Undergraduate Courses

Course descriptions and links to instructors’ profile pages are listed below. Cross-listed courses offered by other departments can also be found below, with the department to contact noted beneath each course description. If you are having problems enrolling in a course, please start by contacting the Enrollment Help Desk.

  • Wait Lists – History Majors and graduating seniors have first priority on the wait lists for our courses.

Fall 2021

History Courses

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History 101: American History to the Civil War Era

Instructor: Gloria Whiting

In-person | MW 2:30-3:45PM

Description: This course will ask surprising questions. How did Haitian slaves, Aztec gold, and the humble potato influence the history of the region that would become the United States? Because they did–profoundly. This may not be the sort of history you learned in high school. Traditionally, historians have understood the history of early America or colonial America as the history of the thirteen colonies that joined to create the United States in the American Revolution. But such an approach severs these colonies from their context and creates an affinity between them that did not exist prior to the Revolutionary era. Our course will take a much broader view. We will situate these thirteen colonies in the framework of the Atlantic world: the world created by Africans, Europeans, and Indigenous Americans from the sixteenth century–when European expansion into the Atlantic basin began in earnest–through the American Revolution, when the thirteen colonies united in a revolt against Britain. This revolt would usher in an era of state-building in the Atlantic and signal the beginning of the end of Europe’s imperial power in the Americas. Together we will investigate how people, pathogens, plants, animals, labor systems, ideas, technologies, and institutions across a vast geographic expanse shaped the history of the thirteen colonies that created the United States of America, and then we will explore the nation’s early development.

Format: This course will meet on Mondays and Wednesdays for lecture (2:30–3:45 PM in lecture hall TBD). In addition, discussion sections will be held once a week. Lectures and discussions are designed to build on each other, not replicate each other, so attending both is vital and required.

Learning Outcome:
By taking this course, students will: -learn how the early American colonies developed in the context of a rich and interconnected world centered on the Atlantic Ocean; how those colonies created the United States; and how tensions in the nation’s early history ultimately led to the Civil War. -understand how historians make history. How do we know what we know about the past? Why do our understandings of the past change over time? History 101 is an introduction to a time and a place–early America–but it is also an introduction to the practices of historical inquiry. -practice doing what historians do: asking questions about the past and answering them using primary sources. There is no reason why you cannot start doing that this semester, even if this is your very first history course at UW. -become captivated by the past–this is my great hope, at least! I will do my best this semester to help you envision times and places so unfamiliar to you that you cultivate a deep fascination with worlds beyond your own. History should never be boring!

Typical Topics and/or Schedule:
SECTION 1: SEAFARING, CONQUERING, PLANTING

  • Week 1: Before 1492: Indigenous America
  • Week 2: Iberian Expansion and Conquest, 1400-1600
  • Week 3: Africans in Africa and America, 1400-1700
  • Week 4: Northern Europeans in the Atlantic, 1556-1670

SECTION 2: BUILDING COLONIES

  • Week 5: Greater Virginia
  • Week 6: New England
  • Week 7: French in America
  • Week 8: The Anglo-Caribbean Colonies
  • Week 9: The Carolinas

SECTION 3: REVOLUTIONARY REORGANIZATIONS

  • Week 10: The Seven Years’ War in the Atlantic World
  • Week 11: Revolution in North America
  • Week 12: The Global American Revolution

SECTION 4: THE UNITED STATES

  • Week 13: The Early American Republic
  • Week 14: America in Crisis

History 101 Draft Syllabus – Fall 2021 (pdf)

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 102: American History, Civil War Era to the Present

Instructor: Allison Powers Useche

In-person | TR 2:30-3:45PM

Description: This course provides a broad survey of United States History since 1865. We will explore the major political, economic, social, cultural, and intellectual transformations that have shaped the development of the United States and its relations with the rest of the world between the Civil War and the present day. Students will learn to think like historians by analyzing primary sources, evaluating competing narratives, and formulating arguments about the past. One of the key questions that we will grapple with throughout the course concerns how different people have defined, fought over, and claimed “freedom in the aftermath of slavery and as the United States became an industrial nation, a sprawling empire, and a global superpower. Whether defined in terms of political participation, economic security, legal protection, or physical safety, struggles over meanings of freedom profoundly shaped the ways Americans lived, worked, moved, and organized during the century and a half following Emancipation. By tracing how the boundaries of citizenship, democracy, and the nation itself have been redrawn during the last 150 years, we will consider the ongoing legacies of the past and the stories we tell about it in the United States today.

Format: The format for the course is in person, with three meetings per week. Two meetings with the professor will include interactive lectures. An additional discussion section led by a graduate student instructor will allow students to meet in smaller groups to discuss the readings in depth and to hone the skills of critical thinking, research, and writing necessary to do the work of history.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

 

 

History 103: Introduction to East Asian History: China

Instructor: Joseph Dennis

In-person | MWF 11:00-11:50AM

Description: History 103 is an introduction to Chinese history from its beginnings to recent times. The goal of this course is to achieve a basic understanding of the historical origins of Chinese society, government, and culture. No Chinese language skills are necessary, however, if you can read Chinese and wish to use Chinese sources, Professor Dennis is willing to help you find them.

Format: Mix of lecture and discussion. Field trip.

Learning Outcome:
In addition to covering the main content, we will also work on developing important historical skills, including: 1. Asking Questions: develop the habit of asking historical questions, including questions that may generate new directions for historical inquiry. 2. Finding Sources: learn the logic of footnotes, bibliographies, search engines, libraries, and archives, and consult them to identify and locate source materials. 3. Evaluating Sources: determine the perspective, credibility, and utility of source materials. 4. Developing and Presenting an Argument: use sources appropriately to create, modify, and support tentative conclusions and new questions. 5. Planning Further Research: draw upon preliminary research to develop a plan for further investigation. 6. Communicating Findings Effectively: make formal and informal, written and oral presentations tailored to specific audiences.

Typical Topics and/or Schedule:
Geography, Language, Origins of Chinese Civilization, Early States, Confucianism, Daoism, Legalism, China’s first unification, Buddhism, China’s second unification, Tang China, Song China, Mongol empire, Ming China, Contact with Europe, Qing China, Opium Wars, Collapse of the Imperial System, Republic and May Fourth Movement, Marxism and the Rise of the CCP, World War Two in China, Civil War, China in the 1950s and 1960s, Cultural Revolution, Opening and Reform, China’s Rise.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 109: Introduction to U.S. History: Who is an American?

Instructor: Stephen Kantrowitz

In-person | TR 9:30-10:45AM

Description: This course is organized around a central and continuing question in American life: Who is an American? How have laws, social movements, and individuals answered that question from the Revolution to the present? Through a mixture of lectures, discussions, and other activities, we will investigate key moments when these questions have reverberated through issues of citizenship, migration, slavery, freedom, war, and politics.

Typical Topics and/or Schedule:
We’ll cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • What is citizenship?
  • How did slavery and emancipation shape African American belonging?
  • Were free women citizens in the 19th century?
  • What happens in a “melting pot”?
  • How have Native Americans related to U.S. nationhood?
  • Who decides what is “Un-American”?
  • How does the border shape the lives of citizens and non-citizens?

