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Yearly Schedule: 2015-2016

For a tentative list of courses for the 2015-2016 academic year click here.

Click here to see a full list of courses from the General Catalog


Expanded Course Descriptions 2015

Below is a listing of the courses offered by the History Department to undergraduates for Spring 2016. This list is subject to change, please check back often. To find the day, time and course registration number (CRN) for the courses below click here.


Spring Quarter 2016

(Check back soon for updates)

4B - History of Western Civilization (Renaissance to the Eighteenth Century)

Professor Stuart

We study European society, politics, and culture from the late Middle Ages through the early modern centuries, from the Black Death to the eve of the French Revolution.  From 1348 to 1789 Europe experienced mass pandemics, the spread of world-changing new technologies like gun powder and the printing press, the development of the early modern state, the fracturing of the “universal Christendom” and the emergence of competing religious confessions, religious wars and wars of expansion, the rise of Colonial empires and international trade, the rise of science, the Age of Enlightenment and secularization. These were centuries of enormous contradiction: the “Scientific Revolution” was contemporaneous to the European witch-hunt that led to the execution of tens of thousands for the crime of “harmful magic.” In 1685 the French King Louis XIV outlawed witch-hunting, and yet he continued to practice the “King’s touch,” a miraculous healing ritual in which French and English Kings cured people through the laying on of hands.  These are just some of the cross-currents and paradoxes of the early modern centuries that we will explore this quarter.


4C - History of Western Civilization (Eighteenth Century to the Present)

Professor Zientek

7C - History of Latin American, 1900-Present


What is at stake as the United States resumes diplomatic relations with Cuba?  Why is migration to the United States such a contentious issue in the current election cycle?  How is “the good life” in the United States liked to environmental concerns in Latin America?  This course explores the historical roots of today’s events with a focus on the human experiences of the people involved.  We will examine how, during the twentieth century, Latin America wrestled with the persistence of agrarian societies divided by race and class, and with the mobilization of broad sectors of society—from populist movements to leftist revolutionary groups—that challenged the prevailing social and economic order.  We will further study how social and political elites attempted to withstand these challenges by looking to the United States for economic and military assistance, and to strategies of authoritarian nationalism and dictatorship.  We will conclude the course with a discussion of key issues that Latin America faces today, including trade policy, environmental conflict, and transnational migration.




Looking for History: Dispatches from Latin America 

Mexico's Once and Future Revolution

The Death of Ramon Gonzalez: The Modern Agricultural Dilemma

Additional articles and chapters

8 - History of Indian Civilization

Professor Sen

9A - History of East Asian Civilization 

Professor Javers

10B - World History, c. 1350-1850

Professor Harris

History 10B, “World History, 1350-1850” is an introduction to the large-scale structures and processes that transformed the world between the mid-fourteenth and the mid-nineteenth centuries. These five centuries marked an era in which cross-cultural contacts between the peoples of the world increased dramatically, laying the foundations for today’s global connectedness. We will explore these interactions and their effects on peoples and cultures around the world. Because this course is truly global, coverage cannot be comprehensive. Instead, we will take a topical and chronological approach, focusing in on major events and trends through the broad and interrelated themes of networks, such as ocean systems, cultural zones, empires, and long-distance trade; identities, including national affiliations and cultural, religious, and ethnic identifications; and cross-cultural interaction, including global religions, colonial and creole cultures, and the complicated interrelations of tradition and change. Together, the lectures, readings, discussions, and assignments will explore these themes at both the macro and micro levels, considering global trends and changes and their effects at the regional and local levels.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10:00-10:50 am, the whole class will convene for lectures. Students will also meet in once a week in separate small discussion sections led by a Graduate Instructor (teaching assistant) to examine and discuss in depth the assigned texts.

15 - Introduction to African History

Professor Decker

With 55 countries, over one billion people, thousands of languages, and a geographic area that surpasses the United States, China, and Europe combined, the defining characteristic of the continent of Africa is its diversity. History 15 introduces students to key shifts in African history, including pre-colonial migrations and kingdoms, the spread of world religions, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, colonialism, nationalism, development interventions, and human rights campaigns. Students will examine the continent’s diverse past through oral and written primary sources, scholarly debates, music, film, art, and other sources. What sparked the rise of kingdoms before European colonization? How did Africans benefit and suffer from the slave trade? Which of Africa’s resources made it vulnerable to conquest and exploitation? What are the historical foundations of recent wars and genocides on the continent? How does Africa continue to shape global capitalism and culture? We will tackle these and other important questions in this course.


