Social Sciences: History, 2012-2013
The study of history involves the critical analysis of the past. The curriculum in history is designed to encourage the development of reflective habits of mind by balancing emphasis on primary source materials with the study of important secondary works. The department welcomes comparative studies and seeks to relate its courses to the broadest possible spectrum of academic disciplines. In this connection, students can easily integrate the history major into the areas of concentration in Africana Studies, East Asian Studies, Education and Educational Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Latin American and Iberian Studies, and Peace and Conflict Studies. The department has no specific language requirement, but we encourage students who wish to major in history to pursue foreign languages to enable them to do advanced research in seminars and theses.
Professor Linda G. Gerstein, chair
Professor Emma Lapsansky-Werner, emeritus
John R. Coleman Professor of Social Sciences Paul Jakov Smith
Professor James Krippner
Frank A. Kafker Professor Lisa Jane Graham
Assistant Professor Andrew Friedman
Associate Professor Darin Hayton
Associate Professor Alexander Kitroeff
Associate Professor Bethel Saler
- Two semesters of 100 level work from the following array of courses, in any combination:
- HIST 111a and b (Introduction to Western Civilization)
- HIST 114 (Origins of the Global South)
- HIST 115 (Postcards from the Atlantic World)
- HIST 117 (Modern Mediterranean History)
- HIST 118 (Introduction to the History of Science)
- HIST 119 (International History of the United States)
- HIST 120 (Chinese Perspectives on the Individual and Society)
- Seven electives above the 100 level, at least two of which must be at the 300 (seminar) level. Students should take at least one of these seminars by the second semester of the junior year. All majors must complete three of the designated six fields. A student must take two courses above the 100 level within a field to complete each field requirement. The history department currently offers six fields: (1) United States history; (2) early European history, pre-1763; (3) modern European history; (4) Latin American history; (5) East Asian history, and (6) history of science and medicine. In addition, a student may design a field based on courses offered at Bryn Mawr (such as British Colonial, Atlantic World or African History) or that addresses specific approaches or themes (such as comparative history, religious history, women's history or history of the African diaspora). A student may take only two fields in the same geographic region where such a distinction is relevant.
- HIST 400a and b in the senior year, culminating in the writing of a senior thesis. All history majors write a senior thesis. Students receive a full course credit for each semester of the thesis. This decision reflects the work they are expected to execute each semester, with the first semester emphasizing sources (identifying, locating, transcribing) and the second semester focusing on writing (synthesis, argument, eloquence).
All of our 100-level courses are open to all students without prerequisite. Courses numbered 200–299 are open to sophomores, juniors and seniors; exceptions require the prior consent of the instructor. Courses numbered 300 and above are normally open only to juniors and seniors.
Honors in history are granted to those senior majors who, in the department’s judgment, have combined excellent performance in history courses with an excellent overall record. A grade of 3.7 or above in a history course is considered to represent work of honors quality. We may award High Honors to students showing unusual distinction in meeting these criteria.
The history departments of Haverford and Bryn Mawr have coordinated their course offerings. All courses offered by both departments are open to students of both colleges equally, subject only to the prerequisites stated by individual instructors. Both departments encourage students to avail themselves of the breadth of offerings this arrangement makes possible at both colleges.
111 Introduction to Western Civilization Since 1500 SO
The fall-semester course is a survey of Western Civilization from the fall of Rome to the 16th century. It focuses on the institutional and intellectual dimensions of the Western tradition, by closely interrogating both primary sources and secondary accounts. The second semester of this course (which students may take independently of the first semester) picks up at the beginning of the 16th century and goes to the present. It explores the development of the modern European world.
114 Origins of the Global South SO (Cross-listed in African and Africana Studies)
This is a year-long survey of topics in world history from the era of classical empires (Rome, Han China) to the present, with emphasis on the changing relationships among different regions and peoples of the world, and on the geo-politics of point of view in making history and in understanding it.
115 Postcards from the Atlantic World SO
This is an exploration of the movement of peoples, goods and ideas across the four continents that border the Atlantic basin (Africa, Europe, North America and South America) over the transformative periods of exploration and empire from the 15th to the 19th centuries.
