Fall 2023 History Courses
HIST 001: Western Civilization I
This course surveys the historic foundations and development of the Western tradition from the ancient Mediterranean world to the dawn of modern Europe. Major topics covered include Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek and Roman societies; Judaism, Christianity and Islam; the Middle Ages; the Renaissance; the Reformation; and the early period of the Age of Discovery. Through the reading of primary and secondary sources, lectures, film, and discussions the students will examine how the social, political, religious, intellectual, and artistic achievements shaped the Western world.
HIST 002: Western Civilization II
History 002 explores the raucous centuries from Early Modern Europe to the present. The events of these years forever shaped the world. We will visit religious, political and scientific revolutions. We will explore an almost never-ending stream of wars that rocked the very foundations of civilization. Amidst these chaotic centuries, we will witness the blossoming artistic initiatives in music, painting and sculpture and the evolution of education. We will consider the emergence and impact of modern technology, agricultural innovation and demographic ships. We will let no stone unturned and no mushroom cloud ignored.
HIST 005: Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations
This course provides students with a fundamental understanding of the history of the ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean from the third millennium B.C. to the first millennium A.D. The readings, lectures, film, and discussions will focus on the major political, social, economic, religious, and cultural developments in the Near East, Greece, and Rome. The purpose of the course is to develop a comparative understanding of different cultures and their connections to one another over time and to recognize their contributions to the modern world.
HIST 010: World History to 1500
This course explores world history from ancient times to about 1500. We will travel across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Oceania, meeting the first civilizations and witnessing the emergence of major empires, religious and philosophical traditions, and growing interregional contacts spreading commodities, technologies, and ideas across the globe. In addition to textbook coverage, we will deepen our knowledge through weekly engagement with primary sources from around the world.
HIST 011: World History Since 1500 C.E.
This course investigates the major civilizations of the Occident, the Orient, and myriad others in between the Eastern and Western hemispheres since 1500 C.E. We will begin around the time of the Columbian exchange, where global expansion/trade and European exploration/colonization in the sixteenth century set the tone for widespread intercultural contact and interaction to a ubiquitous degree. Thus, we will reflect on the idiosyncratic, disparate, nuanced and interwoven annals and cultural attitudes that sculpted major regions and associations between those regions and their peoples in pre-contemporary and contemporary times. These reflections will give us insight into the development and adaptation of early modern societies, their environments, their politics, their economies, their artistic expressions, their religions, their shared technologies/ideas, their collaborations, and their rivalries and conflicts. We will also observe and examine the growth of navigation, colonization, trade, industrialization, European Imperialism, Globalism, World War I and World War II, the Cold War, the rise of the Third World, and various examples regarding international relations, international problems, international solutions, and how historic civilizations have influenced modern global issues and modern world citizenship. Students will be granted the ability to express and showcase their own interpretations and impressions relating to the plethora of material presented in class, which will allow them to reach their own conclusions about how the themes and topics discussed in this course impacted, and continues to influence the world on a global scale.
HIST 012: History of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is appropriately known as the “Keystone State.” Long before European colonists settled the region, the area was shaped by centuries of Native American life. Centered at the forefront of colonial affairs in the centuries that followed, “Penn’s Woods” was established with the high ideals of justice and opportunity. During the American and Industrial Revolutions, Pennsylvania was at the forefront of the ideas, technology, and battles that molded a young nation. Equally important was Pennsylvania during the Civil War and the following years as a bastion of industry and agriculture. The state remained a hub of commerce and mechanization until the deindustrialization of the 1960s and 1970s stripped away the lifeblood of many communities. Shaped by geography, altered by pioneers, fueled by industry, forged by war, and remade through innovation, the state’s tale is a microcosm of the American story.
HIST 021: US History from 1865 to the Present
This course seeks to give students a better understanding of the historical people, events, and forces that shaped American nationhood and culture from the Civil War to the present. In the wake of the country’s deadliest war, definitions of freedom and personal liberty changed greatly. However, many challenges remained and an ever-growing number of citizens, including immigrants, desired to live the American Dream. We shall begin with the Civil War and look at the failures and successes of its aftermath. This chain of events leads us to the Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century when conflict between the nation’s richest and poorest defined an era. Still, the growth of American influence at this time transformed the country into a world power. With this power came the ability to wage various wars for numerous purposes. Finally, we shall explore post-WWII society and how it gave birth to the society in which we live today. When all is said and done, students will have a broader appreciation of the struggles and triumphs that have defined American life in the past 160 years.
