they reflect careful preparation and close consultation with the chosen mentor.

Awards, Grants, Scholarships, and Fellowships

The Alan R. Jones '50 Travel Fellowship 

The Alan R. Jones '50 Travel Fellowship offers financial support to Grinnell College students to travel to conduct research on a topic of American history connected to their work in a history course, an independent study, or a Mentored Advanced Project (MAP). The prize honors Alan ("Al") Jones '50, a legendary professor of history at Grinnell College, whose passionate teaching, scholarship, and civic engagement left an indelible mark on the character of the College as well as generations of students. The fellowship covers travel expenses and costs directly related to research in a library, archive, museum or research collection outside of Grinnell that pertains to the history of the United States, broadly conceived. Both short trips (e.g. Iowa City or Ames) and long trips (e.g. Warsaw or Washington D.C.) will qualify for funding. Deadlines are rolling; applications will be considered throughout the year, as funds allow. Students may use them to conduct research during the semester, during breaks, or during the summer. Please refer to the full fellowship guidelines and use the fellowship cover sheet when submitting an application.

 

Russell J. Linnemann ‘65 Travel Fellowship

The Russell J. Linnemann '65 Travel Fellowship is a new prize which offers financial support to Grinnell College students who would like to travel to conduct historical research or to prepare themselves to conduct historical research on an international topic.  The prize honors Russell Linnemann, who graduated from Grinnell College with a degree in history in 1965, earned a doctorate in history from the University of Michigan, and enjoyed a 36-year career at the University of Tennessee (Chattanooga), during which time he taught and published on the British Empire and African history. The fellowship covers travel expenses and costs directly related to research in a library, archive, museum or research collection outside of Grinnell; the travel itself need not be outside of the United States, but the central focus should be research on peoples or places outside of the territorial boundaries of the United States. Fellowship money may also be used for specialized courses on topics including language or paleography, in preparation for a future research project. Any Grinnell student (sophomore-senior) who is interested in pursuing historical research on an international topic is eligible to apply. Please refer to the full fellowship guidelines and use the fellowship cover sheet when submitting an application. Deadlines: September 15; December 1; February 15; May 1.

 

The Lura Camery Prize

Each year the Lura Camery Prize, established through the bequest of Lura Camery ’24, honors with a cash award the “outstanding work of historical interpretation (concerning the non-English-speaking world) submitted during the year to the Department of History by a full-time student at the College.” Any student—and not necessarily a history major—is eligible. Students completing significant essays this year might consult with their instructors to see if their essays qualify for the Camery Prize. All submissions (clearly marked “Camery Prize”) should be submitted to Lisa Mulholland in Mears 103, Academic Support Office, and please also submit an electronic copy to mulholll[at]grinnell[dot]edu. Applications are due in March.

 

The Maria Okey Prize

The Okey Prize, established by a 1927 gift of Maria Okey of Grinnell, honors with a cash award that student who shall submit to the Department of History during a given academic year the best essay on some aspect of British or American life and institutions.  Students completing significant essays this year might consult with their instructors to see if their essays qualify for the Okey Prize. All entries (clearly marked “Okey Prize”) should be submitted to Lisa Mulholland in Mears 103, Academic Support Office, and please also submit an electronic copy to mulholll[at]grinnell[dot]edu. Applications are due in March.

 

The Charles E. Payne Scholarship

Every year the history department awards the Charles E. Payne Scholarship to the outstanding history major in the prospective senior class.  The Payne Scholarship was established in 1967 by Ina Chatterton Payne in honor of her husband Professor Charles E. Payne, who was for many years an eminent scholar, teacher and chairman of the history department at Grinnell. Mrs. Payne wished especially to aid students to continue their study of history, both at Grinnell and beyond, so the award may be used either in connection with the senior year at Grinnell or, if the recipient wishes, to help with expenses in graduate or professional school.

 

The Ida Pilling Welch '30 History Book Award

The Ida Pilling Welch '30 History Book Award is given each spring to a senior "whose interest in and commitment to historical study reaches beyond the ordinary reaches of the classroom."  The award is accompanied by a monetary prize, to be used for the purchase of books.

