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History Courses

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.

HIST 150. Introduction to Historical Thinking (1). 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.

HIST 190. History Workshop (1). 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.

HIST 200. Imperial Russia (1). Social, cultural, political, and economic developments in the history of Russia from the earliest times through the mid-19th century. (3B) Offered occasionally. Open to first-year students.

HIST 205. Revolutionary Russia and the Soviet Union (1). Social, cultural, political, and economic development in the history of Russia from the mid-19th century through the provisional government and the establishment of the Soviet Union to the present. (3B) Offered occasionally. Open to first-year students.

HIST 210. Topics in History (.5, 1). 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.

HIST 217. Theatre History I (1). The study of the development of world theatre from antiquity to the English Restoration, including a section on non-Western theatre traditions. Emphasis is placed on the examination of theatre as a cultural, social, political, and religious barometer of the times. Representative plays, practitioners, and practices will be examined. (Also listed as Theatre, Dance, and Media Studies 235.) Offered odd years, fall semester. Prerequisite: Theatre, Dance and Media Studies 106 or 112.

HIST 218. Theatre History II (1). Continuation of Theatre History I from the Restoration in England to mid-20th century. (Also listed as Theatre, Dance, and Media Studies 236.) Offered even years, fall semester. Prerequisite: Theatre, Dance and Media Studies 106 or 112.

HIST 221. Greek Civilization (1). 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) Offered occasionally. Open to first-year students.

HIST 222. Roman Civilization (1). Roman origins and antecedents. The rise of the Roman Republic, the struggle of the orders, and the development of the classical culture to the death of Constantine. Emphasis on Roman historians. (Also listed as Classics 225.) (3B) Offered occasionally. Open to first-year students.

HIST 223. Medieval European Civilization (1). 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. (Also listed as Interdisciplinary Studies 217.) (3B) Offered every year. Open to first-year students.

HIST 225. Renewal and Reform in Early Modern Europe: 1300-1650 (1). 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?

HIST 235. Captives, Cannibals, and Capitalists in the Early Modern Atlantic World (1). This course explores cross-cultural encounters in the Americas that characterized the meetings of Europeans, Africans, and Americans in the early modern world between 1492 and 1763. During this period, the Atlantic Ocean and its adjacent land masses became critical locations for economic, biological, and cultural exchanges. This course focuses on the Americas as sites for discovery, mutual incomprehension, and exploitation. The course explores the ways that conquest, resistance, and strategic cooperation shaped peoples’ “new worlds” on both sides of the Atlantic. It also considers how colonialism framed and was framed by scientific inquiry, religious beliefs, economic thought, and artistic expression. Students interrogate primary sources–written, visual and aural–that emerged from these encounters and the secondary literatures that have sought to make sense of them. (Also listed as Critical Identity Studies.) (5T) Offered each fall. Open to first-year students.

HIST 238. 1756-1865: Confederation to Confederacy (1). In the Plan of Union prepared during the 1754 “Albany Convention,” Anglo-American colonists met to consider uniting for their common defense. That plan failed, but a later experiment in unity succeeded when the united colonies declared independence. Nevertheless, social, cultural, and ideological differences persisted, and the union formed in 1776 was tried and tested before finally fracturing with the secession of South Carolina, precipitating the Civil War. In the intervening years, Americans grappled with how they should govern themselves, who should be included in the polity, and how society should be organized. Reformers considered the controversial issues of women’s rights, the plight of Native Americans, and the place of slavery in a nation founded on the precept that “All men are created equal.” This course covers the periods of the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, the early national and antebellum periods, before concluding with the Civil War. (3B) Offered spring semester. Open to first-year students.

HIST 243. U.S. Nationalism and Internationalism, 1861-1945 (1). 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.

HIST 245. The United States in the 20th Century, 1945-Present (1). 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.

HIST 248. Survey of U.S. Women’s History (1). An introductory course examining women’s economic, political, and cultural position in the United States from the 17th century to the present. The course will consider how women’s experiences varied over time and how differences in ethnicity, class, conditions of freedom and other factors affected those experiences. The course will address the interdependence between the transformation of women’s roles and changes in the family, men’s roles, and the economy. (Also listed as Critical Identity Studies 248.) Offered occasionally. Open to first-year students.

