Check out our current course offerings
This is a partial list of courses. For the semester's complete offerings, see the Registrar's website. The IUB Course Bulletin also has full list of History Department courses past, present, and future.
Students with majors in Business, SPEA, Biology, Media Studies, and other cognate areas, can find courses of interest here.
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Momentous changes in the early twentieth century affected people all over the world and laid the groundwork for much of the human experience today. We will consider themes like industrialism, gender, colonialism, racism, nationalism, fascism, socialism and war for the period before 1945. Students will learn to interpret evidence and construct arguments; we will read short documents, the novels All Quiet on the Western Front and The River Between, and the memoir Behind the Urals.
From the Renaissance and the so-called Age of Discovery, through the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, the English Revolution, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and finally the rise and fall of Napoleon, this course examines the four-hundred-year sweep of early modern Europe. Along the way we deal with such topics as the European witch-hunts, printing and humanism, the rise of capitalism, the formation of nation-states, popular culture and religion, as well as the development of art, literature, and music.
How have women changed the world in the twentieth century? This class takes as its starting point the idea that the most unprecedented long-term historical changes since 1900 revolve around women as objects of policies or processes, and women as historical actors. From the population explosion to the entry of women in the electorate, from access to education to the rise of feminist movements, there are many themes to explore in many locations. We will identify individuals, movements, and processes that can be considered part of this global shift and test their impact on politics, the economy, and culture.
Americans love to think of their country as the quintessential "Melting Pot," a land that has long attracted the "huddled masses yearning to breathe free." But how useful is this framework for understanding the experiences and histories of America’s myriad inhabitants—and indeed, for understanding the meanings of "America" itself? This course explores the interconnected themes of migration, race, and nation-building in the United States, focusing on the late 19th century to recent times. We will consider the wide-reaching impacts of migration—both within the US as well as from elsewhere—by placing the experiences of people on the move at the center of our inquiry. And we will ask how various individuals and institutions have considered migration as both a problem and a solution.
Has it ever been possible in American history to imagine equality without at the same time excluding some people? We will explore cultural tensions between equality and inequality, freedom and unfreedom, and prosperity and poverty in American history from the era of Columbus’s exploration of the New World, up through the era of the American Civil War.
What is “America”? Who is an “American”? By examining diverse experiences, we will explore the different ways Americans have answered these questions and gain a broad knowledge of American history from the pre-contact era through the Civil War.
United States interventions in Cuba, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Guatemala had a profound impact on the societies that experienced them. In this course, we will consider the reasons for these important United States policy decisions, and also focus on how the different social, ethnic, and political groups of the "host" countries responded to the interventions, in order to develop a comparative framework for analyzing the interventions and their long-term consequences.
Taiwan is a small island in East Asia with a complex past and uncertain future. For centuries, it has been searching for its identity and its place between major imperial powers. By tracing the rich, complicated, and sometimes uneasy history of this island, the course will explore the global history of Taiwan, the diverse local cultures that contribute to that global history, and the unique roles Taiwan has played in transregional trade, imperial expansion, and international politics in East Asia and beyond. We will also discuss how three centuries of global flows and influence have contributed to the current political issues regarding this island’s ambiguous place in the world.
In 1917, the United States declared war on the Central Powers, committing US soldiers to fighting in World War I, a global catastrophe that killed millions and forever changed international politics and economics. One hundred years later, the horrific violence of the western front dominates our understandings of the war. This course pushes students to think beyond the western front; to consider the experiences of soldiers, laborers and non-combatants in military campaigns both within and outside of Europe; and to think of the war as one waged between not just nations, but empires. Students will also learn about the myths and realities of US involvement in the war and in making the peace after the armistice in 1918. Students will learn about how World War I shaped 20th and 21st century international politics.
Are heroes born or invented or a bit of both? What does it mean to be a hero? To suffer for God or for one’s love? To crush one’s enemies or to die heroically? Everyone loves a hero and if they can’t find a living human who fits the role, we invent heroes to suit us. But what suits us in a hero? (And who is us?) This semester, we’ll be exploring these questions by looking at medieval heroes remembered (Charlemagne) and forgotten (Eustace the Monk, anyone?), secular and holy, historical and fictional, and we’ll think about how heroes get invented, recreated, joked about and (sometimes) forgotten. We’ll explore how medieval people thought about their world, its politics, its institutions, its social structures, the obligations of individuals, people’s dreams and desires. The skills we develop--the ability to see how people’s contexts influence their view of the world, to read analytically, and to present your ideas clearly in writing and visual form--will be useful to you no matter where you go and what you do after college.
