History in Summer

Make history this summer! With 20 online courses to choose from, you can learn history anywhere you like. View the History Department’s summer course offerings through the tabs below, and keep these important dates in mind as you’re searching for classes!

Important Dates

  • March 22: Enrollment dates assigned for Summer Term
  • April 5: Summer Term enrollment begins for current students
  • April 12: Summer Term enrollment begins for visiting students
  • April 11: Application deadline for the Undergraduate Scholarship for Summer Study

All Courses - Online

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History 130 – An Introduction to World History

Dates: June 21 – July 18 (4 weeks)

Online, asynchronous | Instructor: Paul Grant | More info

Who are we and where are we going? Does it have to be like this? Can we make something joyful and beautiful, instead of always colliding with one another?

Students often think of history as one atrocity after another – open any high school textbook and that is what you will see. But there is another story to be told: people have also healed and transcended all that. They have also become better and healthier people as their worlds have grown broader.

This course collapses human history into stories of cross-cultural encounters and the ways people have sought to heal a broken world as they make their lives with one another. Overemphasizing creativity, faith, and reconciliation, and underemphasizing destruction and betrayal, this course does not turn a blind eye to the bad. Rather, we will look at the ways people have made something beautiful despite the ugly.

This course is a semester in four weeks: please be prepared to do a good deal more reading each day than would be typical for a history course in the spring or fall semesters.

History 201-001 – Shanghai Life and Crime (Comm B)

Dates: May 24 – July 4 (6 weeks)

Online, asynchronous | Instructor: Joe Dennis | More info

After the first Opium War concluded in 1842, Shanghai was a focal point of encounters between China and the outside world and became famous for its cosmopolitan culture. Using extensive English-language, online archival materials on Shanghai, especially the Shanghai Municipal Police Files and expatriate newspapers, we will explore this cosmopolitan city and develop your research, analysis, and writing skills. If you can read Chinese, Japanese, German, Russian, or French, there are also many historical sources in those languages that you can use in your research, but doing so is not required.

History 201-002 – Religion and the American Culture Wars (Comm B)

Dates: May 24 – July 18 (8 weeks)

Online, asynchronous | Instructor: Margaret Flamingo | More info

Can culture be won? Spend a few minutes on the internet or listening to the discussions of politicians and religious leaders and it is clear that they certainly believe it can (and must!) be. Historians tend to agree, although debate certainly exists about what should be categorized as part of the culture wars, or to what extent the term is helpful.

In this course, we will examine some of the main arguments and conflicts that comprise the American culture wars. These debates were (and remain) high-stakes and the issues, at their core, deal with the very livelihood and self-concept of those engaged in them. This material is personal, complicated, politically charged, and religiously sensitive; choppy waters to navigate, particularly in our current climate. However, the lack of historical knowledge and tone-deaf, dismissive nature of many current, popular conversations surrounding these issues begs for a generation of students (that’s you!) better equipped to talk about them in an informed, articulate, balanced, and respectful way. This is not an easy task, but it is a necessary one.

This course serves the dual purpose of introducing a fascinating historical subject the culture wars and doing it in a way that also explores the practices of a good historian. In other words, we will be poking and prodding history itself and the way it is produced. We will pursue this together in a variety of ways. Our readings sample the many ways historians contribute to both the scholarly and public worlds they inhabit, as well as examine different types of sources historians use to craft their work.

History 201-003 – Nazism and the Holocaust in Visual Culture (Comm B)

Dates: May 24 – July 18 (8 weeks)

Online, asynchronous | Instructor: Abigail Lewis | More info

This course will examine the history of the Holocaust and Nazism through the lens of visual culture and photography. We will begin with the rise of Nazism in the 1930s and conclude by questioning the legacy of the Holocaust in contemporary European society. This course will teach students how to locate, research, and critically examine visual primary sources, including photography, visual art, film, video testimony, and memorials. We will draw on these sources to study the visual landscape of everyday life during the Holocaust and in Nazi occupied Europe. Taking a ground up approach to this history, students will look to everyday visual mediums to understand experiences of atrocity. We will ask how victims, bystanders, and persecutors processed their experiences of war and occupation through art and other visual media. Stories and sources examined in this course will offer a glimpse into the varied experiences of individuals who used their art and other visual mediums to navigate daily life, to make sense of the events they witnessed, to oppose politics of persecution, and to survive.

