[C] This course will explore World War II in global perspective. Historians of Europe, Japan, and the United States will join together to teach the history of the world’s most destructive war. Topics include the rise of militant regimes in Germany and Japan; German and Japanese aggression in the 1930s; the attack on Pearl Harbor; famous battles of the war; the Holocaust; German and Japanese occupation practices; civilian life in the Allied and Axis countries; and the later memory of the war. The course will also address moral controversies raised by the war, including the Anglo-American firebombing of Germany and the decision to drop the atomic bomb. Texts for the course will include film, memoirs, government documents, graphic and other novels, and secondary accounts of the war. Class will consist of two lectures and one discussion section per week.
Omitted 2011-12. Professors Epstein, Maxey, and K. Sweeney.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 104 [C] and ENST 220.) This course considers the ways that people in various parts of the world thought about and acted upon nature during the nineteenth century. We look historically at issues that continue to have relevance today, including: invasive species, deforestation, soil-nitrogen availability, water use, desertification, and air pollution. Themes include: the relationship of nineteenth-century colonialism and environmental degradation, gender and environmental change, the racial dimensions of ecological issues, and the spatial aspects of human interactions with nature. We will take at least one field trip. In addition, we will watch three films that approach nineteenth-century environmental issues from different vantage points. Two class meetings per week.
Spring semester. Professor Melillo.2023-24: Not offered
[C] This course examines the environmental history of the world since 1900 with a particular focus on Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and China. We will use books, articles, four films, and a range of online media to illuminate the comparative and interdisciplinary possibilities of global environmental history. In addition to studying the past, we will explore how to use historical knowledge in the formulation of policy recommendations and grassroots initiatives for addressing contemporary environmental issues. Two class meetings per week.
Fall semester. Professor Melillo.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2019, Spring 2022
(Offered as HIST 112 [Cp] and RUSS 230.) In the course of five hundred years, the Russian empire in Eurasia evolved as the largest territorial polity in the world. In this course, we will explore the medieval foundations of the imperial state and look at its predecessors and models (Kievan Rus’ and the empire of the Mongols), discuss ways in which cooperation and resistance shaped the imperial state and society, and study cultural and political entanglements among different ethnic, linguistic and confessional groups in Eurasia. Chronologically, we will cover the period from the 10th century to the crisis of the empire in the early 20th century. Thematically, we will focus on structures of imperial state and society (the imperial house, peasantry, nobility, confessions, intelligentsia, revolutionary movement) and most important regions of the Russian Empire (Ukraine, the Caucasus, the Baltics, Siberia, Central Asia).
Faculty from the Five College Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies Certificate program will contribute lectures and discussions to the class. The course serves as the core course to the Five College REEES Certificate. Requirements will include several reaction papers, map quiz, mid-term exam and final research paper. Two class meetings per week.
Spring semester. Five College Professor Glebov.2023-24: Not offered
[EUP] The period from the rise of the Holy Roman Empire to the discovery of the New World has been rightly described as the "making of Europe." This course explores aspects of medieval institutions, society and culture from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia and beyond, looking at royal and aristocratic authority, the power of the papacy, and the emergence of urban classes. Attention will be drawn to agrarian and commercial revolutions, to technological advances and revivals of intellectual activity, letters and the arts, but also to warfare and religious conflict. We will discover how people lived, how they viewed themselves, and how their perceptions of the world changed. Two class meetings per week.
Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Five College Professor Shawcross.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 125 [EUP] and EUST 125.) This introductory survey covers Western, Central and Eastern Europe and the European parts of the Ottoman Empire during the period from approximately 1500 to 1800. It looks at the main political developments of the period, with special attention to court culture, rebellions and revolutions, colonial expansion and contraction, and the clash of states and empires. It examines new developments in long-distance trade, agriculture, industry, finance, warfare, media and the arts, and their impact on social life, politics and the environment. It looks at the emergent slave systems of Europe and her colonies as well as the Ottoman Empire. And it analyzes religious conflict and accommodation with respect to Catholics, Protestants, the Eastern Orthodox, Jews, Muslims and “non-believers.” The course aims to uncover the political, ethnic and religious diversity of Early Modern Europe as well as to plumb the roots of present-day conflicts and controversies about the historical definition of “Europe” and “Europeans.” Two class meetings per week.
Omitted 2011-12. Professor Hunt.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 132 [EU] and EUST 133.) This course offers a broad survey of European history in the twentieth century. It will cover events such as World War I; the Bolshevik Revolution and the ensuing Soviet experiment; the Spanish Civil War; Nazism, World War II, and the Holocaust; the Cold War in Europe; the collapse of communism; and the Balkan Wars in the 1990s. In addition, the course will focus on the broad themes of twentieth-century European history: the confrontation between liberalism, fascism, and communism; the role of nationalism; the development of the welfare state; the decline of Europe’s role in the world; the movement for European unity; and changing notions of race, class, and gender during the course of the century. Course materials will focus on primary documents, including films, memoirs, novels, political manifestos, and government and other official documents. Three class meetings per week.
Limited to 60 students. Spring semester. Professor Epstein.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 136 [EU] and RUSS 235.) This course will explore the history of Soviet state and society through the revolutionary turmoil, Stalin’s socio-economic transformations and terror, World War II and the Cold War. As we follow the development of the Soviet Union, we will focus on topics such as the role of ideology in policy and everyday life, people’s reactions and adaptations to unprecedented pressures of “really existing socialism,” function of terror, repression and accommodation in Communist society, and the place of the USSR on the changing map of world powers in the twentieth century. While we will discuss the role of leaders and institutions, we will also pay attention to cultures and practices of everyday life that developed behind the Iron Curtain. Materials for the class will include writings by contemporary historians, memoirs, novels, films, and art works from the Mead Museum. Two class meetings per week.
Fall semester. Five College Professor Glebov.2023-24: Not offered
[USP] A survey of early American history from the late 1500s to the mid-1700s. The course begins by looking at Native American peoples and their initial contacts with European explorers and settlers. It examines comparatively the establishment of selected colonies and their settlement by diverse European peoples and enslaved Africans. The last half of the course focuses on the social, economic, political, and cultural conditions influencing the rise of the British colonies. Three class meetings per week.
Omitted 2011-12. Professor K. Sweeney.2023-24: Not offered
[US] A survey of American history from the early national period to the turn of the century, with an emphasis on social history. The course will trace the growth of slavery, the dispossession of Native Americans, Civil War and Reconstruction, the rise of postwar large-scale industry, and big cities. Topics will include changing ethnic, racial, gender, and class relations, the struggles between labor and capital, and the emergence of middle-class culture. The format will include lectures and weekly discussions; readings will be drawn from both original and secondary sources. Two class meetings per week.
Spring semester. Professor Saxton.2023-24: Not offered
[US] The course traces United States political, social, and cultural history from 1900 to the present. Among the topics covered are the rise of the modern corporation, class conflict and the Progressive movement; immigration, ethnic pluralism, and the rise of mass culture; the Great Depression and the New Deal; World War II, the Cold War, and McCarthyism; the civil rights, women’s and environmental movements, the New Left, the New Right, and the continuing inequalities of race and class. Films and videos will regularly supplement class readings. Three class meetings per week.
