Course information found here includes all permanent offerings and is updated regularly whenever Academic Senate approves changes. For historical information, see the Course Catalogs. For actual course availability in any given term, use Course Search in the Portal.
This course introduces students to historical inquiry by exploring particular themes or problems in history rather than providing traditional surveys based on geographical area and chronology. Regardless of the topic, each instructor approaches the issue of historical analysis and interpretation in a comparative social and cultural perspective or across a significant breadth of time. Students are expected to appreciate differing interpretations of the same historical questions and to learn how to distinguish primary and secondary source material. Topics include: Looking East from Medieval Europe; Identity and Religion in Early Modern Europe; The Chinese Almanac and Popular Culture; Memoirs and Travelogues in East Asia; Comparative Slavery in the Atlantic World; Social and Cultural History of the United States; The Workers are Revolting: European Labor History; Nations and Nationalism. (5T) Topics course. Offered each semester.
This course acquaints students with the different approaches to writing history by providing samples of the various ways in which historians (and non-historians) have treated problems in the past. The class also aims to give students experience doing history by working with various kinds of sources. Finally, the course seeks to excite students about the field of history by addressing the issue of why someone would want to become an historian. This course is required for all history majors, who should complete it by the end of their sophomore year or before they declare a major. (5T) Offered each year. Prerequisite: History 150.
Topical study on a specific theme, issue, area, or time period. Such topics reflect the current research interests of the faculty and meet the needs of history majors and non-majors. Topics include: Medieval and Early Japan; Historical Research Methods-China and Beyond; Books and Readers in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance; Colonial and Postcolonial Histories. Open to first-year students. The 5T- and 3B-domained versions of this course are, respectively, History 211 and 212.
Greek origins, the Bronze Age, the Middle Age, the rise of the city-state, archaic and classical civilization, the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars, the decline of the city-state, and the rise of Macedonia. Emphasis on the relationship between literature and history and on Greek historians. (3B) (Also listed as Greek, Latin, and Ancient Mediterranean Studies 202.) Offered occasionally. Open to first-year students.
Ancient Rome produced great works of literature, art, and architecture, and was the model for the American Republic. Yet its people enjoyed the bloodsports of the arena and engaged in the ruthless conquest and subjugation of much of the Mediterranean world. This course explores the history and culture of this seemingly contradictory civilization, from its origins as an Etruscan kingdom through the rise of the Republic and its transition into Empire. Through a critical and integrated analysis of literary and material culture, students develop a picture of what it meant to be Roman, and consider what it might mean to see ourselves as the inheritors of a Roman tradition. (3B) (Also listed as Greek, Latin, and Ancient Mediterranean Studies 204.) Offered fall term (odd years).
This course surveys the period from the dissolution of the classical Greco-Roman world into three kindred civilizations (Byzantium, Islam, and Latin Christendom) to the formation of a new civilization in the West. The primary focus of the class is to develop a synthetic understanding of the Middle Ages through an integrated exploration of its art, music, literature, theology, politics, and sociology. (3B) Offered every year. Open to first-year students.
This course explores the multicultural environment of the Mediterranean Sea in the Middle Ages (ca. 600-1500) and the conflicts and coexistence that characterized interactions among Christians, Muslims, and Jews around the shores of that sea. Trade, travel, and armed conflict all defined those interactions in addition to religious rivalries and differences. This course explores how such contacts led both to alienation of these cultures from one another but also to periods of uneasy tolerance. Whether at war or in peace, Christians, Muslims, and Jews exchanged ideas and artifacts throughout this period, and the class examines the creative interplay of those exchanges. The geographical scope of this course ranges from Spain and Morocco in the west to Egypt and the Byzantine Empire in the East, as well as adjacent territories. (3B) Open to first-year students.
This course examines the cultural and religious changes that occurred in Western Europe during the periods known to historians as the “Renaissance” and the “Reformation.” We pay particular attention to the role of the visual arts and the printing press in promoting both religious and secular ideals, to the limited roles that women were able to play in public discourse, and to the upheavals that followed the religious changes brought about by the Protestant Reformation. A recurring question of this class is the tension between continuity and change: Why have historians tended to describe this period as an era of change? How accurate is that view? What aspects of earlier thought and culture stayed the same? How did this “Early Modern” period prepare the way for “Modern” Europe? (5T) Offered alternate years. Open to first-year students.
As Native peoples, Africans, and Europeans came into contact with one another, their actions altered both the cultural and natural landscapes of the present-day United States. This course will focus on some of these actions, both intentional and unwitting, as we consider central questions of American environmental history from the colonial era through the present day. We will think about the ways that different cultural approaches to land, plants, and animals transform ecological systems, as well as the ways that different groups of people approach various landscapes. We will also consider environmental causes and consequences of otherwise familiar historical events, as well as the ways that class and, especially, race, affect people’s relationships with “the environment.” Additional topics include ideas and experiences of “nature”; slavery and the plantation system; the displacement of indigenous peoples; and the rise of environmentalism and its transformation by issues of inequality and justice. (5T) (Also listed as Critical Identity Studies 237/Environmental Studies 237.) Open to first-year students.
