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 Spring 2018.
Progress? Freedom? Disaster! Find out how so many of the things, ideas, and phenomena that we take for granted emerged or became a common sight first in Europe in the last 200 years.
Land and water. Native Americans, Africans, Europeans. Explorers, merchants, warriors, slaves, ministers, servants, mothers, sailors, farmers, politicians, freedom fighters. This introductory lecture course surveys North American history from the collision of cultures on this continent that began with the 'discovery' of the 'New World' in the fifteenth century through to the era of the American Civil War. We will explore social and cultural history--that is, the experience of living in American society in different periods and the cultural ideas Americans used to understand their changing world. The experience and meaning of freedom (and its opposites), and struggles and rebellion in the name of freedom, will be particular concerns. We will read and interpret not just what historians have had to say about the American past, but also what people in the past themselves had to say--in such forms as explorers' travel accounts, slave narratives, and freedom fighters' declarations. Making such interpretations--not learning names and dates--is the fundamental stuff of history.
This entirely on-line version of the introductory U.S. history class guides students to explore key episodes and ideas in the modern history of the United States. Beginning in the 1830s, we will examine 1) the evolution of race relations, 2) changing gender relations, 3) labor and immigration, 4) the American empire, and 5) the growth of big government. As a student in this class you will learn how to interpret historical documents and evaluate historical change without even having to leave your dorm room.
Humanitarian action as a response to the suffering of others would seem to be a fundamental moral responsibility. Or is it? We will examine humanitarianism from a variety of geographic, temporal, and disciplinary perspectives, thinking about what humanitarianism has meant in different times and places. The answers are not as clear as you might think. Questions? Contact Professor Michelle Moyd (firstname.lastname@example.org)
What does it mean to be rich? Are the rich really different from the rest of humanity? What is the impact of wealth on individuals and society? To answer these questions, we will explore the history of wealthy men and women around the world from antiquity to today, from Croesus and Crassus to the Medici and Musa of Mali, and on to the Vanderbilts, Hetty Green, Wang Jianlin, and Trump.
Neofascism, Islamofascism, Ecofascism--what exactly is fascism? Can anything and everything be labelled fascism? In the 1920s and 1930s, fascism preyed upon economic, social, and political frustrations, offering as salve a caustic mix of ultra-nationalism, racial scapegoating, and world domination. We will examine the historical rise, reign, and fall of fascist ideology and rule, and investigate the nature of fascism in the past as well as its bearings in the present.
Gdańsk, 1980. Manila, 1986. Cairo, 2011. What do they want? DEMOCRACY! How do they hope to get it? That's what we'll explore as we encounter the political, social, economic and cultural sparks behind various democratic revolutions.
Between AD 33 and 1400, the people of Europe gradually converted from a variety of other religions to Christianity. This transition was sometimes peaceful, sometimes violent; we will trace its course by critically examining the (scanty) evidence for pre-Christian religions and the narratives of conversion for each region of Europe.
The Middle East is always in the news. Presidential candidates talk about it. Pundits with wildly different opinions tell us about it. Yet the Middle East always presents a challenge. Why is it so difficult to make sense of what happens there? Perhaps some historical background would help? Let's try together and see!
The last 200 years of Latin American history have witnessed radical changes, from the making of independent nations to the evolution of capitalist economies. In this course we will pay politics and business their due, but our emphasis will be on social and cultural history--on the forces that shaped everyday life and the way people made sense of their lives.
How would your life change if half of the people around you suddenly dropped dead? The bubonic plague has forced people all over the world to answer this question, and the bacteria is still with us today. This class will explore how people react to crisis in their day-to-day life by looking at cultural artifacts (art, written sources, clothing, even medical theory) created during outbreaks of plague. From the sixth-century medieval Mediterranean world to 19th century China, from Renaissance England to 20th century Hawaii, we'll see how cultural similarities and differences shape plague response, and how these responses shape interactions between different cultures. From ancient primary sources to big-data analysis, we'll use a historian's tool box to explore the limits of what we can understand about the Black Death's past.
The Devil and the Witch are enduring features of Western culture. This course will primarily explore the great period of witch-hunts in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Europe and New England. As background, it will also provide students with an understanding of the religious, social and cultural contexts that gave rise to these events, as well as investigating more modern and even contemporary phenomena which beg comparison with early witch prosecutions.
