History Course Descriptions
University Seminar Courses (US)
205 Philadelphia Then and Now (4 credits) This course explores metropolitan Philadelphia's past and present in order to examine how history shapes the places in which we currently live, work, and play. The course uses a historical lens through which to view a range of contemporary subjects including: wealth and poverty; suburban sprawl; architecture and space; local literature and visual art; watersheds and other environmental resources; urban politics; regional mass media. Students explore aspects of urban Philadelphia as well as of Philadelphia-area suburbs and "vacationlands." In addition to doing weekly assigned readings, students also take individual and group trips to locations around the region and conduct research designed to provide them a more complex understanding of and deeper relationship to the Philadelphia region. Note: US 205 can count toward the History major and minor.
208 Great Trials in History (4 credits) This University Seminar explores a dozen famous trials chosen to represent conflicts in different areas of intellectual and cultural and social history, including philosophy, religion, science, art, and literature. Subjects include Socrates, Galileo, the Salem Witch Trials, John Brown, Oscar Wilde, the Scopes Monkey Trial, Nuremberg, and Robert Mapplethorpe. Texts include books, films, articles, and websites. Note: US 208 can count toward the Criminal Justice, History and Philosophy majors and minors.
212 Baseball and Béisbol: The Evolution of Race and Ethnicity in the Major Leagues (4 credits) This University Seminar examines the evolution of racial and ethnic relations in U.S. Major League Baseball from the early 20th century to the present. Such topics as early mixed-race barnstorming teams, the Negro Leagues, the Caribbean winter leagues, and the emerging dominance of Latino players in the major leagues are examined and placed into historical and sociological context. Case studies of individual players such as Victor (Pellot) Power are undertaken, as is a team case study exploring the contemporary Philadelphia Phillies. Note: US 212 can count toward the History major and minor.
234 Representations of the Spanish Civil War (4 credits) This course examines perceptions of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) and their international implications. Topics discussed include the significance of the war, the political and social background of Spanish events, Spanish society, the conflicts as seen by Spanish, American, Canadian, English, and French writers and philosophers. Special attention is paid to the international troops and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Readings include various accounts of the Spanish Civil War by writers who were not themselves Spanish. These texts contain journalistic perspectives as well as autobiographical accounts and poetic responses. Spanish and international films and documentaries are shown, covering topics such as women’s participation in the war and different responses to the war both in Spain and on an international level. Teaching the war exposes students to different ideological discourses embodied in cultural fields of the time. This course is a bilingual course and is taught in both Spanish and English. Readings are in both Spanish and English. Prerequisites: SP102. Note: US 234 can count toward the History and International Studies majors and minors.
236 Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Spain: From Eden to Exile (4 credits) This course examines the coexistence of the three principal religions: Christianity (Catholicism), Islam, and Judaism during the Middle Ages. Tenets and beliefs of each religion are examined in detail. Art and architecture reflecting the three religions are analyzed and include such national treasures as the synagogues in Toledo, the mosque in Cơrdoba, the Alhambra in Granada, and the cathedrals of Santiago de Compostela and Seville. Topics discussed include the Spanish Inquisition, the Catholic kings, the reconquest, and medieval life in Europe at that time. The historical time period covers roughly from 700-1492. Readings include various poems written by writers of the three religions, El Cid, La Celestina and historical documents of the epoch. Teaching the coexistence of the three religions exposes students to different ideological discourses embodied in cultural fields of the time. The class also examines the three religions and their role in Spanish society today. This course is a bilingual course and is taught in both Spanish and English. Readings are in both Spanish and English. Prerequisites: EN 101 and SP 202. Note: US 236 can count toward the History, International Studies and Spanish majors and minors.
