Empires and Colonialism
HIST 10101 Introduction to African Civilization I (E. Osborn) African Civilization introduces students to African history in a three-quarter sequence. Part One considers literary, oral, and archeological sources to investigate African societies and states from the early Iron Age through the emergence of the Atlantic World. We will study the empires of Ghana and Mali, the Swahili Coast, Great Zimbabwe, and medieval Ethiopia. We will also explore the expansion of Islam, the origins and effects of European contact, and the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
HIST 11901 Dracula: History and Legend (J. Lyon) Since the publication of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula in 1897, his story of a vampire from Transylvania has often been linked to the history of Vlad III Dracula, also known as Vlad the Impaler or Vlad Tepes (died 1476 or 1477). Vlad earned a reputation as a bloodthirsty and cruel warrior (even during his own lifetime) as he fought to rule along the dangerous political and military frontier between the Hungarians and the Ottoman Turks. His savage reputation is the reason why he has been identified as the inspiration for the cold-blooded vampire count, but there is much more to the stories of both the historical and the fictional Dracula. In this course, we will examine the life and career of Vlad III Dracula, setting him in the context of the world of fifteenth-century Christian–Muslim interactions in Eastern Europe, before turning to the later Dracula legend as depicted in Stoker's novel and subsequent films. Throughout the course, we will examine the ways in which Transylvania and neighboring regions have straddled the divide between East and West, Christian Europe and mysterious/violent "other" in both history and popular culture. Open to all undergraduates.
HIST 13001 History of European Civilization I European Civilization is a two-quarter sequence designed to use close readings of primary sources to enrich our understanding of Europeans of the past. As we examine the variety of their experiences, we will often call into question what we mean in the first place by “Europe” and “civilization.” Rather than providing a narrative of high politics, the sequence will emphasize the contested geographic, religious, social, and racial boundaries that have defined and redefined Europe and its people over the centuries. We will read and discuss sources covering the period from the early Middle Ages to the present, from a variety of genres: saga, biography, personal letters, property records, political treatises, memoirs, and government documents, to name only a few. Individual instructors may choose different sources and highlight different aspects of European civilization, but some of the most important readings will be the same in all sections. The two-quarter sequence may also be supplemented by a third quarter, in which students will have the opportunity to explore in greater depth a particular topic in the history of European civilization.
HIST 13500 America in World Civilization I The American Civ sequence is nothing like your high-school history class, for here we examine America as a contested idea and a contested place by reading and writing about a wide array of primary sources. In the process, students gain a new sense of historical awareness and of the making of America. The course is designed both for history majors and non-majors who want to deepen their understanding of the nation's history, encounter some enlightening and provocative voices from the past, and develop the qualitative methodology of historical thinking. America in World Civilization I examines foundational texts and moments in American culture, society, and politics, from early European incursions into the New World through the early republic of the United States, roughly 1500-1800. We will examine encounters between Native Americans and representatives of imperial powers (Spain, France, and England) as well as the rise of African slavery in North America before 1700. We will consider the development of Anglo-American society and government in the eighteenth century, focusing especially on the causes and consequences of the American Revolution.
HIST 13900 Introduction to Russian Civilization I This two-quarter sequence, which meets the general education requirement in civilization studies, provides an interdisciplinary introduction to Russian civilization. The first quarter covers the ninth century to the 1870s; the second quarter continues on through the post-Soviet period. Working closely with a variety of primary sources—from oral legends to film and music, from political treatises to literary masterpieces—we will track the evolution of Russian civilization over the centuries and through radically different political regimes. Topics to be discussed include the influence of Byzantine, Mongol-Tataric, and Western culture in Russian civilization; forces of change and continuity in political, intellectual and cultural life; the relationship between center and periphery; systems of social and political legitimization; and symbols and practices of collective identity.
HIST 15100 Introduction to East Asian Civilization 1 (G. Alitto) This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. This is a three-quarter sequence on the civilizations of China, Japan, and Korea, with emphasis on major transformation in these cultures and societies from the Middle Ages to the present. Taking these courses in sequence is not required.
HIST 18703 Early America, 1492–1815 (M. Kruer) This course explores the development of American culture, society, and politics from the first contact between Native Americans and Europeans to the emergence of a stable American nation by the end of the War of 1812. It emphasizes the diverse experiences of the many kinds of Americans and the different meanings that they attached to the events in their lives. Topics include the meeting of Indigenous, African, and European peoples, the diversity of colonial projects, piracy and the Atlantic slave trade, the surprising emergence of a strong British identity, the coming of the American Revolution, the range of Americans' struggles for independence, and the role of the trans-Appalachian West in shaping the early republic. This lecture course is open to nonmajors and does not presume any previous history coursework. Assignments: Two papers.
HIST 25114 Natural History and Empire, circa 1400–1800 (J. Niermeier-Dohoney, Teaching Fellow) How did European imperial expansion transform knowledge of natural history in the early modern period? This course will examine the systematic observational body of knowledge of the physical world of plants, animals, environments, and (sometimes) people in the context of European imperial expansion during the early modern era (1400–1800). Topics and themes will include early modern sources of natural history from antiquity and their (re)interpretation in imperial context; early modern collecting cultures and cabinets of curiosities; Linnaeus and the origins of taxonomy; botany, animal husbandry, and the concept of "improving" nature; the relationship between natural commodities and commerce; the ecological and environmental consequences of European encounters with the Americas; attempts by nations without overseas empires (or those that had lost them) to replicate the economics of empire through various managerial schemes; early modern notions of climate and its effects on health and "character"; the influence of natural history on the emerging concepts of race and gender; and the role of indigenous knowledge in the development of early modern science.