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, might be interested in the following course offerings for Fall 2018.
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.
Examine one of the world’s greatest empires! We look at late Imperial Russia, the Russian Revolution and Civil War following the collapse of this empire in World War I; the emergence, evolution and final collapse of the Soviet Union (in 1991), and the newly emergent Russian Federation. Throughout, we combine a survey of political events at the “macro” level with a search to understand the lived experience of those people who made up this vast and diverse country.
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.
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.
Did Columbus prove the earth is round? Did young George Washington chop down a cherry tree? Did the American Civil War pit brother against brother? Each of these myths has a history. We’ll explore these histories and more.
Each of us is here, in some way, because of decisions made by people before us. From those people, we have inherited the challenge of what Abraham Lincoln, speaking at Gettysburg in 1863, called "unfinished work." To uncover the ways in which Lincoln's challenge has brought us together, we will look, as he did, to "hallowed ground"—the sites where Americans struggled to define the meaning of freedom. These places will draw us into the unfolding struggle for life, liberty, and happiness that recommenced with the end of the Civil War and continues, for every one of us, today. Students in H106 will bring the unfinished work and hallowed ground of American history into their own lives, today and in years to come.
Do good deeds make a saint? How bad are sinners really? We’ll meet one medieval saint and one medieval sinner each week and use the stories written by and about these men and women to understand what people in the medieval Mediterranean between 500 and 1500 valued and condemned. These stories, along with the art and objects that accompanied them, will form the basis for our main series of assignments: a class-produced website that highlights our saints and sinners using a timeline and map of the medieval Mediterranean. Weekly comprehension quizzes will build on what we learn about the medieval world, and in-class activities will take advantage of one of IU’s active-learning classrooms to explore the ways that digital methods can help us learn, analyze and present medieval history.
Films have been made in and about Russia since the early twentieth century. This course introduces students to Russian history through films, both artistic and documentary. Films include: Alexander Nevsky, Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Notes from Underground, Anna Karenina, Battleship Potemkin, Doctor Zhivago, Defense Counsel Sedov, and Come and See. Class readings include Fedor Dostoyevsky, Anton Chekhov, Maxim Gorky, and Boris Pasternak.
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. The western front’s horrific violence dominates understandings of the war. Students will consider the experiences of soldiers, laborers, and non-combatants in military campaigns within and outside of Europe, and study the war’s national and imperial dimensions. Students will also study the myths and realities of US involvement in the war and its aftermaths.
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.
What’s the difference between an “Oriental” and an “Asian American”? If Americans usually think about race in black-white terms, where do “brown” or “yellow” people fit in? Why might asking someone who “appears” Asian, Arab, or Muslim “Where are you from?” be a loaded question? This course digs into these questions by surveying the experiences of Asians in the United States spanning the last 175 years.
When did Islam emerge? How did it spread over the world? What do the Muslims believe in? Who is a Sunni and who is a Shiite? What was the nature of the Muslims and the Christians before and after The Crusades? What was life like in an Islamic city during the medieval period? These and many other questions will be raised and discussed in class. The only thing you have to do is come to the lectures, write a short paper, and take a midterm and a final.
Ancient Greece and Rome produced some of the most celebrated individual leaders. Our course closely and critically examines the leadership displayed by key women and men, including the ethical dilemmas they faced, in order to evaluate the qualities nurtured and displayed by effective ancient politicians, generals, philosophers and religious figures.
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.
Discover Sydney through historical text and heritage sites. In this course, you will have the opportunity to connect the modern city of Sydney to its past as a penal settlement and explore why Sydney Cove in particular was chosen for this settlement. The program includes an aboriginal tour and taste test of the Royal Botanical Gardens, a trip to Ku-Ring-Gai-Chase National Park, and a night at the original Quarantine Station of Sydney Harbour. This course is a second 8-weeks course and includes an overseas-study component with an additional course fee. For more information, visit the international course listing.
How did Judaism arise in the ancient Near East, and how did Jews maintain a distinct religious and communal identity over centuries of encounters with other religions and cultures? Students will trace the development of Judaism and the Jewish people, exploring both the preservation of Jewish traditions and the transformations wrought by Jews’ integration into surrounding ancient and medieval cultures.
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.
In the mid-fifth century BC, Greece was not a united country, but a collection of competitive, fiercely independent city-states. The most dangerous rivalry arose between the two most powerful city-states of the age, once allies, now adversaries: conservative, militaristic Sparta, and dynamic, democratic Athens. Would the two be able to contain their enmity and avoid a catastrophic war? And how would the other Greek city-states fare in this treacherous time — would they prosper, lose their freedom, or face destruction from the Spartan-Athenian rivalry? Cities on the Edge of War will be taught in an innovative way, through an immersive strategy role-playing game. Students will form teams to represent individual ancient Greek city-states of the fifth century BC, playing the part of factions within each city. In these roles they will use primary source readings to guide them as they pursue the interests of their cities and their factions, competing with each other for influence and, at times, survival in an era of looming war.
When the Roman legions pulled out of Britain in the early fifth century, the island entered a "dark age", during which groups of people from the continent, known to us collectively as Anglo-Saxons, entered Britain and became its rulers. In this course, we will read and write about the history and culture of Anglo-Saxon England, including the conversion to Christianity, the Viking invasions, and the Norman Conquest of 1066.
