Spring 2014 Courses

  • The College Catalogue has a class finder tool to search for courses by title, instructor, department, and more.
  • Login to Blackboard. Instructional materials are available on a course-by-course basis.
HIST 1020. Frontier Crossings: The Western Experience in American History.
Matthew Klingle.

What accounts for the persistence of the “frontier myth” in American history, and why do Americans continue to find the idea so attractive? Explores the creation of and disputes over what became of the western United States from 1763 to the present. Topics include Euro-American relations with Native Americans; the creation of borders and national identities; the effect of nature and ideology; the role of labor and gender in the backcountry; and the enduring influence of frontier imagery in popular culture.

HIST 2042. The Good Life: From Plato to the Enlightenment.
Dallas Denery.

How do we live a truly human life? Examines the changing responses to this question from the ancient Greeks to the Enlightenment. Specific topics will include how humans differ from other animals, the tensions between pagan and Christian traditions and the secularization of the good life. Primary sources will include (among others) Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, the Gospels, Augustine, Christine de Pizan, Luther, and Bernard Mandeville. Note: This course fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors.

HIST 2060. Old Regime and Revolutionary France.
Meghan Roberts.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, many heralded King Louis XIV as the most powerful monarch to ever rule. By the end of the century, however, the French people overthrew this vaunted monarchy. Topics include: Why did France have a revolution? What conflicts—social, cultural, and intellectual—helped shape politics and society? What were the global implications of events in France, especially for the enslaved populations of French colonies? How did the Revolution impact everyday life, including social relationships and material culture? Why did the French Revolution become radical and—all too often—violent? Note: This course fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors.

HIST 2105. The Paradox of Progress: Europe and the Experience of Modernity, 1815-1918.
Page Herrlinger.

Survey course of the “long nineteenth century” in Europe, from 1815 to the end of the First World War, with an emphasis on the social, cultural, and political impact of industrial and technological “progress.” Explores the way people lived and thought about the world around them as Europe industrialized, as well as the ambivalence that many Europeans came to attach to “modernity” by the end of the Great War in 1918.

HIST 2126. Women in American History, 1600-1900.
Sarah McMahon.

A social history of American women from the colonial period through the nineteenth century. Examines women’s changing roles in both public and private spheres; the circumstances of women’s lives as these were shaped by class, ethnic, and racial differences; the recurring conflict between the ideals of womanhood and the realities of women’s experience; and focuses on family responsibilities, paid and unpaid work, religion, education, reform, women’s rights, and feminism.

HIST 2141. The History of African Americans from 1865 to the Present.
Patrick Rael.

Explores the history of African Americans from the end of the Civil War to the present. Issues include the promises and failures of Reconstruction, the Jim Crow era, black leadership and protest institutions, African American cultural styles, industrialization and urbanization, the world wars, the Civil Rights Movement, and conservative retrenchment.

HIST 2180. Borderlands and Empires in Early North America.
Matthew Klingle.

Survey of the making of North America from initial contact between Europeans and Africans and Native Americans to the creation of the continent's three largest nations by the mid-nineteenth century: Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Topics include the history of Native populations before and after contact; geopolitical and imperial rivalries that propelled European conquests of the Americas; evolution of free and coerced labor systems; environmental transformations of the continent's diverse landscapes and peoples; formation of colonial settler societies; and the emergence of distinct national identities and cultures in former European colonies. Students write several papers and engage in weekly discussion based upon primary and secondary documents, art, literature, and material culture.

HIST 2182. Environment and Culture in North American History.
Connie Chiang.

Explores relationships between ideas of nature, human transformations of the environment, and the effect of the physical environment upon humans through time in North America. Topics include the “Columbian exchange” and colonialism; links between ecological change and race, class, and gender relations; the role of science and technology; literary and artistic perspectives of “nature”; agriculture, industrialization, and urbanization; and the rise of modern environmentalism.

HIST 2289. Gandhi and Non-Violent Politics.
Nishtha Singh.

