History (HIS)

Academic Catalog 2010–2011

  • Tom Emmert, Chairperson
  • Kevin Byrne
  • Eric Josef Carlson (On leave, Spring 2011)
  • Gregory Kaster
  • Glenn Eric Kranking
  • David Tôbaru Obermiller
  • Sujay Rao
  • Kate Wittenstein

The Department of History’s mission embodies the liberal arts by nurturing students to think about history through critical inquiry, reasoned written and oral arguments, and in a context that incorporates comparative history and global perspectives. Thinking historically requires understanding change and continuity over time; recognizing that “facts” only have meaning in historical context; knowing how to interpret, synthesize, and critique historical sources; and being able to construct arguments based on historical evidence.

History is an essential discipline to the liberal arts and many of the department’s courses meet general education requirements as well as the requirements of several of the College’s interdisciplinary majors and minors. The department’s mission supports the mission of the College by encouraging students to develop historically and internationally based perspectives on past and contemporary concerns about diversity, human dignity, individual and community values, peace, and social justice. The department encourages its majors to enhance their history education through foreign language and international study. The major is designed to develop necessary skill and knowledge foundations for students who wish to pursue graduate study in history; who intend to pursue graduate studies in related professional fields such as law, international relations, or business; or who intend to move directly into fields such as government and public service.


A minimum of nine courses chosen in consultation with a departmental adviser, including:

  1. At least two Level I, two Level II, and three Level III courses.
  2. At least one course in each of three areas: Europe, United States, Non-Western (e.g. Latin America, Asia, Near East). A significant portion of one of these courses must deal with the period before 1800.
  3. A concentration of at least three courses (only one of which may be at Level I) in a geographic, chronological, or thematic area.
  4. HIS-200: the History Seminar; normally to be completed before the end of the junior year.

Note: In fulfilling these requirements, normally no more than three courses can be counted from the approved Gustavus non-departmental courses.

Major with Honors:

This option is open to outstanding students who wish to further disciplinary knowledge and skills developed in previous history courses. Honors students contribute to the field of history by framing research questions and creating their own interpretations of the past. Honors students work closely with a faculty adviser, think deeply about significant questions, and grow as researchers, writers, and historians. Writing a successful Honors thesis demands a considerable amount of time, dedication, and perseverance. Before applying, students must carefully consider the extent of other demands during the senior year. Participation in the Honors program is by application due in the department chair’s office by April 15 of the junior year. The letter of application must explain the proposed research project, the major primary sources that will be examined, and the site(s) where the bulk of the research will be carried out. The letter must be accompanied by a preliminary bibliography of essential secondary sources, a writing sample (normally a paper written for a history course), a separate letter of support from the member of the department who will direct the project, and a copy of the student’s transcript or degree audit. Candidates must have and maintain at least a 3.5 GPA in the major and a 3.25 GPA overall, and must complete the intermediate level of a foreign language, typically the first four courses. Majors must write an Honors thesis under the direction of a member of the department and present and defend that thesis before the department. During the senior year students enroll in HIS-396 in the fall semester and in HIS-397 in the spring semester to work on the honors thesis. Other requirements include formal presentation to the department of the thesis research proposal early in the fall semester, presentation of an outline and the progress report in early December, and the submission of a first draft in mid-March. All Honors students formally present their work to history faculty and interested students in mid-May. The Honors major requires a minimum of ten courses in History. These include the requirements for the basic major in History, except that students take two regular 300-level courses in addition to HIS-396 and HIS-397.


Five Gustavus history courses, chosen in consultation with a departmental adviser, no more than two of which may be 100-level courses. One course taught by faculty outside of the department, either at another institution or abroad, may be applied to the minor with departmental approval.

Note: Normally, no more than three courses taken at other institutions may count towards the major. Students planning to take courses elsewhere, including those in Gustavus-approved international programs, should make prior arrangements with their departmental adviser and the chair of the department. Exceptions to these limits may be made on an individual basis.