Winston Churchill. Queen Elizabeth. Manchester United. Brexit. Americans today associate these things with our longterm ally, Great Britain. They are just parts of the story of a nation that witnessed the first industrial revolution and the rise and fall of a worldwide empire. This course will study the dynamic history of the British Isles from the 1700s to the present day.
We seem today increasingly confronted with the question of catastrophes--confronted by our experiences of catastrophes, by our fear of the many new catastrophes that seem to threaten us (from asteroids to killer viruses, from climate change to the end of fossil fuels), and by our simultaneous fascination with doomsday prospects. We will explore the ways catastrophe as idea and reality is not so new, in fact, but has actually long operated in history as an "agent" of change and as an organizing theme informing the stories we tell about the relations between humans and the natural world.
An offer you can’t refuse: 15 weeks of murder, corruption, drug dealing, and occasional successes against organized crime. This course will focus primarily on the Sicilian mafia, though it also explores links to the US mafia. In addition to the mafia, we will look at related areas of Italian "deep politics" (or Italy’s mysteries) including: Salvatore Giuliano, right and left wing terror and the strategy of tension, the Vatican banking scandal, and the Tangentopoli scandal and Clean Hands investigation.
Do you want to know more about African oral traditions and the past they narrate? This course focuses on selected African civilizations to reveal political affairs, trading activities, and cultural expressions in spoken, literary, visual, and musical arts. Class meetings are devoted to lectures, discussions, and viewing clips from films. Assigned readings include historical materials and scholarly articles. Students will develop analytical skills and learn how Africans influenced world history.
Complexities and paradoxes have accompanied Israeli society from its beginnings down to today. Some of the major themes of this course will be: the relation between religion and state, the interactions of military and civil life, the place of the kibbutz movement within society, the Israeli family and the place of women in society, and the meaning of war.
Birth, illness, and death are universal human experiences, but they have been conceptualized and managed in a great variety of ways in different times, cultures and societies. This course surveys the variety of experiences, treatments, understandings and practitioners from Ancient Greece and Rome into the twentieth century. We examine the relationship between medical theories and therapies, the roles of various healers, and consider the impact of medical science and public health measures on health and welfare. We explore changing concepts of the structure and function of the body and their relationship to illness and disease. In addition, we consider the experiences, responsibilities, beliefs and perceptions of ordinary people dealing with matters of life and death--health, illness, prevention, and treatment.
What is the history to the dramatic scene that begins every life? What roles have been played by midwives and nurses, doctors and obstetricians, experts and neighbors, by birthing mothers and anxious fathers? What changes have been wrought by the rise of medicine and technology, and the campaigns of reformers and critics? This course sets the terrain as North America in the last several hundred years, with sustained glances earlier and elsewhere, such as the deep history of the Paleolithic era, the traditional practices of Tudor England, or the many places of origin for recent movements for pain-free birth.
"If Yoda Was an Indian, He'd be a Chief" by Bunch Echo-HawkFrom Davy Crockett's bestselling narrative to contemporary films like Avatar, images of Indians have been pervasive in American books, movies, graphic art, and advertising. This course puts Native people at the forefront of American history, demonstrating how America’s first people have shaped—and continue to shape—U.S. history, myth, and culture.
To speak of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany is to conjure up images of marching automatons, extreme violence, war and genocide, all at the behest of a charismatic but perverse, brutal, deluded, and crazed dictator. But could this gigantic project really have been summoned into being by one man? What were the promises and goals that persuaded millions of Germans to support and fight for such a regime?
What Is History? delves into the ideas, practices, and joys of history common to the study of all places, time periods, and themes. Emphasis will be on developing the skills historians use in research and writing, including locating and interpreting sources, using scholarly resources, and arguing persuasively. We will engage with stories that offer a fascinating way to think about past worlds, as well as our own. Along with short written and in-class assignments, students will develop a semester-long research project on a topic of their own choosing.
