Department of History

Varner Hall, Room 415
371 Varner Dr.
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-3510
fax: (248) 370-3528

History Course Offerings

The Department of History offers exciting, thought-provoking courses that span across time and the globe. The department regularly offers 1000-2000 level surveys in American, European, and World history, but the upper-division courses vary each semester. Please see our course offerings below to see what will be offered over the next year. If you have any questions, please contact the course instructor. If you have general questions regarding undergraduate studies or would like help planning your schedule, please contact historyadvising@oakland.edu.

Surveys:

American

HST: 1100: Introduction to American History Before 1877
HST 1200:  Introduction to American History Since 1877
HST 2280: History of the African-American People

European

HST 1300: Europe in a Global Context to 1600
HST 1400: Europe in a GlobalContext 1600-Present

World

HST 2100: World History

Summer 2023

American


HST 3210/5210: American Foreign Relations, 20th Century
Professor Karen AJ Miller
When: S01, 8 Weeks, Asynchronous Online

Course Description: This course will provide students with a basic understanding of the history of American foreign policy since the beginning of the 20th century. Students will examine the larger patterns and flows of American foreign policy. We will be focusing on how the United States has wielded its military power. This course is designed to be useful to students from several majors.

European

HST 3322: The Middle Ages, 1100-1500
Professor James Naus
When: S01, 8 Weeks, Asynchronous Online

Course Description: This course will introduce students to the period of the High and Late Middle Ages, roughly from the stirrings of church reform in the eleventh century through the fall of Constantinople in the mid-fifteenth.  By making full use of the range of historical and archaeological evidence, students will be introduced not only to the main people and cultures, idea and institutions of the Central and Late Middle Ages, but will also be instructed about the discipline of history and the techniques used by medieval historians.  To this end, in addition to “learning the narrative” we will be devoting substantial time to reading, thinking about, and discussing the original sources.  In a number of classes, we will have the opportunity to hone our skills as historians by working on specific research techniques, specific subjects of historical study, and important (and oftentimes very current) debates among scholars. 

HST 3405/5405: Nationalism in Modern Europe
Professor Derek Hastings
When: S02, 8 Weeks, Asynchronous Online

Course Description: Nationalism has been, without question, one of the most potent ideologies of the modern era. While various forms of group identity have existed for millennia, the apparent eagerness of millions of humans in recent centuries to fight, kill, and die with almost religious fervor in the name of their "nations" has both confounded critics and fascinated scholars and theorists. At the same time, nationalism has also, under certain circumstances, exercised a powerful forward-looking emancipatory appeal. This course examines the origins and development of nationalism and nation-building in Europe from the eighteenth century to the present. Special emphasis will be placed on the intellectual and cultural roots of nationalist ideologies, on the political formation of modern European nation-states, on the radicalization of nationalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (including its connections with xenophobia, racism, and genocide), on European attempts to overcome the violent legacy of nationalism in the second half of the twentieth century, and on the present and future of European nationalism in the aftermath of the Cold War.

Fall 2023

Historical Thinking and Writing, Historical Research Seminars, and Grad Colloquium

HST 3010: Historical Thinking and Writing, The Salem Witch Trials
Professor George Milne
When: MWF, 10:40-11:47 AM

Course Description:This course section will focus on the Salem Witch hysteria that shook New England during the late seventeenth century. We will investigate the various explanations that scholars have formulated as well as the original testimonies of the accusers and victims of the Witch Trials to learn to think and write like historians. In doing so, we will examine how events unfolded and what they tell us about race, gender, and  class. How the Witch hysteria is remembered today will also be part of our study. There will be about a half dozen short writing assignments, a longer research paper, and open-book, open-note quizzes and a midterm. If the course fills up, contact me, (milne@oakland.edu) I will admit extra students.

HST 3010: Historical Thinking and Writing, The Black Death
Professor Andrea Wenz
When: TR, 10:00-11:47 AM

Course Description: This course helps students build the skills necessary to become proficient historical thinkers and writers. In terms of content material, we will focus on the emergence of the “Black Death” or the Bubonic Plague in the mid-fourteenth century. By reading primary sources from the period, we will consider how individuals reacted to the plague, how they tried to explain its cause, and how they tried to treat it. We will explore the Black Death’s social, religious, and economic impacts on Late Medieval Europe.