110Modern Europe I, 1400–1815(1 course) A survey of European history from the time of the Renaissance through the era of the French Revolution. The course will consider major religious, intellectual, social, political, and economic trends in the development of the modern Western world. Beyond its essential purpose of introducing the student to the history of the period, the course should also encourage the development of a mature, historical perspective and provide a basic background for many other courses in the liberal arts curriculum. HIPHI, Fall and/or Spring semesters.

120Modern Europe II, 1789–Present(1 course) A survey of European history from the French Revolution to the present. The course will consider individuals, ideas, trends, and movements that have given shape to the present. Beyond its essential purpose of introducing the student to the history of the period, the course should also encourage the development of a mature, historical perspective and provide a basic background for many other courses in the liberal arts curriculum. HIPHI, Fall and/or Spring semesters.

130American History to the Civil War(1 course) A study of American history from pre-Columbian times through the Civil War. The course examines the formation of American society from colonial America, to the Revolutionary and early national periods, to the era which culminated in war between North and South. The issues covered range across social, economic, intellectual, and political history. HIPHI, Fall semester.

140American History since the Civil War(1 course) A study of the American past from the time of Reconstruction, through the rise of industrialism and 20th-century America, to the present. This course examines significant social, economic, intellectual, and political developments which have shaped the society in which we live. HIPHI, Fall and/or Spring semester.

144, 244, 344Special Topics(1 course, 1 course, 1 course) Special topics in historical studies. Content will vary from semester to semester. Courses will explore a topic or problem in depth and students will read, discuss, and write. More than one special topic may be taken. Fall and/or Spring semesters.

160Introduction to Latin America(1 course) No part of the developing world has had a longer or closer relationship with the United States than Latin America. At the same time, Latin America has struggled to create strong economies, just societies, and healthy democracies. This course will explore Latin America’s history since the triumph of the independence movements early in the nineteenth century, focusing on the region’s relationship with the United States as well as its economic frustrations, social tensions, political difficulties, and the development of a thriving Latin American culture. This course counts toward the Peace Studies minor. HIPHI, NWEST, Fall and/or Spring semesters.

170Introduction to Modern East Asia(1 course) An introductory survey of the modern history of East Asia, examining the nature of the traditional states (especially Japan, China, and Korea) and their response to the encounter with the West. The course introduces students to the political, social, cultural, intellectual, and economic history of this region. HIPHI, NWEST. Fall and Spring semesters.

200History Seminar: Thinking Historically(1 course) What does it mean to think historically? What distinguishes various approaches within the discipline—e.g., social, political, intellectual history—and how, in practice, do those approaches often converge? How does comparative history change our understanding of the past? This seminar addresses such questions with both the instructor and collaborating history faculty. Open only to majors. Normally, students should complete HIS-200 before taking Level III courses in the department. WRITD, Fall and/or Spring semesters.

211Imperial Russia(1 course) An introduction to Russian society from 1700 and the time of Peter the Great until the eve of the Russian Revolution in 1917. The course begins with a consideration of Russia’s pre-Imperial history, during which time it was increasingly isolated from Western Europe. The Renaissance, Reformation, and the Age of Science and Discovery largely passed it by. The drama of the Imperial period begins with Russia’s attempt to open its doors to the West, and the two centuries of Russian history before the Revolution are characterized by the essential conflict between Western ideas and Russian culture. Political, social, and economic developments provide some of the backdrop; but the creative genius of people like Gogol, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Tchaikovsky, and scores of others will engage us as well. HIPHI, Fall semester, odd years. (Offered Fall 2010.)

212Modern Russia(1 course) A study of Russia since the Revolution in 1917. For most of the twentieth century the world was profoundly affected by communism and its center in Russia. Why was there a revolution in Russia in 1917? What happened there that produced such a dark figure as Stalin? What characterized the Soviet Union and its culture? Why did it collapse at the beginning of the 1990s and what are the prospects for Russia in the future? These questions and many more will provide the backdrop for a penetrating look into the society of Russia since 1917. HIPHI, Spring semester.

