FYS 468 Beyond Nelson Mandela: Themes and Personalities in South African History
Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994 after more than three centuries of white dominance. Today, he is considered the greatest African leader of the twentieth century. This popular perception, born of Mandela’s charisma after walking out of jail and becoming president, cuts out many actors and events in the history of South Africa. This course introduces students to these obscured actors and events. It begins by exploring the encounter between Europeans and Africans, then examines the institutionalization of the apartheid state, and concludes by studying the reactions to, and defeat of, the apartheid state.
FYS 490 The History of Persistence: American Women’s Protest, 1840-2020
2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, giving most American women the right to vote. It also marks the year when several women competed for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. Using these events as bookends, this course explores the history of American women’s public protest, from the nineteenth-century suffrage movement to the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s, to “Me Too” and the political campaigns of the last five years. Students consider the intersection of race, gender, sexuality, class, and age in their discussions, and approach the topic by analyzing primary sources, debating historical interpretations, reviewing scholarly literature, and completing an oral history of a veteran protester. OFFERED REMOTELY
FYS 513 Out of Order: Justice and Injustice in World Legal Histories
Disputes are universal; resolution, punishment, and enforcement, however, are as diverse as humanity itself. This course looks beyond American-centered understandings to investigate the deep history of law across space and time. Students explore legal cosmologies, the friction between codes and the messy world of corrupt judges and litigious peasants, the legal orders of smugglers and mafia, and the conflict between indigenous customary law and the systems of settler colonial societies. They grapple with a set of questions centered on relations of power: Do legal orders buttress hierarchies? Or can they be mobilized by marginalized peoples to assert rights long denied?
FYS 529 Ages of Plagues
Beginning with the Black Death in the seventeenth century and concluding with COVID-19, this course integrates short presentations on epidemiology with discussions of cultural history. Writing is a feature of the course, and students produce analytic, argumentative, creative, and critical work for various audiences. A culminating paper integrates course insights with personal responses to COVID-19. Diseases discussed include the bubonic plague, cholera, 1918 Influenza, HIV/AIDS, and COVID-19.
FYS 541 This Land Is Whose Land?
Maine is renowned for its public lands, whether national parks like Acadia or smaller parcels owned and managed by local nonprofit land trusts. But what does it mean that these are Indigenous places? This course explores how Native peoples have long contested their expulsion from the “public” lands that Americans have created through colonization. Students learn how Wabanakis — the collective name for the Native peoples of northern New England and the Canadian Maritimes — are working to regain rights to their homeland. Much of this work is occurring in partnership with local land trusts, which are largely run by non-Natives. Students may have the opportunity to work with some of these groups to support their efforts to decolonize Wabanaki places. One or two required field trips off campus are scheduled on a Saturday; students with weekend commitments should consider this schedule when registering.
FYS 545 Inventing New England: The World of the Wyeth Family
What is New England? It seems easy to point to the territory on a map, but it is more than geography – it is an imagined region defined by politicians, cultural elites, marketing strategists, among others. How has the construction of New England changed? Who and what has been included and excluded? How does New England differ from other imagined regions, particularly the American West? Students analyze historical scholarship, fiction, and film to address these questions. Most significantly, though, this course uses a unique lens to explore the meaning of New England: the Wyeths (N.C., Andrew, and Jamie), the most influential family of American painters in the twentieth century. What did their New England look like? Throughout the course, visiting scholar (and Bates alumna) Victoria Browning Wyeth helps address this question. Students work with primary source material, including paintings, to produce essays, make presentations, and produce a peer-reviewed research paper.
HIST 100 African Perspectives on Justice, Human Rights, and Renewal
This team-taught course introduces students to some of the experiences, cultural beliefs, values, and voices shaping contemporary Africa. Students focus on the impact of climatic, cultural, and geopolitical diversity; the politics of ethnicity, religion, age, race, and gender and their influence on daily life; and the forces behind contemporary policy and practice in Africa. The course forges students’ critical capacity to resist simplistic popular understandings of what is taking place on the continent and works to refocus their attention on distinctively “African perspectives.” Students design a research project to augment their knowledge about a specific issue within a particular region. The course is primarily for first- and second-year students with little critical knowledge of Africa and serves as the introduction to the General Education concentration Considering Africa (C022).
HIST 101 Introduction to the Ancient World
A study of the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome, this course is the introduction to European history in the Department of History and is a fundamental course in the Program in Classical and Medieval Studies. It addresses themes and events extending from the eighth century B.C.E. until the second century C.E. Students consider the disciplines that comprise study of classical antiquity, engage with primary texts (literary, graphic, and epigraphical), and learn how ancient history has come to be written as it has been.
