Undergraduate Courses

Please explore this page for information about History and History of Science course offerings. Cross-listed courses offered by other departments can also be found below, with the department to contact noted beneath each course title. If you are having problems enrolling in a course, please start by contacting the Enrollment Help Desk. For questions about enrollment permissions, wait lists, etc. please reach out to undergraduateprogram@history.wisc.edu. History Majors and graduating seniors have first priority on the wait lists for our courses.


Spring 2023

History and History of Science Courses

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History 101: American History to the Civil War Era, the Origin & Growth of the U.S.

Instructor: Gloria Whiting

TR 1:00-2:15PM

Description: This course will ask surprising questions. How did enslaved Haitians, gold mined in Mexico, 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.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

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

Instructor: TBA

MW 4:00-5:15PM

Description: American political, economic and social development from the Civil War to the present.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 119: Europe and the World, 1400-1815

Instructor: Michael Martoccio

TR 11:00AM-12:15PM

Description: This course introduces majors and non-majors to the history of Europe from 1400-1815, also known as the Early Modern Age. Students will explore a number of historical changes including the rediscovery of Greco-Roman culture in the Renaissance, the transformation of Christianity and Judaism during the Protestant Reformation, the centralization of state power through new forms of absolutist ideology, the invention of novel forms of scientific and philosophical inquiry during the Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment, and the destruction of monarchical power and privilege during the French Revolution.

Although centered on the history of Europe, this course explicitly frames these events within a global context. The Early Modern Age was the historical moment when Europeans came into intensive contact with non-European peoples. Humanists and artists, influenced by the Italian Renaissance, propagated new forms of textual translation and Latinate education across the globe through domestication and hybridity. Christian communities of all types spread their faith to non-Christian peoples. European travelers wove proto-anthropological tales of foreign lands. Colonial administrators imposed new forms of empire while Europeans’ insatiable demand for commodities led to the creation of plantation slavery. And novel political ideas about popular sovereignty, religious toleration, and universal rights propelled colonized people towards (albeit limited) forms of liberation.

Through its structure, readings, and assignments, this course pays special attention to the expansion of Europeans into the Mediterranean, the Americas, Africa, and Asia, exploring how the global exchange of goods, peoples, ideologies, and cultures altered both non-European and European societies.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 120: Europe and the Modern World, 1815 to the Present

Instructor: Brandon Bloch

TR 9:30-10:45AM

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.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 130: An Introduction to World History

Instructor: Paul Grant

MWF 12:05-12:55PM

Description: Introduction to major themes in world history. Such themes might include: empire and imperialism, environmental impacts, global trade and globalization, war, migration, gender, race, religion, nationalism, class, and the like.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History of Science 132: Bees, Trees, Germs, and Genes: A History of Biology

Instructor: Lynn Nyhart

MW 9:55-10:45AM

Description: How did today’s biology emerge out of the diverse traditions of agriculture and natural history (bees and trees), biomedicine and molecular biology (germs and genes), which stretch back into the eighteenth century? Examines classic texts and “game-changers” in the history of biology, putting them into broader scientific and social contexts to see how these different ways of knowing intertwined, competed, and yielded novel approaches to the study of life that still shape today’s life sciences.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History of Science 133: Biology & Society, 1950-Today

Instructor: Nicole Nelson

MW 11:00-11:50AM

Description: From medical advancements to environmental crises and global food shortages, the life sciences are implicated in some of the most pressing social issues of our time. This course explores events in the history of biology from the mid-twentieth century to today, and examines how developments in this science have shaped and are shaped by society. In the first unit, we investigate the origins of the institutions, technologies, and styles of practice that characterize contemporary biology, such as the use of mice as “model organisms” for understanding human diseases. The second unit examines biological controversies such as the introduction of genetically modified plants into the food supply. The final unit asks how biological facts and theories have been and continue to be used as a source for understanding ourselves.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 152: The U.S. West Since 1850

Instructor: Allison Powers Useche

MW 2:30-3:45PM

Description: This course explores the history of places that have been called the American West since 1850. We start with incorporation, as the U.S. surveyed a West that had become American in name and tried to make it American in fact, a process that westerners resisted as often as they welcomed it. By the late 19th century, the West was an identifiable region with characteristic economic features, race relations, and federal ties, and it held a unique place in collective memory. In the 20th century, western distinctiveness faded in some ways and persisted in others, and western variants unfolded of the world wars, Depression, Cold War, and Vietnam War; civil rights; suburbanization and the New Right; environmentalism; immigration; and globalization. We employ economic, environmental, political, cultural, and social analyses, and attend to the dreams of many westerners: people of North American, Latin American, European, African, and Asian descent, and of all genders, classes, and sexualities.

Special Enrollment Note: HISTORY/CHICLA 152 is open to students at all levels, and first-year students are encouraged to request enrollment permission that will override the sophomore standing requisite. Please request permission to enroll by completing this form: https://go.wisc.edu/m6yxc8. You will need to be signed in to the UW-Madison Google Suite with your UW-Madison credentials in order to access the form. Staff from the History Department and Chican@ and Latin@ Studies will be monitoring enrollment, and will enter permissions for first-year students based on Studies will be monitoring enrollment, and will enter permissions for first-year students based on the seat availability at their enrollment appointment time. A request for enrollment permission is not a guarantee of enrollment, and staff will do their best to accommodate as many requests as possible. If you have any questions, please reach out to undergraduateprogram@history.wisc.edu and chicla@lestci.wisc.edu.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 190: Introduction to American Indian History