 

Kathryn Mohrman Fellowship

This fellowship, established through the generosity of Kathryn Jagow Mohrman '67, supports advanced student research or special projects receiving academic credit within the Departments of History and Political Science. The Fellowship encourages students to examine phenomena that they have not earlier confronted, and it encourages and rewards independent study. Although only applications for research on history or political science topics will be considered, students need not be majors in either of the two fields to apply. When possible, preference will go to research projects that take the student outside the U.S. A student's financial need may be then taken into account in deciding whom to fund in any given year. Often the Mohrman fellowship has supported a MAP project, but this is not a requirement. Final decision regarding the award will be made by spring break.

Students should apply to one of the two departments by March 11 at 5:00 p.m. A completed application will include the following elements:

  • a plan of study (three pages) describing the major academic goal and research agenda, the project time frame, the resources to be used in completing the project, along with evidence that the student will have access to these resources;
  • a statement of support and cooperation from a faculty sponsor in the Department of History or the Department of Political Science who will supervise the project; the faculty member should specify his or her interest in the project and speak to the quality and feasibility of the proposal;
  • a budget, including travel and per diem costs
  • the names of at least two other faculty members who can attest to the applicant's seriousness of purpose, ability to complete an independent project, and the extent to which this project will build on the applicant's previous academic work.
  • a transcript

For more information, please contact the History Department Chair, Elizabeth Prevost.

 

Seminars (300-level Courses)

The Department of History offers a wide variety of courses for all students at Grinnell College, and a challenging course of study in history for its majors.

Seminars, 2015-16

Fall 2015

History 314.01  “The U.S. Civil War:  History and Memory.” 

Students in this seminar will complete major research projects about the U.S. Civil War and/or its presence in public memory.  The Civil War was a major watershed event, and students will study a number of important recent trends and debates in its historiography before defining their own topics of research.  We will consider new approaches to analyzing the military, economic, social, gender, and racial dimensions of the war as well as topics such as popular culture, geography, immigration, and transnational history.  In addition to studying the war itself, students will also consider how Civil War commemorations continued to shape U.S. history and culture during Reconstruction and beyond.  Prerequisites:  HIS 100 course and HIS 214.  4 credits.  Ms. Purcell

History 331.01  “Making Knowledge in Early Modern Europe.” 

A knowledge explosion took place in Europe between 1450 and 1700.  Its powder keg was stocked with newly recovered ancient texts, with thrilling stories from Europeans’ encounters with the New World, and with the results of the observation and experimental interrogations of nature.  Independent research projects will examine the effects of the media revolution--the development of print culture--which ignited and sustained the blast of this “information age” in Europe and beyond.  This course offers its students an opportunity to explore the impact of the knowledge explosion on the formation of social, ethnic, religious and political identities, and the creation of museums, libraries, archives, databases, and learned societies.  Ultimately, we will ask whether early modern practices of communication and information transmission actually redefined the meaning of “knowledge” for the modern world.  Prerequisites:  HIS 100 and HIS 233, 234, 235, or 295-03 (on “Sex, gender and family in Europe, 1300-1700”).  With permission, students may substitute HIS 233, 234, 235  with relevant coursework in classics, renaissance, or early modern studies.  4 credits.  Ms. Pollnitz

History 336.01  “The European Metropolis.” 

This seminar takes as its starting point the explosion of large cities in Europe from the mid-nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries.  As the narrative goes, parallel political and economic revolutions made possible–-even inevitable–-the blossoming of entirely new spaces characterized by unprecedented population density and diversity, radical shifts in architecture and infrastructure, and vertiginous social and cultural developments.  We examine this phenomenon by concentrating upon the ways in which artists and intellectuals in London, Paris, Vienna, and Berlin (and occasionally elsewhere) grappled with the idea and the experience of the metropolis.  Our investigations include political developments, social theory, the visual arts, film, literature, architecture, consumer culture, and music.  Among the myriad of qualities and tensions inherent in the modern urban experience, we consider community and alienation, the fluidity of the self, spectacle and entertainment, disease and criminality, gender, and class.  Prerequisites:  HIS 100 and HIS 236, 237, 238, 239, or 241.  4 credits.  Ms. Maynard

History 342.01  “Stalinism.” 