262 Sex, Sin & Kin: The Genesis, Evolution and Future of Gender (4 credits) The ways in which whole sets of ideologies and practices function to define, direct and limit gender and gendered activities differ markedly according to time, place and culture. The purpose of this course is to explore key issues and debates in the history of women and men, in cross-cultural perspective, within the framework of the relationship between gender and change. The main focus of the course is the gendered experiences of women in the modern world, specifically the West, North and Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Far East, with selected references to historical antecedents in the pre-modern world. Students examine the variety of ways in which women have reflected upon and reacted to the gendered conditions of their lives. We explore representations and self-representations of women within and external to specific cultures. This includes understanding how the categorization as male and female determines so many aspects of individual lives and personal power, the power of groups, and the larger systems of power they confront. The course also raises the question of the future direction of gender, social responsibility and change. Assignments consist of readings in anthropology, history, gender theory, literature, and memoirs. We explore thematic topics through primary and secondary sources. Writing assignments include journaling, reflective essays, the generation of an interview protocol and an oral history project. Students also analyze film, art and communication media and possibly a theatre production. Students are assessed on individual and team based research and reflection, culminating in the creation of a collective oral history and film project. Note: US 262 can count toward the History and International Studies majors and minors.
History Courses (HS)
101 Ancient Civilization (4 credits; Fall) This course is a survey of cultural changes in the Neolithic and Sumerian societies of the Near East, life in Pharaonic Egypt, the world of pre-classical and classical Greece, and the growth of Rome from village to Empire.
102 Medieval Civilization (4 credits; Spring) This study of the early historical foundations of present-day nations in Europe surveys the collapse of the western Roman Empire; Barbarian settlements in Europe; the Byzantine world and problems with the West; the expansion of the Arabic world; and the growth of England, France, Germany and the Papacy.
103 European Civilization: 1347 to 1789 (4 credits; Fall) This survey of European history from the Black Death to the French Revolution focuses on a variety of topics, from the impact of the plague; the age of explorations; Renaissance; Reformation; through to the origins of the scientific; industrial; and French revolutions.
104 European Civilization, 1789 to Present (4 credits; Spring) In this study of the evolution of modern Europe from the French Revolution to the present, topics include: rise of nationalism; new political ideologies; imperialism; world wars; consumer and sexual revolutions; the Cold War; the fall of communism; terrorism and the recent turmoil in West/non-West relations.
110 The West in the World, From the Great Voyages of Discovery to 9/11 (4 credits) This course typically examines the rise to global power of the West (primarily Europe and North America and their offshoots) after about 1500, its impact on the world, and the response of non-Western societies, until and including 9/11. Topics may include the Spanish conquest of central and south America; the trans-Atlantic slave trade; the Opium Wars against imperial China; the world wars; the decline of Europe’s overseas empires and the rise of the superpowers (the United States and the Soviet Union); the liberal transformation of the United States (1950s-1970s); U.S. foreign policy and the 9/11 attacks.
117 American History to 1865 (4 credits; Fall) This course is a summary of the colonial period, followed by more intensive study of the revolutionary, early national and middle periods, It includes lectures, readings and discussions on such topics as constitutional development; territorial expansion; foreign relations; political parties; social, economic and intellectual movements and the origins and course of the Civil War.
118 American History Since 1865 (4 credits; Spring) This study of the evolution of modern America from the Civil War considers the impact on American life of such developments as reconstruction, industrial growth, overseas expansion, social and political movements, economic depressions and the emergence of the United States as a world power.
120 African American History (3 credits) This course includes a brief consideration of African roots and then examines the African American experience throughout American history from colonial days to the present. Special emphasis is given to the periods of Civil War and Reconstruction, Harlem Renaissance, and Civil Rights Movements of the 1950s and 1960s.
125 American Characters (3 credits; Summer) This course is a brief survey of American history as seen in the lives and times of representative and significant persons. It includes readings, lectures, discussion and research.
201 History Research Writing (4 credits) This course provides students an intensive introduction to discipline-focused research and writing in History. Students are introduced to a variety of types of primary and secondary sources. They learn about how to search for and locate these different sources, how to evaluate them, and how to utilize the sources in their research-based writing. Students learn how to develop research projects from the initial topic of interest through to the final written product; this work includes the generation of research proposals, re-drafting of papers, and practice in formulating different kinds of arguments depending on audience, sources, and written form.
211 The Modern Middle East (also listed as PS 212) (4 credits) This survey of the history, culture, religion and politics of the region in the modern era includes study of the growth of nationalism and creation of sovereign states, the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian problem, war, terrorism, and the impact of foreign powers.