Americans not only fight wars but film them. There are thousands of Hollywood features and documentaries. This seminar explores the film version of major conflicts such as World War II, Vietnam and The War on Terror, with a special emphasis on films & documentaries about Iraz. It looks not only at soldiers on the battlefront but families on the home front, the tension war generates between men and women, the problem of celebrating violence, and the politics of various eras. Several war novels will also be on the class reading list along with material pertaining to the various wars and key films such as "Since You Went Away" (1944), "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946), "Coming Home" (1978), "Born on the Fourth of July" (1989), "Stop-Loss" (2008), and "American Sniper" (2014).
Uncover the history of Indiana and Indiana University–Bloomington with digital tools like text mining, network analysis, spatial history and makerspace technology! We’ll use these tools to explore IUB’s rich archival collection, both physical and digital, and survey the promise and limitations of big-data analysis in history research. Assignments include a history of a single object from IUB’s past using digital tools, and a digital exhibit that puts each object into a broader historical context
“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Tolstoy's greatest novel, Anna Karenina, written in the nineteenth century, still evokes a strong response from readers. How can the story of an unhappy woman, married to an unfeeling bureaucrat, who falls in love with a dashing playboy aristocrat, has his child, leaves her husband, is herself left, and then throws herself under a train, be a history text? The book was written in the era of Russia's Great Reforms, when the established order was being turned upside down, and the society was in ferment. What were the politics of the time; what was daily life like in Imperial Russia; what were the intellectual currents swirling around in society at the time of change; who were these officials Tolstoy so despised, and how authentic was his portrait of women? We'll examine the relationship between biography and history, literature as history, film and history. Central to the course is an examination of suicide as a culture-bound term, notions of the “soul” and challenges to the idea of “progress.”.
From the witchcraft trials in late seventeenth century Salem to the Michael Brown murder trials in early twenty-first century Ferguson, highly publicized court cases have captured the imagination and excited the passions of countless Americans. This seminar will study popular trials as events that illuminate the character of the American legal system and the larger culture. Students will analyze court records, engage with the perspectives on trials by historians, legal scholars, novelists, film makers, and other analysts, and share their ideas in class discussions.
Nationalism has undeniably shaped the modern world and how we view it. Even avowedly anti-nationalist observers cannot easily escape the nationalist frame of mind. In Europe, the recent electoral advances of nationalist-populist parties and heated debates over the future of the European Union challenge the once dominant view of the inexorable fading of the nation-state form and nationalism there. Nationalism’s “revival” aside, innovative scholarship in the last 35 years or so has fundamentally changed the way we approach it as both a historical phenomenon and a political force. In this seminar, we examine how ideas and practices associated with nationalism and nationalists have shaped European men, women, and children’s experiences since the early 19th century. We ask what “nationalism” and “the nation” meant for Europeans, and how they transformed ordinary Europeans’ lives.
Often described as the ‘cradle of globalization’, the Indian Ocean encompasses a vast area of diverse societies whose extensive and deep interactions were crucial in shaping the emergence of a globalizing world by the 12th and 13th centuries. The range of social, economic and cultural networks that these societies created across the ocean wove peoples together and structured the dynamics that allowed the later coexistence of European, Asian and African exchange. This course explores some of the history of the people and societies who have "made" the worlds of the Indian Ocean over more than 5,000 years. We will look closely at the interactions between regions and powers, at commercial exchange and the voluntary and involuntary movement of peoples, ideas and things around the ocean from ancient to modern times.
Why should we think that Jews are any different from others? Today Jews identify as an ethnicity, a religion or a culture – yet not as a distinct race. But during the 19th century scientists, physicians and politicians described Jews as a race, and the Jewish body as either deviant, ugly and sick – or as healthy, beautiful and noble. In any case Jews were perceived as different according to “racial science”. How did these images influence Jewish self-identity and the perception of Jews in the eyes of non-Jews – up until today? In this course we will deal with images and stereotypes of Jewish bodies in scientific discourse, popular culture, art, literature and propaganda, and the Jewish reaction to them.
