HISTORY 101: WHAT IS HISTORY?
T/TH 3:35 pm – 4:55 pm
Most people think they already know what history is: it’s whatever happened in the past—the names, dates, and events that fill textbooks and high school classes. But what actually happened in the past is not always clear. The past is the subject of intense conflicts—from “history wars” among academics and politicians to actual military confrontations between nations. History, then, it not about memorizing facts.
It is about asking questions about the past, finding clues, sorting evidence, and piecing those clues and evidence together into compelling stories. Telling these stories forces us to make choices about what to put in and what to leave out; about main plots and subplots; about lead and supporting characters; and about how to connect the dots with our imaginations when information is lacking.
Does this mean history is fiction? Who gets to decide history—whose stories should we listen to and accept as true? How are ideas and practices of history different in different parts of the world? How do political struggles, in the United States and around the globe, shape the way people see the past and use it in their everyday lives? Can history predict or improve the future, and it not, what is history for? Must histories only be written in books, or can myths, movies, music, art, or fairy tales fulfill a similar purpose?
This course will introduce you to the various ways in which scholars and societies in different global contexts have approaches the past. But above all, it will teach you new ways of thinking critically about the world you live in-its past, present, and future. n pondering these and other questions about the nature of history and the past, we will draw upon examples from U.S., Latin American, European, and nonwestern history. We will develop our understanding of the actual practice of making history, including analyzing historical sources, and developing a historical narrative. We will ponder the fundamental nature of history at the intersections of science, art, and daily life. In addition, we will learn a variety of practical skills for conducting historical research and other kinds of research applicable to all majors and interests.
PUBLIC HISTORY PRACTICE
Interested students please contact Dr. Charlene Mires, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get your hands on history: This is an individualized opportunity to gain knowledge of local and regional history while contributing to a public history project based at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities (MARCH) at Rutgers-Camden. The options include historic house research and curatorship for the Cooper Street Historic District and research and digital publishing for The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia. In addition to readings in local and regional history, students will be provided with training and ongoing supervision and feedback while working approximately six hours per week on-site on their selected projects. This course is by arrangement, with permission of the instructor, and is open to juniors and seniors with a GPA of 3.0 and above.
GEN ED: Experiential Learning (XPL)
WESTERN CIVILIZATION I
T/TH 9:35 am – 10:55 am
This course explores the emergence and development of what has been called “Western Civilization”, from the prehistoric period, down to the creation of the Holy Roman Empire under Charlemagne. Students will journey through much historical and geographical terrain, including the Mesopotamian world of Gilgamesh, the matriarchy of Çatalhöyük, the Mediterranean of Homer, Pericles’ Athens, Alexander the Great in Afghanistan, down to the rise (and fall) of the Roman, Byzantine and Islamic empires. Within this timeline, the course focuses on key themes, such as how different forms of knowledge, imperialism, religion, intercultural exchange and material culture have all contributed to our definition of Western Civilization—a concept itself which will be questioned in the course. Coursework includes attending lectures, active engagement in class activities, digital mapping tasks, museum object studies, short exams and short written source analyses.
GEN Education Requirements: Civilizations & Heritage (C), Global Communities (GCM), Global Studies (G)
RENAISSANCE AND REFORMATION
T/TH 2:00 pm – 3:20 pm
This course covers Europe and its connections with the wider world during the Renaissance (1300-1600). During this time, Europe underwent tremendous cultural, political, religious, technological, and military change. Students will explore humanist thought, the rise of new military and printing technology, European explorations, court culture, the arts, witchcraft trials, and new religious ideas. Students will read and discuss some of the most influential Renaissance texts by Machiavelli, Erasmus, and Sir Thomas More and explore the meaning behind new forms of dance and art. Students will be expected to attend classes, participate in discussion of readings and films, and write several papers through the semester.
GEN Education Requirements: Global Studies (G), Heritages and Civilizations (HAC)
FRANCE TO 1715
T/TH 11:10 am – 12:30 pm
(cross listed with 50:420:360:01)
This course traces the rise of France from a fragmented kingdom in the Middle Ages to the most powerful state in Europe by the end of the seventeenth century. The class will learn about knights and their code of chivalry, the French Renaissance castles, the bloody Wars of Religion, demonic possession, ballet, the duel, and life at the palace of Versailles. The development of France happened through interactions with foreigners from Asia, Asia, and the Americas. Students will learn how France adopted practices from around the globe and came to be considered the beacon of culture and model of kingship in Europe. Students will be expected to attend classes, participate in discussion of readings and films, and write several papers on the course material.