This seminar will examine the political, social, and cultural history of the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin, with a particular focus on the 1930s.  The first half of the course will feature a series of common readings on topics such as the rise of Stalin’s dictatorship, the Great Terror of the 1930s, and the drive to collectivize Soviet agriculture and industrialize the economy; we’ll discuss the nature of everyday life and social identity under Stalin, look at the impact of propaganda and revolutionary ideology on the values and mindset of the population, and debate whether Stalinism represented the continuation of the revolution or a divergence from its ideals.  After looking at a set of representative primary sources (such as oral histories, memoirs, and diaries), students will then produce a research paper in the second half of the semester, delving into some aspect of Soviet society and politics under Stalin.  Prerequisites:  HIS 100 and HIS 242 or 244.  4 credits.  Mr. Cohn

History 371.01.  “Propaganda in Twentieth-Century Asia.” 

In modern history, the term propaganda refers to attempts by political actors to sway opinion and influence morale. Propaganda, or political communication, has often been seen as a key element in solving social problems related to the mobilization of human beings toward specific ends; for example, as a means of fostering rapid economic development or building support for a new government.  When social mobilization intensifies, as in times of war and conflict, activities related to propaganda become intensified as well.  Using twentieth-century Asia as a temporal and geographical starting point, participants in this seminar will conduct original research to answer questions concerning the rationale behind modern propaganda operations--their origins, institutions, and consequences.  Preliminary topics of research might include, but are not limited to:  economic mobilization, empire and decolonization, cultural diplomacy, psychological warfare.  The instructor’s primary areas of research expertise are in modern East Asian history and U.S.-East Asia relations.  Asia-focused topics in other areas may be possible depending on the demonstrated and immediate availability of relevant sources.  The goal of each seminar participant will be to produce and present a roughly 25-page research paper whose main findings are grounded in primary source material.  Prerequisites:  HIS 100 and one 200-level course focusing on twentieth-century history and one 200-level course in the history of a non-U.S./Europe geographic region.  4 credits.  Mr. Johnson

Spring 2016

History 32X.01  “Discovering the Poor in Latin America, 1850-1960.” 

During the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century, Latin American intellectuals and policy-makers became increasingly concerned with the plight of the poor. The period saw an expansion of charity services, alongside the birth of welfare protectionism and social liberalism. The common readings for the seminar will survey some recent scholarship on the topic. In the second half of the course, students will then write a major research paper on social policy and attitudes towards poverty in Latin America. A reading knowledge of Spanish or Portuguese is helpful but not required. Prerequisite: HIS 100 and HIS 201 or HIS 202.  4 credits.  Mr. Silva

History 322.01  “Sex and Sexuality in American History.” 

This seminar investigates the history of sex and sexuality in the United States, from the colonial era through the twentieth century.  We will identify changes, contradictions, and continuities in sexual ideals as well as the even more complicated realities of Americans’ sexual experiences.  We will discuss the invention of heterosexualities and same-sex sexualities, as well as the laws, policies, and traditions that shape them.  Students will write in-depth research papers on some aspect of American sexual history.  Prerequisites:  HIS 100 and either HIS 222 or GWSS 111.  4 credits.  Ms. Lewis

History 325.01  “American Indian Reservations.” 

This course examines the history of American Indian reservations from the late-nineteenth century to the present.  The common readings will introduce students to the origins and major historical problems of reservation history, especially the tricky task of defining the relationship between American Indian reservations and the United States.  Specifically, we will examine the end of treaty-making between the United States and Indian tribes, allotment of Indian land, federal assimilation programs, boarding schools, the meaning of U.S. citizenship for Native peoples, and the opportunities and challenges of casinos.  Prerequisites:  Any HIS 100 course and any 200-level history course.  4 credits.  Mr. Lacson

History 334.01  “Decolonization.” 

In the decades following the Second World War, more than a quarter of the world’s land mass and population were converted from colonies into nation states with surprising speed.  But did the end of empire constitute a meaningful transformation or merely the change of a flag?  In this seminar we will explore some of the debates surrounding the timing, causality, character, and consequences of decolonization and consider how historical actors impacted and were impacted by the changing relationship of metropolitan centers and colonial peripheries.  Themes will include anti-colonial nationalism; labor militancy; agrarian change; settler colonialism; partition and displacement; post-colonial states and identities; and global development.  Common texts and student research projects will focus on the political, social, intellectual, and cultural dimensions of decolonization in British Africa and South Asia, as well as in Britain itself; students with relevant background may also pursue a topic related to another national/geographic context.  Prerequisites:  HIS 100 and either HIS 236, 261, 262, or 295 (Religion & Socio-Political Change in Colonial India, Sp12).  4 credits.  Ms. Prevost

PLEASE NOTE: Mr. Elfenbein will not be teaching seminars 2014-2015 or 2015-2016.