Instructor: Sasha Suarez

MW 4:00-5:15PM

Description: A broad survey of American Indian history which centers Indigenous peoples, communities, and nations in the context of U.S. policy and culture that emphasizes decolonial methods and Native ways of knowing the past.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 200-001: From the Ottoman Empire to Modern Turkey

Instructor: Daniel Stolz

TR 11:00AM-12:15PM

Description: The Ottoman Empire was one of history’s most enduring states. Founded in the thirteenth century, it ruled most of the Middle East and North Africa, along with much of Europe, from the sixteenth century until the dawn of the twentieth. More than just an opportunity to learn about the Middle East, therefore, Ottoman history offers a chance to study the emergence of the modern world. This course takes a thematic approach. Topics will include the Ottoman history of climate change, slavery and its abolition, sexuality, science and medicine, Islamic law and mysticism, economic globalization, nationalism and genocide, military and educational reform, and constitutionalism. The course also addresses the demise of the Ottoman Empire and the formation of the Turkish Republic, with emphasis on the remembrance of the Ottoman era in modern Turkish politics, literature, and film.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 200-002: History of High School Experience (January 30, 2023 – March 12, 2023)

Instructor:  Elizabeth Hauck

ONLINE

Description: Think back to your memories from high school. What comes to mind? What sights, sounds, smells, feelings, thoughts do you recall? Chances are, despite the fact that we all went to high schools all over the US (or world) and many of us at different times, we have some common experiences that transcend the differences. Historically, American education has deep local roots and never had a nationalized system like other countries. States and local boards of education control many of the details about how schools are funded and operate. How is it possible to have such a collective experience of high school across time and place, then? This course explores the roots of the high school experience in the US, tracing how certain elements of secondary education came into being and persisted or changed through the nineteenth and twentieth century.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 200-003: Liberty and the American Revolution (January 30, 2023 – March 12, 2023)

Instructor: Margaret Flamingo

ONLINE

Description: This course explores the creation of the United States and the debates surrounding its founding ideologies. Focusing on diverse actors who shaped original understandings of the principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and elsewhere, it asks students to consider varying interpretations of what constitute “American values.” It further challenges students to consider contemporary debates over these issues and to engage in productive political discussion as members of a digital society.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 200-004: Girl & Boy Scouts in the World (January 30, 2023 – March 12, 2023

Instructor: Alexandra Paradowski

ONLINE

Description: In 1907, British army officer Robert Baden-Powell published Scouting for Boys: A handbook for instruction in good citizenship. The book became an international bestseller and sparked a global Scout Movement, which would prove to be one of the largest and most enduring youth movements in the entire world. Scouting exists, in one form or another, in practically every country in the world; most of these scouting organizations can trace their roots directly to Baden-Powell’s work. Scouting became a fixture in millions of children’s lives throughout the twentieth century. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts around the world contributed to history by participating in the two World Wars, decolonization movements in Africa and Asia, and the American Civil Rights Movement, to name a few.

This course explores the history of the international scouting movement, tracing how Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts experienced, embodied, and challenged the ideologies that characterize the twentieth century, such as imperialism, internationalism, and nationalism. The goal of the course is to introduce students to the discipline of history by examining the role of Scouts in key movements and events of the twentieth century. The course activities and materials are intended to make broad historical concepts and arguments tangible, helping students recognize their continuing influence on our society.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 200-005: History of High School Experience (March 20, 2023 – April 30, 2023

Instructor: Elizabeth Hauck

ONLINE

Description: Think back to your memories from high school. What comes to mind? What sights, sounds, smells, feelings, thoughts do you recall? Chances are, despite the fact that we all went to high schools all over the US (or world) and many of us at different times, we have some common experiences that transcend the differences. Historically, American education has deep local roots and never had a nationalized system like other countries. States and local boards of education control many of the details about how schools are funded and operate. How is it possible to have such a collective experience of high school across time and place, then? This course explores the roots of the high school experience in the US, tracing how certain elements of secondary education came into being and persisted or changed through the nineteenth and twentieth century.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 200-006: Liberty and the American Revolution (March 20, 2023 – April 30, 2023

Instructor: Margaret Flamingo

ONLINE

Description: This course explores the creation of the United States and the debates surrounding its founding ideologies. Focusing on diverse actors who shaped original understandings of the principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and elsewhere, it asks students to consider varying interpretations of what constitute “American values.” It further challenges students to consider contemporary debates over these issues and to engage in productive political discussion as members of a digital society.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 200-007: Girl & Boy Scouts in the World (March 20, 2023 – April 30, 2023

Instructor: Alexandra Paradowski

ONLINE

Description: In 1907, British army officer Robert Baden-Powell published Scouting for Boys: A handbook for instruction in good citizenship. The book became an international bestseller and sparked a global Scout Movement, which would prove to be one of the largest and most enduring youth movements in the entire world. Scouting exists, in one form or another, in practically every country in the world; most of these scouting organizations can trace their roots directly to Baden-Powell’s work. Scouting became a fixture in millions of children’s lives throughout the twentieth century. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts around the world contributed to history by participating in the two World Wars, decolonization movements in Africa and Asia, and the American Civil Rights Movement, to name a few.

