Department Chair: Cynthia Curran
Faculty: Annette Atkins, David Bennetts, Carol Berg OSB, P. Richard Bohr, Cynthia Curran, Nicholas Hayes, Kenneth Jones, Brian Larkin, Derek Larson, Gregory Schroeder, Martha Tomhave Blauvelt, Theresa Vann, Elisabeth Wengler
History is an encompassing discipline that examines the intersection of individual, social, political, economic, and cultural factors and how they influence human development over time. In both teaching and scholarship, the historical discipline has made major contributions to the liberal arts. It stresses an understanding of the continuities and discontinuities between the past and the present and places contemporary issues, ideas and relationships in historical perspective. History also teaches the complexity of remembering and reconstructing the past and how each generation reinterprets past events. In its sensitivity to different people, cultures and times, the historical discipline fosters a sense of human community. The study of history requires people to hone their skills in reading, listening, analyzing, imagining, questioning, wondering and writing. In preparing students for a more thoughtful and aware life, history supports the college mission to prepare leaders and cultivate the capacity for responsible human freedom. A major or minor provides training for any work that calls for critical reading, analysis of evidence, and ability to construct and critique an argument. Graduates have pursued careers in law, business, government service, journalism, archival or museum work and teaching.
The curriculum offered by the department of history is exceptionally broad, covering East Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe and the United States, and including social, political, intellectual, cultural and economic history. The course offerings are divided into four levels, devised to meet a variety of student needs. The first level of instruction (courses numbered 100-199) consists of broad courses designed to introduce the beginning student to the discipline of history. These courses survey general trends and developments in European, American, Latin American or Asian history. The second level consists of upper-division courses (numbered in the 300s) that focus on particular themes, regions or periods. These courses are generally offered on a rotating basis every third or fourth semester. The History Colloquium (HIST 200), Topics in History (HIST 300) and Historiography and Methods (HIST 389) constitute the third level of instruction. The History Colloquium is intended for beginning majors and is taken in the Sophomore year or first semester of the Junior year. The History Colloquium and Topics in History each involve an intensive study of a particular topic through reading, writing and discussion. Historiography and Methods addresses the critical skills applied by historians to the materials they work with. The fourth level is the Senior Thesis (HIST 399). This course is viewed as the capstone of the major’s experience and involves the research, organization and writing of a substantial paper. Seniors present their findings to a gathering of faculty, students, parents and friends. Internships are also available for interested students.
Assessment of Student Learning
The Department of History engages in an on-going assessment of the Department’s curriculum, pedagogy and student intellectual development. Through a careful examination of a combination of the student exams, essays and oral presentations, and assisted by surveys, we regularly assess the Department’s success in meeting student objectives established in our Assessment Mission Statement and Plan. In all of these efforts, student confidentiality is protected. Assessment data are used to assist the faculty in our periodic program review and revision.
Major (40 credits)
8 credits at the 100 level; History 200 (prerequisite for the section of History 395 intended for history majors); 28 credits at the 300 level, including History 395 (prerequisite for History 399) and History 399. History 399 must be taken during the spring semester of the junior year or during the senior year. History 399 requires at least a C grade for completion of the major. With advisor approval, History 300, History 395, and History 399 can be repeated for credit.
Minor (20 credits)
8 credits at the 100 level; 12 credits at the 300 level; History 200 may be substituted for 4 credits at the 300 level, but admission to the course will be on a space available basis and requires permission of instructor.
Asian History: Lower Division
114 East Asia Before 1800. (4)
A survey of East Asia-including China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam-from ancient times to the dawn of the modern era. Explores the building blocks of East Asian civilization and analyzes the changes set in motion by the region’s contact with the West between 1600 and 1800. Alternate years.
115 East Asia Since 1800. (4)
A survey of continuity and change in the modern transformation of China (including the PRC, Hong Kong and Taiwan), Korea, Japan and Vietnam. Examines each country’s role in the other’s development; the impact of Western imperialism on the “modernization” of the region since 1800; and the implications of the “Asian Century.” Alternate years.
116 South Asia Before 1500. (4)
A survey of the history of South Asia from 2,500 BC-1500. Course focuses on topics such as the origins of diverse religious, ethnic, and caste identities in South Asia, South Asia as the birthplace of three major world religions (Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam), social and historical trends in the rise and fall of several South Asian civilizations and empires, including the Indus Valley Civilization, the Mauryan Empire, the Gupta Empire and the rise of Afghan warrior aristocracies. Where appropriate, course will address the similarities and differences between South Asian development and that of the West.