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 110: The Ancient Mediterranean

Instructor: Marc Kleijwegt

In-person | MWF 8:50-9:40AM

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 115: Medieval Europe, 410-1500

Instructor: Elizabeth Lapina

In-person | MWF 9:55-10:45AM

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 119: Europe & the World, 1400-1815

Instructor: Lee Wandel

In-person | TR 8:00-9:15AM

Introduces Europe when it entered the global stage economically, politically, socially, and culturally. How Europeans took to the seas and developed new forms of empire. How did this wave of contact, encounter, and conquest affect Europeans, indigenous peoples of the Americas, and Africans? Examine the early global economy and the development of plantation slavery. How did Europeans develop new ways to make sense of their world, its size, its peoples, its flora and fauna? Explore new forms of Christianity, the Jewish diaspora, and the globalization of Christianity. As thinkers debated how rulers should wield political power, monarchs strove to expand their authority and territory, and ordinary people demanded a greater share of political power, provoking revolutions across the Atlantic world. Encounter the lives of women and men from many backgrounds, from peasants to queens, and all kinds of people on the move.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 120: Europe & the Modern World, 1815-Present

Instructor: Brandon Bloch

In-person | TR 11:00AM-12:15PM

Description: This course surveys a vast subject: the transformation of Europe, from the aftermaths of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars to today’s European Union. We will explore Europe’s evolution across the dramatic nineteenth and twentieth centuries along a range of axes: political and economic as well as social, cultural, and intellectual. Major themes include the expansion of capitalism; centralization of nation-states; rise of mass politics; recasting of gender and the family; proliferation of industrial warfare; and emergence of ideologies such as liberalism, conservatism, nationalism, socialism, communism, and fascism. We will also explore how Europe was intertwined with the wider world through colonialism and decolonization. This course is designed as an introduction to college-level history. No prior background is expected. Lectures and assignments are structured to introduce you to the skills of historical analysis: reading critically; interpreting primary sources; evaluating competing arguments; and presenting your own ideas in lucid and compelling prose. Writing assignments build in complexity over the course of the semester. Lectures and sections will devote time to practicing the skills you will need to succeed in these assignments. The purpose of the course is as much to introduce you to central themes of modern European history as to help you become a better reader, writer, listener, communicator, and thinker.

Format: The course includes two 75-minute lectures and one 50-minute section per week. Lectures will include pauses for discussion and small-group activities, and sections will be based on active participation. Attendance at lectures and sections is key to success in the course. Written assignments include discussion board posts, short response papers, one essay, an in-class midterm, and a take-home final exam. Further details are available on the course syllabus.

Learning Outcome: By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Distinguish between primary and secondary sources, and demonstrate close reading strategies for both
  2. Apply evidence from primary sources to evaluate competing historical interpretations
  3. Interpret the contexts of primary sources based on prior knowledge and in-text clues
  4. Articulate a concise thesis statement
  5. Defend a historical argument using primary sources in lucid and compelling prose
  6. Assess the significance of war and revolution, nationalism and the nation-state, and colonialism and imperialism as forces of change in modern European history

History 120 Draft Syllabus – Fall 2021 (pdf)

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History/History of Science 125: Green Screen: Environmental Perspectives through FilmHistory 200-003: Doing Digital History: Tokyo, 1868-2021

Instructor: Gregg Mitman

In-person | MW 9:55-10:45AM, W 4:00-6:00PM

Description: From the 1933 Hollywood blockbuster “King Kong” to the recent Netflix hit “My Octopus Teacher,” from the somber 2006 documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” to the upbeat animated film “Happy Feet,” made the same year, the history of cinema offers a lens through which to understand changing ideas and attitudes about the relationships between humans and the natural world.  How can film shed light on changing environmental ideas and beliefs in American thought, politics, and culture and their impact on the real-world struggles of people and wildlife throughout the world? And how can we come to see, understand, and confront racial, class, and gender biases that have shaped the contours of American environmentalism over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries?

This course will explore such questions as we treat film both as a historical document, offering a window onto the past, and as a cultural force helping to define the concerns of past, present, and future environmental visions and actions in the United States and elsewhere in the world.

Possible Films:

  • An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
  • Awake: A Dream From Standing Rock (2017)
  • Bambi (1942)
  • Blue Vinyl (2002)
  • Children of Men (2006)
  • Gorillas in the Mist (1988)
  • Jaws (1975)
  • Imaging Indians (1992)
  • King Kong (1933)
  • My Octopus Teacher (2020)
  • Nanook of the North (1922)
  • Outbreak (1995)
  • Sleep Dealer (2008)
  • Soylent Green (1973)
  • That Which Once Was (2011)
  • The Plow that Broke the Plains (1936)
  • The Love Life of the Octopus (1965)
  • The Big Banana (2014)

Class Format: The format for the course is in person, with four meetings per week.  Professor Mitman will give two fifty-minutes interactive lectures that will offer an overview of the historical context, themes, and issues raised by the week’s short reading assignments and required film screening, which takes place every Wednesday from 4-6 pm. A 50-minute discussion section led by a graduate student instructor will allow students to meet in smaller groups to discuss the readings and film screening in depth and to hone the skills of critical thinking, research, and writing.

Learning Objectives:

  1) Develop the skills needed to interpret film as a historical document and to place it in a particular historical context.

  2) Understand the changing historical contours of American environmentalism and how the past continues to shape issues around the meanings and representations of “the environment.”

  3) Expose students to alternative environmental visions and viewpoints by African, Latin American, Native American, and other underrepresented filmmakers.

  4) Introduce students to some of the major environmental issues and controversies of the past, present, and future in the United States and around the world.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 130: Introduction to World History

Instructor: Paul Grant

In-person | MWF 12:05-12:55PM

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 136: Sport, Recreation, & Society in the U.S.

Instructor: Ashley Brown

In-person | TR 4:00-5:15PM

Description:

Sports factor into the lives of most Americans, whether it’s through playing or watching games. Yet, as much as we often view sports as a form of entertainment that distracts us from reality, issues such as conflict between players and team owners, contentious debate over public financing for new stadiums, the lack of racial diversity throughout professional sports rosters, and the rising concern over the violent repercussions of sports, both on and off the field, demonstrate that we cannot separate sports from major social, political, economic, and racial issues. This course will illuminate how the rise and growth of sports since the Civil War has reflected and shaped broader trends in American social, racial, economic, and political history. Students will engage in discussions about popular sports’ relationship to American capitalism, liberalism, urban development, and racial, gender, and social movements. Finally, students will analyze the underlying issues of race, gender, class, and politics in amateur, collegiate, and professional games. Above all, this course will spark newfound curiosity in students as they reevaluate the sports they play and watch in the future.

Learning Outcome:

After reading the assigned texts, participating in discussions sections, and attending lectures, students will be able to:

1) Understand how sports have both shaped and been shaped by broader social, cultural, and political trends.

2) Demonstrate how and why major social, economic, racial, and political changes have occurred in sports in the past 150 years.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 139: Introduction to the Modern Middle East

Instructor: Daniel Stolz

In-person & online | MW 11:00-11:50AM, F 11:00-11:50AM

This course explains the formation of the states and societies that compose the contemporary Middle East. How have global phenomena, including two world wars, the Cold War, women’s movements, and modern science, technology, and fossil fuels, affected the politics, culture, and daily lives of Middle Eastern people? What is Islamism, and how should we explain its influence? Why has the United States had such a troubled relationship with this part of the world? The course balances a thematic approach with several weeks of country studies, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, and Israel and the Palestinian territories. In addition to short writing assignments spaced throughout the semester, students write two 3-page essays based on historical documents. No final exam. First-year students welcome.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 145: America and China, 1776-Today

Instructor: Judd Kinzley

In-person | TR 4:00-5:15PM

Analyzes the relationship between China and the United States since the birth of the U.S. in 1776, and tracks how the relationship has changed over time. Seeks to offer a broader perspective on the US-China relationship that includes not only diplomacy and war, but also culture, economics, and domestic politics. Contextualize the steady drumbeat of news stories about America and China, and make educated, historically rooted arguments about China, the US, and their complex relationship.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History of Science 150: The Digital Age

Instructor: Devin Kennedy

In-person| TR 8:50-9:40AM

Description: This course provides an introduction to the history of the computer from the 1940s to the present day. Over the course of the semester, students will become familiar with major developments in computer science and technology in their historical contexts, as well as recent trends in computing and society. We learn about machines, but emphasize the study of people: the institutions, scientists, workers, and social movements that invented, facilitated, and transformed digital technology in the 20th and early 21st century.