216 Modern East Asia (4 credits) This course examines the modern histories of China and Japan in the Age of Western Imperialism. It seeks to explain why China fell into turmoil and turned to communism while Japan embraced modernization to become an economic superpower. Focus may vary on Japan or China, but their interconnection is stressed, as is the impact on east Asia by the Western Great Powers, especially Britain and the United States Also discussed is how Japan has become a global pop culture powerhouse and how China has begun its own march toward global economic power
218 Modern Africa/South Africa (4 credits) This course focuses on the nature of the European/African relationship in the modern era. Topics covered include the trans-Atlantic slave trade, European colonial takeover of Africa in the 19th century, Africa’s recovery of independence in the 20th century, and contemporary problems of wars, ethnic conflict and HIV/AIDS. Also discussed is how and why European powers were able to take control of the continent and the impact this had on Africa and Africans. Special focus is on South Africa and the rise and fall of Apartheid as a case study.
225 World War II (4 credits) This course surveys the rise of Fascism, Nazi Germany and Japanese expansionist policies leading to World War II; the course of the war; how and why Japan, Italy and Germany were defeated; the peace settlements; and the enduring legacy of the conflict.
228 America as Empire (4 credits) This course examines the evolution of the United States’ complex relationship with the rest of the world during the 20th and early 21st centuries – both how the United States impacted other nations and how other nations impacted the United States. This history of the United States’ multi-dimensional international presence explores traditional political and military topics but also traces the flow of such things as money, people, ideas, armaments, consumer products, natural resources, and culture back and forth between the United States and the rest of the world.
234 Modern Russia: Tsars to Stalin (4 credits) This study of Russia from the late 19th century to the death of Stalin emphasizes the decline of imperial Russia and the rise of the communist regime. The key questions of the course are: How and why did the Czarist regime fall into decline and fall? Why was there a communist revolution in 1917? How was communism able to consolidate its grip on Russia? How did Stalin rise to dominate the communist regime for so long? How did all this impact people’s lives? What have been Stalin’s impact and legacy?
238 Prejudice and Persecution in Western History (4 credits) This survey of prejudice and persecution in Western history focuses on the following: ancient Roman persecution of early Christians; the Great Witch Hunt in early modern Europe; Trans-Atlantic slave trade; Nazi holocaust against the Jews; and the destruction of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
240 Jacksonian America and Second American Party System (4 credits) From 1828 to 1861, dramatic changes came to the United States led by the uniquely American Andrew Jackson. The politics of the country were transformed forever, and many issues that are still debated today were born during this era. This course looks into the political changes and issues that brought about the Second American Party system and the causes of its demise by the Civil War. This course also looks at the reform movements of the period and in some cases those that continue to the present day.
242 America in the 1960s (4 credits) This course examines the political, social and cultural history of America during the 1960s era from 1954 to 1974. It considers a range of topics including the civil rights movement, the Great Society, the rise of the New Rights, the debate over Vietnam, feminism and sexual liberation movements, black power, the counterculture, the urban crisis, and white backlash. The course emphasizes the transformation of liberalism, the revitalization of conservatism, and the many tensions that both shaped the social movements of the times and profoundly transformed the nation.
250 Inequality in Modern America (also listed as PS 250) (4 credits) During the last three decades, American citizens have grown increasingly unequal in terms of income and wealth. Economic inequality is now greater than at any other point in American history except for the Gilded Age, and it continues to escalate. Far greater economic inequality exists in the United States today than in other western, industrialized nations. This new inequality began to emerge soon after the “rights revolution” had achieved the demise of formal, legal discrimination, but economic divisions now reinforce many of the old divisions of race, ethnicity, and gender, undermining the promise of greater equality. This course will examine inequality in modern America, focusing primarily on economic inequality. We will explore that state of inequality in the U.S. and the evolution of economic inequality over time. Further, we will investigate the relationship between economic inequality and political inequality, examining how economic inequality affects civic engagement and political participation. Finally, we will explore how and why participation matters for representative democracy, public policy, and governance.
285 Special Topics in History (3 or 4 credits) The content and prerequisites for this course vary on the nature of the topic covered.