215Ottoman Empire(1 course) The Ottoman Turks created an enormous empire which stretched from the hills of Vienna to the southern tip of Arabia and from the Caucasus across North Africa to the Atlantic Ocean. This course will investigate the fascinating history of these people who from the 15th to the early 20th century were considered the greatest threat to Western civilization. Special emphasis will be given to the conflict between Ottoman and Christian culture in southeastern Europe, to the struggle which developed there for liberation from the Ottoman world, and to the continuing tensions there today between Christians and Muslims. NWEST, Fall semester, even years.

218Scandinavia to 1800(1 course) This course surveys the history of Scandinavia from the earliest evidence of human presence to about 1800. Particular emphasis is placed on the Vikings, the turmoil and troubles of the Middle Ages, the emergence of early modern dynastic states in Denmark and Sweden, Sweden and its Baltic empire in the 17th century, and struggles between change and continuity in the 18th century. HIPHI, Fall semester. (Not offered Fall 2010.)

219Scandinavia since 1800(1 course) Poor, socially stratified, politically autocratic, internationally insignificant are words which accurately describe Scandinavia in the early 19th century. Prosperous, egalitarian, democratic, internationally significant are words which accurately describe Scandinavia today. What happened in Scandinavia to allow us to alter the description so radically? To answer this question will be a purpose of this course. HIPHI, Spring semester. (Not offered Spring 2011.)

220Western Christianity in the Middle Ages(1 course) In the millennium before the Reformation, the Christian church based in Rome was the most powerful institution and promoted the dominant belief system in western Europe. Its influence was felt virtually everywhere and by everyone. This course examines its core doctrines and interpretation of the Bible during the Middle Ages, its jurisdictional claims over both spiritual and secular matters, and the wide range of devotional practices that emerged in European society. Also considered are the impact of the Reformation on medieval Christianity and the legacy of medieval Christianity in the modern world. THEOL, Fall semester, even years.

221The Reformation(1 course) The events known collectively as the Reformation have defined the nature of Christianity for nearly 500 years. In this course, we will examine these events, particularly through the writings of the people who were central to them. The course places the Reformation in its historical context, beginning with a survey of Christianity on the eve of the Reformation. It then examines the ways in which Luther and other major reformers—Protestant and Catholic—viewed the Bible, salvation, worship, and the relations between church and state. Finally, it looks at the enduring impact of the Reformation. THEOL, Spring semester (Not offered Spring 2011).

223Medieval England(1 course) This course examines the transformation of England from a tribal, fragmented territory to a resilient, centralized monarchy with the beginnings of an empire. Topics will include: tribal kingdoms, the Norman Conquest, Magna Carta, the origins of Parliament, rebellions and civil war, and England and its neighbors. While the primary focus will be on England’s political development, the course also explores the socio-economic, cultural, and religious life of the period. HIPHI, Fall semester, even years.

224England in the Age of Civil War, Reformation and Revolution(1 course) This is a study of England from the overthrow of Richard II by Henry IV in 1399 to the Glorious Revolution in 1688. Equal attention will be given to developments in politics, religion, social change, and culture. Topics include: England’s emergence from political chaos into world power; the English Reformation; the growth of Parliament; the agricultural revolution; changing roles for women; popular culture and beliefs; witchcraft and magic. Fall semester, odd years.

225Modern Germany(1 course) This course introduces students to the history of Germany, focusing primarily on the period from its unification in 1871 to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and German reunification. Topics will include: the development of the German Empire, World War I, the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany, World War II and its aftermath. In addition to political developments, the course examines cultural and social movements of the period. HIPHI, Spring semester, odd years (Not offered Spring 2011).

230American Lives(1 course) This course takes a biographical approach to the American past by examining the lives and times of select and influential Americans both well- and lesser-known. Rather than focusing on a single life, the course examines multiple related lives simultaneously. While the specific individuals studied may occasionally vary, a recurring focus will be the intersecting lives of Harriet Beecher Stowe (author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, one of the most influential novels in American history), Frederick Douglass (African-American leader and former slave), and Abraham Lincoln. Readings include biographies of and writings by the subjects. HIPHI, Spring semester. (Not offered Spring 2011.)