History 201-004 – Sex & Love in Asian Religions (Comm B)

Dates: June 14 – August 8 (8 weeks)

Online, asynchronous | Instructor: Tyler Lehrer | More info

This mostly asynchronous and completely online course examines the religious history of everyday life in Asia from the perspectives of queerness, desire, love, and intimacy. While almost all of the world’s religious and spiritual systems seek to address the many issues of human embodiment longing, suffering, intimate desire, and above all these, love sometimes, in their institutional and politicized forms, they have ignored the voices and experiences of not only women, but also queer and gender nonconforming people. What happens when we look at religious life in Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and others beyond their sacred texts and hierarchies? What local and non-institutional histories of everyday life remain? In what ways might historical studies of “gender, “sexuality and “religion be intertwined? And in doing so, what implications might this have for our methods and work as historians? As a COMM–B and Historian’s Craft course, we will practice and sharpen important historical research skills like asking savvy questions, using digital library and archival materials, and critically assessing both primary and secondary resources to produce intellectually stimulating and thoughtful historical research.

History 201-004 Promotional Video

History 201-005 – Witches in Early Modern Europe (Comm B)

Dates: June 14 – August 8 (8 weeks)

Online, asynchronous | Instructor: Alice Main | More info

This course will address the problem of magic in European society ca. 1400-1700. We will read a selection of landmark studies that chart the importance of illicit belief in ordinary people’s struggle to endure and make meaning in a precarious world. We will ask, what role did soothsaying, healing, charms, and curses play in early modern communities? Why did authorities like the State and Church seek to control these popular practices? How did anti-witchcraft initiatives drive new allocations of power? And how did this process birth a society we recognize as modern?

The readings in this course span the breadth of early modern Europe and its colonies. We will explore texts about men and women, the rural and the urban, the wealthy and the impoverished, the powerful and the disenfranchised. However, we will always return to our central topics: community dynamics; popular resistance to sanctioned doctrine; officials’ march towards discipline; the creative appropriation of religion; gender; sexuality; and survival. By tracking the social, spiritual, and intellectual transformations incubated in early modern localities, students will strive to better understand the lived mentalities and perspectives of historical actors

History of Science 212 – Bodies, Diseases, and Healers: An Introduction to the History of Medicine

Dates: May 24 – July 18 (8 weeks)

Online, asynchronous | Instructor: Suzanna Schulert | More info

Bodies, Diseases, and Healers is an epic journey exploring the roots of our current healthcare system from the ancient Mediterranean to the twenty-first century clinical research. We will address questions such as who has done healing over time? How have patients chosen healers? What constitutes health and disease? What are the causes and treatments of disease? Who is professional medicine for? Examining these questions requires us to engage with humanities methods. In this course we will be reading and analyzing historical sources, as well as crafting our own historical arguments. We will be thinking about how to use historical evidence and structure arguments to make compelling claims about medicine in historical context. In so doing we will see that while medicine has undoubtedly helped relieve suffering and extend lives, the evolution of medical systems is not a story of linear progress or a benign accrual of facts. Rather medical systems are embedded in the socio-cultural context of their given historical moment.

History 223-001 – 20th Century Britain on Film

Dates: May 17 – June 13 (4 weeks)

Online, asynchronous | Instructor: Daniel Ussishkin | More info

Arguably no cultural medium in the twentieth century did more to shape historical cultural memory and representation more than the moving image. Popularized as a cultural form at the turn of the century, film played a crucial role in shaping cultural and historical memory, at times from the moment of the inception of the events themselves. In this class, we will move along two broad trajectories, and ask two sets of questions: first, how do we understand 20th-century British history, and interpret social, political, and cultural transformations during that turbulent century? And second, how was the history of 20th-c. Britain, in both its domestic and imperial iterations, been represented on the screen? In the broadest sense, we will try to figure out how to approach film as a source, and how we can use it to help us think about history. Note that some of the movies vividly represent various forms of violence. The class is taught online and is asynchronous. All readings are either scanned or hyperlinked through Canvas.