Limited to 40 students. Spring semester. Professor Couvares.Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020
(Offered as HIST 160 [LAP/AFP] and BLST 191 [CLA/D].) This course maps the range of black experiences in Latin America and the Caribbean from the emergence of Atlantic slave-based economies in the sixteenth century to the 1844 slave conspiracy of La Escalera in Cuba. It treats the Atlantic Ocean as a crossroads of diverse cultures and as a point of reference for understanding the condition of Africans and people of African descent. Topics of discussion will include the rise of the transatlantic slave trade, slave and free black communities, the meaning of Africa and African culture, changing ideas of freedom, and forms of black activism. We will read Alejo Carpentier’s historical novel The Kingdom of This World (1949), slave narratives and monographic works on the British colony of Demerara (today Guyana), Mexico, Peru, Jamaica, Brazil, Haiti and Cuba. Two class meetings per week.
Fall semester. Professor Castro Alves.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 161 [LA/AF] and BLST 101 [CLA/D].) This course explores the historical roots of contemporary racial formations in Latin America and the Caribbean. It focuses particularly on the black experiences, inter-ethnic conflicts and racial solidarities in Brazil, Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti and Puerto Rico from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. Topics of discussion will include the struggles for emancipation from slavery, black notions of sovereignty, forms of black nationalism, Pan-Africanism, and political radicalism. We will examine a multiplicity of historical sources, including novels, music, film, personal testimonies, and historical monographs in order to understand the black diaspora as both an historical process and as a seedbed for various identities, racial cultures and political projects. Two class meetings per week.
Spring semester. Professor Castro Alves.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 171 [ASP] and ASLC 124 [C].) A survey of Chinese history from ancient times to the eighteenth century. We will focus on texts and artifacts to explore the classical roots and historical development of Chinese statecraft, philosophy, religion, art, and literature. Using these media for evidence, we will trace the histories of inter-state relations, imperial institutions, global commerce, and family-based society through the ancient Han empire, the great age of Buddhism, the medieval period of global trade, and the Confucian bureaucratic empires that followed the Mongol world conquest. We will also compare these histories to those of European and other civilizations, considering Chinese and non-Chinese views of the past. Readings include the Analects of Confucius and other Confucian and Daoist texts, Buddhist tales and early modern fiction, selections from the classic Records of the Grand Historian (Shiji), and Jonathan Spence’s Emperor of China: Self-portrait of Kangxi. Two class meetings per week.
Fall semester. Professor Dennerline.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2022, Fall 2023
(Offered as HIST 172 [AS] and ASLC 146 [C].) A survey of Chinese history from the Manchu conquest of 1644 to the present. Beginning with the successes and failures of the imperial state as it faced global economic development, expanding European empires, and internal social change, we will study the Opium War, massive nineteenth-century religious rebellions, Republican revolution and state-building, the “New Culture” movement, Communist revolution, the anti-Japanese war, Mao’s Cultural Revolution, and the problems of post-Mao reform, all with comparative reference to current events. Readings, which include a wide variety of documents such as religious and revolutionary tracts, eye-witness accounts, memoirs, and letters, are supplemented by interpretive essays and videos. Two class meetings per week.
Omitted 2011-12. Professor Dennerline.Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2023
(Offered as HIST 175 [ASP] and ASLC 225 [J].) This is a writing attentive survey of Japan’s history from antiquity to the early-eighteenth century. It traces political, social, and cultural developments in order to provide basic literacy in pre-modern Japanese history and a basis both for comparative history and further course work in Japanese history. Prominent themes include the rise of early polities, contact with the Chinese continent and Korean peninsula, the aristocratic culture of the Heian court and its displacement by medieval samurai rule, the role of Buddhist thought and institutions, the “warring states” period of the sixteenth-century and cosmopolitan contact with Christian Europe, the Tokugawa peace and its urban cultural forms. Throughout, we will read a variety of sources, including eighth-century mythology, aristocratic literature, chronicles of war, religious and philosophical texts, as well as modern fiction and film. Classes will combine lectures with close readings and discussions of the assigned texts. Requirements include short response papers and topical essays. Two class meetings per week.
Fall semester. Professor Maxey.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 176 [AS] and ASLC 247 [J].) This course surveys the modern history of the Japanese archipelago, from the late-Tokugawa period through the rise of the modern Meiji nation-state, colonial expansion and total war. We will conclude with the postwar economic recovery and the socio-political challenges facing the Japanese nation-state in the early-2000s. Through primary documents, fiction, and film, we will explore themes including the disestablishment of the samurai class, industrialization, imperialism, feminism, nationalism, war, democracy, and consumerism. Classes will consist of lectures along with close readings and discussions. Requirements include short response papers and topical essays. Three class meetings per week.
Spring semester. Professor Maxey.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 181 [AF] and BLST 221 [A].) This is a history of Africa from the late nineteenth century to the present day. In the first half of the course, we will study the imperial scramble to colonize Africa; the broader integration of African societies into the world economy; the social, political and medical impact of imperial policies; Western popular images of Africa in the colonial period; the nationalist struggles that resulted in the independent African states; and the persistent problems faced by those post-colonial states. In the final half of the course, we will investigate three cases: Congo-Zaire and the state as a source of chaos through the Second Congo War; violence, liberation and memories of childhood in late colonial Rhodesia and postcolonial Zimbabwe; the political history of economic development programs and the advent of “resource conflicts,” particularly those involving diamonds. Three class meetings per week.
Omitted 2011-12. Professor Redding.Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2023
(Offered as HIST 190 [MEP] and ASLC 126 [WA].) This course surveys the history of the Middle East from the outset of the Islamic period to the beginning of the modern period. It is divided into the following segments: the formative period of Islam, the classical caliphates, the classical courts, the Mongols, and the great empires of the Ottomans and the Safavids. The course is organized chronologically and follows the making and breaking of empires and political centers; however, the focus of the course is on the intellectual, social, cultural and religious developments in these periods. Two class meetings per week.
Omitted 2011-12. Professor Ringer.Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2022
(Offered as HIST 191 [ME] and ASLC 148 [WA].) This course surveys the history of the Middle East from 1800 to the present. The focus is threefold: following political, social and intellectual trends as they evolve over time, exploring contemporary historical and methodological debates and analysis, and introducing students to important historical literature of the period. The class is divided into modules: “From Subject to Citizen,” “Engineering a Modern Middle East,” “Nationalism and the Quest for Independence,” “Islamist Opposition,” and “Taking Sovereignty: Contemporary Debates and the Post-Modern Era.” The class is discussion-oriented and writing intensive. Two class meetings per week.