Format: This class meets for three, 50-minute class periods each week (2 lectures, 1 discussion) over the fall semester and carries the expectation that students will work on course learning activities (reading, writing, watching supplemental video material and responding to quizzes on canvas, working on writing assignments studying for examinations) for about 2 hours out of the classroom for every class period (i.e. about 6 hours per week).

Learning Outcome:
Students, upon successful completion of the course, will be able to:

  • Identify key technological developments, periods, and themes in the history of computing
  • Engage primary cultural and technical sources from the history of technology in the 20th century
  • Analyze ongoing developments in computer science and digital technology with historical and critical perspective
  • Write and speak conscientiously about digital technology’s effects in society
  • Recognize a range of factors that contribute to technological change

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History of Science 160: Engineering Inequality

Instructor: Daniel Williford

In-person | MWF 9:55-10:45AM

Description: Offers an introduction to the history of technology centered around the relationship between technology and various forms of social inequality. It addresses: 1) how gendered, racial, and class-based disparities have shaped the history of technology; 2) how forms of engineered inequity have intersected with state-building, colonial projects, environmental degradation, and revolutionary programs; 3) how technology has been implicated in attempts to imagine a more just society. This course is designed to introduce students to central themes and concepts in the histories of science, medicine, and especially technology. The course is organized into four sections or modules that build on one another through case-studies. These are transnational in scope and move chronologically from the 17th century to the present. The course also gives significant attention to histories of technology that originated outside of the U.S. and Europe.

Learning Outcome:

  • Identify and summarize key concepts in the history of technology
  • Utilize historical methods and techniques and apply these to analyze primary sources including print media, visual art, film, web-based content, and technical materials
  • Apply concepts from the history of technology to relevant present-day issues in engineering and technology policy
  • Produce original arguments that demonstrate critical thinking skills and draw on course concepts, arguments specifically about the role of technology as a collection of material, social, and political practices and technological change in the contemporary world

Typical Topics and/or Schedule:

  • Week 1: What is a technology?
  • Week 2: Foundations: Political Technologies
  • Week 3: Foundations: Users/Designers
  • Week 4: Technologies and Social Order: Between Equality and Inequality
  • Week 5: Engineering the State and Colonial Engineering
  • Week 6: Revolutionary Engineering and Machine-breaking
  • Week 7: Medical Technologies / Technologies of Racecraft
  • Week 8: Colonial Techno-Giantism and Local Pharmacopeia
  • Week 9: Engineering Racial Inequality
  • Week 10: Gendering Technology
  • Week 11: Technonationalism and Decolonizing Technology
  • Week 12: Environmental Histories of Computing
  • Week 13: Algorithmic Governance
  • Week 14: Geoengineering
  • Week 15: Engineering other Possible Futures?

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 200-002: Reproductive Politics in Global Perspective

Instructor: Emily Callaci

In-person | M 1:20-3:15PM

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 200-004: Islam and Politics: Power and Practice

Instructor: Aaron Rock-Singer

In-person | MW 2:30-3:45PM

In the early twentieth century, a series of movements arose in the Middle East and South Asia, calling Muslims to return to Islam. Today, leaders and members of such groups –now known as Islamists –insist that one cannot live a fully Islamic life in the absence of an Islamic state. How and why did these movements come to focus on building an Islamic state? How do they pursue this goal?

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 200-005: Social Justice Movements in Asia and Beyond

Instructor: Anne Hansen

In-person | T 3:30-5:25PM

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 200-006: Athens, 550-450 BCE: The Making of a City

Instructor: Claire Taylor

In-person | W 8:50-10:45AM

The course explores the city of Athens over a period of approximately 100 years (c. 550-450 BCE) when it underwent great change. We will look at a number of themes: political developments, religion, the built environment, Athenian society, war and the effects of war and examine a range of different source materials (literary texts, archaeological, epigraphic) in order to understand this dynamic city during the turn of the archaic period into the classical period.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 200-007: The Atomic Bomb

Instructor: Louise Young

In-person | T 1:20-3:15PM

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History 201-001: Belief and Unbelief in Modern Europe

Instructor: Eric Carlsson

In-person | W 8:50-10:45AM

In the modern period (c. 1500 to the present) Europe saw the growth of new forms of religious belief and identity as well as the spread of alternatives to existing religious traditions, such as agnosticism and atheism. In this course we will explore the impact of these developments on a range of individuals and their relationships to Christian and Jewish traditions. Central questions we will ask include:

  • How have historians explained shifts in religious belief and identity over the past several centuries? In particular, how have scholars accounted for the phenomenon described as “secularization”?
  • What conditions or experiences have led people to transition from one set of religious or philosophical beliefs, allegiances, and identities to another?
  • Are there common routes by which individuals have taken on a new religious identity and belief system (conversion), abandoned a set of beliefs and commitments (deconversion), or otherwise changed their relationship to a religious tradition?
  • How has the experience of religious and philosophical pluralism often seen as aspects of “modernity and “secularity shaped the way in which individuals have held and expressed their most basic life commitments?
  • What are some of the main ways in which people have narrated their spiritual and intellectual journeys? In particular, what functions has the genre of autobiography served?

This course will equip you to think about these questions historically as you learn and practice the skills that historians use to do their work. Our weekly seminar discussions will center on a range of key primary sources and recent scholarly writings. You will have the opportunity to compose a series of short analytical papers, make oral presentations, contribute to lively class discussion, and write an original research paper on a topic of your choosing.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 201-002: French Revolution

Instructor: Suzanne Desan

In-person | TR 11:00AM-12:15PM

This “Historian’s Craft” course explores how historians probe, interpret, analyze, and narrate the past. At the same time, we will delve into one of the most exciting and crucial moments in modern European history: the French Revolution. Course units focus on four pivotal questions. Why and how does Revolution break out in the ancient and powerful monarchy of France? When the revolutionaries suddenly try to create “equal rights” and destroy the old ways, how do these innovations transform the everyday lives of individuals – including aristocrats, slaves, working men and women, peasants, and religious minorities? Third, how do the revolutionaries attempt to invent democracy and why is it so difficult and so violent? And finally, how can the French possibly end their Revolution and why does Napoleon rise to power? While we pose these pivotal questions, we will pay close attention to questions of historical method. Students will analyze different types of sources, learn how to ferret out and assess evidence, and develop their own research, writing, and speaking skills.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 201-003: History of the United States Empire

Instructor: Allison Powers Useche

In-person | T 8:50-10:45AM

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History 201-004: The Arab Spring

Instructor: Aaron Rock-Singer

In-person | R 8:50-10:45AM

The Arab Spring is a period of political change and contestation that we’re still trying to make sense of and this course will not provide “answers to explain this period. Rather, it will explore the historical continuities and ruptures between the political conflicts of the Arab Spring and what came before. Based on this historical contextualization, it will examine the emergence of protests, revolutions and counter-revolutions across the Arab world. Why did some revolutions succeed, why did others fail, and what do we mean by “success and “failure ? What are the continuities between the prominent demands of the Arab Spring –political, economic and socioeconomic justice, democracy and constitutionalism, religious freedom, sectarian and tribal belonging, and gender –and previous movements in Middle Eastern history? What role did social media play in the Arab Spring? How can we explain the uneven success of this historical moment?