117 Modern Mediterranean History SO
This course examines the ways the countries and peoples of the Mediterranean region—Southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East—responded the main events and trends in the 19th and 20th century: The French Revolution, the industrial revolution, nationalism, imperialism, fascism, the two World Wars, the Cold War and anti-colonialism. The Mediterranean lies between Europe, Africa and Asia geographically but also in a normative sense, representing a region whose historical trajectory echoed that of the developed West but also the colonized, less developed East. Its study, therefore, enables students to understand the main historical trends in the modern era on a global scale. Does not count toward the major.
118 Introduction to the History of Science SO
Although science is an essential characteristic of the modern world, it took nearly 4,000 years to attain that status. This course surveys various sciences in the past focusing on both how and why humans have interrogated the natural world, how they have categorized the resulting knowledge and what uses they have made of it. Topics can include science and medicine in antiquity, Islamic sciences, Byzantine and medieval sciences, early-modern science and the Scientific Revolution.
119 International History of the United States SO
This course surveys the international history of the United States in the 20th century. It encourages students to conceptualize U.S. history as a series of transnational encounters and systems that transcend national borders. Capitalism, the environment, postcolonialism and Third Worldism, "Atlantic crossings," modernity, imperialism, diaspora and migration, world war, travel, United Nations and "Our America" serve as organizing motifs. In considering the history of this country outside its formal borders, students gain a facility with the languages of hemispheric and global imagining that structure the pursuit of contemporary U.S. history, while sharpening their analytical skills in working with primary texts.
120 Chinese Perspectives on the Individual and Society SO (Cross-listed in East Asian Studies)
A survey of philosophical, literary, legal and autobiographical sources on Chinese notions of the individual in traditional and modern China. This course places particular emphasis on identifying how ideal and actual relationships between the individual and society vary across class and gender and over time. We pay special attention to the early 20th century, when Western ideas about the individual begin to penetrate Chinese literature and political discourse.
200 Sophomore Seminar: Methods and Approaches in East Asian Studies HU (Cross-listed in East Asian Studies)
Required of East Asian Studies majors and minors; open to history majors and other interested students.
203 The Age of Jefferson and Jackson, 1789- 1850 SO
This course charts the transformation in American political institutions, economy and society from the ratification of the Constitution to the eve of the Civil War. Often identified as the crucial period when the American nation cohered around a national culture and economy, this period also witnessed profound social rifts over the political legacy of the American Revolution, the national institutionalization of slavery, and the rise of a new class system. We consider the points of conflict and cohesion in this rapidly changing American nation. Open to students with sophomore standing or above. Typically offered in alternate years.
204 History of Gender and U.S. Women to 1870 SO (Cross-listed in Gender and Sexuality Studies)
This course surveys the history of American women from the colonial period through 1870. We consider and contrast the lives and perspectives of women from a wide variety of social backgrounds and geographic areas, as individuals and members of families and communities, while also examining how discourses of gender frame such topics as colonization, slavery, class identity, nationalism, religion and political reform. Open to students with sophomore standing or above. Typically offered in alternate years.
208 Colonial Latin America SO (Cross-listed in Latin American and Iberian Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies-Bi Co Conc)
Are you interested in understanding Latin America? If so, you must understand the colonial era. Spanish and Portuguese rule of the region lasted more than three centuries—in most countries from 1492 until the early 1820's, and in Cuba and Puerto Rico until 1898—and the legacies of colonial rule have conditioned social relations, economic life, culture, and political conflict up until the present. This course will provide a thorough and regionally varied introduction to the multi-faceted history of colonial Latin America, beginning with an introduction to the indigenous civilizations existing prior to Iberian expansion and ending with popular upheavals that marked the end of the eighteenth century.
209 Modern Latin America SO (Cross-listed in Latin American and Iberian Studies and Peace, Conflict and Social Justics Studies)
This course introduces students to modern Latin American history from the 19th century demise of Spanish and Portuguese colonialism through the present. We discuss all the major regions and cultural zones of contemporary Latin America. We pay particular attention to the interplay of gender, race and class in specific contexts and examine how social conflict has influenced historical change.