HIST 102 Medieval Worlds
Far from being an “enormous hiccup” in human progress, the medieval centuries (ca. 350-1350) marked the full emergence of Islamic, Byzantine, and West European civilizations. These powerful medieval cultures shape our present. The central theme of this introductory survey course is the genesis and development of a distinct Western European medieval civilization including its social, economic, political, and cultural aspects. Important topics include the devolution of the Roman Empire; the Christianization of the West; the origins of the Byzantine world; the rise of Islam; and the history of medieval women.
HIST 104 Revolutionary Europe and Its Legacies, 1789 to Yesterday
This course examines European revolutions and their legacies—social, cultural, political, and ideological. The French Revolution of 1789 brought unprecedented promises of reform to old Europe. Yet it also brought terror and authoritarian rule, a cycle that seemed to repeat itself, “the first time as tragedy, the second as farce,” as Karl Marx lamented. Students consider these revolutions together with the Communist uprisings waged in Marx’s name, the “velvet” revolutions of 1989, and the populism that engulfs the continent today. They use these histories as lenses to understand the dynamics of modern revolution; the engagement of ordinary Europeans in these processes; and, not least, the making of modern Europe over the past 300 years.
HIST 105 Africa: Special Topics in African History, 1500-1900
For many observers, the history of Africa begins with European colonization. What about the period prior to colonization? This introductory survey of African history from 1500 to 1900 covers the social, political, cultural, and economic life of sub-Saharan peoples. Topics include African kingdoms, the transatlantic and the Indian ocean slave trades, the expansion of European power after the abolition of the slave trade, Islamic reforms, and the spread of Christianity. The course not only introduces students to a range of historical events in the continent, but also highlights how some of these events shaped other parts of the world.
HIST 108 Roman Civilization: The Republic
In this course students explore the civilization and history of ancient Rome from the foundation of the Republic around 510 B.C.E. until its collapse in civil war and its transformation into a monarchy under Julius Caesar and his nephew, Octavian. Each week the class convenes for lectures devoted to the political, social, and cultural history of the Republic. In addition, students meet once a week to discuss in detail primary sources for the period.
HIST 109 Roman Civilization: The Empire
In this course students examine the civilization and history of ancient Rome from the Principate, the monarchy established by Octavian in 27 B.C.E., until the end of Justinian’s dynasty at the beginning of the seventh century of the Common Era. Each week the class convenes for lectures devoted to the political, social, and cultural history of the Empire. In addition, students meet once a week to discuss in detail primary sources for the period. Recommended background: CM/HI 108.
HIST 110 East Asia between Tradition and Modernity
China, Japan, and Korea each had a watershed moment in which they transformed into modern, independent nations. This course first provides an introduction to traditional cultures, and then explores the violent changes that swept over East Asia from the mid-nineteenth century through the Chinese Civil War and the destruction of World War II. Imperialism, women’s movements, and cultural nationalism are examined through an interdisciplinary approach that draws from intellectual history, literature, and visual and performing arts.
HIST 112 Ancient Greek History
This course examines Greece from the Bronze Age to Alexander. It focuses on the geographical breadth and temporal extent of “Ancient Greece,” and how that considerable space and time were negotiated and understood by the Greeks themselves. In such a far-flung world, extending from Sicily to Ionia, from the Black Sea to North Africa, Greeks experienced “Hellenicity” through sea lanes and land routes, and by means of a network of religious festivals and athletic meets, coordinated among multiple civic calendars. Topics include political structures, philosophies, literature, and modes of warfare.
HIST 140 Origins of New Nations, 1500-1820
In the three centuries after Europeans’ and Africans’ first arrival among indigenous Americans, a variety of peoples from America, Africa, and Europe constructed new societies in North America. Some of these new societies became nation-states like the United States and Mexico. Others, like the British, Iroquois, and Kongos, were reconfigurations of societies that predated the beginnings of colonization. All of them were collective efforts to manage new dynamics of confrontation and cooperation. These new nations were shaped by a number of factors, including empires and families, liberty and enslavement. By examining a variety of sources, students learn how a host of peoples created a new world that has strong ties to our own..
HIST 141 Rise of the American Empire
During the nineteenth century, the United States experienced one of the most dramatic political transformations in world history, rising from an imperiled post-revolutionary state to become a global empire. This course examines the diverse experiences of those who lived through this era of dizzying change and confronted the forces that shaped a restless nation: slavery, capitalism, patriarchy, expansionism, urbanization, industrialization, and total warfare. Whether fighting for recognition or resisting the encroaching state, they struggled over the very meaning of American nationhood. The outcome was ambiguous; its legacy is still being contested today.
HIST 142 America in the Twentieth Century
This course surveys the American experience in the twentieth century from a deliberately interpretive point of view, examining political, social, economic, and cultural dimensions of life in the United States. Special attention is directed to the impact of war, corporate globalism, and movements for change upon the development of an increasingly complex, variegated modern society confronting the paradox of simultaneous social segmentation-by race, class, gender, ethnicity-and cultural homogenization. Students consider the disjunction between Americans’ democratic ideals and their administered reality and what can be done to heal the split.
