Course Offerings for First Year Students


If you would like to view the syllabus for a course listed below, click on the title or request it by emailing the professor or by contacting the Academic Coordinator at rbanks@bowdoin.edu.

Fall 2014

FIRST-YEAR SEMINARS

1004 c. (T/Th 2:30-3:55) A Global History of Food.  Thomas Fleischman

Examines the shifting relationship between people, food, and the environment that ties them together. It asks how have distance and space between the sites of production and consumption affected the economic and social relations of food? How has geography influenced the types of food people eat? How do views of scarcity and plenty shape approaches to farming? What is the role of governments and markets in agriculture? How does food refract and transform social divisions, cultural attitudes, and daily life? Topics include rural development; subsistence gardening; famine; histories of sugar, corn, pork, fish, whales, ice cream, and anything else that fits on a plate.

1006. c. (M/W 1:00-2:25)  Monsters, Marvels, and Messiahs. Dallas Denery

Examines how Europeans have sought to understand themselves and the world around them through travel and travel literature. Particular attention paid to the fascinating ways in which Europeans have used travel narratives to define and distinguish themselves from their “others.” Note: This course fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors.

 1014. c..(M/W 1:00-2:25) Utopia: Intentional Communities in America, 1630-1997. Sarah McMahon

An examination of the evolution of utopian visions and utopian experiments that begins in 1630 with John Winthrop’s “City upon a Hill,” explores the proliferation of both religious and secular communal ventures between 1780 and 1920, and concludes with an examination of twentieth-century counterculture communes, intentional communities, and dystopian separatists. Readings include primary source accounts by members (letters, diaries, essays, etc.), “community” histories and apostate exposés, utopian fiction, and scholarly historical analyses. Discussions and essays focus on teaching students how to subject primary and secondary source materials to critical analysis.

1017. c. (T/Th 11:30-12:55)  Black Humor. Patrick Rael

Explores a long American cultural tradition of humor centering on people of African descent. Representations of African Americans, and African Americans themselves, have long been a component of American laughter -- either as objects of derision, or as potent social commentators. This course explores the history of black humor stretching from nineteenth-century blackface minstrelsy to Saturday Night Live. We will view recorded performances, read historical material, and engage a complex theoretical literature on this subject. Students should be ready to encounter edgy material that may be considered offensive. Subjects may include Amos and Andy, Moms Mably, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Whoopi Goldberg, Wanda Sykes, and Dave Chapelle.

1022. c.(M/W 2:30-3:55) Science and Society. David Hecht

Focuses on twentieth-century science, technology, and medicine. Uses a number of seminal events and ideas—evolution, nuclear weapons, environmentalism, genetics, climate change and public health—to examine changing meanings of “science.” Science is neither as objective nor as detached from society as is commonly assumed; but is deeply intertwined with the political, institutional, and cultural history of modern America.

1033. c. (M/W 1:00-2:25) Japan in the World. Tristan Grunow

Introduces students to the history, culture, and global interactions of Japan with a focus on the modern (post-1868) period through examination of primary and secondary sources, popular literature, and film. Along the way, the class will “De-exoticize” Japan, deconstruct the terms “Eastern” and “Western,” and consider how tensions between “Tradition/Modernity,” and “Inside/Outside,” have propelled modern Japanese historical development. Topics include: differing narratives of modernization; invention of “traditional” Japanese culture; the Western discovery of Japan/Japanese discovery of the West; changes in everyday life; tensions of modernity and tradition; war and defeat; and Japanese pop culture.

1036. c. (M/W 11:30-12:55) China Encounters the West. Leah Zuo

Explores the historical relationship between China and the West through examining a selection of their encounters from the seventeenth through the early twentieth centuries. Key episodes include: the Jesuit and Protestant missions, the arrival of the Industrial West (imperialism and war), the Cold War, and beyond. Examines such themes as religion and religiosity, science and technology, and the dynamics of cultural accommodation and communication. Interdisciplinary. Draws upon readings of history, the history of science, religion, and political science. Note: This course fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors.

