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 2020.
How has East Asia shaped the world? How has the world shaped East Asia? From Mao Tse Dong to Pokemon, we'll explore a world in which politics, economics, society and culture interlock across continents and countries.
The world seemed to stand at the threshold of a new era at the end of World War II in 1945. This course will explore such themes and topics as the Cold War, decolonization, development, variants of capitalism across the world, globalisation, and social justice as they developed over the course of the second half of the twentieth and first decades of the twenty-first century.
Europe's history since 1800 throws into relief the stunning contradictions of the modern age. On the one hand, achievements in art, literature, and science, democratic struggle; on the other hand, two murderous world wars. How does Europe's current situation compare to other crises it has faced since the Age of Napoleon? How have Europeans overcome past wars and divisions, and what might this tell us about future prospects?
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.
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?
United States interventions in Cuba, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Guatemala had a profound impact on the societies that experienced them. In this course, we will consider the reasons for these important United States policy decisions, and also focus on how the different social, ethnic, and political groups of the "host" countries responded to the interventions, in order to develop a comparative framework for analyzing the interventions and their long-term consequences.
What do photographs tell us about the past, society, politics, culture and everyday life? In this class you will learn how to visualize history and incorporate photographs into research and practice, how to "look" at photographs as primary sources and see the "invisible" in photos, and how to use photos as documents which tell stories about people and historical events.
Gdańsk, 1980. Manila,1986. Cairo, 2011.What Do They Want?
Winston Churchill. Queen Elizabeth. Manchester United. Brexit. Americans today associate these things¬†with our longterm ally, Great Britain. ¬†They are just parts of the story of a nation that witnessed the first industrial revolution and the rise and fall of a worldwide empire. This course¬†will study the dynamic history of the British Isles from the 1700s to the present day.
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 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.
Ancient Sparta built a society unique in Greece and a fightingforce with a reputation for invincibility. How did the Spartans create their brutal yet remarkable society? What costs did their social system exact from Sparta's women and men? How accurately has the image of warlike Sparta been used in contemporary culture? This course will study Spartan history with a view to answering these questions and more.
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.
Complexities and paradoxes have accompanied Israeli society from its beginnings down to today. Some of the major themes of this course will be: the relation between religion and state, the interactions of military and civil life, the place of the kibbutz movement within society, the Israeli family and the place of women in society, and the meaning of war.
When did the United States become an empire? Did the country inherit an imperial mindset from the British mother country? Would it be a different kind of empire, or would the United States be an alternative to empire? We will explore the history of American political discourse about empire, and the country's movement out of the shadow of the mighty British empire to become the lone “superpower.” Throughout the course we will embed the United States in a global context, and examine American foreign relations with an expanding portion of the world.
Birth, illness, and death are universal human experiences, but they have been conceptualized and managed in a great variety of ways in different times, cultures and societies. This lecture- discussion course surveys the variety of experiences, treatments, understandings and practitioners that have guided people through the bodily experience of life from Ancient Greece and Rome into the twentieth century. We examine the relationship between medical theories and therapies, the roles of various healers, and consider the impact of medical science and public health measures on health and welfare. We explore changing concepts of the structure and function of the body and their relationship to illness and disease. In addition, we consider the experiences, responsibilities, beliefs and perceptions of ordinary people dealing with matters of life and death--health, illness, prevention, and treatment.
What is the history to the dramatic scene that begins every life? What have been the experiences of midwives and nurses, doctors and obstetricians, experts and neighbors, birthing mothers and anxious fathers? What changes have been wrought by the rise of medicine and of hospitals, and the campaigns of reformers and critics? This course sets the terrain as North America in the last several hundred years, from the birthing habits of native, colonial and enslaved women, through the rise of male midwifery and obstetrics, to the hospitalization of birth, the natural childbirth and women's liberation movements, and our contemporary scene. We will be making a series of field trips to the remarkable collections of the Lilly Library, the Wylie House Museum, the Kinsey Institute and the University Archives; watching rare film footage; and attending a documentary at IU Cinema that explores one trans man's pregnancy and birth.
Jewish history from early modern times to the present. Topics include Jewish daily life in early modern Europe and Ottoman Turkey, Jewish mysticism, Hasidism, Jewish emancipation, modern Judaism, anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, Zionism, the State of Israel, and the history of American Jewry.
What Is History? Introduces students to the fundamental practices of our discipline, namely, the ethical reading, researching, writing, and citing of history. Unlike other history classes, this course focuses only incidentally upon a particular people, place, period, and theme. Instead, it teaches the most basic skills of the historian's craft. These include the ability to identify and critique an author's thesis; to find and interpret primary and secondary sources; to construct a research project; to cite evidence and scholarship authoritatively.
What can criminal histories tell us about history? What is a crime, who is a criminal, and how have those definitions changed over time? Why do Americans love to read "true crime"?
What can we learn about MLK and Malcolm X from Magneto and Professor X? Have you ever wondered what would happen if Kal-El aka Clark Kent aka Superman landed in the USSR instead of the U.S.? As a catalyst to encourage looking at history from different vantage points, we will put comic books in conversation with the history of race and empire in the U.S.
The lens of religion offers insight into the social, economic and political convictions that unite and divide communities. This course explores the gray area between American religion and politics since 1750. It examines the particular nature of American evangelicalism, including its role in the establishment--and resistance to--white supremacy, colonization, and capitalism. However, it also explores the particular nature of American Catholicism, American Judaism and American Islam. What role does religion play in constructing and dividing communities? Is there something particular about religion in the United States?
