History

Professors: Bangura, Barclay, Boyer Lewis, Brock, Frost, Haus, Lewis (Chair), Werner

Historical narrative occupies a central position in a liberal arts education. Such education equips individuals to understand and appreciate the world and to meet its challenges. The study of History contributes much to these ends, maintaining that people and societies are, in important respects, the products of their past; therefore, the story of the past provides insight helpful to both personal and social development.

History stands at the core of a liberal arts education, moreover, since one aim of that education is to integrate the various disciplines. Taking as its subject a narrative of individuals and society in the past, History draws upon all disciplines to discuss that past. It provides a narrative framework for the study of other disciplines and helps the advanced student integrate various academic perspectives.

AP, IB, Transfer, and Study Abroad Credits

With department approval, one unit (AP/IB, Study Abroad, transfer, etc.) may be applied to the major or minor but cannot be used to fulfill the one-course requirement for any of the four fields. See department for specific information.

Requirements for the Major in History

Number of Units
At least nine units are required, not including the SIP.

Required Courses
Majors must complete at least one course at Kalamazoo College in each of the four fields of the department:

  1. Early History (HIST 100, 101, 225, 226, 227, 230, 231, 232, 234, 236, 237, 238, 239, 240, 393)
  2. Modern European History (HIST 102, 241, 244, 246, 247, 250, 255, 257, 259, 263, 264, 265, 394)
  3. United States History (HIST 110, 111, 200, 203, 206, 209, 211, 212, 213, 215, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 223, 391)
  4. African/Asian History (HIST 103, 104, 271, 272, 273, 274, 276, 277, 279, 280, 282, 283, 285, HIST/ANSO 288, 289, 397)

Majors must complete at least three courses in their major field and at least two courses in their minor field.

Required Seminars
HIST 299 Historical Methods
HIST 490 Senior Seminar: Historical Methods

Plus one of the following:

HIST 391 Seminar in United States History
HIST 393 Seminar in Early European History
HIST 394 Seminar in Modern European History
HIST 397 Seminar in East Asian History

All majors are required to pass a comprehensive exam.

Requirements for the Minor in History

Number of Units and Required Courses

  1. Six units are required, not including the SIP.
  2. Minors must take courses at Kalamazoo College in three of the four fields of the department: Early History, Modern European History, U.S. History, or African/Asian History.
  3. Minors must complete one of the research seminars (391, 393, 394, 397).

