Expanded Course Descriptions Winter 2019

The Department of History scheduled these undergraduate courses for WINTER QUARTER 2019. This list is subject to change, so please check back often.

picture of history course

Registration appointment times available on Schedule Builder and myucdavis.

Lower Division HIS 2 - 17B


History 7b: History of Latin America and the Caribbean, 1750-1898

Instructor: Professor Pérez Meléndez

 How did Latin America and the Caribbean emerge in the nineteenth century, a period best described as the quintessential crucible of modernity? Moving from the late-colonial reforms of the Spanish and Portuguese Empires into the revolutionary period that disrupted the them, this course will focus on the Latin American wars of independence and the state-formation processes that followed. What world forces and political philosophies molded Latin America’s great transformation? How did a whole region previously under the jurisdiction of three imperial powers fraction into a plurality of nation-states? And where does the Spanish and French Caribbean fit in? Classes will survey Latin America as an incredibly diverse world region crisscrossed by civil and regional wars, struggles over citizenship, contests over land, and enthralling artistic and literary traditions. Discussions will examine imperial ideologies and the multiple factors underwriting independence, the various modalities of government thought possible by contemporaries, the breakneck speed of government formation, and the consolidation of export-oriented economies that marked the region’s entry into a “Global South.”


History 10C: World History 1850 - Present 

Instructor: Professor Dickinson

This course will treat the history of the world since 1800.  The focus of the course will be on the interlocking global processes of demographic, technological, economic, social, and political change that have transformed the world in the past two centuries.  We will focus on global processes, rather than particular national or regional histories.  The first weeks of the course will focus on the structure of the emergent world economy in the nineteenth century, and some of its implications for the development of social structures and cultural change globally.  The middle weeks of the course will focus on the violent re/negotiation of the world order in the imperialist and world wars between 1870 and 1945.  The last weeks of the course will focus on the explosive spread of demographic and economic change, and its implications for politics, culture, and the planetary biosphere, since 1945.  Readings will include both scholarly works on particular aspects of global history and first-person accounts, contemporary commentary, political texts, and some fiction reflective of major trends or events.


  • Dickinson, The World in the Long Twentieth Century


Grading: TBA


History 17A: History of the United States

Instructor: Professor Smolenski

This course covers the history of the United States from the colonial period through the Civil War. The class looks at how and why an independent United States emerged from the European contest for North America. We will discuss a wide variety of topics in this class, including the European discovery of America; the rise of African slavery in America; the development of a multiracial, multicultural society in the British American colonies; the American Revolution and the development of republican government; economic development and westward expansion; and sectional rivalries within the United States. The course concludes with the collapse of the early American republic and the society that emerged in the aftermath of the Civil War.


History 17B: History of the United States

Instructor: Professor Rauchway and Professor Kelman

This course provides an introduction to the history of the United States since the Civil War. We will explore social, economic, cultural, and political changes on the domestic front as well as the nation’s expansion abroad. Course topics include industrialization, immigration, race relations, the role of the federal government, foreign policy, reform and social protest movements. As a survey, the course is designed to introduce key themes and events in modern American history, and to develop students’ critical thinking, writing, and reading skills.

Upper Division Seminars HIS 102D - 102X


History 102M: Conspiracy Theories in the United States

Instructor: Professor Olmsted

Even paranoids have real enemies, the saying goes.  In this course, we will analyze conspiracy theories in recent U.S. history -- what they are, how they have changed, and what they tell us about our society. We will address these questions: What were (and are) some of the most widely believed conspiracy theories?  Why are some conspiracy theories believed by wide segments of the American public, and others believed only by particular groups of Americans?  Have the types of conspiracy theories changed over the past hundred years?

Grading: 50 percent research paper; 50 percent class participation    


History 102X: Bans and Border Walls

Instructor: Professor Fahrenthold

In the contemporary discourse on migration, it feels peculiarly seamless to discuss “bans and border walls” in a single breath. However, the global preoccupation with travel restriction and border security must not be taken as an inevitability. States arrive at bans and walls as preferred means of migration control as a result of making specific assumptions about migrants as “threats” to national sovereignty. This course is an intensive reading seminar tracing the history of this global preoccupation with borders, bans, and walls, and with border control in the 20th/21st centuries. Students will read pioneering work in migration restriction, documentary regimes, and the militarization of borders.