215 Sport and Society SO
This course examines the evolution of sport in the Americas and Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, from its amateur beginnings to its transformation into a lucrative business with a global scope in the late 20th century. The course is divided into three broad chronological sections: the 19th century, the 20th century through World War II and the post-1945 era. In each of these segments we are concerned with the way of social changes affected the way sport was played, administered, experienced as a spectacle, and how it was treated as an important social institution. Prerequisite: An introductory social science course.
225 Europe: 1870-1914 SO
Topics of this course include Marxism, The Dreyfus Affair, Imperialism, sexual anxiety, and Art Nouveau. Typically offered in alternate years.
226 Twentieth Century Europe SO
The emergence of the culture of Modernism; revolutionary dreams and Stalinist nightmares in Russia, facism, the trauma of war 1914–1945, the divisions of Cold War Europe and the challenge of a new European attempt at reintegration in the 1990s.
227 Statecraft and Selfhood in Early Modern Europe SO
This course examines the political, social and cultural responses to the perceived crisis of authority that followed the Reformation era in Europe. The crisis in faith was accompanied by innovations in all areas of human life, from political thought and science to art and literature. Topics include the emergence of the royal state, absolutism and constitutionalism, protest and rebellion, religion and popular culture, court society, and Baroque aesthetics. Open to students with sophomore standing or above. Typically offered in alternate years.
228 The French Revolution SO
Most historians identify the French Revolution of 1789 with the birth of the modern world. The French captured international attention when they tore down the Old Regime and struggled to establish a democratic society based on Enlightenment principles of liberty and equality. The problems confronted by revolutionary leaders continue to haunt us around the world today. This course examines the origins, evolution, and impact of the French Revolution, with special emphasis on the historiographical debates that have surrounded the revolution since its inception. Open to students with sophomore standing or above. Typically offered in alternate years.
229 Gender, Sex and Power in Europe, 1550-1800 SO (Cross-listed in Gender and Sexuality Studies)
This course traces the evolving definitions of gender and sexuality in Europe from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. Primary sources and theoretical readings explore the construction of gender roles and sexuality in different arenas of early modern life such as political thought, law, work, family, art and performance. Topics include masculinity and effeminacy, court culture and power, the rise of print technology and literacy, religious conflict and scientific discovery. Typically offered in alternate years.
230 Europe in the 19th and 20th Centuries: Between War and Peace SO
War was integral to the spread of nationalism and nationalist rhetoric in Europe from the Napoleonic Era to World War II; war also gave rise to a European counter-discourse, best described as patriotic pacifism. This course surveys debates among European politicians, intellectuals and ordinary citizens in this era about the true interests of the nation. Offered occasionally.
231 The Age of Enlightenment SO
This course approaches the Enlightenment as a process of political and cultural change rather than a canon of great texts. We places special emphasis on the emergence of a public sphere and new forms of sociability as distinguishing features of 18th century European life. Typically offered in alternate years.
233 Perspectives on Civil War and Revolution: Southern Europe and Central America SO (Cross-listed in Political Science)
Prerequisite: One course in history or one course in political science.
234 Nationalism and Politics in the Balkans SO
This course explores the interrelationship of politics with communism and nationalism in the Balkans. Topics include: the political legacies of the region; the rise of communism and the way in which communist regimes dealt with nationalist issues in each of the region's nation-states; the sharpening of nationalist conflicts in the post-communist era; and the Yugoslav war and the post war efforts to restore democratic rule and resolve nationalist differences equitably. Typically offered in alternate years.
237 History of the Occult and Witchcraft SO
This course examines the historical situation that produced witchcraft and the occult sciences: How and why did people believe or claim to believe in witches, astrology and magic? The second goal is to recognize how historians and recent authors (including film-makers and artists) have used the past. Why are studies of witchcraft and astrology experiencing such a renaissance today? By combining a close reading of primary sources—ranging from texts to trial records to paintings and literature—with secondary sources, we confront the challenges these activities pose for our understanding of the past and the present. Typically offered in alternate years.