History courses

HIST100Introduction to the World of AntiquityA survey of ancient societies, politics, and religio-philosophic systems. These will include ancient Egypt, Israel, and classical Greece and Rome. Emphasis on comparative institutions and the character and expansion of ancient empires.
HIST101Introduction to Europe I: Medieval and Early Modern EuropeThis introduction to medieval Europe takes a two-fold approach. First, it serves as a chronological introduction to the history of Europe and the Mediterranean world during the Middle Ages, from the end of the Roman Empire in the West until the late fifteenth century. Next, a thematic approach identifies key social, cultural, intellectual, political, and economic developments between 500 and 1500. Rather than learning only about kings, queens, and prelates, we will broaden our thinking about the many peoples of the pre-modern world: poor as well as rich, women as well as men, slave as well as free, Jewish and Muslim as well as Christian.
HIST102Introduction to Europe II: From Early Modernity to Post-Modernity, 1648-presentA consideration of the forces that have shaped European history since the end of the wars of religion. Among the issues to be discussed are: the trajectory of the "Westphalian" state system, 1648-1945; the contradictory legacy of the Enlightenment; empire-building and the disruption of the global balance of civilizations; industrialization and societal change; the rise and decline of the nation-state; the age of ideology and Europe's attempted civilization suicide in the twentieth century; the idea of Europe and Europe's place in a transnational world of regions since 1945.
HIST103Introduction to East Asian CivilizationsSurveys of the histories of China, Japan, and Korea, with particular attention to religious, political, and social patterns. Topics include Confucianism and its influence in East Asia, China's modernization dilemma, Korea's division and its implication, Japan's rise as a major power, and importance of East Asia in world history, among others.
HIST/AFST104Introduction to African StudiesThis course introduces students to selected themes, paradigms, and concepts in African Studies. It is divided into four sections: section one deals with "Pre-colonial African societies;" section two examines "The Idea of Africa;" section three focuses on "African Studies as an academic discipline;" section four addresses "Colonialism and its impact on Africa." It is strongly recommended that students take the Introduction to African Studies course before taking any of the upper level African Studies classes.
HIST/RELG107Introduction to Jewish TraditionsThis course explores the development of Judaism from its ancient origins until the present. We will discuss the biblical foundations of Judaism and the impact that different historical contexts have produced on its rituals and beliefs. This approach raises a number of questions, which we will keep in mind throughout the course: What is Judaism? Who are the Jews? What is the relationship between Judaism and "being Jewish"? How have historical circumstances shaped this relationship? What has changed and what has stayed the same, and why? The class will address these questions through discussions and readings.
HIST/AMST110History of the United States IAmerica from contact times to 1865, with emphasis on economic, social, intellectual, and political developments.
HIST/AMST111History of the United States IIAmerica from 1865 to the present, with emphasis on economic, social, intellectual, and political developments.
HIST200Colonial AmericaAn examination of political, cultural, social, and economic developments in America to 1760. Topics include Native American societies, founding of the English colonies, the adoption of slavery, religious diversification, the Salem witchcraft trials, the consumer revolution, the French and Indian war, and changes in the family.
HIST203Revolutionary America, 1760-1815An examination of the era of the American Revolution, with lectures, readings, and discussion covering issues ranging from national and international politics to class, gender, and race relations, from economic and demographic developments to religion and society.
HIST206Culture and Society in Victorian AmericaConsideration of the main aspects of Victorian culture and society. Special attention will be given to reactions to the industrial revolution and its impact on the natural and social environment, racial and gender relations, and organized religion.
HIST209Post World War II AmericaBroad examination of American political, social, diplomatic, economic, and cultural life in the three decades after World War II, highlighting the links between foreign affairs and domestic politics and society. Topics include the Cold War, Red Scare, Civil Rights, baby boom, Vietnam War, counterculture, women's movement, and Watergate.
HIST211Native American HistoryA broad survey of the field of Native American history, spanning the full range of Indian-white relations -- social, economic, cultural, political, and military -- with a focus upon the region ultimately included within the United States.
HIST212American Environmental History Focusing upon that part of North America that became the United States, this class examines the long history of the interactions of human societies and the natural world. We will trace three key issues through time: changing ideas about nature; humanity's impacts on the natural world; and the natural world's impacts on culture, broadly defined.