The course is divided into two main components. The first examines central sites of contestation since January 2011. It focuses on three powerful states that have experienced regime change or civil war (Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria). The second half of the course focuses on the ideological issues of the Arab Spring and will examine the longer history of key debates over gender, Islamism, allegiances to tribe and sect, democratic reform, and socioeconomic justice.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 201-005: Technology and Revolution in the Middle East

Instructor: Daniel Stolz

In-person | M 8:50-10:45AM

Social and political upheaval has often been linked with new technologies. In recent years, this connection has been especially prominent in the Middle East, where many characterized the uprisings of 2009-2011 as “Facebook revolutions.” This course will explore the history of such connections between technological and social change in the Middle East, focusing on the region’s major revolutions since the nineteenth century. Specific topics include: the telegraph, steam power, and the end of the Ottoman era; dams, highways, and the nationalist regimes of the mid twentieth century; audiocassettes and the Iranian Revolution; and social media in the “Arab Spring.”

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 201-007: End of Empire: Occupation & Post War

Instructor: Louise Young

In-person | TR 9:30-10:45AM

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History 201-008: Protest Movements in 1960s Europe and America

Instructor: Benjamin Shannon

In-person | TR 9:30-10:45AM

The 1960s was a pivotal decade in the history of Europe and America. Politically speaking, it is often remembered as a period of unrest, with student protests, civil rights marches, assassinations, and Cold War tensions dominating the public consciousness. At the same time, a decline in religious practice, the emergence of youth culture, rock music, and new sexual freedoms all signaled a disorienting shift in social norms. This course will explore these important moments from a comparative, transnational perspective. Using a variety of primary sources, such as memoirs, political tracts, news reels, popular music, posters, fliers, and ephemera, we will examine international developments such as the student movement and counterculture, decolonization efforts in the so-called Third World, and the emergence of the New Left, Post-modernism, and Left-wing terrorism. Student activities will include seminar-style discussions, in-class presentations, and a chance to complete a piece of original research based on primary sources.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 201-009: Slavery and Religion

Instructor: Justine Walden

In-person | R 3:30-5:25PM

In this class we will examine the long and fraught relationship between religion and enslavement, for in both theory and in practice, the two have long been intimately interlinked, though not necessarily in ways you might expect. Our range will be roughly the fifteenth through the nineteenth century, though with room to bring the debate into the contemporary period if so desired. Topics we will cover include:

  • Justifications for enslavement in classical antiquity (e.g., Aristotle)
  • The waning of enslavement in Christian Europe during the middle ages
  • The launching and development of the Transatlantic slave trade
  • Mediterranean slavery (The persistence of Christian-Muslim enslavement on the Mediterranean littoral and the use of religion as a justification for enslavement from the 10th-18th centuries)
  • Muslim practices of and attitudes toward, enslavement; the Trans-Saharan Trade
  • Ways in which the Christian bible was used to justify enslavement and promote racial ideologies, but also to stir ideals of freedom and liberty among the enslaved
  • The role of Catholic missionaries in ameliorating the conditions of slaves and the role played by ideals of conversion in the Iberian slave trade
  • The distinctions made by Iberian powers between the enslavement of indigenous peoples as against Africans and people of African descent
  • The unique role of Kongo, Central West Africa, a Catholic kingdom in the nexus of enslavement
  • How Africans and people of African descent absorbed and transformed Catholicism in South America and the Caribbean
  • How slaves interacted with Protestants and Protestantism in North America during the colonial and antebellum periods
  • The role of Christian morality in the British abolition of the slave trade in the early nineteenth century

We will read both primary and secondary documents to explore questions and problems in the use of evidence and in the writing historical narratives. Through reading diverse sources closely, you will learn to “think like a historian”. Across the semester, we will work on the core skills involved in researching and writing an academic history paper. You will learn to locate sources, to construct a bibliography, how to evaluate and contextualize evidence, how to consider and adjudicate variances in historical interpretation, to identify and summarize rhetorical and historical subtleties, and to construct cogent, persuasive, and evidentiary-based historical arguments both oral and written. All of these skills are central both to communication in general and also to the craft of history.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History of Science 201: The Origins of Scientific Thought

Instructor: Florence Hsia

In-person | TR 12:05-12:55PM

Description: What does science have to do with religion? What does it mean to have expertise about the natural world? And what difference do politics and funding sources make to scientific investigation? Learn how to think critically and historically about science in this course by exploring such fundamental questions across two millennia. We begin with Babylonian astrology and ancient Greek mythology and philosophy, then follow the movement of the Greek classical tradition into medieval Islam and Christendom, and finally turn to the ‘revolution’ in science of the 16th and 17th centuries with Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes, and Newton. These historical investigations provide vital insights into our ideas of the ‘natural’, scientific observation, and experiment, as well as into our expectations of scientific knowledge and the scientific enterprise. Suitable for both science and humanities majors. Earn either Humanities (enroll in Hist Sci 201) or Natural Sciences (enroll in ILS 201) credits.

Format: 2 lectures and 1 discussion section each week. Grading based on 2 in-class exams, 1 take-home exam, and participation/assignments in discussion sections.

Learning Outcome:

  • explain critical developments in how the natural world has been analyzed and understood
  • recognize how science and its history have served a wide range of purposes
  • understand how science has been deeply shaped by its historical and cultural contexts
  • interpret historical sources to construct persuasive arguments concerning science and its history

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 219: The American Jewish Experience

Instructor: Tony Michels

In-person | MWF 1:20-2:10PM

A century and a half ago, the United States was a backwater of the Jewish world, then centered in Europe. Yet, by the 1950s, the United States became home to the largest Jewish community in modern history.  Why did millions of Jews come to the United States?  How has life in a liberal political and capitalist economic order shaped the Jewish experience in America?  In turn, how have Jews influenced American culture, politics, and society?  This course surveys the history of American Jews from the 18th century to the 21st century.  Using Jews as the primary, though not only, case, the course examines themes in the history of immigration, race, and assimilation.  By examining processes of cultural integration and differentiation of Jews in United States society, the course attempts to address broad questions about the nature of American national identity.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 223-001: The Holocaust

Instructor: Amos Bitzan

In-person | MWF 11:00-11:50AM

Description: References to the Holocaust abound in contemporary political debates and in our popular culture. But most people know very little about the history of the Holocaust, despite the mountains of superb historical scholarship that experts in the field have produced over decades of dedicated research. Through concentrated reading, analysis of major issues, and explaining your insights in writing, this course will help you build in-depth knowledge of the Nazi genocide of European Jewry during WWII. You will learn how and why the Nazis and their collaborators were able to carry out a program of persecution and ultimately extermination against the Jewish communities of Europe, leading to the murder of an estimated 6 million Jews. After taking this course, you will know the events, processes, ideas, organizations, and individuals behind these crimes. You will also gain an understanding of the experiences of victims of the Holocaust in order to appreciate the options (often limited) available to them. To learn about the confrontations with the Holocaust of ordinary people, we as a class will work on a collaborative historical research project using a yet-unpublished source: a collection of postcards sent from Nazi-occupied Poland to Racine, Wisconsin from 1940-1941. The letter-writer was Sara Spira, the grandmother of a UW alum, Michael Stern ’65, who has generously shared her postcards with us. Together, we will use the postcards and our study of the larger events around her to reconstruct the experience of one person swept up in the Holocaust.