History 223-002 – Roman Gladiators

Dates: June 14 – July 11 (4 weeks)

Online, asynchronous | Instructor: Marc Kleijwegt | More info

Nothing associated with the ancient Romans has attracted more attention from a modern audience than the figure of the gladiator. Gladiators have entertained us in movies such as Spartacus (1960), Gladiator (2000), and (not so much) in Pompeii (2014; labelled as a romantic historical disaster film on Wikipedia), and in TV-series (Spartacus on Starz). Apart from a media presence, gladiators are also the subject of scholarly and non-scholarly (fiction and non-fiction) books, websites, ranging from visual evidence on Pinterest to blogs, documentaries, and video clips on YouTube of performances by re-enactment companies. Although well-intentioned, not everything is historically accurate (to put it mildly) or supported with hard evidence (another sizeable portion). Enroll in this online summer course to find out that some gladiators were married and had children, why two gladiators in a training-school owned by the emperor Caligula were thought to be invincible, and why the sweat of gladiators was used in beauty products for women, and much more.

History 227-001 – Atlantic Slavery & Resistance (Ethnic Studies)

Dates: May 24 – July 18 (8 weeks)

Online, synchronous | Instructor: Justine Walden | More info

This course will introduce students to the early modern Atlantic an exciting field of study which examines transnational linkages that started in the sixteenth century and whose legacies shape the present. We will compare and contrast the features of three different Atlantic slave societies Barbados, Jamaica and the Carolinas, and will consider factors such as geography, law, economics, demography, culture, custom, racial ideology, and the role of indigenous peoples to see how different slave societies had divergent historical outcomes. You will learn core elements of British and American history for example, how the ‘sugar and slaves’ nexus of Anglo-Caribbean colonies was relocated to the American south. You will come to understand what distinguished Atlantic chattel slavery from other historical slave systems; how systems of racial and ethnic inequality were constructed and maintained; and how Africans and people of African descent resisted the oppressive strictures to which they were subjected. Because this class investigates the origin and historical operations of a system which bracketed off a specific ethnicity for certain kinds of labor and because this decision had momentous historical consequences, the course fulfils the Ethnic Studies requirement.

History 227-002 – Race & Place in the Upper Midwest (Ethnic Studies)

Dates: June 14 – August 8 (8 weeks)

Online, asynchronous | Instructor: Erin Faigin | More info

This course is designed to explore the entangled histories of placemaking and racial formation in the Upper Midwest, particularly Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan. We will focus on the histories of contact and conflict between Indian Americans, enslaved and free African Americans, Latinx communities, European immigrants, and more recently, Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants. We will pay close attention to the legacies of violence, both physical and symbolic. As we contemplate the past, we must set aside time to contemplate the historical contingencies that shape our own lives, and the historical memories that we in turn shape.

History 229-001 – Anarchism: A Global History

Dates: May 17 – June 13 (4 weeks)

Online, asynchronous | Instructor: Robert Christl | More info

Anarchism is perhaps the largest yet most misunderstood movement of the modern era. In this course, we will explore the history of anarchism, spanning from the mid-nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries and from the Americas to Europe to East Asia. We will seek to answer questions such as: What are the core ideas that anarchists have promoted over the course of the movement’s long history? What role have anarchists played in labor, anti-imperialist, and immigrants’ and women’s rights movements in various countries? Among the topics we will explore in detail are the French, Russian, and Spanish Revolutions, mutual aid, terrorism, sexuality, Cold War countercultures, anti-war movements, and anti-globalization protests.