HIST213The Slave SouthThe distinctiveness of Southern society before the Civil War lay essentially in its system of black slave labor. This course will examine how slavery shaped the politics, the economy, society, culture, and even the family. It will consider the relationships between master and slave, free and unfree, slaveholders and nonslave holders, parents and children, and men and women -- black and white. It will look at the myths of the Cavalier, the Southern Lady, the "happy darky," and "our family, black and white."
HIST215African-American History: Civil War to Civil RightsThis survey course examines African American history from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement. It explores key themes, including: Reconstruction, the Jim Crow era, the Harlem Renaissance, the Depression, WWI&II and the Cold War. Students will gain a solid understanding of how the decedents of Africans -kidnapped and brought to the US as property - politically, socially and creatively worked after emancipation to forge a place and space for themselves in the US and the world.
HIST217History of Leisure and Recreation in AmericaAn examination of the history of leisure and recreation in America from the Puritans to the present. Discussion of the importance of leisure, the rise of public amusements, spectator sports and vacations, the growth of tourism, tensions between work and leisure, and why recent Americans choose more work over more leisure.
HIST/RELG218American Jewish ExperienceThis course will explore the religious, social, political, cultural, and economic history of the Jewish people in America from the first settlement until the present. The major themes of study will focus upon the development of Judaism in America. We will take into account a number of historical factors that shaped that development: the economic, social, and political evolution of American Jewry and its institutions; Jewish immigration to the United States and its consequences; American Jewish self-perception; and the relationship between Jews and non-Jews in American society. Assignments will draw upon a wide range of materials, from secondary historical studies and primary documents to fiction and film.
HIST219Special Topics: U.S.This course will focus upon a topic in the United States history that is not addressed in the department's regular offerings. The course can be repeated with a different topic.
HIST220American Women's History to 1870An in-depth survey of the lives of women in America from the beginning of the colonial era to 1870. Topics include: the differences of class, religion, and race in women's lives, religion, work, friendships, family life, community, health and sexuality, the women's rights movement, and the impact of the American Revolution and Civil War.
HIST221American Women's History since 1870An in-depth survey of the lives of women in America from 1870 to today. Topics include the impact of race, class, and region in women's lives, paid and unpaid labor, prostitution, family life, community, birth control, the women's rights movement, and the impact of US involvement in international wars.
HIST223American Diplomacy Since 1898An examination of American foreign policy and relations in the 20th century. Topics include the Spanish-American War, dollar diplomacy, World Wars I and II, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, American intervention, and the post-Cold War world.
HIST/CLAS225Greek CivilizationFrom Homer to Alexander the Great with emphasis on arts and letters.
HIST/CLAS226Roman CivilizationFrom the foundation of the Republic to the empire of Constantine.
HIST/CLAS227The Roman Army and the Frontiers of EmpireThis course considers the Roman army from the perspectives of both military and social history. After a chronological survey of the development of the Roman army, case studies of the army in action in specific frontier provinces will be considered. From Hadrian's Wall in Britain to the desert wastes of Egypt, ancient texts and archaeological evidence illuminate the army-driven process of "Romanization," through which former barbarian enemies became assimilated Roman citizens. (This is a designated Roman literature or culture course in Classics.)
HIST/CLAS230Women in Classical AntiquityA literary, historical, and cultural survey of social structures and private life in ancient Greece and Rome. Issues covered include constructions of sexuality, cross-cultural standards of the beautiful, varieties of courtship and marriage, and contentions between pornography and erotica. Students will examine sources from medical, philosophic, lyric, tragic, comic, and rhetorical writers as well as representative works from vase painting, the plastic arts, graffiti, etc. (This is a designated Greek and Roman literature or culture course in Classics.)
HIST231Europe Meets the World: Cross-Cultural Encounters Before 1450Rather than focusing on Europe, this course takes a wider, trans-national view of the medieval world, comparing cultures in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia. Topics include exploration, migration, conquest, and assimilation; lectures, readings, and discussions look closely at specific moments of cultural contact, such as the Mongol invasions, the spread of Islam, the Crusades, long-distance trade networks, intellectual collaboration in Muslim Spain, and Viking settlements.
HIST232Life in Medieval Europe: Manor, Monastery TownThis social, cultural, and economic exploration of medieval Europe focuses on the central and later Middle Ages - from 1000 to 1500 - and examines both broad intellectual, social, and economic shifts as well as the lives of ordinary people. Topics include: the Great Plague, carnival and popular culture, the growth of towns, monastic reform, gender relations, new forms of piety, and popular revolts.