GEN ED: Global Communities (GCM)
DEVELOPMENT OF THE UNITED STATES I
M/W 9:35 am – 10:55 am
This course traces the path of American history from before European colonization through the colonial period, the Imperial Crisis, Revolution, Civil War, and Reconstruction. We will examine the most important political, economic, social, and cultural developments of the 17th – 19th centuries, and observe how different groups of people shaped and were affected by such developments. Learning about the past involves a careful effort to understand the ideas and beliefs that motivated people to act in certain specific ways, within particular historical circumstances. Development of U.S. I is an introductory course, intended to acquaint students with various ideas, events, and people from this particular segment of America’s past, and to introduce students to some of the questions and debates that animate the study of early American history.
GEN ED: US In the World (USW)
DEVELOPMENT OF THE UNITED STATES II
T/TH 11:10 am – 12:30 pm
This course examines the political, economic, social, and military history of the United States from the 1860s through the 1970s. The course will also examine the roles played by ethnicity, race, gender, class, the development of a national market economy, and the emergence of a powerful national state in shaping ideas about American identity and its place in the world.
GEN Education Requirements: US in the World (USW)
AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY I
T/TH 2:00 pm – 3:20 pm
This course provides an overview of the major events and developments in African American history from 1865 to the present. Starting with Reconstruction, the course traces African Americans’ quest for freedom through the Jim Crow Era, World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II. It then examines key political, social, and cultural developments of the post-war period focusing on social movements such as the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power Movement, Black Feminism, and the Prisoners’ Rights movement. We will end with a discussion on race in the Obama years and the Black Lives Matter movement.
GEN Education Requirements: Diversity (D), Multicultural Diversity in the US (DIV), United States in the World (USW)
AGE OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
M/W 2:05 pm – 3:25 pm
In 1763 the British Empire reigned supreme in North America and the thirteen colonies were filled with people who were overjoyed to be British subjects of their new king George III. The colonists had just risked their lives and willingly spent a lot of money to help their fellow Britons defeat the French and kick them out of Canada. Everything pointed to a long relationship with Britain with the colonists happily remaining inside the British Empire. Instead, thirteen short years later the American colonists declared independence and again risked their lives, this time to fight the most powerful nation with the largest empire since ancient Rome.
History 305 explores how and why this unexpected and dramatic change occurred and what resulted because of it. In declaring independence, Americans denounced not just Britain but things British, especially monarchy and aristocracy and the inequality that they believed those forms of governance produced. Yet in overthrowing a king and declaring that they would elect their own rulers in a republic, American revolutionaries also undermined other forms of inequality, something many of them had not intended to do. After 1776 it became much harder to justify or defend economic inequality within the new United States. Many, including 900,000 enslaved people, asked if all men were created equal why should slavery survive the declaration of independence? And many women and some men wondered why it was only men who had been created equal? The American Revolution became a struggle not just to gain independence from Britain but also began a deep and powerful argument about what equality meant, who got to define it, and who got to decide who was equal and who was not. The arguments provoked by the American Revolution shaped the nation. By looking closely at why the British Empire broke apart, the military challenges of fighting the revolution, the social conflicts that the American Revolution produced, and the framing and ratifying of the United States Constitution, this course will examine the American Revolutionary era and how it affected all peoples living in North America.The class will meet in a Discovery Classroom in CNS, so be prepared to work in teams to discover this history. This course is designed as an engaged, hands-on learning experience. There are no pre-requisites for this course and students from all majors are welcome.
COLD WAR CULTURE
T/TH 9:35 am – 10:55 am
In this seminar-style course, we will focus on the United States between 1941 and 1991, and the social and cultural changes wrought by atomic weapons and the threat of Communist expansion both abroad and at home. Such phenomena as television, suburbia, science fiction, rock and roll, the Civil Rights movement, and the counter-culture emerged during these years. Older forms of entertainment like movies and even the Olympics were re-defined. We will examine and discuss films, television programs, and commercial ads from the period which serve as rich primary source documents about how Americans processed the changing and threatening new world around them.
SPECIAL TOPICS IN AMERICAN HISTORY: THE HISTORY OF FAKE NEWS
M/W 9:35 am – 10:55 am
Claims of “fake news” have become increasingly common in the internet era. While today we have easy access to unprecedented kinds of information that enable us to fact-check stories in almost real time, it is also a reality that news stories –both real and fake –can spread faster and more widely than ever before. But while the circulation of fake news might seem like a phenomenon unique to our time, it actually has a much longer history.This course focuses on various kinds of false information circulated in America over time: hoaxes, conspiracy theories, advertising puffery, and propaganda. Learning about the much longer histories and broader contexts of fake news is a way to understand not only our current time but how we got here.The course is divided into two parts. In the first part, we will read a series of historical case studies to see how and why people spread fake news in different eras. We will read of newspaper editors who published stories about humans living on the moon in the 1830s, and of showmen getting rich by selling tickets to see a live mermaid in the 1850s. We will also read about how fake news helped foment excitement for the Revolutionary War, and how propaganda was similarly used to create homefront solidarity during World War I and World War II. The second part of the semester will be devoted to studying the role of fake news in America today, including how it is created and spread, and how it shapes our society. Students will complete a series of short writing assignments in addition to working in small groups on collaborative projects.
