History

The history major at Wesleyan is designed to provide students with a firm foundation in world, American, and European history. Courses focus on the nature of historical inquiry and seek to expose students to the variety of historical interpretations. Courses also place historical study in a comparative and international perspective. Through the study of history, students come to a fuller understanding of the nature of the human experience and the meaning of global citizenship. As historians, students learn to read critically, argue persuasively, and write more effectively.

Students who graduate with a history major will be prepared for graduate school and numerous careers in many different fields, including education, public history and historic preservation, government and public service, nonprofit organizations, journalism, and the law.

Major Program. Students who pursue a history major will acquire the knowledge essential for understanding and interpreting United States, European, and world history; the analytical skills commensurate with understanding the diversity of historical interpretation and applying the tools of historical inquiry; and the ability to express concepts concisely and forcefully through both written and oral communication. They will be familiar with the best practices associated with historical research and prepared to enter graduate programs and careers in history and related fields.

Students contemplating a major in history are urged to take HIS 120, 125, 130, and 135 during their first two years at Wesleyan, and to enroll in HIS 299 as sophomores. A student planning a career in public history should complete HIS 358 her sophomore or junior year in order to allow a meaningful internship experience her junior or senior year. A student planning to enter graduate school should study a foreign language through at least the 212 level. In addition, she should take the Graduate Record Examination in the spring or summer of her junior year in anticipation of submitting graduate applications in the fall.

Student learning outcomes for the history major:

I. demonstrate knowledge of major historical eras and theories and frameworks for considering historical change.
II. demonstrate the methodological and analytical skills commensurate with constructing and expressing historical arguments.
III. be able to apply the best practices associated with the conduct of research in history.
IV. demonstrate preparedness to enter graduate programs and/or to pursue careers in this area of study and related fields.
 

Major Requirements: History (45 hours)

1. Core requirements: (18 hours)
HIS 120 Early Civilizations 3 hours
HIS 125 Emergence of the Modern World 3 hours
HIS 130 The American Experience to 1877 3 hours
HIS 135 The American Experience from 1877 3 hours
HIS 299 Historical Methods & Historiography 3 hours
HIS 480 Senior Research Seminar 3 hours
 
2. Content Requirements (American History): (6 hours)
HIS 215 Reacting to the Past (if not taken in section 3) 3 hours
HIS 315 Contemporary America 3 hours
HIS 350 Seminar in American History 3 hours
HIS 357 African American History 3 hours
HIS 358 Public History and Historic Preservation 3 hours
HIS 377 Seminar in Women's History (if not taken in section 3) 3 hours
 
3. Content Requirements (European and World History): (9 hours)
HIS 210 The West in The Classical Age 3 hours
HIS 215 Reacting to the Past (if not taken in section 2) 3 hours
HIS 267 Women in World History 3 hours
HIS 305 Empires and Diaspora 3 hours
HIS 323 20 th Century Genocide 3 hours
HIS 342 Modern Europe 3 hours
HIS 346 Modern East Asia 3 hours
HIS 347 Modern Middle East 3 hours
HIS 348 Terror and Terrorism in the Modern World 3 hours
HIS 377 Seminar in Women's History (if not taken in section 2) 3 hours
 
4. HIS Elective (3 hours)
One additional HIS course at the 300 level (3 hours)

5. Cognates (9 hours)
Select one course each from Group A, Group B, and Group C. At least two of the courses must be at the 300 level or higher. Please note that some of these courses have prerequisites.
 
Group A: Cultural Expressions (3 hours)
ARH 325 Greek and Roman Art 3 hours
ARH 326 Art of the Middle Ages 3 hours
ARH 327 Renaissance Art 3 hours
ENG 201* Historical Survey of English Literature I 3 hours
ENG 211* Survey of United States Literature I 3 hours
FRN 305* French Civilization to the Revolution 3 hours
FRN 306* French and Francophone Civilization after 1800 3 hours
SPA 305* Spanish Culture and Civilization 3 hours
SPA 306* Latin America Culture and Civilization 3 hours

*These courses have prerequisites. See course descriptions in the ENG, FRN, and SPA section of the Catalogue.

