Associate Professor Throop (Chair); Assistant Professors Chao, Daggar, Mellis, Onaci.
The mission of the History Department is to cultivate within our community the lifelong habit of actively engaging and critically questioning the relationship between past, present, and future. We affirm that everyone has a history and that, as global citizens, exploring those histories matters.
Upon graduation, Ursinus history majors will:
1. Recognize and question their positionality and responsibility as historians in the world.
2. Respect and investigate the ambiguity and complexity of human experience.
3. Actively reflect on the forces and inequalities that have and continue to shape the world and our knowledge of it.
4. Seek out and value multiple perspectives and a variety of evidence before arriving at a conclusion.
Ursinus history majors will achieve these goals by:
1. Understanding multiple historical narratives in and about the world, of which American history is but one.
2. Understanding and explaining different and competing theoretical perspectives and cultural practices that generate/shape historical knowledge.
3. Evaluating and critically questioning the central competing narratives, temporal constructs, and debates in global history.
4. Accurately and persuasively communicating historical knowledge to a wide range of audiences in different media.
5. Analyzing contemporary phenomena, including the dominant ideas, sociopolitical forces, and power dynamics that shape any given society, within historical contexts.
6. Actively exercising collaboration and leadership skills with peers and mentors.
7. Designing original lines of critical inquiry and selecting, analyzing and synthesizing historical evidence and theoretical perspectives to create new knowledge.
Requirements for Majors
History majors must take a minimum of eleven courses that fulfill the following requirements:
1. HIST-101 or 102
2. HIST-125 or 126
3. Three electives
5. One 300-level U.S. and American history course
6. One 300-level non-Western history course
7. One 300-level world and comparative history course
8. One 300-level European and Mediterranean history course
9. One 400-level Capstone Seminar (HIST-425W, 426W, 450W, 451W, or 475W)
The three electives must include one U.S. and American history course, one European and Mediterranean history course, and one non-Western history course. At least two electives must be at the 200-level; the third elective may be at the 100-, 200- or 300-level.
History majors who are approved to register for HIST/IDS-492W may count HIST/IDS-491W as their third elective. History majors completing two or more majors may count a course outside the History Department as their third elective with approval of their History Department faculty advisor. History majors may petition their faculty advisor in the department to count one Advanced Placement or transfer course as their third elective, pending syllabus review. The History Department welcomes majors transferring to Ursinus College and encourages them to consult the department chair proactively regarding transfer credits and completion of the major.
HIST-150, HIST-250, and HIST-350 are topics courses that may also be used to fulfill major area distribution requirements relevant to their topics.
History course numbering:
- World/comparative history X01-X24
- U.S. and American history X25-X49
- Non-Western history X51-X74
- European and Mediterranean history X75-X79, X86-X99
The capstone, oral presentation, and writing requirements within the major are fulfilled by completing HIST-200W and HIST-425W, 426W, 450W, 451W, or 475W.
History majors who wish to pursue study in an area or topic in greater depth, including students who are considering graduate study in history or a related discipline, may choose to complete a Concentration. Concentrations are not a requirement for history majors.
A Concentration consists of three courses on the history of a particular area in addition to the requirements of the major, for a total of five courses in the Concentration area.
African and African-American history. Applicable courses include HIST-228, 251, 332, 351, 426W.
East Asian history. Applicable courses include HIST-151, 152, 252, 254, 352, 354, 451W.
European and Mediterranean history. Applicable courses include HIST-175, 176, 275, 276, 375, 376, 475W.
Non-Western history. Applicable courses include HIST-151, 152, 251, 252, 254, 351, 352, 354, 451W.
U.S. and American history. Applicable courses include HIST-125, 126, 212, 225, 226, 227, 228, 330, 332, 425W, 426W.
World and comparative history. Applicable courses include HIST-101, 102, 202, 203, 303, 307.
Student-Initiated Concentration: Three courses on the history of a particular area or topic in addition to two courses on the area or topic taken to fulfill the requirements of the major, for a total of five courses. Concentration and specific courses to be approved by the Chair of the History Department.
Note: With departmental permission, a student may substitute one course from outside the History Department (or one Advanced Placement or transfer course) in fulfillment of a Concentration. Also, when appropriate, HIST-150, 250, 350, 381, 382, 400W, 450W, 491W, and/or 492W may be included in a Concentration with departmental permission.