History 229-002 – Southeast Asia & the Environment

Dates: June 14 – July 25 (6 weeks)

Online, asynchronous | Instructor: Philip Cerepak | More info

Every year, millions of Americans flock to the ecologically diverse region of Southeast Asia. Tourists explore the expansive rainforests, secluded white-sand beaches, and cosmopolitan city life scattered throughout Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, and the Philippines. With roughly 38 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and more than 15,000 islands to explore, it is no surprise that Southeast Asia has become one of the most popular destinations for travel influencers. A cursory glance on Instagram will reveal influencers kayaking pristine-blue waters in El Nido, riding elephants in the mountainous jungles of Thailand, or capturing tranquil images of orangutans in Sumatran rainforests.

While social media has made Southeast Asia more accessible and visible to Americans today, the dynamic region has historically always been an environmentally rich destination. Beginning in the 16th century, the Moluccas Islands of eastern Indonesia became the epicenter for the global spice trade, producing nutmeg and clove for European markets. 100 years later, the British, Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish empires all competed against one another for economic dominance and control over the region’s natural resources. Subsequently, by the 20th century, the flourishing forests underwent dramatic changes as four imperial powers controlled modern day Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Burma and the Philippines, exporting large quantities of timber, sugar, and rubber for industrial production in European and American cities.

This course will examine and navigate the global connections and environmental changes wrought by Western colonialism in Southeast Asia. The course will discuss different methods of environmental studies and place Southeast Asia in the larger context of the Anthropocene — the current geological age when human activity is the dominant influence on climate and the environment. While discussions of the environment are meant to show the varying power dynamics between colonies and colonizers, this course will move beneath the flows of capital and examine how environmental knowledge is constructed and contested. We will view the environment from the perspective of plantation laborers, global markets, and the landscape. Major questions this course will ask are: How can commodities provide a lens to examine environmental change? How can scholars use various landscapes to understand colonialism? What can commodities tell us about our relationship to the environment and the processes of extraction?

History 229-003 – Non-Western Christianities

Dates: May 24 – June 20 (4 weeks)

Online, asynchronous | Instructor: Paul Grant | More info

Dig into one the most sweeping and colorful developments in the last two centuries of world history: Christianity’s transformation into a largely non-western religion. Drawing on the arts, music, and intellectual histories—above all of Africans, Asians, and Latin Americans—we will ask how this new world came to be, and what it means for the twenty-first century.

History 245 – Chicana and Latina History (Comm B, Ethnic Studies)

Dates: July 12 – August 8 (4 weeks)

Online, asynchronous | Instructor: Jillian Jacklin | More info

This interdisciplinary course offers a comparative and transnational approach to understanding the history of Chicana/x and Latina/x working-class cultures and communities in a seminar setting. We will investigate the ways in which race, gender, sexuality, class, and region have shaped the everyday lives of Chicana/xs and Latina/xs broadly. Some of the questions we will address are: How do power relations inform the construction of historical memory? Why do particular stories become part of a national narrative? What strategies have Chicana/xs and Latina/xs drawn upon to tell their own stories? How do these perspectives counter and challenge or disrupt dominant narratives about Chicana/xs and Latinas/xs worldwide? In what ways does an interrogation of the politics of space (place, location, landscape, architecture, environment, neighborhood, home, city, region, and territory) help us to understand Chicana/x and Latina/x lives? Finally, how can we draw on Chicana/x and Latina/x histories to build communities of solidarity across differences of gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and class? Our explorations will take us into the world of work and the workplace as well as working-class leisure and recreation. We will look not only at paid and unpaid labor but at the work and play of fashion, music, art, film, movement, and literature. Our overall goal is to make an original contribution to the historiography of Chicana/x and Latina/x working-class life and, in the process, gain a better understanding of how race, gender, class, sexuality, and especially systemic power relations, have shaped and continue to influence the everyday experiences of Chicana/xs and Latina/xs residing in the U.S., as well as those living transnationally.