Of all the city-states of Ancient Greece, Sparta has been most revered, often because of mystique rather than the truth. But Sparta is captivating enough unembellished. Ever at war thanks to annual declarations of hostilities against its own slave population, and constantly training for battle, thanks to the leisure afforded by the labor of those same slaves, Sparta was Greece’s most feared military power for over 150 years. We'll look at how the Spartans created their remarkable yet brutal society, the costs its social system exacted from its women and men, and at contemporary depictions of Sparta's culture.
In which parts of the world have Jews lived since the 16th century? How did they interact with their neighbors? What clothes did they wear? What food did they eat? What music did they play and listen to? What art and literature did they like and produce?
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.
One of the key defining features of the modern period is urbanism. In 1960 only 1/3 of the world's population lived in cities. Now that number is 54%. And while the United States has its share of large cities, like New York and Los Angeles, increasingly the world's largest cities are found in Asia and Africa. Urban growth rates are also much higher in the developing nations of the world. In this course we will examine the historical roots of urbanization as a global phenomenon and look towards an understanding of city life today and in the future. Topics include an examination of the "golden era" of utopian city planning in the early 20th century, the "enchantment" and "disenchantment" of urban life over the last 100 years, the rise of the mega-city, and the city's hidden life (the city below ground, for example).
How is Christianity becoming a majority religion in many regions of Africa? This course focuses on several historical and contemporary examples to understand how Africans have embraced, elaborated upon, and proselytized Christianity during the past two hundred years.
The Cold War was the defining event of the latter half of the twentieth century, and the study of the Cold War is an exciting and developing field. This writing-intensive seminar examines the Cold War from a global perspective with emphasis on the other side - the Soviet Union, China, and the "Communist Bloc."
We'll tackle history through the prism of baseball and think about baseball from a global-historical perspective
The Soviet Union dominated much of the world in the twentieth century, and its impact is still felt today. This course examines the genesis, evolution and collapse of the Soviet regime, covering major events in Soviet history as well as the experiences of individuals, and seeks to address some of the pressing issues of today.
Nearly eight centuries after Rome was founded by outcasts, Julius Caesar was violently murdered by members of the Senate. Rome's massive Mediterranean empire had become a prize worth killing for. We investigate the chain of events by which Rome ascended to superpower status and subsequently abandoned its Republican constitution in favor of autocracy.
If we want to understand how one of the most horrific and challenging events of the 20th Century happened, we have to rethink the way we imagine that the Holocaust operated. We have assumptions about the Holocaust's role in progress and modernity, but new research gives us a different view of the origins and implementation of the Holocaust and also at the legacies and memories of the event. This class asks "How could the Holocaust have taken place" by examining a wide range of pressures and factors that drove the leadership of a major modern industrial nation to believe that the murder of millions of noncombatants was the best way to secure their country's future. We also have a video introduction of the course on YouTube.
Over the last decade, China’s environmental problems have become unavoidable features of everyday life. Staggering growth, unprecedented opportunity, and a sense that people have never been so rich have been compromised by pollution and the loss of natural and national heritage. How has the environment shaped China’s history? And to what degree is China’s environmental history integrated with global trends? To find answers, we'll survey climate change, resource management, water conservancy, public sanitation, and changing understandings of “nature” in culture and science.
All over the world, millions of people participated in World War II, as soldiers, mothers, factory workers, propagandists, political leaders, and survivors. To understand how the war altered people's lives and the society in which they lived we will look at war-time files, written documents, propaganda posters and postwar writings, images, and monuments.
What is money? Why do we use it and why do we value it? Can societies exist without money? Is all money the same? In this course, we will ask these and related questions as we consider the role of money in politics, society, culture, art, and religion.
Military conquests, intensifying interregional and global economic connections, and the spread of Christianity and Islam to new parts of the continent all helped shape and reshape African social and economic relationships in the 19th and 20th century. We'll examine the diverse encounters that occurred between Africans and others since 1800, emphasizing how Africans engaged, interpreted, took advantage of, and rejected various cultural inputs and incursions. It highlights Africa’s ties to the rest of the world, and provides students with some of the basic tools they need to understand Africa in the world today.
