Special Topics Courses Offered in Fall 2014

Here is a list of all of the special topics courses being offered by History in the fall, plus a couple of courses that are new and have just been added to the course catalog as permanent fixtures. Most of these courses still have spaces left in them. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Elun Gabriel, History Department Chair.

109: Introduction to European Studies

This course is an introduction to the histories and cultures of what we now call Europe, with particular focus on the different ways inhabitants of the region have defined their identities, especially in relation to other groups (from the Greco-Roman idea of “civilization” and “barbarians” to the medieval vision of “Christendom” to the Cold War division between Eastern and Western Europe to the current European Union). We will explore the geographical, social, and cultural worlds of Europeans in several historical moments and in the present, but will not survey the entire history of “western civilization.” The course will also consider how European culture and history relate to the history of the rest of the world.

247: Global Environmental History (Csete)

What myths and theories have various societies created about their natural environment? How have they understood their place in the natural order? How have they changed their environment and been changed by it? This course explores environmental history, a new field that focuses on how humans have interacted with nature over time. In environmental history, animals, plants, diseases and climate are actors as much as humans and human institutions. We will examine case studies from around the world including Asia, Europe and North America in a variety of time
periods from ancient to modern. Students will complete a variety of short writing assignments, conduct short research projects, and present their findings in oral presentations.

247: The Middle East in the 19th Century (Eissenstat)

This course explores the Middle Eastern history during “the long nineteenth century, which in the Middle East, begins with Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798 and ends with the Ottoman Empire’s defeat at the close of World War I (1918). At the heart of this course are the twin questions of European imperialism and Middle Eastern responses. Key issues will include modernization in the Middle East, the adaptation of European ideologies, nationalism, and ethnic cleansing. There are no prerequisites to this course and no background in Middle Eastern studies is expected.

247: The Caribbean: History, Environment, and Development (Jennings)

This course explores the Caribbean with special attention to the role of climate and environment in the region’s history, life ways, culture, and development. For instance, we will explore the effects of hurricanes from ancient times to the present and the relationships of the region's peoples to the sea. We will focus on three themes (among others): agriculture, tourism and other development strategies and examine their benefits and costs, broadly defined. We will devote a portion of our attention to the history, environment, and development of Cuba both before and after the 1959 revolution, in comparative perspective.

293: Public History (DeGroat)

History is an active process and much of historians’ research takes place in archives and libraries. In this course we will explore the field of public history, which includes the collection, cataloguing and dissemination of histories that takes place through public sites such as libraries, historical societies and museums. We will also practice in the field through the area of local history with an examination of the histories of Canton, St. Lawrence County and the North Country. We will introduce and utilize various tools of the discipline of history such as document analysis, critical reviews, and an understanding of historiography as we research and write local history. Part of the research into this second element of the course will take place through an internship placement at a local institution such as a historical society or museum so that you may participate in the practice of public history.

299: Seminar: Non-Muslims in the Muslim World (Eissenstat)

This seminar offers students an opportunity to learn about and practice the tools of the historian’s craft. It is geared toward history majors and minors, for whom it is a requirement. Although, in unusual cases, the course may be appropriate for first year students or students not planning to major or minor in history, they should consult with the professor to ensure that the class is appropriate for them. This course focuses on historiographical questions related to the experience of non-Muslims in the Muslim world, with an emphasis on the modern era (roughly from 1800 – Present). As will become clear over the course of this class, the question of how to address issues of difference and inclusion in societies very different from our own challenges both our moral and intellectual categories. Politics and position, we shall see, have played a very large role in the development of this historiography. As this is a seminar, you should expect to participate actively and regularly in class discussions. In addition to a number of smaller assignments, the capstone of this course is a major historiographical paper on a topic which you will choose individually in consultation with the instructor.

299: Seminar: Major Themes in Southern History (Smith)

The 299 seminar is designed especially for history majors and minors. History 299 is designed to help prepare majors and minors for the senior research seminar and other upper-level history courses by honing students' skills of research, analysis, and interpretation that are necessary for the successful writing of history. Our topics of discussion and research for the semester will focus on the U.S. South. We will study various themes of southern history through historiographical essays, primary sources, secondary scholarly sources as well as popular media. One of our primary goals will be to discern how historians have interpreted our themes over time.

347: American Empires: Introduction to Atlantic History (Ponce-Vázquez)

This course will analyze the rise of the Atlantic as a space in which the peoples of Europe, Africa, and the Americas came for the first time into permanent contact, thus transforming the future of the region forever. We will study topics such as the birth and development of European (Spanish, English, French, and Dutch) colonialism in the Americas, the early contact period with Native Americans, the European presence in Africa, European interactions with African peoples, and the rise of the transatlantic slave trade and the plantation economy in British America, Caribbean, and Brazil. We will also explore the role of women in these new colonial societies, slave experiences and rebellions, the formation of colonial societies across the hemisphere, and the clashes between different European imperial projects in the New World.

473: Historical Fiction (Regosin)

In this advanced and intense reading and research seminar for senior history majors and minors, we will explore the writing of history through the vehicle of historical fiction. We will consider how the process of researching, imagining, and writing historical fiction resembles the process of creating formal scholarly history. At the heart of both forms is research, which provides the necessary groundwork for understanding how people in the past made sense of their world and acted in it. In both genres, authors seek through acts of imagination to offer windows into the perspectives of people who lived in the past and to structure accounts that illuminates the significance of the events and ideas being researched. By reading and writing both formal scholarship and historical fiction, students will hone their skills in research, analytical thinking, writing, and story-telling, which are at the heart of the historical enterprise.

473:The United States in World War II (Alvah)

In this advanced and intense reading and research seminar for senior history majors and minors, we will examine social, cultural, political, and military aspects of the United States in World War II. Topics include women and gender (masculinity as well as femininity), racism and race relations, children’s participation in the war, the internment of Japanese Americans, the ethics of strategic bombing, depictions of the war in movies, and the decision to use nuclear weapons. In studying these topics, we will consider the validity of popular assumptions about Americans' roles and experiences during and after the war. The ultimate goal of this seminar is for each student to produce a substantial original research paper, using a combination of primary and scholarly secondary sources, on a specific aspect of the history of U.S. involvement in World War II. Toward this end, students will complete a number of assignments. We will spend the first few weeks of the course reading (rather extensively) and discussing the assigned course texts. This will give everyone a common grounding in the basic history of the United States in the war. You’ll spend the remainder of the semester developing your own focused project. You also will give attention to the projects of other students in this course.