117 South Asia After 1500. (4)
This class will trace the history of South Asia from the rise of the Mughal Empire to the advent and decline of the British Empire in South Asia. Important themes include the development of international trading networks, the effects of colonial ideology in the British context, and the lives of every-day people in South Asia during this period. We will explore the ways in which concepts of religion, gender, nationhood, and identity evolved and changed during this time.
Latin American History: Lower Division
120 The Latin American Experience. (4)
Provides the historical background necessary to understanding the complex, often contradictory nature of the Latin American Experience. Thorough coverage of over 500 years of Latin American history for more than 20 different countries is impossible, so the course focuses on special topics including popular culture, political repression, and the impact of global economic and cultural links on Latin American politics, economics and society. Every year.
European History: Lower Division
130 The Ancient World. (4)
A survey of the origins of Western civilization through an examination of Greek and Roman history and culture from the Bronze Age to the Roman Empire. Possible topics include the nature of Athenian democracy, the role of women in classical society, slavery in the ancient economy, the significance of the fall of the Roman Empire. Alternate years.
135 The Medieval World. (4)
A survey of the emergence of Western medieval civilization between the decline of the ancient world and the Renaissance. Possible topics include: men and women in feudal society, monasticism and the shaping of Western culture, the conflict between church and state, the transformation of a feudal into a commercial economy, the rise of Gothic architecture and scholasticism. Fall.
140 The European Experience. (4)
A thematic survey of topics in European history since the Renaissance. Topics to be considered include the interaction of religion and society, the rise of nation-states, war and peace, political, social, intellectual and economic revolutions. Fall and spring.
United States History: Lower Division
152 The American Experience. (4)
A thematic survey of United States History. Topics and period to be emphasized varies, but major developments in political, social, intellectual and economic history are examined. Fall and spring.
General History: Lower Division
165 History Reading Group. (1)
In this course students and various members of the history faculty will read and discuss current and classic writings in the discipline. Topics will vary from semester to semester. Every semester.
200 History Colloquium. (4)
An examination of selected historical topics through reading, discussion and oral presentations. Intended for new majors and usually taken in the Sophomore year or first semester Junior year. Prerequisite: 1 lower division history course. Open to non-majors with permission of instructor. Every semester.
271 Individual Learning Project. (1-4)
Supervised reading or research at the lower-division level. Permission of department chair required. Consult department for applicability towards major requirements. Not available to first-year students.
African History: Upper Division
302 Sub-Saharan Africa. (4)
The history of Sub-Saharan Africa beginning with the era of the slave trade, continuing through the years of European colonization, and ending with the challenges of independence at the end of the 20th century. Explores patterns of historical change through economic, social and intellectual evidence. Alternate years.
Asian History: Upper Division
315 Islam in South Asia: Confronting Modernity. (4)
This class focuses the development of a Modern Islamic identity in South Asia from the last days of the Mughal Empire to the current period. Two important themes include 1) understanding the development of South Asian Islam in relationship to global developments during the modern period and, 2) tracing the continuities and changes of older South Asian Islamic traditions. We will attempt to examine why the modern period produced a variety of Islamic movements, some moderate some extreme, and how they continue to impact our world today. Yearly.
316 China in Revolution, 1800-1949. (4)
An analysis of China’s transformation from Middle Kingdom to People’s Republic. Explores traditional China’s decline amid rebellion and the Opium Wars with the West; efforts to combat dynastic decay, famine, poverty, foreign domination, warlords and Japanese invasion; U.S.-China Relations; and Communism’s victory in 1949. Alternate years.
317 The People’s Republic of China. (4)
An analysis of China’s socialist revolution since 1949. Explores the rise of Communism in China; the China of Mao, Deng, Jiang, and Hu; and U.S.-China relations since 1972. Previews the integration of the PRC, Hong Kong and Taiwan into a post-communist “Greater China” during the current “Asian Century.” Alternate years.
318 U.S. and China: 1800-Present. (4)
This course compares and contrasts developments within the United States and China during the years 1800-present, seeing the impact on their relationship over the past 200 years. The emphasis is on cultural, political and economic factors and how and why they cause ups and downs in the relations between these two nations. Time-wise, most focus is on the past century, the 1890s through the 1900s—but looking to the future as well. Alternate years.