Seminars, 2014-15

Students must complete two 300-level history seminars in order to complete the major. Here are our seminar offerings for the 2014-2015 academic year.

FALL 2014

History 322.01 "Sex and Sexuality in American History."

This seminar investigates the history of sex and sexuality in the United States, from the colonial era through the twentieth century.  We will identify changes, contradictions, and continuities in sexual ideals as well as the even more complicated realities of Americans’ sexual experiences.  We will discuss the invention of heterosexualities and same-sex sexualities, as well as the laws, policies, and traditions that shape them.  Students will write in-depth research papers on some aspect of American sexual history.  Prerequisites:  HIS 100 and either HIS 222 or GWSS 111.  4 credits.  Ms. Lewis

History 336.01 "The European Metropolis."

This seminar takes as its starting point the explosion of large cities in Europe from the mid-nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries.  As the narrative goes, parallel political and economic revolutions made possible-–even inevitable-–the blossoming of entirely new spaces characterized by unprecedented population density and diversity, radical shifts in architecture and infrastructure, and vertiginous social and cultural developments.  We examine this phenomenon by concentrating upon the ways in which artists and intellectuals in London, Paris, Vienna, and Berlin (and occasionally elsewhere) grappled with the idea and the experience of the metropolis.  Our investigations include political developments, social theory, the visual arts, film, literature, architecture, consumer culture, and music.  Among the myriad of qualities and tensions inherent in the modern urban experience, we consider community and alienation, the fluidity of the self, spectacle and entertainment, disease and criminality, gender, and class.  Prerequisites:  HIS 100 and HIS 236, 237, 238, 239, or 241.  4 credits.  Ms. Maynard

History 373.01  "Chimerica:  The History of a Special Relationship."

This seminar will address the history behind China and America's tumultuous - and increasingly symbiotic - bilateral relationship by examining American/Chinese interactions over the course of the 20th century.  After reviewing the rich historiography on international, economic, and intercultural contact between these two Pacific states, we will turn to mapping out a collaborative research agenda based on available resources at Grinnell and surrounding libraries and archives.  Students will then write individual research papers focused on some aspect of China-U.S. relations, with an eye toward explaining how contemporary patterns have been anticipated by historical interaction.  Our penultimate goals will thus include:  1) extensive drafting and re-writing of a substantive, paper-length work of original research, and 2) developing an understanding of U.S.-China relations which accounts for the multiple levels of exchange, meaning, and past precedent at work in shaping our global present.  Prerequisites:   HIS 100 and any 200-level course on East Asian history or U.S. History.  4 credits.  Mr. Johnson

SPRING 2015

History 320.01 "Nature and the New Deal."

This seminar examines the central role that environmental issues played in the era of the New Deal. Students will explore how a generation of policy-makers, intellectuals, and artists came to see a fundamental connection between the economic crisis of the “Great Depression” and the environmental crisis of the “Dirty Thirties” (manifest in a series of epic droughts, dust-storms, floods, forest fires, and collapsing farms). The course readings will focus on a variety of iconic programs that embodied the New Deal’s environmental vision of rebuilding society through innovative programs in conservation and public outreach: e.g. the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Civilian Conservation Corps, the “Greenbelt” program, Soil Conservation Districts, rural electrification, and the funding of environmentally conscious literature, photography, and film by the Works Progress Administration. Students will design their own research projects that examine in greater detail some aspect of environmental policy or thought during this era. Prerequisites: HIS 100 and HIS 220. With permission, students may substitute HIS 220 with relevant coursework in Environmental Studies or Policy Studies. 4 credits. Mr. Guenther 

History 325.01 “American Indian Reservations.”

This course examines the history of American Indian reservations from the late-nineteenth century to the present. The common readings will introduce students to the origins and major historical problems of reservation history, especially the tricky task of defining the relationship between American Indian reservations and the United States. Specifically, we will examine the end of treaty-making between the United States and Indian tribes, allotment of Indian land, federal assimilation programs, boarding schools, the meaning of U.S. citizenship for Native peoples, and the opportunities and challenges of casinos. Prerequisites: Any HIS 100 course and any 200-level history course. 4 credits. Mr. Lacson 

History 329.01 "Latin America and the United States."