Format: Mondays Panel discussion of weekly reading from Saul Friedl nder’s Nazi Germany and the Jews. Be prepared to answer the following question: What is the most important point Friedl nder makes in this week’s reading? Explain why it is so significant. Followed by instructor’s response and analysis. Wednesdays Group presentations on analysis of weekly primary source reading (Sara Spira’s postcards from Nazi-occupied Poland) followed by instructor’s example annotation of the source. Fridays Chronological lectures on major topics with aim of building comprehensive understanding of the history of the Holocaust.

Typical Topics and/or Schedule:

1: Introduction

2: The Nazis’ Rise to Power (1918-1933)

3: The Nazis’ First Steps in Power (1933)

4: Exclusion (1933-1935)

5: Radicalization in Peacetime (1935-1938)

6: Expropriation & Emigration (1938-1939)

7: Racial Policy and Terror (1939-1940)

8: Expulsion as “Final Solution (1940)

9: The Ghettos (1940-1941)

10: Invasion of Soviet Union & Mass Murder (1941)

11: Mass Killing on the Eastern Front (1941)

12: Formulation of the “Final Solution (1941-1942)

13: The Extermination Camps I (1942-1943)

14: The Extermination Camps II (1943-1944)

15: The End of the Holocaust (1944-1945)

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 244: Southeast Asia: Vietnam to the Philippines

Instructor: Michael Cullinane

In-person | TR 9:30-10:45AM

Description: Southeast Asia is a region that today consists of eleven nations: Brunei, Cambodia (Kampuchea), East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, each with its own history, cultural and ethnic diversity, and political and socio-economic conditions. Nevertheless, it is a region–between China and India–that possesses many cultural and historical similarities and continuities that make it unique. This course is intended to provide a general introduction to Southeast Asia’s past and present. The course is organized chronologically around three broad periods: 1) traditional states and societies (to ca.1830); 2) colonial transformations and indigenous responses (ca.1830-1945); and 3) the emergence of modern nations (since 1945). Within these broad time frames, the course will explore several topics and themes, among them: the origins of indigenous states; religious conversion and practice; ethnicity, social organization, and gender relations; the impact of colonial domination; modern social and economic transformations; responses to colonial rule; the development of nationalist and socialist-communist movements and revolutions; the nature of post-colonial societies and political systems; ethnic conflict and national integration; the impact of Cold War international relations; and U.S. involvement and intervention in the region. Given the size and diversity of the region, the course will concentrate on three Southeast Asian countries: Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand–those countries that are the primary research areas of UW-Madison’s Southeast Asia program and for which significant resources exist on campus: course offerings (including in languages), library holdings, and study abroad opportunities. Students will also read two major works of fiction from at least one of the three countries of concentration.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 275: LGBTQ+ History and the Long Civil Rights Movement

Instructor: Finn Enke

In-person | W 11:00AM-12:55PM

For more information, visit Course Search & Enrollc

History 277: Africa: An Introductory Survey

Instructor: Neil Kodesh

In-person | MW 9:55-10:45AM

Description: This course is designed to be a multi -disciplinary introduction to the cultures, history, and politics of Africa. Because the continent contains a remarkable array of languages, societies, and peoples, we cannot hope for exhaustive coverage. However, we will visit almost every major region of the continent at least once during the semester and cover a variety of themes and topics. I hope that you will take away from the course an understanding not just of what to think about the history, cultures, and politics of Africa but also how to think about this region of the world.

Format: Lectures will take place in-person on Monday and Wednesday. The lecture for Friday each week will be recorded and available online via Canvas. Weekly discussion sections will take place in person.

Typical Topics and/or Schedule:
The course is divided into five broad thematic units: Africa and the World before the 19th Century; Colonialism; Postcolonial Politics and Economic Development; Health, Disease, and Healing; and Popular Culture and Everyday Life. I hope that you will take away from the course an understanding not just of what to think about the history and cultures of Africa but also how to think about this region of the world. Lectures will take place in person on Monday and Wednesday. The lecture for Friday each week will be recorded and available online via Canvas. Weekly discussion sections will take place in person.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 278: Africans in the Americas, 1492-1808

Instructor: James Sweet

In-person | TR 9:30-10:45AM

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History 300: History at Work: Professional Skills of the Major

Instructor: Sarah Thal

In-person | W 12:05-1:50PM

Description: What can I do with a History degree? How can a History degree help me get a good job and develop a career that I love? How can I talk about my History degree so that prospective employers can understand its value and workplace relevance? How can I make the best of the opportunities I have — and create new opportunities for myself, too? Why do employers love History majors?

This course will help you answer questions like these as you consider your future career options. You’ll hear from successful professionals about how they got to where they are, how History has helped them, and how you can build a successful career for yourself, too. You’ll craft a resume and cover letter, and practice simple but crucial skills for interviewing, networking, and your first year in a new job. And, for those taking the 2-credit option (with discussion section), the course will walk you through the process of researching possible career options, networking, and conducting informational interviews. In other words, this course offers you structure, advice, and insights from successful history alumni as you begin or continue your career exploration and planning.

Format: History 300 has two parts:

A 1-credit Speaker Series (or lecture) that meets 12:00-1:00 (or 12:05-12:55), usually with a guest speaker. (Feel free to bring your lunch!)

A 1-credit Discussion section that meets 1:00-1:50, after the seminar.

You may take the lecture only for 1 credit. You may take the lecture and discussion section for 2 credits. Make sure you are registered for the number of credits you expect. (If you will be doing an internship for credit, sign up for HIST 301 as well as HIST 300 — you’ll do your internship and take both the seminar and the discussion. Contact the History Careers Adviser, Christina Matta, about internship opportunities and applying for a scholarship.)

Learning Outcome:
In the Speaker Series (lecture) you will:

1) Learn from guest speakers about how they used their humanities educations as the foundation of a successful career;

2) Learn about how different industries and fields prize education in history;

3) Create a professional resume and cover letter; and

4) Learn to articulate the value of your history degree in a professional setting.

In the Discussion section you will:

5) Research two possible career fields and outline a plan for reaching your dream job in each field.

6) Hone your written and oral presentation skills in order to communicate clearly, concisely, and effectively in a professional setting; and

7) Practice explaining how the skills you have learned in the history major would apply to new jobs.

Assignments will include regular, active attendance at 80% of the classes. Assignments for the seminar will include approximately 1-2 pages of writing a week, such as: a resume, a cover letter, executive summaries of the talks, and thank you notes. Assignments for the discussion will include research on career paths of interest to you, and interview preparation. Other than the career research (which most people do in more detail), these assignments also generally require about 1-2 pages of writing a week.

There is one short, very useful assigned text: Alison Green’s How to Get a Job. This is available in pdf, usually with a discount available to students registered in the class during the first weeks of the semester.

Typical Topics and/or Schedule:
Lectures consist almost entirely of guest speakers from a range of fields, such as business, nonprofits, government careers, and freelance writing. Students who would like to request a speaker in a particular field should contact Professor Thal.