Fall semester. Professor Ringer.2023-24: Not offered
[c] For thousands of years, wild and domesticated plants have played crucial roles in the development of cultures and societies. Students in this course will consider human relationships with plants from a global-historical perspective, comparing trends in various regions and time periods. We will focus on the Neolithic Agricultural Revolution, seed-saving practices, medicinal plants, religious rites, food traditions, biopiracy, agribusiness, and biofuels. Two class meetings per week.
Omitted 2011-12. Professor Melillo.2023-24: Not offered
[CP/AS] This course explores the historical relationship between the Spanish Empire and the peoples and environments of the Pacific Ocean region. We will begin in 1571 with the opening of Manila as a Spanish trading port and end in 1898 with the Spanish-American War. Over the course of the semester, we will discuss the trans-Pacific silver and silk trades, the function of Catholic missionaries in shaping the Pacific World, environmental exchanges between the Americas and Asia, indigenous resistance to imperialism, and the role of Pacific peoples in the development of the world economy. Two class meetings per week.
Spring semester. Professor Melillo.2023-24: Not offered
[C] Disease has always been a part of human experience; doctoring is among our oldest professions. This course surveys the history of Western medicine from antiquity to the modern era. It does so by focusing on the relationship between medical theory and medical practice, giving special attention to Hippocratic medical learning and the methods by which Hippocratic practitioners built a clientele, medieval uses of ancient medical theories in the definition and treatment of disease, the genesis of novel chemical, anatomical, and physiological conceptions of disease in the early modern era, and the transformations of medical practice associated with the influence of clinical and experimental medicine in the nineteenth century. The course concludes by examining some contemporary medical dilemmas in the light of their historical antecedents. Two class meetings per week.
Spring semester. Professor Servos.2023-24: Not offered
[EUP] An introduction to some major issues in the history of science from antiquity to the twentieth century. Topics will include the genesis and decay of a scientific tradition in Greco-Roman antiquity, the reconstitution of that tradition in medieval Europe, the revolution in scientific methods of the seventeenth century, and the emergence of science as a source of power, profit, and cultural authority during the past century. Two class meetings per week.
Omitted 2011-12. Professor Servos.2023-24: Not offered
[US] A survey of the social, political, and institutional development of science in America from the Civil War to the present. Emphasis will be on explaining how the United States moved from the periphery to the center of international scientific life. Topics will include the professionalization of science; roles of scientists in industry, education, and government; ideologies of basic research; and the response of American scientists to the two world wars, the Depression, and the Cold War. Two class meetings per week.
Spring semester. Professor Servos.2023-24: Not offered
[c] The recent trend of big-name celebrities adopting children from the developing world has made international child welfare the subject of rich public debate. Is it right for citizens of wealthier countries to remove children from poorer nations to give them a better life, or does this act constitute a blatant case of cultural imperialism and “child stealing”? The issue hinges on the question of whether it is possible to define a single, universal standard of child welfare. If the answer is yes, then intervening into other families and societies is justified to give all children a “proper childhood.” If the answer is no, then all manner of child-centered humanitarianism becomes subject to critique. This course explores the historical roots of these current social issues. It begins by analyzing the creation of a “modern” definition of childhood in the era of the Enlightenment, then follows the attempts of nineteenth and twentieth century reformers to extend this model of childhood throughout Europe and the European empires. Topics include debates over the limits of parental rights, the role of ethnicity and culture in childrearing, definitions of child abuse, international charities and NGOs, adoption, and child psychology. Two class meetings per week.
Fall semester. Professor Boucher.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2015
[EUP] Immortalized in modern books and on film, the Crusades were a central phenomenon of the Middle Ages. This course examines the origins and development of the Crusades and the Crusader States in the Islamic East. It explores dramatic events, such as the great Siege of Jerusalem, and introduces vivid personalities, including Richard the Lionheart and Saladin. We will consider aspects of institutional, economic, social and cultural history and compare medieval Christian (Western and Byzantine), Muslim and Jewish perceptions of the crusading movement. Finally, we will critically examine the resonance the movement continues to have in current ideological debates. Two class meetings per week.
Omitted 2011-12. Five College Professor Shawcross.Other years: Offered in Fall 2023
[EUP] Based in Constantinople--ancient Byzantium and present-day Istanbul--the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine Empire, survived the collapse of the Western Roman Empire by over a millennium. This long-lived state on the crossroads of Europe and Asia was Roman in law, civil administration, and military tradition, but predominantly Greek in education and language, and Christian in religion. The course explores the changing face of medieval Byzantium as it turned itself into one of the greatest civilizations the world has known. We trace the empire's survival through the dramatic centuries of the Islamic conquests, Iconoclasm, and the Crusades, until its final fall to the Ottoman Turks. Two class meetings per week.
Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Five College Professor Shawcross.
(Offered as HIST 229 [EUP] and EUST 229.) This course begins with the political, social, cultural and economic upheavals of late seventeenth-century England, France, and the Netherlands. The second part of the course will look at the Enlightenment as a distinctive philosophical movement, evaluating its relationship to science, to classical antiquity, to organized religion, to new conceptions of justice, and to the changing character of European politics. The final part will look at the Enlightenment as a broad-based cultural movement. Among the topics discussed here will be the role played by Enlightened ideas in the French Revolution, women and non-elites in the Enlightenment, scientific racism, pornography and libertinism, orientalism, and the impact of press censorship. Readings for the course will include works by Descartes, Locke, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Hume, Adam Smith, Choderlos de Laclos, Kant and others. Two class meetings per week.
Spring semester. Professor Hunt.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 230 [EU] and EUST 230.) Often viewed as one of the defining events in modern history, the French Revolution has been debated and discussed, derided and celebrated by generations of politicians, cultural commentators, and historians. This course enters into this on-going conversation by examining the nature of the revolutionary process as it unfolded in late eighteenth-century France and its empire. Beginning in the “old regime” of kings and commoners, it untangles the social, political, and intellectual roots of the Revolution and investigates the extent to which these factors contributed to the radical overthrow of the French establishment in 1789. It then follows the extension of the Revolution throughout French society and across the seas to the Caribbean, analyzing how popular and colonial upheavals influenced the revolutionary new order of “liberty, equality, and brotherhood” that was taking shape in France. Finally, the course explores the aftermath of the Revolution by tracing the various ways that its history has been interpreted and reinterpreted from the nineteenth century to the present day. Two class meetings per week.
Spring semester. Professor Boucher.Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Fall 2014, Spring 2018
(Offered as HIST 231 [EU] and EUST 231.) From the mid-eighteenth century through the 1960s, Britain presided over the most powerful empire in the world. At its height, this small island nation ruled one-quarter of the earth’s surface and more than 450 million of its inhabitants. Not only did British imperialism play a decisive role in shaping world politics, economics, and cultures in its day, it also left a number of profound legacies that continue to affect our lives in the present. This course traces the rise, fall, and lasting influence of the British empire, and pays particular attention to questions of race and ethnicity. Through a series of colonial encounters --such as the first contacts made between explorers and Pacific Islanders in the 18th century, the interactions between missionaries and Africans in the 19th century, or the migration of South Asians to Britain in the 20th century--it examines what “race” meant in different historical contexts. The course thus explores the institutionalization of racism in government, law, and society, and analyzes moments in which racism has been combated and overturned. Readings and course materials will be drawn from secondary and primary sources, including newspapers, novels, photographs, artwork, oral histories, and films. Two class meetings per week.
Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Boucher.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 234 [EU] and EUST 234.) This course will explore the history of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. It will examine the emergence of Hitler and Nazism in Germany, Nazi ideology and aesthetics, Nazi racial policies, daily life in the Third Reich, women under Nazism, resistance to the Nazis, Nazi foreign policy and World War II, the Holocaust, and the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial. Class participants will also discuss themes that range beyond the Nazi case: How do dictatorships function? What constitutes resistance? How and why do regimes engage in mass murder? Texts will include films, diaries, memoirs, government and other official documents, and classic and recent scholarly accounts of the era. Three class meetings per week.
Limited to 60 students. Omitted 2011-12. Professor Epstein.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 242 [USP] and AHRA 133) Using architecture, artifacts, visual evidence and documentary sources, the course examines social and cultural forces affecting the design and use of domestic architecture, home furnishings, and domestic technology in the eastern United States from 1600 to 1960. In addition to providing a survey of American domestic architecture, the course provides an introduction to the study of American material culture. Field trips to Historic Deerfield, Old Sturbridge Village, Hartford, Connecticut, and sites in Amherst form an integral part of the course. Two class meetings per week.
Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2011-12. Professor K. Sweeney.2023-24: Not offered
[USP] This course examines selectively the histories and contemporary cultures of particular groups of American Indians. It will focus on Algonquian- and Iroquoian-speaking native peoples of the east in the period from 1600 to 1800; Indians of the northern plains during the 1800s and 1900s; and the Pueblo and Navajo peoples from the time before their contacts with Europeans until the present day. Through a combination of readings, discussions, and lectures, the course will explore the insights into Native American cultures that can be gained from documents, oral traditions, artifacts, films and other sources. Three class meetings per week.
Fall semester. Professor K. Sweeney.2023-24: Not offered
[US or AS] This is an introductory survey course on the history of Asian Pacific Americans (A/P/A) within the broader historical context of imperialism in the Asia-Pacific region. We will compare and contrast the historical experiences of specific groups of the A/P/A community; namely, those of Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Southeast Asian (Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Hmong), Asian Indian, and Pacific Islander descent.
The course will provide a fundamental understanding of the ways in which A/P/A history is inextricably linked to the United States goal to establish military, economic, and cultural hegemony in the world and will examine colonial and neo-colonial policies both in the U.S. and the Asia-Pacific region. Themes include colonialism, racism, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and transnationalism. Two class meetings per week.
Spring semester. Five College Professor Chu.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 252 [USP] and WAGS 252.) This course looks at the experiences of Native American, European and African women from the colonial period through the Civil War. The course will explore economic change over time and its impact on women, family structure, and work. It will also consider varieties of Christianity, the First and Second Awakenings and their consequences for various groups of women. Through secondary and primary sources and discussions students will look at changing educational and cultural opportunities for some women, the forces creating antebellum reform movements, especially abolition and feminism, and women’s participation in the Civil War. Two class meetings per week.
Omitted 2011-12. Professor Saxton.Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2023
(Offered as HIST 253 [US] and WAGS 253.) This course begins with an examination of the experience of women from different racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds during Reconstruction. It will look at changes in family life as a result of increasing industrialization and the westward movement of settler families, and will also look at the settlers’ impact on Native American women and families. Topics will include the work and familial experiences of immigrant women (including Irish, Polish, and Italian), women’s reform movements (particularly suffrage, temperance, and anti-lynching), the expansion of educational opportunities, and the origins and programs of the Progressives. The course will examine the agitation for suffrage and the subsequent splits among feminists, women’s experiences in the labor force, and participation in the world wars. Finally, we will look at the origins of the Second Wave and its struggles to transcend its white middle-class origins, the challenges working mothers face in contemporary society, and women's experience with the criminal justice system. Two class meetings per week.
Omitted 2011-12. Professor Saxton.2023-24: Not offered
[US] This course will look at the development of our penal system and place it in the context of the economic and political development of the U.S. We will begin with the introduction of the penitentiary in the antebellum period at a time of extraordinary economic expansion and optimism about social institutions. After the Civil War we will look at changing ideas of criminal control as rapid industrialization in the North and large waves of immigration produced labor unrest and unprecedented urban poverty. We also explore the convict-lease system in the post-emancipation “New South” after the abandonment of hopes for Reconstruction. We will look at Progressives’ creation of the juvenile justice system at the turn of the century as well as ideas linking criminality with heredity. The course will conclude by examining the current boom in prison populations and place this growth in the context of our post-industrial economy and growing economic inequality. The course will be conducted inside a correctional facility and enroll an equal number of Amherst students and residents of the facility. Permission to enroll will be granted on the basis of a questionnaire and personal interview with the instructor. Amherst students studying the philosophical and material development of the penal system within the Northampton jail in the company of incarcerated men will get the benefit of their fellow students’ personal experience of that system. The setting creates the unique pedagogical opportunity to bring together the two perspectives. One class meeting per week.
Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2011-12.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 256 [US] and POSC 311[AP, IR].) This course will combine the methods of diplomatic history and political science in examining critical moments and themes in American diplomacy. Our overall aim is to better understand the evolving position of the United States in world politics as well as domestic controversies over the character of America’s global role. Specifically, we will assess the combined influence of racism and ethnicity as well as of religious and secular values and class interest on American diplomacy. We shall also investigate the major domestic political, social, economic and intellectual trends and impulses, (e.g., manifest destiny, isolationism and counter-isolationism, and containment) that have shaped American diplomacy; analyze competing visions for territorial conquests and interventions as advocated by various American elites; examine the methods used to extend the nation’s borders, foreign trade and international influence and leadership; and seek to understand the impact of key foreign policy involvements and controversies on the character of the Presidency, Congress and party politics. Among the topics to be considered are the Federalist/Anti-Federalist debates over the scope of constitutional constraints on foreign policy, the Monroe Doctrine, the Mexican War, the imperialist/anti-imperialist debate, the great power diplomacies of Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and FDR, as well as key moments of American diplomacy during the Cold War (e.g., the origins of the Cold War, the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, and the end of the Cold War. One class meeting per week.
Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2011-12. Professors G. Levin and Machala.Other years: Offered in Fall 2012
[LA] Latin Americans began their struggle for democracy during the Independence wars at the start of the 19th century. Their struggle continues today. This course considers the historical meanings of democracy in various Latin American countries, with particular attention to the relationship between liberalism and democracy in the 19th century; the broadening of democracy at the start of the 20th century; the rise and fall of military dictatorships in the 1960s-80s and their impact upon civil society; and the current clashes between neo-Liberal economic programs and the neo-populist resurgence of the left. Readings and discussions will focus on the ways broad economic and political shifts impacted individuals' lives; how each economic class experienced these shifts differently; the way race and gender have shaped peoples' experience with democratization and repression; and the personal processes of radicalization by which individuals became inspired to take risks in their struggle for inclusion and against repression. Because the approach is thematic and chronological, some countries and regions will receive more attention than others. Meetings and readings will draw on secondary studies, historical documents, testimonials, music, images, and film. Two meetings per week.