As the saying goes, Latin America lies too far from God and too close to the United States.  This proximity has affected Latin American economics, demographics, culture, and politics.  The seminar will begin with common readings.  This year those common readings will focus on US attempts–both official and unofficial–to democratize and modernize the region.  Students will then write a research paper using primary documents.  These papers could focus on anyone of a number of issues that were central to US-Latin American relations such as hemispheric security, economic affairs, democracy, and socialism.  A reading knowledge of Spanish or Portuguese is helpful but not required.  Prerequisites:  HIS 100 and HIS 201, 202, or 204.  4 credits.  Mr. Silva

History 331.01 "Making Knowledge in Early Modern Europe."

A knowledge explosion took place in Europe between 1450 and 1700.  Its powder keg was stocked with newly recovered ancient texts, with thrilling stories from Europeans’ encounters with the New World, and with the results of the observation and experimental interrogations of nature.  Independent research projects will examine the effects of the media revolution-the development of print culture-which ignited and sustained the blast of this “information age” in Europe and beyond.  This course offers its students an opportunity to explore the impact of the knowledge explosion on the formation of social, ethnic, religious and political identities, and the creation of museums, libraries, archives, databases, and learned societies.  Ultimately, we will ask whether early modern practices of communication and information transmission actually redefined the meaning of “knowledge” for the modern world.  Prerequisites:  HIS 100 and HIS 233, 234, 235, or 295-03 (on “Sex, gender and family in Europe, 1300-1700”).  With permission, students may substitute HIS 233, 234, 235 with relevant coursework in classics, renaissance, or early modern studies.  4 credits.  Ms. Pollnitz.

PLEASE NOTE:

Mr. Cohn will not be offering his Stalinism seminar in 2014-15, but will do so again in 2015-16.

Mr. Elfenbein will not be teaching seminars in 2014-2015 or 2015-2016. 

Seminars, 2013-14

Students must complete two 300-level history seminars in order to complete the major.  Here are our seminar offerings for the 2013-2014 academic year.

FALL 2013

History 311.01 "Politics in the Early American Republic."

Students in this seminar will discover and debate recent developments in the study of political history by focusing intensely on one of its most exciting periods, the early American republic.  During the years 1789-1820, the American political system first took shape as federal and state governments established themselves, as the country experienced its first era of party conflict, and as philosophical ideas about the structures of American power and concepts such as "republicanism" and "democracy" were put to the test.  The seminar will analyze traditional topics of political interest in this period such as political party formation and interaction among the "founding fathers," and it will also explore the many ways that recent historians have broadened their view of politics to include such factors as political culture, female involvement in politics, the politicization of everyday life, and the global context of U.S. politics.  Students will write in-depth research papers on some aspect of politics in the period. Prerequisites:  HIS 100 and any 200-level American History course.  4 credits.  Ms. Purcell 

History 342.01 "Stalinism."

This seminar will examine the political, social, and cultural history of the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin, with a particular focus on the 1930s.  The first half of the course will feature a series of common readings on topics such as the rise of Stalin’s dictatorship, the Great Terror of the 1930s, and the drive to collectivize Soviet agriculture and industrialize the economy; we’ll discuss the nature of everyday life and social identity under Stalin, look at the impact of propaganda and revolutionary ideology on the values and mindset of the population, and debate whether Stalinism represented the continuation of the revolution or a divergence from its ideals.  After looking at a set of representative primary sources (such as oral histories, memoirs, and diaries), students will then produce a research paper in the second half of the semester, delving into some aspect of Soviet society and politics under Stalin. Prerequisites:  HIS 100 and HIS 242 or 244.  4 credits.  Mr. Cohn

SPRING 2014

History 312.01 "Race in Early America."

This seminar examines the social construction and significance of race during the colonial and early national periods in North America.  In what ways did the concept of race in early America differ from our twenty-first century assumptions about race?  How did Europeans, Africans, and Native Americans understand race?  How did their experiences with one another shape their ideas about race? The readings are meant to introduce students to the various ways in which historians have examined race.  Each student will be challenged to develop a historical question related to race.  Students will then write a research paper to answer that question.  Prerequisites:  HIS 100 and any 200-level American History course, or permission of instructor.  4 credits.  Mr. Lacson

History 322.01 "Sex and Sexuality in American History."

