Degrees and Programs
The History Department offers a variety of options to pursue the degree that best suits their future career goals. Faculty members offer courses in their regional and geographic areas of expertise including the United States, Latin America, Europe, Asia, the Islamic world, and Africa. Faculty also specialize in North American West and borderlands history and the history of indigenous peoples and Native Americans. In addition, the History Department faculty offer courses in their thematic specialization, including global/comparative studies, colonialism and nationalism, race, class, and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, and environmental history and the history of medicine. Students can choose from several different undergraduate program paths. The History Department also offers a graduate program at the Master of Arts level to students interested in continuing their training.
Snapshots of Recent History Courses
HIS 312: Gandhi's India
Dr. Sanjay Joshi's course covers the period from the mid 1700s to 1947. In addition to Gandhi’s ideas and activities,
the course examines the material and ideological structures of British
imperialism, and the many strands of nationalism in British India. One of our objectives is to understand
nationalisms in the PLURAL rather than a singular nationalism – and to realize
that nationalism could mean different things to different people. Looking at this history will not only afford insight intot he life and
work of Gandhi, but also allow us to better evaluate the nature of the
transition that took place in 1947.
WGS/HIS 355: History of Feminisms and Feminist Historiography
Dr. Sanjam Ahluwalia introduces students to the issues and debates animating feminist
movements and activisms across the globe from the nineteenth century to
contemporary times. The course focuses on
multiple feminist interventions adopted over time and space to transform/alter
the social, cultural, political, economic, and sexual scapes. While paying close attention to multiple
local and national histories of feminisms across the globe, we will conclude
our class discussions by examining how activists and scholars have sought to
build alliances and initiate conversations across various cultural and
HIS 366: The Holocaust
Dr. Martin Kalb focuses on the Holocaust in this course. Tracing
its origins in the pre-WWII period, it covers motivations, experiences, and
legacies. The term Holocaust is broadly
defined and includes a variety of victims of National Socialism and War. The persecution of the Jews plays, among
other groups, a key role. Thematically,
we will focus on the experiences of ordinary men and women. We will analyze the roles of persecutors,
bystanders, and victims, asking if these categories are feasible. We will contextualize and complicate the
history by discussing nuanced historical questions and covering numerous facets
of the Holocaust.
HIS 381: The US-Mexican Borderlands
Dr. Eric Meeks traces the historical development of the U.S.-Mexican borderlands semi-chronologically and thematically, beginning with the Spanish conquest of Mexico in the 16th century and its impact on New Spain’s indigenous peoples, and ending with a discussion of contemporary issues in the borderlands such as race, immigration, international trade, and labor. Throughout the course, emphasis will be placed on the effects of overlapping conquests – first by Spain and then by the United States – and on the conflicts and inter-ethnic exchanges between the region’s indigenous, Euro-American, and Mexican populations.
HIS 394: The United States and the Cold War
Dr. Leilah Danielson's course explores how the U.S.’s efforts to win the Cold War affected domestic culture, politics, and society and how culture and ideology – understood as the beliefs, values, perceptions, and ideas about gender, race, religion, nation, and so forth – shaped U.S. foreign relations. In so doing, we consider some of the major historiographic debates surrounding the Cold War, such as how and why it started, how it influenced U.S. foreign policy toward Third World countries, and how it played out within the United States.
HIS 405: Topics in Environmental History: Environmental History of the US and Atlantic World from 1492-1920
Dr. Marcus Burtner's environmental history course approaches
connections between the broader Atlantic World and the emerging communities
that shaped Colonial North America and the United States before World War I.
Readings focus on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and help develop
major themes in environmental history such as the Columbian Exchange, the
struggle over the enculturation of landscapes, the relationship between labor,
nature, and social power, the role of non-human nature in shaping the past,
links between idealizations of nature and national identity, and transforming
ideas about nature.
HIS 468: Topics in the History of the United States: Studying Material Culture
Material Culture refers to the objects,
resources, and spaces that people use to define their culture. Others define material culture as a culture's
"things" or simply as society's "stuff." Dr. Michael Amundson's seminar examines the history of US
material culture from the colonial era to the atomic age to help students
understand how objects communicate ideas and messages about past cultures in
the same ways as other primary sources.
HIS 496: Race and Ethnicity in US History
Dr. Eric Meeks's seminar examines why and how notions of race and ethnicity have formed,
evolved, and been challenged over several centuries of U.S. history; and how
the formation of ethnic identity and race have intersected with other
political, economic, and cultural processes.
As such, the course stresses the culturally
and historically contingent nature of
race and ethnicity. While the emphasis will be on the United States and the Americas, we
will also integrate theoretical readings and scholarship with a comparative
and/or global perspective.
HIS 580: Readings in Latin American History: Plus Ultra: Historiography of Spanish Colonialism
ultra (Go further) became the motto of the
Spanish Crown in the sixteenth century. The phrase illustrated that the
Spanish Empire was built on exploration, expansion, and conquest. Dr. Ryan Kashanipour's graduate seminar examines the historiography of the Spanish
Empire from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. Since the earliest
periods of conquest, historians have debated the justification, nature, and
purpose of the Spanish Empire. Recent scholarship highlights that
the margins and frontiers of authority, whether they be territorial, judicial,
or social, helped shape the overall nature of the colonial empire.
HIS 590: Readings in US History: Politics and Culture in the 20th Century United States
Dr. Leilah Danielson's course is a reading-intensive graduate seminar designed to
introduce students to 20th-century United States history. Our broad theme will be the intersection between power and culture. As a result of taking this class, students will gain a more
sophisticated understanding of the evolution of American politics and the state
over the course of the twentieth century; the role of race, class, gender and
sexuality in U.S. history; the power of culture; historiographical trends and
debates; the various methodologies and theories for historical inquiry; and
future directions for historical scholarship.