HST 3010: Historical Thinking and Writing, The CIA and 1953 Coup in Iran
Professor Don Matthews
When: Online, Asynchronous

Course Description: The process of historical thinking and the building of historical arguments with evidence. Development of writing and revising skills for the discipline of history. Emphasizes short weekly writing and peer-editing assignments. Area of historical focus varies by instructor. Theme: The CIA and the 1953 Coup in Iran.

HST 4980: Historical Research Seminar, The Great Lakes, 1670s-1715
Professor Sara Williams
When: MWF, 1:20-2:27 PM

Course Description: Students complete independent research projects and papers on some aspect of the history of Indigenous and French/Canadian encounters in the Great Lakes, ~1670s to 1715. Topics include issues involving the diverse Indigenous nations in the region, Haudenosaunee, Wendat, Odawa, Ojibwe, as well as French/Canadian missionaries and colonial officials. Topics will include political culture, societies, trade and the economy, spiritual and cultural practices. In the first six weeks, students build the knowledge base needed for their independent research projects by engaging weekly assigned readings in primary and secondary sources and seminar discussions. Starting in week five, students begin work on their research project by choosing a primary source and then completing successive “Research Practicum” assignments guiding them through to completion of their capstone project and paper.

HST 4980: Historical Research Seminar, Thomas Jefferson and Early America
Professor Todd Estes
When: TR, 1:00-2:47 PM

Course Description: Focused on Thomas Jefferson, a symbol of both the high minded and the ignoble elements of early America, this capstone class will read and discuss a short biography of Jefferson and then a recent book on various aspects of his life by Peter Onuf and Annette Gordon-Reed. The goal will be for students, working closely with me, to develop a topic (something like "Thomas Jefferson and ____________" with the blank filled in by whatever aspect of his life, career, legacy, or world to which students are drawn). The ultimate goal is the successful completion of a full-length 20-25 page research paper on that topic. Mix of discussion and lecture early on readings, then class work on topics and the aspects of the research paper, then the class becomes a series of individual independent studies through mandatory meetings with me.

HST 4980: Historical Research Seminar, China and the Cold War
Professor Yan Li
When: W, 6:30-9:50 PM

Course Description: This Capstone will explore the multiple roles China played during the Cold War. With a vast population and landmass, China stood between the two superpowers – the US and the USSR – and had enormous leverage in shaping Cold War politics. Throughout the semester each student will work out a research paper (20-25 pages) on a topic of their own choice, but it has to be related in some way to China in the Cold War broadly defined and must receive the instructor’s approval. The completed paper should bring together historiography, research methodology, research questions, primary and secondary sources, and if applicable, the student’s foreign language proficiency. The Capstone necessitates multiple drafts of the research paper that are subject to heightened peer review and regular feedback from the instructor.

HST 6940 (Graduate-Level Course): Colloquium in History
Professor Derek Hastings
When: T, 6:30-9:50 PM

Course Description: This course examines the development of religious ideas and institutions in Europe from the era of the French Revolution through the early twenty-first century.  Utilizing theoretical approaches from a variety of disciplines, the course approaches the history of religion as an integral component of modern European history. While foregrounding, of necessity, the dominance of Christianity (most notably the Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox churches), we will also explore the ideas of critics and skeptics, as well as the experiences of Europe's Jewish and Muslim religious minorities. Special attention will be given to the relationship between church and state across more than two centuries; to the role played by religious practices in the construction of class, gender, and national identities; to the contribution of religious institutions to the development of European political structures, both authoritarian and democratic; to religious responses to the twentieth-century onslaught of mass violence and warfare; to the fate of religious communities in a divided Europe during the Cold War; and finally, to the challenges and opportunities presented by increased religious pluralism in early twenty-first century Europe. This course meets in person.