240 History and Principles of Quakerism SO (Cross-listed in Religion and Peace and Conflict Studies)
This course focuses on the development of Quakerism and its relationship to other religious movements and to political and social life, especially in America. We explore the roots of the Society of Friends in 17th-century Britain and the expansion of Quaker influences among Third World populations, particularly the Native American, Hispanic, east African and Asian populations.
244 Russia from 1800-1917 SO (Cross-listed in Russian)
Topics include the culture of serfdom, Westernization, reforms, modernization, national identities and revolution. Typically offered in alternate years.
245 Russia in the 20th Century SO (Cross-listed in Russian)
This course explores continuity and change in Russian and Soviet society since the 1890s. Major topics include the revolutionary period, the cultural ferment of the 1920s, Stalinism, the Thaw, the culture of dissent and the collapse of the system. Typically offered in alternate years.
250 White Ethnicity in the U.S. 1870s–1990s: A Transnational History SO
This course presents the history of white ethnic groups in the United States from the 1890s to the 1990s, through the lens of recent scholarly approaches that have privileged the significance of relationship of race and immigration; transnationalism and homeland-diaspora relations. Prerequisite: none
256 Zen Thought, Zen Culture, Zen History HU (Cross-listed in East Asian Studies and Religion)
257 The Scientific Revolution SO
The revolution in the sciences that occurred between 1500 and 1750 completely reshaped our understanding of the natural world and our place in it. Simultaneously, the methods used to interrogate that natural world changed dramatically. This course explores these transformations. Open to students with sophomore standing. Typically offered in alternate years.
259 Collecting and Displaying Nature SO
Collecting, classifying and displaying natural artifacts acquired new significance in early-modern Europe and played an important role in the development of modern science. This course explores the motivations and contexts for such collecting and classifying activities. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or the instructor’s consent.
260 Mid Imperial China (ca. A.D. 850-1600) SO (Cross-listed in East Asian Studies)
This course explores surveys the fundamental transformation of Chinese society between the 9th and 16th centuries, with particular stress on exams and the rise of a literocentric elite, Neo-Confucianism's impact on social and gender relations, fraught relations between China and the steppe and China's role in the premodern global economy. Not open to Freshmen.
261 Late Imperial China, 1600-1900 SO (Cross-listed in East Asian Studies)
This course surveys Chinese culture and society at the height of the imperial era through the 18th century and the ensuing political and cultural crises catalysed by institutional decline and Western imperialism in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing and one course in either History or East Asian Studies.
263 The Chinese Revolution SO (Cross-listed in East Asian Studies)
This course places the causes and consequences of the Communist Revolution of 1949 in historical perspective, by examining its late-imperial antecedents and tracing how the revolution has (and has not) transformed China, including the lives of such key revolutionary supporters as the peasantry, women and intellectuals. Typically offered in alternate years.
267 The Medieval Transformation of Eurasia, ca. 1000-1400 SO (Cross-listed in East Asian Studies)
Historians now agree that the 10th through the 14th centuries witnessed transformations across Eurasia that had long-term consequences for subsequent developments throughout the Old World. This course surveys the nature of and linkages between those changes in Europe, the Islamic world, China and Japan, with a primary focus on travelers accounts and such literary sources as The Canterbury Tales (Europe), The Arabian Nights (Middle East), Tale of the Heike (Japan) and The Story of the Western Wing (China). Prerequisite: One 100-level introductory course in History or East Asian Studies.
268 Transformations of Medieval Afro-Eurasia, 10th to 15th centuries SO (Cross-listed in East Asian Studies)
This course uses literature and travelers' accounts to trace the rise and displacement of a multi-polar Afro-Eurasian system of trade, communications and cultural encounters during the 10th–15th centuries, and the internal social transformations that accompanied those exchanges. Prerequisite: At least one introductory history course.
270 From Empire to Nation: The Ottoman World Transformed SO
This course introduces students to the historical study of empires and the circumstances and consequences of their collapse by focusing on the Ottoman Empire. A cluster of recent studies that treat the history of the Ottoman Empire (1453–1923) as a complex, dynamic and changing entity revise the older perspectives epitomizing the supposedly backward, unchanging, and mysterious Orient. Based on the more accessible works among this new literature, the course examines the transformation of the Ottoman Empire in terms of its political structures, ties with Islam, social make-up and economy, as well as its relationship with Europe and responses to the forces of modernity. Typically offered in alternate years.