INTRODUCTORY– LEVEL COURSES (1100-1999)

1112. c. (M/W 2:30-3:55) History of Ancient Rome: From Romulus to Justinian. Robert Sobak

Surveys the history of Rome from its beginnings to the fourth century AD. Considers the political, economic, religious, social, and cultural developments of the Romans in the context of Rome’s growth from a small settlement in central Italy to the dominant power in the Mediterranean world. Special attention is given to such topics as urbanism, imperialism, the influence of Greek culture and law, and multiculturalism. Introduces different types of sources—literary, epigraphical, archaeological, etc.—for use as historical documents. Note: This course fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors.

1241.c. (M/W 11:30-12:55) The Civil War Era. Patrick Rael

Examines the coming of the Civil War and the war itself in all its aspects. Considers the impact of changes in American society, the sectional crisis and breakdown of the party system, the practice of Civil War warfare, and social ramifications of the conflict. Includes readings of novels and viewing of films. Students are expected to enter with a basic knowledge of American history, and a commitment to participating in large class discussions.

CORE COURSES (2000-2499)

 2015. c.(T/Th 10:00-11:25)  Modern Germany: 1848-2010. Thomas Fleischman

German history has always been confounded by a remarkable lack of continuity. Between 1871 and 2010, no fewer than six different states have claimed to rule Germany, each expounding a different political ideology. With little political continuity, Germany’s “national” history became located in its cultural character. This course explores this peculiar, paradoxical, and often dark history. How do we narrate a “national” history where no single nation has existed? Can Germany be understood as a vanguard of the Enlightenment or the progenitor of unprecedented barbarism? Topics to discuss include German colonialism, World Wars, histories of science, the Berlin Wall, lefty terrorists, and the EU.

2048. c.(M/W 8:00-9:25) Medieval Europe: 1075 to 1415. Dallas Denery

Examines the religious, political, economic and cultural history of Europe from the Investiture Controversy to the Council of Constance. Note: This course fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors.

2128. c. (T/Th 11:30-12:55) Family and Community in American History, 1600–1900. Sarah McMahon

Examines the social, economic, and cultural history of American families from 1600 to 1900, and the changing relationship between families and their kinship networks, communities, and the larger society. Topics include gender relationships; racial, ethnic, cultural, and class variations in family and community ideals, structures, and functions; the purpose and expectations of marriage; philosophies of child-rearing; organization of work and leisure time; and the effects of industrialization, urbanization, immigration, and social and geographic mobility on patterns of family life and community organization.

2160.c. (M/W 1:00-2:25)  History of the American West. Connie Chiang

Survey of what came to be called the Western United States from the nineteenth century to the present. Topics include Euro-American relations with Native Americans; the expansion and growth of the federal government into the West; the exploitation of natural resources; the creation of borders and national identities; race, class, and gender relations; the influence of immigration and emigration; violence and criminality; cities and suburbs; and the enduring persistence of Western myths in American culture. Students write several papers and engage in weekly discussion based upon primary and secondary documents, art, literature, and film.

2202. c.( M/W 11:30-12:55) The History of Energy. David Hecht

Explores how and why Americans (and others) have made the energy choices that they have. The production and distribution of energy is one of the key challenges for modern societies. It involves the development of specific technologies and industries- from fossil fuels to solar power to nuclear plants. But the history of energy transcends the technical. It intersects with law, politics, and economics; social norms and cultural values play a role as well. The connections between the technical and non-technical are central to understanding both the history of energy itself, as well as its place in the history of the modern Unites States.

2270. c.(T/Th 11:30-12:55)  History of Brazil. Laura Premack

A survey of Brazilian history from colonization through the present day. Topics include colonial encounter between Africans, Portuguese and indigenous peoples; transitions from colony to empire to republic; slavery and its legacy; formation of Brazilian national identity; and contemporary issues in modern Brazil. Particular attention will be paid to race, religion and culture.

2290. c.(M/W/F 9:30-10:25)  Japan: Past and Present. Tristan Grunow

Surveys Japan’s place in the world by exploring its historical evolution from the emergence of human civilization in the Japanese islands to today, emphasizing along the way the fluid overseas contacts and interactions that have shaped Japanese culture. Topics covered include: the development of centralized government in the Heian Period; the rise and fall of warrior rule in Medieval Japan; the revolutionary political and social changes accompanying the Meiji Restoration and Japan’s integration into the global system; imperialism, militarism and war in the early 20th century; reconstruction and rejuvenation in the postwar; and finally Japan’s recent re-emergence on the global stage.