Race and ethnicity are inseparable from US history. Our readings and class materials will consider how race and ethnicity have shaped "America" from the 17th century to the present, and how Americans have understood, contested, and re-imagined race and ethnicity.
The archive is where the past is stored -- waiting to become history. This course centers around the archive -- its meaning and purpose, its institutional form(s), the principles and forces that underlie selection and organization of its contents, and its influence on knowledge and understanding. The remarkable range of archival collections on the Bloomington campus offers firsthand experience with a range of materials and systems, fostering valuable skills for independent research or data organization.
Why do Russians take pride in their past? In the West, it is often portrayed as one of misery and oppression alone, but the splendid Russian Empire ruled over one sixth of the earth‚s land surface and extended across eleven time zones in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. It had the most powerful land army on earth, was the fifth largest industrial power, produced many of the world‚s greatest artists, writers, composers and scientists, and exuded confidence and pride in its status as a European Great Power. It was also riven by conflict, conflicting priorities and visions, and the site of a growing revolutionary movement. It was Europe but also Asia‚Ä¶.and it collapsed in 1917, bringing on a revolution that altered the course of twentieth century across the globe. This course examines the paradoxes and contradictions of modern Russian history, the legacies of Imperial Russia to the twentieth century, both daily life and high politics, the dilemmas of a latecomer to global modernization, the alternative visions of Russian thinkers and activists, the status of women, minorities, and the various classes, and the key events that shaped Russia‚s nineteenth and early century.
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.
From the ashes of a republic scorched by civil war, autocracy rises. A new ideology, culture, economy and political system will dominate the ancient Mediterranean for centuries.
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.
Military conquests, intensifying interregional and global economic connections, and the spread of Christianity and Islam to new parts of the continent have all helped shape and reshape African social and economic relationships in the 19th and 20th centuries. Specific focal points will include the Atlantic slave trade, Africa in the world wars, the rise of the apartheid state in South Africa, and African wars of liberation from the 1960s to the 1990s, "blood diamonds," Ebola, Darfur, and child soldiers.
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.
Discover the history of Cuba and Puerto Rico, from the first inhabitants to the present day. How did slavery affect the islands? What was the impact of US intervention? How did industrialization transform Puerto Rico? And learn the details of the Cuban revolution and how it transformed Cuban society. These neighbor islands to the US have a deep history to dive into.
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.
We'll tackle history through the prism of baseball and think about baseball from a global-historical perspective
The middle ages were a period of immense transformation in Western Europe. Institutions like universities, kingdoms, and the church were creating structures and causes the changed the structure of society. In the midst of this restructuring was a surge of death as people weathered plague, war, and inquisitions. Follow these changes and how they influenced one another in this exploration of the later half of the middle ages.
From Tecumseh to Richard Lugar, from Madame CJ Walker to Kurt Vonnegut, the residents of Indiana have broken cultural and political ground for more than two centuries. Their land—from the Indiana Dunes to the Falls of the Ohio—abounds with key sites in American history. Yet Hoosiers themselves will tell you that this is just an average place, full of hard-working people minding their own business. What is the "real" story behind the Hoosier image? How has this state shaped the US—and ho will it face the environmental, political, and social challenges to come? This class welcomes natives and newcomers alike to join in a historical discovery tour and take part in a frank discussion of the Hoosier Way... from the 1700s to the day after tomorrow.
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.
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.
More than 150 years after Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species, many Americans reject evolutionary ideas. Why does the controversy persist? How has it evolved? Why do people care so much about evolution and creation? This course explores these questions through readings, films, discussions, and field trips.
Many historical cities, nations and societies claim to have experienced one or more “Golden Ages”—periods of punctuated efflorescence in culture, philosophy, politics, art, architecture or some other measure. Some Golden Ages are marked by the rule of a particular individual—such as Augustan Rome or the Ottoman Empire under Suleiman I. This course allows students to draw upon the courses theme to define and select a historical Golden Ages to evaluate. In the first half of the course, students will discuss key readings (~40-80 pages per week) which will prepare them to choose a Golden Age to study on an individualized basis. After selecting a Golden Age to study, each student will complete a book review (~4-6 pages), presentation (~15-20 minutes) and final paper (~10-15 pages) on their selected topic.
We are not alone. Plants, microorganisms, and other animals surround us: some we eat; some we grow; some live within us. What, then, is the history of our relationships to the non-human world? Are we products of nature or masters of it? Should other creatures have a voice in human history, or is it impossible for historians to speak for non-humans? This course seeks answers in the rapidly growing field of environmental history. It also asks you to find answers for yourself and to write compellingly about what you discover; you will learn to gather vivid and revealing sources, make rigorous arguments, and craft thoughtful prose. Topics covered in weekly readings include histories of climate change, energy, food systems, mosquitos, infectious disease, and popular attitudes towards nature.
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 undergraduate research course treats these as historical questions. Students pursue individual research among historical sources such as medical texts, diaries and letters, and coming of age stories, and the histories of childhood and adolescence, of gender, and of sexuality.
Professor Alex Lichtenstein
This capstone seminar gives history majors the space to explore an independent research project as the culmination of their major, with regular classroom support from peers and a dedicated faculty member.
The College of Arts + Sciences