319 Modern Japan, 1868-Present. (4)
A study of Japan’s transformation from feudal mosaic to economic superpower. Analyzes the “modernization” process set in motion by the Meiji Restoration of 1868; the impact of its Asian neighbors and the West on Japan’s economic and military rise; and U.S.-Japan relations since WWII. Examines Japan’s role in the current “Asian Century.” Alternate years.
Latin American History: Upper Division
321 Colonial Mexico. (4)
Colonial Mexico beginning with the Spanish conquest in 1521 and ending with Independence from Spain in 1821. Includes the consequences of the conquest for Native Americans, the peculiarities of colonial high society, and late 18th-century efforts to modernize Mexican society along European lines. Alternate years.
322 Modern Mexico. (4)
The birth, development, and current crisis of the Mexican nation from Independence to the U.S.-Mexican War, from liberal dictatorship to social revolution, from one-party state to the uncertain future. Includes politics and economics, urban and rural Mexico, and the everyday lives of men, women, and children. Yearly.
323 Religion in Latin America. (4)
The changing nature of religious cultures in Latin America from the pre-Columbian period to the present day. Includes the study of indigenous religious practices the European “spiritual conquest” of the New World, the creation of syncretic forms of Catholicism, 19th century conflicts between religion and secularism, the spread of Protestantism in the 20th century, and the advent and course of liberation theology in Latin America. Within a historical context, examines the role of religion in shaping sense of self, forms of community, and human interaction with the physical world. Alternate years.
324 Issues in Modern Latin American History. (4)
Latin America is comprised of nearly 30 countries (depending on who’s counting) with very different histories especially in the post-colonial era (after 1800). The purpose of this course is to avoid deceptive over-generalizations about a complex region and (on a more positive note) provide historical perspective on issues of special interest to North American students. Course topics might include “Contested Borders: Historical Perspectives on Latino Immigration,” “Latin America: The Social Consequences of Economic Crisis in Historical Perspective,” “Latin America: The Legacy of Authoritarianism,” “Latin America: A History of Indigenous Rights, Majority Interests,” “History of Costa Rica,” etc. (Study abroad only.)
European History: Upper Division
329 Colonialism and Culture: Everyday Life in the British Empire. (4)
Views of the expansion of Empire have veered from nostalgia to revulsion, but this course will avoid the focus on what Britain “did” to indigenous societies. Instead, it will concentrate on how colonized societies influenced western attitudes and institutions, as well as the other way around. This will be accomplished through the examination of such themes as the relationship between economics and imperialism, with an emphasis on who benefited and who paid. Photographs of “distant” peoples and places influenced popular culture and political processes in the West, and photography shaped the imaginative landscapes of imperial culture. The independence movement offers further possibilities of examining the interaction and influences on national identity which passed between the colonized and the colonizer. Yearly.
330 Greece in the Classical Period. (4)
Greece in the Classical Period, and in particular Athens in the 5th century BCE, represents a “Golden Age” which in some ways has never been equaled in human history. How did this first democracy develop? How did it work? Why did it fail? How did other Greek cities of the time react? Students will use primary sources, literary works and electronically available sources including art, architecture, archaeology, coins, maps and various search tools. Every third year.
331 The Medieval Mediterranean. (4)
The culture of the Mediterranean world shaped the development of western European civilization and created a framework for contacts between Eastern and Western cultures. This course will explore these contacts, beginning with the hegemony of the Roman Empire, the rise of Christianity, the expansion of Islam, the influence of the Byzantine empire, and the conflicts between Christians and Muslims in Spain, Sicily, and the Middle East. Prerequisite: Completion of humanities lower division core requirement. Alternate years.
332 The Roman Empire. (4)
An overview of the growth of the Roman Empire from the late republic to the death of Constantine I. Although encompassing the history of the whole Roman world, this study centers on the comparatively wealthier and more sophisticated Roman East with pertinent references to the more rustic West. Areas of concentration will address Roman culture, religion, mores and political accommodation. Every third year.
333 Gender and Society in Western Europe. (4)
An examination of the images, roles and experiences of women and men in western Europe from the later Middle Ages through the French Revolution (1300-1800). Particular emphasis will be placed on the Renaissance and Reformation period. Topics include: sexuality, family, politics, work, religion, culture and the construction of masculinity and femininity. Alternate years.
335: Medieval Institutions and Society. (4)
A study of the formation of nation-states in Western Europe, emphasizing the period between 1000 and 1350. Themes include the development of institutions, such as the Church, the university, and the formation of feudal monarchies. Alternate years.
