The curriculum offered by the Department of History is exceptionally broad, covering Asia, 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) is designed to introduce the beginning student to the discipline of history. These courses survey general trends and developments in European, United States, Latin American, or Asian history.

The second level consists of upper-division courses (numbered 300s) that focus on particular themes, regions or periods. These courses are generally offered on a rotating basis every third or fourth semester.

All students are encouraged to enroll in the first two levels of courses.  The third and fourth are designed specifically for History majors.

The History Colloquium (HIST 200), Readings Seminar (HIST 381), and Historiography and Methods (HIST 395) constitute the third level of instruction. The History Colloquium is intended for beginning majors and typically taken in the Sophomore year. The History Colloquium stresses the use of primary sources and provides an intensive study of a particular topic through reading, writing and discussion. The Readings Seminar stresses the development of critical reading skills for secondary materials.  Historiography and Methods addresses the critical skills applied by historians to the materials they work with and prepares students to conduct their own research in HIST 399.

The fourth level is the Senior Thesis (HIST 399). This course constitutes the capstone of the major's experience and demands that students develop and conduct their own research project.  Students research, organize, and write a substantial paper and present their results publicly to students, parents, and friends.

All Courses

Course Descriptions

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. Every year.

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." Every year.

116 South Asia Before 1500. (4)
A survey of the history of South Asia (the Indian subcontinent) from ancient times to 1700 CE. Course focuses on topics such as the role of religions in South Asian societies, including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam, as well as other religious traditions. Forms of government, changing socio-economic formations, and art, literature, and culture will also be explored. Where appropriate, course will address the similarities and differences between South Asian development and that of the other regions in the world.

117 Indian Subcontinent since 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.

118 Islam and the West. (4)
This class will provide an introductory history of the Islamic World through a comparative analysis of Muslim societies in the Midle East and Asia.  We will study the rise and spread of Islam, the emergence of the great early modern Islamic empires, and contemporary Islamic social movements.  We also will concentrate on the interactions between Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, highlighting issues that include the influences of colonialism, Muslim-Christian-Jewish relations and Islam as a political, social, and religious force in the contemporary world.

121:  Pre-Colombian and Colonial Latin America. (4)

This course examines Latin American history from the rise of the Aztecs and Incas in the 1200s, through Spanish and Portuguese conquest in the 1500s, to the region's struggles for independence in the early 1800s.  Students will investigate how the connecting of the Old and New Worlds created new, hybrid societies and cultures in Latin America as large populations of Indians and Africans (imported for slave labor) struggled against and accommodated European colonizers.  Every year.

122:  Modern Latin America. (4)

This course examines Latin American history from the region's independence from Spain and Portugal in the 1820s to the present day.  Students will investigate how the region's newly independent nations sought to modernize their societies, cultures, and economies beginning in the mid-1800s and how the results of these projects fostered social strife, civil war, and revolution in the 1900s.  The course will conclude with an examination of Latin America's recent trend toward globalization and the discontent this process has caused.  Every year.

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.


141 Europe from the Black Death to the French Revolution. (4)

This survey investigates the tension between traditionalism and discovery from the Black Death (1348) through the Age of Napoleon (1815).  Potential topics include growing tensions between religious and secular authority; intellectual developments in art, science, and philosophy; roles of men and women in family and society; early modern globalizations; and the development of the modern state.  Every year.

142 Europe since 1750: Old Regime to European Union. (4)
This survey examines European history since 1750, prior to the French Revolution, and concludes with transformation of the continent in the European Union.  Students will examine various themes that shaped this period of revolution, modernization, and transformation in European society.  Every year.


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.

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.


305 Gandhi and Nationalism. (4)

Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most celebrated historical figures and peace activists in modern history, yet few fully grasp his ideas and impact. This course will help to introduce you to Gandhi, examining his life, teachings, and actions, as well as global influence. The assigned readings have been selected to provide historical background and thought-provoking discussions, and include speeches, memoirs, literature, and film. They provide an Asian and a global focus, as we analyze social justice movements in India as well as the United States -- including the US Civil Rights Movement. You also will have the opportunity (although it is not required) to research a local social-justice organization through a service-learning option developed for this course. A background in South Asian history is not required.  Every year.

