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History

Course Descriptions

History Courses:

HIS 101 History of Civilization to 1715 (4 SH). A study of the development of civilization with emphasis on ancient, medieval, and early modern societies. The course includes political, economic, socio-cultural, and religious perspectives on major historical personalities and events.

HIS 102 History of Civilization from 1715 (4 SH). A study of civilization from the death of Louis XIV to the present. The course emphasizes the political and cultural developments of Western society, including the influences of rationalism, industrialism, and nationalism.

HIS 105 America to 1877 (4 SH). This course covers the birth of America in Europe, and traces the development of a new society based on the encounter of Native American Indians, European- American settlers, and African-Americans.. The course includes a detailed examination of the American Revolution, the creation of a new nation under the Constitution, westward expansion, Jacksonian democracy, sectionalism, slavery, economic development, changes in family and women’s roles, Romanticism, religion, reform, and the Civil War. The interplay of economic development, demographics, and social structure are highlighted. This course seeks to put U.S. history within a global context, while also exposing students to historiographical questions in an introductory fashion.

HIS 106 America since 1865 (4 SH). A survey of American history from the end of the Civil War until the present. Major topics addressed include Reconstruction, immigration, urbanization and the rise of large-scale industry, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, and de-industrialization. Major themes include the changing role of women; the changing place of African Americans in US society; the interplay of economic development, demographics, and social structure; and the role of the United States in the world. This course seeks to put US history within a global context, while also exposing students to historiographical questions in an introductory fashion.

HIS 202 Native American Culture and the Frontier Experience (4 SH). This course will focus on the encounter and conflict between the Native American people who inhabited the Americas and the Europeans and then Americans who challenged them for the land. The course will address the nature and history of a frontier that has moved and changed continuously since 1492. The course will also investigate the way the physical environment was transformed by the Europeans and Americans, and how the cultures of both were influenced by the other. Sources will include historical narratives, original documents, literature and film.

HIS 210 History of Pennsylvania (4 SH). This course will examine the social, economic, and political lives of Pennsylvanians from the period of European’s first encounter with Native American Indians to the recent economic and social changes resulting from the demise of large-scale manufacturing and the rise of the service economy. Particular attention will be paid to the region of western Pennsylvania and the interplay of local and global events/developments. Prerequisite: History major or minor with junior or senior standing or permission of instructor.

HIS 221 History of U.S. Popular Culture (4 SH). A survey of popular expression in art, music, literature, theatre, sports, newspapers, magazines, cartoons, comics, advertising, travel, vaudeville, radio, television, and movies. Distinguishing among elite, popular, mass, and folk culture, the course examines the cultural development of the American people through those forms of expression which have been neither narrowly intellectual nor creatively elitist.

HIS 222 Social and Intellectual History of the United States (4 SH). A study of the major currents of the intellectual and social development of the United States. Topics include the development of public and private education, American philosophers and their thought, the relationship between religion and science, the evolution of social behavior, technological development and its consequences, and main currents within the arts.

HIS 223 African-American History (4 SH). A survey course beginning with the African background and tracing African-American history to the present. Emphasis is placed on understanding the development of an African-American culture through the words and experiences of contemporaries.

HIS 225 From Elvis to Watergate: American History from 1945-1974 (4 SH). This course will focus on the politics and culture of America from the end of 1945 to the resignation of Richard M. Nixon. Through lectures, reading, discussion, research, and presentations, students will explore this fascinating period. Special topics will include the Civil Rights movement, the war in Vietnam, campus unrest, the various liberation movements, and the many other significant transformations of the period.

HIS 226 The American Civil War (4 SH). A study of the causes, events, and consequences of the American Civil War, with emphasis on the comparative strategy and tactics of the North and the South and the major personalities that shape the results. The course also covers the social and cultural conditions during the war. The reading of novels about the period, both contemporary and modern enhances the study of both military and non-military aspects of war, and helps us appreciate the current meaning of the war for Americans.