This course explores the history of the international scouting movement, tracing how Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts experienced, embodied, and challenged the ideologies that characterize the twentieth century, such as imperialism, internationalism, and nationalism. The goal of the course is to introduce students to the discipline of history by examining the role of Scouts in key movements and events of the twentieth century. The course activities and materials are intended to make broad historical concepts and arguments tangible, helping students recognize their continuing influence on our society.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 201-001: Freedom Summer and the 60s’ Civil Rights Movement

Instructor: Simon Balto

M 1:20-3:15PM

Description:  The Civil Rights Movement in the United States during the 1960s fundamentally changed not only this country, but the entire world. In organizing and mobilizing for the eradication of legalized segregation and race-based political subordination, Black activists and their allies reconfigured the meaning and boundaries of full legal citizenship in the U.S., and inspired a wave of other social movements both domestically and abroad. While most activists recognized even in the moment that the victories won were partial, not total, the struggles they waged and the accomplishments they made nonetheless constituted a transformative moment in American history.

At the center of all of this were young people — teenagers and, in particular, people of college age. While popular memory centers people of an older generation (or two) at the heart of the movement’s story, it was young people who were often the front-line agents of social change during this time period. College students in Greensboro, North Carolina organized the anti-segregation sit-ins at a local Woolworths store in 1960, and those sit-ins would subsequently spread to other cities and towns across the segregated South, reigniting the movement as it cast about for new campaigns that might help recapture lost momentum. The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), mostly comprised of college students and people of similar age (even if they didn’t go to college), was arguably the most important organizing group of the early 1960s, working to challenge segregation while also doing community organizing, voter registration, and voter education programs in the belly of the lethally dangerous Deep South. Still other people of a young age took part in the famous Freedom Rides, and sustained those rides when unspeakable racist violence threatened to derail them. It was young people who helped to change the world in this way.

This course explores student activism within and on behalf of the Civil Rights Movement during the first half of the 1960s. As an introduction to “the historian’s craft, we will work on skills assorted with said craft: conducting primary research, reading and evaluating scholarly writings about the subject matter, making and honing arguments, and doing historical writing. We have the unique privilege of holding classes across the mall from the Wisconsin Historical Society, which has some of the largest archival holdings in the world on this particular subject. So students should expect to not just be engaged in work within the confines of our classroom, but also in the archives across the way.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 201-002: History of Humanitarianism

Instructor: Emily Callaci

TR 11:00AM-12:15PM

Description: What motivates people to try to alleviate the suffering of others in distant parts of the world? This is one of the questions that threads through this course on the global history of humanitarianism. Students will examine the origins of humanitarian ideas and institutions, and explore how various humanitarian campaigns have been shaped by geopolitical processes, including the abolition of the slave trade, the spread of missionary Christianity, European imperialism, the Cold War, and economic liberalization. Questions include: who has benefited from various humanitarian aid campaigns throughout history? How have various humanitarian campaigns shaped, and been shaped by, patterns of global inequality? Why have some populations, and not others, been deemed worthy of the world’s compassion? We will explore the worlds, perspectives and visions of humanitarians through a range of primary sources, including diary entries, memoirs, journalistic reportage, photography, documentary film, and archival sources about Wisconsin-based humanitarian campaigns held in the Wisconsin Historical Society.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 201-003: Religion and the Enlightenment

Instructor: Eric Carlsson

W 8:50-10:45AM

Description: This Historian’s Craft course explores the relationship between religion and the Enlightenment in Europe, c. 1650-1800, a topic that continues to fuel lively debate today. The Enlightenment is often assumed to be an intellectual movement that opposed traditional religious belief and offered a secular basis for living in and ordering the modern world. The reality, we will discover, was more complex. While some enlighteners did reject all established religion, others deployed new thinking to update and revitalize their respective religious traditions Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish while still others embraced popular spiritual movements that bore an often surprising relationship to the Enlightenment. This course will equip you to think historically about these developments as you learn and practice the skills that historians use to do their work.

Students will read a range of primary sources and scholarly writings, participate actively in class discussion, write short weekly assignments, make brief oral presentations, and compose an original research paper of about 10 pages broken down into several steps over the course of the semester.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 201-004: Shanghai Life and Crime

Instructor: Joseph Dennis

R 3:30-5:25PM

Description: Conduct original historical research and convey the results to others. Through engagement with archival materials, become historical detectives; practice defining important historical questions, collecting and analyzing evidence, presenting original conclusions, and contributing to ongoing discussions. Confer individually with and receive feedback from instructors to improve skills of historical analysis and communication in both written and spoken formats.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 201-005: French Revolution

Instructor: Suzanne Desan

TR 11:00AM-12:15PM

Description: This “Historian’s Craft” course delves into one of the most exciting and crucial moments in modern European history: the French Revolution. The revolutionaries embarked on a radical and tumultuous experiment in democracy.  They overthrew the monarchy to create a republic, leveled the aristocracy, replaced Catholicism with goddesses of liberty, and abolished slavery in response to massive slave revolt in the Caribbean colony of Saint-Domingue. The twin revolutions in France and Saint-Domingue (Haiti) unleashed debates over granting citizenship and rights to poor men, religious minorities, women, and people of color. But the attempt to forge liberty and greater equality also generated the Terror and launched Napoleon Bonaparte, the general who built an astonishing European Empire.  The course examines several questions. Why did Revolution break out in an ancient monarchy? When the revolutionaries suddenly tried to create “equal rights” and destroy the old ways, how did they transform the everyday lives of individuals in every walk of life?  Why was it so difficult to invent a democratic republic and why did Napoleon come to power? How did the French Revolution interact with other revolutionary movements in the Atlantic world, especially the Haitian Revolution?