Requirements for Minors
Students seeking a minor in history must complete a minimum of five courses in the department, including HIST-200W and at least one course at the 300-level or higher. One Advanced Placement or transfer course may be counted towards a minor in History.
100-level courses are Historical Introductions. These courses serve to introduce students to the central historical narratives, debates, temporal constructs, habits of mind, and foundational skills within the discipline of history. 100-level courses are most appropriate for first- and second-year students. A number of seats in 100-level courses will be reserved for first- and second-year students.
200-level courses are Historical Explorations. These courses allow students to practice and refine their historical skills and methods while they continue to expand their content knowledge. In addition, each 200-level course helps students explore one subfield or methodological approach within the discipline of history. 200-level courses are most appropriate for first- and second-year majors and non-majors of any year.
300-level courses are Historical Innovations. These courses challenge students to evaluate the relationship between historical theory and practice, and they emphasize independent research and original knowledge creation. 300-level courses are designed for majors in their second year or beyond. However, there are no prerequisites and non-majors are welcome to register in a 300-level course after consultation with the course instructor or department chair. First-year students will only be admitted to a 300-level course with permission of the instructor.
HIST-425W, 426W, 450W, 451W, and 475W are Capstone Seminars for history majors. In these courses, students demonstrate their ability to complete collaborative and independent intellectual work of the highest caliber. The prerequisite for these courses is HIST-200W and at least one 300-level history course, or permission of the instructor.
HIST/GWSS-101. Empire, Patriarchy, and Race: People and Power in Premodern World History
Why did patriarchy emerge in human societies? What different ideas of gender, sexuality, and family shaped people’s lives? How and why did empires form, and what social inequalities and cultural trends supported imperial power? What connected different regions of the globe and how did global and local environmental trends affect those connections? How have modern ideas of imperialism, gender, and race influenced our historical knowledge? Using these questions as a driving force, we will explore the history of the premodern world by examining the ever-changing relations between the powerful and seemingly-powerless. We will prioritize the perspectives of non-Western peoples in their cross-cultural encounters and exchanges, and we will analyze socio-political power structures, race and ethnicity, and patriarchy. Three hours per week.Four semester hours. (H,DN,GN.)
Note: Students who have completed HIST-261 may not register for HIST/GWSS-101.
HIST/GWSS-102. Empire, Patriarchy, and Race: People and Power in Modern World History
How have modern individuals’ lives been shaped by people in power throughout history? How did Westerners use the tools of empire, patriarchy, and race to dominate colonized groups? In what ways did colonized and non-hegemonic peoples attempt to assert agency over these tools and their lives? What are the environmental legacies of these processes? How have ideas of imperialism, gender, and race influenced our historical knowledge of the modern world? Using these questions as a driving force, we will explore the history of the modern world by examining the ever-changing relations between the powerful and seemingly-powerless. We will prioritize the perspectives of non-Western peoples in their cross-cultural encounters and exchanges and we will analyze socio-political power structures, race and ethnicity, and patriarchy. Three hours per week.Four semester hours. (H, DN, GN.)
Note: Students who have completed HIST-262 may not register for HIST/GWSS-102.
HIST-125. Defining America: Early American History in its Global Contexts
What does “America” mean? Who is “American”? How did inhabitants of the United States and the world come to define these terms and ideas? How have their meanings changed over time? By analyzing a series of defining moments in early American history—from Turtle Island and earliest times through the U.S. Civil War and Reconstruction—we will discuss, interrogate, and analyze varied and often competing perspectives on these questions. Struggles over land, citizenship, religion, freedom, rights, and power will be at the heart of our discussions. Three hours per week.Four semester hours. (H, DN, O.)
Note: Students who have completed HIST-113 may not register for HIST-125.
HIST/GWSS-126. Defining America: Modern U.S. History in its Global Contexts
What makes the United States of America unique, and what does it mean to be American? This course explores the stories of working people, economic elites, the descendants of the enslaved, government officials, cultural icons, and innovators of all races, genders, and physical abilities. Such stories offer us multiple perspectives on the past, and by understanding and questioning them, we will study the country’s relationship to slavery, suffrage, civil and human rights, and accessibility, as well as its political, technological, economic, and ideological contributions, obligations, and shortcomings. Ultimately, we will gain an appreciation of what it means to be American and what America means to the world, beginning in the aftermath of the American Civil War and extending to the present. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (H, DN.)