336 The Renaissance. (4)
An examination of the ways that the term renaissance can be applied to European politics, society, and the visual arts from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries. We will consider who created the Renaissance, who participated in it (and who did not), and how the Renaissance manifested itself in Italy as well as northern Europe. To this end, we will study the literature, painting, sculpture, architecture, political thought and philosophy of the period. To understand the society in which these developments took place, we will look at gender relations, family and kinship networks, and changes in political and economic life. Alternate years.
337 The Age of Reformation. (4)
A study of the Protestant and Catholic Reformations in the 16th and 17th centuries with a particular emphasis on social history, including the causes and characteristics of religious change and its effects on European society and culture. Topics include the reception and implementation of the Protestant Reformation, Catholic responses to this challenge, radical religious movements, the role of women in religious reform, changes in family relations, and popular religion. Alternate years.
341 The Enlightenment and the French Revolution. (4)
The relationship between ideas, culture and politics in the 18th-century Enlightenment and French Revolution explores the cultural world of the common people, as well as the ideas of philosophers like Rousseau and Voltaire, and the role of women and men of all classes in social and political change. The focus is on France, but developments in other countries are included in the quest to understand the world that produced the first great revolution and the impact of that revolution on Europe. Alternate years.
344 Modern Germany. (4)
This course examines the social, political, and cultural history of Germany in the modern era. It begins in the nineteenth century with a consideration of “Germany” before the unification of 1871 and proceeds to Imperial Germany, the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, and the post-1945 Germanies. Topics will include nationalism, responses to political and social modernization, women’s history, and the impact of the world wars. Yearly.
346 Cold War Europe. (4)
This course traces the political, economic, social and cultural development of Europe after the unprecedented destruction and chaos caused by World War II. The topics under study include postwar recovery, the end of European overseas empires, the Cold War division of Europe, cultural and intellectual dissent, and the revolutions of 1989. The course covers both western and eastern Europe. Alternate years.
347 Modern Britain. (4)
Examines the main social, economic, political, and cultural features of Britain from 1750 until the present, covering Britain’s rise as a powerful modern state and subsequent decline on the world stage. Themes include the social consequences of industrialization, changes in crime and the criminal justice system, the welfare state, the rise and decline of the British Empire, the effort to maintain a British identity in the face of the European Union. Yearly.
348 History of Ireland. (4)
This course will examine the shifting patterns of settlement and colonization, the recurrent religious strife and the establishment of new political entities. The traditional perspectives on Irish history have been swept away in recent years because of the new research of historians and because of the tragic events in Northern Ireland, and this course will offer the most current views on timeless Irish themes. Alternate years.
349 Modern Russia. (4)
This course examines the political, social, and cultural transformation of Russia from a preindustrial autocracy in the 19th century to an atomic superpower and post-Soviet society in the 20th century. Topics include the Romanov Empire, the Bolshevik Revolution, Stalinism, World War II, Soviet culture, the Cold War, and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Alternate years.
United States History: Upper Division
350 Early America. (4)
This course analyzes the interactions of Native Peoples, Europeans, and Africans on the North American continent to 1763. We will look especially at the social, cultural, and economic interdependencies and conflicts among these people with an eye toward how these shaped the later United States. Alternate years.
351 The American Revolution. (4)
The colonial period from 1763 to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 with emphasis on the social, economic, intellectual and political sources of the independence movement, confederation and nationalism. Alternate years.
352 United States in the Early 19th Century. (4)
The birth and development of the American Republic. Emphasis on political, economic and social developments. Highlights range from the struggle over the Constitution to westward expansion, industrialization and sectionalism. Alternate years.
353 Civil War and Reconstruction. (4)
An examination of the issues, personalities and military developments leading to war. The Civil War, the emancipation controversy and Lincoln’s role. The terms of peace and reconstruction. Yearly.
354 United States in the Late 19th Century. (4)
A review of America’s forgotten era, including such topics as industrialization, urbanization, the birth of the modern labor movement, the beginnings of an empire and the political stalemate. Alternate years.
357 United States From World War I to 1960. (4)
Political, economic and social change at home from World War I through the Cold War. Topics include the impact of World War I, World War II and the Cold War on the civilian society, cultural conflict in the 1920s, economic changes and the Great Depression, evolving conceptions of the proper role of the Federal government and the role of race and gender. Alternate years.