HIST234The Other in Early Modern EuropeThis course offers an in-depth survey of early modern Europe from 1450 to 1789, examining the intellectual, social, economic, and political transformations that characterized the era. Topics include: the Renaissance, European exploration, religious reformations, the European witch-hunts, the rise of capitalism, the growth of nation-states, and the Enlightenment.
HIST236/SEMN 234End of Christendom: Piety, Ritual, and Religious Upheaval in the Sixteenth CenturyThis course examines the complex social, cultural, religious, and political repercussions of religious reform over the course of the long sixteenth century, from the earliest glimmers of discontent among Hussites and Lollards to the violent wars of religion that characterized the seventeenth century. Topics include lay piety and religious ritual, the reform of daily life, confessional antagonism, print culture and propaganda. Primary sources on this topic are plentiful, and we pay particular attention to the exceptionally rich visual sources of this period. This course is a Shared Passages Sophomore Seminar.Prerequisite: Sophomores Only
HIST237Women in European Society, 1200-1700This course takes a chronological and thematic approach to the history of women and gender in pre-modern Europe. It provides a historical overview of women's history in medieval and early modern Europe, examining the effects of historical change on the lives of women and evaluating how women experienced these changes differently from men. Topics include women's roles in the family and household, women's work, female mysticism, prostitution, and witchcraft.
HIST238Gender and Sexuality in Pre-Modern EuropePart social history, part cultural history, this course examines gender and sexuality in medieval and early modern Europe, particularly the ways in which perceptions of gender difference were used to construct political and social relationships. The course is organized thematically rather than chronologically, and topics include medicine, marriage, prostitution, gender and state-building, and same-sex relations.
HIST239Special Topics in Early European HistoryThis course will focus upon a topic in early European history that is not addressed in the department's regular offerings. The course can be repeated with a different topic.
HIST241Britain and the British Empire: 1688 to the PresentExamination of major trends in British history since the "Glorious Revolution," including such topics as the development of parliamentary institutions, industrialization, reform movements, the British empire at its zenith, the two World Wars, and the evolution of British society since 1945.
HIST244French Revolution and NapoleonStudy of France from Louis XIV to Napoleon with emphasis on structure and problems of the ancient regime, origins of the revolution itself, and the Napoleonic period.
HIST246Germany and Central Europe in the 19th CenturyStudy of the evolution of the modern German nation-state, effects of industrialization and nationalism, popular culture, and the emergence of anti-Semitism.
HIST247History of Germany and Central Europe: 1890 to the PresentInvestigation of such topics as the German Empire under William II, expansionism and the origins of World War I, impact of the conflict upon German society, early years of the Weimar Republic, Hitler and the rise of national socialism, the Nazi seizure of power, the emergence of two separate German states, and transformations since the late 1980s.
HIST250Revolution, Industry, and Imperialism: Europe in the 19th CenturyStudy of Europe from 1789 to 1914; the French and industrial revolutions, liberalism, nationalism, national rivalries, socialism, social reform, imperialism, and great power conflicts.
HIST255Contemporary EuropeStudy of the main political, economic, and intellectual developments in contemporary Europe including topics such as the coming of World War I, the Russian revolution, the emergence of fascism and communism, World War II, the Cold War and the division of Europe, major social and intellectual developments since 1945, the collapse of communism and its consequences, and the complexities of European unity.
HIST257World War IIA consideration of World War II in its various dimensions -- military, geographic, economic, cultural, and social -- between 1930 and 1945. It focuses not only on grand strategy but also on the war as a lived and shared human experience.
HIST259Special Topics in Modern European HistoryThis course will focus upon a topic in Modern European history that is not addressed in the department's regular offerings. The course can be repeated with a different topic.
HIST/RELG263Jews in a Changing Europe, 1750-1880Between 1780 and 1880 enormous changes took place in Jewish religious, political, social, intellectual, and economic life. These changes worked in tandem with developments in general European life to create new forces within Judaism and new ways of looking at the connections between Jews. In this course, we will study these developments as they affected the Jews on the European continent. In so doing, we will explore their consequences for both Jews and non-Jews, and the issues and questions they raised.