Required Texts

D.T. Niane, ed., Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali
Getz and Clarke, Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History

Gilbert & Reynolds, Africa in World History: From Prehistory to the Present

17A - History of the United States (Colonial Era to the Civil War)

Professor Smolenski

17B - History of the United States (Civil War to Cold War)

Professor Rauchway

This introduction to United States history since 1865 discusses the course of American history from the Civil War to the War on Terror, with particular focus on the importance of the South and the West in US development.


Readings include:

Conforti, Joseph A. Lizzie Borden on Trial

Hull, N. E. H. The Woman Who Dared to Vote

Kawashima, Yasuhide. The Tokyo Rose Case

Johnson, John W. Griswold v. Connecticut

72A - Social History of American Women and the Family 

Professor Hopkins

101 - Intro to Historical Thought and Writing

Professor Saler


102A - Ancient 

Professor Spyridakis

Aspects of Greek history in Classical and Hellenistic Times.

Readings: TBA

Grading: TBA

102F - A history of science in Russia:  from Mendeleev to Chernobyl

Professor Campbell

Since the times of Peter the Great, science and technology have figured prominently in visions of how Russia might progress and compete internationally.  Yet enacting this vision has often been fraught with difficulty, as “pure science” (if such a thing has ever existed) repeatedly came into conflict with the ideology and political economy of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union.

This course will explore the complex relationships among scientists, engineers, ideology, and government in the Russian Empire and Soviet Union.  We will consider the awkward position of professional scientists when government pressure influences their decision-making.  (How could a competent engineer have signed off on Chernobyl?  What possible future for environmental scientists under a regime that demanded production at any cost?)  We will trace the fate of experts who survived the collapse of the Russian Empire, both deeply necessary and deeply threatening to the building of Communism.  We’ll ask how aggressive state promotion of certain scientific agendas could produce both successes like Sputnik and embarrassing failures like the Lysenkoist campaign against genetics.  And, perhaps most importantly, we will consider the effects that Russian and Soviet science had when its findings were applied to the lives of ordinary people.

No prior knowledge of Russian history is assumed, and a high-school level of scientific knowledge is sufficient to understand all the assigned texts.  Grading will be based on class participation (including an in-class presentation), three short papers, and an 8-10 page final essay.


  • Stephen Brain, Song of the Forest
  • Kate Brown, Plutopia
  • Michael Gordin, A Well-Ordered Thing
  • Loren Graham, The Ghost of the Executed Engineer
  • Ryan Jones, Empire of Extinction
  • Paula Michaels, Curative Powers
  • Sonja Schmid, Producing Power
  • Asif Siddiqi, The Red Rockets’ Glare

102K - Made in America? Culture and Identity in the Atlantic World

Professor Smolenksi

Scholars have waged major debates regarding the cultural origins of colonial America for centuries. Some have argued for the persistence of so-called “Old World” traditions in the “New World” created by European colonization. These scholars have pointed to the retention of certain habits and values among European, African, and Indian peoples in the Americas, suggesting that cultural change came relatively slowly. Others have proposed that the radically different “frontier” environment in which the peoples of the Americas lived facilitated rapid cultural transformations from the origins of European colonization.

In this seminar we will explore the question of culture and identity in the Atlantic world. We will examine the interplay between tradition and novelty in the development of colonial American cultures, as well as the role that cultural exchange and conflict played in creating motions of “European-ness,” “African-ness,” and “Indian-ness” in the Atlantic world between 1500 and 1800.


102M-1 - Modern Feminism in the U.S.

Professor Materson

102M-2 - Conspiracy Theories in the United States from World War I to the Present

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           

102N - Monarchy & Democracy in Modern Japan

Professor Kim

In this year, History 102N will examine the evolution of political system, ideologies and practices of modern Japan, focusing on two apparently contradictory concepts: monarchy and democracy, that nonetheless have arguably formed the twin essential components of modern Japanese politics from Meiji Restoration (1868) to today.


            The stories Americans tell about Japan’s “emperor system” and democracy are full of logical holes and strange (or rather convenient) inconsistencies. For instance, many Americans today believe that the U.S., after defeating Japan in 1945 “brought” democracy in Japan, yet more than a few scholars of Japanese history find that the American occupation was in fact responsible for protecting the Showa emperor from the war crimes tribunal, allowing the emperor system to persist into twenty-first century. Likewise, most Americans know that Japan has an emperor but is still confused about his exact role in the country’s modern history: has he always been a mere cultural symbol? Or, conversely, has he been a political leader in the manner of a POTUS, or a religious leader in the manner of the Catholic Pope?  Considering the vibrant and substantive history of institutional democracy in Japan before the Pacific War, is it fair to view, as some do even today, that the Japanese “brand” of democracy or liberalism as "limited" or "compromised," compared to its equivalent in the U.S., France or Great Britain?