HIST 171 Imperial China
An overview of Chinese civilization from the god-kings of the second millennium and the emergence of the Confucian familial state in the first millennium B.C.E., through the expansion of the hybrid Sino-foreign empires, to the revolutionary transformation of Chinese society by internal and external pressures in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
HIST 181 Creating Latin America: A History
Beginning with the lead up to the first encounters between Europeans and Americans and ending with the challenges of globalization in the twenty-first century, this course offers a chronological and topical overview of 500 years of Latin American history. It examines individual lives within the frameworks of sweeping political, social, and cultural transformations. Students use primary documents, images, texts, and film to explore the major themes of the course, including the nature of conquest; the mixing of European, African, and American cultures; independence and the creation of new nations; and twentieth-century social revolutions and military dictatorships. Special attention is given to issues of race, gender, religion, and relationships with the United States.
HIST 206 The Empire Strikes Back: The Ends of European Empires in the Twentieth Century
In 1918, Woodrow Wilson famously outlined his Fourteen Points, emphasizing the right of subject peoples to self-determination. While Wilson’s was hardly the first critique of empire, it provided a framework for increasingly organized anti-colonial movements. Just as European empires reached their zenith, older rationales for empire became harder to maintain. Yet the end(s) of European empires were long in the making. Many would argue that we have yet to live in a postcolonial world. This course explores the changing arguments over the future of European empires, the contests for power, and their effects on individuals’ lives across the globe.
HIST 210 Technology in U.S. History
Surveys the development, distribution, and use of technology in the United States drawing on primary and secondary source material. Subjects treated include racialized and gendered divisions of labor, militarism and colonial dispossession, and the ecological consequences of technological change.
HIST 211 U.S. Environmental History
This course explores the relationship between the North American environment and the development and expansion of the United States. Because Americans’ efforts (both intentional and not) to define and shape the environment were rooted in their own struggles for power, environmental history offers an important perspective on the nation’s social history. Specific topics include Europeans’, Africans’, and Native Americans’ competing efforts to shape the colonial environment; the impact and changing understanding of disease; the relationship between industrial environments and political power; and the development of environmental movements.
HIST 212 Digital History Methods
Through a combination of analytical, experiential, and collaborative exercises, students merge traditional historical methods with digital tools to explore new useful methodologies for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating historical knowledge. They develop technical and theoretical proficiency within the broader field of digital humanities. They engage digital tools and resources to rethink old historical questions. They develop with new questions that can be investigated only through digital practice. They contemplate avenues for collaboration between historical research and public communities. Finally, they weigh the practical and theoretical implications of using digital history to create more inclusive scholarship.
HIST 216 Conflict and Community in Medieval Spain
Medieval Spain was a crossroads where the civilizations of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism met, mingled, and fought. Diverse and dynamic societies emerged, and from this climate of both tension and cooperation came a cultural and intellectual flowering that remains a hallmark of human achievement. Using a wide range of primary sources, this course focuses particularly on two key concepts in Spanish history: the Reconquista and the Convivencia. To examine these, students investigate the nature of conflict in medieval Spain and the ways in which those who lived there constructed and understood their communities.
HIST 236 Race Matters: Tobacco in North America
This course explores race and the history of tobacco in North America. With a primary focus on the intersection of tobacco capitalism and African American history, the course introduces students to the impact of tobacco on the formation of racial ideologies and lived experiences through a consideration of economic, cultural, political, and epidemiological history. Recommended background: at least one course in Africana, African American history, American studies, or gender and sexuality studies.
HIST 244 Native American History
A survey of Native American peoples from the centuries just before European contact to the present, this course addresses questions of cultural interaction, power, and native peoples’ continuing history of colonization. By looking at the ways various First Nations took advantage of and suffered from their new relations with newcomers, students learn that this history is more than one of conquest and disappearance. In addition, they learn that the basic categories of “Indian” and “white” are themselves inadequate for understanding native pasts and presents. Much of this learning depends on careful readings of Indigenous American writers.
HIST 245 Race, Gender, and Power in the Early Modern Atlantic World
This course approaches Atlantic history through the lens of race, gender, and power. In the early modern world, the Protestant Reformation, the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the rise of the plantation complex, the substantial depopulation of west and central Africa, and indigenous genocide in the Americas significantly reshaped social orders and the meaning of the most salient categories of difference. This course examines the imposition of these categories from above and how socially marginalized groups pushed back against colonial racial, gender, and sexual economies throughout the Atlantic world and in particular societies, including Mexico, Virginia, Barbados, Ghana, and the Congo.