American


HST 2020: Piracy in the Atlantic World, 1500-1831
Professor George Milne
When: MWF, 2:40-3:47 PM

Course Description: Pirates and their depredations have triggered fear and captured imaginations for generations. This course will help you understand why as well as help you separate fact from fiction. By investigating the misdeeds of seaborne robbers during the “Golden Age of Piracy” and beyond, we will gain new understandings of the economic, social, political, military, and technological issues of the era. Other factors like race, gender, the law, and national sovereignty will also come into focus. We will also look at the manners in which pirates are depicted in the present-day. There will be writing assignments based on students’ analysis of popular media images of pirates and piracy. There will also be open-book, open-note quizzes and tests on the course materials. If the course fills up, contact me, (milne@oakland.edu) I will admit extra students.

HST 3204/5204: American History, 1928-1945
Professor Karen AJ Miller
When: MWF, 9:20-10:27 AM

Course Description: This course examines the transformation of American life during the Franklin Roosevelt administration. Although the primary focus is the political-economy of the period, students will also be asked to consider the cultural dimensions of the New Deal and World War II. This course is designed to be useful to students from a number of majors.

HST 3120/5120: American Revolution
Professor Todd Estes
When: TR, 3:00-4:47 PM

Course Description: This course, a mix of lecture and discussion, spends the first half analyzing the causes of the American Revolution and the second half considering the effects and legacies of the event. Reading will consist of primary sources in addition to a number of secondary books including important recent works on the Boston Massacre and the role of propaganda in building and maintaining the patriot cause. Readings and classes will consider the political, social, military, and imperial dimensions of the Revolutions--and more. Grades based on a midterm, final, paper, and class discussion.

HST 3235: Working Detroit
Professor Daniel Clark
When: TR 10:00-11:47 AM

Course Description: This course explores the history of 20th-century Detroit mainly from the perspectives of its workers, their jobs, and their unions. Because of the way Detroit developed, there will be an emphasis on workers, jobs, and unions in the automobile industry, but many other types of work and workers will be included in the course. Key themes to be explored include technological innovation, worker-manager relations, depression and prosperity, the impact of unionization, race, gender, ethnicity, and de-industrialization. We will try to chart the rise and decline of Detroit, which is a complicated task. There will also be opportunities for field trips. Each student will make a contribution to Detroit labor history, broadly defined, by conducting at least one oral history interview with someone who has worked in the metropolitan-Detroit region.

European

HST 3325: The Crusades
Professor James Naus
When: MWF, 10:40-11:47 AM

Course Description: This course will consider the crusades in their historical and religious context, as a movement that began in the Middle Ages and lasted into the Early Modern period.  We will also consider the ways in which the crusading movement influenced cultural development across Europe and the Holy Land.  The class will focus particularly on encounters between Muslims and Western Christians, as in the crusading period occurred large-scale contact between these two groups.  The first part of the course is designed to provide students with a solid historical foundation in the crusading movement, including the major narrative themes and historical debates.  The second part is designed to consider how the crusades relate to contemporary society.  We will think particularly about how the modern world understand “crusade” and why it is such a useful, misunderstood, and enduring theme in political propaganda.  In the course, students will gain an understanding of what the crusades are, what they are not, and why they continue to fascinate the modern world.  

HST 3345: The Reformation

Professor Andrea Wenz
When: TR, 3:00-4:47 PM

Course Description: This course explores the dynamic and international nature of the Protestant Reformation. Although Martin Luther obviously figures prominently within this course, we explore a wide range of topics including the Church in the Late Middle Ages, Christian Humanism, Religious Wars, Violence and Intolerance, as well as the Catholic Reformation. As part of our course activities, we will play the Reacting to the Past Game, “Wrestling with the Reformation in Augsburg, 1531.”

HST 3365/ 5365: Women in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1789
Professor Sara Williams
When: MWF, 12:00-1:07 PM

Course Description: This course considers the dynamic of gender, class, and race in early modern Europe. Topics covered include early modern witch hunts in Europe, economic systems, the "life cycle," marriage and family, culture and the arts, and Atlantic colonial systems, among others. Emphasis is on primary sources written by early modern women, such as midwife Louise Bourgeois, Mary Wollstonecraft, Glückel, the marquise de Sévigné. Weekly quizzes and forum posts, lectures, readings, discussions, two essay exams, and two short papers.