Group B: Systems of Thought and Belief (3 hours)
ECO 206 Economic Thought 3 hours
PHI/REL 306 Seminar in Ancient or Medieval Thought 3 hours
POL 300 Foundations of Political Thought 3 hours
REL 225 Exploring the World's Religions 3 hours
 
Group C: Institutions and Behavior (3 hours)
POL 305 Democracy and Democratization in the Contemporary World 3 hours
POL 320 American Constitutional Development 3 hours
POL 326 European Politics 3 hours
POL 328 United States Foreign Policy 3 hours
POL 342 International Organizations 3 hours
 

Professional Development: Throughout her Wesleyan education each student is given opportunities to explore professional and career choices, and to develop and demonstrate the knowledge and skills essential for professional success. Each student will complete a PDE 400 Professional Development Experience and submit a PDE 401 Professional ePortfolio prior to graduation. Each student will complete assignments in the Senior Research Seminar that help her explore careers in the major.

Integrative Experience: Each student will complete the HIS 480 Senior Research Seminar. In this capstone course, history majors will complete a significant research project in which they make connections among the various parts of their course of study and employ sound methodology.

Minor Requirements: History (18 hours)

1. Required (9 hours)
HIS 120 Early Civilization 3 hours
and
HIS 125 Emergence of the Modern World 3 hours
or
HIS 130 The American Experience to 1877 3 hours
and
HIS 135 The American Experience from 1877 3 hours
HIS 299 Historical Methods & Historiography 3 hours
 

2. Choose three additional history courses at the 200-300 level (9 hours)

History (HIS) Gen. Ed. Course Descriptions

120: Early Civilizations.
Goal: This course is designed to meet two goals: first, to provide students with an overview of the development of the world's major pre-modern civilizations, from the origins of humankind to 1500 C.E., and second, to build students' ability to think critically about history and analyze evidence in the form of a variety of primary sources.
Content: In this course students investigate and compare the cultures,political structures, and social organizations of pre-modern world civilizations, with particular emphasis on three major themes - 1) The evolving relationship between the individual and society; 2) Distinctions based on class, ethnicity, and gender; and 3) Points of contact between civilizations. - By the end of this course, students shall be familiar with the major civilizations of the pre-modern world and be able to explain the most significant developments that led to the modern world. They shall also be able to critically analyze major types of historical evidence and use that evidence to draw conclusions about the past.
Taught: Fall.
Gen. Ed. Category: Expanding; Diverse and Interdependent World; (SBS).
Credit: 3 hours.
 
125: The Emergence of the Modern World.
Goal: This course is designed to meet two goals: first, to provide students with an overview of the development of world civilization from the beginning of the Age of European exploration to the near present, and second, to build students' ability to think critically about history and analyze evidence in the form of a variety of primary sources.
Content: In this course students investigate and compare the cultures, political structures, and social organizations of world civilizations in the early-modern and modern period, with particular emphasis on three major themes - 1. the changing relationship between individuals and the state; 2. distinctions and conflict based on class, ethnicity, religion, and gender; 3. how and why Europe achieved hegemony in the world during the modern era, and how this power declined in the 20th century. - By the end of this course, students shall be familiar with the major civilizations of the modern world and be able to explain the most significant developments of the period. They shall also be able to critically analyze major types of historical evidence and use that evidence to draw conclusions about the past.
Taught: Spring.
Gen. Ed. Category: Expanding; Diverse and Interdependent World; (SBS).
Credit: 3 hours.
 
130: The American Experience to 1877.
Goal: To analyze and evaluate the many forms of evidence that historians use to interpret and write history within the context of the origins, development, and impact of American history through Reconstruction.
Content: Through an analysis of various types of historical documentation such as newspapers, diaries, speeches, journals, official records, oral histories, photographs, and art, students will examine American history from the Age of Discovery through the Civil War.
Taught: Fall.
Gen. Ed. Category: Exploring; Historical Events & Phenomena; (SBS).
Credit: 3 hours.

135: The American Experience Since 1877.
Goal: To analyze and evaluate the many forms of evidence that historians use to interpret and write history within the context of the origins, development, and impact of U.S. history since Reconstruction.
Content: Through an analysis of various types of historical documentation such as newspapers, diaries, speeches, journals, official records, oral histories, photographs, films, and art, students will analyze U.S. history from the Civil War to the contemporary era.
Taught: Spring.
Gen. Ed. Category: Exploring; Historical Events & Phenomena; (SBS).
Credit: 3 hours.

210: The West and The Classical Age.
Goal: Students will be asked to hone critical thinking skills by analyzing primary and secondary sources related to these civilizations, making comparisons between civilizations, and conveying their thoughts in several written exercises.
Content: This course explores the history of the ancient and classical civilizations that contributed to the development of Western Civilization, including those of the Near East, Greece, and Rome.
Taught: Alternate years.
Gen. Ed. Category: Developing; Writing Competency; (SBS).
Prerequisite: Satisfactory completion of College writing proficiency requirement.
Credit: 3 hours.