Note: Students who have completed HIST-114 may not register for HIST/GWSS-126.
HIST-150. Introductory Special Topics in History
A 100-level course dealing with special subject areas and periods that are not regularly taught. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.(H, DN or GN, if so designated, contingent upon the topic.)
HIST-151. From Genji to Godzilla: Japanese Society and Culture in Historical Perspective
What makes anime so fascinating to the world? How did Japan become one of the Axis powers during World War II? Why is Godzilla one of the most revered movie characters of all time? Why did the U.S. incarcerate over 120,000 Japanese immigrants and Japanese-American citizens during World War II? How did sushi get so global? In this course, we explore these questions from a variety of Japanese perspectives. Particular attention will be placed upon Japan’s historical and modern relations with its neighbors in East Asia as well as with the world more broadly. We will assess scholarly literature, primary source documents, and contemporary digital and social media. Three hours per week.Four semester hours. (H, GN.)
HIST-152. Emperors, Warlords, and “Commies”: China from 1644 to the Present
Is China a superpower? Who was Mao Zedong? Why were the 2008 Beijing Olympics such a big deal? These are some of the questions we seek to unravel in this course. Special attention will be paid to the formation of China’s modern national borders and the problems inherent in this imperial expansion; China’s experience of Western and Japanese imperialism and the scars these experiences left behind; the collapse of the country’s dynastic structure and the emergence of the Chinese Communist Party; the upheavals of the Mao era; the effects of the post-1980s global economic boom; and international representations of China as simultaneously opaque and yet open, monolithic and yet dynamic. Three hours per week.Four semester hours. (H, GN.)
Note: Students who completed this course as HIST-250 in Spring 2019 may not register for HIST-152.
HIST-175. The Middle Ages in the Twenty-First Century: History, Media, and Politics
Was society brutal, racist, misogynistic, and “feudal” in the so-called Dark Ages, or did chivalry and Christian piety enlighten medieval Europe? Did the world beyond Europe have a “Middle Ages”? Why does medieval Europe show up in Super Bowl commercials and political campaigns? This course introduces students to the history of medieval Europe and invites them to consider how that history is reimagined in modern media and politics. We pay particular attention to the human diversity of medieval Europe and the changing ways in which people identified themselves, conceptualized human differences, and sought to define their societies. Similarly, we evaluate the ways in which “the Middle Ages” is used now to signal religious, national, and/or racial identity. Three hours per week.Four semester hours. (H, DN.)
HIST-176. The Crusades: A Comparative History
What were the medieval wars we refer to as “the crusades”? Who went, why did they go, and what resulted from their actions? How did different individuals and groups perceive the crusades, and why do the crusades still attract the world’s attention? In this course we explore the long history of the crusades and interrogate how diverse individuals and groups have viewed the crusades in dramatically different ways. In particular, we analyze a variety of historical perspectives and also reflect on how crusading narratives are utilized in modern political discourses and popular cultures. We wrestle with the conflicting ideas of obligation present in this history, particularly the contested obligation to be violent. Three hours per week.Four semester hours. (H.)
Note: Students who have completed HIST-364 may not register for HIST-176.
HIST-200W. Theories and Methods in History
What has been, is, and arguably should be “history”? How has the study and knowledge of history been connected to the exercise of power in societies past and present? How can we study and generate historical knowledge—i.e., how can we “do” history? In this course we consider the “history of history” from antiquity onwards and around the globe, analyzing in particular how cultural trends and theoretical approaches have affected the study of history and how power and privilege have influenced historical knowledge. We explore and acquire historical skills such as critical reading and analysis, argument construction, historical synthesis, and research, and we learn how to apply them in digital contexts. This course is open to History, American Studies, and East Asian Studies majors and History minors with second-year standing or higher; and to other students with the permission of the instructor. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.