322 Sports in America (4 credits) Sports are a multibillion dollar part of America culture in the 21st century. Sports have been integral to this nation’s development. This course traces how sports developed from informal activities to the spectacle of today’s professional sports and how they have impacted society. All of the social movements of the 20th century find sports as an important aspect, from the Progressive Era through the fight for homosexual rights. Students also view sports movies to analyze how sports and history are portrayed on film.
325 European Fascism: Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany (4 credits) This course focuses on Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Origins, nature and demise of fascism are discussed. Particular attention is paid to the crisis that produced fascism; the nationalism and racism of the Italian and German movements; the nature and impact of each regime; the outbreak of World War II; the Nazi holocaust against the Jews; and the ongoing legacy of the era of fascism through to the present, in the form of neo-fascist and neo-Nazi movements.
326 Hitler and Stalin—Age of Dictators (4 credits) A comparison of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, and of their respective leaders, Hitler and Stalin, this course examines the roots of Nazism and Communism; the personality development of Hitler and Stalin; their rise to power; what they did with their power; their great showdown in World War II; and the legacies and significance of Nazism and Communism to the modern world.
330 America from 1877-1945: Gilded Age to Global War (4 credits) This seminar is on selected political, economic, social and foreign policy problems in American history from the Progressive Movement to the end of World War II. It includes supervised reading, research and group discussions.
331 Contemporary America, 1945 to Present (4 credits) This intensive seminar examines the events and issues of the post-war era. Possible topics for research and discussion include the Cold War, the Fair Deal, McCarthyism, Vietnam, the New Left, Watergate, Reagan and the revival of conservatism, the end of the Cold War, and America’s new status as the world’s sole superpower.
335 The Vietnam Wars (4 credits) This course examines the origins, experiences, and consequences of the Vietnam War. Readings, discussions and assignments focus on the political, social, and military forces that shaped the contours of the conflicts between 1945 and 1975. Central themes include the emergence and evolution of Vietnamese nationalism, the global Cold War, the American anti-war movement, and how tens of millions of Southeast Asian and American lives were transformed by the conflicts. In addition, significant attention also is paid to the ways that the war has continued to have an important impact in the years since the cessation of fighting – from Vietnam’s postwar economic development and lingering social and environmental scars to the United States’ Vietnam-influenced foreign policy, domestic politics and popular culture.
340 Ancient Greece, Homer to Alexander the Great (4 credits) This course is an introduction to the culture and key personalities of the ancient Greek world. The focus is on the achievements of ancient Greek civilization until Alexander the Great. Topics include: the emergence of Greek civilization; Homeric literature; the rise of Athens and Sparta; the wars against Persia; the flowering of classical culture; the Peloponnesian War; everyday life; sexuality; the status of women; the rise of Alexander the Great and his imperial conquests.
341 Ancient Rome: Rise and Fall (4 credits) This course discusses the rise and fall of Ancient Rome and the emergence of early Christianity. Topics include: Rome’s rise to empire; gladiators; slavery; everyday life and sexuality; persecution of early Christianity; the rise and triumph of the Christian Church; and the destruction of the Western Roman empire by German invasions.
342 The Italian Renaissance (4 credits) What was the Italian Renaissance, and what kind of society produced it? This course ranges widely across this famous phenomenon, including art, politics, sex and religion. Topics include: the origins of the Renaissance; Florence, the leading city; Leonardo da Vinci; Michelangelo; the lives of women, and how and why the Renaissance came to an end.
345 Urban and Suburban America (4 credits) This seminar explores the development of urban society in North America from colonial commercial towns to today’s troubled network of older metropolitan centers and suburbs. Topics for discussion may include the shaping of modern cities through growth, migration, and politics; cultures—ethnic, class, commercial, and otherwise—of the city; suburbanization and the “urban crisis;” and the future of urban America.
350 Turning Points in Western History (4 credits) This course examines key turning points in Western History. It begins with Ancient Israel and its religious revolution, then discusses the rise and impact of ancient Greece, the triumph of Christianity in the Mediterranean world, the rise of the West to global dominance and the struggles of the colonized peoples for political independence, the global expansion of Western (especially American) popular culture after World War II, the impact of the new globalization and global mobility, and finally 9/11 and the current United States-led war on international terror.