HST 3405/5405: Nationalism in Modern Europe
Professor Derek Hastings
When: TR, 1:00-2:47 PM

Course Description: Nationalism has been, without question, one of the most potent ideologies of the modern era. While various forms of group identity have existed for millennia, the apparent eagerness of millions of humans in recent centuries to fight, kill, and die with almost religious fervor in the name of their "nations" has both confounded critics and fascinated scholars and theorists. At the same time, nationalism has also, under certain circumstances, exercised a powerful forward-looking emancipatory appeal. This course examines the origins and development of nationalism and nation-building in Europe from the eighteenth century to the present. Special emphasis will be placed on the intellectual and cultural roots of nationalist ideologies, on the political formation of modern European nation-states, on the radicalization of nationalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (including its connections with xenophobia, racism, and genocide), on European attempts to overcome the violent legacy of nationalism in the second half of the twentieth century, and on the present and future of European nationalism in the aftermath of the Cold War. This course meets in person.

HST 3435/5435: Britain, 1911 to Present
Professor Sean Moran
When: Thursdays, 6:30-9:50 PM

Course Description: This course will concern itself with the history of the British peoples from 1911 until the age of Margaret Thatcher.  As such the student will examine the history of the United Kingdom from the height of its imperial might as an industrial and military superpower, through its decline into a second-rate international power with only vestigial remains of its former empire and extensive social, economic, and political problems at home.  This course in history was dramatic and traumatic and is in many ways a case study in the decline of a modern nation.  Throughout this course we will attempt to focus on the experience of Britons in these times –the emphasis will be on the mentalité rather than dates, events, and leaders. OF special emphasis will be: The World Wars and Britain, the rise of the welfare state, and decolonization and its effects upon modern Britain.  Class will be in a lecture/discussion format with take home essay exams and essays. 

Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America

 

HST 3540/5540: The Arab-Israeli Conflict
Professor Don Matthews
When: TR, 10-11:47 AM

Course Description: Examines the origins and development of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the emergence of a peace process, and the collapse of that process, focusing primarily on the development of Israeli and Palestinian political identities and institutions.

HST 3675/5675: Slavery/Race in Latin America
Professor Liz Shesko
When: MWF, 1:20-2:27 PM

Course Description: This course focuses on slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean and on ideas about race in these areas from the 1600s to the present. It particularly focuses on Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, Haiti, and Argentina. Themes include: the incorporation of African cultural practices (music, dance, martial arts, religion) in Latin American culture; the role of race in nationalist and revolutionary movements; and how key ideas and events (the Haitian Revolution, independence, abolition, scientific racism, and the Great Depression) affected ideas about race in Latin America. Assignments include online reading quizzes for each class session, two 4-page papers, and a research paper based on primary and secondary sources. We will work on this paper in several stages over the second half of the semester.

HST 3805 / LBS 5902  China: the Middle Kingdom before 1700
Professor Yan Li
When: Hybrid: W In-Person, 2:40-3:47 PM, MF, Online

Course Description: This is a multidisciplinary study of China from antiquity to the seventeenth century, through historical, philosophical, and literary texts. While highlighting major political events that shaped the development of Chinese history, the course gives close attention to religious, social, and intellectual trends, as well as to changes in the arts and material culture of ancient China. Beyond Chinese domestic affairs, the course also explores networks of trade, cultural exchange, and foreign relations between China and other regions, in order to shed light on China’s place in the world system before 1700.

This course emphasizes the use of primary sources. Given that most students do not have prior training in reading Chinese, the course incorporates translated Chinese documents whenever available. There are multiple writing assignments asking students to analyze primary sources throughout the semester.

Winter 2024

Historical Thinking and Writing and Historical Research Seminars

HST 3010: Historical Thinking/Writing, The New Deal
Professor Karen AJ Miller
When: Tuesdays, 6:30-9:50 PM

Course Description: Students will learn the basic approaches to analyzing sources and explaining their interpretations of historical events. Our focus will be on the New Deal and its approach to the economic crisis of the Great Depression. This course is a core requirement for history majors, but can be useful to other students who wish to have a better understanding of historical methodology.