HIST 257 African American Women’s History and Social Transformation
This course examines the political, social, and cultural traditions created by Black women from slavery to the present. Students consider their transformative influence on major questions and social movements. Through novels, plays, autobiography, music, and nonfiction produced by and about Black women, students explore a range of intellectual and cultural traditions. Recommended background: one course in gender and sexuality studies and/or one course in Africana.
HIST 259 Caravans, Khans, and Commissars: A History of Central Eurasia
From Silk Roads to Chinggis Khan, an understanding of our world-and an appreciation for the diversity of human experience-calls for examining Central Eurasia. This course covers millennia and journeys through steppe, desert, and mountain, from Mongolia to Hungary, to reveal the ways Central Eurasia and its peoples have shaped world history. Key topics include the emergence of pastoral economies, steppe-sown interactions, the exchange of both goods and ideas, and the rise of empire as well as Central Eurasia’s modern fate. Students consider these issues by examining scholarship and exciting primary sources, including epic poetry, art, and novels.
HIST 264 A People’s History of American Capitalism
Capitalism has been a powerful engine of prosperity and disruption from the founding of the United States to the present day, but its advantages and disadvantages have not been shared equally by those whose fortunes it has indelibly shaped. Tracing more than two centuries of development and growth, this course emphasizes the social dimensions of economic transformation, centering race, gender, and ethnicity as categories integral to understanding capitalism as both a productive and destructive force in American history.
HIST 268 US Latinx History: From Empire to Detentions
This course introduces students to the history of Latinx Americans drawing on the distinct experiences of Puerto Ricans, Chicanxs/Mexicanxs, Dominican Americans, Central Americans, and Cuban Americans. The course underscores international processes (imperialism and immigration) as central forces in the formation of U.S. Latinx communities. This global perspective accompanies a focus on the relationship between Latinx culture and American society, the dynamic role of women in the shaping of Latinx American communities, and origins and place of Latin American-origin immigrants in U.S. society.
HIST 270 The Spanish Empire: From Madrid to Manila
When examining the origins of our globalized modern world, there’s no better place to look than the Spanish empire during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. At its peak it stretched around the world and encompassed what is now Spain, Portugal, parts of Italy and the Netherlands, the Philippines and much of North and South America. This course considers what it meant to live in different parts of these vast territories, including for “old Christian” Spaniards, recent Jewish converts to Christianity, Muslims, Africans and their descendants, and indigenous peoples of the Americas and Philippines. It also takes up questions of imperial scale, including the challenges of maintaining royal authority over distant lands and how goods, people, and knowledge moved throughout the empire.
HIST 272 The Mexican Revolution
The first major social revolution of the twentieth century, the Mexican Revolution continues to shape Mexico well into the twenty-first century. This course centers on Reacting to the Past, a game in which students assume the role of historical characters. They debate and decide the most pressing issues of the day, while trying to find allies and avoid assassination attempts. Topically, the course begins with the conditions and events leading to the overthrow of President Porfirio Díaz in 1910, continues through the course of a bloody civil war, questions over how to build a new society, and the divisive institutionalization of a “revolutionary” one-party state. It concludes with ways that the revolution has been remembered, including in art and film.
HIST 273 US Immigration: From the “Uprooted” to the Rise of the Immigration Regime
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” encapsulates the belief that the United States is a nation of immigrants, yet that can be an oversimplification of a deeply complex issue. This course explores the various reasons people migrate, acculturate, and what it means to be an “American” and an immigrant. Students review immigration records to examine how issues of poverty, sexual orientation, gender, race, and political affiliation affected how people “breathe free” and navigated the US immigration regime from the late-nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries.
HIST 274 China in Revolution
Modern China’s century of revolutions, from the disintegration of the traditional empire in the late nineteenth century, through the twentieth-century attempts at reconstruction, to the tenuous stability of the post-Maoist regime.
HIST 275 China in the World
This course focuses on China’s connections to the world from ancient times to the present, emphasizing the formal and informal relationships that have linked the peoples of China to peoples and places beyond the Chinese frontiers. A varied array of primary sources reveals elements of foreign relations, transnational and international connections, and local experiences of global phenomena while addressing topics such as Sino-Japanese relations before and after World War II, imperialism’s role in shaping places like Hong Kong and Macao, cold war politics in Africa, and Chinese diasporic communities across the Pacific Ocean.
HIST 279 The Age of Revolution: Latin American Edition
During the decades surrounding the turn of the nineteenth century, uprisings in the Americas challenged colonial authority. This course examines some of those uprisings in the Spanish Americas, including the 1780s Tupac Amaru Rebellion-the deadliest and perhaps most violent rebellion in the Americas up until that time-and the wars that eventually led to independence. Students also discuss what it was like to live during the time of these tumultuous events. The first Latin American novel, The Mangy Parrot, provides the basis for exploring topics that include race, gender, crime, and daily life.