HIS 229 History of U.S. Foreign Relations (4 SH). An examination of the nature of American foreign policy from the Revolution to the present with emphasis on the rise of the United States as a world power. What influence did individual policy makers, domestic events, and perceptions about foreign cultures have on diplomacy?

HIS 232 Ancient Greece (4 SH). A study of the political and cultural history of ancient Greece to the end of the Hellenistic age.

HIS 233 Rome (4 SH). A study of Roman political and cultural history to 565 A.D. Special attention is given to the development of Roman political, social, and religious institutions.

HIS 234 Early Christianity: Christ and Caesar (4 SH). An examination of the history of the Christian Church within the environment of the Roman Empire during the first five centuries of its existence, and of the interaction of the Church with that environment in its political, socioeconomic, religious, and cultural aspects. (Also listed as REL 131.)

HIS 235 The Middle Ages, 300-1300 (4 SH). A socio-cultural examination of the development of early European society. Beginning with a basic definition of medieval society, the course emphasizes the emergence of feudalism, the middle classes, urban centers, and the earliest forms of the nation-state.

HIS 240 Renaissance and Reformation, 1300-1600 (4 SH). A study of the emergence of modern European civilization. Beginning with a review of early European society and institutions, then traces their replacements by the national state, capitalism, and the reformed churches.

HIS 241 Early Modern France, 1600-1815 (4 SH). This period in European history witnesses the radical changes in politics, thought, society, and warfare. Special emphasis is given to absolutism, enlightenment, the French Revolution, Napoleon, the rise of the middle class, and the importance of science and technology.

HIS 242 England: The Age of Elizabeth I (4 SH). A study of the transition from medieval to modern forms of political and economic life from circa 1485-1714.

HIS 243 England: The Age of Empire (4 SH). A study of the emergence of modern England, with emphasis on the development of political democracy, the rise and fall of the British Empire, and the social and cultural history of the Victorian Age.

HIS 245 19th Century Europe (4 SH). A study of the political, social, economic, and diplomatic background of Europe from the Napoleonic Era to the close of the century.

HIS 246 20th Century Europe (4 SH). A study of the political, economic, and cultural development of Europe from the opening of the century to the present.

HIS 249 History of Women in Modern Europe (4 SH). An examination of the changing roles and social status of women in European history in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Topics include the Church and gender roles, economy and the workplace, marriage and family, women and politics, and sexuality.

HIS 251 Medieval and Early Modern Russia (4 SH). A study of the political, economic, and cultural development of Russia from the earliest times to 1860.

HIS 252 Modern Russia (4 SH). A study of the late Imperial structure and an analysis of the origin, development, and character of the Soviet state and society. Particular attention will be paid to the post-Soviet period (since the collapse of the USSR in 1991).

HIS 253 The Baptism of Rus: A History of Religion in Russia (4 SH). An introduction to the Eastern Orthodox tradition, with particular attention to how it evolved and was celebrated in Russia. Students will explore the dogmas, liturgy, iconography, and history of the Orthodox Church, and attention will be paid to the relationship between the Church and the State, particularly under communism. Attention will also be given to a comparison of Orthodoxy with Western Christian faiths. (Also listed as REL 211.)

HIS 261 China (4 SH). A study of the civilization and institutions of China from the earliest times to the present, with special attention to revolutionary change in 20th century China.

HIS 262 Japan (4 SH). A survey of the cultural, political, social, and economic history of Japan from the earliest times to the present. Particular attention will be paid to the period since the Meiji Revolution. Topics will include: the Shogunate and the imperial system; Buddhism and Shintoism; Japanese militarism; and Japan as a modern economic power.

HIS 271 Latin America to 1825 (4 SH). A study of Latin America from its Indian beginnings, through the colonial period, to the conclusion of the wars for independence. The influences of the Indian and Iberian cultures on the development of the region are compared.

HIS 272 Latin America from 1825 (4 SH). A study of Latin America from 1825 to the present with emphasis upon its political, cultural, and economic importance in world affairs and upon relations with the United States in particular.

