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History Course Descriptions


HIST 104 Harry Potter and the Middle Ages (3)
You’ve read all the books; you’ve seen all the movies. Now you’re in college. Is it time to leave Harry Potter behind, along with your stuffed animals and band posters? No! It’s time to combine your love of the Potterverse with your new role as an apprentice in the modern descendant of the medieval universitas, the guild of scholars. In “Harry Potter and the Middle Ages,” we will explore the medieval historical, intellectual, and literary background to Rowling’s series of novels. The exploration of such topics as medieval magic and science, heresy and witchcraft, medieval manuscripts, alchemy, bestiaries, and medieval universities will provide us with a deeper understanding of both the Middle Ages and the Potter books.

HIST 105 Utopias (3)
The quest for an ideal society has emerged again and again throughout Western history. Plato’s dissatisfaction with the Athens of his day prompted him to write The Republic,
and Thomas More’s dismay with the inequalities and inequities of 16th century England led him to pen his Utopia. Beginning with selections from these seminal works, this interdisciplinary course will investigate 19th and 20th century utopian visions, as well as Academic Departments 140 Mount St. Mary’s University social experiments such as the Israeli kibbutz, American communes, and the co-housing movement. Might contemporary America be primed for another flowering of the utopian ideal?

HIST 106 Native Americans in Film (3)
This course will examine depictions of Native Americans in motion pictures from the early twentieth century to the present. Students will learn to critically view and assess
films depicting Native people and events in Native American history and to connect themes in the films to the historical experiences of Indians in the twentieth century.

HIST 107 History and Historically Based Games (3)
This course explores the way in which history is imagined, presented, formed, and deformed in historically based, deep strategy video games. Utilizing game theory, primary sources, and secondary readings, the course will analyze classic and contemporary games in an effort to answer such questions as: How does the narrative form of such games relate to their content? How can games serve as pedagogical device? What do games reflect about our understanding of various historical periods? As a final project, students will develop their own historically based deep strategy game.

HIST 108 Catholicism & Commerce in New France (3)
The interplay between the Catholic faith, personified by the Jesuits, and the fur trade, run by merchants and voyageurs, shaped the ethos of New France. Missionary zeal and the search for profit were compatible at times, but they also produced problems that Samuel de Champlain, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, and King Louis XIV tried to rectify with a progression of colonial policies. Essential sources for this course include excerpts from the Jesuit Relations, film, music, and literary works.

HIST 202 Making History (3)
One of three courses required for students who major in history. The course is designed to stoke the fires of enthusiasm for the conscious and deliberate analysis of the human interaction and activity that is central to historical discourse. Examines how historians piece together what they can about the past to produce a record of human activity that has meaning today. Each semester, working with a member of the department, students will address a particular theme and undertake research using primary and secondary sources. The professor may require students to work together on a course project or on other collaborative endeavors. Ideally, students should be able to apply what they learn in other department electives. (This is a Writing Intensive Course and should be taken no later than second semester of the sophomore year.)

THHI 204 Women of Faith (3)
An examination of women in the Christian tradition who have lived and taught the Christian message. Through lectures and discussions of primary texts, this course will investigate women’s contribution to Christianity. Meets history or theology requirements. (Same as THEOL 208)

HIST 206 Ancient Rome (3)
The theme of this course is romanitas, or “Roman-ness”—what it meant to be a Roman. Through our reading, discussion, and writing about primary sources, we will discover the meaning of this term from the legendary founding of Rome in 753 B.C. until the overthrow of the last western emperor in A.D. 476. In the first half of the course, after a brief look at the Etruscan heritage and the legends of the Roman monarchy, we will consider the Roman Republic, established in 509 B.C. We will study the creation of romanitas in the institutions, values and ideas of the Republic; the expansion of romanitas as Rome grew from a single city-state to the head of an Italian confederacy to the ruler of an empire ringing the Mediterranean; and challenges to romanitas during the Roman Revolution. The second half of the course will be devoted to Imperial Rome, which began in 27 B.C. Topics will include the revival of romanitas during the early Empire; further expansion of romanitas during the “Roman peace”; and more challenges to romanitas during Rome’s decline and fall. We will conclude by inquiring how romanitas survived the end of antiquity and was transformed in the beginning of the Middle Ages.