HIST 280 Health and Healing in Africa
A perception that Africa is a “diseased continent” has long persisted in the West, but this image, born of colonialism, ignores how Africans have sought to create and maintain healthy communities over time. This course begins by exploring how Africans have diagnosed and treated ailments in the precolonial era. It then examines the impact of colonial conquest and policies on the spread of diseases, and the emergence of missionary and colonial medicines. The course concludes by examining how state building, international development, and transnational capitalism have shaped healing practices.
HIST 281 Upstairs, Downstairs, and Outside: Gender, Class, and the Household in British History
“Once I thought to write a history of the immigrants in America. Then I discovered that the immigrants were American history.” This lecture course interrogates Oscar Handlin’s famous maxim by surveying historical waves of migration to and immigrant experiences in the United States, focusing in particular on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Immigration from Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and Latin America is situated within the context of an evolving world capitalist economy; expanding and contracting notions of citizenship and belonging; national expansion and imperialism; and war. Students participate in community-engaged learning by researching histories of immigration to the Lewiston-Auburn area.
HIST 287 History of East Africa
Scholars have long subscribed to the myth that East Africa has “historically been detached from the world.” However, the region’s engagements with the rest of the world date back almost a millennium. This course seeks to correct the common misconception and introduce students to the rich histories of this less-understood region of the world. Using a variety of primary and secondary source materials, the course begins with an examination of East Africa’s roles in world history before European colonization. It then turns to case studies and examines the changes that came with colonization, the rise of nationalism and decolonization, and finally the post-independence challenges in the region.
HIST 289 The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
This course examines the trans-Atlantic slave trade from its initial development in the fifteenth century to its abolition in the late nineteenth century. Students discuss the experiences of enslaved people; the organization and mechanics of the trade; and the cultural, political, and economic impact of the trade on Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Ultimately, the course emphasizes the global interconnections and relationships central to the development, maintenance, and abolition of the trade.
HIST 292 The Dawn of the Middle Ages
The period of Mediterranean history stretching from ca. 300 to ca. 700 C.E. saw both change and continuity, radical transformation and sociocultural resiliency. Often maligned as the “Dark Ages,” this period has attracted a great deal of scholarship, and looms large in the construction of modern national identities. The central question is not only how the ancient world became the medieval, and what that meant, but how and why this understanding has changed over the years, and why it matters. This course examines the period through the analysis of primary sources, key secondary sources, and historiography. Recommended background: CM/HI 102.
HIST 293 Trans-Saharan Africa in the Middle Ages
This course examines the history of the trans-Saharan world in the medieval period, roughly 500-1500 C.E.This vital period saw the formation of powerful indigenous empires in the West African Sahel and the Maghreb, alongside the continuation and transformation of ancient states on the Nile. The course examines key topics such as the spread and adaptation of Islam in Africa; the dynamics of state and society building; the social, cultural, and economic impacts of trade; colonization and resistance; and the role of Africa, and Africans, in the creation of the medieval world. Recommended background: CM/HI 102.
HIST 294 The Revolutionary Black Atlantic, 1770-1840
Between 1770 and 1837 Africans and African Americans reconfigured the economic and political relations of the Atlantic world. Drawing on long traditions of resistance to slavery as well as the power of their growing populations, Africans and African Americans turned revolts begun by and for white people into wars for black liberation. This course examines how the U.S. War of Independence, the Haitian Revolution, and wars for Latin American independence are integrally connected to African and African American history. Students consider the ways Africans and African Americans shaped this history and the extent to which they achieved the goals that inspired their actions.
HIST 298 Slavery in Ancient Greece and Rome
This course examines ancient sources for the lived experiences of enslaved people from Greek and Roman societies. Students discuss the historical, political, and economic context for the pan-Mediterranean slave trade, the evolution of the field of the study of enslaved peoples, and the roles enslaved people played within Greek and Roman societies. Working with ancient sources, which may be fragmented, indirect, indifferent, or openly hostile to enslaved people, students search for evidence of how enslaved people lived, thought, and resisted under slavery. Recommended background: CM/HI 101, 108, 109, or 112.
HIST 299 White Supremacy: An American History
Shaped by early conflicts with native populations and the expansion of African slavery, ideologies of white supremacy have been powerful sociopolitical forces in the making of the United States. At the same time, the concept of “whiteness” has been unstable throughout the nation’s history. It has been challenged by immigration patterns and changing ideas about race, ethnicity, and citizenship. Covering more than three hundred years, this course examines the meaning of whiteness in America and considers the historical and ongoing struggles of those excluded from its privileges. Recommended background: AM/HI 141; HIST 140, 142.
HIST 301 Seminars
These seminars provide opportunities for concentrated work on a particular theme, national experience, or methodology.
