Fall 2014 Course Descriptions

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Department of History
Course Descriptions for Fall 2014

Looking for a history course? Not sure what some of the course titles mean? Well, this is the place to find out! Here are descriptions of the research courses (201, 495, 499) and the 300-level courses we will be offering this fall:



(Prerequisites:  ANY of the following - HIST 105, HIST 106, HIST 133)

HIST 334 - African American History since 1877:

This course examines African American history from emancipation to the present.  It explores African Americans’ collective experiences and highlights myriad ways that African Americans have shaped the society, culture, economy, and politics of the United States.  Key topics include the promise of emancipation; the rise of southern segregation; black culture and leisure; African American politics; Great Migrations; the roles and reactions of African Americans during wartime; battles for civil rights; the rise of neoconservativism; and recent events such as Hurricane Katrina and the elections of Barack Obama. (U.S., American minority)

HIST 338 - 19th Century American Culture:

This course examines how social, political, and economic changes have affected American culture and Americans’ lives. Topics include the values, beliefs, and lifestyles of the emerging middle class & working class; the rise of commercial recreation & leisure (e.g. minstrelsy, amusement parks, sports); music, art, and literature; the material culture of American lives; and social and cultural rituals. (U.S., pre-1877)

Books: Matthew Goodman, The Sun and the Moon; John Kasson, Houdini, Tarzan, & the Perfect Man; Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper & Other Stories; Charles Chesnutt, Tales of Conjure and the Color Line

HIST 352 - U.S. Environmental History:

This course will examine the major themes of U.S. environmental history through a series of thematic case studies—the meaning of nature, water, disease, industrialization, domestication of animals, transportation, and urbanization. We will explore how inhabitants of North America have defined and shaped the environment in which they lived from European contact to the continent up to the present day.  In doing so, we will investigate how the transformation, preservation, and/or legislation of the environment help us understand the economic, political, social, and cultural contexts of the American experience. We will analyze how people shaped the physical environment and how, in turn, the environment has influenced the human past. Our exploration into the study of the environment will call attention to the connections and interdependencies between people and the natural world. (U.S.)

HIST 396 (American Themes) - Introduction to Digital History & Humanities:

Digital tools are revolutionizing the study and practice of history and the other humanities. Have you ever wished you could travel in the footsteps of immigrants, visualize how a nation or your home town developed over time, visit the spots that influenced the writings of your favorite author, open up a medieval manuscript to hear the music of the era and see how the illumination was created? A rapidly multiplying number of digital history/humanities projects allow us to do all that and much more.

Digital Humanities may be defined as the application of digital tools to the study of the human condition, or the intersection of computers and the humanities. Museums, libraries, schools, governments, and businesses today are all seeking people who can develop digital content. This course will introduce students to the concepts underlying DH and to the techniques used to develop DH projects, such as text/data mining, mapping, and visualization. Students will analyze DH projects, and will have the opportunity to “do” digital history themselves as part of a class project that will begin creating a digital walking tour (accessible on smart phones and tablets) of historic Dunkirk/Fredonia. (U.S.)

Books: All readings will be digital.

HIST 399 (Special Topics) - History of World War I:

Taught by Profs. Lyon, McCord, and Staples. This team-taught course will examine the causes, conduct, and consequences of WWI. Prof. Lyon will focus on Western Europe, Prof. Staples on Eastern Europe, and Prof. McCord on broader world and American involvement. (NOTE: This course DOES NOT fulfill a World History requirement for the History or SSED major. It may be used as either a US or European requirement.)

Textbooks: Stuart Robson, The First World War. Second Edition; Erik Goldstein, The First World War Peace Settlements 1919-1925; Gordon Martel, The Origins of the First World War.



(Prerequisites:  ANY of the following - HIST 115, HIST 116, or HIST 134)

HIST 302 - Republican and Imperial Rome:

The course surveys the history of Ancient Rome from c.1000 BCE-400 CE, exploring the development of Roman social, cultural, and political institutions from their origins in the Iron Age.  Crucial topics include:  the Primordia, the formation of the Early Republic and the Confederation of Italy, the Punic Wars and the conquest of the Mediterranean world, the conflicts of the Late Republic, Augustus and the Empire, the origins of Christianity, the Third Century Crisis, and the Late Antique transformation.  (European, pre-1800)

Books: HISTORY OF THE ROMAN PEOPLE, Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi, Garrison Life at Vindolanda: A Band of Brothers

HIST 324 - History of Ukraine:

A historical examination of Ukrainian identity. The course will begin with a close look at the spring 2014 Ukrainian crisis and the rifts in national identity that it reveals. We will then move back in time to the foundation myths of the country, focusing particularly on the emergence of a distinct cultural identity in the 19th century, and the challenges to that identity under Soviet rule in the 20th century. (European)

Books: Wilson, Andrew.  The Ukrainians: Unexpected Nation.  3rd. ed.; Andrukhovych, Yuri.  Recreations.

HIST 399 (Special Topics) - History of World War I:

Taught by Profs. Lyon, McCord, and Staples. This team-taught course will examine the causes, conduct, and consequences of WWI. Prof. Lyon will focus on Western Europe, Prof. Staples on Eastern Europe, and Prof. McCord on broader world and American involvement. (NOTE: This course DOES NOT fulfill a World History requirement for the History or SSED major. It may be used as either a US or European requirement.)

Textbooks: Stuart Robson, The First World War. Second Edition; Erik Goldstein, The First World War Peace Settlements 1919-1925; Gordon Martel, The Origins of the First World War.