231Women in the United States: Private Lives, Public Lives(1 course) A survey of major events and personalities in the history of women in the United States and of methods used to explore that history. The course emphasizes uncovering the everyday lives of American women through a study of transformations in women’s work, family lives, and culture. It assesses the impact of the Industrial Revolution in separating private from public life. Topics include experiences of women in different racial and ethnic groups, rise of the women’s rights movement, labor force participation, and changing attitudes toward female sexuality. This course counts toward the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies major/minor. HIPHI, Fall semester. (Not offered Fall 2010.)

232African American History(1 course) This course surveys the major events, themes, personalities and issues in African American history from the colonial period to the present. Issues addressed include: varieties of Afro-American experience in the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries; the influence of geographical location, gender, and class on black men and women; attitudes toward race; responses in the black community to racism and racial discrimination; the history of black leaders; and African American social, political, and cultural movements. This course counts toward the Peace Studies minor. HIPHI, offered occasionally.

236American Radicalism, 1776–1940(1 course) Radicalism in America developed long before the 1960s. Beginning with Tom Paine and ending with Emma Goldman, this course explores the drama of radical thought, events, and personalities from the American Revolution through the early 20th century. This course counts toward the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies major/minor and the Peace Studies minor. HIPHI, offered occasionally.

238Gender And Sexuality in the United States(1 course) An examination of changes and continuities in sexual attitudes and gender behavior from the 18th through the 20th centuries. The central premise of the course is that sexuality has a history and a historical significance relating to economic, demographic, political, and cultural change. Topics include: family, sex, and the economy in Colonial America; the criminalization of abortion in the 1840s; the “sex radicals”; theories of sexual repression and control as they relate to race, class, and gender; attitudes toward pornography, birth control, and prostitution; the commercialization of sex; the social construction of homosexuality; and the politics of AIDS. This course counts toward the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies major/minor. HIPHI, offered occasionally.

241Recent United States History, 1945-1995(1 course) Beginning with the end of World War II, this course surveys the history of the U.S. during a vital fifty-year period, examining key social, political, cultural, and military issues. The course utilizes primary and secondary sources as well as audio-visual evidence. Topics include: the Cold War at home and abroad, suburbanization, the Civil Rights Movement, the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, the “Southernization” of the U.S., the rise of feminism, the impact of technological change, and the growth of liberal and conservative ideologies. HIPHI, Fall semester.

261Colonial Latin America(1 course) Columbus’s arrival in the Americas set in motion a violent fusion of European, African, and indigenous civilizations, a fusion that would create a uniquely Latin American society. This course will examine the economic, social, political, and cultural evolution of that society up to the eve of independence at the beginning of the 19th century, discussing the contributions of Spaniards, mestizos, indigenous peoples, and Africans. Topics include Pre-Columbian societies; the conquest; the imposition of the colonial order; indigenous, slave, and urban societies; and the imperial reforms of the late 18th century. HIPHI, NWEST, Spring semester, even years.

262Argentina(1 course) This course will explore the history of Argentina from independence in 1810 to the present. A backwater of Spain’s colonial empire, Argentina went on to become one of the wealthiest countries in the world by the early 20th century but has encountered severe economic and political crises over the last 70 years. Topics will include the place of Afro-Argentines in Argentine history, European immigration, the evolution of tango music, the economic boom of the late 19th century, relations with Great Britain and the United States, Juan and Evita Perón, the military dictatorships of the 1960s and 1970s, and present-day Buenos Aires. HIPHI, Fall semester, even years.

263Cuba(1 course) From the time of Columbus to the present, Cubans have struggled to define and create a just society on their island. This course will examine these struggles, focusing particularly on African slavery, independence from Spain, Cuba’s years as a U.S. protectorate, and the Cuban Revolution from 1959 to the present day. Discussions and assignments for the course will encourage students to develop and express their own views regarding “social justice” and the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba. This course counts toward the Peace Studies minor. HIPHI, Spring semester, odd years.