History 255 – Introduction to East Asian Civilizations

Dates: May 17 – June 13 (4 weeks)

Online, asynchronous | Instructor: Yaowen Dong | More info

What is East Asia? Whether and to what extent should we think of the region as a unity? This course is an introduction to East Asia since the earliest historical record to the present day. We will explore the ways in which different philosophies, religions, languages, and technologies shaped this region through integrations and conflicts. We will also look at East Asia in the global context. How did the global encounter shape East Asia? What does East Asia mean to the world? Drawing resources from history, political science, philosophy, religious studies, gender studies, etc., we will build an in-depth understanding of this region and analyze historical and contemporary questions in new ways.

History 269 – War, Race, and Religion in Europe and the United States, from the Scramble for Africa to Today (Ethnic Studies)

Dates: June 14 – July 25 (6 weeks)

Online, asynchronous | Instructor: Giuliana Chamedes | More info

This course fulfills the Ethnic Studies requirement at UW-Madison and investigates the unsettling history of European and American Fascist movements in the twentieth century. Taking a comparative approach, it analyzes how Fascist movements developed on both sides of the Atlantic after World War I. Key topics in the class include the fragility of democracy after 1918; why and how Fascism and Nazism garnered popular, transnational appeal; and the emergence of anti-Fascist social movements in both Europe and the United States. We will also look at why both Fascism and anti-Fascism are still with us today, even as we avoid simple historical analogies that draw direct lines between past and present. Through careful scrutiny of a range of texts, songs, and films, the course will challenge students to see the past in new ways. Along the way, students will engage directly with European and American scholars of Fascism and anti-Fascism, and become makers of their own history, as they write four very short papers and produce one ten-minute video on a topic of their choice, which will be shown to community members in a public-facing event. By the course’s end, students will have been given the tools they need to become superb writers, critical thinkers, savvy researchers, and well-equipped commentators on our historical present.

History 269 Promotional Video

History 345 – Military History of the United States

Dates: May 24 – June 20 (4 weeks)

Online, asynchronous | Instructor: Thomas Rider | More info

History 345 provides a sweeping overview of American military history from the first encounters between Europeans and Native Americans in the 16th and early 17th centuries through United States’ conflicts in the Middle East in the 21st century. This course explores the relationship between war, military institutions, and American society. While it does not ignore the study of strategy, campaigns, and battles, it considers them within the broader context of the American experience. Ultimately, this course provides an appreciation of how war and military service have shaped American identity and how military force has defined the United States’ interaction with the world.

History 357 – The Second World War

Dates: May 24 – July 4 (6 weeks)

Online, asynchronous | Instructor: Chad Gibbs | More info

From 1939 to 1945, total war and genocide in Europe killed tens of millions of men, women, and children. Desperation and death spread far beyond battlefields to take the lives of non-combatants in their homes, streets, and fields. Nazi criminality culminated in the murder of six million Jews and millions of others deemed racial and political enemies of the Third Reich. When it was finally over, those fortunate enough to survive endured the lasting impacts of war and genocide in every corner of their lives for decades to come. The still-visible legacies of war and genocide give powerful continuing relevance to the study of World War II. By the end of this summer session, we will gain critical understanding of how the Holocaust and the war have been memorialized and internalized by Americans and Europeans. In an era of frequent references to this shared past, knowledge of this history and its legacies are of paramount importance.

History 403 – Immigration and Assimilation in American History (Ethnic Studies)

Dates: May 17 – June 13 (4 weeks)

Online, asynchronous | Instructor: Thomas Archdeacon | More info

History 403 examines population formation in North America, especially in the territory now known as the United States, from the Age of European Exploration and Encounter until the present. Topics include immigration, immigration policy, the reception the immigrants encountered and their adaptation the society they entered, the extent to which ethnic identities persist over time, and relationships among ethnic, religious, and racial groups. History 403 existed before the UW adopted the ethnic studies requirement. It nevertheless carries ethnic studies credit because it pursues the goals of becoming aware of history’s impact on the present, learning to recognize and question assumptions, gaining consciousness of your identity and of those of others, and preparing for effective participation in a multicultural society.