While we pose these pivotal questions, we will also pay close attention to questions of writing and 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 201-006: The History of American Inequality

Instructor: Paige Glotzer

W 8:50-10:45AM (ONLINE)

Description: It is impossible to avoid inequality in today’s world. From pressing political debates to the latest viral posts to everyday lived experiences, everyone is enmeshed in ideas, events, processes, and places shaped by inequality. One of the benefits of studying history is asking questions what might have brought the United States to its present moment. History 201 The History of American Inequality takes a long view to explore the origins, evolution, and interweaving of inequalities in American life, from big impersonal international systems to mundane and ordinary local spaces. Along the way, students will practice using an expansive historian’s toolkit to frame, research, and communicate a story about an aspect of the history of American inequality that they consider significant for fellow students and the general public to understand.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 201-007: Women in U.S./North American History

Instructor: April Haynes

W 2:25-5:25PM

Description: This course explore the history of women and gender in North America and the US from the late precolonial period to the present day. Like all History 201 courses, it meets the Comm B requirement for general education while also satisfying a core requirement for the History major. This version of 201 will focus on the changing landscape of reproductive, political, and economic rights for American women during the past five centuries. We proceed from an inclusive definition of women, paying close attention to gender diversity and the intersections of race, indigeneity, class, and sexuality with gender. Students will pose their own questions, answer them through guided research training, and learn how to communicate the significance of their findings to people within and beyond the university.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 201-008: History of Now

Instructor: Patrick Iber

T 2:25-5:25PM

Description: History is the study of change over time and requires hindsight to generate insight. Most history courses stop short of the present, and historians are frequently wary of applying historical analysis to our own times, before we have access to private sources and before we have the critical distance that helps us see what matters and what is ephemeral. But recent years have given many people the sense of living through historic times and clamoring for historical context that will help them to understand the momentous changes in politics, society, and culture that they observe around them. This course seeks to explore the recent past from a historical point of view, using the historian’s craft to gain perspective on the present.

The course will consider major developments primarily but not exclusively in U.S. history of the last twenty years, including 9/11 and the War on Terror, the financial crisis of 2008 and its aftermath, social movements from the Tea Party to the Movement for Black Lives, Covid-19, and political, cultural, and the technological changes that have been created by and shaped by these events. These will be compared to other episodes in U.S. and world history, providing greater context and understanding. Some of the topics that we cover will be chosen by the class.

This class is designed to be an introduction to historical reasoning, analysis, writing, and research. We will practice looking at current events and developing the research skills to place them in historical context. We will practice reading the world around us as a primary source. We will practice finding historical materials that can give us a deeper understanding of our times. We will explore the promise and limits of historical analogy. And we will work to understand how we too are shaped by our own historical context.

The course will teach you how historians think, and how to write a research paper using historical sources. We will work on finding good primary and secondary sources, asking historical questions, developing an argument, building a bibliography, and writing up your findings. The final product, which you will have chances to revise and improve, is an approximately 10-page original paper. Many weeks you will have a preparatory writing assignment that will help you develop those skills. This course is designed to build skills and teach historical thinking. There is no expectation that you have any particular views about the current events, and we will work to foster open conversation and communication.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 201-010: Race in Early Modern Europe

Instructor: Justine Walden

TR 1:00-2:15PM

Description: This course begins by examining how ideologies of race have been both defined and refuted by contemporary philosophers and scientists. We then consider various strands of early modern European thought that helped to construct ideologies of race and human difference. Our focus is theories crafted between circa 1400 and 1800, though many of them persisted into the modern period. Specific subtopics include Medieval theories of race and human difference; Christianity and color symbolism; animal and human ontologies; human bodies, whiteness, and the question of Christian conversion; Antijudaism and Muslim stereotypes; effects and outcomes of the Transatlantic slave trade; casta in Colonial Latin America; Enlightenment science, and theatrical blackness. Course requirements include an oral presentation and an academic research paper which interprets one or more primary historical sources.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 201-012: Slavery and Religion

Instructor: Justine Walden

W 11:00AM-12:55PM

Description: This course takes a broad view of enslavement as a global phenomenon, though the bulk of our studies remain focused on Western forms of enslavement. We consider diverse forms, modes of, and definitions of enslavement in antiquity, medieval Europe, the Mediterranean, and precolonial Africa while examining a contradictory ways in which enslavement interacted with Christianity, Islam, and then traditional African religion in diaspora across the Americas. We consider important subcategories of enslavement such as gender and end with a look at early nineteenth-century British and American antislavery movements and the question of the extent to which ideas of Christian reform helped dismantle the slave trade in the North Atlantic. Course requirements include an oral presentation and an academic research paper which interprets one or more primary historical sources.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 201-013: Global Christianities

Instructor: Paul Grant

M 3:30-5:25PM

Description:

You are invited:

This course is about how Christianity became a religion of the Global South (by midcentury half of all Christians will live in Africa), including an overview of how a cross-cultural process has also fundamentally remade the religion.

Global Christianity is a geopolitical reality, but so much more — it is also a colorful mosaic of cultural creativity, a foundation for encountering the world, and more. It is both good and bad: some have used it to justify violence, while others have used it for resistance.

Who you will meet:

First of all, you will meet one another. In our polarized society, when life-and-death conflicts seem to break out over small differences, we rarely get the chance to meet one another across our many divides. It is my (Dr. Grant’s) hope that in this course, you will have ample opportunity to meet students of many different backgrounds. Students are encouraged to bring their full selves to the course — so that we can hear from one another, but also so that we can learn together.

Your guide this semester, Dr. Paul Grant, is a specialist in West African Christianity, but who has lived in several countries; his most recent book is Healing and Power in Ghana: Early Indigenous Expressions of Christianity (Baylor University Press, 2020).