HIST 301A Sex and the Modern City: European Cultures at the Fin-de-Siècle
Economic and political change during the 1800s revolutionized the daily lives of Europeans more profoundly than any previous century. By the last third of the century, the modern city became the stage for exploring and enacting new roles, new gender identities in particular. This course examines the cultural reverberations of these cataclysmic changes by focusing on sex, gender, and new urban spaces the decades around the turn of the twentieth century. Students consider the writings of Zola and Freud, investigate middle-class flirtations with the occult, and read about sensational crimes like those of Jack the Ripper.
HIST 301B From Tibet to Taiwan: Frontiers in Chinese History, 1700 to the Present
This course investigates the twists and turns that attended the transition from imperial regime to modern nation in China. Perhaps two of the main legacies of China’s last empire, the Qing (1644-1912), have been the territorial boundaries claimed by the People’s Republic and the tensions that have continued to erupt throughout the borderlands: Tibet, Xinjiang, Mongolia, and Taiwan. This course deepens our understanding of modern China by considering why these frontiers are part of the contemporary nation-state and why their inclusion continues to be so contentious. Borderlands bring this transition into focus most clearly.
HIST 301C Public History in the Digital Age
Public history takes place beyond history classrooms and academic contexts. Traditionally, it has been found in museums, walking tours, and performances, and has told the stories of people with social and political privilege. Increasingly, however, public history has come to focus on a greater range of voices, and takes place in a wider range of forms: on websites, graphic novels, interactive sensory experiences, social media, and other digital spaces. In this community-engaged course, students learn to see public history “in the wild,” engage with primary sources, and present those sources and historical interpretation to the public in digital form. Students with interests in history and public engagement are encouraged to enroll in this course.
HIST 301E African Slavery in the Americas
Of the millions of immigrants who arrived in North and South America during the colonial period, the majority came not from Europe but from Africa. They came not for freedom but as human property, facing a lifetime of bondage for themselves and their offspring. Far from being the “peculiar institution” that whites in the U.S. South called it, slavery existed throughout the Americas before its abolition in the nineteenth century. By reading contemporary scholarship and examining such primary sources as music, letters, autobiographies, and material artifacts, students gain a sense of the ways Africans and African Americans survived and influenced an institution that sought to deny their humanity.
HIST 301F African Nationalism and Decolonization
After European powers partitioned Africa among themselves between 1884 and 1890, Africans became colonial subjects in their own lands, but they also began to practice many forms of resistance. By the late 1940s, these African colonies were becoming ungovernable. In 1957, Ghana became the first of many African countries to gain independence. This course draws on films, secondary readings, and primary source materials to examine the rise of African nationalism and the protracted processes of decolonization in the twentieth century. In particular, it focuses on the roles and experiences of women, union leaders, students, and artists in Africa’s decolonization.
HIST 301G Black Resistance from the Civil War to Civil Rights
From antebellum slavery through twentieth-century struggles for civil rights, black Americans have resisted political violence, economic marginalization, and second-class citizenship using strategies ranging from respectability to radicalism. Engaging with both historical and modern scholarship, literary sources, and other primary documents, this course explores the diverse tactics and ideologies of these resistance movements. By considering the complexities and contradictions of black resistance in American history and conducting source-based research, students develop a deep understanding of the black freedom struggle and reflect on the ways that these legacies continue to shape present-day struggles for racial justice.
HIST 301M New England: Environment and History
This course introduces students to New England history from its beginnings to the twentieth century, emphasizing the region’s most pervasive theme, the environment. From aboriginal people to European colonists, different people have relied on the region’s natural resources. Indeed, the environment shaped New England’s most prevalent industries. By the twentieth century, New England emerged as a popular vacation destination, causing many to reflect on conservation efforts. This seminar explores the significance of locality in understanding the interaction between the environment and different people through time. Students develop a deeper sense of place in our community.
HIST 301N Mummies, Marauders, and Modernizers: Silk Road Cultural Contacts in the Heart of Central Eurasia
The Silk Roads crisscrossing the heart of Central Eurasia have been and continue to be significant conduits enabling contact among radically different people, goods, ideas, and practices. This course probes the most critical moments of intercultural contact in this region from ancient times to the present, and the scholarly debates they have inspired. From disagreements over the identities of mummified corpses in Western China, the impact of European explorers collecting cultural artifacts, and the role of Islam among the Mongols to Marxist-inspired campaigns to liberate women, the course considers how this region both reflects and shapes world historical patterns.
HIST 301P South Africa: The Rise and Fall of Apartheid
Between 1948 and 1994, the National Party enforced apartheid, a system of racial segregation in South Africa. How did nonwhites respond to the apartheid state? Using a variety of primary and secondary source materials, this seminar begins with an examination of major historical events to highlight the laws and social structures put in place prior to 1948. It then turns attention to the apartheid era and examines the lived experiences of the nonwhites under, and their struggle against, the apartheid state. The course pays close attention to the experiences of women, union leaders, students, and artists.