HIST/RELG264Jewish Revolutions: 1881-1967Between 1881 and the period immediately following the Second World War, the world's Jews experienced momentous demographic, religious, political, economic, and social changes. These changes in turn shaped their relationship to non-Jews with whom they lived. This course will study the context of change across the globe from Europe and America to the Middle East and North Africa. Through primary and secondary documents, we will explore the forces that produced these changes and the results they produced for both Jews and non-Jews.
HIST/RELG265Zionism: From Idea to StateThis course explores the origins, development, and manifestations of Zionism. The course examines the transformation of traditional religious conceptions of the connection between Jews and the Land of Israel (Palestine) into a nationalist ideology in the 19th century. This transformation entailed parallel changes to the idea of Jewish peoplehood. Through the use of primary documents we will follow these trends through intellectual, religious, social, and political changes that culminated in the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
HIST/RELG267Women and JudaismThis course explores the religious and social position women have historically occupied in Jewish society. We will discuss religious practice and theological beliefs as well as social and economic developments as a means of addressing questions such as: What role have women played in Jewish tradition? How are they viewed by Jewish law? How has their status changed in different historical contexts, and why might those changes have taken place? What are contemporary ideas about the status of Jewish women, and how have these ideas influenced contemporary Jewish practices and communal relations? What do the historical and religious experiences of Jewish women teach us about the way that Judaism has developed?
HIST/RELG/SEMN268Jews on FilmIt will examine themes in Jewish history and culture as expressed through the medium of film. Through readings, lectures, and class discussions, students will explore issues such as assimilation and acculturation, anti-Semitism, group cohesion, interfaith relations, Zionism, and the Holocaust. We will consider questions, such as: How are Jewish characters portrayed on film? Which elements of these portrayals change over time, and which remain constant? How do these cultural statements speak to the historical contexts that produced them? What choices do filmmakers make regarding the depiction of Jewish life, and how do those choices influence perceptions of Jews in particular, or minorities generally?
HIST269Special Topics in Jewish HistoryThis course will focus upon a topic in Jewish history that is not addressed in the department's regular offerings. The course can be repeated with different topics.
HIST/SEMN/AFST271Nelson Mandela & the Anti-Apartheid MovementThere are times when specific people, places and moments in history capture the imagination of the world. This occurs when that specificity speaks volumes to the human condition and offers lessons that we all sense are important. Such has been the case with Nelson Mandela and anti-apartheid movement. This course will use Mandela and the evolution of, and struggle against, apartheid as a window into some of the 20th century's most complex issues. Prerequisite: Sophomores Only
HIST/AFST272Gender Relations in AfricaThis course explores categories of masculinity and femininity that relate to and inform one another. It analyzes how these identity categories interact with other axes of social and political power, such as ethnic affiliation, economic status, and age in various places and times in Africa.
HIST/AFST273Atlantic Slave TradeThis course examines the complex web of connections that linked together the various lives and fates of Africans, Europeans, and Americans via the Atlantic slave trade. It analyzes the mode of enslavement of Africans by slavers in Africa, the experiences of slaves in the Middle Passage, and the impact of the trade on continental and Diasporan Africans. It also explores the role played by Africa-based abolitionist movements in ending the trade in Atlantic Africa.
HIST/AFST/RELG274Islam in AfricaThis course explores the spread of Islam from the Arab peninsula to the African continent in the seventh century through the nineteenth century and limns the factors which facilitated this advance. It examines the methods and principles of Islam and how the religion affected the life styles of its African neophytes and adherents. As a result of the interaction between Muslim and African civilizations, the advance of Islam has profoundly influenced religious beliefs and practices of African societies, while local traditions have also influenced Islamic practices. Muslims were important in the process of state-building and in the creation of commercial networks that brought together large parts of the continent. Muslim clerics served as registrars of state records and played a role in developing inner-state diplomacy inside Africa and beyond.
HIST/AFST/RELG275African ChristianityThis course explores the complex and disparate trends of Christianity in Africa since the first century C. E. It highlights Africa's role in the development and growth of Christianity as a global religion. Prerequisite: Sophomores Only
HIST/AFST276Civilizations of AfricaStudy of Africa south of the Sahara including the origins of man and the emergence of food producing communities; Ancient Egypt and pre-colonial African kingdoms and federations; medieval empires of western Sudan, Ethiopia, and Bantu-speaking Africa; and the Atlantic slave trade. Emphasis on socio-political and economic history.
HIST/AFST277Contemporary AfricaStudy of Africa south of the Sahara including colonialism and the anti-colonial struggles of the post-WWII period.