Emphasis on domestic social issues and foreign relations during the Civil War, post-war Reconstruction, the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, World War I, the 1920s, the Great Depression, and World War II. Themes include war and reconstruction, federal and state relations, race, immigration, women’s suffrage, and the rise of U.S. power in the world. (3B) Offered occasionally. Open to first-year students.
Emphasis on foreign relations and domestic social issues: the emerging Cold War, McCarthyism, the Korean War, the 1950s, Kennedy and Johnson, civil rights, the Vietnam War, Nixon and Watergate, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Bush. (3B) Offered each spring. Open to first-year students.
This class provides a broad overview of modern sub-Saharan African history, with a focus on the 19th and 20th centuries. We will discuss the social and political structures of African societies before their first contact with Europeans, the impact of the slave trade on West Africa, the interactions between 19th-century European explorers and missionaries with African populations, the experience of formal colonial rule between the late 19th and the mid-20th century, and the failures and successes of post-colonial African countries. By introducing students to the complex and varied histories of a wide range of African societies and cultures, the course aims to challenge traditional Western views of Africa as a uniform, primitive, and timeless continent. Open to first-year students.
This course examines the religious beliefs and devotional practices of medieval Christians, with a special emphasis on the development of heretical beliefs, the practice of pilgrimage, and the cults of various medieval saints. Particular attention is paid to primary source material, both visual and written, and to understanding the larger framework of medieval society. (3B) Offered occasionally, fall semester. Open to first-year students.
This class introduces students to the political, cultural, social and economic history of Europe from the late 18th century to the present, focusing on Europeans’ relationships and interactions with people from other parts of the world. Over the course of the semester, we compare European developments to those of other continents. We address the ways in which Europe took a specific and unusual path, as well as the ways in which Europe’s history was typical of broader, world-wide trends. The class places a special emphasis on transfers of knowledge and people across Europe’s outer boundaries. We examine the images that Europeans formed of overseas territories, and we follow European “explorers,” colonial rulers and immigrants on their world-wide voyages. The course shows the impact of European political and economic ideologies on the cultural, social and political structures of other parts of the world. At the same time, the class addresses non-Europeans’ perspectives on Europe. It examines how people from areas such as South Asia or Africa traveled or migrated to Europe, how they appropriated European ideas for their own purposes, and how they contributed, in various ways, to Europe’s history. (3B) Offered every two years. Open to first-year students.
Students in this course undertake a study of a document, collection of documents, or rare book in the College Archives or Special Collections. They transcribe, edit, and/or write a substantial essay about the materials they study. They are guided in this through regular meetings with the instructor and when appropriate with the college archivist. May be repeated for credit if topic is different. (3B) Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: consent of instructor; one previous history class at Beloit College.
This course allows students to engage in substantive research on a topic of their own choosing. Class meetings focus on methods for finding and evaluating appropriate sources, defining a suitable topic, writing multiple drafts and perfecting the art of documenting evidence. Oral presentations, peer review of drafts, and individual consultation with the instructor all familiarize students with the idea of historical writing as both collegial conversation and scholarly process. May be repeated for credit if topic is different. (3B) Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: consent of instructor; one previous history class at Beloit College.
This class explores the “History of History,” that is, the evolution of ideas and perspectives about the study of the past. Usually, this class will focus on the development of historiography about a particular topic, region, or period and enable students to achieve a deeper understanding of how and why we understand the past in the ways we do today. May be repeated for credit if topic is different. (3B) Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: consent of instructor; one previous history class at Beloit College.
This seminar-style course allows for topical study on specific themes, issues, areas, or time periods. Such topics reflect the current research and teaching interests of faculty members and meet the needs of history majors and non-majors. Topics include: Writing and Speaking in Medieval European Communities; Commerce and Culture in Early Modern China; The World in Miniature-French Studies of Chinese Culture; History and Landscape; Community Oral History; “Whiteness” in North American History; The American War in Vietnam. (CP) Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
Student research, discussion, and reports on varying historical topics, with consideration of the theoretical and historiographical aspects of their study. Students have an opportunity to conduct more in-depth research on an existing project. May be repeated for credit if topic is different. Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: junior standing.
Individual work under faculty supervision, with evaluation based on appropriate evidence of achievement. Open to students with sophomore standing or above for a maximum of 3 full courses or the equivalent thereof. Prerequisite: minimum grade point average of 3.0 in the major, no outstanding incompletes, approval of proposal by department faculty committee.
Work with faculty in classroom instruction. Graded credit/no credit. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
Course and curriculum development projects with faculty. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
Assistance to a history department faculty member in scholarly research. Prerequisite: history major; junior standing; B+ grade point average in history courses; departmental approval.