Undergraduate Thematic Courses

These are the courses offered by the History Department to fulfill this requirement.

Course No. Course Name Description
HIST 271 The History of Christianity
This course examines the history of the great diversity of beliefs, practices, ways of life, and forms of authority among Christians, and especially conflicts about these.  Not narrowly theological, the course construes Christianity broadly, treating, for example, society, culture, and art.
HIST 310 The Black Death
A lecture course focusing on Europe in the age of bubonic plague (from 1348 to 1720), with emphasis on changes in climate, food supplies, public health, epidemic disease, demography, and economy. The last third of the course will be devoted to the religious and artistic responses to disaster.
HIST 311 History of Epidemics
In the 14th century, an infectious disease that came to be known as the Black Death emerged in Asia and spread along trade routes to Europe, killing an estimated 60% of the population in about a year. Using the Black Death as a starting point, this course will examine the history of epidemics across the globe from 1350 to the present day using five case studies: Black Death (14th century); Smallpox (1775-82); Cholera (mid 19th century); Spanish Influenza (1918); and HIV/AIDS (1980s to the present).  We will spend a significant amount of the course analyzing primary sources from those who witnessed epidemics, treated the sick, and lived and died during various epidemic outbreaks and attempted to understand them from a range of personal, literary, film, medical, media, museum, and public health perspectives. Over the course of the semester, we will analyze how epidemic and infectious diseases created historical watersheds that have shaped our world history socially, politically, environmentally, and economically to the present day. We will also examine human responses to epidemics in artistic, cultural, and intellectual realms, and the ways in which politicians, medical doctors, national and international bureaucracies, religious personnel, scholars, and everyday women and men debated their philosophical and moral implications. The final weeks of the course analyze contemporary "pandemic preparedness" policy and responses to health threats including vaccine controversies, ebola, and H1N1.
HIST 312 Economy and Society in Historical Discourse Compares historical narratives about economic theories in their contexts.
HIST 353 World History for Future Educators
This one-semester, 3-unit World History survey introduces History and Education majors to concepts, topics, and methods for teaching World and Comparative history at the appropriate level for K-12 students.  The class covers the entire span of human history, from pre-history and antiquity to the medieval and early modern periods to the industrial revolution and the contemporary world.  Topics include: the origins of complex human social and political organization; the history of transcontinental and transoceanic migrations; the development of agriculture and early city-states; regional histories and global economies; religion and the rise of early empires; modern state formation; and the cultural impact of technological innovation.
HIST 356 Global Environmental History
This course will examine the ways in which different societies have defined, understood, valued, mapped, and made their livings in their environment.  Also, it will explore how societies and environments mutually transform one another.
HIST 358 Natural History of Disasters
This one-semester, 3-unit undergraduate course examines the history of natural disasters. Earthquakes, storms, floods, fires, and droughts have all disrupted and transformed lives, environments, and societies. What defines a "natural" disaster? How have individuals, groups and nations understood and responded to these events? How have ideas about natural disasters changed over time? What are human responsibilities for natural disasters? Taking an environmental history approach, this course offers broadly based coverage of major topics in disaster studies, including cultural and political responses; disaster narratives and representations; changing scientific, technological and cultural interpretations of nature; memory and remembrances; impact of disasters on policy, economy, planning and society. We will explore and compare case studies through time and space. Throughout we will examine disasters as social, cultural and environmental phenomena, develop skills in analysis and interpretation, and consider the changing meanings of disasters.
HIST 375 Histories of Memories This course will examine modern histories of memories in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries through the institutions and technologies that facilitate recall, such as museums, photography and film, print media and visual culture.  We will focus on the moments of tension where history and memory appear to be at odds, where competing interests in the meanings of the past have created social conflict.  Topics may include the aftermath of collective traumas (such as Sept. 11, 2001), genocide or war; the role of photographs, television and film in creating visually based memories of others¿ historical experiences; how institutions such as schools and museums, as well as memorial sites, contribute to the social construction of historical memories; or the course may focus on a single historical moment of memory crisis.
HIST 381A History of Muslim Societies, 600-1500
Rise of Islam, creation of Islamic society, relationship of religion and politics.
HIST 381B History of Muslim Societies, 1400-Present
Evolution and global spread of Muslim societies, modernization and its problems.
HIST 388 Slavery in World History
The course will examine a range of instances of slavery, including in ancient and medieval Europe, in medieval and modern South Asia, in Africa, the Caribbean world, and in North and South America.  The emphasis will be on historicizing individual instances of the phenomenon, that is, understanding why particular forms of the institution appeared in certain contexts, and other forms in other contexts.
HIST 401 Revolutions of the Mind: Nineteenth-Century Ideas and Their Contemporary Legacy
This course will examine the writings of the major public intellectuals/ critical thinkers of the nineteenth century and their continued influence in our contemporary world.  We will read the work of intellectual figures as diverse as Marx, Mill, Spencer, Thoreau, Darwin, Renan, Zola, Freud, Hirschfeld, and others considering the influence of their ideas in their own time and their implications for our own epistemologies and cosmologies in the present.
HIST 402 Imperial Cities
This seminar will examine the politics of citizenship and urban space in imperial cities including London, Accra, Paris, and Marseille. Drawing from a broad range of primary and secondary sources, we will explore material and popular culture in everyday life and the ways in which ordinary people made sense of empire and the world in the 19th and 20th centuries.
HIST 407 Perpetual Revolutions: A History of the Bicycle
The modern bicycle has been present in human lives for less than a century and a half.  Yet in that brief period of time it has spread throughout the world and its popularity is near-universal. In this course we will trace the evolution of bicycle in four distinct ways: as a transportation device, with a gendered component; as a site for the development of human technology; as commodity for economic development; and as a device for human pleasure, leisure time, and exercise.  We will explore its invention, growth, and development from the nineteenth through the twenty-first centuries in societies around the world.  We will survey important developments in the history of the bicycle from approximately 1850 to the present.
HIST 411 Human Sexuality in World History In this course we will trace the evolution of sexualities in historical context and the way human societies around the World construct their notions of sexualities over time.  We will survey important developments in the history of sexuality from approximately 5000 B.C.E. to the present.  We will concentrate on human beings' changing perceptions of the meaning of sexualities and how they relate to the dynamics of the political, cultural, and social movements that dominated World history throughout this period.  In the modern period, people have attached meanings to sexualities that reflect deep social divisions between states and societies about the assignment of sexual and gender norms, regulation, criminalization, and sexual politics.  We will try to ascertain the historical development of these contested meanings.
HIST 412B The Role of the Intellectual in 20th-Century Europe Examines how twentieth-century writers debated the role of the intellectual: whether to be politically committed in order to advocate positive change, or to remain ¿above the fray¿ and strive for objectivity?  Considers how historical context (war and genocide, social transformations) shaped the role of the intellectual in European societies.  Readings may include Woolf, Sartre, De Beauvoir, Arendt, Havel, Said.
HIST 427 Work, Culture, and Power
History of work, cross-culturally and over time, including slavery, agricultural, artisanal, and industrial work, unions and workers' political movements, and labor market segmentation by gender and race, sweatshops and migration.