HIST 210 The High Middle Ages (3)
Ignorant barbarians or knights in shining armor? Dark Ages or Age of Faith? We in the twentieth century are heir to two contrasting images of the Middle Ages. One, the legacy of the Renaissance, sees the medieval era as the “Dark Ages”: centuries of gloom, barbarism, ignorance, and filth. The other is the creation of the nineteenth-century Romantics, who, reacting against the rationalism and classicism of the Enlightenment, saw new value in medieval culture. From the Romantics we get our picture of the Middle Ages as a time of knights and ladies, castles and cathedrals. Both these sets of images compete in our minds. But as scholars, we must attempt to get past these inherited preconceptions and discover the Middle Ages for ourselves. We will spend most of our time on the period around 1200, during the papacy of Innocent III (r. 1198 - 1216). Innocent III had his hand in most of the important developments of this period, from the growth of papal power to the suppression of heresy to new religious movements like the Franciscans to the Crusades to Magna Carta. We will explore each of these subjects using primary sources.

HIST 222 Age of Discovery (3)
This course examines European encounters with America, Asia, and Africa from the age of Columbus through the end of the early modern period. Taking trade, violence, and missionary activity as its primary themes, this course will analyze the causes and consequences of the expansion of European power across the globe. We will also analyze native responses to Europeans; the large scale changes engendered in Western Civilization by global encounters; and the emergence of Europe as a global scientific, political, and military power.

HIST 227 Tudor and Stuart Britain (3)
This course examines a period of remarkable transformation in Great Britain: from the medieval kingdom of Henry VII in 1485 to the powerful, commercial nation-state of Queen Anne in 1714. From witches to Shakespeare, the Reformation to the Glorious Revolution, students will study various aspects of Tudor and Stuart life to understand this change, considering not only political and religious developments, but also the gendered, cultural, and social relationships of British citizens during this period.

HIST 236 History of the Italian People (3)
Traces the evolution of modern Italian society, with an emphasis on the 20th century. Major topics include the Fascist dictatorship, the Resistance movement, post-war reconstruction, the influence of the church, and the Italian emigrant experience. Also seeks to understand the centrality of the family and the persistence of strong regional ties in Italy to this day.

HIST 255 Age of Jefferson and Jackson, 1790-1848 (3)
Investigates the evolution of American society from the beginnings of the federal republic to the end of the Jacksonian period. Special attention is devoted to the influence of Jefferson and Jackson, changes in politics and culture, and the interrelationship of Europeans, Africans, and Native Americans during this formative half-century.

HIST 260 The Age of the American Civil War, 1848-1877 (3)
An examination of the causes, conduct, and aftermath of the bloodiest conflict in American history. Through lectures and the discussion of readings drawn from the period, the course will examine antebellum American society and the break-up of the Union, the course of the war, and the political and social changes it engendered, and the effort to “Reconstruct” the defeated South.

HIST 265 United States Sport History (3)
Investigates the evolution of athletic activities in relation to larger changes in American society. Special attention will be paid to economics, politics, race, class, and gender as each has played and continues to play an important role in shaping participatory and spectator sport in the United States.

HIST 268 The Civil Rights Era (3)
The struggle for African American social, economic, and political equality from the early twentieth century to the present will be the focus of this course. First-hand accounts, documentaries, and secondary sources will be used to explore the major movements, leaders, and achievements of the Civil Rights Movement.

HIST 271 Conservatism in Modern U.S. Politics (3)
This course explores one of the most significant political developments of post-World War II America, the ascendency of the conservative movement. It approaches this topic in a largely chronological fashion, examining in turn the challenge presented by FDR and the New Deal, the conflict between conservatism’s libertarian, traditionalist and anti-communist strains, the eventual fusion of these three types of conservatism, the challenge presented by extremists within the movement, the accomplishments and limitations of Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign, the rise of the religious right, the transformative election of Ronald Reagan as president, and the challenges faced in exercising political power.

HIST 276 U.S. Women’s History to 1877 (3)
Explores the experiences of women from the colonial era to the beginnings of the women’s rights movement in the nineteenth century. It will examine the private lives of women, including marriage and family, sexuality and reproduction, and labor and education, and women’s participation in the public sphere, paying particular attention to how changing conceptions of gender have expanded or limited women’s social and cultural roles. While this course will explore the unity of women’s lives in the American past, it will also explore the ways race, ethnicity, and class have shaped women’s experiences. Students will gain an understanding of how gender was historically constructed and of important interpretive issues in early American women’s history.