264The Mexican Revolution(1 course) No event has generated as much debate within the field of Latin American history as the Mexican Revolution of the early 20th century. Yet there is still surprisingly little agreement on what the Revolution meant. This course will examine various aspects of the Mexican Revolution from 1910 to 1940, including land reform, Mexico’s relationship with foreign powers, the place of art in the Revolution in the 1920s and 1930s, gender, and the mass migration of Mexicans to the United States. HIPHI, Fall semester, odd years.

265Mexican American History(1 course) This course will examine the history of Mexican Americans in the United States over the past two centuries, focusing particularly on the U.S.-Mexican War and the emergence of “Mexican Americans,” the evolution of thinking about race in the early twentieth century U.S., the growth of Mexican American communities in Los Angeles, immigration policy, labor, and present-day border issues. Discussions and assignments for the course will encourage students to develop and express their own views about immigration and labor in the United States. This course counts toward the Peace Studies minor. HIPHI, offered occasionally.

274Introduction to Modern China(1 course) This course examines the history of China since the beginning of the Qing dynasty (the last Chinese Imperial dynasty) in the 17th century to the present. Topics include the transformations in politics, economics, society, and culture; interaction with the West; nationalism; the rise and establishment of Communist rule; rebellions and wars; and China’s recent social and economic changes. HIPHI, NWEST, Fall semester.

278Introduction to Modern Japan(1 course) This course examines the history of Japan from 1800 to the present, as Japan changed from feudal kingdoms to a modernized state. Topics include the Meiji constitution, Japanese industrialization, social and cultural change, the development of an Imperial democracy, the rise of Japanese fascism, World War II, and postwar developments. HIPHI, NWEST, Spring semester.

310European Lives(1 course) How much influence do individuals have on history? This question has always been at the heart of historical thinking and writing. We will seek answers to this question by focusing on an important figure in European history and examining how much that person influenced the period of her or his life, as well as future events. We will compare the influence of that person to those of impersonal forces such as economics, gender, and race. We will also explore the ways in which the subject’s life and image is shaped after death—the way in which she or he becomes an historical figure. The person studied may vary from time to time and may include Elizabeth I, Hitler, and Stalin. WRITD, Spring semester, odd years. (Not offered Spring 2011.)

32119th-Century European Civilization(1 course) This course examines the major ideas and intellectual and cultural movements in 19th century Europe. The significant “isms” of the period will be studied through the works of a number of the most prominent writers. These powerful ideas will also be considered in relation to cultural, economic, political, and social developments. Prerequisite: HIS-120 or CUR-110. Spring semester, even years. (Offered Spring 2011.)

322Nationalism in the Balkans(1 course) This seminar offers an introduction to nationalism as a primary force in 19th and 20th century politics and society among the Rumanians, Bulgarians, Greeks, Albanians, and Yugoslavs. Among topics to be considered are the establishment of independent national states, national ideologies and national movements, ethnicity and nationalism, national myths, national minorities and their problems, nationalism and communism, and nationalism and ethnic conflict in the post-communist era. This course counts toward the Peace Studies minor. Fall semester, even years.

32520th-Century Europe(1 course) In 1900, Europe stood at the apex of its power. In economic development, politics, military science, diplomacy, and the intellectual sphere, Europe set the standards many sought to imitate. Then, within the span of less than fifty years, Europe was ravaged by two world wars and shaken to its very foundations by political and intellectual revolutions. By 1945, the old Europe lay in ruin. A new and vastly different Europe has risen from the ashes. Prerequisite: CUR-110 or HIS-120 or permission of instructor. WRITD. Spring semester, odd years. (Not offered Spring 2011.)

332America in the Age of the Civil War(1 course) This course examines the social, political, cultural, and intellectual history of America in the era of the Civil War. Major topics include the economics of slavery, the free-labor society in the North, the origins of the Republican party, the ideology of sectional conflict, and the experiences of African Americans, women, white workers, and slaveholders. Special emphasis will be accorded the meaning of the Civil War to contemporaries and later Americans. Prerequisite: HIS-130 or permission of instructor. WRITD, offered occasionally.