HIST 301R Freedom of Speech, a Modern History
Free speech has long been a rallying cry of reformers and a centerpiece of modern, liberal constitutions. Despite its centrality, free speech has never been absolute. Dictators fear it, but it troubles more democratic societies, too. Words can destroy personal reputation and fan racial or religious hatred. This seminar examines the long history of free speech and its limits. Students focus on the United Kingdom and United States, drawing connections and comparisons with other European, colonial, and postcolonial accounts. The course foregrounds historiographical inquiry, research, writing, and the ever-critical use of history to understand the present, and vice versa.
HIST 301S Environmental History of China
This course investigates the deep historical roots of China’s contemporary environmental dilemmas. From the Three Gorges Dam to persistent smog, a full understanding of the environment in China must reckon with millennia-old relationships between human and natural systems. In this course students explore the advent of grain agriculture, religious understandings of nature, the impact of bureaucratic states, and the environmental dimensions of imperial expansion as well as the nature of kinship and demographic change. The course concludes by turning to the socialist “conquest” of nature in the 1950s and 1960s and China’s post-1980s fate.
HIST 301X All Power to All People: Social Movements of the 1960s
In 1964, free speech activist Mario Savio exclaimed, “There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious… you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears …and you’ve got to make it stop.” In this seminar students consider the social movements of the 1960s, a period idealized, criticized, and misunderstood in U.S. history. They examine key themes, goals, and tensions within the Chicana/o, Native American, Women’s, and Black Power movements as groups and individuals used their bodies and voices to contest the meaning of American society, and their lasting impacts on US society.
HIST 301Y The Spanish Inquisition
Were witches and heretics really tortured in the Spanish Inquisition’s infamous jails? This course examines both the institution of the Spanish Inquisition and the lives of those who came before it. The sins that concerned the Inquisition depended on the time and place, and the crimes prosecuted in sixteenth-century Spain or eighteenth-century New Spain reveal a great deal about early modern (ca. 1500-1800) culture and society. Students read and analyze original Inquisition cases from Spain and New Spain as well as consider the ways historians have used cases to investigate topics such as sexuality and marriage, witchcraft, and the persecution of Jews and Muslims.
HIST 301Z Race and U.S. Women’s Movements
This course considers how racial formations have developed in and influenced gendered and feminist movements. Movements examined may include woman’s suffrage, anti-lynching, civil rights, Black Power, LGBTQ+, moral reform, welfare rights, women’s liberation, and peace. Topics examined include citizenship, colonization, immigration, reproductive justice, and gender-based violence. Cross-listed in gender and sexuality studies, history, and politics.
HIST 320 Religion and Government in the Middle East: Colonialism to the Arab Spring
This seminar examines the place of religion in Middle Eastern politics between the rise of European colonialism and the start of the Arab Spring. Religion in the early modern Middle East encompasses not only the communal values of the region’s local Muslims, Christians, and Jews, but also the complex relationship between religious ethics and notions of government. Students read a range of texts highlighting the history of governments throughout the Middle East, from Algeria and Egypt to Iraq and Iran, focusing on ways religious ethics and identities intersect with political theory between the nineteenth and the twenty-first centuries. Prerequisite(s): one course on European colonialism, nationalism, Islam, or Middle Eastern history.
HIST 360 Independent Study
HIST 365 Special Topics
HIST 399 Historical Methods
This seminar refines students’ proficiency as historians and prepares them to write their senior thesis. The course is designed around two interrelated goals. First, students analyze how different approaches to history and sources matter to understandings of the past. Second, students design and test their own arguments, drawing upon critical readings of primary sources and close engagement with historiography. The course culminates in the completion of individual thesis proposals. Prerequisite(s): one HIST 301 seminar.
HIST 457 Senior Thesis
The research and writing of an extended essay in history, following the established practices of the discipline, under the guidance of a departmental supervisor. Students register for HIST 457 in the fall semester. Majors writing an honors thesis register for both HIST 457 and 458. Prerequisite(s): HIST 399.
HIST 458 Senior Thesis
The research and writing of an extended essay in history, following the established practices of the discipline, under the guidance of a departmental supervisor. Students register for HIST 458 in the winter semester. Majors writing an honors thesis register for both HIST 457, 458. Prerequisite(s): HIST 399.
HIST S14 Saints, Ships, and Sultans: The Horn of Africa in the Middle Ages
The Horn of Africa represents one of the great crossroads of the world, connecting the Red Sea and Mediterranean worlds with those of the Indian Ocean. In the medieval period, the region flourished, with its history and society shaped by religion, trade, and politics. Christian states of Ethiopia sought both to pursue an independent expression of their faith and link themselves with the wider Christian world. Muslim states in Somalia sought political definition and economic power in a booming interconnected global community. Community-engaged learning sits at the core of this course. Recommended background: CM/HI 102 or 293.