HIST 277 Modern U.S. Women’s History (3)
Students will examine the lives and experiences of American women from the onset of the women’s rights movement in the second half of the 19th century to the recent past of the late 20th century. While this course focuses on women’s efforts to achieve political equality, it also explores women’s changing roles in relation to work, education, family life and popular culture. This course pays close attention to the ways that class, race, and ethnicity have shaped women’s experiences and the social movements of this period. Students will gain an understanding of significant events in modern women’s lives, the ways in which gender is and has been constructed, and the major interpretive issues shaping women’s history.

HIST 291 U.S. Catholic History (3)
Explores the development of Catholic communities in North America from early contacts between Europeans and Native Americans through the massive influx of Catholic immigrants in the nineteenth century to debates over authority and religious liberty in the twenty-first century. Using a variety of texts, ranging from personal narratives and sermons to film and literature, students will gain an understanding of the theological, political, and cultural tensions shaping the lives of Catholics in the United States from various ethnic, geographic, and economic backgrounds. Students will also draw on the history of Catholicism in Maryland.

HIST 295 America Since Reagan (3)
This course examines the “interesting times” that all of us have lived through—the more than two decades of American history that followed Ronald Reagan leaving the White House in January of 1989. During this tumultuous period, the United States experienced the end of the Cold War, the impeachment of a president, a disputed presidential election decided by the Supreme Court, the country’s worst terrorist attacks followed by our two longest wars, the near destruction of a major American city by hurricane, and the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression. The course will place these and other events in a meaningful historical context as well as explore the social and cultural changes of this period.

HIST/GEHI 307 South Africa (3)
Provides an introduction to the history of the Western Cape of southern Africa, which is today part of the Republic of South Africa. The course is organized around two chronological units: the pre-industrial Western Cape to 1870 and South Africa from 1870 to the present. The first unit explores the interaction between hunter-gatherers and pastoralists, frontiers of interaction between European colonists and the Khoisan, the construction of colonial identities, and slavery, racism, class formation, and politics. Topics in the second unit include: British imperialism, Afrikaner nationalism, “coloured identity,” the growth of working class consciousness, rural transformation and agricultural development, the struggle against apartheid, townships, the 1994 elections, tourism, and South Africa’s relationship with the United States.

HIST/GEHI 311 History of Mexico (3)
Beginning with Cortes’ violent conquest of the Aztec empire and continuing to Mexico’s present, this course introduces and challenges the traditional narratives of modern Mexican history. Students will study the history, art, literature, and politics of our often misunderstood neighbor to the south, while analyzing such important themes as native responses to conquest and colonization; the role of religion and the Church in Mexican society; Mexico’s struggles with modernity; and Mexican relations with the United States, including current debates on immigration, trade, and drug-cartel related violence.

HIST/GEHI 316 Central America and the Caribbean (3)
Provides an introduction to the history of Central America and the Hispanic Caribbean (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic) since the early nineteenth century. The course explores the dialogue between the “national,” political histories of the independent states that formed after centuries of Spanish colonial rule and the heterogeneous experiences of workers, farmers, peasants, artisans, and slaves. Within this framework, students will gain an understanding of aspects of land and labor systems, gender relations, race and ethnicity, community and class formation, state formation, and religion.

GEHI/HIIS 320 Islamic Civilization (3)
With its emphasis on reading, writing and discussion, this seminar is designed to challenge students who already know much about Islam as well as those who know little but desire to learn about the Muslim faith and culture. Principal themes include Allah’s revelations to Muhammad and the divine imperatives of Islam; Islamic literature and arts; Arab contributions to Western culture; and Muslims in the modern world and in contemporary American society.

GEHI/HIIS 321 The Inuit (3)
The Inuit (the “Eskimo”) have inhabited Arctic regions of Canada, Alaska, Greenland and Siberia for thousands of years. Their traditions have included respect for spirits in the sea, the sky, animals, and in themselves. They survived in relative isolation, having little contact with Qallunaat (or“white” non-Inuit people) until the latter half of the nineteenth century. As contact accelerated, Inuit life has been transformed and the future has looked less certain. By studying the Inuit, we explore the human will to survive; we ponder the moral dimensions of intercultural contact; and we evaluate our usually unquestioned faith in capitalism, industry, and Western political institutions.

HIST/GEHI 325 Age of Decolonization (3)
Explores the drama of national liberation and decolonization in several modern Asian and African settings. Surveys a variety of violent and nonviolent national insurgencies and imperial responses. Particular attention is devoted to the ideologies and legacies of such statesmen as Mahatma Gandhi, Frantz Fanon, and Haile Selassie I.