What you’ll learn:

As a section of History 201 (“the Historians Craft), this course will equip you with the tools for research in this phenomenon. You will learn:

  • How to think cross-culturally, by observing how people have done so in the past (sometimes successfully, sometimes not).
  • How to identify unspoken assumptions inside art (especially fiction and song)
  • How to plan complex research projects at a top-tier research university.
  • How to organize your thoughts for different constituents — including summarizing your findings, answering questions from non-specialists, revising your thoughts to incorporate new feedback.

What you’ll read:

Successful cross-cultural education requires a lot of listening to people who see things in different ways. Thus: be prepared to listen to a great diversity of voices — that is, to read.

We won’t have a standard textbook. Rather, we will mainly work through an anthology of primary source readings, along with multiple secondary sources each week. We will zoom in on a few special topics, such as religious conflict in Nigeria, or the indigenization of Christianity by the Nahua in Mexico, but we will superficially touch on many other themes.

Assigned books include:

  • Klaus Koschorke, Frieder Ludwig & Mariano Delgado (eds.), A History of Christianity in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, 1450-1990: A Documentary Sourcebook (Eerdmans, 2007)
  • Ebenezer Obadare, Pentecostal Republic: Religion and the Struggle for State Power in Nigeria (Zed Books, 2018)
  • A few others, to be determined.

What you’ll produce:

No matter how strong or weak of a writer you are, you will get better in this course through short weekly exercises and peer workshopping.

  • You will write several short (1-2 page) essays on various topics as we move through the centuries, and you will regularly present your findings to the class.
  • You will choose a country or region to “specialize in (such as Southeast Asia, West Africa, Brazil, etc.), and will write a three-page paper summarizing the main geopolitical or cultural flash-points which might potentially lead to a major conflict.
  • You will inventory resources at UW-Madison for deeper research in that topic — hopefully setting you up for ongoing papers in future (upper level) classes in your chosen major.
  • You will write a term paper digging into a focused point of cross-cultural encounter

And throughout the process, you will get focused feedback to improve your arguments and ideas. Everyone taking this course will become a stronger writer!

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 201-014: Recording Latinx History in Wisconsin

Instructor: Marla Ramírez

T 8:50-10:45AM

Description: This course invites students to think, research, and write as historians through an examination of Latina/Latino/Latinx history in Wisconsin. Students will interview a Latina/o/x Wisconsinite using oral history methodology to record the contributions Latinxs have made to the state. You will have the opportunity of submitting your collected and transcribed oral history to the Wisconsin Latinx History Collective to be considered for a Latinx archive at the Wisconsin Historical Society. The course is divided into three sections. During the first part of the course, we will explore what it means to “think like a historian.” Then, we will learn the best practices for employing oral history methodology. The course concludes with an analysis of the role of memory in the writing of history.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History of Science 202: The Making of Modern Science

Instructor: TBA

TR 8:50-9:40AM

Description: Major trends and developments in the sciences from the 17th century to the early 20th century. Emphasis on those with broad cultural and social implications.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

History 205: The Making of the Islamic World: The Middle East, 500-1500

Instructor: Aaron Rock-Singer

MW 2:30-3:45PM

Description:  At the beginning of the 7th century, a new religion, Islam, appeared in Arabia and by the end of the century, Muslims had defeated the Byzantines and Persians and created an empire that stretched from Spain to India. For the next millennium, Islam glittered. Its caliphs, courts, and capitals were grander, more powerful, and more sophisticated than those of any medieval king, duke or prince. In this course, we will trace the emergence and development of Islamic civilization from the birth of Muhammad ca. 570 to the Mongol sack of Baghdad in 1258. We will read the Qur’an and listen to its recitation; examine the career of the Prophet Muhammad; follow the course of the Arab conquests; explore the nature of the conflict between Sunnis and Shi is; learn about the five pillars of Islam, law, theology, and Sufism; and assess the achievements of Muslim intellectuals in literature, art, science, and philosophy. No previous knowledge required.

For more information, visit Course Search & Enroll

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

Instructor: TBA

MW 8:50-9:40AM

Description: A survey of different conceptions of how the body as a site of sickness has been understood from Antiquity to contemporary medicine. Includes consideration of the origins and evolution of public health, the changing social role of healers, and the emergence of the modern “standardized” body in health and illness.

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History of Science 213: Global Environmental Health: An Interdisciplinary Introduction

Instructor: Richard Keller

TR 11:00AM-12:15PM

Description: This course aims to expand understandings of the intersections between major international health problems and a crisis of the global environment by outlining both contemporary and historical dimensions of this juncture through an interdisciplinary exposition. Topics include global disease ecology, the political economy of health and illness, environmental justice, climate change, global urbanization, and the links between development and disease.

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History 221-001: African Americans and Sports

Instructor: Ashley Brown

TR 4:00-5:15PM

Description: This course explores the struggles and political symbolism of African American athletes in times of social upheaval from the 1890s through the present. We will interrogate how Black sports figures have used their skills, barrier-breaking presences, and celebrity to engage in campaigns for racial uplift, defy class conventions, promote the expansion of citizenship and civil rights, and challenge expectations of normative gender performance and sexuality within and beyond the playing arena. We will study the experiences and perspectives of those who have resisted political engagement, too. We will see how activists, journalists, and government officials have coopted the images and abilities of black sportswomen and sportsmen to facilitate their own gains. Overall, we will trace how African American athletes have carried the aspirations and anxieties of the nation on their shoulders.