HIS 281 Africa to 1800 (4 SH). A survey of African history from the earliest times until 1800. The course examines major political, economic and cultural developments across the continent, including human origins, the great civilizations of the first millennium, and the slave trade.

HIS 282 Africa since 1800 (4 SH). A survey of African history from 1800 to the 21st century. The course traces the major political, economic, and cultural developments on the continent, including European imperialism, African independence, and Africa in the age of globalization.

HIS 301-399 Explorations in History (4 SH). This series of courses broadens the history curriculum by offering a challenging, yet accessible historical analysis and by providing an intermediate course between the introductory courses and those with prerequisites. Special topics will be taught by individual faculty members in areas of interest to them — areas that might not warrant a permanent offering, but which permit the incorporation of new research material, in-depth analysis, and stimulating readings. The topics will demand that students build up an appreciation for the continuities in one area of analysis. Finally, these courses will give students an opportunity to work beyond the introductory course level.
Since Explorations in History courses are intended primarily for majors and minors in history who have already taken some lower-level courses, enrollment will normally be limited to declared majors and minors in history who have at least junior standing. However, with instructor’s permission, other students may enroll in these courses, as space permits.

Explorations in History courses currently available:

HIS 301 America in the 1960s. This course will focus on the politics and culture of America from the election of John F. Kennedy to the resignation of Richard M. Nixon. Through reading, discussion, research, and presentations, students will explore this fascinating period. Special topics will include the Civil Rights movement, the war in Vietnam, campus unrest, the various liberation movements, and the many other significant transformations of the period.

HIS 302 The American Civil War. A study of the causes and course of the war, with emphasis on the comparative strategy and tactics of the North and South.

HIS 303 The Vietnam War. This course will explore the actual causes of the war, the perception of the causes of the war, the military strategy during the war, the post-war military analysis of its successes and mistakes, the social unrest caused by both “popular” and “elite” opposition to the war, and both the short-range and long-range results of the war (including Hollywood’s rewriting of the war’s history).

HIS 305 Marriage, Family and Sexuality in History. A study of family over time, using legal, cultural, and socio-historical resources. Students will examine the historical roots of current social controversies, including abortion, divorce, child-rearing, family structures, and women’s roles in society.

HIS 306 America in the Age of Revolution. The course explores the American Revolution and the creation of the American republic in the context of global conflict and change in the period from 1763-1825.

HIS 307 Monarchs and Dynasties. This course examines the role dynasties have played in the development of the modern nation-state. To accomplish this objective, students will examine not only institutions such as the royal court, but also will look at the family structure and anthropology of dynasties. The interplay between the private and the public roles of monarchical rulers is the central concern of this course, which will focus in particular on Russia, the Habsburg Empire, France and Britain.

HIS 308 Cold War. The second half of the 20th century was dominated by the rivalry of the United States with the Soviet Union. This course will research such questions as the following: How did this almost deadly confrontation start? How and why did it end? Where were the “hot spots” of the cold war, and why were they there? The course will also look at the domestic impact of the American-Soviet confrontation and explore such questions as how anti-communism affected American culture, Americans’ view of themselves, and ultimately America’s identity.

HIS 309 Prisons, Asylums, Orphanages, and Other Homes for the Disconnected: The History of American Institutions of Care and Control. As with most societies, Americans, since our earliest beginnings, have “put people away.” This course will examine both the changing understanding of why people should be institutionalized and the nature, structure, and operations of such institutions.

HIS 310 Slavery in America. Slavery is one of the most heavily studied subjects in U.S. history. This course will review the extensive historiography of slavery in the western hemisphere with particular emphasis on the demographics, economics, and social repercussions of “the peculiar institution.” Slavery’s changing nature, from both sides of bondage, will be examined and compared with bound labor in other temporal and geographic settings.

HIS 311 South Africa. This course will explore the question of how South Africans can negotiate their past, which was marked by racial inequality and injustice, and form a new non-racial, democratic nation. To answer this question, the interactions of race, class, gender, and culture in South Africa from the 17th century to the present will be examined. Primary documents, films, music, and literature will help to illuminate the interplay between history and memory in South Africa.

