School of Humanities
School of Humanities
In this course, we trace the story of civilization from prehistory through the fifteenth century. Through a kaleidoscope of kings and slaves, warriors and philosophers, farmers and merchants, we will focus on certain themes. Four themes intersect in all the societies we study this semester.
To focus on these themes and questions, we will be close reading primary sources (that is, texts produced by the societies we are studying, not by modern scholars) from many different civilizations. We will learn history by doing it – this means that students will learn to read and interpret primary evidence and come to their own conclusions about pre-modern societies
This course is a semester-long apprenticeship in the craft of history. We will examine the nature of history, why it is important, and how it is practiced. When you successfully complete this course, you will have the basic skills necessary for beginning historians. The class will also prepare you, if you work hard and take its lessons to heart, for a more advanced study in upper division history courses. It will also introduce you to the mechanics of research and writing. Because I discovered that this course is often difficult for students to conceptualize and students have trouble finding viable research topics, this semester we will be focusing on “Manipulating the Past: Using History for Current Agendas” as the main topic/era of study. Students can, of course, select specific research topics within this area, but this will allow them to better interact with one another and make use of primary resources available at USM and nearby.
A Pocket Guide to Writing in History by Mary Lynn Rampolla 9th ed. (Bedford St. Martin’s, 2017) ISBN: 10:1319113028 [Required]
History in Three Keys: The Boxers as Event, Experience, & Myth by Paul A. Cohen (Columbia University Press, 1998) ISBN-13: 978-0231106511
Silencing the Past: Power & the Production of History by Michel Rolph-Trouillout (Beacon Press, 2015) ISBN: 13: 9780807080535 [Required]
This course is designed as an in-depth examination of high and later medieval European
history, roughly 1000 – 1450 AD. In this class, we shall see the development and flowering
of new medieval cultures, from elite knights to lowly peasants, as well as the various
crises that they encountered, including the Black Death. Our goal will be to trace
the development of communities and cultures; social relations and economic conditions;
political, religious and intellectual institutions and thought. You will acquire an
informed understanding of topics and themes, from the role of the Christian church
and secular authority in political systems, the cultural and ideological function
of belief systems, to the nature of medieval source material, especially historical
texts, religious texts, and material culture (archaeology).
Twentieth-Century Europe, the century when the ‘Old Continent’ experienced not one but two world wars, only to then be plunged into a violent, draining, decades-long Cold War (which was anything but cold, actually). It is started with massive industrialization, radical nationalism, and the rise of extreme mass-political movements such as Fascism, Communism, and Nazism, all of which brought about death and despair on unprecedented scales, and turned to democracy, feminism, and human rights advocacies in the second half of the century. It is also a period of marvelous cultural developments in art, music, cinema, and the philosophy. In this course we will explore these various historical phenomena each on their own but also within the broader European and global contexts in an effort to gain a comprehensive understanding of this fascinating, unique period of modern history. Where else would you learn on Trench warfare, Blitzkrieg, and The Beatles and Pink Floyd in the same semester?