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.
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, colonialism, gender, racism, nationalism, fascism, socialism and war. Students will learn to interpret evidence and form arguments. We will read selected 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. What is the history of the place that became the United States between 1492 and 1865? And how do we know?
America experienced massive social, political, intellectual, and economic changes since the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865, but what did those developments mean for contemporaries? How did they react to those changes? What did they fear, and what brought them hope?
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. The class combines lectures with viewing of films and discussion.
Nelson Mandela, president of the ANC and first president of a free, democratic South Africa, symbolized the 20th century. A human rights advocate, a fierce critic of apartheid and racism, a political prisoner, and a man of calm and compassion, Mandela embodied the century’s values. This class studies Mandela and the key role of international and South African media in making him the ANC’s, and anti-apartheid movement’s, most recognizable face. Why do societies and political systems gravitate to one figure? What kind of a leader was Nelson Mandela and how did the media propel him to global fame?
China has emerged as a super economic power in today’s world. Does China offer an alternative path to development and capitalism? Is there a unique “Chinese business model” for success? Why is the “face” so important in the Chinese business world? In this course, we will discuss these questions by exploring the historical development of business practices and economic life in China from the 16th century to the present. At the macro level, we will trace the origins of Chinese economic institutions and examine the complex relationship between business and the state. At the micro level, we will closely analyze the cases of famous Chinese businesses; students will develop a better and in-depth understanding of the evolution of different social networks and institutional mechanisms that still shape business practices in China now
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.
Our heroes show who we want to be, what we long for, how society should ideally work. They do what we are afraid to do or cannot do, but would if we could (maybe). They tell us who we are. Medieval heroes tell us who medieval people were. This semester we’ll find out who they were and how they changed over time by looking at their changing heroes and how these heroes spoke to their needs, their fears, and their dreams.
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.
The timeline begins prior to contact with Europeans and ends with the present struggles around oil drilling and crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Between these bookends, we look at Thanksgiving, Pocahontas, Indigenous peoples of the Midwest, including the mound-builders and Indiana tribes, the effects of allotment on tribal communities and forced assimilation in boarding schools. Students will learn the material through lectures, scholarly articles (free on Canvas), videos, social media, and podcasts. Weekly 1-page papers will be the basis of the midterm (2) and final exam essays.
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. The ‘beautiful game’ attracts the passions of men and women from different social classes, races, religions and nationalities who regularly who gather at stadiums around the world in support of their local or national teams. Soccer is played professionally in nearly every country and has become a form of mass entertainment and big business, generating vast sums of money for sponsors, leagues, teams and the players themselves. Yet soccer is much more than simply a sport – it reflects and is shaped by broader historical, economic, social, political and cultural trends that affect the lives of fans, their areas and nations. In this course, we will 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.
The bubonic plague has forced people all over the world to grapple with death, and the bacteria that caused these outbreaks is still with us today. We'll explore human response to crisis during these out-breaks by looking at art, written sources, clothing, and medical theory developed during plague outbreaks. 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 modern historian's tool box to explore the limits of what we can understand about the Black Death's past.
The United States is today the world’s preeminent military power, and some argue that warfare is the main dynamic of our national history. This course will follow the American military experience from colonial times to the present. We will explore four themes: 1) the distinctively American way of thinking about, planning, and executing wars; 2) the experience of combat in different times and places, 3) the effect or perennial warfare on our national society, economy, and politics, and 4) the impact of U.S. military ventures on societies around the 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.
The following words highlight centuries of changes in Western medicine: lepers, humors, leeches, pox, vapors, fevers, poisons, plague, rashes, herbal tonics, contagion, toxins, vaccine, mustard poultice, consumption, opium, dysmenorrhea, infections, abortifacients, tumors, antiseptics, spermatorrhea, syphilis, inverts, scars, amputation, epidemics, sutures, sutures, autopsies, psychopaths, lesions, hysterics, hormones, eugenic sterilization, tumors, obesity, ADD, antibiotics, aversion therapy, pollutants, antidepressants, transplants, the Pill, addiction, anorexia, HIV, transsexualism, COPD, hypertension, diabetes, ED/Viagra, auto-immune disease, hip replacement, PTSD, Botox Cosmetic, & chemotherapy
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.