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History 227-001: Making Black Lives Matter: A History of a Movement

Instructor: Simon Balto

MWF 11:00-11:50AM

Description: This course offers an overview of the historical contexts from which the Movement for Black Lives emerged. #BlackLivesMatter first emerged on the social and political scene of the United States as a Twitter hashtag in 2013, following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in his murder trial for killing Trayvon Martin the previous year in Sanford, Florida. What began as a hashtag became the call of a new social movement — one that would, and continues to, fundamentally shape political and social debates about race, justice, and equality in this country.

For many Americans, the movement appeared to come from nowhere. And while of course each movement and moment have their specific origin stories, there is a long, deep history of African-American struggles with various component parts of the criminal legal system. Through reading the work of scholars and activists (both books and articles), examining primary source material, some lectures, and deep discussions, we will explore that history in this class. We will stretch back into the nineteenth century to systems such as convict leasing, and will move forward into the twenty-first century to the first deployment of #BlackLivesMatter in 2013 and through to the summer of 2020.

As a history course, our primary goals are to understand the various struggles and processes across time that can help us make better sense of the current moment. It is not intended as a forum for debating the politics of the present.

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History 229-001: The History of War in Film

Instructor: John Hall

MW 9:55-10:45AM

Description: Is there such a thing as a genuinely anti-war movie? The acclaimed, late French filmmaker Francois Truffaut thought not, as even the most brutal and honest depictions of war in film cannot help but valorize sacrifice and arouse something primordial in certain members of the audience. Nevertheless, some of the greatest films of all time are regardless as “anti-war classics and not a few might be labeled “pro-war. This course will critically examine a dozen (good) movies from across this spectrum and from around the world, testing the “Truffant Rule and evaluating the movies as both fictionalized secondary sources (conveying knowledge and influencing memory) and as primary sources that shed light on the moment and place in which they were created.

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History 246: Southeast Asian Refugees of the “Cold” War

Instructor: Michael Cullinane

TR 9:30-10:45AM

Description: Between 1975 and 1995, over two million Southeast Asians fled from the three former French colonies frequently referred to collectively as Indochina: Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Over 1.3 million of these migrants came as refugees to the United States and added four new major ethnic groups to American society: Hmong, Khmer, Lao, and Vietnamese, including among them ethnic Chinese and the children of American military personnel (frequently referred to as “Amerasians”). This course is intended to provide a better understanding of the conditions that led these people, and thousands of others, to flee their homelands in Southeast Asia and eventually take refuge and start new lives in the US, as well as in the other countries that offered them asylum (including Canada, Australia, and France).

The course will be divided into four parts and will emphasize the Cold War conflicts and wars that devastated these three countries and resulted in the flight and resettlement of these refugees, especially between 1975 and 1995. Part 1, Peoples of the Indochina Countries, will introduce the themes of the course and provide basic information on the histories, cultures, and social organizational patterns of the four ethnic groups that are the focus of the course: Hmong, Khmer, Lao, and Vietnamese. Part 2, Colonial Origins of Conflicts in Indochina, will concentrate on the modern history and changing societies of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, with emphasis on the last decades of French colonial rule, the Japanese occupation during the Pacific War, and the nationalist, revolutionary, and global (Cold War) struggles and upheavals that took place in these three countries, especially from the 1920s through the 1950s. In addition to discussing the larger contexts of the Cold War, this section will emphasize the significant social, economic, political, and geopolitical developments that took place in French Indochina during the first half of the 20th century. Part 3, The “Cold” Wars in Indochina, will survey the violent conflicts of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, with emphasis on the wars in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, the political alignments (international and domestic) that these conflicts created, the traumatic aftermath of US withdrawal and Communist victories, and the post-1975 developments and continuing conflicts that further devastated all three countries. Part 4, Disorderly Departures: Refugees and Migrants, will concentrate on the flight of thousands of people from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos from 1975 to the mid-1990s. It will attempt to describe and analyze the mass exodus of refugees and migrants and the global efforts to facilitate their survival and resettlement. Lectures and readings will concentrate on the reasons for seeking asylum (or continued resistance), the chaos and hardship of the escape, the difficult realities of camp life, and the mechanisms of resettlement in the US. This section will also explore some aspects of the early resettlement experiences of refugees and migrants in US, with particular attention to the period up to the mid-1990s.

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History 255: Introduction to East Asian Civilizations

Instructor: Viren Murthy

TR 4:00-5:15PM

Description: Multidisciplinary and historical perspectives on the East Asian civilizations of China, Japan, Korea, Tibet and Mongolia from prehistory to the present, including developments in philosophy, economy, governance, social structure, kinship, geography, etc.

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History 300: History at Work & History 301: History Internship Seminar

History 308: Introduction to Buddhism

Instructor: Tyler Lehrer

TR 4:00-5:15PM

Description: This course introduces and surveys the historical development of Buddhism across Asia and beyond, beginning in what is now India at the time of the Buddha, all the way to the 1960s in the U.S. and Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, and into the present day. Our starting point will be the central Buddhist ritual of taking refuge in the “Triple Gem”: the Buddha, his teachings known as the Dharma, and the Sangha, communities and individuals who call themselves Buddhist. We will examine and discuss interpretations of the Triple Gem through a variety of sources and experiential learning activities such as the Buddha’s teachings, stories about influential nuns and monks, Zen poetry, Buddhist art in the Chazen Museum, together with guest speakers and meditation teachers. There is no expectation that you have previously studied or encountered Buddhism or other Asian religious traditions.

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History 329: History of American Capitalism

Instructor: Paige Glotzer

TR 9:30-10:45AM

Description: For many, capitalism and the United States are inseparable. However, capitalism is not a static, natural, or universal. Rather, History 329 examines capitalism as both historically specific theories and actions that heavily shaped U.S. over time. Students will grapple with questions such as how and why can capitalism change? How has capitalism served to justify political and economic activity? How have people from different backgrounds articulated and experienced capitalism’s promises and pitfalls? And how has capitalism shaped relationships between the United States and the world? Though there are no easy answers, the history of capitalism will enrich understandings of American society, politics, and culture.