SPECIAL TOPICS IN AMERICAN HISTORY: INTRODUCTION TO PUBLIC HISTORY
(cross listed with 56:512:531:01)
T 6:00 pm – 8:50 pm
Controversies over historical monuments are raising awareness of the issues embedded in the processes of creating, communicating, and contesting public understanding of history. This seminar goes behind the scenes of public history settings such as museums, historic sites, and archives to delve into these dynamics. Through a series of case studies, we will discover how historical narratives are constructed and communicated within history-focused organizations, in public space, and in the digital realm. This course for undergraduates meets together with the graduate course Issues in Public History, with assignments adjusted as appropriate for each level. Undergraduates will get to know the field by contributing to the annual Public History Year in Review (https://phyearbook.wordpress.com/) and will gain a realistic understanding of the career opportunities in public history. Undergraduates also will have options to fulfill assignments by visiting and writing about historic sites of choice.
UNDERGRADUATE INTERNSHIP IN PUBLIC HISTORY
A supervised internship, usually unpaid, at a museum, historical society, archive, or library.
INDEPENDENT STUDY HISTORY
50:510:499:01, Section 02
By Arrangement, Staff
Independent reading under the supervision of a member of the department.
LATIN AMERICA I
M/W 2:05 pm – 3:25 pm
In this course we will trace the history of the vast region of Latin America – consisting of more than twenty separate nations today – over the course of more than 300 years, beginning around the time of Columbus’s first voyage and ending with the era of the “wars of independence” in the early 1800s. We will explore how “Latin America” was born during the violent and confusing period of discovery and conquest; how contact among European settlers, native peoples, and enslaved Africans shaped social and political life in the Spanish and Portuguese colonies; how systems of labor as well as church and political institutions structured the lives of peoples in the region; and how political change and the “revolutionary moment” in the late 1700s resulted in the birth of more than twenty independent nations throughout the region by 1830. We will also explore, at the end of the course, how the colonial legacy continues to haunt Latin America even into the 21st century. By the end of the course, you will have gained an understanding not only of what happened in Latin America, but also an understanding of why that history developed the way it did.
GEN Education Requirements: Global S
MODERN JAPAN: FROM SAMURAI TO ANIME
M/W 12:30 pm – 1:50 pm
(cross listed with 50:480:391:01)
This survey course examines the history of Japan from the collapse of the samurai government in the 1850s to the present time. We will examine the “opening” of Japan following centuries of self-imposed isolation, its rise to power and defeat in World War II, and its subsequent transformation into an economic and pop culture powerhouse, as well as more recent events such as the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster.
GEN Education Requirements: Global Studies (G)
HISTORY OF THE CARIBBEAN
T/TH 11:10 am – 12:30 pm
(cross listed with 50:590:391:01)
In 1491, the Caribbean was home to relatively small groups of indigenous peoples, some of them peaceful and some belligerent. By 1750, the indigenous peoples had been obliterated, and enslaved Africans ruled by European colonists were producing more wealth per acre and per capita (mostly in the form of sugar, called “white gold”) than in any other region in the world. Two hundred years after that, in the mid-20th century, the region was a mixture of island societies struggling to overcome colonial rule and independent nations being choked by violent dictatorships. Today, the Caribbean is culturally and historically vibrant but still struggles with the legacies of slavery, colonialism, and exploitative economies.
In this course, we will explore the history of the Caribbean region from the time of Columbus’s arrival in 1492 through the beginning of the twenty-first century. Focusing on political, economic, social, and cultural themes, we will examine the major developments in the Caribbean past: discovery and conquest, colonialism and revolution, slavery and emancipation, imperialism and revolution, migration and transnationalism. We will analyze documents and other historical sources written by and about the people who made the region’s history, including pirates, “maroons” (enslaved people who escaped and lived free), and a handful of revolutionaries who altered the course of regional and world events in three different centuries.
By the end of the semester, you will have developed a clear understanding not only of the events and issues that have shaped the history of the Caribbean, but also of why and how the history of this region has unfolded in its particular ways. This advanced history course is reading-intensive and there are four major writing assignments—but no exams!
GEN ED: Global Communities (GCM)