355 The World at War, 1914 to 1945 (4 credits) This course examines the origins, nature, variety, impact and legacy of the multiple wars in the period from World War I to World War II. It focuses on: World War I; Soviet Russia and communist revolutionary class warfare; Spanish Civil War; Fascism /Nazism and war as empire-building; Japanese imperialism and Japan’s attempt to take control of Asia and the Pacific region; and World War II in Europe. Attention is paid to the elites who decide on war as well as the impact of war on the ordinary people called to fight and pay for war. Finally, the legacy of this period of global conflict to the world since 1945 is discussed.
356 American Civil War (4 credits) This course is an intensive examination of the origins and course of the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the emergence of an industrial society on the verge of great power status.
360 Modern Italy (4 credits) This course covers the dramatic history of modern Italy, including the wars of national unification, rise of fascism, disastrous defeat in World War II, rise of the mafia, surge of political terrorism in the sixties and seventies, recent economic prosperity, the current dilemmas caused by illegal immigration, and the sudden emergence of a multicultural society since the 1980s, all in international context.
366 World in Turmoil: The Mediterranean World, from the Fall of Rome to the First Crusade (4 credits) The period from the fall of Rome and triumph of Christianity through the rise of the Arabs and Islam and thence the collision of the two faiths in the first crusade is of momentous historical significance. It saw: the shattering of a 600 year old empire that had embraced the entire Mediterranean world; the replacement of a classical pagan civilization by a new otherworldly religious vision; a time of troubles plagued by mass migrations, wars and invasions; the rise of yet another monotheistic religion which, with the Arab invasions, would come to dominate huge swathes of the Mediterranean world; and the paradigmatic collision of the two rival exclusivist monotheisms in the era of the crusades. By the end of the 11th century, the world that Rome had unified for six centuries had fragmented into Latin/Germanic kingdoms in the West, the Greek/Byzantine empire in the east, and the Arab empire in Iberia, north Africa, and the Middle East. Thus was set the fundamental juxtaposition of civilization in the Mediterranean world that endures through to the present. We will discuss this era of profound transformation through key episodes and turning points that illuminate the essence of the transformations that took place. Prerequisite: Not open to first-year students.
377 Labor in American History This course traces the history of labor in America and how economic, technological, and political changes have transformed the nature of work in America. The course readings explore industrialization, the origins and development of labor organizations, the decline of manufacturing, the rise of a service economy, and the impact of globalization on labor in America.
380 Dangerous Continent: Europe, 1945-2005 (4 credits) This course examines Europe’s main events and processes during the years from 1945 to 2005. Coming after a disastrous half-century of Great Depression, political extremism, and two world wars, Europe’s history after World War II is often seen as less momentous and essentially peaceful. In fact, this view is something of an illusion. True, there were no world wars or great economic disasters between 1945- and 2005; but Europe continued to be a key flashpoint for crucial, sometimes truly historic, developments-from the beginnings of the Cold War to the European powers’ loss of their vast overseas empires, from the fall of communism in the miraculous revolution of 1989-91 to the disastrous disintegration of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, from the sudden, unexpected presence of a large Muslim minority and all the tensions and dilemmas this presented to the al-Qaeda attacks of 2004 and 2005 in Madrid and London. Prerequisite: Not open to first-year students
385 Special Studies in History (4 credits) The content and prerequisites for this course vary depending on the nature of the topic covered. Courses have included: The World at War, 1914 to 1945; Turning Points in Western History, Western History, from Ancient Israel to 9/11.
389 Independent Study (4 credits) Directed in-depth reading and research is devoted to specific topics or periods in history. Prerequisites: Approval of the adviser and Chair.
490, 491 Senior Thesis Seminar (4 credits each) A two-semester capstone course, the first semester focuses on developing a research project. Thesis topics are chosen by students through discussion with the seminar professor. They may take the form of original research-based papers or discussions of the historical literature on an issue of interest and controversy. The second semester focuses on completing the research project, including in-class presentations of research findings, poster presentation, and the completion of the senior essay. Prerequisite: Senior standing in history; or permission of the instructor.