Politics, almost by definition, is oppositional. It promotes an “us vs. them” mindset. However, Gandhi introduced a form of politics that was non-adversarial and based in dialogue. His non-violent form of politics was able to bring the masses into the political arena for the first time in South Asia, and to create one of the largest anti-colonial movements in the world. Analyzes Gandhian politics through questions such as: How did Gandhi’s deeply held personal views on non-violence impact his politics? What were the Gandhian techniques of mass mobilization? Can Gandhi’s own initiatives—what he himself said and did—adequately explain his vast popularity amongst the masses? What were the pitfalls of Gandhian politics? What groups felt alienated from them? How did people such as Martin Luther King Jr. adapt Gandhian ideas outside South Asia? Do Gandhian ideas have a place in our contemporary world?

HIST 2320. The Emergence of Chinese Civilization.
Leah Zuo.

Introduction to ancient Chinese history (2000 BCE to 800 CE). Explores the origins and foundations of Chinese civilization. Prominent themes include the inception of the imperial system, the intellectual fluorescence in classical China, the introduction and assimilation of Buddhism, the development of Chinese cosmology, and the interactions between early China and neighboring regions. Class discussion of historical writings complemented with literary works and selected pieces of the visual arts. Note: This course fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors.

HIST 2364. Conquest, Colonialism, and Independence: Africa since 1880.
David Gordon.

Focuses on conquest, colonialism, and its legacies in sub-Saharan Africa; the violent process of colonial pacification, examined from European and African perspectives; the different ways of consolidating colonial rule and African resistance to colonial rule, from Maji Maji to Mau Mau; and African nationalism and independence, as experienced by Africa’s nationalist leaders, from Kwame Nkrumah to Jomo Kenyatta, and their critics. Concludes with the limits of independence, mass disenchantment, the rise of the predatory post-colonial state, genocide in the Great Lakes, and the wars of Central Africa.

HIST 2404. History of Mexico.
Allen Wells.

A survey of Mexican history from pre-Columbian times to the present. Topics include the evolving character of indigenous societies, the nature of the Encounter, the colonial legacy, the chaotic nineteenth century, the Mexican Revolution, and United States-Mexican relations. Contemporary problems are also addressed.

HIST 2521. On the Origins of Modernity.
Dallas Denery.

Seminar. Examines Europe's transition from a pre-modern to an early modern society during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Beginning with an analysis of "secularization" as a historical process, examines the extent to which the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, and the development of mercantile capitalism contributed to the undoing of traditional social, cultural, and religious structures. Readings will include an array of primary sources, as well as works by Ernst Troeltsh, Hans Blumenberg, and Charles Taylor. Note: This course fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors.

HIST 2541. Crime and Punishment.
Meghan Roberts.

Seminar. Crime provides a useful lens through which historians can understand the past because defining and punishing transgressions forced people to articulate their values and ideals. Considers criminal figures such as miscreant nuns, unfaithful wives, impostors, and murderers by examining celebrated court cases in Europe from 1500 to 1800. Also examines historical methods. Students write a research paper based on primary sources. Note: This course fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors.

HIST 2607. Maine: A Community and Environmental History.
Sarah McMahon.

Seminar. Examines the evolution of various Maine social and ecological communities—inland, hill country, and coastal. Begins with the contact of European and Native American cultures, examines the transfer of English and European agricultural traditions in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and explores the development of diverse geographic, economic, ethnic, and cultural communities during the nineteenth and into the early twentieth centuries.

HIST 2680. Image, Myth, and Memory.
David Hecht.

Seminar. Which matters more: what happened, or what people think happened? Starts with the assumption that cultural reaction to an event is as consequential—perhaps more so—than what actually happened. Examines the cultural reception and changing historical memory of people, events, and ideas that have been central to modern American History and History of Science. Seeks to answer questions about the nature and construction of public opinion, popular images, and historical memory—and what the consequences of such processes and understandings have been. Introduces the themes and methods of studying popular and cultural history, drawing principally from examples in the history of science and post-World War II American culture. (Possible examples include nuclear weapons, evolution, genetics, climate change, student activism, feminism, abortion, education, and presidential politics.) Then follows a workshop format, in which classes revolve around the reading and writing that students do as part of self-designed research projects—projects that may be on any subject in modern United States history.

HIST 2743. Islam in South Asia c. 700 to the Present.
Nishtha Singh.