Spring semester. Professor López.2023-24: Not offered
[LA] Environmental history has taken off in exciting new directions. Lament over the felling of the trees has given way to larger questions that connect environmental history with social, political, and economic issues. In this course we will focus on the unexpected links that exist between environmental impacts (such as environmental degradation, desertification, soil “exhaustion,” species extinction, genetic simplification, oil extraction, biotic invasions, deforestation, pesticide contamination, and animal grazing) and human problems (such as colonial and imperial domination, declining subsistence, defense and violation of civil rights, income inequality, scientific racism, regional underdevelopment, incomplete capitalist transformation, social marginalization, and political violence). Questions we will engage include: How have environmental changes contributed to, or otherwise conditioned, processes of conquest and domination? How have these processes of conquest, domination, and resistance, in turn, altered the environmental? What models of environmental activism have worked inLatin America, and which have not? Why? What about the Latin American context is typical and what is unique? Can history guide us in our current efforts to develop a sustainable approach to the environment that helps the land and its fauna, but does so in a way that brings greater justice and self-determination to the people who live there, while at the same time balancing the interests of the state and of investors? The class will introduce students to classic texts in Latin American environmental history (including the foundational studies by Warren Dean and Elinore Melville), as well as some of the newest scholarship. Two class meetings per week.
Omitted 2011-12. Professor López.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 275 [AS] and ASLC 249 [C].) In 1895 the emergent Japanese empire imposed a humiliating defeat on the declining Qing empire in China, began the colonization of Korea and Taiwan, and set in motion the reformist and revolutionary trends that would shape the political culture of the Chinese nation in later times. In 1919, concessions by the Chinese warlord regime in Beijing to Japan at Versailles sparked the student movement that would further radicalize the political culture and ultimately divide the nation politically between Nationalist and Communist regimes. This course focuses on the intellectual, cultural, political, and economic issues of the era in between, when, despite the weakness of the state, the creative visions and efforts of all informed people were in line with those of progressives throughout the world. We will explore these visions and efforts, with special reference to national identities, civil society, and global integration, and we will consider their fate in wartime, Cold War, and post-Cold War Asia. Two class meetings per week.
Fall semester. Professor Dennerline.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 283 [AFP] and BLST 121 [A].) South African history is undergoing radical shifts in the way it is being written, read and interpreted, and this course will explore established and emerging themes in the history of this intriguing country. The time period covered will span the precolonial indigenous cultures and move on to study the initiation and expansion of white settlement and its early dependence on slave labor. The course will also investigate African resistance, both in its political and cultural forms, as well as the social effects of gold-mining and migrant labor. African nationalism, including the ANC, the Black Consciousness Movement, and the United Democratic Front, will be the focus of our study of the responses to apartheid and the ultimate collapse of the apartheid state. The course will end with discussions of recent events in South Africa, particularly the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its aftermath as well as the developing AIDS epidemic and the growing problem of crime. Two class meetings per week.
Spring semester. Professor Redding.Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2021, Spring 2023
(Offered as HIST 284 [AFP] and BLST 211 [A].) The African continent has been called by one historian the social laboratory of humanity. Art, trade, small-scale manufacturing, medical knowledge, religion, state systems, history and legend all flourished before the formal political take-over of the continent by European powers in the late nineteenth century and continue to have a decisive impact on African societies today. It is this varied and sometimes difficult to access history of states and cultures in the period before 1885 that this course will examine. Initially, we will investigate the notion of “tribe” and its relationship to language, political affiliation and identity. The largest segment of the course will examine historical myths and their impact on the research and construction of historical narratives on precolonial Africa while discussing four topics in depth: domestic, local slave-ownership and the impact of the slave trade; the interaction of religion and power on the rise and fall of the kingdom of Kongo and of the states along the southern border of the Sahara (the sahel); the genesis of the Zulu state in southern Africa and the creation of the legend of Tshaka; and the changing roles of women as economic, political and social actors in the period before 1885. We will also discuss some of the differences between oral historical narratives and written ones while we analyze primary documents and histories written by scholars over the past half-century to understand both the history of the people living on the continent as well as the active process of constructing that history. Two class meetings per week.
Fall semester. Professor Redding.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2013, Spring 2018
[ME] This course will survey the history of Israel from the origins of Zionism in the late nineteenth century to the present. One class meeting per week.
Fall semester. Professor G. Levin.2023-24: Not offered
This course offers an opportunity for history majors to reflect upon the practice of history. How do we claim to know anything about the past at all? How do historians construct the stories they tell about the past from the fragmentary remnants of former times? What is the connection of historians’ work to public memory? How do we judge the truth and value of these stories and memories? The course explores questions such as these through readings and case studies drawn from a variety of places and times. Two class meetings a week. Required of all history majors.
Not open to first-year students. Fall semester: Professor Maxey. Spring semester: Professor Redding.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023
(Offered as HIST 310 [c] and EUST 310.) This course addresses the vexing questions of what fascism is, whether it was a global phenomenon, and whether it has been historically banished. The first part of the semester will consider the conceptual issues related to nationalism, modernity, and fascism. Next we will address case studies, noting comparative continuities and regional peculiarities. The countries that will receive the most attention areItaly,France,Argentina,Britain,Brazil,Germany,Spain, andMexico, with additional attention toPortugal,Japan,China,New Guinea,Chile,Turkey,Palestine andAustralia. This will be followed by an examination of gender and fascism, including the role of women as agents of this radical ideology. The course will close with two recent works of scholarship, one on transnational fascism in early twentieth-centuryArgentina and the other on the applicability of the term “fascism” to contemporary movements in theMiddle East. Two meetings per week.
Omitted 2011-12. Professor López.2023-24: Not offered
[c] Conceptions of the religious and the secular that continue to resonate today assumed global significance in the course of the nineteenth century as colonial empires and nascent nation-states negotiated how they would govern heterogeneous populations and interact with each other. Drawing on scholarship from a number of disciplines that historicize the categories of religion and secularity, this course will examine the political function of the religious and the secular as conceptual and regulatory categories in the 19th century. Colonial administrations, for example, employed the conceit of secularism to neutralize religious difference while individuals and communities attempted to reform and modernize local traditions as “religion” in order to navigate global hierarchies. We will begin with a historiographic and theoretical survey, covering topics that include the academic creation of “World Religions,” the politics of conversion within the British Empire, and the discourse of Orientalist spiritualism. The second half of the course will apply these historiographic and theoretical concerns to East Asia and Japan in particular. Requirements will include two topical essays and one longer paper entailing modest research. Two class meetings per week.
Limited to 15 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Professor Maxey.
