History Courses Spring 2012

Understanding the present is what the study of history is all about. We all struggle to understand the world presented to us on the evening news. Eventually, most of us realize that we need a historical perspective to make sense of the dramatic changes and events in our world. That's why our classes are so popular.

The students in our classes aren't all history majors, but they are all driven to find answers about the present. And we know that many of those answers are buried in the past. Our faculty are experts at helping you find answers, whether they are embedded in the history of the British empire or American Indian history or African American history. But remember, as you dig through history for answers, you may find that the questions change. That's why this is such an exciting field of study. 


HI 118 Islam and the West (HM)
HI 300M Asian American History (HM)
HI 305 Gandhi and Nationalism (HM, Intercultural)
HI 317 Peoples Republic of China (HM)

HI 130 The Ancient World (HM)
HI 141 Black Death to French Revolution (HM)
HI 331 Medieval Mediterranean (HM, Intercultural)
HI 336 Renaissance (HM)
HI 347 Modern Britain (HM, Gender, Intercultural)
HI 349 Modern Russia (HM)

HI 122 Modern Latin America (HM)
HI 321 Colonial Mexico (HM, Intercultural)

HI 152 American Experience (HM)
HI 360 US Environmental History (HM)
HI 362 American Women Since 1920 (HM, Gender)
HI 365 American Indians 1865-present (HM)
HI 379 Intro to Public History (HM, Experiential)

HI 200 History Colloquium
HI 381 Readings Seminar
HIST 395 Historiography and Methods
HIST 399 Senior Thesis

HI 118 Islam and the West (HM)/Dr. Jeffrey Diamond, 2-4-6, 11:20 and 2-4-6, 2:40
This class will provide an introductory history of the Islamic World through a comparative analysis of Muslim societies in the Middle 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 influence of colonialism, Muslim-Christian-Jewish relations and Islam as a political, social, and religious force in the contemporary world.

HI 122 Modern Latin America (HM)/Dr. Brian Larkin, 2-4-6, 9:40
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. 

HI 130 The Ancient World (HM)/Dr. Margaret Cook, 1-3-5, 1:00
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.

HI 141 Black Death to French Revolution (HM)/Dr. Elisabeth Wenger, 1-3-5, 1:00
Was the early modern period a time of fervent faith and intellectual traditionalism? Or was it an age of discovery where reason and science triumphed? Our examination of European history between the Black Death and Napoleon will investigate the tension between traditionalism and discovery by looking at the changing nature of religious and secular authority; intellectual developments in art, science, and philosophy; the roles of men and women in family and society; early modern globalization; the origins of the modern state.

152 American Experience (HM)/Dr. Dave Bennetts 1-3-5, 9:40and 1:00
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.

HI 152 American Experience (HM), Dr. Ken Jones, 2-4-6, 9:40
This section of HIST 152 focuses on the changing ability of Americans to succeed (or not) on the basis of their individual abilities.  At times in our past, factors like race, religion, class, and sex have sharply limited an individual's ability to make use of his/her talents.   Looking at the period since the Civil War, we will explore when and why these barriers eroded, and the on-going consequences.

HI 200 History Colloquium/Dr. Annette Atkins, 1-3-5, 11:20
In this course - designed for history majors and minors - we will approach history as an activity, as a thing we "do," as a set of stories that we put together and then explain to others.  Our topic will be the history of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University and the world of higher education in the United States.  We will work with documents, newspapers, oral interviews, and other primary sources to learn the stories of these places.  Our major class project will be an exhibit that we will research, design, and mount on some aspect of our history.  The seminar size will allow each student a major role in decision-making and project execution.   

HI 300M Asian American History (HM, Intercultural pending)/Dr. David Bennetts, 2-4-6, 1:00
This course examines the experiences of those Americans Ronald Takaki has called "Strangers from a Different Shore."  I refer, of course, to the immigrants, refugees and adopted children of Asian origin who have been coming to America since almost the beginnings of this nation.  Relying heavily on readings and other sources that allow these people to "speak for themselves," we will  discuss such themes as the "push and pull" factors of Asian immigration, cultural adjustment and challenges, the native response, generational change, and many others.  Particular attention will be given to Minnesota experience.