HIST 249. Central Asia: A Sense of Region (1). Between the Caspian Sea and the region of Lake Baikal, Central (Inner) Asia is a region of millions of square miles, inhabited by non-Slavic and non-Chinese peoples--Azeri, Kazakh, Kirghiz, Mongol, Tajik, Tibetan, Turkmen, Uighur, Uzbek, et al. Although their number is close to 100 million, we know little of their way of life and their societies, and even less of their histories and their aspirations. They are now resuming the course of their independent development, after being dominated--directly or indirectly--by the neighboring empires of Russia and China, among others. This interdisciplinary lecture-discussion course emphasizes the region's environment, which had the primary effect on the inhabitants' way of life, their history, and their marginalization in the modern era. Parts of the region are still described as belonging to 'the Third World', while others are making promising moves toward modernization. Beyond a strategic location and an abundance of natural resources, Central Asia is rich in tradition. It was the center of history's largest land empire. It more than once exerted epoch-making historical influence on its neighbors (including Europe), and survival techniques of its peoples--from simple items such as use of the stirrup and dehydrated food to such practices as diplomatic immunity and parliamentary representation--became components of our modern life. (Also listed as Environmental Studies/Interdisciplinary Studies 249.) Offered biennially.

HIST 250. Modern African History (1). This class provides a broad overview of modern sub-Saharan African history, with a focus on the nineteenth and twentieth 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 nineteenth-century European explorers and missionaries with African populations, the experience of formal colonial rule between the late nineteenth and the mid-twentieth 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. No prerequisites.

HIST 255. East/Central Europe: A Sense of Place (1). This is an interdisciplinary lecture-discussion course, surveying past and present realities that prevail in the geographical center of Europe, i.e. the lands inhabited primarily by Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, and Hungarians. Looking first at the environment, which had much to do with the markedly diverse peopling of the region, the course presents Central Europe’s earliest viable nation-states—Poland, Bohemia, and Hungary—and their promising development within Christian Europe. The impact of geography on national life is demonstrated, as the region became the object of expansionist desire to the surrounding empires: Ottoman, Habsburg, Romanov. As “the shatter-belt” between hostile alliances, Central Europe was forced to miss all or most of such crucial stages in European history as rational Enlightenment or a democracy-building Industrial Revolution. Owing in large part to shortsighted and tradition-bound leadership, the region’s peoples were easy prey to false ideologies, leading them into some of history’s most destructive wars and subjecting them to decades of spirit-killing oppression. Subsequent to the liberating year of 1989, Poles, Czechs, Hungarians, and Slovaks are now in the midst of “nation-building”—along with their Balkan and Eastern European neighbors. It is a promising and confusing period. This course attempts to provide guidance for the region’s future course by presenting those aspects of its past that shaped the feeling, thinking, and behavior of its peoples. (Also listed as Interdisciplinary Studies 255.) Offered biennially.

HIST 264. Popular Piety and Heresy in the Middle Ages (1). 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. (Also listed as Religious Studies 230.) (3B) Offered occasionally, fall semester. Open to first-year students.

HIST 266. Women in Modern Europe (1). This seminar explores the history of women in Europe from the 17th century to the present. It focuses on several themes, including the changing forms of women’s work, the creation of the public/private dichotomy, women’s political participation, their relationship to socialism, and the women’s liberation movement in the 19th and 20th centuries. Using primary sources, secondary readings, film, a novel and a play, students attempt to discover women’s place in European history and consider how the story of Europe changes when gender becomes the primary category of analysis. (Also listed as Critical Identity Studies.) Offered occasionally. Open to first-year students.

HIST 267. Christianity in Modern Europe (1). In this course, students explore the place of Christianity in the political, social, economic, national, and gender revolutions of ‘modern’ Europe from 1789 to the present. This cultural- and social-historical investigation is broadly comparative, drawing on national, religious, and other communities across Europe, though France, Britain, Germany, and Russia may be emphasized. (Also listed as Religious Studies 200.) (3B) Offered occasionally. Open to first-year students.

HIST 268. Europe and the Modern World: 1789-present (1). This class introduces students to the political, cultural, social and economic history of Europe from the late eighteenth 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 travelled 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.