This seminar investigates the history of sex and sexuality in the United States, from the colonial era through the twentieth century.  We will identify changes, contradictions, and continuities in sexual ideals as well as the even more complicated realities of Americans’ sexual experiences.  We will discuss the invention of heterosexualities and same-sex sexualities, as well as the laws, policies, and traditions that shape them.  Students will write in-depth research papers on some aspect of American sexual history.  Prerequisites:  HIS 100 and either HIS 222 or GWSS 111.  4 credits.  Ms. Lewis

History 331.01  "Making Knowledge in Early Modern Europe."

A knowledge explosion took place in Europe between 1450 and 1700. Its powder keg was stocked with newly recovered ancient texts, with thrilling stories from Europeans' encounters with the New World, and with the results of the observation and experimental interrogations of nature. Independent research projects will examine the effects of the media revolution-the development of print culture-which ignited and sustained the blast of this "information age" in Europe and beyond. This course offers its students an opportunity to explore the impact of the knowledge explosion on the formation of social, ethnic, religious and political identities, and the creation of museums, libraries, archives, databases, and learned societies. Ultimately, we will ask whether early modern practices of communication and information transmission actually redefined the meaning of "knowledge" for the modern world. Prerequisites: HIS 100 and HIS 233, 234, 235, or 295-03 (on “Sex, gender and family in Europe, 1300-1700”). With permission, students may substitute HIS 233, 234, 235 with relevant coursework in classics, renaissance, or early modern studies. 4 credits. Ms. Pollnitz

History 334.01 "Decolonization." 

In the decades following the Second World War, more than a quarter of the world’s land mass and population were converted from colonies into nation states with surprising speed. But did the end of empire constitute a meaningful transformation or merely the change of a flag? In this seminar we will explore some of the debates surrounding the timing, causality, character, and consequences of decolonization and consider how historical actors impacted and were impacted by the changing relationship of metropolitan centers and colonial peripheries. Themes will include anti-colonial nationalism; labor militancy; agrarian change; settler colonialism; partition and displacement; post-colonial states and identities; and global development. Common texts and student research projects will focus on the political, social, intellectual, and cultural dimensions of decolonization in British Africa and South Asia, as well as in Britain itself; students with relevant background may also pursue a topic related to another national/geographic context. Prerequisites: HIS 100 and either HIS 236, 261, 262, or 295 (Religion & Socio-Political Change in Colonial India, Sp12). 4 credits.  Ms. Prevost

History 377.01 "From Samurai to Soldiers: Japan at War."

This seminar follows Japan's military conflicts from the "opening" of the country by US gunboats in 1853 through to the country's demobilization and disarmament at the end of WWII in 1945. During this century, Japan rapidly modernized its military, became the first Asian nation to defeat a Western power, and expanded its empire to encompass much of East and Southeast Asia. The lectures, discussions, and readings in this class will focus on the social, cultural, economic, and political impact that the phenomenon of modern military mobilization had on Japan during this pivotal period. Prerequisites: HIS 100 and any 200-level East Asian History course. 4 credits. Mr. Mayo

Please note:

Mr. Cohn will not be offering his Stalinism seminar in 2014-2015. 

Mr. Elfenbein will not be offering his Sacred and Secular History in the Modern Middle East seminar in 2014-2015 or 2015-2016. 

Comprehensive List of Seminars

The culmination of the history major is a junior-senior level seminar that provides an in-depth examination of a period, theme, or issue of historical importance. This document is a comprehensive listing of all seminars that have been offered, have been considered, or will possibly be offered by members of the department faculty since the inception of these web pages. They are offered as a resource for those wishing to know more about advanced study in history within the department.

Links have been provided from these course descriptions to the faculty member who teaches the seminar.

American and Latin American History Seminars

The Progressive Era in America.

Ms. Brown

Between 1890 and 1915, Americans participated in a wide variety of "reform" activities which challenged existing assumptions about relationships between government and the economy, employers and workers, politicians and citizens, the native-born and immigrants, women and men, blacks and whites. This seminar will examine the philosophical roots of these reform movements, their similarities and differences, their achievements and failures. In addition to completing the course's common readings, each student will write a research paper on a specific reform effort or particular reformer. Emphasis will be placed on incorporation of central historiographical issues into each research paper and on revision of research papers during the semester. Prerequisites: History 112 or equivalent, plus one 200-level U.S. history course.

The Art of Biography.