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History 332: East Asia & The U.S. Since 1899

Instructor: David Fields

MWF 12:05-12:55PM

Description: From the Boxer Rebellion, to the dropping of the atomic bombs, to the nuclear stand-off with North Korea, American foreign relations with East Asia during the 20th century were as consequential as they were controversial. Survey the issues and questions that alternately made allies and enemies of these nations: How did the quest for markets influence American policy towards China? How did European imperialism shape Japan’s rise? Why did communism seem to offer a more compelling economic and political arrangement to China and North Korea? While squarely rooted in East Asia this course will also explore the questions that united and divided Americans over their nation’s foreign policy. Through examining these questions, develop answers and construct their own narrative of the relationship between the United States and East Asia.

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History 336: Chinese Economic and Business History: From Silk to iPhones

Instructor: Joseph Dennis

TR 11:00AM-12:15PM

Description: Utilizes an historical approach to explore the economic and business history of pre-modern and modern China. Topics addressed include: how people thought about property, labor, and value, money and the banking and financial systems, development of domestic and international markets and trade, major industries, the search for resources, agricultural economy, the connection of law and economy, organizations that affected the economy, systemic changes during the Republic and People’s Republic, China’s participation in international economic institutions, and more.

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History 342: History of the Peoples Republic of China, 1949 to the Present

Instructor: Judd Kinzley

TR 2:30-3:45PM

Description: The social, economic and political transformation of China under Communism; the role of ideology in contemporary Chinese historical development; the nature of that historical development in the comparative perspective of other post-revolutionary histories.

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History 349: Contemporary France, 1914 to the Present

Instructor: Laird Boswell

TR 2:30-3:45PM

Description: Social, political, and cultural history of twentieth century France, especially the Great War, the Popular Front, the Vichy Regime, DeGaulle and the Fifth Republic, Mitterrand’s socialist experiment, France’s changing role in the world and the European Community.

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History of Science 350-001: Islam, Science, and Bioethics

Instructor: Daniel Stolz

M 8:50-10:45AM

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History 375: The Cold War – From World War II to End of Soviet Empire

Instructor: Alfred McCoy

TR 2:30-3:45PM

Description: Designed for students with some background in U.S. history or international studies, the course probes the global dynamics of the Cold War, from its origins during World War II through the end of the Soviet empire in 1991. Not only did the Cold War split most of the world into communist and capitalist blocs, but it also penetrated deep inside many societies, shaping art, culture, electoral politics, and mass consciousness.

After exploring the Cold War’s key aspects such as nuclear warfare, espionage, and mind control, the course tracks its international history through three main phases. First, following the fall of the Iron Curtain across Europe in the late 1940s, the rival superpowers competed for dominion over this divided continent through espionage, cultural display, and deployment of nuclear-armed military forces. After the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 brought the superpowers to the brink of nuclear war, the Cold War’s superpower rivalry shifted to the Third World, marked by a massive surrogate war in Vietnam, CIA regime change in Indonesia and Chile, and Soviet intervention to end the Prague Spring. In the Cold War’s final phase after 1975, superpower surrogate warfare coincided with the primal politics of developing societies to produce devastating conflicts on three continents–in southern Africa, Central America, and Central Asia. Bloodied by Islamic resistance during its decade-long occupation of Afghanistan, the Red Army withdrew in defeat and the Soviet Union collapsed just two years later as 22 satellite states and captive republics broke free from Moscow’s steely grip.

Through the sum of such content, students should finish the course with knowledge about a key facet of U.S. foreign policy and a lasting ability to analyze future international developments. Beyond such empiricism, the course will impart sharpened analytical abilities, refined research skills, improved oral presentations, and better writing skills.

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History 392: Women and Gender in Modern Europe

Instructor: Mary Lou Roberts

TR 1:00-2:15PM

Description: This course is a survey of women’s lives from the mid-seventeenth century to the present in Europe. It focuses equally on the ways in which gender constructed power and identity in all spheres of life during this period, including work, politics, science, Empire-building and war. In the first part of the course, we focus on the creation of the domestic model established in the wake of the twin revolutions. This model, which dictated that a woman’s “natural role was domestic and maternal, was primarily middle-class. Working-class women dealt with a whole other set of expectations concerning love and work. In the second part of the course, we focus on a diversity of ways in which women throughout the nineteenth century subverted this domestic model, not only through organized politics such as feminism, but also through unconventional sexual behavior, female “exceptionality, and the opportunities provided by a growing urban, consumer culture. In the final part of the course, we study women and war, more specifically the roles played by women on the battlefront and the home front, and the way in which total war undermined certain gendered constructions of politics and work. Still another important theme will be sexuality, including the medical insistence on one “true sex, the construction of race through sexuality, the creation of a homosexual identity, and the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

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History 401-001: Wisconsin 101: Our History in Objects

Instructor: TBA

M 1:20-3:15PM

Description: This is a hands-on seminar focused on exploring — and presenting — the history of Wisconsin through the histories of objects. Working with a former curator at the Wisconsin Historical Society, students will learn about the practices of public history at museums and historic sites, explore concepts of material culture, and hear from guest speakers, while exploring for themselves, histories of migrant and immigrant communities in Wisconsin. Students will focus on one historical Wisconsin object of their choosing throughout the semester, write a research paper on it, and then present their findings to the public by writing object histories for publication in the online public history project, Wisconsin 101 (wi101.wisc.edu) and the AMUZ app, which encourages, in part, tourists to visit Wisconsin’s historic sites, as well as designing a case exhibit around their object.

