Summer 2017 Course Offerings

HIST 848-01: Frontier Law & Order

The American frontier is oftentimes synonymous with crime, violence, and disorder. Images of gunfighters on dusty cow town streets, gun toting law officers, and vigilantes hanging a ruffian from a tree are common images of frontier America. This course will explore the history and legacy of American frontier law and order. Students will read classic books, recent scholarship, and view Hollywood films to try and uncover whether or not the American frontier deserves to be labeled as a region where crime and violence prevailed over law and order. Students will have weekly readings, asynchronous discussions, and a variety of writing assignments.

HIST 848-02: The 1970s

This course will examine the 1970s, a decade often reviled for tacky clothes, self-indulgence, and a depressed economy. In recent years scholars have attended more closely to the "Me Decade," revisiting popular perceptions of the era as the endpoint for postwar liberalism and the beginning of the New Right. Social, economic, and political shifts defined the 1970s, to be sure, but there is a much more complicated story that lies beneath popular disillusionment. The decade that brought us exploding cars and Watergate also witnessed a remarkable expansion of rights and stronger environmental legislation. Readings will explore these trends and help to uncover how this decade, perhaps even more than the 1960s, helped to reshape America's society and politics toward the end of the twentieth century.

HIST 848-03: Modern American West

HIST 848-05: Civil Rights

This course explores the historiography of the African-American Civil Rights Movement of the post-WWII period. It includes a liberal synthesis of the movement as a whole, a comparative analysis of the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, a social analysis of grassroots activism and the rise of Black Power, a women’s history perspective, a gendered analysis of class and power within the movement, a study of the international context shaping the movement, and a global comparative with the simultaneous struggle for rights in South Africa. Each approach to our subject is an opportunity to discuss how historians’ interpretations of the Civil Rights Movement for African Americans have changed over time.

HIST 848-06: Indigenous Empires

The course will begin in the twelfth-century Mississippi Valley, where Cahokian peoples built enormous mounds, developed large agricultural surpluses, and received tribute from distant people who conducted pilgrimages to their cities. The leaders of the Cahokia polities wielded economic, political, and spiritual power. Following the collapse of Cahokia, different Indigenous polities emerged as agents of power, including the Iroquois in New York. We will consider the language and categories that historians have used to describe the political structure of the Iroquois, including "empire," a term that historians have also applied to the Comanches, who enlisted horses to become the dominant power in the southern plains in the eighteenth century. The course will conclude by addressing the conflicts of the 1860s and 1870s, when the dominant power of the central and northern Great Plains—the Lakota Sioux—resisted American expansion.

HIST 849-01 Medieval Warfare

This course surveys the broad topic of warfare across the broad sweep of the middle ages from about 300 to 1500 AD. We will begin with warfare in late antiquity, push through the Byzantine Empire, warfare in western Europe, the Crusades and finally warfare in the late medieval world. We will finish the semester with discussions of Naval and Siege warfare as well as a last week on Logistics.

HIST 849-02: Cold War Eastern Europe

The study of Cold War history has changed greatly. Only two decades ago historians and political researches had to limit themselves to the analysis of Western sources. As a result, Western policy occupied the main place in their research. It was very difficult to come to objective judgments about the Soviet Union and the entire Communist Bloc. With the disintegration of the Soviet Bloc in the early 1990s the Eastern European archives opened and historians had an opportunity to study previously secret documents. As a result, a number of books, volumes of documents, and articles discussing numerous aspects of the post-World War II history of Eastern Europe appeared. This class will provide a survey of the recent literature on Eastern Europe from 1945 to the accession of the Eastern European countries to the European Union. Just as the collapse of the region's communist regimes took social scientists by surprise in 1989, so too has the divergence of political and economic trajectories since. In some countries, democratic institutions were swiftly consolidated. In others, free elections produced "illiberal democracies." Likewise in the economic sphere, outcomes have varied widely: while some governments quickly managed difficult reforms and laid the conditions for growth, others faced extended economic stagnation. Finally, a number of the region's states have joined the European Union and NATO, a process that, arguably, has deepened democracy and cemented economic reforms while simultaneously rousing fears of NATO once again in today’s Russia. Our survey of political and economic developments in this region will cover democratization and political participation; privatization and macroeconomic reform; nationalism and ethnic conflict; as well as regional integration. Though we will cover the whole region, the countries that will receive primary consideration are East Germany, Poland, the former Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and the former Yugoslavia.

The purpose of this course is to introduce graduate students to some of the best and most controversial recent historical writings on post-1945 Eastern Europe. The goal is to offer an overview of the period with an emphasis on a few key issues that have sustained recent scholarly interest. We will examine how historians reevaluate some old questions today and we will have an opportunity to analyze new and old historiographical questions in depth.

HIST 849-04: Soviet Union after Stalin

This course covers events in Russia from approximately the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1924 until the death of Josef Stalin on March 5, 1953. While some time must, of course, be spent on the 1917 Russian revolution and the Lenin era, our main focus will be how Soviet politics and society changed during the Stalin years. Specifically, we will discuss such key events as the rivalry between Trotsky and Stalin, the Cultural Revolution, the Five Year Plan, Collectivization of the peasantry, The Purges, the Second World War, and Postwar Stalinism. We will pay special attention to historiographic debates regarding these events as well as to issues relating to the roles of women in society, class conflict, and the changing national policies, including especially the development of anti-Semitism. Among the larger questions we will consider are the relationship between ideology and power in Soviet Stalinism, the connections between Stalinism and Leninism, and the role of terror, and finally the role played by Soviet citizens in implementing Stalin’s policies. 

HIST 896 Thesis

Independent study course directed by a history graduate faculty member for students who are approved to pursue the thesis option.

HIST 899 Directed Readings, 1-3 hours

Independent readings on advanced history topics. Readings to be selected and directed by a history graduate faculty member. A 3 credit hour Directed Readings course is required for students pursuing the thesis option.