358 United States Since 1960. (4)
Political, economic and social change in recent America. Topics include the baby boom generation, the struggle for equal rights for minorities and women, social divisions of the Vietnam era, issues of affluence amid poverty and social division, and arguments over the power of the Presidency and the primacy of the Federal government from John Kennedy through George W. Bush. Alternate years.
360 U.S. Environmental History. (4)
Environmental history is the study of the relationship between humans and nature over time. This course examines the changing American understanding of nature in the 19th and 20th centuries with particular attention to the development of public policies toward natural resources and wildlife, the emergence of a new set of values recognizing non-utilitarian values in nature, and to the evolution of the conservation and environmental movements. Intellectual, political, economic, scientific, and social evidence will all be examined in the process of placing nature back into the human history of North America. Yearly.
361 American Women to 1920. (4)
Images and experiences of American women from the colonial period to 1920, concentrating on the 19th-century. Topics include the evolution of feminine images from Eve to nurturing mother, the rise of early women’s rights and development of the suffrage movement, and female experiences in the family, at work, in politics and in the churches. Alternate years.
362 American Women Since 1920. (4)
American women’s experiences, roles and images since winning the vote in 1920. Examines women’s work, the evolution of new images through film, changes in women’s status during the Depression, World War II and the 1950s, challenges to traditional views through the development of feminism, and the role of gender in recent public policy. Alternate years.
364 American Popular Religion. (4)
Not a history of churches but an analysis of the changing cultural meaning and experience of religion in America. Considers why American religious experience has been so diverse, how religiosity has shaped our society, and how in turn society’s values and structure have shaped religion. Primary focus on the 19th and 20th centuries. Yearly.
365 American Indians, 1865-Present. (4)
Examines how factors such as treaties, religion, education and economics foster either cooperation or conflict between the Indian nations and the U. S. from 1865 to the Present. Case studies include a mix of woodland, pueblo and plains tribes, with substantial attention to Indian viewpoints. Every Spring.
366 Minnesota Regional History. (4)
Minnesota’s past in the context of the Canadian and American Midwest. Analysis of the impact of immigration, urbanization, industrialization, political alignments and changing values on the state and region. Emphasis on how and why Minnesota is like/unlike surrounding states and provinces, and the consequences of those similarities and differences. Alternate years.
368 The United States and the World. (4)
An examination of the U.S. role in world affairs since 1929. Topics include isolationism, World War II, the Cold War, Vietnam and post-war adjustments, Reagan’s efforts to restore primacy, involvement in the Middle East, the search for a post-Cold War role, and the roots of the war on terrorism. Alternate years.
General History: Upper-Division
300 History Topics. (4)
An in-depth examination of selected topics, with an emphasis on critical reading, analysis, written critiques and discussion. Course may be repeated for credit when topics vary and with consent of department chair.
371 Individual Learning Project. (1-4)
Supervised reading or research at the upper-division level. Permission of department chair and completion and/or concurrent registration of 12 credits within the department required. Consult department for applicability towards major requirements. Not available to first-year students.
372 Comparative History. (4)
In this course, students will gain insight into the historical processes that shape our lives by contrasting and comparing the sometimes parallel, sometimes divergent nature of the historical process in different regions of the world and at different times in history. The comparative perspective is an exciting and increasingly important approach to understanding historical process; this course provides students an opportunity to explore this new way of looking at history. This course will be team-taught by two or three faculty with expertise in different regions and time periods.
Seminars and Internships
378 Apprenticeship in Archival Skills for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. (4)
A three- to four-week intensive experience in research techniques. The goal is to allow undergraduates the opportunity to learn how to conduct research at a major depository of documents or art historical material dealing with the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. (Offered at Hill Monastic Manuscript Library.)
395 Historiography and Methods. (4)
An examination through reading and discussion of selected topics in history. This course focuses on historiography and methods. The nature of and uses of primary and secondary texts will be addressed, and the course will concentrate on the analysis and critique of the reading material. Prerequisite: 200. Every semester.
397 Internship. (4-8)
Supervised career exploration which promotes the integration of theory with practice. An opportunity to apply skills under direct supervision in an approved setting. Prerequisites: approval of the department chair and a faculty moderator; completion of the pre-internship seminar.
399 Senior Thesis (4)
Intensive research of a topic and preparation of a major paper. Required of every history major. Those majors seeking to graduate with “Distinction in History” must take HONR 396 the spring of their junior year, History 399 fall of their senior year, and complete their Honors research and writing the spring they graduate. Prerequisite: 389. Every semester.