 Ms. Brown

This seminar will explore the complex blend of objective and subjective elements which necessarily comprise the writing of biography. Using American biographies as our texts, we will examine problems related to sources, including the use of interviews, correspondence, diaries, the popular press, legal records, and, of course, autobiographies. In addition, we will trace trends in the theoretical literature, considering how shifts from psychoanalytic theory to post-structuralist and feminist theory have influenced both writers' and readers' approaches to biography. Students in this seminar will be asked to consider questions of ethics and literary style, as well as questions of logic and veracity, as they examine both the theory and the practice of biography. There will be an opportunity to experiment with the writing of biography. There will also be the opportunity to employ current theories of biography in writing a historiographical critique of the existing biographical literature on selected American subjects. Prerequisites: History 112 and one 200-level course in American history.

History of Nineteenth-Century American Popular Culture.

Ms. Purcell

Students in this seminar will examine the creation and expansion of American popular culture in the nineteenth century as they focus on diverse cultural forms: dime novels, newspapers, music, sports, cartoons, material culture, theater, minstrel shows, magazines, etc. The seminar will focus particularly on how ideas and structures of race, class, and gender were changed and reinforced by American popular culture. Research papers will analyze popular culture in a historical context to consider how popular culture created or changed power dynamics in American society. Prerequisites: History 111 plus any 200-level American History course or permission of instructor.

Politics in the Early American Republic.

Ms. Purcell

Students in this seminar will discover and debate recent developments in the study of political history by focusing intensely on one of its most exciting periods, the early American republic. During the years 1789-1820, the American political system first took shape as federal and state governments established themselves, as the country experienced its first era of party conflict, and as philosophical ideas about the structures of American power and concepts such as "republicanism" and "democracy" were put to the test. The seminar will analyze traditional topics of political interest in this period such as political party formation and interaction among the "founding fathers," and it will also explore the many ways that recent historians have broadened their view of politics to include such factors as political culture, female involvement in politics, the politicization of everyday life, and the global context of U.S. politics. Students will write in-depth research papers on some aspect of politics in the period. Prerequisites: History 111 and any 200-level American History course, or permission of instructor.

Race in Early America.

Mr. Lacson

Students in this seminar will discover and debate recent developments in the study of political history by focusing intensely on one of its most exciting periods, the early American republic. During the years 1789-1820, the American political system first took shape as federal and state governments established themselves, as the country experienced its first era of party conflict, and as philosophical ideas about the structures of American power and concepts such as "republicanism" and "democracy" were put to the test. The seminar will analyze traditional topics of political interest in this period such as political party formation and interaction among the "founding fathers," and it will also explore the many ways that recent historians have broadened their view of politics to include such factors as political culture, female involvement in politics, the politicization of everyday life, and the global context of U.S. politics. Students will write in-depth research papers on some aspect of politics in the period. Prerequisites: History 111 and any 200-level American History course, or permission of instructor.

Advances Special Topic: The Environmental History of the Midwest.

Mr. Guenther, Mr. Carter

Students in this seminar will discover and debate recent developments in the study of political history by focusing intensely on one of its most exciting periods, the early American republic. During the years 1789-1820, the American political system first took shape as federal and state governments established themselves, as the country experienced its first era of party conflict, and as philosophical ideas about the structures of American power and concepts such as "republicanism" and "democracy" were put to the test. The seminar will analyze traditional topics of political interest in this period such as political party formation and interaction among the "founding fathers," and it will also explore the many ways that recent historians have broadened their view of politics to include such factors as political culture, female involvement in politics, the politicization of everyday life, and the global context of U.S. politics. Students will write in-depth research papers on some aspect of politics in the period. Prerequisites: History 111 and any 200-level American History course, or permission of instructor.

European History Seminars

Gender and Empire in Victorian Britain.

Ms. Prevost

This course will examine the centrality of women, gender, and sexuality to British colonialism in the "long nineteenth century." The first half of the course will focus on three related investigations: women's historical experience in the empire through travel, emigration, and philanthropy; the role of imperial identity in shaping metropolitan feminist and reform movements; and the gendered dynamics of both colonial encounters abroad and British imperial culture at home. We will also consider the impact of poststructuralist and postcolonial theory on studies of gender and empire. The shared readings will facilitate students' development of an independent research project. Prerequisite: History 236, 262, 295 (British Empire), or 295 (Disease & Public Health in Europe), or permission of instructor. 

The Civilizing Mission and Its Discontents.