In the early 20th Century, the Swiss architect Le Corbusier began to experiment with radical forms of architecture, believing that through the use of new physical structures and technologies in building he could fundamentally transform the nature of society. For Le Corbusier, the house was a "machine for living in" that could make life better for its residents, and architecture was thus the noblest of all professions. In this course we will focus our attention on the ways that architecture has been used to communicate and experiment with forms of modernity, both in Euro-America and the non- Western world during the 20th Century. We will ask after the links between architecture and industrial capitalism, and examine the ways that the design of a building was intended to communicate a society’s possession of modernity, whether in Chicago or Chittagong. Taking a world history perspective, we will be interested to discover how architectural ideals travelled from Europe to Asia, their links to colonialism, and how architectural practices now reflect the globalization of the recent past.
The global refugee crisis hits all time high with 65.3 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. This doesn’t include migrants, who are on the move due to economic hardship, hunger and global warming. We will trace the realities and images of refugees, undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers as essential ‘Others’ over the course of the late 19th century up until today. Our starting point are the millions of Irish, Jewish, Italian and other immigrants arriving at Ellis Island. From there we will venture on to the refugee crisis of WW I, the Holocaust, the mass displacement of WWII, and the introduction of national and international Human Rights legislations. We will finally arrive at the present global refugee crisis, and will discuss the closing of borders and the identification of refugees with terrorism. Throughout the course we’ll discuss legislations, national and communal relief organization, and the everyday life experiences of migrants, their journeys and arrivals at their destinations. Full information about the course cross listing is available on the Jewish Studies web site.
What happens when we view American history through the lens of the environment? Is there an environment history of the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War II, and the Civil Rights movements? This seminar, designed specifically for students who are preparing to become history and social studies teachers, addresses these and other questions by examining the selected incidents in American history from European contact through the late twentieth century. We’ll also focus on the skills instructors at all levels need to master: reading carefully, writing clearly and gracefully, and communicating effectively.
Why do Russians take pride in their past? In the West, it is often portrayed as one of misery and oppression alone, but the splendid Russian Empire ruled over one sixth of the earth’s land surface and extended across eleven time zones in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. It had the most powerful land army on earth, was the fifth largest industrial power, produced many of the world’s greatest artists, writers, composers and scientists, and exuded confidence and pride in its status as a European Great Power. It was also riven by conflict, conflicting priorities and visions, and the site of a growing revolutionary movement. It was Europe but also Asia….and it collapsed in 1917, bringing on a revolution that altered the course of twentieth century across the globe. This course examines the paradoxes and contradictions of modern Russian history, the legacies of Imperial Russia to the twentieth century, both daily life and high politics, the dilemmas of a latecomer to global modernization, the alternative visions of Russian thinkers and activists, the status of women, minorities, and the various classes, and the key events that shaped Russia’s nineteenth and early century.
From the time of the Cossacks to its indepedence, Ukraine is at the center of a complex political struggle between Russia and the European Union. Once the breadbasket of the Soviet Union, it is now one of the largest nations in Europe. This course examines issues of national identity and national consciousness and explores the place of Ukraine in Russian and European history.
The Habsburg Empire cannot be found on today's map, but it deeply shaped the Europe we know today. Where was it? Why is there still lingering nostalgia for it, despite the fact that it started the First World War? Was it "a prison of nations" or, with over 50 million of people of diverse cultures and a dozen official languages, an EU before the EU with uncannily comparable problems and promises? In its last 150 years, the Habsburg Empire ruled territories from Austria to Ukraine, from Croatia to Italy, with inhabitants of diverse languages, religious beliefs, laws and customs, and social and economic structures. We will trace the Empire’s evolution between from the age of Enlightenment to its collapse at the end of WWI by exploring he interplay between the dynastic state and growing nationalist mobilizations as the empire responded to "modernization" processes that transformed its society and economy.
Influenza and leprosy, syphilis and AIDS, breast cancer and diabetes--whether rare or pervasive, considered distant or 'close to home,' disease has frightened and shocked, shaping identities, as well as social and personal interactions. In this course, we will examine how responses to epidemics and disease can provide insights into the nature of effected societies, and we will begin to explore how ideas about illness, contagion, risk, danger, and death are shaped. The course will provide students with a better understanding of how cultural assumptions – in the past and today – can shape the experiences and outcomes of disease as much as knowledge produced in the laboratory.