HI 305 Gandhi and Nationalism (HM, Intercultural)/Dr. Jeffrey Diamond 1-3-5, 2:40
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.

HI 317 Peoples Republic of China (HM)/Dr. Richard Bohr 2-4-6, 2:40
An evaluation of China's socialist revolution since 1949.Explores the rise of Communism in China; the China of Mao, Deng and beyond; 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 coming "Pacific Century."

HI 321 Colonial Mexic0 (HM, Intercultural)/Dr. Brian Larkin, 1-3-5, 11:20
The presence of the past immediately strikes foreign visitors to Mexico.  In Mexico City, the sprawling cosmopolitan capital of Mexico, ancient pyramids and Spanish colonial churches stand next to glass and steel skyscrapers.  Remnants of the colonial past are particularly visible.  Imposing Spanish cathedrals and palaces dominate the centers of almost all modern Mexican cities.  Spanish monasteries and government buildings dot the rural landscape.  The ubiquity of Spanish colonial art and architecture in modern-day
Mexico testifies to the profound impact Spanish colonization had and continues to have on Mexico.  The question we will explore during this semester is three-fold:  1) how did the Spaniards colonize Mexico from 1519-1821, 2) how did this process of colonization shape new societies and cultures in Mexico, and 3) how does this particular history of colonization continue to affect Mexico today?  Major themes that we'll examine in our exploration colonial Mexico include:  pre-Columbian culture, the Spanish conquest, religion, race relations, the family and gender, political reform, and independence.

HI 331 Medieval Mediterranean (HM, Intercultural)/Dr. Theresa Vann, 2-4-6, 1:00
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.

HI 336 The Renaissance (HM)/Dr. Elisabeth Wengler, 1-3-5, 9:40
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 into 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.

HI 347  Modern Britain (HM, Gender, Intercultural)/Dr. Cynthia Curran, 2-4-6, 9:40
This course examines the main social, economic, political, and cultural features of Britain from 1760 until the present.  These exciting and complex 250 years encompass the emergence of Britain as a modern state and powerful empire-builder, and its subsequent decline to a rather minor role in the world power structure.

While we shall proceed along a chronological framework, the class will adopt a thematic approach to British history.  By the end of the semester, students will have a firm grasp of cause and effect, in addition to understanding such themes as the true nature and scope of industrialization and the emergence and decline of the welfare state.  We will not neglect many of the dominant concerns of social historians which include a sensitivity to class and gender.

HI 349 Modern Russia (HM)/Dr. Gregory Schroeder, Monday 6-9 p.m.
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.

HI 360 US. Environmental History (HM)/Dr. Derek Larson, 1-3-5, 1:00
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 ideas 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.

HI 362 American Women Since 1920 (HM, Gender)/Dr. Martha Tomhave Blauvelt, 1-3-5, 9:40
How much have American women's lives changed since 1920?  How did women go about transforming the parameters of their own lives, and what did the eras of prosperity, depression, war, cold war, sixties radicalism and 80's conservatism mean for women?  To answer these questions, we will look at the experiences of women in both the public and private spheres, individually and in groups, and the different roles they played in historical change.  Students will conclude the course by projecting current historical trends and suggesting new directions for gender equality.

This course pays special attention to the evolution of women's images in film, changes in women's work, the development of an entire array of feminist, anti-feminist and a feminist philosophies, the position of women in law and current women's issues.  Among the books we may use for this course are: Coming on Strong, a history of women in 20th c. sport, Pauli Murray's autobiographies of her work as a NAACP lawyer, Dorothy Canfield's 1926 novel, The Home-maker in which a husband and wife switch roles.   Class emphasizes active participation in discussion and writing three essays; there are no in class exams.  

HI 365 American Indians Since 1865 (HM)/Dr. Julie Davis,1-3-5, 11:20
A study of United States Indians, primarily in the 20th century, with a focus on religious, economic and political areas which raise factors in cooperation and conflict between Indians and non-Indians."  A variety of readings and media will be used--from both Indian and non-Indian sources.