“Ar’n’t I a Woman?” This penetrating question, attributed to ex-slave, anti-slavery activist and woman’s rights worker, Sojourner Truth, gives voice to the multi-faceted struggles of black women in the US and lays the foundation for this course. Over the semester, students will become familiar with the major issues in Black Women’s History. Analyzing the conditions under which black women labored for self-definition and autonomy, we will examine how race and gender have combined to constrain black women’s life chances, and how they have battled to overcome such barriers. Topics for discussion will include slavery and resistance; free black women; family life; labor and sexuality; religion and activism; migration; the creative arts; Civil Rights and Black Power; and current issues including health care; poverty; popular culture; sexual/domestic violence; police brutality; and incarceration
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.
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.
The United States was born global. 1784 saw the first American trading ship voyage to China. 1812 saw the first American missionaries dispatched overseas, to India. Traders, missionaries, engineers, and many other Americans have ventured into the wider world; immigrants, tourists, and many other foreigners have sojourned in the United States. How did American involvement in the world, and foreign involvement in the United States, both changed over time? We will examine the porous interactions and flows between the United States and the world as both globalized across the 19th and 20th centuries.
Why do political systems collapse? The Roman Republic lasted for centuries before an onslaught of civil wars brought it crashing down. Historians suspect that political changes in the city of Rome were tied directly to the perils and benefits that came from Rome’s hegemony over its Mediterranean empire. The tensions inherent in the system ultimately led Romans to accept and even demand autocratic rule. What were these tensions and how did they bring down one of the most enduring Republics in human history? Students will read both ancient and modern authors (between 60-100 pages per week). Since this course is certified as writing intensive, students will complete three short position papers, one of which will be expanded and revised as a final paper.
This course's primary aim is to aid students to research and write historical research papers. The course will also have a common theme: the impact of and relationship between the Cold War and Latin American revolutionary and counterrevolutionary movements during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.
"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.
Nationalism, socialism/communism, fascism are democracy’s frenemies. They have inspired devoted activists who claim to fight for the people, to realize true democracy, and to effect real liberation. But they have also destroyed democracies, ruined millions of lives, and wreaked havoc at home and abroad. This course helps you understand these powerful phenomena in context. A historical look at them in relation to democracy prepares you to think what democracy was, is, could have been, and will be. This seminar emphasizes reading, discussion, and writing, and fulfills CASE Intensive Writing
In 1989, victory over Communism was seen as proof of the superior qualities of democracy. Yet the last few years have exposed an unexpected fragility, and an unexpectedly vigorous assault on core principles of democratic rule from authoritarian rulers around the world, and from radical minorities within still functioning democracy. How did something that seemed so self-evident and robust come to appear so fragile? This history course, part of the 2020 Themester on Democracy, explores the evolution of modern democracy from the revolutionary era to the present, looking at challenges and critics that have periodically challenged it – and sometimes overthrown it altogether.
Why did it take a supposedly democratic nation until 1920 to grant women the right to vote? Why did securing the voting rights of African Americans take even longer? Why does voter suppression persist? Why did successive attempts to pass an equal rights amendment fail? What is the past, present, and future of women’s leadership? This course, a collaboration between PACE, History, Political Science, and Gender Studies, explores these questions from a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives. It features guest speakers from the IU campus and the Bloomington community.
Irrational and often lethal hostility to Jews has a history of over 2000 years. Jew-hatred made its first appearance in the ancient world, later intensifying in waves in Christian Europe and, to a lesser extent, in Islamic countries. A range of antisemitic myths became deeply embedded in Western culture. Racial and genocidal antisemitism rose with 19th century nationalism and culminated in the attempt by Nazi Germany to destroy every member of the Jewish "race." What are the historical roots of antisemitism? What social, cultural, and political factors advanced or contained antisemitism? We will examine the most significant antisemitic myths and events in their historical and social contexts until 1933, including the image of Jews as murderers of God, usurers, and conspirators, as well as the blood libel. We will trace the changes of Jew-hatred from religious forms in the Middle Ages to nationalist and racist forms in modern times. Students will complete the course with an increased grasp of the irrational motives involved in antisemitism. They will also come to see how antisemitism is similar to and different from other prejudices, as well as understand the multiple sources from which antisemitism derives.
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.