2321. c.(M/W 2:30-3:55) Late Imperial China. Leah Zuo

Introduction to late imperial China (800 to 1800) as the historical background to the modern age. Begins with the conditions shortly before the Golden Age (Tang Dynasty) collapses, and ends with the heyday of the last imperial dynasty (Qing Dynasty). Major topics include the burgeoning of “modernity” in economic and political patterns, the relation between state and society, the voice and presence of new social elites, ethnic identities, and the cultural, economic, and political encounters between China and the West. Note: This course fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors.

2380. c.(M/W 11:30-12:55) Christianity and Islam in West Africa. Olufemi Vaughan

Explores how Christianity, Islam, and indigenous African religious beliefs shaped the formation of West African states from the nineteenth century Islamic reformist movements and mission Christianity, to the formation of modern nation-states in the twentieth century. While the course provides a broad regional West African overview, we will focus careful attention on how religious themes shaped the communities of the Nigerian region--a critical West African region where Christianity and Islam converged to transform a modern state and society. Drawing on primary and secondary historical texts as well as Africanist works in sociology and comparative politics, this Nigerian experience will illuminate broader West African, African, and global perspectives that underscore the historical significance of religion in politics and society, especially in non-Western contexts.

2401. c.(T/Th 10:00-11:25) Colonial Latin America. Allen Wells

Introduces students to the history of Latin America from pre-Columbian times to about 1825. Traces developments fundamental to the establishment of colonial rule, drawing out regional comparisons of indigenous resistance and accommodation. Topics include the nature of indigenous societies encountered by Europeans; exploitation of African and Indian labor; evangelization and the role of the church; the evolution of race, gender, and class hierarchies in colonial society; and the origins of independence in Spanish America and Brazil. Note: This course fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors.

Fall 2013

FIRST-YEAR SEMINARS

1012 {22}c.(T/Th 2:30-3:55) "Bad" Women Make Great History: Gender, Identity, and Society in Modern Europe, 1789–1945. Fall 2013. Page Herrlinger.

Focuses on the lives and works of path-breaking women who defied the norms of modern European society in order to assume extraordinary and often controversial identities in a range of fields—as writers, scientists, performers, athletes, soldiers, and social and political activists. What does each woman's "deviance" reveal about cultural constructions of identity and the self in Modern Europe? About contemporary views on issues such as women's work, gender relations, education, marriage, sexuality, motherhood, health, and the struggle for civil and political rights? And when studied together, what do these women's experiences tell us about patterns of change and continuity with respect to definitions of masculinity vs. femininity, the public vs. private sphere, and the relationship of the individual to the modern state? (Same as Gender and Women's Studies 1022 {22}.)

1016 {25} c.(T/Th 11:30-12:55) The Civil War in Film. Fall 2013. Patrick Rael.

Explores the American Civil War through an examination of popular films dedicated to the topic. Students analyze films as a representation of the past, considering not simply their historical subject matter, but also the cultural and political contexts in which they are made. Films include The Birth of a Nation, Gone with the Wind, Glory, and Cold Mountain. Weekly evening film screenings. (Same as Africana Studies 1025 {25}.)

1018 {11} c.(T/Th 10:30-11:25) Memoirs and Memory in American History. Fall 2013. Connie Chiang.

Examines the ways in which Americans have remembered the past and documented their experiences in individual memoirs. Considers the tensions between memory and history, the value of memoirs as historical documents, and the extent to which memories deepen, complicate, and even convolute our understanding of twentieth-century United States history. The topical focus of the seminar will vary from year to year and may include immigration, labor, gender and race relations, and war. Writing-intensive, including several short papers and a family history research paper.

First-Year Seminars numbered 1028–1049 fulfill the Non-Euro/U.S. requirement for the history major.

History 1040 {16} c.(T/Th 10:00-11:25) From Montezuma to Bin Laden: Globalization and Its Critics. Fall 2013. David Gordon.