HIST/GEHI 335 Native American History (3)
This course surveys Native American history from pre-European settlement to the present. Through short lectures, readings, discussion, presentations, and writing assignments, we will examine major themes in the history of America’s Native peoples. Topics will include Native American cultures prior to European invasions, early contact between Native and European cultures, Native American roles in colonial and revolutionary America, Indian removal and resistance, response to consolidation and reservations, assimilation policy, the Indian New Deal, termination, self-determination, and contemporary Native American cultures. Students will be challenged to engage with Native American cultures and to use their study of this material to reflect on their own traditions and backgrounds.

HIST 350 Historical Methods (3)
This course introduces students to a host of historical approaches including Marxism, Annales, Feminism, and Postmodernism. Because the Catholic Intellectual Tradition has had a significant impact on both history and historiography, Catholic approaches to history will also be considered. These approaches to history will be considered in the context of the teaching professor’s primary teaching and research interests.
Prerequisite: HIST 202

HIST 353 Ancient Greece (3)
Imagine yourself spending a day in the Athens of the fifth century B.C.: debating legislation in the Assembly with Pericles, discussing philosophy in the agora with Socrates and Alcibiades, admiring the sculpture and architecture of the Parthenon, perhaps attending a performance of a tragedy or a comedy. Ah, the glory that was Greece. But wait a minute. Weren’t those Greeks a bunch of hypocrites? What kind of democracy excludes women and allows slaveholding? And wasn’t all that culture stolen from Egypt, anyway? Did you know that the ancient opinion of Athenian democracy was not that it wasn’t democratic enough, but that it was too democratic? Far from worrying that women and slaves had no power, the ancients grumbled that democracy gave power to the poor. This course explores these apparent contradictions. We encounter the Greeks on their own terms through the study of primary sources, and are introduced to modern interpretations of ancient history through our reading of secondary sources.
Prerequisite: HIST 202

HIST 356 The Italian Renaissance (3)
Between 1400 and 1600, the Italian peninsula produced such a dazzling array of artists, writers, and thinkers that modern scholars have often concluded that modern civilization was born, or rather, reborn, in Renaissance Italy. What explains Renaissance Italy’s brilliant cultural achievements, what was the society like that produced them, and what does the Italian Renaissance have to do with modern civilization? In this course, we will examine these questions as we explore the artwork, literature, and political thought of one of history’s most captivating eras.
Prerequisite: HIST 202

HIST 361 The French Revolution (3)
This course explores the French Revolution of 1789, considering its origins, dynamic, and consequences for France, Europe, and our Western heritage. The course considers a wide variety of primary sources from Old Regime Enlightenment treatises to scandalous revolutionary pamphlets attacking Marie Antoinette, while introducing students to the rich historiographical debates concerning the origins and outcomes of the Revolution.
Prerequisite: HIST 202

HIST 362 Modern Russia (3)
A survey of Russian history from the reign of Peter the Great to the present. Major themes include the expansion of the Tsarist empire, the rivalry between Westernizers and Slavophiles, the revolutions of 1905 and 1917, the Stalinist dictatorship, the impact of World War II, the Cold War, and the decline and fall of Soviet communism.
Prerequisite: HIST 202

HIST 366 Early American History: From Colony to Revolution (3)
This course examines the history of early American society and culture through a focus on four themes: gender, race/ethnicity, religion, and becoming American. Through primary and secondary sources students will engage in an exploration of these themes from the beginning of European colonization to the aftermath of the American Revolution.
Prerequisite: HIST 202

HIST 371 The Emergence of Modern America: U.S. History 1900-45 (3)
Explores American history from the Progressive Era to the end of World War II. In addition to an examination of the significant events of domestic and foreign policy in this period, this course pays special attention to questions of culture, gender, race, and ethnicity.
Prerequisite: HIST 202

HIST 375 U.S. History from 1945 to the Present (3)
Examines American social, cultural, and political history from the end of World War II to the present. Through lectures, primary and secondary source readings, class discussions, films and music we will explore the most significant themes of our most recent past. Additionally, students will engage in their own research projects during the semester. This course will especially focus on social and political movements, American foreign policy at home and abroad, changing notions of the role of government, and transformations in American popular culture.
Prerequisite: HIST 202

HIST 381 African American History (3)
Examines African American history from 1500 to the present. Topics to be covered include the origins of slavery and racism, slave resistance, emancipation, Reconstruction, the New Negro movement, the origins and development of the Civil Rights movement, Black Power, and current issues within the African American community.
Prerequisite: HIST 202