HST 4980: Historical Research Seminar, The Central Middle Ages, 1150-1250
Professor James Naus
When: TR, 10:00-11:47 AM

Course Description: The purpose of this seminar is to allow students to undertake original research in a topic in European history.  Students will produce a twenty to twenty-five page, original research paper, using primary and secondary sources.   My own specialization lies in the history of the crusading movement and the political and cultural history of the Central Middle Ages, and since this is a period for which primary sources are reasonably available in English translation, it will be the focus of this course.  Thus, all student research must treat some aspect of the Central Middle Ages from (roughly) 1150-1250.  Since many students will have little background in the topic, the first several weeks will be spent discussing readings intended to orient them to the period and major historiography debates as well as to prompt interesting questions and potential topics for research.  In addition, each reading has been selected because of its ability to facilitate discussion of various critical thinking and analysis skills.

HST 4890: Historical Research Seminar, 20th-Century American History
Professor Daniel Clark
When: MW, 3:30-517 PM

Course Description: Investigation of topics in history in a capstone seminar setting. Substantive issues, research techniques and historiographical problems will be considered. Research paper to be submitted at course conclusion. Topics vary. May not be taken simultaneously with HST 3000 or HST 3010. May be repeated for additional credit. Satisfies the university general education requirement for the capstone experience. TOPIC: 20th-Century American History.

HST 4980: Historical Research Seminar, The Cold War in Latin America
Professor Liz Shesko
When: Asynchronous, Online

Course Description: This asynchronous online section of the capstone will have two deadlines per week. Focused on the Cold War in Latin America, the section will start with shared readings to ensure an understanding of the events and historiographical debates prior to choosing a topic. Student will then write and peer review one another’s capstone papers in several stages: preliminary topic choice, search terms and research questions, preliminary bibliography, primary source paper, annotations, topic statement, historiography grid, historiography draft, primary source section, first draft, and second draft.

American

 

HST 3110/5110: History of the North American Colonies (game format)
Professor George Milne
When: TR, 10:00-11:47 AM

Course Description: This course will involve a “gamified” classroom environment. Rather than following the traditional textbook and lecture approach to learning, we will form teams and colonize North America. The teams will begin the semester in a location unknown to them and it will be their job to find where they are and decide how they will “settle” their territories. How teams will encourage immigration, organize governments, create economies and cohabitate with the First Peoples whom they encounter is up to the team members.  Teams will earn points for “reports” and “memorandums” they send back to the “mother country” as well as the teams’ abilities to move up through social, economic, military, and governmental “levels” toward political and financial autonomy. Spying on, deceiving, lying to, and otherwise outplaying, the other teams as well as cooperating or forming alliances with other teams, can all significantly boost grades. Teams will also gain points as team members help each other improve their writing and reasoning skills. If the course fills up, contact me (milne@oakland.edu), I will admit extra students.

HST 3132: Early U.S. Presidency
Professor Todd Estes
When: MWF, 12:00-1:07 PM

Course Description: The American presidency was created in the 1790s with almost no guidance from the Constitution and little in the way of models to follow. Accordingly, this class studies the creation of the office, the cabinet, relationships with Congress, presidential elections, and the ways the office was initially defined by Washington and then refined by Jefferson. This joint template shaped the early U.S. presidencies of both Adamses, Madison, and Monroe before it was substantially altered by Jackson. Through a variety of primary source documents and important secondary literature by Lindsay Chervinsky, Jeffrey Pasley, Peter Kastor and Max Edling, and others plus a host of journal articles and book chapters available on Moodle, we will survey the creation and evolution of the presidency in the early U.S. through a mix of lectures and discussions. Grades based on a paper, midterm, class discussion, and a final.

European


HST 3360: Society and Culture in Early Modern Europe
Professor Andrea Wenz
When: MWF, 1:20-2:27 PM

Course Description: -This course explores the social and cultural history of Europe from approximately 1400-1800. Throughout the course students will read classic studies on topics including the life of the peasantry and lower-classes; printing, learning, and literacy; arts and music; ritual and religion; crime and punishment; magic and witchcraft; and health and sickness, among others!