            Throughout the seminar we will address these and other questions, by studying such topics as: the restoration of the monarchy in conjunction with Japan's rapid modernization in late nineteenth century: various Confucian, nativist and "Eurocentric" attempts to justify the authority of the Japanese emperor: the complicated process of arriving at a constitutional monarchy with the promulgation of the Imperial Constitution in 1889: introduction and flourishing of liberalism and democratic thought in Japan of late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, especially during the eras of the so-called Popular Rights Movement (roughly 1874-1890) and Taisho Democracy (roughly 1911-1931): countervailing influence of the emperor-centered anti-democratic and anti-liberal ideologies: the Showa emperor's function and role during the militarist/wartime period (1931-1945) and the ambivalent nature of postwar Japan's "symbolic emperor system."

            History 102N is an extremely reading- and writing-heavy course. It is not appropriate for those looking to simply meet a 102 requirement for History majors, and are not interested in its subject matters. While it is an excellent course to demonstrate your intellectual strengths, writing abilities, and command of research materials, please take into consideration the likelihood that you will be spending a lot of time and energy preparing for this seminar.

            You need not have taken an East Asian history course prior to signing up for History 102N. Although it is intended for History majors, non-majors are welcome. If you have any questions regarding these issues, consult the instructor individually.   No language other than English is needed for the class.   However, using Japanese and other relevant non-English language materials for your research paper is most welcome.


    Requirements:  Oral Presentations OR Short Reflection Papers - every week

                                     Long (12 pp. or longer) Research Paper


    Reading materials:  Four books ordered to be purchased at UCD Bookstore

                                      PDF files of select articles, book chapters and primary sources

110 - One World One Health: Humans, Animals, Environment

Professor Davis

This course presents the exciting development of the "One World, One Health" approach and will introduce students to the complex history and present of "One World One Health" initiatives widely being implemented around the world over the last decade.  "One World One Health" aims to bring together specialists from human and veterinary medicine and environmental science to create a more comprehensive and holistic approach to public health and international development.  The vast majority (70% or more) of new and emerging diseases are zoonoses (diseases spread from animals to humans).  Therefore, comprehensive understanding and policy development require an integrated knowledge of human medicine, veterinary medicine, and the environment.  In response to this great need, the "healing arts" and environmental sciences are having to reintegrate themselves in ways not really seen since before the nineteenth century when knowledge became fractured into distinct and ever-specializing "disciplines."  We will study the history of the healing arts (human and veterinary medicine) and environmental knowledge, how these were slowly separated into separate disciplines that rarely communicated with each other, and how the goals of "One World One Health" are being realized today with the current focus on "interdisciplinarity."  Both historical perspectives and contemporary case studies will be provided.  Students from ANY major are welcome in this interdisciplinary class!  

More info:

111C - Ancient History: Rome

Professor Spyridakis

Rise and fall of the Roman Republic and Empire.



  • M. Rostovtzeff, Rome
  • Boardman, The Oxford History of the Roman World
  • Nystrom-Spyridakis, Ancient Rome - Documentary Perspectives


Grading: Midterm 25%; paper 25%; final 50% of course grade

112C - History of the Jews in the Muslim World

Professor Miller 

115B - History of East and Central Africa

Professor Decker

What are the origins of cultural and trade links between Africa, India, and China? How have Islam and Christianity coexisted in East Africa for so long? What the are the legacies of Arab and European colonization? Why is gender so central to post-colonial development? This course investigates these and other questions about slavery and human trafficking, colonization and nationalism, genocide, religious conversion and reformation, human rights, and other international interventions. The countries discussed in this course include Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Rwanda, Burundi, and bordering nations.


Required Texts

Henri Medard and Shane Doyle, eds., Slavery in the Great Lakes Region of East Africa

Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, A Grain of Wheat

115F - History of North, Horn, Sudan, and Nile Valley

Professor Miller

125 - Topics in Early Modern European History

Professor Stuart

“Murder by Magic: Witchcraft and Witch-Hunting in Early Modern Europe.”