HIST S15 Sport, Gender, and the Body in Modern China
From kungfu to the Olympics, Jet Li to Yao Ming, sport is a central part of lived experience in China. There is more here than simply box scores and baskets: through sport, we see how China’s twentieth-century revolutions radically transformed gender relations, conceptions of the body, and what it means to be modern. This course looks at sport and the rise of nationalism, the gendered dimensions of revolution, reform-era commercialization, and the persistence of racialized stereotypes. Students grapple with these issues by examining a range of sources such as novels, posters, kungfu film, and actual sporting events.
HIST S16 Crime and Deviance in the American Civil War
This course examines deviant behavior through a historical lens, focusing on the American Civil War (1861-1865), and primarily drawing on movies, texts, discussion, and visits to local landmarks and museums. Students discuss what types of deviance and crime occurred during wartime and use a sociological lens to analyze why the behaviors occurred and what consequences they had. They apply current thinking in criminology and sociology to understanding crime and deviance in the 1860s. The course is an exploration of how wartime shapes our attitudes, behaviors, and life chances.
HIST S20 Latina Power! U.S. Latina Labor History
One of the first major labor victories for Mexican Americans came from an unlikely source: young, Latina organizers. This course examines these women, their organizing, and the larger contexts of labor movements and the place of Latina women in the mid-twentieth century, focusing on the 1938 Pecan Shellers Strike in San Antonio, Texas, led by an 18-year-old strike leader Emma Tenayuca, and Luisa Moreno, a Guatemalan immigrant who organized workers in Florida and California. Grounded in feminist theory, the course places the strike and Latina workers as critical in core social tensions of the time.
HIST S21 Crime and Punishment in Africa
The last three decades have seen an increasing use of indigenous justice systems to address major crimes in Africa, including genocide. These indigenous African approaches, however, have been criticized in the West. Many observers argue that these approaches do not punish offenders, nor do they deter others from committing similar crimes. This course introduces students to ideas of indigenous justice, taking a historical perspective. It begins by exploring the concepts of crimes and punishment prior to colonization. It then examines the introduction of the Western justice system under imperialism. The course concludes by examining the African opposition to the International Criminal Court.
HIST S23 The Revolutionary Era from the Bottom Up: A Social History of the American Revolution
Patriotic narratives associated with the birth of the republic are deeply ingrained within the American political identity. Recently, the hit Broadway musical Hamilton brought the production’s namesake and the familiar cast of Founding Fathers back to the center stage of American pop culture. The contributions of political elites merit popular and scholarly attention, of course, but should we also consider the experiences, perspectives, and contributions of those outside centers of formal political power? This course asks students to examine the ways African Americans, Native Americans, women, loyalists, common farmers, and urban artisans experienced and contributed to the Revolutionary era.
HIST S25 From Archives to Studios: Producing a History Podcast
In 1987, Alice Lakwena, a thirty-one-year-old woman, formed the subversive Holy Spirit Movement. She became the only woman to lead a rebellion against the government of Uganda, yet she remains poorly understood. Today, she is dismissed as a “witch,” “prostitute,” and “prophet.” Who exactly was Lakwena? What motivated her to lead the rebellion? This course introduces students to themes of gender and militarism in Africa. Students work with a range of documents about Lakwena and her movement, including court records, detective reports, eye-witness testimony, receipts, and newspapers. Students use these records to compose scripts and produce a forty-five-minute podcast for the general public.
HIST S28 Wabanaki History in Maine
The peoples of Maine known as the Wabanakis, including the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Micmac, and Maliseet nations, are pivotal players in Maine’s history. Their early relations with Europeans shaped the colonization of the region and their more recent legal efforts to regain land and build casinos have affected everyone in the state. This course looks at the long history of Maine’s Wabanakis, examining the ways that they have adapted to, fought with, and lived alongside European invaders and their descendants. Students examine some of the ways that European Americans’ racism has erased Wabanakis’ presence in the state and its history, the meanings of sovereignty in a state that still retains a great deal of influence over native peoples, and the role of environmental change in shaping Wabanakis’ changing cultural practices. Students are strongly encouraged to link their final research project to contemporary Wabanaki efforts to recover their past. There is an extra fee for this course for travel to visit with Wabanaki community scholars and leaders.
HIST S29 Montezuma’s Mexico: Aztecs and their World
The Aztec state encompassed millions of people, featured a capital whose size and towering pyramids left the first Spanish visitors in awe, and developed a culture that continues to influence contemporary Mexico, from food and dress to festivals like the Day of the Dead. Yet Aztecs are more commonly remembered for their cannibalism than their complex civilization. This course examines the Aztec world: what it was like to live under Aztec rule, how society was organized, what people believed about how the cosmos worked, and why Aztecs practiced ritual human sacrifice.