Recent fields and speakers have included:

  • Information Technology (Bryant Plano, Customer Success and Support, Ionic)
  • Libraries and Archives (Lisa Saywell, Director of Public Services, Wisconsin Historical Society Library/Archives)
  • Finance (David Kuenzi, Director of International Wealth Management, Thun Financial)
  • Non-Profit (Samantha Rosenbloom, Corporate and Community Education Coordinator, United Way)
  • Historical Preservation (Tricia Canaday, Director, Idaho State Historic Preservation Office)
  • Law (Rick Kalson, Partner, Benesch Friedlander)
  • Management (Rick Schlesinger, Chief Operating Officer, Milwaukee Brewers)
  • Manufacturing and Entrepreneurship (Kim Korth, President and CFO, 6th Avenue Group)
  • International Development (Farha Tahir, Program officer, National Endowment for Democracy)

Discussion topics include: Writing Effective Memos, Job Search Resources and Strategies, Networking Basics, Effective Presentations, Informal Interview Preparation, Elevator Pitches, Job Interview Preparation, Mock Job Interviews.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

 

History 301: History Internship Seminar

Instructor: Sarah Thal

In-person | W 12:05-1:50PM (meets with History 300)

History 301 — and the required concurrent participation in History 300 — will give you the context and structure to reflect on and get the most out of your internship. If you are interested in doing an internship but haven’t found one yet — and if you’re a current or prospective History major — consult with the History Careers Adviser, Christina Matta.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 303: A History of Greek Civilization

Instructor: Claire Taylor

In-person | MW 2:30-3:45PM

Description: This course examines Greek political, cultural and social history in the Archaic and Classical periods with a focus on political and social unity and division. We will examine the creation and development of political communities, the different ways in which these were run, how they came into conflict with one another and amongst themselves, and the social and cultural context from which they changed the Mediterranean world.

Learning Outcome:
Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • place key historical events and social/political practice of the period in their appropriate chronological context
  • understand and use appropriately the specific terminology (names, places, concepts) of Greek history
  • discuss problems relating to the reconstruction of historical events and Greek social/political practice with reference to relevant source material
  • discuss with appropriate methodological awareness conflicting views expressed in modern scholarship

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 308: Introduction to Buddhism

Instructor: Anne Hansen

In-person | MW 4:00-5:15PM

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 319: The Vietnam Wars

Instructor: Alfred McCoy

In-person | TR 2:30-3:45PM

Description: This undergraduate lecture course covers the history of the Vietnam War over the full 20 years of U.S. involvement (1954 to 1975), exploring U.S. foreign policy, guerrilla warfare, anti-war protests, conventional combat, and CIA covert operations. Even today, over a half century after U.S. Marines first landed on the coast of South Vietnam, this conflict remains the single most controversial aspect of U.S. foreign policy. In the five decades since its end, the Vietnam War has proved a transformative, even traumatic event, shaping both American popular culture and political debates. Starting with the historical background, the course provides students with a brief introduction to the traditional Vietnamese state, French colonial conquest, and the century of French imperial rule. After analyzing the disastrous French defeat in the First Indochina War, culminating in the historic battle at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the lectures focus on the character of U.S. military operations in South Vietnam from 1964 to 1975 covering combat by American infantry, the massive U.S. bombing which made Vietnam history’s largest air war, and the CIA’s decade-long secret war in Laos. By shifting perspective from American soldiers, Vietnamese villagers, Hanoi’s communist leaders, and White House deliberations, the course seeks to provide students with multiple approaches to a war that caused five million deaths, including 58,000 American soldiers. Through this course students will gain a deeper understanding of U.S. foreign policy, a grasp of the complexities of contemporary history, and a capacity for critical analysis of government decision-making.

Learning Outcome:
The course will train students in critical thinking, research strategy, and writing skills. The U.S. defeat in the Vietnam War offers opportunities for critical thinking that could never have come from a simple victory in Vietnam. To hone their analytic, research, and writing skills, students shall complete 3 written assignments. In mid-October, students shall complete a take-home midterm short-essay exam. In mid-November, students shall submit a 12-page research paper with footnotes and bibliography. During exam week in December, students take a final essay examination. In addition, there will be an extra-credit film session, allowing students to gain extra marks by writing a short review

Typical Topics and/or Schedule:

Weeks 1-4: Vietnamese Society & French Colonial Conquest

Week 5: The First Indochina War 1946-1954

Week 6: Origins of the Saigon Regime

Week 7: Collapse of the South Vietnamese State

Week 8: America’s War on North Vietnam

Week 9: Intervention by U.S. Forces

Week 10: U.S. Troops in the Villages of Vietnam

Week 11: The 1968 Tet Offensive & Anti-War Protests in America

Week 12: The U.S. Bombing of Laos and Cambodia

Week 13: U.S. Withdrawal and “Vietnamization”

Week 14: U.S. Defeat in Vietnam and its Legacy

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 335: Korean War to the 21st Century

Instructor: Charles Kim

Online | TR 11:00AM-12:15PM

Description: Korea has always been part and parcel of key trends and phenomena in East Asia and the world. Students who take this course will explore the transformations, the setbacks, and the dynamism that have characterized modern Korean history, with a focus on post-1945 South Korea and North Korea. By exploring culture and society, we will delve into the resilience of Korean people as they lived through a turbulent political history marked by colonialism, the Korean War, decolonization, Cold War antagonism, and globalization.

To view the syllabus from Fall 2020, click here (pdf).

For Fall 2021, I will be making some changes to the class, but the main topics will be basically the same. Feel free to email me with any questions you might have: charles.kim@wisc.edu.

Format: This course will be a synchronous class taught on Zoom. Students from Purdue University and the University of Illinois will also be part of the class.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 349: Contemporary France, 1914 to the Present

Instructor: Laird Boswell

In-person | TR 9:30-10:45AM

Description: This course analyzes key issues in contemporary French history from the outbreak of World War I to the twenty first century. Particular attention will be placed on the interplay between political, social and cultural developments. Topics to be studied include the Great War, the Depression and Popular Front, the German occupation and the Vichy Regime, the Liberation and the Fourth Republic, Decolonization and the end of Empire, De Gaulle and the Fifth Republic, and France and the European Union. We will pay close attention to broader themes such as the changing nature of French society, the disappearance of the peasantry, immigration and citizenship, transformations in gender roles, the challenges facing the Muslim community, and France’s place in a globalized world.

Learning Outcome:
Requirements: one two-hour final examination, one in-class map quiz, a one page paper and two six page papers

Check out a previous syllabus

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 357: The Second World War

Instructor: Mary Louise Roberts

In-person | TR 11:00-12:15PM

The Second World War is arguably the most important global event in the twentieth century. It brought nearly the entire world into its vortex of violence, hatred and industrial killing. It was a racial war begun by Germany and Japan in their quests for dominance. It was also a total war which demanded complete loyalty to the state and which consumed the natural, material and human resources of combatant nations. This course will explore these three themes of violence, racism and total war during the years 1939-1945. Lectures, screenings and readings will emphasize the war as a turning point in global politics; the role of leaders such as Hitler, Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin and Charles de Gaulle, the lived experience of war and occupation for soldiers, civilians, and prisoners, and the execution of Nazi genocide and Japanese atrocities. During weekly screenings of popular films, students will come to distinguish “popular from “historical memory of the Second World War, and gain critical distance on how the war has been remembered personally, officially, and in American culture.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 401-001: Exclusion & Resistance at UW-Madison

Instructor: Kacie Lucchini Butcher

In-person | W 3:30-5:25PM

Description: In the past decade universities across the United States have begun to wrestle with their histories of racism and exclusion. A century ago, UW-Madison was home to two student organizations named “Ku Klux Klan. The UW administration’s recognition of this fact prompted a year-long investigation by a committee of faculty, staff, students, and community members in 2017-18. That committee’s report (see week 5 readings) recommended, among other things, a public history project that would tell a more complete story about how exclusion and resistance have shaped the life of the university. For the past year, many students, faculty, and community members have helped research the histories of racism and exclusion on this campus. This seminar aims to take that history from the research phase out into the campus community. You will have the opportunity to create a public history project that will help UW-Madison reckon with this history. This seminar will give you the opportunity to explore and practice public history, while simultaneously providing you with a tangible final project you can add to your resume or CV. Your research will help shape how future generations of students understand the place they live, work, and study. With your permission, your work may also be displayed on campus. This semester course will be divided into two sections: 1) Theory and 2) Practice. To begin the semester, we will learn about the theories that undergird the practice of public history. We will read the critical public history texts that have shaped the field. We will explore the many changes that have accompanied the practice of public history over the course of the past 40+ years and begin to discuss where the field is headed. The second half of the semester you will put the theories of public history into practice. Public history is something that is learned by doing, experimenting, and often, fumbling. By looking at other successful and less successful public history projects, you will develop your own public history project as the final assignment of the course. You will be given the freedom to explore various public history tools over the semester before deciding which one you would like to pursue for a final project.