African marketplaces, streets, taxis and homes abound with the images and sounds of popular culture--music, film, video, sports and fashion. Can fun be subversive? What is the relationship between popular culture and politics? How does popular culture change how we think about colonialism and independence? And, what kind of historical source is popular culture?
Brother fighting Brother! Neighbor killing Neighbor! A nation torn apart and reunited. The Civil War was the deadliest war in U.S. history. It also transformed the nation. In the crucible of war, Americans debated essential questions about the nature of the U.S. and what it meant to be an American. Their answers continue to shape our society. Join us as we learn about the men and women--North and South, white and black, rich and poor, soldiers and civilians--who navigated the violence and tumult of the war and the world it created.
What happened after the "Fall of Rome"? Barbarians! Monks! Islam! Charlemagne! Vikings! In this class, we will see how Roman, Germanic, Christian, and Islamic traditions interacted between AD 500-1000, producing political and cultural identities that have lasted down to today.
Exactly 500 years ago, a young monk nailed his "Ninety-Five Theses" to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. And with these hammer blows, Martin Luther shattered the unity of Christendom. The Reformation he launched was arguably the first great revolution in European history. It transformed the lives of millions of ordinary people in ways that went well beyond religious concerns. In this course we will study the Reformation Era in all of its dimensions: politics, cultural change, heretical movements, witchcraft, the wars of religion, the Reformation’s impact on family life and the role of women, and more.
Ancient Greece changed the course of world history with its spectacular achievements in literature, politics, warfare, art, philosophy, and other fields of endeavor. This course studies Greece at the height of its accomplishment, starting with its fifth-century BC wars of liberation fought against the Persians, and continuing through the Classical period to the Hellenistic era initiated by the conquests of Alexander the Great.
What have the Brothers Grimm got to do with German history? Can fairytales be part of a German national identity? Before 1871, there existed no unified Germany. For many centuries, the German lands consisted of a diverse multitude of autonomous political entities: mighty kingdoms like Prussia and Bavaria, proud independent cities, small principalities, and even tiny monasteries. What constituted "Germany" and "German identity" in the time before the founding of the German nation-state? Which factors help explain the delay of German unification, and which alternative outcomes might have been conceivable? We will explore these and other questions as we study the history of German society, culture, and politics from the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) to the founding of the German Empire in 1871.
From the beginning, "The Bomb," as it was called, symbolized catastrophe without boundaries--even the apocalyptic end of the world imagined for centuries--and it also symbolized the conquest of nature, boundless miracles of science, and a nuclear umbrella of protection. Through lecture, discussion, reading, film, and music, we will investigate the symbolic history of "The Bomb" in our culture.
From Victorian prurience to the banning of Lady Chatterley's Lover, to seduction, adultery, divorce, unwed motherhood and sexual indiscretions in the most newspaper-reading culture in the world, to the Rolling Stones: were changes in sexual cultures uniquely British, or instead, transatlantic, “western,” or global? Meanwhile, has any society though ever laughed so much at its own sexual mores and vulgarities?
"Official" vs "private". These two perspectives shape our exploration of the dramatic social, political, economic and cultural transformation in China from the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 to the present day. On the one hand, we will read the "serious" historical texts to understand how the socialist state managed communist economic reforms, new social tensions and environmental issues. At the same time, we will also explore what life is like for ordinary people in China by reading "personal"--and sometimes "fictional" narratives--that help us understand how people coped with the authoritative party-state in their everyday life.
How do historians conduct research and how do they write about history? K392 is designed to give students in the History Honors Program the tools and skills they will need to conduct their own research and write an original Honors Paper or Honors Thesis after the successful completion of K392. We will delve into what academic history is and is not, as well as how the discipline and profession of history function. We will work extensively to develop students’ analytical ability, writing prowess, and research skills. On some days we will conduct class as a series of workshops focused on students’ work, while on others we will focus on analytical categories, concepts, and approaches. Students will write several short papers and one research paper of fifteen to twenty pages. They will read a variety of primary and secondary sources, including some that we will all read and discuss in class as well as the more independent reading they will do for their research papers.
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