281 Mexican Cultural History: Ancient and Colonial SO (Cross-listed in Latin American and Iberian Studies)
This course provides an introduction to Mexican cultural history from antiquity through the colonial centuries. We pay particular attention to elite and popular understandings and forms of expression as recorded in visual culture, material objects and the writings of the colonial era. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or the instructor’s consent.
282 Mexican Cultural History: Modern and Postmodern SO (Cross-listed in Latin American and Iberian Studies)
This course provides an introduction to Mexican cultural history from antiquity through the colonial centuries. We pay particular attention to elite and popular understandings and forms of expression as recorded in visual culture, material objects, and the writings of the colonial era. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or the instructor’s consent.
303 Gender, Intimacy and U.S. Foreign Policy SO (Cross-listed in Gender and Sexuality Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies)
This course examines the arenas of gender, sex and intimacy as crucial to the formation of U.S. foreign policy and U.S. imperialism in and after two key historical moments, often summarized as the Spanish-American War and the Cold War. The course looks at how U.S. encounters abroad defined personal intimacies and everyday lives. It explores the ways that rhetorical strategies concerning the body, masculinity and femininity, feelings, friendship and love became central to U.S. geopolitical practice and memory. Prerequisite: At least one history course.
305 Political Technologies of Race and the Body SO (Cross-listed in Peace, Justice, and Human Rights and Gender and Sexuality Studies)
This course examines the technologies, ideologies and material strategies that have created and specified human beings as racialized and gendered subjects in the U.S. Readings cover biopolitics, disability studies, material culture, histories of disease, medicine, violence and industrialization. In our discussions and research, we aim to decode the production of "reality" at its most basic and molecular level. Open to students with sophomore standing or above.
317 Visions of Mexico SO (Cross-listed in Latin American and Iberian Studies)
333 History and Theory SO
This course introduces students to some of the cultural theories that have influenced the recent work of historians as well as examples of historical monographs that take a theoretical approach. It highlights imaginative and innovative approaches to history rather than a particular geographic or chronological period. Among the cultural theorists whose work we examine are Michel Foucault, Clifford Geertz, Pierre Bourdieu, Edward Said and Dipesh Chakrabarty. Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing or the instructor’s consent. Typically offered in alternate years.
341 The Early Republic SO
Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or consent of the instructor.
347 War and Warriors in Chinese History SO (Cross-listed in East Asian Studies)
Prerequisite: Open to students with upper class standing.
349 Topics in Comparative History SO (Cross-listed in East Asian Studies)
350 Courtly Science in Late Medieval and Renaissance Europe SO
354 Topics in Early Modern Europe SO
Prerequisite: One prior course in History or the instructor’s consent.
356 Literature and Society in Modern Russia SO (Cross-listed in Russian)
357 Topics in European History: Nationalism and Migration SO
358 Topics in Enlightenment History SO
Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing or the instructor’s consent.
400 Senior Thesis Seminar SO
This course is designed to expose students to different historical methods and guide them through the conceptualization of a topic, the research, and the writing of a thesis proposal.
480 Independent Study SO
Prerequisite: The instructor's consent.
COURSES AT BRYN MAWR COLLEGE
101 The Historical Imagination SO
102 Intro to African Civilizations SO
212 Pirates and Travelers SO
225 19th Century Europe: Industry, Empire and Globalization SO
242 American Politics And Society: 1940-Pres SO
253 Survey of Western Architecture HU
258 Brit Empire: Imagining Indias SO
271 Medieval Islamic Society And Politics SO
283 Modern Mideast/North Africa Middle East and North Africa SO
285 Sport And Spectacle Ancient Greece And Rome HU
318 Topics in Modern European Hist Media Revolutions: Print, Radio and Internet SO
325 Topics in Social History: Sexuality in America SO
336 Topics in African History: Social & Cultural History of Medicine SO
357 Topics in British Empire: Race, Nation and the Making of Britain SO
378 Origins American Constitutionalism SO
383 Islamic Reform & Radicalism SO
395 Exploring History SO