Format: Each week students will be asked to engage with readings, documentaries, podcast episodes, and other forms of media to address a particular topic in the field of Public History. Students will have the opportunity to unpack these complex topics through small and large group discussions, small writing assignments, and Twitter threads.

Learning Outcome:
Students will leave this course with the ability to: Identify and summarize the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of public history; Analyze how research gets translated to the public; Evaluate public history tools including research, writing for the public, oral history, public speaking, podcasts, videos, websites, etc.; Produce public history projects; Recognize the significance of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sex, and religion, as factors in history and in its presentation to the public; Recognize the importance of collaboration and shared authority to the practice of public history; Identify different specialties of public history and recognize the wide array of employment opportunities and roles in the field.

Typical Topics and/or Schedule:
During the semester students will learn about the field of public history and where we see public history out in the world such as museums, monuments and markers, digital humanities projects, and exhibits. Students will also learn about the tools that are used to create public history such as oral history, walking tours, podcasts, and video and film production. Throughout the semester students will address issues critical to the field through case studies that center on current events.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 401-003: Digital History: The Black Atlantic

Instructor: Justine Walden

In-person | W 11:00AM-12:55PM

Description: This course will introduce students to concepts and digital tools that have enriched the exploration of the Black Atlantic and history more generally – though there are no course prerequisites and you need no prior digital experience to succeed. Approaches will include the use of digitized data and slave narratives, digital methods of historical analysis such as maps, timelines, databases, and pivot tables, and the digital representation of our results.

We will take as our point of departure Paul Gilroy’s observation that the diasporic mobilities and geographies set in motion by the Transatlantic slave trade present a counternarrative to the story of EuroAmerican progress. We will consider that claim through a variety of thematic lenses, studying the alternative histories, frameworks, and trajectories that knit together Europe, Atlantic Africa, and the Americas across four centuries and reflecting on problems of historical analysis and representation.

Starting with the earliest moments of European exploration along the coast of West Africa, we will trace the rise of plantation economies and power dynamics of slave societies from the fifteenth through the seventeenth century in Atlantic Africa, the Caribbean, Brazil, and North America. Through seminal works of Atlantic and diasporic history, literature, and film, we will consider how the dynamics of colonialism, race, capitalism, forced migration, displacement, creolization, religion, and gender underwrote cultural and political developments across the greater Atlantic. We will investigate key moments of resistance and revolution and the lives and peregrinations of several key figures, and we will conclude after nineteenth- century emancipation. Overall, the course will survey the trans-Atlantic black migrations and identities that shaped history and modernity.

Class Format:

The course will unfold through short lectures, weekly readings, class discussion, and films. Course requirements will consist of weekly discussion posts, a 20-minute review and presentation of a core text, a take-home midterm, and a final 10-page research project to be displayed on a course website that uses digital sources and/or methods to investigate a relevant topic of your choice.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History of Science 404: A History of Disease

Instructor: Judith Houck

In-person | TR 8:00-9:15AM

What is disease? Who decides? What are the consequences of labeling a behavior a disease? Can disease be a tool of liberation? Can disease be an instrument of oppression? How do race, class, and gender affect our understandings of and experiences with illness? How have diseases shaped American history? This course is designed to illustrate the various ways disease operates in America. We will examine the role of disease on at least four levels–political, social, cultural, and personal–to demonstrate that diseases are not merely bodily afflictions; they are also participants in the body politic. At first glance, this course outline might look like one disease after another, and on some level it is. However, the diseases are chosen to illustrate a different point about the social and cultural lives of disease in the history of the United States. Although the course moves forward chronologically, it is not meant as a narrative history of disease.

In the fall of 2021, we will likely still be living amid a pandemic, one that has shaped so much of our lives for more than a year.  In these remarkable times, we will pay careful attention to how circumstances surrounding COVID-19 reflect similar situations in the past.  We will also examine whether (and which) aspects of the current pandemic are truly unprecedented. I hope that this course will provide new tools and analytic frameworks to help us understand both the past and our current situation.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 418: History of Russia

Instructor: David McDonald

In-person | MW 2:30-3:45PM

Description: Winston Churchill famously described Russia as a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.” Before Vladiimir and before Communism, Russia figured as our version of Mordor or the Galactic Empire. How did this come to be? History 418 offers a variety of perspectives on these questions, but also asks you to think about how generations of Russians took pride in their culture’s accomplishments — think of Tolstoy or Dotoevsky, Tchaikovsky or Mussorgsky, and the power of Russian science — and felt deep attachment to their “motherland,” even if, like many revolutionaries and ethno-religious minorities, they hated its rulers. History 418 is an upper-division three-credit lecture course (with provisions for honors or graduate credit) that satisfies requirements for the History major, as well as for other programs, such as the CREECA major and/or certificate and International Studies. The course covers the last 125 years of the Russian Empire’s existence, from 1801 until the beginning of the Great War in 1914. This period saw successive Russian rulers seek to maintain Russian “greatness” in Europe while dealing with the challenges to social and political stability that this effort entailed. The course begins with the reign of Alexander I and the mortal challenge of the Napoleonic invasion, then follows Alexander’s successor, who had to suppress an attempted coup when he took the throne in 1825, inaugurating a reign legendary for its arch-convervatism; ironically, he also laid the foundations for the sweeping reforms brought in by his son Alexander II after Russia’s humiliation in the Crimean War. These reforms drastically recast Russia society–from the emancipation of the serfs to radical legal reform and an effort to enlist society as junior partners in the country’s administration. The most vivid sign of ferment came with Alexander II’s assassination in 1881, giving way to two reigns that sought to slow the pace of change in an empire that now dealt with the consequences of rapid industrialization, an increasingly critical educated elite and rising ferment among the national minorities under Romanov rule. The reign of Nicholas II saw these forces mount a decisive challenge to the regime with revolutions in 1905, which led to an uneasy accommodation between supporters and opponents of the autocracy, a standoff that was shattered by the burdens of the Great War.