Ms. Prevost

Nineteenth-century Britain witnessed the birth of modern social action through various public and private institutions. The middle-class faith in progress and perfectibility, the social problems of an industrializing economy, and the expansion of British global influence all sparked a moral imperative to emancipate and elevate the human condition. Yet these lofty Victorian ideals often replicated the inequalities the reformers sought to transform, and alienated the beneficiaries they hoped to rescue. This seminar examines the development of the "civilizing mission" through various arenas in Britain and the Empire, including missionary work, charity organizations, humanitarian campaigns, Parliamentary commissions, education, medicine and public health, suffrage movements, and popular culture. Since social action carried the potential for both empowerment and subjugation, we will also consider how marginalized groups responded to this growing imperative to civilize Britain and the world. We will therefore approach philanthropy, social justice, and reform movements as cultural encounters that encompassed conflicting ideas of race, gender, sexuality, class, religion, and empire. The shared readings will facilitate students' development of a research project later in the course. Prerequisites: History 236, 295 (British Empire), 295 (Sub-Saharan Africa), 295 (Disease and Public Health in Europe) or permission of instructor.

Crusades and Crusaders.

Mr. Wei

This research seminar will introduce students to modern debates and research into the crusades. In the first seven weeks, students will read extensively in the primary sources of the first four crusades and choose a research topic. Class discussion will focus on understanding these written texts as both literary works and historical sources. Weeks 8-13 will be devoted to special topics and students' research projects. A different student/group of students will be responsible for structuring class discussion in each of these remaining weeks and assigning (short) readings for the rest of the class. This exercise will help students become familiar with their classmates' research area and teach them how to understand and frame their own research within a broader context. Prerequisite: History 233 or the permission of the instructor.

Representing the Metropolis.

 Ms. Maynard

This seminar investigates cities such as Paris, Vienna, London, and Berlin by exploring the visual arts, film, literature, architecture, consumer culture, and music since the late 19th century. Our study of inherent qualities and tensions in the modern urban experience will include community and alienation, the fluidity of the self, spectacle and entertainment, disease and criminality, gender and class. Final papers will apply course themes to primary source research topics. Prerequisite: Any 200-level European history course, including Russian or British history.

Stalinism.

Mr. Cohn

This seminar will concentrate upon the major historiographical divide over Stalinist Russia and evaluate the evidentiary bases that sustain these interpretations. Traditional historiography of this era has concentrated upon the "totalitarian" model, and has depended upon official documents, as well as the memoirs and public statements of major figures and йmigrйs. More recent interpretations have sought to complicate the story, and give voice to more ordinary historical actors-as preserved in the archives of the secret police, in private diaries, and in the collections of unprinted denunciations and letters to the editors of Soviet publications and Soviet leaders. Through scrupulous reading of some major representatives of these views, as well as through careful consideration of representative examples of the various sources, participants in the seminar will develop a better understanding of the historiographical issues and the way that these issues inform historical research. The first part of the seminar will depend upon our common reading, but students will also select a project of their own on which to work the entire semester, culminating in a written paper and oral presentation to the seminar. Prerequisite: History 242 or its equivalent.

History of the Developing World Seminars

Labor in Twentieth-Century Latin America.

Mr. Silva

During the twentieth century, Labor Movements helped transform many Latin American countries socially, politically, and economically. Organized workers have played key roles in the Mexican Revolution, the rise of Peronism, and the recent political triumphs of Brazil's Worker's Party. The common readings for the seminar will include some of the classic works and then move to more recent studies. These readings raise questions about the effect of employer paternalism on workers; the impact of special privileges on workers; and the role of women in the home, in the shop and in the union. In the second half of the course students will then write a major research paper on labor in twentieth-century Latin America. A reading knowledge of Spanish or Portuguese is helpful but not required. Prerequisite: History 201, 202, or 204.

Latin America and the United States.

Mr. Silva

As the saying goes, Latin America lies too far from God and too close to the United States. This proximity has affected Latin American economics, demographics, culture, and politics. The seminar will begin with common readings. This year those common readings will focus on US attempts-both official and unoffical-to democratize and modernize the region. Students will then write a research paper using primary documents. These papers could focus on any one of a number of issues that were central to US-Latin American relations such as hemispheric security, economic affairs, democracy, and socialism. A reading knowledge of Spanish or Portuguese is helpful but not required. Prerequisite: History 201, 202, or 204.