The course discusses the history of one of the most neglected nations in European history, once the breadbasket of the Soviet Union and now one of the largest nations in Europe. It covers the entire history of Ukraine, but emphasis is placed on the modern period. The course examines issues of national identity and national consciousness and explores the place of Ukraine in Russian and European history. The main text is S. Plokhy, "The Gates of
You can’t find it on the map, but it started WWI and shaped your world! The Habsburg Empire in its last stage, the modernization of Central and Eastern Europe. Was it a prison of nations? Was it a wantonly ruined opportunity of liberal multiculturalism? Was it a doomed anachronism, or a unique modernizing state? The Habsburg Empire, with 50 million of people of diverse cultures and a dozen official languages, looked uncannily like an EU before the EU in both its problems and promises. Or, perhaps, as Arthur Schnitzler suggested, it was just “a laboratory for world destruction?”
Genocide is not the violent clash of professional or volunteer armies - it is the extermination by the powerful of the powerless. Why have states, political bodies or ethnic groups sought to wipe out others? “Genocide” is also a concept, a word, and a legal term. Why was it coined only in the 20th Century – and how does the Holocaust fit in the story of genocide? Is there something in the nature of the modern world that makes genocide particularly thinkable, even attractive? How distinctive is genocide for the victim or survivor – how different from the experience of war and other violence?
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.
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.
Barbarians, Islam, Charlemagne, the Vikings! The Early Middle Ages (c. 500-1000 AD) was a time of dramatic cultural, political, and social change. After the Roman Empire had disintegrated, western Europe experienced invasion, religious conversion, and other upheavals that shaped entirely new political, social, and cultural systems. In the year 500, new kingdoms and identities were still very closely associated with the Roman world that continued in the eastern Mediterranean, but by the year 1000, western Europe was divided into many different political units, with two dominant religions, Christianity and Islam, no longer unified with the eastern and southern Mediterranean areas. Europe in 1000 contained many of the political, cultural, religious, ethnic, and linguistic boundaries that we know today, and thus the Early Middle Ages can be regarded as the period in which the foundations of modern European society were put into place. We will be examining the different ways that Roman, Germanic, Christian, and Islamic traditions interacted to produce this new world.
The French Revolution overthrew one monarchy and challenged many others. Crucial features of modern democratic politics—human rights, the division of Right from Left, the “Reign of Terror”—all trace to the revolutionary 1790s. The Revolution declared sovereignty to reside essentially in the nation, but never agreed on who belonged to the nation or why. It celebrated the will of the people, but left unclear how that will was to be determined. And then there was Napoleon. For all its enduring legacies, the Revolution’s history is most poignantly a tale of democracy’s fragility.
Who were the ancient Greeks? How did their civilization develop into the pioneering society that has captured the imagination of the world ever since? Beginning with the Minoans of Crete and the Mycenaeans on the Greek mainland, we will trace the rise and fall of these Bronze Age civilizations (including the legendary Trojan War) before moving on to the rebirth of Greek culture in the following centuries. The course concludes with the Greeks' desperate struggle for independence against the might of the Persian Empire.
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.
Under intense pressures from Iran to the east and armed refugees from northern Europe and the Eurasian steppe, the Roman Empire in the late fourth century finally divided into two parts—"Old Rome" centered in Italy and "New Rome" centered in Constantinople (Istanbul). While Old Rome quickly succumbed to Germanic warlords, "New Rome" not only enjoyed unprecedented stability and prosperity but also formed a distinct political and religious culture based on Classical, Christian and Persian precedents. This course explores the fate of the Europe's first global empire by exploring what innovative structures and strategies it adopted to meet the challenges of a changing world, and how the collapse of Old Rome contributed to the rise of New Rome and an enduring Christian empire in the Mediterranean Near East.
Cities are the future. In this course we will learn about the recent history of urbanization, in a global perspective, with a view to understanding the origins of our urban present and potential future. How do cities grow and what purposes do they serve? How did people of the past plan for the city of the future? Are there lessons there for our contemporary cities? Indeed, is the centuries-old dream of a sustainable city any closer to becoming a reality?
How do we become sexed? More precisely, how – and when – do we experience ourselves as sexed and gendered beings? And what role does desire play? This new upper-level research course explores these as historical questions through the terrain of the past and with an awareness of our changing present day.
Recovering the past as history – this is what J425 empowers you do. Whether there is a historical question that has always fascinated you or one you have just discovered, J425 gives you the opportunity to explore in depth a historical topic of your choosing.
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.
The greatest pleasure of history is doing it yourself. In this capstone course, you will have the freedom to research and present the topic of most interest to you with the benefit of step-by-step faculty guidance, a supportive peer community, and outside expertise. Using skills you've acquired in the major, you'll create an original work of scholarship either by substantially developing an earlier paper with new research or by pursuing a brand-new topic.
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