Examines the challenge that globalization and imperialism pose for the study of history. How do historians balance the perspectives of victors and victims in past and present processes of globalization? How important are non-European versions of the past that may contradict European Enlightenment historical ideas and ideals? Class discussions interrogate questions about globalization and imperialism raised by proponents and critics, ranging from the Spanish conquest of Mexico to the American conquest of Iraq. (Same as Africana Studies 1040 {13}.)

INTRODUCTORY– LEVEL COURSES (1100-1999)

1140 {110} c.(M/W 8:00-9:25)- ESD. Medieval, Renaissance, and Reformation Europe. Fall 2013. Dallas Denery.

Introductory-level lecture. A wide-ranging introduction to pre-modern European history beginning with the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine (c. 272–337) and concluding with the Council of Trent (1545–1563). Particular attention is paid to the varying relations between church and state, the birth of urban culture and economy, institutional and popular religious movements, and the early formation of nation states. Not open to students who have credit for History 2049 {206} (Early Modern Europe) or 2048 {207} (Medieval Europe). Note: This course fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors.

1240 {140} c. (M/W 2:30-3:55) War and Society. Fall 2013. Patrick Rael.

Explores the nature of warfare from the fifteenth century to the present. The central premise is that war is a reflection of the societies and cultures that wage it. This notion is tested by examining the development of war-making in Europe and the Americas from the period before the emergence of modern states, through the great period of state formation and nation building, to the present era, when the power of states to wage war in the traditional manner seems seriously undermined. Throughout, emphasis is placed on contact between European and non-European peoples. Students are required to view films every week outside of class.

Introductory Lecture courses numbered 1370–1999 fulfill the Non-Euro/U.S. requirement for history majors. 

1460 {160} c. (T/Th 1:00-2:25) - ESD, IP. Apartheid's Voices: South African History, 1948 to 1994. Fall 2013. David Gordon.

The study of apartheid in South Africa, the system of racial and ethnic segregation that began in 1948 and ended with the first democratic election of Nelson Mandela in 1994. Explores the many different aspects of apartheid: how and why it emerged; its social and economic impacts; its relationship to other forms of segregation and racial-based governance; and how people lived under, resisted, and collaborated with apartheid. Readings, lectures, and class discussions focus on personal South African voices and explore their diverse gendered, ethnic, and racial perspectives. (Same as Africana Studies 1460 {160}.) 

CORE COURSES (2000-2499)

2001 {201} c. (M/W 2:30-3:55)- ESD. History of Ancient Greece: Bronze Age to the Death of Alexander. Fall 2013. Robert B. Sobak.

Surveys the history of Greek-speaking peoples from the Bronze Age (c. 3000–1100 BCE) to the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE. Traces the political, economic, social, religious, and cultural developments of the Greeks in the broader context of the Mediterranean world. Topics include the institution of the polis (city-state); hoplite warfare; Greek colonization; the origins ofGreek "science," philosophy, and rhetoric; and fifth-century Athenian democracy and imperialism. Necessarily focuses on Athens and Sparta, but attention is also given to the variety of social and political structures found in different Greek communities. Special attention is given to examining and attempting to understand the distinctively Greek outlook in regard to gender, the relationship between human and divine, freedom, and the divisions between Greeks and barbarians (non-Greeks). A variety of sources—literary, epigraphical, archaeological—are presented, and students learn how to use them as historical documents. Note: This course fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors. (Same as Classics 2211 {211}.)

2062 {251} c.(T/Th 8:30-9:55)- IP. Conquistadors, Commerce, and Constitutions: States and Empires, 1492–1815. Fall 2013. Meghan Roberts.

The practice of European politics changed dramatically over the course of the early modern period, the age that stretched from Columbus to Napoleon. National governments became more centralized and began the process of forming their subjects into modern citizens who spoke the same language, worshipped according to the same confession, and believed in certain principles of government. At the same time, Europe transformed itself from a relatively weak region to a dominant world power with colonies all over the globe. Analyzes the development of modern politics, nationalism, and imperialism, and takes the nations of Spain, the Dutch Republic, Britain, and France as its main case studies. Note: This course fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors.

2108 {218} c.(11:30-12:55)- ESD, IP. The History of Russia, 1725–1924. Fall 2013. Page Herrlinger.