HIST 387 Manhood in America (3)
Manhood in America investigates competing models of manhood from the colonial period to the present. Few people realize that Americans have never had a cultural consensus on what it means to be “a man.” This course will investigate the origins of competing models of manhood by examining Native American, European, and African cultures. The course will also examine constructs such as Puritan fatherhood, the Code of Southern Honor, the male bachelor subculture, muscular Christianity, and the Organization Man. The roles of media, economic change, class status and religion in forming and perpetuating manhood models will be investigated.
Prerequisite: HIST 202

HIST 390 Canada Explored (3)
Readings, discussion, and research on a selected topic related to Canada’s history, politics, culture, or foreign relations. Past topics have included “The Canadian Woman since 1850,” “The Promise and Risks of an Independent Quebec,” “British Imperial Policy and Canadian Development,” and “Roots of the Canadian Confederation.” Sources may include government correspondence, memoirs, monographs, journal articles, literary works, music, and film.
Prerequisite: HIST 202

HIST 398 Independent Study (1 to 6)
Independent research or study in history. Requires approval of the instructor, the department chair, dean, and associate provost.

HIST 405 Queens, Kings, and Tyrants (4)
Monarchy has been the most common form of government in the history of the West, but since the Greeks the obligations, limits, and duties of monarchs have been questioned. Using historical examples, political thought, and literature, this course explores monarchy in all its facets, considering questions such as: What makes a good queen or king? What makes a tyrant? How should citizens and subjects respond to tyranny? Is it ever just to kill a king? This course fulfills the core leadership requirement.
Prerequisites: HIST 202 and HIST 350

HIST 410 Recent Native American History (4)
This course will examine the experience of Native American peoples from the late nineteenth century to the present. It will trace the development and consequences of key areas of federal Indian policy during this time, including: assimilation and the passage of the Dawes Severalty Act (1877), the so-called Indian New Deal, the Termination and Relocation programs of the 1950s, the rise of Indian activism in the 1960s and 1970s, and the current battle to retain tribal sovereignty and cultural continuity. The course focuses on the views and experiences of Native peoples, drawing on sources produced by Native American writers, activists, and speakers. It will also pay attention to the ways in which Native Americans and representations of their cultures have played an important role in the social and cultural history of the United States in this period.
Prerequisites: HIST 202 and HIST 350

HIST 438 Women, Gender, and Politics in European History (4)
This course explores the history of politics and gender, considering how historically and culturally constructed notions of sex and gender shaped political relationships from the Renaissance to the twentieth century. It examines how notions of gender have both undercut and promoted female and male agency in politics. In particular, students will consider how women and ideas about women shaped the development of Western political structures and thought, including those aspects of the Western tradition we value today: freedom, contractual government, political representation, equality, and universal education.
Prerequisites: HIST 202 and HIST 350

HIST 447 World War II and the Holocaust (4)
A study of the causes, course, and consequences of World War II, with an emphasis on the European theater. Major themes include the nature of Fascist ideology, the role of charismatic leadership (among both Axis and Allied forces), the social impact of “total war,” the Holocaust, collaborationist and resistance responses to Nazi occupation, efforts at post-war  econstruction, and reflections on the enduring legacies of the war.
Prerequisites: HIST 202 and HIST 350

HIST 465 Nineteenth-Century Diplomacy (4)
This seminar, focused primarily on Europe but including developments of importance for the Atlantic world, examines diplomatic relations from the Congress of Vienna and the Treaty of Ghent to the eve of World War I. Emphasis is placed on the active role of ambassadors in the 19th century and the forces that complicated the diplomatic process as Europe moved toward a general war. The analysis of documents, treaties, memoirs, and period literature is an integral part of this course.
Prerequisites: HIST 202 and HIST 350

HIST 480 History Internship (1 to 6)
Work experience in a field related to history for seniors or juniors. Only three credit hours will apply toward requirement for the major.

HIST 498 Senior Seminar (3)
In the fall of their senior year, majors will participate in a capstone seminar devoted to a historical theme spanning a sizable chronological period or encompassing a range of human societies (for instance “Power and Soul,” or “Faith and Reason”). As a community of young historians, seminar participants will pool historical knowledge and skills gained throughout their undergraduate coursework. Students will conclude the seminar by writing a 13-15 page integrative historiographical essay.
Prerequisites: HIST 202 and HIST 350


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