Format: The work in this in-person class includes twice-weekly “power lectures supplemented by assigned readings from a textbook, as well as weekly primary source materials (in translation). In addition to lectures, students write two brief (5-7 pp.) term papers, in response to assigned questions, a take-home mid-term and a take-home final examination. Students interested in earning Honors or graduate credit should consult the instructor at the beginning of the semester.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 427: U.S. Military History to 1902

Instructor: TBA

In-person | MWF 11:00-11:50AM

History 427 broadly examines American military history from the first encounters between Europeans and Native Americans in the 16th and early 17th centuries through the emergence of the United States as an “imperial” power in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This course applies an expansive view of both American and military history and embraces the scholarship and orientation of the “New” Military History, in that it explores the relationship between war and all aspects of American society. While we will not ignore the study of strategy, campaigns, and battles, we will consider them within the broader context of the American experience. Ultimately, this course will provide an appreciation of how war has shaped the United States and helped define its interaction with the world. This course also serves to familiarize students with the historian’s craft. It exposes students to the methods historians use to analyze the past and allows them to develop their own historical interpretations.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 434: American Foreign Relations, 1901 to the Present

Instructor: Monica Kim

In-person | TR 1:00-2:15PM

This course is a “People’s History of U.S. Foreign Relations.”  We will be embarking on a “bottom-up” history of examining the workings of U.S. empire over the course of the 19thcentury to the present. People who often do not appear in what we consider mainstream “diplomatic history,” such as migrant laborers, anti-colonial movement leaders, student activists, peasant farmers, and other non-elite actors, will be the actors in our history of U.S. foreign relations – alongside more traditional actors like heads of state, diplomats, and military figures. In this course, we will begin with the high stakes people have in how U.S. foreign relations impacts them, whether within or outside the United States. Indeed, we will often begin our studies of U.S. foreign relations outside of the continental United States in order to better understand the material experiences, impact, and stakes of U.S. foreign policy on a global scale.

We will be studying  an international history of U.S. empire, where we will examine changing U.S. imperial formations through the construction of the railroad in the 19th century, the impact of NAFTA, and the development of drone warfare. Rather than beginning with the standard language used to talk about U.S. foreign policy (such as “grand strategy” and “statecraft”), we will think critically about how racial ideologies and expansionism have been central to the changing American project of “foreign policy” from the 1800s to the present. We will develop our own critical lens of race, gender, empire, and the nation as we examine the impact of U.S. foreign policy projects both abroad and at home.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 460: American Environmental History

Instructor: Matt Villeneuve

In-person | TR 11:00AM-12:15PM

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History 500-001: Biography in American Sports History

Instructor: Ashley Brown

In-person | R 1:20-3:15PM

We will read scholarly articles about as well as book-length biographies of several American athletes. We will also analyze biopics and documentaries that focus on sportsmen and sportswomen. We will examine how the authors and filmmakers ground the study of sport in culture and history. We will interrogate how these cultural producers assess the ways that race, gender, class and economics, region, sexuality, and labor have impacted sports and the men and women who have played them.

We will consider why biography is a genre of history that is frequently turned to in the study of sport. We will discuss the role of sport and biography in the making (and unmaking) of heroic figures. Alas, we will seek to understand how politics and history impacted the personal and professional lives, public receptions, and legacies of people who, as athletes, are often imagined to have existed in a realm that is separate from politics. Together, these texts will help us to understand craft, specifically the decisions that historians, history-minded journalists, and filmmakers make about sources, scope, and context as they tell the stories of figures and events that many people think they know well.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 500-002: Chinese Law and Society

Instructor: Joseph Dennis

In-person | M 1:20-3:15PM

Description: This course is a reading seminar about law and society in China, mostly prior to 1949. The course will contain a comparative element to help students understand both similarities and differences with Western legal and governmental traditions and notions of rights and responsibilities. No knowledge of Chinese language or previous coursework in Chinese studies is required, but students who can read Chinese will have the option to substitute some Chinese language readings for the regularly assigned English language readings. The course is open to both undergraduate and graduate students. Graduate students will be expected to find, read, and present one extra relevant article per week, and to write an historiographical essay.

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History 500-003: Ho-Chunk History

Instructor: Stephen Kantrowitz

In-person | T 1:20-3:15PM

Description: Through reading scholarship and investigating primary sources, we will explore the history of the Hooc k (Ho-Chunk) people, an indigenous nation whose ancestral homeland includes the region where UW-Madison now stands.

Typical Topics and/or Schedule:
This course is primarily oriented around reading and discussion, with brief writing assignments most weeks and a final research/writing project.

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History 518: Anti-Semitism in European Culture

Instructor: Amos Bitzan

In-person | MW 8:00-9:15AM

Description: Attempts by policy-makers and activists to identify and combat antisemitism, whether on the streets of urban centers, across social media spaces, or in college dormitories, are sometimes hobbled by a lack of knowledge about the history of the phenomenon. This seminar will help you build a rigorous, historical conception of antisemitism through intense discussion of recent and classic historical scholarship. Key questions that we will consider include:

  • Origins, causes, and motives of antisemitism
  • The connection between anti-Judaism and antisemitism
  • Similarities to or differences from racism
  • Antisemitism’s relationship to anti-Zionism

Learning Outcome:

  • Practice making rigorous arguments that take seriously opposing positions
  • Use historical thinking to address contemporary issues with nuance
  • Learn to read difficult works of scholarship
  • Gain mastery over a historical problem

Spring 2019 Syllabus (pdf)

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History of Science 555: Undergraduate Seminar in the History of Science

Instructor: Devin Kennedy

In-person | T 3:30-5:25PM

Description: Hist Sci 555: “Digital Capitalism” This advanced undergraduate seminar, a capstone course in the history department and the program in HSMT, examines the origins and evolution of digital capitalism. Focusing in particular on the case of the United States, we will explore how digital technologies and digital technology firms came to define capitalism, its political questions, and its social conflicts in the early 21st century. We will spend the first half of the semester introducing key themes in the histories of capitalism and computer technology through an overview of recent scholarly work on topics including venture capital, tech labor, and state patronage; and engage Shoshana Zuboff’s account of emerging “surveillance capitalism” to grapple with the rise of data intensive big tech. In the second half of the semester, students will pursue their own historical research on topics connected to digital technology drawing on a range of critical approaches, engaging, as they chose, intellectual, cultural, environmental, gender, labor, legal histories or science & technology studies (STS) perspectives. Students interested in topics beyond the history of the United States, as well as students with interests in topics connected broadly to digital society, including the intersection of digital technologies and gender and women’s studies, race and ethnic studies, media studies and colonial/postcolonial studies–are particularly encouraged to enroll. Example Texts: Zuboff, Shoshana “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism Wiener, Anna “Uncanny Valley”

Format: The class is taught in a seminar format, meeting once per week. 75% of class time is devoted to discussion of readings and 25% to collaborative discussions of student research and research methods. This is a reading intensive course with approximately 150-200 pages of reading assigned per week. It is expected that students will meet with the instructor frequently to discuss research topics. The class will culminate with a research paper of approximately 12-16 pages.

Learning Outcome:
Upon successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  • Situate contemporary “big tech businesses in a historical framework
  • Communicate in oral presentations and written work, critical perspectives on the relationship between business and society
  • Understand key episodes in the recent history of computer technology
  • Develop creative and engaged political and social questions pertaining to technology in society

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History 600s – All Sections

All sections of History 600 require permission of the instructor for enrollment.  Please see the History 600 Seminars page for more information and course descriptions.

History 680: Honors Thesis Colloquium & History 690: Thesis Colloquium

Instructor: Daniel Williford

In-person | W 3:30-5:25PM

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

Cross-listed Courses in History & History of Science

The following are courses which are cross-listed with the Department of History, but are administered by another department on campus. For information on which department to contact with questions regarding enrollment, see the course information below.

Undergraduate Catalog

The University of Wisconsin’s Undergraduate Guide is the central location for official information about its departments and programs. Find the Department of History’s entries here, including the official requirements of the major.

[archive of UW Undergraduate Catalogs, dating to 1995, and Graduate Catalogs from 1994]
[archive of History course catalogs, dating from 1852 to 1996]