History

2018-2019 Catalogue

The history major emphasizes critical thinking, deep and comprehensive research methodologies, and a variety of geographical and chronological areas.  History majors are sought-after for a wide variety of postgraduate studies and careers, including in law, education, public history and historic preservation, journalism, government and public service, non-profit organizations, archival and library specialties, and business. In studying history students learn to read critically, argue persuasively, and write effectively, and come to a fuller understanding of the nature of the human experience and the meaning of global citizenship.

An Important Note about Career Preparation: History is an incredibly versatile major and many students will find the combination of a history major with a second major or specialized minor to be a good way to prepare for a specific career.  The suggestions below are frequent combinations, but are not exhaustive; history students should meet with history faculty early in their studies to discuss long-term career goals and the best combination of studies to achieve them.

  • All history majors should plan to take HIS 299 during the fall of their sophomore years.
  • History is one of the top five majors of students who plan to attend law school. Students planning to attend law school should consider combining the major with the Pre-Law minor, working with faculty to design a professional development experience in the legal field during the second or third year, and working with the pre-law advisor to prepare for the LSAT during the junior year.
  • Those interested in teaching social studies or history in middle or high schools should combine the history major with the Educational Studies minor. 
  • History majors wishing to enter the fields of public history, archival studies, or museum studies should complete a history major with public history concentration (which requires three additional hours of coursework; see below) and work with faculty to tailor professional development experiences in relevant institutions during the second and third year.
  • Students interested in careers in government or public service should consider a double major with the Public Service and Global Affairs major, or a minor in Political Science, Asian Studies, or a Modern Language.
  • Students planning to apply to graduate programs should study a foreign language through at least the 212 level, and should complete at least one research seminar and the Graduate Record Exam well before their senior years.

 

Student learning outcomes for the history major:

  1. The student shall demonstrate knowledge of major theories and frameworks for considering historical change.

  2. The student shall analyze, sort, and apply data in order to make effective arguments, draw meaningful conclusions, and explain disparate phenomena.

  3. The student shall demonstrate the ability to construct and express historical arguments in appropriate written and spoken form.

  4. The student shall be able to apply best practices associated with the ethical conduct of research in history.

  5. The student shall demonstrate preparedness to pursue careers in history or related fields.

 

Major Requirements: History (39 hours)*

1. Core Requirements (21 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 207 Sophomore Professional Development Practicum 1 hour

HIS 307 Junior Professional Development Practicum 1 hour

HIS 407 Senior Professional Development Practicum 1 hour

HIS 480 Senior Research Seminar 3 hours

 

2. Expanding (6 hours)

HIS 215 Reacting to the Past 3 hours

HIS 210 The West in the Ancient and Classical Age 3 hours

HIS 267 Women in World History 3 hours

HIS 257 African-American History 3 hours**

 

3. Critical Skills (6 hours) (9 hours for Public History Concentration)

HIS 342 Modern Europe 3 hours

HIS 346 Modern East Asia 3 hours

HIS 347 Modern Middle East 3 hours

HIS 358 Public History and Historic Preservation 3 hours**

HIS 304 Theory and Practice of Oral History 3 hours**

HIS 306 Archives and History 3 hours**

 

4. Research Seminars (6 hours)

HIS 305 Empires and Diaspora 3 hours

HIS 323 20th Century Genocide 3 hours

HIS 348 Terror and Terrorism in the Modern World 3 hours

HIS 350 Seminar in American History 3 hours

HIS 352 American Twentieth Century Wars 3 hours

HIS 377 Seminar in Women’s History 3 hours

* A history major with public history concentration requires 41 hours of coursework.

** Indicates required coursework for the public history concentration.

 

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. For history majors, these opportunities occur within HIS 207, 307, and 407, in which they must enroll during the fall semester of their sophomore junior, and senior years.  Transfer students or students who miss a fall term for study abroad or other reasons may take two of these courses simultaneously to catch up.

Majors will also complete a PDE 400 Professional Development Experience and submit a PDE 401 Professional ePortfolio prior to graduation.

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 Civilizations 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.
 
257: 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
Gen. Ed. Category: Developing; Writing 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.
 
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 19th century.
Taught: Spring. Alternate years.
Gen. Ed. Category: Synthezing.
Credit: 3 hours.
 
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 commemoration 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.
 
304: Theory and Practice of Oral History
Goal: This course introduces students to the theory and practice of oral history.
Content: Oral history, or the collection of told memory as historical evidence, is a vital part of the way historians understand the past, especially the near past.  Students will learn about major components of effective scholarly oral history projects, best practices for conducting interviews effectively and ethically, and how to use oral history evidence in the construction of more traditional historical narratives.  As part of the course, students will conduct interviews as part of the Wesleyan Oral History Project.
Taught: Alternative Years.
Credit: 3 hours.
 
HIS 306: Archives and History
Goal: This course introduces students to the methodologies, principles, practices and legal and ethical challenges of archival and records management.
Content: The course will introduce the ways historians use archives and the ways archivists work to preserve archival material.  It will introduce archival best practices and emphasize hands-on experiences working with sample collections and original materials.
Taught: Alternative 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.

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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