HIST-202. History of Stuff: East Asia and the World in 10 Objects
Why do we call our dinner plates “China”? Was there more than one Silk Road? When did contact between East and West first occur and why? These are the kinds of questions we seek to answer in this course. Through discussions of material history, we unravel in class the many connections between people, things, and ideas that have always bound East Asia and the rest of the world together. Each week, we look at a type of object (for example, bronze vessels, horses, silver, and bodies), using it as a lens into the specific social, cultural, and historical situation of China and other parts of East Asia vis-à-vis the world. Course themes include material culture complexes, commodity chains, consumption practices, cultural contact, and social change. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (H, GN.)
Note: Students who have completed this course as HIST-150 may not register for HIST-202.
HIST/MUS-203. The Expense of Musical Appropriation and the Dividends of Collaboration
There is a rich history of people from different nations, ethnicities, and races exchanging ideas and sharing cultures. For African peoples and their descendants in the diaspora, such exchanges became tools that helped them survive oppression and overcome marginalized positionalities, even as they made contributions to the global pop industry. This course studies local musical cultures in Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States, and their global circulation, to question the appropriation, adaptation, and commercialization of music. It asks what the term “appropriation” means and how one may distinguish borrowing and collaboration from theft and exploitation. We will learn basic music theory and use introductory digital music production tools to translate what we learn into audio projects and civic engagement workshops. We strongly encourage the participation of those with no music experience. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (H, GN.)
HIST/ENGL-212. Bears Make History: U.S. Higher Education and Digital Entrepreneurship in the Archive and Online
Ursinus College has a history, and you’re going to tell it. Using an array of digital media, students in this course will become part of the shaping and recounting of the history of Ursinus College and its community. We will consider Ursinus’s place in a broader history of U.S. colleges and universities and will examine how digital humanities is influencing archival research. Students will learn a variety of digital tools, and will analyze and evaluate existing digital history projects. The final part of the semester will be devoted to the collaborative design, pitch, construction, and public dissemination of digital group project/s based on materials from the Ursinusiana Archive. This course is part of the IMPACT curriculum supported by the U-Imagine Center for Integrative and Entrepreneurial Studies. Prerequisite: One Ursinus ENGL or HIST course, or permission of the instructors. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (H, LINQ.)
HIST-225. Native North America
This course examines Native American peoples’ lives, cultures, and politics from earliest times to the present. By considering ethnohistory as a field and method, we will consider Indigenous peoples of North America on their own terms and will ask how they shaped the broader history of the continent and the world. We will discuss migration, disease, slavery, religion, and Native peoples’ politics and encounters with imperial powers and European peoples during the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries. We will ask how Native Americans shaped the development of the U.S. in the nineteenth century and will consider the consequences of U.S. empire in North America in the twentieth century and to explore how Native peoples and communities continue to shape North American histories, cultures, and societies in the twenty-first century. Three hours per week.Four semester hours. (H, DN, GN, O.)
HIST-226. Philadelphia Story: Public Histories in the City
What stories can a city relate? What historical clues might we find within and beneath urban streets? Whose pasts might we uncover? Using Philadelphia as our guide, this course explores the American nation’s layered pasts. Course topics include William Penn’s first encounter with Native peoples; the city’s role in the founding of the United States and the negotiation of the politics of slavery and freedom; and the historical foundations and development of modern incarceration. Central to discussions will be the analysis of documentary and material sources as well as questions of memory, public history, and historical preservation. Through field trips and course work, students will interrogate the construction of contemporary historical sites in order to better understand a place, a nation, and the diverse array of people therein. Three hours per week.Four semester hours. (H, DN.)
Note: Students who have completed HIST-220 may not register for HIST-226.
HIST/GWSS-227. Witches, Drudges, and Good Wives: Gender, Race, and Sex in Early America
How can we recover the experiences of individuals based upon archival fragments? How did social hierarchies based on the intersections of gender, race, and sex shape individuals’ lives in early America and contribute to their historical erasure? While considering biography as a mode of historical investigation, we will work to define evolving conceptions of gender, race, and sex in early America, and we will uncover the lives of individuals whose experiences were shaped by the communities in which they found themselves and whose stories some sought to appropriate, hide, or silence altogether. In doing so, we will learn much about these individuals and will better understand the forces that sought and perpetuated their erasure. Students will complete a biographical project on a figure of their choosing. Three hours per week.Four semester hours. (H, DN.)
Note: Students who completed the course as HIST-300A in Spring 2018 may not register for HIST/GWSS-227.