Some 300,000 civilians died during the civil wars in Central America of the 1980s. The United States government was deeply involved in those wars and the media highlighted them constantly. Yet, today Central America is at most an afterthought for policy makers and the media. The legacy of that period, however, weighs heavily on the peoples of the region and continues to have a strong impact on the United States through massive immigration, a direct and indirect result of the Civil Wars. In this course, we will attempt to get beyond the ideological uses of Central American history that dominated political discourse during the 1980s and impeded efforts at understanding contemporary events. While probing the historical roots of the violence of the 1970s and 1980s and the paramount influence of the Cold War, we will also pay particular attention to the fascinating roles of race relations, gender norms and religion in the conflict.
Mexico is our most populous neighbor, and Mexico and the United States have many strong cultural, economic, political, and even culinary connections. This course will introduce the major themes of Mexican social, economic, and political history. We will pay particular attention to social history, including that of women. The course ends with a look at the links between the lives of ordinary Mexicans and ordinary Americans today. We will also work on analytical and communication skills. Students will read various documents, two brief secondary books, and an oral history. We will also watch several dramatic films.
For over a thousand years (AD 330-1453), the Byzantine Empire was one of the most powerful and splendid societies in the world, far overshadowing the emerging countries of western Europe. This class surveys the political, cultural, religious, and social life of this medieval empire, and its capital city, Constantinople.
An accused poisoner, a merchant, and a knight walk into the room... What do they have in common? They're all people struggling with some issues we still face in modern society: what are ethical ways to make money; how can we cope with violence; what do you do if your in-laws really hate you? We'll be looking at their stories and more as we consider the High Middle and Later Middle Ages in Europe (c. 1000-c. 1500), trying to understand both how medieval people saw their world and how we can understand the ways their lives and ideas were both like ours and very different from ours.
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.
Americans can't make up their minds about China. Friend or foe? Crisis or opportunity? Since its earliest days, the United States has maintained a conflicted relationship with the 'Middle Kingdom.' But what has never been in doubt: China's importance to US ambitions. This course dives into Americans' long-running fixation with China and its people, culture, and stuff. Drawing from a mix of sources, we will follow entrepreneurs, missionaries, artists, families, and other characters who crisscrossed the Pacific, transforming both countries as a result. Together, we will consider how Chinese vantage points compel us to retell the familiar stories of US history in fresh and unexpected ways.
Does music matter? Music is everywhere in American life, but it is “just” music, a kind of entertainment, isn’t it?<p>Not necessarily. This course explores how music, partly because it is seemingly so unimportant, has played a critical role in the transformation of American society from the 1940s to the present.
A bygone civilization? A dragon awoken? The rising superpower? From an old empire to a modern state, come explore how China transformed.
Did the Roman Empire collapse due to widespread pandemics, economic catastrophes, religious wars and wave after wave of barbarian invasions? Or, do we see in Rome's later empire a vibrant and complex society with a surprising amount of social, economic, political and even religious continuity with the Classical world?
What are the histories of sex and reproduction, pregnancy, birthing, and infant and childcare? This capstone History course offers you the opportunity to explore a topic of your own, drawing on the rich resources of the Archives and Libraries of Indiana University, and researching alongside the professor's unfolding project.
Throughout history, people have ventured away from their homelands for many reasons: as engineers, performers, diplomats, soldiers, scientists, missionaries, tourists, merchants, workers, and, of course, students. What were their motivations, resources, experiences, adaptations? And what happened when they returned home?
This course's primary aim is to aid students to research and write historical research papers, with a focus on revolutions and counterrevolutions. The class readings will focus on the impact and relationship between the Cold War and Latin American revolutionary movements during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. They will address several questions: What were the goals of modern revolutionary movements? What role did the United States play in fomenting counterrevolutionary responses to the revolutionary movements? How successful were the counterrevolutionary movements (and regimes) and why? Did U.S. President Carter's human rights policy represent an alternative? We will evaluate the argument of some scholars and policy makers that radical movements provoked the repression that led to the outbreak of guerrilla warfare.
The College of Arts + Sciences