315 Islamists, Modernists, Mughals: Muslims in South Asia. (4)

This class focuses on the history of Islam in South Asia and the development of a modern Islamic identity in the region, from the Mughal Empire to the twentieth century. South Asia contains more Muslims than  any other region, and it is central to understanding the political, religious, and cultural concerns of the Muslim World. Important course themes include the continuities and changes of South Asian Islamic traditions in precolonial and colonial India, the diverse reaction of Muslim leaders to the rise of European colonial influence in the region, and the development of contemporary Islamic movements -- some moderate  and some extreme -- that have impacted our world.  Every year.


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 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 kingdoms to economic superpower. Examines the "modernization" process sent in motion by the Meiji Restoration of 1868; the impact of its Asian neighbors and the West on Japan's economic rise and imperialist quest; and U.S.-Japan relations since WWII. Speculates on Japan's role in the forthcoming "Pacific Century."

321 Colonial Mexico. (4)
Begins with the Spanish conquest and ends with Independence from Spain in 1821. Includes the consequences of the conquest for Native Americans, the formation of new hybrid societies and cultures in a racially diverse world, gender relations, religion and the church, and 18th-century efforts to reform Mexican society according to Enlightenment ideals. Every third semester.

322 Modern Mexico. (4)
The birth and development, and current crisis of the Mexican nation from Independence from Spain in 1821 to the U.S.-Mexican War, from liberal dictatorship to social revolution, from one-party state to democratic present and uncertain future. Includes politics and economics, urban and rural Mexico, and the everyday lives of men, women, and children. Every third semester.

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. Every third semester.

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 will vary. (Study abroad only.)

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, 1945-1991. (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. Alternate years.

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.

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 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. (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.

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.

374 From Books to Bytes: The History of the Book
Books have served as a primary repository of human knowledge since their inception.  Over the millennia, book technology has evolved from ancient papyrus scrolls to modern digital formats, proving the adaptability and longevity of the book form. 

Using the collections and resources of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, this introductory course will examine the book both as an artifact and as an agent of cultural change.  Students will learn the technology of the book; the innovations introduced by the book; and the book's impact on human culture on a global basis.  

The goal of this course will be to provide an introductory vocabulary and a structure for students who wish to explore the history of books and printing from the ancient to modern world.   The course will be organized around the following topics:  the technology of the book; the book in ancient society, focusing on the development of writing and the alphabet; the classical book; the people of the book; the medieval book; printing; and the digital book.   

378 Apprenticeship in Archival Skills for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
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 Museum and Manuscript Library.)

379  Introduction to Public History: Making History Matter
In this course, we will explore the definitions, practice, and meanings of public history, primarily (though not exclusively) in the United States.  As a field of historical study, a set of theoretical concepts, a methodology, and an interpretive approach, public history both builds on and departs from more conventional academic historical practice.  Students will learn what public historians do, how they do it, and why they do it in certain ways.  They will engage with the historical process in hands-on ways that both build the skills of a good historian and reveal the particular concerns, challenges, and opportunities of working as a public historian.  Through readings, discussions, applied projects, and a written essay, students will examine their own personalities and career objectives, and determine which kinds of public history work (or other related work) might best suit them.  We'll also explore the more philosophical question of why history matters- that is, how and why the past is relevant, useful, and meaningful to us in the present.    Along the way, we will encounter some of the many diverse ways of documenting, preserving, investigating, interpreting, reconstructing, and representing the past.

381 Readings Seminar
Designed for History Majors, course focus is on the critical analysis and discussion of classic, current, and compelling historical writing.  Topics will vary and course may be repeated for credit with permission of Department Chair.  Prerequisite: 200 or permission of Department Chair.  Every semester.

389 Historiography for Social Science Majors. (4)
This course is designed for Social Science majors who intend to teach. It covers historical content, but with an emphasis on historiography, or the story of a particular period or event has been told at different times. The other central goal of this course is to help students develop their ability to teach history in a secondary setting.  Note:  This course does not count toward the history major.

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. 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 "Departmental Distinction in History" and "All-College Honors" 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. Every semester.


Credits and Courses

Major (40 credits) for students enrolled Fall 2010 and later

  • 8 credits at the 100 level
  • History 200 (prerequisite for History 395 )
  • 28 credits at the 300 level, including History 381, 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.

Major (40 credits) for students enrolled prior to Fall 2010

  • 8 credits at the 100 level
  • History 200 (prerequisite for History 395 )
  • 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.


  • General History
  • United States History
  • European History
  • Latin American History
  • Asian History
  • African History
  • Seminars and Internships