HIST-228. Struggle & Triumph: Modern African American History
This course explores African Americans’ contributions to the cultural, political, economic, and intellectual development of the United States of America and the world. By studying this history, we will learn about the varying perspectives that represent African Americans and gain a greater appreciation of the diversity within their communities. With the help of Africana political theory, this course will complicate our understanding of how the nation’s laws operate in times of calm and crisis, who historically has been entitled to the rights of citizenship and why, and how the nation’s people have viewed difference. We will emphasize African American leadership and participation in social justice activities, and will actively consider the various obligations of individuals, communities, citizens, and governments. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (H, DN.)
Note: Students who have completed HIST-223 may not register for HIST-228.
HIST-250. Special Topics in History
A 200-level course dealing with special subject areas and periods that are not regularly taught. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (H; DN or GN, if so designated, contingent upon the topic.)
HIST/GWSS-251. African Journey: From Colonization to a Continent of Nations
Even in the twenty-first century, Africa and its people are misunderstood and misrepresented. Stereotypes promote a narrow view of a vast continent rich with diverse peoples, ideas, and experiences. This course considers African history from the onset of European colonialism to the near present. While learning about the modern historical development of the continent in broad strokes, we will survey some of the broader scholarship and approaches to studying African history, considering its centrality to historical progress. In doing so, we will compare and contrast African people’s experiences with colonialism, decolonization, and independence/neo-colonialism while placing emphasis on women’s experiences and the function of gender. Other important themes include culture, economics, and international relations. We will privilege the perspectives, epistemologies, and contributions of Africans. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (H, GN.)
Note: Students who have completed HIST-231 may not register for HIST/GWSS-251.
HIST-252. This Course Ends in a Bloody Uprising: China to 1644
Culminating in a dramatic role-play of the Wanli Succession Crisis of 1587, this course charts the rise and fall of China’s imperial dynasties beginning with the mythical Xia (ca. 2070-1600 BCE) and ending with the bloody uprising that ushered in the Qing empire (China’s last dynasty) in 1644. In examining this “dynastic cycle,” students will use the historical tools of role-playing, public speaking, and debate to explore important historical themes such as personhood, gender, religion, power, class, race, and ethnicity from a specifically Chinese viewpoint. They will also seek to answer, by taking on semester-long roles in pre-modern Chinese society, broad questions related to humans’ obligations to each other. The course adheres to the Reacting to the Past model of historical learning. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (H, GN.)
HIST/ENV-254. Ecoambiguities: Environment and History in China and Japan
How has China become known as one of the most polluted places on earth? What has been the fallout of the 3/11 Fukushima nuclear disaster, and what are its historical antecedents? This course examines the relationship between humans and the natural environment in China and Japan from the earliest histories of each nation to the present in order to answer these and other important questions. Course themes include human-animal relationships, exchange and exploitation of natural resources, the built environment, the environment in cultural representations, ecological disasters, and the emergence of modern policies and attitudes towards environmental exploitation. Students will be introduced to the field of environmental history, using recent developments in global environmental studies as a theoretical foundation. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (H,GN.)
Note: Students who have completed HIST-244 may not register for ENV/HIST-254.
HIST/GWSS-275. Gender and Sex in Medieval Europe
What did it mean to be a man or a woman in the Middle Ages, were there genders beyond this binary, and what did it mean to “have sex”? How were ideas about gender expressed sexually, and how did ideas about sexual activities impact gender relations? In this course, which introduces students to the historical study of gender and sexuality, we investigate how medieval Europeans conceptualized gender and sexual activity through the lenses of modern gender and queer theories. We explore the kinds of gender and sexual relations that were encouraged, allowed, or prohibited within Christian, Jewish, and Islamic communities in Europe, and assess how those relations reflected institutional and social power and privilege. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (H, DN.)
Note: Students who have completed HIST/GWSS-302 may not register for HIST/GWSS-275.
HIST-276. Religion, Rebellion, and Politics: The Tumultuous Reign of Henry VIII
Was King Henry VIII of England a corrupt medieval tyrant, a Protestant Renaissance hero, or a dumb stooge manipulated by cunning ministers? Did English people love, hate, or fear the dramatic changes he made to English government, religion, and society—and what did they think their obligations were to each other, their country, their faith, and their king? This course explores the controversial events of Henry’s reign, the hot political and religious debates that informed those events, and the responses of everyday people to them. It concludes with Reacting to the Past game/s that situate students within sixteenth-century England. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (H.)