Explores Russian society, culture, and politics during three dramatically different phases of the modern period: the Old Regime under the Tsars in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; the violent, revolutionary transformations of 1905 and 1917; and the founding years of socialist rule under Lenin and the Bolsheviks. Readings drawn from a diverse range of primary sources (including petitions, letters, memoirs, official proclamations, ethnographic accounts) as well as secondary works written by leading scholars. Also draws widely on contemporary visual culture (including, but not limited to, painting, photography, and film).

2123 {233} c.(M/W 1:00-2:25)- ESD. American Society in the New Nation, 1763–1840. Fall 2013. Sarah McMahon.

A social history of the United States from the Revolution to the Age of Jackson. Topics include the various social, economic, political, cultural, and ideological roots of the movement for American independence; the struggle to determine the scope of the Constitution and the political shape of the new republic; the emergence of and contest over a new social and cultural order and the nature of American "identity"; and the diverging social, economic, and political histories of regions (North, South, and trans-Appalachian West) and peoples in the early to mid-nineteenth century. Topics include urbanization, industrialization, and the development of new forms of social organization in the North; religion and the Second Great Awakening; the westward expansion of the nation into areas already occupied; the southern plantation economy and slave communities; and the growth of the reform impulse in Jacksonian America.


2200 {288} c.(M/W 11:30-12:55) - IP. The Nuclear Age. Fall 2013. David Hecht.

Explores the impact of nuclear energy on American society, politics, and culture. Few aspects of post-World War II United States history were unaffected by the atomic bomb, which decisively shaped the Cold War, helped define the military-industrial complex, and contributed to profound changes in the place of science in American life. Examines the surprisingly varied effects of the atomic bomb throughout American society: on the Cold War, consumer culture, domestic politics, education, family life, and the arts. Uses a wide range of sources—such as newspaper articles, memoirs, film, and policy debates—to examine the profound effects of nuclear energy in United States history.

2322 {214} c. (M/W 11:30-12:55)- IP. China's Path to Modernity: 1800 to Present (syllabus available by request). Fall 2013. Leah Zuo.

Introduction to modern and contemporary Chinese history. Covers the period from the nineteenth century, when imperial China encountered the greatest national crisis in its contact with the industrial West, to the present People's Republic of China. Provides historical depth to an understanding of the multiple meanings of Chinese modernity. Major topics include: democratic and socialist revolutions, assimilation of Western knowledge and thought, war, imperialism, the origin, development, and unraveling of the Communist rule. (Same as Asian Studies 2012 {277}.)

2342 {261} c. (T/Th 2:30-3:55)- ESD, IP. The Making of Modern India. Fall 2013. Nishtha Singh.

Traces the history of India from the rise of British imperial power in the mid-eighteenth century to the present. Topics include the formation of a colonial economy and society; religious and social reform; the emergence of anti-colonial nationalism; the road to independence and partition; and issues of secularism, democracy, and inequality that have shaped post-colonial Indian society. (Same as Asian Studies 2581 {256}.)

2380 {208} c. (T 1:00-3:55) - IP. Christianity and Islam in West Africa. Fall 2013. Olufemi Vaughan.

Explores how Christianity, Islam, and indigenous African religious beliefs shaped the formation of West African states, from the nineteenth-century Islamic reformist movements and mission Christianity, to the formation of modern nation-states in the twentieth century. While the course provides a broad regional West African overview, careful attention is focused on how religious themes shaped the communities of the Nigerian region—a critical West African region where Christianity and Islam converged to transform a modern state and society. Drawing on primary and secondary historical texts as well as Africanist works in sociology and comparative politics, study of this Nigerian experience illuminates broader West African, African, and global perspectives that underscore the historical significance of religion in politics and society, especially in non-Western contexts. (Same as Africana Studies 2380 {247}.)

2402 {255} c.(T/Th 10:00-11:25) - IP. Modern Latin America. Fall 2013. Allen Wells.

Traces the principal economic, social, and political transformations from the wars of independence to the present. Topics include colonial legacies and the aftermath of independence; the consolidation of nation-states and their insertion in the world economy; the evolution of land and labor systems, and the politics of reform and revolution, and the emergence of social movements. (Same as Latin American Studies 2402 {255}.)