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 2019.
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.
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.
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.
What were the roots of capitalism in American history? The nineteenth century was a century of growth and panics, factories and slave plantations, westward imperialism and global trade, unstable money and wildcat banks, railroads and telegraphs, the harnessing of steam and the discovery of oil, business law and consumer advertising, engineering innovation and environmental damage. Was capitalism savior, or curse?
The United States locks up more people in prisons and jails than anywhere else on the planet. What are the historical origins of the unprecedented expansion of structures of policing and imprisonment in the second half of the twentieth century? How have the politics of criminal justice changed over time, and why do we talk about criminal justice the way we do now?
Is there a unique path for China’s economic development? Is there a special “Chinese business model”? Come and learn the history of Chinese business and explore where it is going next.
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.
Played, watched and enjoyed by millions, soccer (or football as it is known outside the US) is without doubt the most popular team sport on the planet. Yet soccer is much more than simply a sport—it reflects and is shaped by broader historical, economic, social, political and cultural trends that effect the lives of fans, their areas and nations. We'll use soccer as a lens through which to explore questions of race, gender, ethnicity, class, nationalism and empire to understand both how the beautiful game offers us an alternative way to study themes such as religious animosities, dictatorship, decolonization and industrialization, and can illuminate the many intersections between the personal and the social, and the local and the global.
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.
From marriage to business regulation, why has law had a powerful role in the development of American society? What are the consequences of Americans’ reliance on law to address their most fundamental conflicts and concerns from witchcraft in the seventeenth century to terrorism in the twenty-first? Covering the American legal system from 1776 to the present, topics include murder, business regulation, slavery, legal education, women’s rights, constitutionalism, person injury lawyers, privacy, and terrorism.
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.
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?
Professor Padraic Kenney
MWF 10:10A-11:00A, BH 343
Either section fulfills GenEd S&H, CASE S&H
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.
Disability is a nearly universal condition. Everyone becomes disabled if they live long enough. Yet, not until recently have historians recognized that disability changes over time and in relation the specific societies in which it is experienced. In this reading intensive seminar, we will explore disability as it has pertained to a variety of institutions, eras, and events in U.S. history, including slavery and emancipation, immigration, the Progressive Era, World Wars I and II, and the Great Depression.
Using a role-playing game, this interactive course asks students to recreate a crucial moment in the history of the civil rights movement: Freedom Summer. The class asks students playing historical roles to meet, negotiate, deliberate, debate, and lead real-life scenarios based on the interracial movement to end white supremacy in Mississippi. Who will risk their life to travel to Mississippi? How will locals there respond? Can blacks and whites living in a segregated society work together? What kind of tactics will the Movement pursue? How important is non-violence and direct action? Should change be pursued in the voting booth or the streets? Is the Federal government an ally or the enemy? What kind of compromises can be made in the demand for democracy? In this course, you will collectively seek answers to these questions, while learning about the history of this important social movement. This class is cross listed with PACE-C300 and AMST-A399.
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.
Eva Perón was revered by her followers and reviled by her detractors. Although she never held any elected office, her political influence was enormous. She divided Argentines, and has continued to divide Argentines ever since her early death at age 33 in 1952. Was she a feminist before it was fashionable? Was she a genuine champion of greater social and economic justice? Did she really love the poor? And what is the continuing influence of her figure and memory within Argentina?
What is the history of motherhood? Recent writers’ accounts of becoming a mother routinely report entering a state of shock and bewilderment, or complain about grandmothers with incomprehensible and old-fashioned ideas of bringing up a baby. This course seeks to explore the history of motherhood in the last few hundred years - neither as a “how to” guide nor as a sentimental celebration but rather as an analytic and historical examination of the many pasts of mothers and mothering. Such a task involves approaches as diverse as the history of the body, and personal and oral histories, and political history. Casting off the assumption that the arrangement of biological mother as sole and exclusive caretaker is universal, we will ask three kinds of questions: What ideologies have shaped the institution of motherhood? What different experiences have made up mothering? How do we tell the history of mothers, mothering and motherhood?
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.
How have human beings experienced and transformed the night time? Have the nature and the meaning of the night changed over human history? In answering these questions, this writing-intensive seminar will explore such topics as artificial light, going out, worship, crime, sex, sleep, dreams, and work.
What was it like to be part of a world that distinguished between "civilized" and "uncivilized", between colonizers and colonized? This course draws on an archive of diaries, images, films, cartoons, and novels to explore colonial regimes of terror as well as civilizing missions, notions of masculinity and domesticity, and colonial and postcolonial race relations.
"You will be sent to Siberia!" -- frightening indeed, since Siberia is a frozen land of exile, of Stalin's GULAG. But do you still think that Siberia is only snow, and that bears walk on the streets there? Or do you know that Siberia is a vast realm of natural resources? Learn about the cultures of its indigenous people, itshistory of exploration and colonization, the Trans-Siberian railway and exile, industry and environment, science and art. We will follow the trade and travel routes and see where civilizations meet in Siberia.
Paris of the East? Playground for the Adventurers? Modern Wonderland? Sin City? Come to learn how globalization happened on the streets of Shanghai.
Can Instagram friend suggestions help us understand IUB’s past? We can learn alot about the world with a smartphone, but how does that change what we learn? This class will look at the overlap between “digital” tools and “history” with three digital tools: text mining, network analysis and spatial history. We’ll look at technology in the modern world and in the world of higher education in particular. We’ll then use Indiana University–Bloomington’s history to craft a digital-history exhibit or portfolio piece. We’ll explore IUB’s rich archival collection, both physical and digital, and try to understand the promise and limitations of big-data analysis in history research.
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.
This course introduces students to the history of Africa from earliest times to the early nineteenth century. The entire continent is covered, from Egypt to South Africa, and from Senegal to Zanzibar. The era of the trans-Atlantic slave trade is examined from an African perspective. The aim is to provide students with a firm grasp of Africa’s historical development and its contributions to world history.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hula, sugar, the atomic bomb...why have Americans imagined the Pacific as an exotic paradise even as they have carried out terrible atrocities there? How has the Pacific been critical to the United States’ emergence as a global power? We will take three case studies—Hawai‘i, Japan, and the Philippines—to examine the problems posed by American encounters with the environments, peoples, and cultures of this region.
There’s no place like home. But what is a "home" and what did Americans who lived in various historical periods mean when they used that word? Which sorts of residences qualified as homes, which did not, and why? Who got to say what was--and what was not--a home?
What stereotypes have been created about black women, and why? This class examines the ways black women have wrestled with issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality, and have struggled to create lives and images that reflected their own understanding of liberty, power, equality, rights, citizenship, and self.
No matter where you stand on the political-ideological spectrum, the modern state—as a powerful (some would argue too powerful) organization and instrument—is already part and parcel of your life. We simply cannot ignore it as a key factor shaping the world we live in, and we rely on it for the modern life to function. Here we use two main themes—warfare and welfare—to explore what (and why) the modern state does, how it becomes the way it is, why it is powerful, how it influence various aspects of our lives, and how people react to and interact with it from a historical perspective. We explore the modern state as an organization and institution that evolves over time, being changed by people who controlled it but also by those who were controlled by it. Empirical studies we read in the class would be drawn mostly from European, Asian and American experiences.
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.
Be your own historian! You've read history and you've heard about history. This is your chance to make your own history and immerse yourself in a topic you love. You might start with something you've already done in another class or something completely new, if you prefer. 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, including a faculty advisor in your project's specialty. 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 life beyond the University.
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