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History 401-002: Histories of Religion in Wisconsin

Instructor: Ulrich Rosenhagen

W 1:20-3:15PM

Description: Introduction to the practice of public history. Public historians ground their work in rigorous, academic research with the goal of presenting history in a collaborative and publicly focused manner. These projects come in many forms including exhibits, walking tours, podcasts, documentaries, web projects, and place-based interpretation, to name a few. Learn how academic history gets presented to the public, not only by reading about public history, but by doing it.

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History 500-001: Biography in American Sports History

Instructor: Ashley Brown

R 1:20-3:15PM

Description: We will read scholarly articles and book-length biographies of several American athletes. We will examine how the authors 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, labor, and other matters 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 and history-minded journalists make about sources, scope, and context as they tell the stories of figures and events that many people think they know well.

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History 500-002: Firearms: A Global History

Instructor: Michael Martoccio

MW 2:30-3:45PM

Description: Firearms: A Global Military History provides students an examination of the role of war and peace in human history from the earliest forms of organized violence to the 19th century. Rather than center on tactics, key battles, or even particular critical conflicts, however, this course approaches the global history of warfare through a unique perspective: the technology, politics, and culture of firearms. Beginning with the invention of gunpowder in 9th century China, students explore the role that firearms of many varieties have played in world history. Specific classes examine such topics as the invention and transmission of gunpowder technologies across Eurasia, the military divergence of Europe, and 18th and 19th century American debates over the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms.

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History 500-003: Transnational Utopias: Anarchism in the Americas

Instructor: Jorell Meléndez-Badillo

W 8:50-10:45AM

Description: The first heyday of anarchism took place at the turn of the twentieth century. While anarchists never accomplished their desired social revolution, they succeeded in setting the cultural, intellectual, and material foundations for a global counter republic of letters. That is, they created a vibrant transnational intellectual community with nodes across the world. In this course, we will unearth how those interactions took place across the Americas, and how they shaped anarchists’ worldviews, conceptions of self, and political discourses.

In a world that seemed to be coming together through the invention of the telegraph, the proliferation of steamships, and massive migrations across oceans, the workers, anarchists, and intellectuals we will study in this course sustained transnational radical networks through friendships, the circulation of information, and social events. But who were the people that dedicated their nights to writing articles, stained their hands in printshops, and oftentimes risked imprisonment for circulating what authorities considered to be subversive ideas? And, perhaps more importantly, why did they do it? Throughout this course, students we will explore how a ragtag group of working-class intellectuals across Latin America profoundly shaped local labor movements, sustained far-flung regional activist networks, and collaborated transnationally.

While anarchism was a global phenomenon, we will focus in how it developed in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. The course begins with a brief historical and historiographical introduction to the idea of anarchism and its beginnings in Latin America. Using the city of Buenos Aires as a case study, the course moves to study the role of culture in the creation of working-class intellectual communities. We will then explore the materiality of the transnational networks that operated in the Caribbean region. The course will then move to explore how workers in the United States formed working-class intellectual communities in the margins of the country’s cultural and intellectual elite. The class ends by posing the question, what are the legacies of anarchism in the Americas?

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History 500-004: Religion and Politics in the Long Roman Empire

Instructor: Leonora Neville

W 1:20-3:15PM

Description: In the classical Roman Empire religion was not a matter of private, personal belief, but a collective civic project: the separation of church and state would have been inconceivable. Even as the religion of the Roman empire changed from polytheism to Christianity, religious practice continued to be one of the main tasks and purposes for the government.  This seminar examines the practice of religion by and for the state from the 3rd century BCE through the 13th Century CE, with attention to change and continuities accompanying the transformation of the state religion from polytheism to Christianity. Our explorations of the radically unfamiliar functions and modalities of religious practice in antiquity may help us gain valuable perspective on interactions between religions and governments in our own era.

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History 500-005: Japanese Imperialism

Instructor: Louise Young

M 3:30-5:25PM

Description: Like the rest of the modern world, Japan developed in the crucible of empire. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the world’s territory was carved into a handful of colonial empires. With few exceptions, the new imperialism of these years incorporated states into the world system either as colonizers or colonized. Japan’s case was unusual: the country started out as a victim of imperialism in the nineteenth century, but become an aggressor in the twentieth. Accounts of Japan’s imperial experience tend to focus on this exceptional quality: the peculiarities of a non-Western, late-developing imperial power. But how different, in fact, was the Japanese empire? This course explores this question by looking at different aspects of the Japanese empire and imperial Japan, including imperial ideology, the political economy of empire, metropolitan and peripheral agents promoting expansionism, and the technologies of colonial rule. By considering the Japanese case in comparative terms, we will rethink the problem of Japanese imperialism.

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History of Science 532: The History of the (American) Body

Instructor: Judith Houck

TR 9:30-10:45AM

Description: This course demonstrates that human bodies have social and cultural histories. It will highlight the social values placed on different bodies, the changing social expectations bodies create, and the role of science and medicine in creating the cultural meanings of bodies.

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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 601: Historical Publishing Practicum

Instructor: Kathryn Ciancia

W 11:00AM-12:55PM

Description: Hands-on instruction and experience in historical publishing.

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

Instructor: Judd Kinzley

M 1:20-3:15PM

Description: Colloquium for thesis writers & honors thesis writers.

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Cross-Listed Courses with History & History of Science

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]