HIST 021: American Civilization Since 1877
What does it mean to be “civilized?” What does it mean to be “barbarous?” In this course we will explore American (United States) History from the post-Civil War era to the present. During this exploration, we will make our own interpretations as to what “civilized” or “barbarous” means as related to the events that have occurred within this time span. We will discuss key notions and topics such as: American Political History, American Military History, Social Darwinism, Racism, Nativism, The Industrial Revolution, Imperialism, Manifest Destiny, Westward Expansion, Xenophobia, Propaganda, World War I, The Roaring Twenties, Prohibition, The Great Depression, World War II, Eugenics, Totalitarianism, The Cold War Years (Korea, Vietnam, The Civil Rights Movement, American Counterculture in the 1960’s, the disillusionment of the 1970’s), Isolationism, Collective Security, Capitalism, Communism, Democracy, Advancements in Technology, Escapism, Conspiracy Theories, Political Corruption, Terrorism, and much more. Upon inspecting and investigating these distinct periods and themes in American History, we will then assess what benefits, damages, and effects they had (or still have) on the American people and the American nation. We will utilize various mediums to analyze these historical events and eras, such as: Books, Documentaries, TV series, Movies, Music, Art, and Popular Culture. The aim of this course is to give students the opportunity to express and showcase their own ideas and opinions pertaining to the diverse themes and topics presented in class, as well as allow them to come to their own conclusions about how these themes and topics shaped, and continue to shape American Civilization.
HIST 103: The History of Madness, Mental Illness, and Psychiatry
This course is an introduction to the history of "madness," examining and evaluating the ideas that have shaped perceptions of madness, insanity, and mental illness over the centuries. We’ll discuss how and why “mad people” throughout history have been at points venerated and at other points feared. We’ll read texts and watch videos, sometimes from those who live with mental illnesses, that attempt to explain the ways mental illnesses have been addressed by different social groups and throughout different time periods. And we’ll explore popular films that have shaped (for better and worse) how the world talks about mental illness. As a result, you’ll will become acquainted with the ways in which human biology, culture, society, and politics have reciprocally shaped one another in history.
HIST 113: Comparative History of Baseball
This course offers a comparative survey of baseball history from its origins in the nineteenth century to the present. The course uses the broad cultural and geographic diffusion of baseball over time to examine the diverse and changing social, economic, and political meanings of this activity in different cultural settings, emphasizing the ways in which a common activity may acquire unique meanings in different cultures.
HIST 121: The Holocaust
The Holocaust was the only logical conclusion to Nazi Ideology. This ideology, a volatile mixture of eugenic and occult theories and practices, was forged in the crucible of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It took on a distinct character in Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf. To Hitler, the disintegration of society and culture was a direct result of racial denigration. The restoration of racial, cultural, and spiritual health, required the institution of race laws, forced sterilization and institutionalized murder.
HIST 130: Introduction to the Civil War Era
The Civil War is often called the most important episode of American History. Three million people fought. Some 700,000 died. Four million were freed. The destiny of a nation was forever changed as a result. We shall examine the war’s long-term causes, ideas, leaders, battles, people, and everlasting consequences. Students will learn about these different factors by examining each in-depth through readings, presentations, and original research. The course will incorporate various teaching tools including photos, letters, newspapers, maps, documentaries, and movies. We will also examine how the war has been commemorated by society. Finally, we will travel to two Civil War battlefields to experience history and tourism ourselves. We shall gain additional insights by speaking with historians and professionals who maintain the sites for future generations. In the end, students will gain a higher appreciation of America’s bloodiest war and why it continues to shape our contemporary society.
HIST 174: East Asia to 1800
History 174 explores China, Japan, and Korea from ancient times to the eve of the modern age. We will travel through China from the beginnings of civilization to the empire at its peak; Korea from early states and confederations to unified kingdom; and Japan from the age of chiefdoms and early emperors to military rule (the shogunates). We will watch East Asia emerge as a zone of political and cultural interaction, and also witness early contacts with the West. Along the way we will see the birth of Confucianism and other philosophical traditions, and the spread of Buddhism to China, Korea, and Japan. In addition to textbook coverage, we will deepen our knowledge through weekly engagement with primary sources from all three countries. No prior knowledge of Asian history is required; just bring your curiosity.
HIST 203N: History of Monsters, Aliens, and the Supernatural
In History 203N, we will traverse the tales of Alexander the Great's battle with dragons and otherworldly forces as told by the Persian poet Ferdowsi. We will explore the ancient Indian tale of Rama, avatar of Vishnu, and his apocalyptic struggle with Ravana, the Demon king. We will visit the mystery of Atlantis as told by Plato and the fog shrouded Anglo Saxon world through the ancient tale of Beowulf as he slays the monster Grendel and his vengeful mother. We will explore Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and the moral challenges faced in the emerging scientific world. We will travel to Haiti to unlock the mystery of zombies, the zombification drug, and possession ceremonies overseen by Vodoun priests. We will explore local stories of werewolves, the international character the vampire, Bigfoot, the Yeti and UFO's. We will visit diverse peoples and mysterious lands stretching across the centuries.
HIST 292N: Witchcraft
There is much more to the history of witchcraft than what goes bump in the night, cauldrons of boiling concoctions or magical broomsticks. There is a deep and abiding mystery of human beings woven into the fabric of nature. Nature was a book that demanded to be read. Unlocking its secrets, required one to walk across the leaves of great book of nature. In this light, we will explore the work of midwives and country doctors, herbalists and alchemists with their arcane practices. We will examine the tools of healing and concoctions of death. We will visit the otherworldly realms of the alchemists and hermetic scholars. We will examine the mysteries of the Salem Witch Trials and consider spectral evidence. We will consider the motives of the witch hunters and the institutions and documents that justified their practices. Last, but not least, we will determine the metamorphosis of the so-called witch and witchcraft in the modern world and on the world stage.