This class explores practices of witch-hunting in Early Modern Europe. About 60,000 people, 85% of them women, perished in the European witch-hunt, mostly in the century between 1560 and 1660. We explore the particular set of circumstances that encouraged these “burning times” in the era of the Baroque. We explore precursors during the Middle Ages: heretics and Jews were accused of some to the same crimes—child murder and desecration of the Eucharist—that would later feature in the witch-hunts. By the mid-sixteenth century, however, prosecutors lost interest in heretics and Jews and focused their attention on old women as perpetrators of witchcraft. What were the gender stereotypes that led to this particular construction of the witch?  The stereotypical witch varied geographically and changed over time. In some parts of Europe men were prosecuted as werewolves. Children played a problematic and changing role in the witch-hunts. Witchcraft often served as an explanation for high infant mortality, and children featured prominently among the accusers of witches. But after 1680, children took on a new role: as perpetrators of witchcraft. We will explore the paradox that on the eve of the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century, the so-called “Age of the Child” that recognized childhood as a special stage of life that needed to be protected and nurtured, children were accused of—and executed—for witchcraft more than ever before.  Finally, we ask when, how, and why the witch-hunts ended. People didn’t stop believing in witchcraft—why did they stop burning witches? (Or did they?)

131B - European History during the Renaissance and Reformation

Professor Harris

History 131B, “European History During the Renaissance and Reformation” explores the history of western Europe between the late fifteenth and the mid-seventeenth centuries, a complex period that marked the turn from the medieval to the modern world. This course will examine this slow shift and the ideas and events which characterized it, devoting particular attention to changing concepts of community and identity and to links between religious ideas and social, political, and cultural change. With this general  will consider a wide array of topics, such as humanism, European expansion into the Americas and beyond, the Protestant and Catholic Reformations, social status and gender roles, consumer culture, and the development of the modern state.

145 - War and Revolution in Europe

Professor Campbell

The long 19th century, from the French Revolution until the outbreak of World War I, witnessed the gradual emergence of a new kind of warfare – the total war, in which states sought to make use of all their natural and human resources.  This attempt was closely connected with economic transformations, new political formations, and significant new demands on the populations of European states.

Studying the 19th century in Europe through a military lens is therefore much more than listing battles and dates.  It is the study of a continent-wide reformation of society and politics, and, just as important, the study of how European populations responded to the new demands being made of them.  In this context, we’ll explore, among other topics, the formation of new social classes and political movements; the consolidation of European nations; and multiple dimensions of European expansion in Africa and Asia.  We’ll pay particular attention to the relationship between the way that European states sought to fight wars and their internal political, social, and economic developments.  Focusing on a few richly detailed primary sources will help us to understand the anxieties and possibilities such rapid changes entailed for ordinary people.

No prior knowledge is assumed; familiarity with modern European history (course 4C or similar) will be helpful.  Students will be evaluated on the basis of a book review, four short response papers, and a comprehensive final examination.


  • David Fromkin, Europe’s Last Summer
  • P. M. Jones, The French Revolution 1787-1804 (2nd ed.)
  • Giuseppe di Lampedusa, The Leopard
  • Mark Traugott, Armies of the Poor
  • Jakob Walter, Diary of a Napoleonic Foot Soldier
  • OPTIONAL:  Robin Winks and Joan Neuberger, Europe and the Making of Modernity
  • Additional primary and secondary source readings posted on SmartSite

147A - European Intellectual History, 1800-1870


This course will address major European themes and figures in the early industrial era in the context of the shifting cultural frameworks from Romanticism to Realism.  The themes we will examine include the relationships between reason and feeling during the late Enlightenment, the political and social roles of the individual in the aftermath of the French and Industrial Revolutions, the struggle to reconcile traditional religious belief with modern scientific discoveries, and how the literary and visual arts shaped the ways the public understood these developments.


The lectures and discussions are designed to clearly illustrate the impact of ideas on political and cultural movements and to demonstrate how to contextualize individual contributions in this process.  We will collaborate on a term paper project that will involve a close examination of the work of one or more of the authors we address during the term.  The course counts toward General Education credit in Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, and World Cultures.  Please sign up or e-mail me if you are interested:

151A - England: The Middle Ages


Surveying the history of England from its origins through the Wars of the Roses, this course emphasizes the themes of conquest and assimilation by the Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and Normans, and English ventures into Wales, Scotland and Ireland; the gradual development of the English state and its relations with the Church; dynastic issues of the Anglo-Saxon, Norman, Plantagenet, Lancaster and York kings, including wars with France, civil wars, relations with Parliaments; and the impact of these changes on peasants, townspeople, Jews, and women.  We will read a textbook, a 9th-century biography, a modern historian’s reconstruction of a peasant woman’s life, a modern mystery, and many shorter primary and secondary sources.


Grading: 2 papers at 15% and 25%; 2 exams at 20% and 25%, participation 15%


Hollister, C. W., Robert C. Stacey, and Robin Chapman Stacey, The Making of England to 1399, 8th ed. (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2001).  ISBN: 9780618001019.