History 102X/HIS 201W    

Instructor: Professor Miller            

Mediterranean Passages: The Theory and Practice of a Regional History

The Mediterranean has been called the navel of the world. Since ancient times, it has been a sea of passage, trade, and conflict. In this seminar we consider the many ways in which the Mediterranean has been imagined, mapped, and written about from ancient times until the present by looking at various themes framing the idea of the Mediterranean. We begin by thinking about the viability of the Mediterranean as a geographical and cultural unit through the lens of ancient Greek lyrical poetry. From there we move to other topics, such as cities and routes, war and piracy, concepts of honor and shame, gender, ethnic cleansing, migration and displacement. Finally, we shall consider how historical narrative contributes to defining this region as a constituent of global history.

Upper Division HIS 109-196A


History 112A: Jewish Mysticism and Hasidism

Instructor: Professor Biale

This course will introduce students to the basic texts and concepts of the Jewish mystical tradition.  We will begin with esoteric thinkers of the Middle Ages who developed the set of symbols called Kabbalah.  The course will then turn to the Lurianic Kabbalah of the sixteenth century and the Sabbatian messianic movement of the seventeenth.  The last part of the course will explore the ideas of Hasidism, a popular pietistic movement that began in eighteenth-century Poland and continues to this day.


History 125:  “Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe” (Topics in Early Modern European History)

Instructor: Professor Stirling-Harris

Battles and high politics, the doings of kings and queens—these are some of the traditional topics of 16th- and 17th-century European history. But what of the woman or man on the street? How did peasants and artisans, beggars and merchants live during these centuries of religious, political, and social upheaval? This course explores aspects of popular culture among the peoples of western Europe during these key centuries. Through a wide array of ideas and practices, from food and festivals to reading practices and religious beliefs to insults and stereotypes to death and witchcraft, we will examine the ways in which early modern Europeans understood themselves and their world. Along the way, we’ll learn about hierarchies of power, status, and gender; about the expanding power of the state; about Catholic and Protestant Christianity; and much more. Our readings will be similarly broad-ranging. We’ll bring these centuries alive through a host of 16th- and 17th-century sources, such trial records, broadsheets, letters, songs, and other materials, as well as recent studies by modern historians. Assignments help students hone their analytic and writing skills through periodic reading responses and several short papers.

For more information, contact Prof. Stirling-Harris (akharris@ucdavis.edu).


History 130B "Christianity and Culture in Europe, 1450-1600”

Instructor: Professor Stirling-Harris

Between 1450 and 1600, Christianity in Europe underwent dramatic transformations that permanently redefined the continent's religious landscape. While most medieval Europeans had shared a common Catholic faith, by the end of the sixteenth century, uniformity of belief and identity were permanently destroyed, replaced by a kaleidoscope of competing churches, sects, and factions. Together, we will explore the ideas and events of the European Reformations, both Protestant and Catholic, devoting particular attention to changing concepts of community and identity and the links between religious beliefs and social, political, and cultural change. Our readings and discussions will examine not only the ideas of the key thinkers of the period, such as Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and Loyola, but also the effects of their ideas on Europeans of all walks of life. Readings will range from recent scholarly studies to trial records, letters, treatises, and other primary sources from the epoch. Assignments help students hone their analytic and writing skills through two exams and two papers. For more information, contact Prof. Stirling-Harris (akharris@ucdavis.edu).


History 136: The Scientific Revolution

 Instructor: Professor Stolzenberg

What does it mean to understand nature in modern—and pre-modern—ways? Today we take for granted that science involves mathematical laws, experimentation, discovering new phenomena, and the creation of technologies that provide power over nature. None of these was true about European natural science in 1500. All had become widely accepted by 1700. This class treats the transformation of European ideas about nature, knowledge, and technology during the age of Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes, and Newton. We will explore the intellectual culture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to examine issues such as scientific methods, instruments and experimentation, religion, and the control of nature. Topics include astronomy, physics, chemistry/alchemy, natural magic, medicine, and natural history. Evaluation is based on short writing assignments, quizzes, midterm, and final. This course satisfies GE requirements for AH, SS, and WC. There are no prerequisites and no prior knowledge is necessary.


History 161/ HMR 161: 

Instructor: Professor Schlotterbeck 

Why are human rights violated? When and why are human rights protected? As a history course on the origins, denial, and protection of human rights in Latin America, we will use several case studies to answer these questions. For each country, we will examine the historical context surrounding the rise of military dictatorships and civil wars, the emergence of organized resistance by civil society, the efforts to enact political reform and defend human rights, and the ongoing problems posed by justice and memory.