HIS 312 Topics in History and Film. This course explores, on a rotating basis, advanced themes in history (e.g., nationalism, war and other types of conflict, religion and society, etc.) through the viewing and study of films on historical subjects. The focus of the course is on both the cinematography of the films (i.e., the art and craft of filmmaking) and on matters of the historical accuracy and the historical context of the films. It is strongly recommended that students who are not history majors or minors take HIS 101 or 102 before taking this course.

HIS 314 Disease in U.S. History. This course seeks to provide advanced students of history the opportunity to study the nature, course, and impact of diseases on and in the history of the United States. Attention will also be given to the definition and perception of disease and change over time in both. After reviewing the history of disease across the whole of U.S. history, the course will examine the nature, course, and impact of a series of particular diseases in substantial depth along with the historiography of those diseases.

HIS 410 Historical Methods and Analysis (4 SH). An introduction to the research methods of the historian. This course will examine the nature and use of historical sources (primary and secondary), develop mastery of presentation and reference conventions, and introduce the ancillary historical disciplines (e.g., paleography, numismatics, vexillology, etc.). Although the emphasis is on skills, the course is topical, examining the history of a selected period, event, or culture. Required of history majors (normally taken in the sophomore year), but open also to interested history minors.

HIS 420 Historiography: An Introduction to the History of Historical Writing (4 SH). This course will expose students to classic works of history and introduce various schools of thought (e.g., Marxist, structuralist, annalistic, economic, feminist/gender) that characterize modern historical knowledge. Required of history majors (normally taken in the junior year). Prerequisite: C- or better in HIS 101, 102, and 410 or permission of instructor.

HIS 590-594 Field Experience/Internship (1-4 SH). Prerequisite: permission of the instructor and the department chair.

HIS 601 History Capstone (4 SH). Research in selected topics. This course is required of senior history majors who are not enrolled in the All-College Honors Program. Prerequisite: C- or better in HIS 101, 102, 410, and 420 or permission of instructor.

HIS 620-624 Independent Study (1-4 SH). An opportunity for majors and other qualified students to do independent reading or research in a selected area. Prerequisites: permission of the instructor and the department chair.

Supporting Courses:

ECO 150 Principles of Microeconomics (4 SH). Fundamental economic concepts and theories of supply and demand, resource allocation, taxation, international trade, externalities, public goods, market models, and labor markets. An emphasis on applications in both public policy and individual decision making will be recurrent throughout the course.

GEO 101 World Geography (4 SH). An introductory course in world regional geography. The study of our “place” on the planet is related to the National Geography Standards. The course will consider such topics as factors in development and lack of development, economics, plate tectonics, topography, climate, and population. Economics strand included.

PS 102 American National Government (4 SH). A critical introduction to the institutions, processes, powers, and limitations of the American national government. Special attention is given to an examination of the role of the citizen in American government and to the nature of democracy in America. Proposals for the reform of American government are also examined.

PS 104 International Politics (4 SH). A study of politics among states and other actors who affect global relations. Once establishing a background in the concepts used to analyze world politics, students will use these concepts to explore the Cold War era, the end of that system, and several pertinent international issues in the areas of security, economics, and the environment.

SOC 101 Principles of Sociology (4 SH). In taking this course, students will become more aware of the effects of social forces on the individual. The course provides an introduction to the concepts and methods used in the systematic study of society. Topics include: social norms, social groups, social conflict, social inequality, social institutions, social change, and the sociological perspective.

SOC 105 Cultural Anthropology (4 SH). A study of the cultures and social structures of preindustrial societies, in the contemporary developing world and within still existing indigenous societies. Special attention is given to cultural diversity, theories of societal development, and historical relationships between industrial and pre-industrial societies.

 

What can you do with a History degree?

Imagine yourself a teacher, lawyer, financial or policy analyst, minister, museum curator, archeologist, or librarian.