(Offered as HIST 325 [EUP] and EUST 325.) The course begins with writings by the great reformers (Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, and Loyola), using them as a basis for examining the relationship between religious ideas, individual temperament, and social, political, and cultural change. It then takes up the connection between Protestantism and the printing press, the role of doctrinal conflict in the evolution of urban institutions, the rise of antisemitism, the significance of the Reformation for urban women, the social impact of the Counter-reformation, contemporaneous developments in Judaism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Islam, and the role of religious millenarianism in the German Peasants’ Revolt of 1525, the English Revolution of 1640, and the Thirty Years’ War. Readings include several classic interpretations of the Reformation as well as recent works in social history, urban history, women’s history, and the history of popular culture. Two class meetings per week.
Omitted 2011-12. Professor Hunt.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 333 [EU] and EUST 333) Few places experienced the drama of Europe’s twentieth century as did Poland—a country imagined before World War I, created anew in 1918, and shifted west after World War II. This course will cover the legacy of Poland’s eighteenth-century partitions; World War I; the Polish-Soviet war of 1919-1921; the interwar Polish state; World War II (including the Katyn massacre, the Holocaust, and the Warsaw Uprising); the imposition of communism after World War II; the growth of Solidarity; and revolution and the transition to post-communist society after 1989. Themes will include nationalism and state-building; the role of Catholicism in Polish society; Poland’s attempts to assert itself against both Germany and Russia; and ethnic relations between Poles and Germans, Jews, Ukrainians, and Lithuanians. Throughout, we will explore historical controversies surrounding these events and themes. Sources will include films, novels, memoirs, eyewitness accounts, government and other documents, and secondary sources. Two class meetings per week.
Omitted 2011-12. Professor Epstein.
[US] This course will explore the historical background of the Human Rights movement in a weekly seminar made up of 12 Amherst students and 12 incarcerated men at the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction. Students will look at the principles of the eighteenth-century revolutions in North America, France and Haiti for divergent understandings of the rights of man as well as the British and American abolition movements as prototypes of human rights activism. In the twentieth century, we will look at the legacies of both World Wars, the founding of the United Nations and the drafting of the Universal Declaration. In the latter part of the semester, we will look at the development of NGOs and sample an array of human rights activism, including work on the rights of the incarcerated. In addition to introducing students to the background and practices of a significant social and political movement, this course will provide the opportunity for productive conversations between college students and incarcerated men, each with unique perspectives on the value and meaning of human rights. In addition to weekly reflection papers on readings and class discussions, students will write a research paper on a particular human rights initiative, dilemma, or accomplishment. One class meeting per week.
Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Saxton.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 355 [US; or may be included in AF concentration, but not AF for distribution in the major] and BLST 341 [US].) This seminar is an interdisciplinary exploration of the relationship between race and educational opportunity in American history. Students will gain a historical understanding of the divergent educational experiences of various groups within American society. The course is divided into four units: ethnicity and educational access in early America, education and segregation in Jim Crow America, desegregation (implementation and opposition) after Brown v. Board of Education, and contemporary discussions over race and access to education. In the first section of the course, students will pay special attention to trends including northern and southern resistance to African American education, education as assimilation, and vocational vs. classical education. Next, they will delve into twentieth- and twenty-first-century issues involving race and education. For example, they will examine how specific communities--northern, southern, and western--grappled with the desegregation process. Finally, students will assess the extent to which desegregation has been achieved and the transformative effects of this policy on public schools. One class meeting per week.
Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2011-12. Professor Moss.2023-24: Not offered
[EU] This course studies European views of nature and the natural world from the late middle ages to the present. A case study of environmental change investigates the impact of industrialization and the railway system on the human and physical environments in nineteenth-century Britain. Central to this part of the course will be a hands-on introduction to new methods of computer-assisted mapping and data analysis known as Geographic Information Systems (GIS). One three-hour class meeting per week.
Fall semester. Visiting Professor Schwartz (Mount Holyoke College).Other years: Offered in Spring 2022
[LA] In September 2010 Mexicans will commemorate the centennial of their popular revolution of 1910-1920, and in October they will celebrate the bicentennial of Miguel Hidalgo’s famous 1810 “Grito de Dolores” that launched a decade of bloody wars for liberal government and independence from Spain. In this year of weighty commemorations, we will take stock of 200 years of struggle among Mexico’s popular classes. Few countries are as well known, yet so poorly understood, as is Mexico among North Americans. Headlines about illegal immigration, street violence, and drug smuggling often take the place of real understanding. As a result, few North Americans appreciate their neighbor’s historical odyssey in search of political stability, national unity, democracy and economic prosperity. This course provides a general overview of the dominant narratives of Mexican history, while challenging those narratives through an examination of the experience of subaltern groups (including women, indigenous peoples, peasants, and those from the periphery). We also will grapple with the question of what genuine social revolution looks like, how it unfolds, and to what degree it has been attained in Mexico. Original documents, testimonials, movies, images, music, and art will supplement discussions and secondary readings. Two class meetings per week.
Omitted 2011-12. Professor López.2023-24: Not offered
Fall and spring semesters.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023
(Offered as HIST 393 [MEP] and ASLC 355 [WA].) This course examines in depth the formative period of Islam between c. 500-680. Using predominantly primary material, we will chart the emergence, success, and evolution of Islam, the Islamic community, and the Islamic polity. The focus of this course is on understanding the changing nature over time of peoples’ understanding of and conception of what Islam was and what Islam implied socially, religiously, culturally and politically. We concentrate on exploring the growth of the historical tradition of Islam and its continued contestations amongst scholars today. This course will familiarize students with the events, persons, ideas, texts and historical debates concerning this period. It is not a course on the religion or beliefs of Islam, but a historical deconstruction and analysis of the period. This class is writing intensive. Two class meetings per week.
Admission with consent of the instructor. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2011-12. Professor Ringer.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 397 [ME], ASLC 363 [WA], and WAGS 362.) The course examines the major developments, themes and issues in woman’s history in the Middle East. The first segment of the course concerns the early Islamic period and discusses the impact of the Quran on the status of women, the development of Islamic religious traditions and Islamic law. Questions concerning the historiography of this “formative” period of Islamic history, as well as hermeneutics of the Quran will be the focus of this segment. The second segment of the course concerns the 19th- and 20th-century Middle East. We will investigate the emergence and development of the “woman question,” the role of gender in the construction of Middle Eastern nationalisms, women’s political participation, and the debates concerning the connections between women, gender, and religious and cultural traditions. The third segment of the course concerns the contemporary Middle East, and investigates new developments and emerging trends of women’s political, social and religious activism in different countries. The course will provide a familiarity with the major primary texts concerning women and the study of women in the Middle East, as well as with the debates concerning the interpretation of texts, law, religion, and history in the shaping of women’s status and concerns in the Middle East today. This class is conducted as a seminar. Two class meetings per week.
Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Ringer.2023-24: Not offered
[c] The topic for this proseminar changes year to year. In 2011-12 the topic is wine. Through analysis of the production and consumption of wine in various regions of Europe, North Africa, and the Americas the course will introduce students to such issues as the environmental impact of wine; the politics of taste; the impact of global trade; the changing ways producers have dealt with blights (phylloxera); the development and impact of monocrop production; class conflict within both production and consumption; and the emergence of claims about terroir (the notion that each wine, like each culture, is unique to a particular place) and how such claims relate to regional and national identities. Course content will be student-driven, since members of the class will take responsibility for identifying many of the documents and secondary studies. Through class discussion, focused workshops, and close supervision each student will learn to design a research prospectus related to wine before designing a second research prospectus followed by a 20-25 page research paper on any environmental or historical topic of his or her choosing.Two meetings per week.
Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor López.2023-24: Not offered
[C/AS] In recent decades, historians have begun to study the cultures and environments of the Pacific Ocean Region from a transnational perspective. Participants in this seminar will build upon such approaches when examining the Pacific World from the Spanish American War (1898) to the present. Themes and topics will include: immigration, anti-colonial movements, the emergence of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and the recurring idea of a “Pacific Century.” We will also focus on the history of four regional environmental issues: nuclear waste disposal, fisheries regulation, deforestation, and the effects of rising sea levels on coastal communities. Although there is no prerequisite for this seminar, it is the companion course to History 73: “Spain in the Pacific World, 1571-1898.” One class meeting per week.
Admission with consent of instructor. Limited to 15 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2011-12. Professor Melillo.2023-24: Not offered
[C] Participants in this seminar will explore the environmental and social histories of nine commodities: sugar, silver, silk, coffee, tobacco, sneakers, microchips, units of bandwidth, and the human body. Each of these commodities represents a complex array of linkages among producers, consumers, and intermediaries over time and space. Readings draw upon the disciplines of history, ecology, anthropology, and geography to place these commodities in their social, environmental, and spatial contexts. One of our aims is to understand the changing roles of natural systems and the divisions of labor that underlie the long-term processes of globalization. One class meeting per week.
Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Melillo.2023-24: Not offered
[C] Physicians often say that medicine became truly effective only in the mid-twentieth century when an avalanche of new remedies became available, first in Europe and North America but soon thereafter around the world. Collectively dubbed "the wonder drugs," these products included sulfa drugs and antibiotics for bacterial infections, cortico-steroids for arthritis and other inflammatory diseases, tranquilizers for mental illness, and diuretics for hypertension. The new medicines offered millions of patients relief from dread diseases and physicians long-awaited validation of the effectiveness of scientific medicine. For a generation that came of age in the 1940s and 1950s, they supplied powerful testimony to the creative and beneficent powers of science. The "wonder drugs" also gave pharmaceutical firms lucrative new products and governments complex new regulatory challenges. Many of our current debates over drug development, testing, marketing, and pricing commenced in the 1950s, as newly-introduced drugs helped reshape health care.
This seminar will treat the history of these "wonder drugs"--their origins in biomedical research, their production and distribution, and some of the medical and political issues that are associated with their cost and safety. All participants in the seminar will be required to write a research paper of at least 20 pages involving the use of primary sources. One class meeting per week.
Admission with consent of instructor. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2011-12. Professor Servos.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 418 [C] and BLST 491 [CLA/D].) The seminar traces in historical perspective the relationship between Black radicalism and Marxist thought. Since the late nineteenth century, Black diasporic intellectuals have found in Western Marxism, particularly its internationalist discourse, theory of class formation, and historical materialist analysis, the recipes for critical inquiry and radical politics. Their engagement with Marxism and socialist theory, however, has not precluded tensions and new theoretical resolutions. Black intellectuals from various generations have questioned “classical” Marxism’s economic reductionism, simplistic understanding of peasant politics, and dismissal of political struggles outside metropolitan regions. For writers such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Richard Wright, Frantz Fanon, and C.L.R. James, Western Marxism has failed to account for the racial character of capitalism or to provide a historical narrative of blacks’ emancipatory politics. Students will acquire a basic knowledge of Marxist theory, and a historical understanding of Black Marxism by analyzing the works from two generations of intellectuals: the modernist and Pan-Africanist generation (Du Bois, Wright, James, Oliver Cromwell Cox, and Eric Williams), and the New Left generation (Frantz Fanon, Amiri Baraka, Amilcar Cabral, Walter Rodney, Stuart Hall, Angela Davis, and Ngugi wa Thiong’o). One class meeting per week.
Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Castro Alves.2023-24: Not offered
[EU] Victorian Britain was a nation of contrasts. It was at once the world’s foremost economic and imperial power, the richest nation in Europe, and the country where the consequences of industrialization–slums, poverty, disease, alcoholism, sexual violence–took some of their bleakest forms. In an era of revolution, Britain enjoyed one of the most stable political systems in Europe; yet it was also a society plagued by crime and by fears of popular unrest, the place where Marx predicted the worker’s revolt would begin. This seminar explores the complex world of the Victorians through a focus on what contemporaries termed the “social problem”: the underclass of criminals, paupers, and prostitutes who seemed immune to reform. Themes will include political liberalism and the Poor Law, imperialism at home and abroad, industrialization and urbanization, sanitation, hygiene, and disease control initiatives, shifting cultural understandings of gender and class, and Jack the Ripper. Students will be expected to write a research paper on a topic of their choice. Two class meetings per week.
Not open to first-year students. Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Boucher.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 438 [EU] and EUST 438.) This course will explore the role of historical memory in the politics of twentieth-century Europe. It will examine how evolving memories of major historical events have been articulated and exploited in the political cultures of England, France, Germany, Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union/Russia. Topics will include the politics of memory surrounding World Wars I and II, Vichy France, the Holocaust, Soviet Stalinism, and Eastern European communism. Seminar participants will also discuss general issues concerning collective memory: why societies remember and forget historical events, how collective memories resurface, the relationship between memory and authenticity, and the pitfalls of politicizing historical memory. Finally, seminar participants will analyze different sites of memory including film, ritual, monuments, legal proceedings, and state-sponsored cults. One class meeting per week.
Not open to first-year students. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Epstein.2023-24: Not offered
[USP] This seminar, focused on the period from 1760 to 1815, examines the origins, development and more immediate consequences of the American Revolution. The course looks at the founding of the American republic as an intellectual debate, a social movement, a military conflict and a political revolution. By offering an overview of these developments and introducing the historiographic debates surrounding them, the seminar provides students with the necessary background to examine in depth a topic of interest by writing a research paper. The course will also provide instruction in writing such a research paper using the rich and readily accessible primary sources from the period. Two class meetings per week.