HST 3395: The French Revolution
Professor Sara Williams
When: TR, 3:00-4:47 PM

Course Description: This course covers the emergence and early French Revolution, the "second" revolution and republic, the Terror, the unstable republics that followed (1780s through the 1790s). The course also examines the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) in the then French Caribbean colony of Saint-Domingue, a revolution by enslaved people and free people of color. The course includes primary source readings, lectures, discussions, and in the middle of the semester, we will "do" a Reacting to the Past for the French Revolutionary era set in 1791.

HST 3420: Ireland, 1691 to the Present
Professor Sean Moran
When: MWF, 2:40-3:47 PM

Course Description: This course will be a consideration of Irish history from the Battle of the Boyne to the present.  This somewhat monumental task will also require us at the outset to survey a general and necessarily superficial history of early and medieval Ireland as so many developments in the history of modern Ireland had their antecedents in the distant past.  Our approach to all of this will be thematic rather than chronological and will emphasize the development of indigenous Irish institutions and culture.  The approach will place less emphasis on battles, personalities, dates and the narrative than on the collective mentalité of the Irish peoples in the midst of their times.  Class will be in a lecture and discussion format with take home essays and exams.

HST 3430/5430: Britain, 1815-1911
Professor Sean Moran
When: Wednesdays, 6:30-9:50 PM

Course Description: This course will consider the political, social, economic and intellectual history of Britain from the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the passage of the Corn Laws in 1815 through the reigns of Queen Victoria and her son Edward VII until the eve of The Great War.  This was the period of Britain’s greatest success on the world stage, when the nation became the most powerful empire in the modern era and extended her culture and values to such a degree that the very period itself was named “Victorian.”  The course also considers the early fading of this superior position and as such provides us with a unique opportunity to consider the nature of political and cultural power in the modern world.

Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America


HST 3510: The Modern Middle East
Professor Don Matthews
When: Online, Asynchronous

Course Description: Covers the major themes in Middle East history since 1800 including Orientalism, imperialism, nationalism, liberal movements, gender relations, and the emergence of the Islamic movements.

HST 3660/5660: History of Argentina, Brazil, Chile
Professor Liz Shesko
When: TR, 10:00-11:47 AM

Course Description: This course focuses on the histories of Argentina, Brazil, and Chile from independence (1810s) to the present. Themes include: Indigenous peoples, slavery, race, immigration, populism, nationalism, and dictatorship. Toward the end of the semester, students will play a Reacting to the Past game focused on memories of the dictatorship and guerrilla movements in Cold War Argentina. Assignments include a map quiz, online reading quizzes for each class session, two 4-page papers, and small written assignments related to the Argentina game. The research project for the course will be through the Wikipedia Education Project. Students will do significant research to improve and rewrite a Wikipedia article relevant to the course.

HST 3820/5820 LBS 5902:  China since 1949
Professor Yan Li
When: Thursdays, 6:30-9:50 PM

Course Description: This course examines the historical roots of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), with a focus on the revolutionary politics of the Mao era and the recent re-emergence of China as a powerful world center since the Deng era. While it intends to offer an in-depth investigation into contemporary issues surrounding China, this course also asks broader questions about history and its role in understanding societies at crossroads. We will attempt to answer some of the following questions: What impact does the idea of modernization have on China? What role do revolutionary, social, and economic transformations play in China, and how do individuals cope with such drastic changes? What is the relationship between government and society in a one-party system, and in what ways has it changed? Above all, where is China today? Is it possible for China to reconcile an ancient past with new dreams of modernization and globalization? Topics examined include China’s interaction with the world, the struggle for economic, political, institutional, and social reform, the quest for modernity and its conflict with tradition, the pursuit of democracy and individuality. A wide variety of sources will be used, including historical texts, primary source documents, memoirs, oral interviews, fiction, and documentary films, in order to provide multiple lenses into the life of the Chinese people since 1949. Besides weekly quizzes, there are writing assignments asking students to analyze primary sources throughout the semester.