HIST/AFST279Special Topics in African HistoryThis course will focus upon a topic in African history that is not addressed in the department's regular offerings. The course can be repeated with different topics.
HIST280Modern ChinaSurvey of Chinese history from the 17th century to the present; focus on major developments in China's interaction with the modern world, its struggle in modernization, the origins of the Chinese revolution, and China's reform policies in the late 20th century and their impact on Chinese society and the world.
HIST282Early ChinaSurvey of Chinese history from earliest times to 1600. Topics include the emergence and evolution of Confucianism, the rise of centralized empires, the tributary system of foreign relations, dynastic rise and decline, the scholar-official system, shifiting gender roles, and early China's place in world history.
HIST283Occupiers/Occupied in Post-World War II East AsiaHow does one country occupy another? What is it like to live in an occupied society? By exploring the post-World War II occupations of Japan, Okinawa, and both North and South Korea, we will seek to address these questions and understand how this period of occupation shaped East Asia and its people in positive and negative ways. We will examine how the goals and attitudes of the occupiers, particularly those from the US and the USSR, influenced the region. In our comparative study of these occupations we will draw from the rich English-language archive of primary and secondary materials, including historical studies, memoirs, government and military documents, as well as works of fiction, cartoons, and film.
HIST285Modern JapanStudy of Japanese history from the 17th century to the present. Topics include samurai society, economic and political modernization, the rise of militarism, World War II, the American occupation, the postwar economic miracle, and the current challenges Japan is facing.
HIST/ANSO288Sports in East AsiaWhether it's Yao Ming on the basketball court, Ichiro in Seattle breaking records, or the ubiquitous martial arts, "East Asian" sports seem to be everywhere these days. How did this come about? What can we learn about East Asian societies -- and our own -- from studying sports? These are some of the questions we will be tackling as we explore the history and significance of sports in East Asia. Drawing from a combination of primary materials, theoretical writings, comparative studies, and secondary works focused on East Asia, we will consider sports in terms of several issues: invented traditions, nationalism, body culture, gender, stardom, and the modern Olympics, to name just a few.
HIST289Special Topics: East AsiaThis course will focus upon a topic in East Asian history that is not addressed in the department's regular offerings. The course can be repeated with different topics.
HIST299Historical MethodsThis course will introduce the various approaches used by professional historians to reconstruct and interpret the past. Students will develop their research, writing, and critical thinking skills. The class focuses on the issues and questions historians explore and debate today. Open to Sophomore Majors or students with permission.
HIST391Seminar in United States History Prerequisite: One course in US History
HIST393Seminar in Medieval HistoryPrerequisite: HIST-101, HIST-231, HIST-232, HIST-234, HIST-236, HIST-237 OR HIST-238
HIST394Seminar in Modern European HistoryExamination of selected topics in modern European history from 1700 to the present.Prerequisite: One course in Modern European History at the 200 level
HIST397Seminar in East Asian HistoryPrerequisite: One course in East Asian History or political science.
HIST490FHistory Senior SeminarIntended as a capstone to the History major, the senior seminar will first review major issues in historiography from ancient times to the present. Faculty- and student-led workshops on practical aspects of historical methods and research will be central aspects of the course. Most students will complete SIPs during the course of the seminar; the seminar topics will thus help to contextualize and deepen the SIP experience. Most seminar meetings will take place in the Fall Quarter; in the Winter this course meets for one weekend of SIP presentations. Required of all History majors; departmental permission required for non-majors. (Fall component of two-term course.)Prerequisite: Senior majors or permission.
HIST490WHistory Senior SeminarIntended as a capstone to the History major, the senior seminar will first review major issues in historiography from ancient times to the present. Faculty- and student-led workshops on practical aspects of historical methods and research will be central aspects of the course. Most students will complete SIPs during the course of the seminar; the seminar topics will thus help to contextualize and deepen the SIP experience. Most seminar meetings will take place in the Fall Quarter; in the Winter, this course meets for one weekend of SIP presentations. Required of all History majors; departmental permission required for non-majors. (Winter component of two-term course.)Prerequisite: Take HIST-490F
HIST593Senior Individualized ProjectEach program or department sets its own requirements for Senior Individualized Projects done in that department, including the range of acceptable projects, the required background of students doing projects, the format of the SIP, and the expected scope and depth of projects. See the Kalamazoo Curriculum -> Senior Individualized Project section of the Academic Catalog for more details.Prerequisite: Permission of department and SIP supervisor required.