Not open to first-year students. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor K. Sweeney2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 457 [US] and FAMS 315.)A research seminar, this course will enroll eight students from Amherst College and eight from Holyoke Community College, and will be taught on alternate weeks at both colleges. The city of Holyoke will be the focus of individual and collective research. Students will form research teams (one Amherst, one HCC student in each) and choose a topic for research. Each student will write a research paper based on primary sources, but the results of that research will also go into a collective data base and an ARIS historical simulation project. The latter will allow students (and, eventually, anyone who wishes to access the program) to create visual and narrative simulations about Holyoke history. For example, a research team might generate a “typical” Irish immigrant family story, recounting migration, settlement, work experience, marriage and family growth, political and union affiliations, etc. Another might investigate the anti-immigrant or anti-Catholic movement, perhaps by generating a “typical” Yankee family story; still another might look into the building of the canals and the growth of factory economy, or the architectural evolution of the city, any of which might make use of the GPS and other visual capacities of the ARIS system. Technical support will be available to assist in these efforts. Much of the first half of the course will be devoted to intensive readings and discussions about immigration, urban development, industrialization, etc. However, from the start, students will be expected to become familiar with the ARIS program and to begin to generate ideas for research. Most of the latter weeks of the course will be devoted to research, writing, and oral reports to the class. One three-hour class meeting per week.
Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 8 Amherst juniors and seniors. Spring semester. Professors Couvares and Clinton (Holyoke Community College).2023-24: Not offered
[LA or US] The U.S.-Mexican borderland has been the site of violent conflict over race and nationality. The way race and nation have been defined, and the ways these definitions have changed over time, has been linked intimately with struggles over politics, economics, and culture in a land that is short on ecological resources, but rich in mineral wealth and ideal for commercial agriculture. Central themes include state and nation formation; nationalism; indigenous politics; Mexican-American politics; constructions of whiteness; gender; violence; industrialization; colonialism and imperialist expansion; and cultural improvisation. In addition to secondary readings, the class incorporates original documents, music, film and images. This is a history research seminar. As such, we will learn how to find and interpret original documents; how to develop original research questions that contribute to current historical debates; and how to formulate effective analytical questions and historical arguments. Students will be required to complete an independent research paper. Two meetings per week.
Limited to 15 students. Not open to first-year students; preference given to junior history majors who plan to write theses. Spring semester. Professor López.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 469 [LAP] and BLST 371 [CLA].) This seminar examines in historical perspective the complicated transition of several Latin American and Caribbean countries from colony to independent nation-states during the Age of Revolution. It focuses particularly on the role of working people in the making of modern nation-states in Brazil, Mexico, Haiti, Cuba, and the Andean region (Peru, Colombia, Bolivia and Ecuador). How did the subaltern classes view the colonial order? What are the causes of popular protest? Is there such a thing as popular nationalism? What is the meaning of postcolonialism in Latin America? Overall, the seminar's objectives are threefold: to make students more familiar with the historical development of Latin America and the Caribbean during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; to introduce the themes and issues in the current historiography of anti-colonialism and postcolonialism; and finally, to guide students to write their own research papers. In the first two weeks, readings will include theoretical texts on nationalism, state formation, and popular discontent. In the remaining weeks, we will read historical studies, documents and literary texts, which discuss various aspects of popular political activism from 1789 to 1850. One class meeting per week.
Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2011-12. Professor Castro Alves.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 477 [AS] and ALSC 462 [J].) The varied names given to the fifteen years of war conducted by Japan-the Pacific War, the Great East Asian War, the Fifteen-Year War, World War II, and the Asian-Pacific War-reflect the conflicting perspectives that arise from that war. How has the experience of a fifteen-year war during the 1930s and 1940s shaped memory and history in Japan, East Asia, and the United States? This seminar begins with this broad question and pursues related questions: How are the memory and history of war intertwined in both national and international politics? What forms of memory have been included and excluded from dominant historical narratives and commemorative devices? How does critical historiography intersect with the politics and passions of memory? We will use oral histories, primary documents, film, and scholarship to guide our thoughts and discussions. We will begin with a brief history of Japan’s Fifteen-Year War and move on to prominent debates concerning the history and memory of that war. Short response papers and a research paper will be required. One class meeting per week.
Limited to 15 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2011-12. Professor Maxey.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 478 [AS] and ASLC 470 [C].) Political thinkers and activists inside China and throughout the world today puzzle over the relationship between the people and the state. Where do state functions and state control begin and end? How do the global economy, China’s increasing regional hegemony, internal migration, NGOs, rural protest, and the internet influence the relationship between the people and the state? Fundamental questions about the relationship between the people and the state have occupied thinkers and activists since the beginning of the twentieth century. Reformers in China tried to transform the imperial state into a constitutional monarchy, revolutionaries tried to create a Republic, Nationalists tried to build a “corporatist state,” and Communists tried to create a Socialist one. At each stage, the state-makers “imagined” the people, mobilized them, categorized them, and tried to control them. The people became subjects, citizens, nationals, and “the masses.” They divided themselves by native place, region, language, ethnicity, political party, class, and educational status. Chinese people in Southeast Asia, Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, have imagined themselves in relation to both “the ancestral land” and the colonial or national states under which they live. The process is by no means over. This seminar will focus on the problem of “imagining” and mobilizing people in China and these other states over the past century. General topics will include the ideas, the intellectual and educational context, and the mobilizations of urban and rural communities, commercial and religious groups, and NGOs. Research topics will depend on the interests of students. One class meeting per week.
Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2011-12. Professor Dennerline.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 488 [AF] and BLST 321 [A].) There were numerous rebellions against the colonial state during the period of European colonial rule, and violent resistance to state authority has continued to characterize political life in many post-colonial African states. This seminar will examine the development of several outbreaks of violence in Africa in the colonial and post-colonial periods. We will look at the economic, social, religious, and political roots of these disturbances, and we will discuss the problems historians face in trying to narrate and analyze these often chaotic events. The events studied will include the Maji-maji rebellion in German-controlled Tanganyika; the first (1896-1897) and second (1960-1980) Chimurengas (revolts) in southern Rhodesia/Zimbabwe; Hutu extremism and the 1994 genocide in Rwanda; the widespread revolt in the 1980s and 1990s in South Africa against the white-supremacist apartheid regime; and the rebel movements led by Alice Lakwena and then Joseph Kony in northern Uganda beginning in the late 1980s. We will also discuss the legends and rumors that often develop both before and after violent revolts and their role in the creation of historical narratives. Students will each write a 20-page research paper on an individually chosen topic. One class meeting per week.
Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Fall semester. Professor Redding.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 492 [ME] and ALSC 459 [WA].) This seminar explores contemporaryIranfrom a historical and interdisciplinary perspective. The aim of the course is both to provide an overall understanding of the history ofIran, as well as those key elements of religion, literature, legend, and politics that together shapeIran's understanding of itself. We will utilize a wide variety of sources, including Islamic and local histories, Persian literature, architecture, painting and ceramics, film, political treatises, Shiite theological writing, foreign travel accounts, and U.S. state department documents, in addition to secondary sources. Two class meetings per week.
Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2011-12. Professor Ringer.2023-24: Not offered
Culminating in one or more pieces of historical writing which may be submitted to the Department for a degree with Honors. Normally to be taken as a single course but, with permission of the Department, as a double course as well.
Open to juniors and seniors. Fall semester. The Department.Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023