(Prerequisites:  ANY of the following - HIST 101, HIST 102, or HIST 135)

HIST 370 - History of South Africa:

This course covers South African history from the late fifteenth century to the present.  The course will begin with first contact between Europeans and Africans and examine the conflicts which followed as various groups struggled for survival and supremacy.  Students will learn, among other subjects, about white settlement; the rise of the Zulu and the Sotho; the tragedy of the Xhosa Cattle Killing; South Africa's diamond and gold rushes; the Boer War; the emergence of the world's most notorious racial segregation system, apartheid; and the life of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Nelson Mandela.  All of this culminates in an extended role playing game which gives students the actual task of building a new South Africa after the fall of apartheid in 1993.  In the final third of the course, students will play the roles of actual South African political parties representing the entire political spectrum from the ultra-nationalist right to the radical left.

HIST 398 (Themes in World History) - American Images of China:

In his 2007 bestseller, The Coming China Wars, Peter Navarro, a professional economist, predicts that China will be an imminent menace to the whole free world. He announces, “The Coming China Wars will be fought over everything from decent jobs, livable wages, and leading edge technologies to strategies resources such as oil, copper, and steel, and eventually to our most basic of all needs – bread, water, and air. Unless all of the nations of this world – immediately address these impending conflicts, the results will be catastrophic.” Behind this outspoken fear of China lurks a long intellectual trend based on the negative cultural presentation of China in the Western scholarly discourse. Admittedly, this emotional resentment of China is merely part of the story. The other part of the story carries a passionate love of Chinese culture and its people. In this class, looking at various American images of China, we will focus on important questions for internationally conscious citizens: What are the images of China in the United States? How, and why, have these images of China changed?  And, how much do we care? We will examine historical examples of the hatred and love of China in order to untangle intricate issues, such as discourse constructs and power balances behind American cultural representations of China. Thus we will be ready to participate in better cross-cultural understanding in a globalizing world.

This course will introduce students the basic information about China, and it covers various materials including newspaper articles, book sections, comic strips, films, government documentaries, and travel diaries. No textbook need be purchased.  All the readings will be available either online or as class handouts.  Students will conduct independent research on a course paper, submitting two progress reports on their research before composing the final paper.  Historical background will be provided before each class section. Extensive readings are required. (Global)




HIST 201 (Doing History) - Latino/a History:

This course is designed to provide an introduction to the methods and skills of historical analysis. It will explore various types of historical sources, approaches used by historians, and the tools of historical research and analysis. Students will learn how to do basic historical research, how to assess and interpret historical evidence, and how to organize and present historical information through different types of historical writing. This particular section of HIST 201 will accomplish these goals through an examination of materials related to the history of Latinos/as in the United States. Beginning in the 16th century and stretching to the present, this class will map the varied terrains of Latina/o history.

HIST 201 (Honors) - Antebellum U.S.:

HIST 201, or Doing History, is an intensive historical methodologies course which includes instruction in the skills of historical reading, research, writing, and analysis. The focus of this course will be the Antebellum U.S. (c.1815-1860), with special emphasis on western New York. We will explore how people living in western New York experienced the major transformations of the antebellum era, including the development of a market economy, political democratization, expansion and immigration, reform movements, and the growth of sectional tensions. Enrollment in HIST 201 Honors section is by invitation only. Those who successfully complete the course (and HIST 499 Honors Seminar or HIST 399 Honors Historiography) will be eligible to graduate with Honors in History.

HIST 495 (Capstone) - World’s Fairs (History Majors Only):

The capstone seminar (or HIST 499) is required for all history majors. The course is thematic and offers students the opportunity to complete a major research project. Students will conduct research, using both primary and secondary sources, on a topic of their choosing, and organize and present that research in written, oral, and visual format. Since at least the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition in London, nations have held periodic exhibitions dubbed “world’s fairs” to showcase national and industrial progress, and to promote a host of other ideas, such as imperialism, international cooperation, visions of the future and the past, or racial hierarchies. The U.S. has held many world’s fairs, from Philadelphia’s Centennial Exposition in 1876 to the most recent in Knoxville & New Orleans (1980s). After some initial reading, students will choose a fair to research. Although the course readings will focus primarily on American fairs, students are free to choose a non-U.S. exhibition for their projects, as long as primary sources in English are readily available.

Books: Robert Rydell, Fair America; Jenny Presnell, The Information-Literate Historian, 2nd ed.; Mary Lynn Rampolla, A Pocket Guide to Writing in History, 7th ed.

HIST 499 (Honors Capstone) - Atlantic Slavery (History Majors/Invitation Only):

This course is designed to provide History Honors students with the opportunity to conduct original research on the Atlantic slave trade, slavery, and slave resistance in the Atlantic world, largely excluding the United States, during the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. After a brief introduction to the historical origins and European, African, and American contexts of slavery, students will turn their attention to a in-depth examination of some aspect of Atlantic slavery through primary source research.  Potential topics include the development and operation of the Atlantic slave trade; the development and evolution of slavery in the Caribbean and Latin America; the nature and manifestations of resistance to slavery, including marronage and violent rebellions like the Haitian Revolution; and the abolition of the slave trade and of slavery itself in the Atlantic World. In addition to seminar discussions on readings and on their research, students will prepare a substantial research paper which they will present to the campus community in a public symposium towards the end of the semester.  All students will be expected to participate in the collective enterprise of the production of historical knowledge through collaboration and exchange of ideas during the research and writing process and in the planning and staging of the conference/symposium.

Proposed books: Robert Harms, The Diligent:  Worlds of the Slave Trade; Randy J. Sparks, Where the Negroes Are Masters: An African Port in the Era of the Slave Trade; James Walvin, Crossings: Africa, the Americas, and the Atlantic Slave Trade; and possibly David Northrup, The Atlantic Slave Trade, 2d or 3d edition  (Problems in World History)

Page modified 8/4/14