215: Reacting to the Past.
Goal: This course allows students to engage deeply with historic sources and to consider the long- and short-term causes of historical conflicts. Students will express themselves persuasively and effectively on historical topics in written and oral communication.
Content: Students enrolled in this course will complete two to three extended historical simulations in which they play characters with specific and collective victory conditions. Students will be asked to read, write, and speak extensively based on their analyses of historical texts and situations.
Taught: Alternate years.
Gen. Ed. Category: Developing; Speaking Competency; (SBS).
Credit: 3 hours.
 
267: Women in World History.
Goal: To provide students with an introduction to the role of women in world history and to have students read critically from a variety of primary and secondary sources on topics related to women's changing role in different cultures.
Content: Using the experience of women as the unifying theme, this course will take a comparative approach to different civilizations from the ancient, medieval, early modern, and modern periods around the world.
Taught: Alternate years.
Gen. Ed. Category: Expanding; Women's Experiences, (SBS).
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as WST 267.
 
323: 20th Century Genocide.
Goal: To familiarize students with the history of genocide during the twentieth century and encourage them to think critically about defining and responding to instances of mass killing.
Content: The first half of the course will be spent studying the largest and most influential of these Genocide, the German murder of approximately six million civilians during World War II. We shall consider the origins of the Holocaust, its social, cultural, political, and economic aspects, and the results of this genocide for European and world history. In the second half of the course we shall turn to the legal definition of genocide as established by the United Nations following the Holocaust. Using this definition we shall survey other alleged and confirmed acts of genocide from the twentieth century.
Taught: Alternate years.
Gen. Ed. Category: Synthesizing.
Credit: 3 hours.
 
348: Terror and Terrorism in the Modern World.
Goal: Terror and terrorism have been prominent features of Western political culture since the French Revolution. For the most part, modern terrorism is of European origin, and the ideas, goals, and methods of European terrorists have inspired terrorists in non-Western nations.
Content: This course familiarizes students with the ideology, motivation, and methods of numerous terrorist groups of the last two centuries in order to provide a basis for an understanding of contemporary terrorist organizations. Generally, the course will stress the motivation and goals of terrorist organizations and governments that use terror to achieve their policy goals. Specifically, we will address anarchy and revolutionary terrorism in nineteenth century Europe, European domestic terrorism in the 1960s and 1970s, twentieth century liberation and separatist movements, and Middle Eastern terrorism.
Taught: Alternate Years.
Prerequisite: None.
Gen. Ed. Category: Synthesizing.
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as POL 348.

352: American Wars in the Twentieth Century.
Goal: This course examines the theory, experience, and memory of American wars in the twentieth century.
Content: Upon successful completion of this course students will understand American experience with armed conflicts in the twentieth century and the factors that account for the different ways the country thought about waged war during this period. They will analyze how a variety of factors - including gender, race, socioeconomic status, and geographical origin - shaped individual and collective experience of war. They will also understand and be able to analyze and discuss the different ways in which Americans have remembered their wartime experiences, and how and why memorialization and commemmoration have changed over time.
Taught: Occasionally.
Prerequisite: None.
Gen. Ed. Category: Synthesizing.
Credit: 3 hours.

377: Seminar in Women's History.
Goal: To provide students with an in-depth exploration of a variety of important primary and secondary texts in women's history, and to teach students to engage competently in discussions of historical writing about women and gender.
Content: This course provides students with an in-depth examination of a particular theme, period, or region in women's history with emphasis on the variety of historical scholarship on that topic. The focus of each seminar will vary. Topics might include the history of motherhood, the history of sex workers, or the history of women entrepreneurs.
Taught: Alternate years.
Gen. Ed. Category: Expanding; Women's Experiences, (SBS).
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as WST 377. This course may be repeated one time with a different topic for a maximum of six credits.
 

History (HIS) Other Course Descriptions

299: Historical Methods & Historiography.
Goal: To introduce students to the nature of historical inquiry, to the questions such inquiry raises, and to the basics of discipline-specific writing.
Content: Required for history, political science, and international relations majors who should take it in their sophomore year.
Taught: Fall.
Credit: 3 hours.

305: Empires and Diaspora.
Goal: To familiarize students with the history and long-ranging results of European overseas empires during the modern period.
Content: Students will learn about the major events that led, during the modern period, to the establishment of vast European overseas empires, the results of European domination in these empires, and the process of and lingering problems caused by decolonization. After an overview of earlier European colonial encounters, the primary focus of the course will be on the European empires of the 19 th century.
Taught: Spring. Alternate years.
Credit: 3 hours.
 