Note: Students who have completed this course as HIST-199 may not register for HIST-276.
HIST-299. History Tutorial
Individual study and directed reading on a selected historical topic and completion of an annotated bibliography of works read. Open only to students majoring in history. Offered as requested. Prerequisites: HIST-200W and prior consent of a member of the history department who agrees to serve as tutor. One hour per week. One semester hour.
HIST/GWSS-303. Women’s Activist Auto/Biographies
Women in various geographic and political contexts have been central actors in the processes of history. However, because women have frequently been viewed as secondary to their male counterparts, their lives have not commanded the same amount of attention. This course seeks to broaden our understandings of the politics, cultures, and social justice initiatives of various societies by studying women’s personal lives and political struggles. Through the life writing of women in places like Kenya, South Africa, India, and the United States of America, we will learn how their participation in social movements, state politics, and cultural work helped make women’s and human rights a central topic in the broader march toward the liberation of their people. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (DN, GN, H.)
Note: Students who have completed HIST/GWSS-361 may not register for HIST/GWSS-303.
HIST-307. Revolutions in the Atlantic World
The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were tumultuous. Revolutionaries in Haiti, France, the United States, and Latin America called and fought for rights and liberty, and worked to define what it meant to be both human and free. They did this work in times of great change: canals, railroads, Indigenous dispossession, and a “transportation revolution” facilitated the growth of markets in the new United States, while industrial revolutions and evolving ideologies of rights, labor, and colonialism competed to cultivate and define a new world order. By examining these moments of struggle and change, we will work to define what we—and historians—mean by “revolution,” and we will ask how these moments both formed a foundation and left lingering consequences for the world we live in today. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (GN, H.)
HIST-330. Native American Activism and Red Power
During the 1960s and 1970s, the American Indian Movement exploded onto the U.S. political scene with the occupation of Alcatraz Island and the dramatic standoff at Wounded Knee. Yet American Indian activism possessed a long history, from boarding school defiance to the birth of the National Congress of American Indians and the “Red Progressive” movement. This course will examine the Red Power moment in the context of that longer and ongoing history of activism in order to ask how and why American Indians fought for political rights, sovereignty, and cultural endurance. We will also consider and discuss various forms of activism and how historians have thus far theorized and examined Native peoples’ activist pasts. Three hours per week.Four semester hours. (H, DN, GN.)
HIST/GWSS-332. Liberated Minds: African American Intellectual History
People of African descent have occupied a unique sociopolitical position in the United States. The realities of their captivity and enslavement, and their resilience in the face of discrimination and racial terrorism, have given them a distinct place in national and world history. Throughout their time in America, they developed a multitude of ideas about economics, citizenship and nationalism, legislation, U.S. foreign policy, education, health, and art and culture. This course will explore the diverse ideas that have developed from this distinct, yet internally diverse, community. We will read about the major bodies of African American thought and research specific aspects of Black intellectual production since the late nineteenth century, including Black nationalism, feminism, liberalism, conservativism, and radicalism. Special priority will be given to how sex and gender inform intellectual production. Three hours per week.Four semester hours. (H, DN.)
HIST-350. Advanced Special Topics in History
A 300-level course dealing with special subject areas and periods that are not regularly taught. Open to first-year students only with instructor’s permission. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (H, DN, or GN, if so designated, contingent upon the topic.)
HIST-351. Africa’s Cultures of Resistance
This course studies the histories of musical cultures and industries in Africa during an age of advancing communications networks and the seemingly ever-increasing democratization of technology. It analyzes cultural trends, such as the development of High Life and Afropop, in the context of anti-colonial and anti-apartheid movements. It also explores how processes like the evolution of global hip-hop culture and the rise of the internet helped fortify bridges between historically oppressed peoples within and across national and continental boundaries. We will get to know individual people and will recognize those people, as well as regional sounds like HipLife and Bongo Flava, as central agents in African and global history. With the concept of ubuntu as our guide, we will deepen our conscious participation in global pop. Three hours per week.Four semester hours. (H, GN.)
