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HIST-402 Special Seminar in History

This upper-level small group seminar will focus on a specific theme or topic in history, chosen by the instructor, announced in the subtitle, and developed in the syllabus. All sections of this course are writing intensive. The topics of this course will vary, but the course number will remain the same, so be sure not to repeat the same topic. Class 3, Credit 3 (S)

HIST-421 Hands-on History

Get hands-on experience researching, interpreting, and writing history. The class will tackle a common historical theme (announced in the subtitle), then do original historical research on a topic of your choice within the overall theme. Our themes do not just rehash old topics with little new information to uncover. Instead, we focus on relatively unexplored areas of the past, where your research can shed new light on unknown topics. You will learn about history by doing it! All majors are welcome. Class 3, Credit 3 (S)

HIST-439 Biography as History

This course will look at biography as a form of history. By studying biographies that approach their subjects with various formats and methods of presentation, the class will examine how the craft of biography shapes our contemporary understanding of the historical past. Among the questions to be examined in this course are: how does biography reveal the historical circumstances of the subject’s life to give readers a broader understanding of the historical context of that life? How effectively can contemporary readers explore the past through the prism of one person’s life? Can the history of an era be effectively told through an examination of one person’s life? What are the benefits of the biographical approach to history? What are the drawbacks? What are the benefits of biography as a form of public history? That is, when people can get their history through the Biography Channel, how important is it for public historians to grapple with the impact of biography as a form with a unique grip on the public imagination? (Class 3, Credit 3)

HIST-450 Modern Japan in History, Fiction, and Film

This course offers an introduction to modern Japanese history, highlighting social and aesthetic traditions that have formed the foundations for Japanese literature and cinema. It explores how writers and directors have drawn on this heritage to depict historical experiences. Class 3, Credit 3 (F)

HIST-462 East-West Encounters

The Age of Discovery, beginning in the fifteenth century and culminating with the advent of European imperialism, is one of the most fascinating, as well as problematic, periods in the history of both Asia and Europe. Too often historians frame the interaction between Asia and Europe in uniquely European terms and present Asia as a passive partner in this process of discovery. In fact, this period presents us with a number of complex issues such as national identity, the nature of European expansion, and the Asian response to European journeys to the East. This course will undertake to re-examine the age of discovery not only from a European point of view, but also from an Asian standpoint. In the process, we will see how many of the issues that we are facing in the region are products of a long and complex relationship between Europe and Asia. Students will also examine the issues that have arisen between the east and the west in the twentieth century and that continue into our own time. Class 3, Credit 3 (F,S)

HIST-465 Samurai in Word and Image

One of the most enduring images of premodern Japan in the samurai, replete with sword and armor. This course will seek to examine the role of the samurai in Japanese history, examining popular perceptions in Japanese film, woodblock prints, and texts. We will also use a variety of secondary sources to critically examine some of the portrayals of the samurai and how they stand up to historical reality. Students will be encouraged to participate in extensive discussions as we deal with a great variety of media and try to arrive at an image of the samurai that is historically accurate. And finally, we will examine issues such as feudalism and the warrior code and how those historical concepts relate to the west at about the same time period.

HIST-470 Science, Tech, & European Imperialism: 1800-1965

Between 1800 and 1945, Western nations dominated approximately three-quarters of the earth’s surface through imperialism. This course examines how industrialization, technological developments, and the emergence of the modern “sciences” facilitated Europe’s conquest and colonization of vast territories overseas. The course opens with a brief overview of the role of biology and science in shaping early imperial encounters (the Columbian Exchange). Students will then consider how 19th-century botany, zoology, acclimatization, cartography, geography, and anthropology became “imperial” sciences that facilitated formal conquest by producing knowledge about distant cultures, “races,” and environments. The Industrial Revolution produced new technological “tools”--steamboats, railroads, and weapons--that facilitated the “Scramble” for territory in the late 19th century. The course will consider how these inventions shaped patterns of conquest and colonial rule in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Throughout the course, students will interrogate how Europeans’ faith in the superiority of Western technology, scientific knowledge, and medicine shaped the evolution of the European “civilizing mission”-- the cultural and political logic that defined interactions between Europeans and non-Western populations. At the same time, they will evaluate how Africans and Asians experienced living under colonial rule, and in some cases, how they deployed Western technology as weapons of resistance to imperialism. Class 3, Credit 3