Course Topics

HIST 111 Survey of US History to 1877
This course surveys American history from the early colonial period to the end of Reconstruction in 1877. Topics are wide-ranging and include society, politics and culture but the overall theme emphasizes the evolution of the New England colonies, the Middle Colonies, the Chesapeake, and the Lower South into coherent regions with different economies, social structures and cultural attributes. The course then explores how these various regions successfully cooperated with one another long enough to engage in an independence movement that separated them from Great Britain and created the United States. These regional differences lived on into the nineteenth century, however, and became the basis for the sectional conflict which erupted into Civil War in 1861. The course closes with the successes and failures of Reconstruction policy as a bridge to later American history.

HIST 185 April 1865: Civil War Ended
The events of April 1865 provided Americans with a kaleidoscope of jarring experiences and an emotional roller coaster which spared no one. Lee surrendered, the Civil War ended, Lincoln was assassinated and all the while, four and a half million African-American slaves contemplated their futures and the contours and meanings of a freedom that few, black or white, fully understood. The course examines primary and secondary sources describing and analyzing the meaning of this tumultuous thirty day period and explores the process by which events are turned into narratives from which are extracted conclusions, hypotheses, and generalizations.

HIST 226 History and Material Culture
This course explores how the study of material culture—objects made or modified by human beings—can inform us about how people thought, lived, and behaved in the past. The course draws upon the multi-disciplinary nature of material culture studies to offer as a fresh approach to history by using insights from folk art, anthropology, and the decorative arts to augment and broaden what historians have learned through the use of written records. Significant attention is given to the ways in which museums contribute to the study of material culture by collecting, preserving, identifying, exhibiting, and interpreting these objects. Required for museum studies students. Offered alternate years.

HIST 227 Public History
This course explores the various ways in which history is created, incorporated into and presented in U.S. popular culture. The course will combine hands-on work with local historical societies, museums, and other public history venues with academic study of public history techniques and ethical challenges. Topics may include the ways in which historical road markers, entertainment corporations (such as the History Channel and Disney), local and regional history associations present history to the public and how the public interacts with these discourses on history. A comparison of the differences in purpose and audience between public and scholarly presentations of history is a central theme of the course. Offered alternate years.

HIST 321 Topics in U.S. History
In-depth study of a selected topic in U.S. history. Instruction in this course will require students to read and assess monographs written by prominent historians related to the topic. Students will write an eight-to-10-page research paper on a subject linked to the selected topic. Topics may include but are not limited to: Revolutionary America, disease in the American past, history of the American family, U.S. immigration history, the Vietnam War.

HIST 485 Junior/Senior Seminar
A detailed study of specialized topics in African, Asian, European or U.S. history depending on instructor. Selections of topics may also focus on themes and ideas that transcend national boundaries. Students will engage in original research; case studies have a strong emphasis on historical writings.