Note: Students who have completed HIST-367 may not register for HIST-351.
HIST-352. Personhood in East Asian Literary History
What does it mean to be human? To be good? To be a fully realized person? These and other questions are explored in this course from a specifically East Asian viewpoint. Covering the last five thousand years of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese history, course readings draw upon philosophical, religious, poetic, dramatic, and fictional writings that convey foundational East Asian ideas of how to exist as part of complicated and ever-evolving social networks, to build and maintain social relationships, to love, to die, and to find meaning in life. Special attention in our weekly discussions will be placed on putting the texts we read into dialogue with important themes from the Common Intellectual Experience. Three hours per week.Four semester hours. (H, GN.)
HIST-354. Monsters in East and Southeast Asia
Monsters represent deep fears and anxieties, and thus offer a space to consider the causes, consequences, and perceptions of social, cultural, political, and economic change. This course explores the history of east and southeast Asia through the lens of monstrosity. We will examine different contexts (including China, Japan, and Vietnam) in which monsters and ideas of monstrosity have been produced, seeking to understand underlying trends that may have shaped collective behavior. We will also endeavor to define and characterize the nature of monsters and monstrosity in east and southeast Asian contexts. Topics include monsters in the imagination, religious monsters, monsters in artistic and literary representation, the monstrous feminine, the monstrous other, human monstrosity and post-humanism, monsters on film, and monsters in popular culture. Three hours per week.Four semester hours. (H, GN.)
Note: Students who have completed HIST-346 may not register for HIST-354.
HIST/GWSS-375. Medieval Chivalry: Violence, Gender, Class, and Religion
What did it mean to be a knight and to be noble, and what constituted “chivalrous” behavior? Was it more important to be violent or to be noble—and did nobility reflect wealth, social status, political power, or moral worthiness? In what contexts could women be powerful or chivalrous, and how did different ideas of gender inform and reflect noble society? Was courtly love part of chivalric culture and did it constitute heterosexuality? In this course we explore the medieval culture of chivalry, especially the importance and ambivalence of knightly violence, medieval gender and family identities and relationships, socio-political cultures of power and privilege, and militant Christianity. Three hours per week.Four semester hours. (H, DN.)
Note: Students who have completed HIST/GWSS-301 may not register for HIST/GWSS-375.
HIST-376. Trade, Culture, Sex, and Violence: Interfaith Relations in the Medieval Mediterranean
How did Jews, Muslims, and Christians live together around the Mediterranean Sea in the Middle Ages? Why were some communities and encounters tolerant or even accepting, while others prompted coercion or violence? How have narratives of medieval interfaith relations been used to support modern discrimination and political agendas? In this course we compare the treatment of religious minorities by Christian and Muslim rulers and explore the way economics, social dynamics, and political trends intersected with religious beliefs. We also consider how religious identity was decided, communicated, and lived out in everyday life. Three hours per week.Four semester hours. (H, DN.)
An off-campus academic/work experience under the supervision of a faculty internship adviser and an on-site supervisor. Open to junior and senior history majors and minors; interested students should consult with a faculty member in the History Department before enrolling. The term during which the internship work is performed will be noted by one of the following letters, to be added immediately after the internship course number: A (fall), B (winter), C (spring), or D (summer). Internships undertaken abroad will be so indicated by the letter I. The intern must complete a minimum of 120 hours of work. Graded S/U. Prerequisites: a declared major or minor in history and approval of a faculty internship adviser.Three semester hours.
An off-campus academic/work experience under the supervision of a faculty internship adviser and an on-site supervisor. Open to junior and senior history majors and minors; interested students should consult with a faculty member in the History Department before enrolling. The term during which the internship work is performed will be noted by one of the following letters, to be added immediately after the internship course number: A (fall), B (winter), C (spring), or D (summer). Internships undertaken abroad will be so indicated by the letter I. The intern must complete a minimum of 160 hours of work. Graded S/U. Prerequisites: a declared major or minor in history and approval of a faculty internship adviser.Four semester hours.