HIST 428

Food, Health, and Environment in History Does food have a history? While seemingly a mundane aspect of everyday life, food has been central to cultural meaning, political conflict, religious life, and economic and social systems. Food has also been closely connected, both materially and in the realm of ideas, to bodily health and the natural environment, which will be the key themes of this course. Topics may include: the creation of the modern food system, the relationship between food production and landscape change, the shift from local to long-distance food procurement, the transformation of diet, the industrialization of agriculture, farm labor, the history of nutritional science and expert advice about what kinds of foods to eat, the development of global commodity chains, the environmental consequences of changes in the food system, the origins of public policy initiatives such as the school lunch and farm programs, and the rise of movements to challenge the conventional food system, such as vegetarianism, organic agriculture, and the local food movement. We will focus on historical experiences in their global and comparative context. Through this course, we will explore how a historical perspective can be insightful in understanding the food system.
HIST 453 Women and Work
Statement of purpose: Why should we study women's work? Is work the key to women's power or to their continuing subordination? What defines "women's work" and do only women do it? Are gendered divisions of labor an inescapable fact of nature, or do they have a history? What types of work have women performed from society to society, across time and space? How have historical and cultural contexts affected women's work? In this course we will examine women's work in a variety of societies in the past and present, asking how women's lives were shaped by their work, and how their work in turn made a difference in shaping their societies. We will also attempt better to understand what may be common to women and their work in different places and times, and how to account for the many differences. Like other upper-division history courses, this one demands substantial reading and writing.
HIST 458 Topics in Comparative Women's History
International history of a topic of the instructor's choice.
HIST 477 Comparative History of World Revolutions
This course examines the historical context against the theoretical, cultural, political, social, and economic elements of sudden revolutionary upheaval.  Revolutions from the French Revolution of 1789 to the Cuban Revolution of 1959 will be studied.
HIST 478A The Global Sixties
This course addresses the larger chronological and spatial framework around the year 1968.  We explore the evolution of political ideas from decolonization to urban renewal, from labor to civil rights.  We look at the formation of new categories, new political subjects like student organizations, gender and ethnic-based groups.  We follow the effects that the political upheaval of the 1960s had on intellectuals and on political theories.  Finally, we investigate the exhaustion and consumption of this global political event in memory and popular culture. The course also questions whether there is a global historical sense to "the sixties."  What links these events besides the fact that they are happening in the same decade?
HIST 483 Mapping the Past: The History of Cartography
This interdisciplinary one-semester, 3-unit, readings and discussions seminar is designed for upper division undergraduate students with interests in history, geography and cartography. It offers broadly-based coverage of major topics in the history of cartography, including the theoretical turn in the "new cartography," the cultural history of cartography, and the role of GIS. Using case studies from the Anglo-European world, we will examine the role of maps in exploration, colonization, and imperialism; cartographic representation of the New World from European and indigenous perspectives; Humboldtian traditions in the Americas; nation-state border projects; and various genres of mapping. Throughout we will examine maps as evidence, develop skills in spatial analysis and interpretation, and consider how maps can be used by historians and other scholars.
HIST 490 Philosophy of History
Introduction to historical thinking from antiquity to the present, with emphasis on ideas in European and North American historical writings during the modern and contemporary eras.
HIST 495K Colloquium on World History
A colloquium or small lecture class intended for majors and upperclassmen; topics vary by instructor.


College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

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Department of History
Cesar E. Chavez
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