Alfred the Great: Asser’s Life of King Alfred and Other Contemporary Sources, edited by Simon Keynes and Michael Lapidge (New York: Penguin, 2004).  ISBN: 9780140444094.

Judith M. Bennett, A Medieval Life: Cecilia Penifader of Brigstock, c. 1295-1344 (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1999), ISBN: 9780072903317.

Josephine Tey, The Daughter of Time (New York: Scribner, 1988).  ISBN: 9780020545507.

168 - History of Inter-American Relations


We live in an era in which the United States projects its influence on a global scale, but few people are aware that U.S. foreign policy was first put to the test in, and shaped by, Latin America.  This course examines historical interactions between the U.S. and Latin America from the mid-nineteenth century to the present.  We will explore topics ranging from military intervention, revolution, and diplomacy to disaster relief, transnational migration, and the illicit drug trade.  We will pay particular attention to the reasons why inter-American relations have been characterized by misunderstanding, mistrust, and tension.




A Glorious Defeat: Mexico and Its War with the United States 

Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq 

The Massacre at El Mozote 

Enrique’s Journey

Additional articles and chapters


174B - War, Prosperity, and Depression in the United States, 1917-1945

Professor Rauchway

This course focuses on the history of the US from World War I to World War II, with special attention to the interwar period, the Great Depression, and the New Deal.


Readings include

Arnesen, Eric. Black Protest and the Great Migration: A Brief History with Documents

Fliter, John A. and Derek S. Hoff. Fighting Foreclosure: The Blaisdell Case, the Contract Clause, and the Great Depression

Rauchway, Eric. The Great Depression and the New Deal: A Very Short Introduction

Daniels, Roger. Prisoners without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II

174C - The United States since World War II, 1945 - Present

Professor Olmsted

This course examines the history of the United States from the end of the Second World War to the present.  We’ll examine social movements (civil rights, feminism, black power, gay rights, environmentalism, the New Right); economic changes; the Cold War and its domestic effects; the growth of executive power; political realignments; and post-Cold War foreign policy.  

Grading: TBA

184 - History of Sexuality in America

Professor Materson

191F - History of the People's Republic of China

Professor Javers

193B - History of the Modern Middle East from 1914

Professor El Shakry

This course explores the history of the Middle East from the turn of the twentieth century to the present. Rather than narrate the history of the twentieth century Middle East as a series of wars and conflicts, however, we will focus on the principal intellectual, cultural, political, and social factors that have shaped the countries of the Middle East. Themes include: legacies of colonialism; the late nineteenth century cultural renaissance known as the nahda; cultural modernism; anticolonial nationalism; postcolonial revolutionary movements; Islamic revival; gender; politics of oil and war; torture and state power; and the Arab uprisings. Our focus in the 20th century will be largely on the emergence of anti-colonial nationalist revolutions and post-colonial national regimes. Rather than a comprehensive survey of the history of the M.E., the course will highlight certain countries with the purpose of critically addressing the themes that are dominant in both the scholarly and non-scholarly literature on the region.


193C - The Middle East Environment 

Professor Davis

This course will introduce students to the multiple natural resources of the Middle East and North Africa. It will explain how these natural resources have been utilized and managed throughout history by a variety of human population groups. A background on the physical environment, flora and fauna of the Middle East will be provided. The relevance of history, politics, and the legacy of colonialism/ imperialism for the environment will be examined. Through the use of contemporary case studies, the course will examine environment and development challenges faced in the Middle East today. We will study cases from Egypt, the Maghreb, the Levant, the Gulf region and others that deal with issues regarding water, nomads, agriculture, desertification, national parks, indigenous knowledges, and more!  More info:

194B - Early Modern Japan

Professor Kim

This course examines history of early modern Japan, roughly from 1600 to 1868. This period of Japanese history was mostly dominated by a single continuous regime, the Tokugawa warrior rule, and is generally considered to constitute an era of peace and stability.  This was also the period in which the bushi (warriors, also known as samurai) became Japan’s governing class: in which kabuki, woodblock prints and other staples of Japanese culture came into maturation: in which the capital city of Japan, Edo, grew to become a metropolis with more than one million residents, larger than London and perhaps Paris of the same period: in which the warrior classes and urban merchants squared off vying for the love of courtesans: and in which commercialization and development of agriculture may well have laid foundation for the economic power of today’s Japan.  Early modern Japan in its myriad manifestations, magnificent and ordinary, sophisticated and coarse, vast and intimate, puzzling and suggestive, will be explored in this course through lectures incorporating latest English- and Japanese-language studies as well as analyses of primary materials. 

Main textbook:  Conrad Totman, Early Modern Japan

196B - Modern India

Professor Sen 

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