Course format involves much discussion, some lectures, and use of video-documentaries. Assignments include three-four reaction papers (about two pages each), two or three exams (approx. 50 points each), and one longer paper (7-8 pages), the latter giving scope for individual interest and research skills. Assignments include 3-4 reaction papers (approx. two pages each), two exams, and one longer paper (approx. 8-9 pages), the latter giving scope for individual interests.

HI 379 Intro to Public History (HM, Experiential)/Dr. Julie Davis, 1-3-5, 2:40
What, exactly, is public history? What do public historians do? And how do we make history that matters in public life? This course will address these questions as we learn about the definitions, theory, methods, and practice of public history. We also will explore various career possibilities and consider what it might be like to work as a public historian.

Students will read, analyze, discuss, and write responses to course readings. Course work also requires students to co-lead class discussion and participate in a group project that engages them in the process of making history.

HI 381 Readings Seminar/Dr. Derek Larson , 2-4-6, 2:40
"Life in 20th Century America"
The 20th century-labeled 'The American Century" by Time Magazine in 1941-was marked by rise of American political, military, economic, technological, and cultural dominance on the world stage.  At home these same forces reshaped American lifestyles as the growing economy brought more people into the middle class and boosted the standard of living for most others.  The pace of change was sometimes so rapid that some segments of society struggled to keep pace, as in the 1920 and 1960s.  At times these forces divided the country by region, by race, by gender, or by generation.  In other cases innovation and change brought people  closer together or created common experiences that helped homogenize some aspects of American life.  Much of what we experience as norms today, from our social divisions to the types of homes we live in, our tastes in music to what we eat, was shaped by currents of innovation and change in the 2oth century.

This section of HIST 381 will focus on works of history that explore issues that have shaped contemporary American life or informed issues that are still contested.  Recent works will be considered alongside prize-winning classics, all intended to offer a variety of examples of historical monographs using different sources, approaches, and methods to explore popular topics in 20th century American history emphasizing the contexts in which "regular people" lived their lives.  Likely topics will include the history of illicit drug use, the invention and rise of television, the evolution of attitudes toward sexuality, the impact of the automobile, the history of the popular music industry, the development of suburban America, and the lives of teenagers, among others.  The class will be structured as a discussion-based seminar, with books taking center stage.  Students will also learn how to locate, use, and write critical book reviews as part of the process of mastering the historical monograph as a form of historical inquiry and argument.  Learning "how to read a history book" is a rewarding and important skill to master-this class will help you do just that, while exploring fascinating topics in 20th century American history along the way.

HI 395 Historiography and Methods: History, Memory, and the Politics of Remembering /Dr.  Gregory Schroeder, 2-4-6, 1:00
In HIST 395, students are expected to develop the research skills and historiographical awareness required for their independent projects in HIST 399 Senior Thesis, the History major capstone course.  These goals are best achieved through the study of a specific subject matter, and for this particular course, our subjects are the concepts of "history" and "memory," i.e., the ways in which societies and people interpret the past, what they remember, and why they remember.  Sometimes, what is forgotten is as significant as what is remembered.  These topics are centrally important to the work of the historian, and so our work will not only develop research skills but also provide an opportunity to consider and discuss history and why it matters to us as individuals and societies.  Common course readings will cover theoretical works on the nature of history and memory - they are not the same thing -- as well as case studies on topics such as national identity, memorials, museums, historic sites, and debates over interpreting the past.  Many of the common readings pertain to the legacy of the Second World War and to European countries, but the course will explore other topics and countries as well.  For their final projects, students will select their own history/memory topic and employ their skills to design and write a historiographical essay.

HI 399 Senior Thesis/Dr. Elisabeth Wengler, Tuesday evening, 6-9 p.m.
The primary concern of this course is the theory and practice of historical research.  Students will learn research strategies and techniques as well as explore questions about the validation, analysis, and interpretation of historical evidence.  Each student will participate in class discussions about the historical theories and practices in question, submit periodic written and oral progress reports about individual research projects, and write a major paper about your research project.

Research topics may deal with any time period, and geographic region, and use a variety of methodological approaches to history.  The instructor will work individually with each student as s/he moves through the stages of the research project.  In some cases, depending on the topic the student's research may be directed by another history faculty who will serve as a co-sponsor.