Human rights must be understood as an embedded social practice, we will move beyond theory to an exploration of how rights are practiced, by whom, and to what ends. Ideas about human rights are always located within broader debates about the moral, the good, the just, and the unjust. As we move through our case studies, we will explore the theoretical and practical challenges of human rights work. One goal of the course is to ask how our reading and research can advance projects for global rights by merging cultural critique and political action.

As a culminating final project, students will research and write a dossier on a contemporary human rights issue in Latin America.  Throughout the course, students will become regular contributors to the course website: www.derechoslatinamerica.com


History 170

Instructor: Professor Smolenski

This course examines the settlement, growth, and development of European colonial societies in North America from the era of contact and conquest through the Seven Years’ War. Colonial America was a diverse, complex, vibrant, and often violent place; its history contains numerous stories of tragedy and triumph, struggle and survival, cooperation and coercion. Out of these interactions between Indians, Europeans, and Africans emerged multicultural, creole societies. Over the course of this quarter, we will address many facets of this rich history, exploring such topics as the European “discovery” and conquest of America; the settlement of European colonies; the Indian response to European invasion; the rise of African slavery in the Americas; the evolution of colonial thought and culture; and the rivalry between European imperial powers over the Americas.

The course also means to challenge and develop your abilities to think critically about diverse evidence and to argue persuasively in support of your conclusions. You should not undertake this course unless you are willing and able to attend lectures consistently and to perform the 


History 180C: History of the Right to Vote in the United States 

Instructor: Professor Downs

The class covers the U.S. from the colonial period to the present, and examines periods of enfranchisement (propertyless white men in the 1820s-1840s, ex-slave men in the 1860s-1890s, women in the 1920s, 18-20 year olds in the 1970s, and Native Americans and Latinos), as well as periods of disfranchisement (including immigrant exclusion, disfranchisement in the South, felon disfranchisement, residency requirements, and voter ID laws). It also asks how that past history may help us understand current debates about access to voting and about the long-term effect of disfranchisement following the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder to invalidate portions of the Voting Rights Act.

Students can elect, in place of a final, a final project either on an historical controversy or on voting rights legislation and debates today. Books include both standard histories and recent work by lawyers, journalists, activists, and political scientists on voting.


History 191C: Late Imperial China 

Instructor: Professor Javers

In the sixteenth century, when Europeans first reached the far eastern shores of Eurasia, the Ming Empire was one of the most populous, urbanized, economically advanced, and culturally sophisticated societies in the world. By the early twentieth century, this status quo had been turned on its head. European and American steamships now dominated the Pacific while Qing China was in the throes of social and political upheaval. Using documents, fiction, art, and selected scholarly writings, we will try to understand the historical dynamics of this enormous change. Assignments include a map quiz, short response papers, in-class midterm, and final paper.

The goals of this class are to 1) acquire a broad understanding of China’s historical development; 2) read, interpret and understand documents from the period and secondary scholarship (the key work of an historian); 3) hone skills in writing and argumentation.


History 191F: History of the People’s Republic of China

Instructor: Professor Chiang

This course is an introduction to the history of contemporary China from the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949 to the present.  It is structured around three chronological units: “The Communist Revolution,” “The Era of High Socialism,” and “The Path to Global China.”  Topics include the domestic and international causes of the Communist Party’s rise to power; land reform and agricultural collectivization; China’s role in Cold War East Asia; the Great Leap Forward; the Cultural Revolution; global Maoism; the social, cultural, and political consequences of Deng’s economic reforms; and the making of the PRC empire.  This course is open to all students without prerequisites and assumes no prior knowledge of Chinese history.


History 195C: A History of Vietnam 

Instructor: Professor Javers

This class considers the history of Vietnam from its prehistory to the current day, including its interactions with the Han Dynasty, the Ly and Tran dynasties, the invasion of the Ming and the rise of the Le dynasty, the Tay Son rebellion, the Nguyen dynasty as well as the French colonial period, the war the United States and wars with the People’s Republic of China. To examine these periods, the class will read legal codes, philosophical texts, novels, and secondary scholarship.

The goals of this class are to 1) acquire a broad understanding of Vietnam’s historical development; 2) read, interpret and understand documents from the period and secondary scholarship (the key work of an historian); 3) hone skills in writing and argumentation.