315: Contemporary America.
Goal: To enhance understanding of the forces that have shaped contemporary American foreign and domestic policy and the opposition to that policy.
Content: The impact of the Great Depression and of World War II, America's role as a major power especially in relation to Europe, the growth of the imperial presidency, and the quest of the excluded for recognition. Attention to matters of race, gender, and class.
Taught: Alternate years.
Credit: 3 hours.

342: Modern Europe.
Goal: This course surveys the historical development of Modern Europe, with particular focus on Western and Central Europe.
Content: This course examines the social, political, cultural, and economic development of Europe during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. During this period Europe and Europeans rose to international dominance through industrialization and vast overseas empires by 1900, then worked to reinvent themselves in the face of world wars, extreme governments, economic crises, the Cold War, and massive social upheavals.
Taught: Alternate years.
Credit: 3 hours.

346: Modern East Asia.
Goal: This course surveys the historical development of modern China and Japan with some attention to the surrounding regions.
Content: In addition to looking at the contributions of prominent individuals, the course addresses the role structural factors played in shaping the East Asian experience, including culture, modernization, industrialization, imperialism, war, depression, racism, and gender, with a focus on the differing responses to westernization.
Taught: Alternate Years.
Prerequisite: None.
Credit: 3 hours.

347: Modern Middle East.
Goals: This course will give students a basic understanding of the Middle East and its history and political systems.
Content: The course begins by examining emergence and spread of Islam and then turns to the era of Ottoman domination. The bulk of the course focuses on the era of European imperialism in the Middle East and its legacy. Through scholarly studies, literature, and films students will examine the structural factors that transformed the Middle East during the late-nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including culture, modernization, industrialization, nationalism, war and evolution, racism, gender, and religion.
Taught: Alternate Years.
Prerequisite: None.
Credit: 3 hours.

350: Seminar in American History.
Goal: To provide students with an in-depth exploration of selected topics in American history.
Content: This course provides students with an in-depth examination of a particular topic, period, or region in American history. Topics might include the Civil War, this history of the American West, the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, Native American history, the history of the Armed Forces, or American business history. This course may be repeated for credit with a different topic.
Taught: Alternate Years.
Prerequisite: None.
Credit: 3 hours.

357: African American History.
Goal: The goal of the course is to enhance students' understanding of the social, economic, cultural, intellectual, and political history of African Americans from the colonial era to the present.
Content: The course focuses on major themes in African American history, including the transatlantic slave trade and the African Diaspora, slavery and freedom, reform and radicalism, assimilationism and nationalism, within the broader context of American history.
Taught: Alternate Years.
Prerequisite: None.
Credit: 3 hours.

358: Public History and Historic Preservation.
Goals: This course will survey the methods of public history and historical preservation.
Content: Students will gain an overview of the theoretical basis of public history and historical preservation, and will gain practical knowledge about researching, presenting, and interpreting public historical topics through a major project.
Taught: Alternate Years.
Prerequisite: None.
Credit: 3 hours.
 

396: Special Topics in History.
Goal:
To enhance a deeper understanding of and/or an analysis of a highly specialized topic.
Content: An in-depth examination of a special topic in history. Topics vary. Representative special topics include: the American twenties; the American sixties; the Vietnam War.
Taught: Offered occasionally.
Credit: 1-3 hours. A student may take a maximum of six to eight semester hours (two courses) of special topics in any one field.

451: Directed Independent Study.
Goal:
To give the student the opportunity to hone her analytical, research, and writing skills.
Content: Flexible program in which a student, by special arrangement with the area chair, may investigate a topic of interest.
Taught: Offered occasionally.
Credit: 1-6 hours.

452/199: Field Study.
Goal:
To allow the student to sharpen her research and analytical skills in an environment outside the classroom.
Content: Actual experience in areas dependent upon historical methodology (museum work, archival work, etc.), coordinated by the college professor supervising the study. While field study hours will count toward the maximum forty-eight hours permitted in the major discipline, they may not be applied toward the minimum thirty-four hours required in the major.
Taught: Offered occasionally.
Prerequisite: Permission of program director.
Credit: 1-12 hours.

480: Senior Research Seminar.
Goal: To provide a capstone experience for majors in which students complete a significant research project in which they make connections among the various parts of their course of study and employ sound methodology.
Content: Each student will select and carry out a significant research project on a topic chosen in conjunction with the instructor. Students will present their research at a formal defense at the end of the semester. Students will also explore career options in the major.
Taught: Fall.
Prerequisite: POL 332 or HIS 399 or permission of instructor.
Credit: 3 hours.
 

499: Honors Thesis. (Fee required)

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