HIST/ANTH-385. Historical Archaeology Field School
A four-week summer archaeology course offered in conjunction with The Speaker’s House, a non-profit that owns and is restoring the Frederick Muhlenberg house and property in Trappe, Pennsylvania. The field school course in Historical Archaeology will combine instruction in archaeological methods and theory with hands-on excavation training and experience at an important historical site. Through assigned readings and classroom discussions, on-site training and experience, and weekly laboratory study, field school students will learn historical archaeology techniques and develop the ability to identify and interpret discovered artifacts and place archaeological information within a cultural/historical framework. Six semester hours.
Independent research, under the guidance of an adviser, directed toward the production and oral presentation of a historical project or paper. Prerequisite: HIST-200W, approval of a faculty adviser, and permission of the department. Prerequisite or co-requisite: a History Capstone Seminar. Offered as needed; in rare circumstances, a student may take this course more than once. Four semester hours.
Note: HIST-400W does not fulfill the capstone requirement.
HIST-425W. Street Scrapers, Seamstresses, and the Enslaved: Work, Labor, and Capitalism in the Early Republic
Prostitutes, street scrapers, enslaved laborers, textile workers: such diverse individuals contributed to the making of the U.S. economy. Throughout this course, we will work to uncover the lived experiences of these workers and examine the ways in which the early U.S. economy developed as a result of their labor. We will examine how ideas of race, class, and gender contributed to social hierarchies and a gap between the wealthy and impoverished, and we will analyze workers’ and capitalists’ roles in making the social and economic worlds of the early American republic. Prerequisite: HIST-200W and at least one 300-level history course, or permission of the instructor. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.
HIST-426W. Out of Place: The Historical Geography of African Americans
African Americans have often been seen as “out of place” due to the nature of their arrival and conditions of their residency in the U.S. Deeming them variously and simultaneously “criminals” and “enemies,” “carefree” and “cool,” the American mainstream has assigned Black people a multitude of competing and contradictory places. As a result, this marginalized group has had to carefully navigate uneven geographic and sociopolitical terrains. This course provides an in-depth exploration of Black people’s agency and experiences in urban and rural spaces, especially Philadelphia. We will analyze place-based conditions that have shaped people’s lives and contributed to the reasons why they travel to, remain in, or leave a locale, and we will learn how “place” has helped mold self-perception, creativity, and collective actions for social justice. Prerequisite: HIST-200W and at least one 300-level history course, or permission of the instructor. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.
HIST-450W. Seminar on Special Topics in History
A Capstone Seminar dealing with special subject areas and periods that are not regularly taught. The course devotes particular time and attention to the four open questions that frame the Ursinus Quest, in particular What will I do? Prerequisite: HIST-200W and at least one 300-level history course; or permission of the instructor. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.
HIST-451W. Ancient China: Myth and Material Culture
This course examines a range of primary and secondary sources—from historical documents, to literary texts, to archaeological site reports, to visual culture, to scholarly treatises—to critically introduce students to the history and archeology of early Chinese civilization from the early Neolithic period (ca. 6,000 BCE) to the end of the Western Han dynasty (206 CE). By combining textual, archaeological, and theoretical perspectives, it trains students to approach China’s earliest history in a multi-disciplinary fashion. Prerequisite: HIST-200W and at least one 300-level history course; or permission of the instructor. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.
HIST-475W. The Black Death
One of the most devastating pandemics of all time, a highly infectious plague killed millions in Afro-Eurasia during its first, most intense appearance in the mid-fourteenth century. In European history, this first iteration of the disease (1346-1353) is called the “Black Death.” What was the disease behind this loss of life, and why was it so deadly? How did European societies and those elsewhere interpret and respond to the plague? How did the experience of plague affect people’s lives? In this course, we bring together many different strands of history—medical/scientific, social, economic, political, artistic, and religious—to assess the Black Death and the societies it disrupted in the fourteenth century. Prerequisite: HIST-200W and at least one 300-level history course, or permission of the instructor. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.
HIST-491W. Research/Independent Work
This course is open to seniors who are candidates for departmental honors. Interested students should consult with their faculty adviser no later than October of their junior year. Prerequisite: HIST-200W, approval of a faculty adviser, and permission of the department. Prerequisite or co-requisite: a History Capstone Seminar. Four semester hours.
HIST-492W. Research/Independent Work
A continuation of HIST-491W. Prerequisites: HIST-491W, approval of a faculty adviser, and permission of the department. Four semester hours. (I.)