HIST 272. The Balkans: A Sense of Region (1). Forming a southeast appendage to the larger continental extension known as Europe, the Balkans is a region of about 320,000 square miles, inhabited by some 90 million people. Its relatively modest size notwithstanding, the region and its peoples have played a role of considerable importance in history. Classical Greece and Rome claimed it as a valued part of their empires, and Byzantium considered it a constituent as well as a potential threat to its dominance. Its earliest inhabitants—Illyrians, Wlachs, Dacians, et al.—left only faint traces of their presence, as they became outnumbered by South Slavs. Once the zone of lively commerce between Europe and the Orient, the Balkans lost out to the Atlantic explorer-traders, and its nascent cultures were nipped in the bud by centuries of armed struggle against Islamic invasion. The region became most marginalized in the modern era, as the decline of Ottoman rule was combined with the occasional involvement of other powers. The region’s strategic location, combined with a glaring failure to quell sharply conflicting ethnic aspirations, made the Balkans the spark of recurring conflicts and the site of brutal confrontations. Today, the Balkans is relatively quiet, even if a number of thorny issues (Cyprus, Macedonia, Transylvania, et al.) await solution, and the civilizational struggle for the allegiance of its peoples is far from over. (Also listed as Interdisciplinary Studies 272) Offered biennially.

HIST 275. United States Foreign Policy (1). The formulation, conduct, and content of post-World War II U.S. foreign policy, with an emphasis on the post-Vietnam war era. (Also listed as Political Science 275). Prerequisite: Political Science 110 or 160 or consent of instructor.

HIST 282. Empire and Slavery: The Early History of the Caribbean (1). Although this is a history course, it takes a multidisciplinary approach to study of the Caribbean past within the context of European and U.S. empires. Topics include exploration and settlement, the development of bound labor systems, the nature of slave experiences, economic change, emancipation in local and Atlantic contexts, the construction of race and gender at various moments, and the emergence of Caribbean cultural forms. It also investigates the similarities and differences among French, Dutch, English, and Iberian Caribbean settlements. (Also listed as Critical Identity Studies 282.) (3B) Offered occasionally. Open to first-year students.

HIST 283. Latin American History Since 1810 (1). A survey of selected topics in the revolutionary and national periods of certain Latin American countries. The course begins with the revolution of 1810 and then covers a variety of topics, peoples, and issues in a number of Latin American countries. The course is not comprehensive, and topics within it change from year to year. (3B) Offered even years, fall semester. Open to first-year students.

HIST 293. Archival Research (.5, 1). 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.

HIST 294. Research Colloquium (.5). 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; 1 previous history class at Beloit College.

HIST 295. Historiography Workshop (.5, 1). 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; 1 previous history class at Beloit College.

HIST 310. Advanced Topics in History (.5 - 1). 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.

HIST 383. Mexico and the United States (1). This seminar on the history of Mexico and Mexico’s relationship with the United States since 1810 covers the revolutions for independence, the Texas war for independence, the Mexican-American War, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, Benito Juarez, Maximilian’s Mexico, Porfirio Diaz, Madero and Mexico’s 20th century revolution, U.S. intervention, and post-World War II U.S.-Mexican relations. Offered occasionally.

HIST 384. World War II-Seminar (1). The main perspective is from the United States, but seminar members are encouraged to write papers and discuss issues from the perspectives of the other main belligerents and significant neutrals. Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: junior standing.

HIST 385. Advanced Writing Seminar (.5, 1). 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.

HIST 386. History and Culture (1). This seminar will explore the concept of culture and its uses for historical study. Each week students will discuss a set of general readings about cultural practice and inquiry before proceeding to discussions of their original research projects. All research will center on the cultural history of an area with which the student has already become familiar through prior course work. Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: junior standing.

HIST 390. Special Projects (.25 - 1). 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.

HIST 395. Teaching Assistant (.5). Work with faculty in classroom instruction. Graded credit/no credit. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

HIST 396. Teaching Assistant Research (.5). Course and curriculum development projects with faculty. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

HIST 397. Research Assistant (.25 - 1). Assistance to a history department faculty member in scholarly research. Prerequisite: history major; junior standing; B+ grade point average in history courses; departmental approval.