333Jim Crow South(1 course) An in-depth examination of the origins, day-to-day operations, and consequences of the system of legal segregation that replaced slavery after the Civil War. Topics include the evolution of segregation law and practice over time, the brief promise of a biracial democracy during the Reconstruction period, the role of gender in the Jim Crow South, and the practice of convict leasing that replaced slavery as a labor system. Special attention is paid to African American resistance to Jim Crow and the effect of American apartheid on national politics and international relations. HIPHI, WRITD, Fall semester. (Not offered Fall 2010)

334The Civil Rights Movement at the Community Level(1 course) Historian/activist Howard Zinn once commented on the relationship between history and social change: “All those histories centered on the Founding Fathers weigh oppressively on the capacity of ordinary citizens to act. We have been taught to look to stars surrendering our own strength.” This course examines movement building to bring about voting rights, desegregation, and improved race relations at the local level in the Deep South during the civil rights era. This is the story of some of the women, children, and men who daily put their lives on the line to “make America be America.” HIPHI, SOSCI, Spring semester.

343America and the Vietnam War, 1945–1975(1 course) An intensive study of America’s thirty-year war in Indochina and of its legacies. The course emphasizes foreign policy, military policy, and the social and political impact of the war on America and Southeast Asia. Students will examine documents, individual accounts, and historical interpretations of the conflict. This course counts toward the Peace Studies minor. Prerequisites: HIS-140 or HIS-241 or permission of instructor. Fall semester.

361Latin America and the United States(1 course) This seminar will explore the relationship between Latin America and the United States over the past 200 years. The course will look at both relations between Latin American countries and the U.S., particularly during the Cold War, and the experience of Latinos within the U.S. during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In the course of the seminar, students will identify a topic of their own choice, conduct research, and complete a 20-25 page research paper that includes primary sources. Prerequisite: HIS-160. HIPHI, WRITD, Fall semester, odd years.

362The Age of Conquest(1 course) This seminar will focus on the contacts that developed between Europeans, indigenous Americans, Africans, and Asians during the 16th and 17th centuries in places such as Mexico, the Andes, West Africa, the Indian Ocean, and Quebec. The central questions of the course revolve around colonialism. During the semester we will consider the origins and nature of colonialism, its power and its limitations, and its continuing influence in the world today. Students in this course will research, present, and write a major research-based paper on a question of their own choice regarding some aspect of colonialism. HIPHI, NWEST, WRITD, Spring semester, odd years.

268, 368Career Exploration, Internship(course value to be determined) Off-campus employment experience related to the student’s major. See description of the Internship Program. Internship prerequisite: junior or senior status. Offered Fall and Spring.

370East Asian and U.S. Interactions in Historical Context(1 course) This course examines East Asian (including Southeast Asia) and U.S. interactions at multiple levels (state-to-state, social, cultural, and economic). We begin with the rise of Western imperialism in Asia in the mid-19th century, to an examination of the major East Asia-U.S. conflicts in East Asia in the 20th century (Philippines, Japan, China, Korea, and Vietnam), the decision to use atomic bombs against Japan, the rise of East Asia as an economic power, and recent events such as U.S.-North Korea and/or U.S.-Chinese relations. The course will take a theoretical approach to foreign relations such as “realpolitik,” imperialistic ideologies, democratic moralism, etc. Spring semester.

291, 391Independent Study(course value to be determined)

396Honors Research Tutorial I(1 course) In this course, Honors-track students will define and initiate their research projects in close cooperation with a member of the department. During the semester each student is expected to define the project, establish a research agenda, develop a bibliography, begin in-depth research, and write a preliminary descriptive abstract. Required of Honors-track History majors and normally taken in the fall of the senior year.

397Honors Research Tutorial II(1 course) In this course, Honors-track students will complete the research and writing of their thesis in close cooperation with a member of the department. Each student is required to prepare and deliver an oral presentation of the research project to the department. Required of Honors-track History majors and normally taken in the spring of the student’s senior year.

CLA-201Ancient Greek History and Culture(1 course)

CLA-202Roman History and Culture(1 course)

CUR-100Historical Perspective I(1 course)

CUR-110Historical Perspective II(1 course)