The First World War ended 100 years ago. In important ways, it made the even more horrific crimes and destructions of the Second World War possible. This class is not a course in military history. Instead, its focus is on the social, economic, cultural, and political legacies of World War I for 1920s and 1930s Europe. The 1920s brought important democratic advances—for instance, a number of European countries granted women the vote. Yet, the period also witnessed the emergence of radically anti-democratic movements and regimes like fascism.
Little more than 500 years ago, western Europeans ventured into the Atlantic. In the Caribbean and on the American mainlands, they established trading posts, slave plantations, and mines. This class will explore the European conquest of North America; the efforts of indigenous peoples to preserve political and cultural autonomy; and the struggle of forcibly imported Africans and their descendants to create lives and families within—and without— the institution of chattel slavery.
For centuries, European law and custom justified women’s subordination to men in the family and society. After around 1800, the established gender hierarchies faced powerful new challenges. Laws on citizenship and marriage, policies on the body and reproduction, and cultural beliefs about femininity and masculinity came under fresh scrutiny. New movements for women’s rights emerged. This course examines how, why, and to what extent relations between the sexes changed in the course of the last two hundred years.
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.
Eastern Europe is a perennial zone of conflict among the key ideas of our time, from democracy to authoritarianism, and from neoliberalism to populism. Tracing the experience of the region through world war, imperial domination, and revolutions, as well as dramatic social and economic change, we’ll consider why people accept or rebel against repressive regimes; how they survive and how they turn upon one another; and whether a nation is bound by its past. Focus on countries ranging from Poland to Yugoslavia. Readings will include both recent scholarship as well as primary sources.
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, which can provide insights into the nature of affected 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.
Genocide is the extermination by the powerful of the powerless. What have been the causes, character and consequences of genocide from ancient times to the present? What has driven leaders, states and groups to pursue such horrific policies? Is there something in the nature of the modern world that makes genocide particularly thinkable, even attractive? What is it like to be the victim/survivor? Until recently, scholarship on genocide was the preserve of political scientists and sociologists, but now historians are devoting serious research to the topic.
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?
Argentina underwent dramatic changes in the 19th and 20th centuries. Starting at Independence from Spain in the early 19th Century and going through to the contemporary era, the course highlights themes such as Immigration, the emergence of mass politics, the role of Evita and Juan Peron, the development of Buenos Aires as a major twentieth century metropolis, military dictatorship and the issue of human rights, and the hidden presence of Argentina's indigenous past. In addition, attention will be paid to cultural phenomena such as tango, folklore and the passion for futbol. In addition to standard history tests we will also use documents such as letters, maps and musical lyrics. Texts by Argentine novelists such as Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortazar and Osvaldo Soriano will also be used.
The Civil War was the deadliest war in U.S. history. Americans fought over what race, region, and freedom would mean and debated essential about the nature of the United States and what it meant to be an American. The echoes of this war continue to shape our nation and many of the wounds remain unhealed. 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.
Why does the history of the United States in the 1960s still matter so much? Why does the decade that tore apart post-World War II America serve as both an inspirational story of democratic empowerment and a dark tale of violence and decline? To answer these questions, we will explore grassroots activism, the African-American freedom struggle, the Great Society, the Vietnam War, advertising and consumerism, student protest, popular music and pop art, hippies and the counter culture, the sexual “revolution,” feminism, and environmentalism.
The great migration south, the wars along the Great Wall, the rise of the exam system and family lineages, the printing and commercial revolutions: in this course, we reconstruct the key processes, institutions, and events that defined imperial China in the years 755-1850. What traditions bound imperial China together, and what transformations tore it apart? What were the key turning points, and what were the engines of change? We will answer these questions from multiple vantages, using writings from men and women, Mongols and Manchus, and the rich and the poor.
How have Mao and Money shaped China since 1949?
How do we access the daily lives of men and women who lived in the past? Diaries and other forms of life writing provide one answer. We will read widely published diaries depicting traumatic events, including the Diary of Anne Frank. We will focus on unpublished texts capturing everyday life, including the records of Hoosier alums. This class will include hands-on activities in IU’s Special Collections and a culminating research assignment.
What is an empire? How were empires established? How were they managed? Why did they decline and eventually disappear? Are we free from empires, or do we continue to live under their shadow? In this writing-oriented course, we will begin by discussing these larger questions, and use empires from different periods and various geographies as case studies. Next, we will discuss strategies for identifying a research topic, conducting research, communicating with other researchers, and putting our findings into writing. Course requirements include active classroom attendance, and step-by-step writing assignments that will culminate in a research paper.
This research seminar provides students with the opportunity to develop original research projects related to the historical impact of birth control – for instance, as an idea, as a cultural practice, as a range of scientific discoveries, technological innovations or clinical practices, as an influence on population patterns, and as a political controversy from a wide array of positions or philosophies.
You've read history and you've heard about history. This is your chance to make your own history. Whether it's a paper, a piece of historical fiction, a documentary, or a virtual exhibit, your goal will be to produce a piece of history for an audience. You'll start with something you've already done in another class--a long paper a small assignment you want to know more about--and then we'll walk together through the process of doing the research and bringing your project to fruition, with help from your classmates and from other history faculty. In the end, you'll have a completed history project and know a lot about doing systematic research, a competence that you find useful in your future live beyond the University.
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