Seminar: Focuses on Islam in South Asia—which is home to the largest number of Muslims anywhere in the world, and whose large Muslim population has always co-habited with a much larger non-Muslim population. Questions and themes include: the manner and extent of the expansion of Islam over the subcontinent (religion of conquest? mass conversions?); how “Islamic” was Muslim rule on the sub-continent; Islamic aesthetics and contributions to material culture; the multiple engagements and reactions of Muslims to British colonial rule; the politicization of religious identity under colonialism; the partition of British India into the nation states of India and Pakistan on grounds of religion; and the contemporary concerns and challenges of South Asia’s Muslims.

HIST 2781. Science, Technology, and Society in China.
Leah Zuo.

Seminar. Examines Chinese science, technology, and medicine in the cultural, intellectual, and social circumstances. The first part surveys a selection of main fields of study in traditional Chinese science and technology, nodal points of invention and discovery, and important conceptual themes. The second part tackles the clash between traditional Chinese natural studies and modern science from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries. Prominent themes include astronomy and court politics, printing technology and books, and the dissemination of Western natural science, among others. Reading materials reflect the interdisciplinary approach of this course and include secondary literature on cultural, intellectual history, ethnography, and the sociology of scientific knowledge.

HIST 2841. History of African and African Diasporic Political Thought.
Olufemi Vaughan.

Seminar. Critically discusses some seminal works in African diaspora and African political thought in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Organized around global and national currents that will allow students to explore intersections in pan-African, African American, and African political thought in the context of Atlantic and global histories. Seminar topics divided into three major historic moments. The first explores major themes on Atlantic slavery and Western thought, notably slavery and racial representation, slavery and capitalism, and slavery and democracy. The second focuses on the struggle of African Americans, Africans, and West Indians for freedom in post-Abolition and colonial contexts. Topics discussed within twentieth-century national, regional, and global currents include reconstruction and industrialization, pan-Africanism, new negro, negritude, colonialism, nationalism. Finally, explores pan-African and African encounters in the context of dominant postcolonial themes, namely decolonization, Cold War, state formation, imperialism, African diaspora feminist thought, and globalism. Discusses these foundational texts and the political thoughts of major African, African American, and Caribbean intellectuals and activists in their appropriate historical context.

HIST 2861. Contemporary Argentina.
Allen Wells.

Seminar. Texts, novels, and films help unravel Argentine history and culture. Topics examined include the image of the gaucho and national identity; the impact of immigration; Peronism; the tango; the Dirty War; and the elusive struggle for democracy, development, and social justice.

HIST 2871. Beyond Capoeira: History and Politics of Afro-Brazilian Culture.
Laura Premack.

Seminar. Brazil has the largest population of African descent outside Africa. Nowadays, Brazilians pride themselves on their country’s unique racial and cultural heritage, but it hasn’t always been this way. For centuries, many Afro-Brazilian practices were illegal. Now, however, we are in the midst of what might be called an Afro-Brazilian renaissance. This is something to be celebrated, but it is also something to be questioned. Do these efforts to delineate, praise, and preserve Afro-Brazilian culture actually limit our understanding of it? Has labeling certain aspects of Brazilian cultural heritage as African created a situation in which other ways that Africa has influenced Brazil are overlooked? Just what do we mean by “African” and “Brazilian” anyhow? Takes a historical and anthropological approach to these and other related questions.

HIST 3102. Stalinism.
Page Herrlinger.

Explores questions of power, identity, and belief in Soviet society under Joseph Stalin’s “totalitarian” system of rule from 1928 to 1953. Readings, drawn from recent scholarship and primary documents, engage topics such as Stalin’s dictatorship and cult of personality; the project to “build socialism”; mechanisms of state violence and political terror; popular conformity/resistance; gender, family, and everyday life; mass culture and socialist realism in the arts; Stalinism at war (1941–1945), in post-war Eastern Europe, and in historical memory. Students will be expected to write an original research paper.

HIST 3140. Research in Nineteenth-Century United States History.
Patrick Rael.

A research course for majors and interested non-majors that culminates in a single 25–30 page research paper. With the professor’s consent, students may choose any topic in Civil War or African American history, broadly defined. This is a special opportunity to delve into Bowdoin’s rich collections of primary historical source documents.

HIST 3360. The Common Good? A History of International Aid.
David Gordon.

The history of international aid to the “third world” through the twentieth century. Seminar considers the imperial mission and white man’s burden, aid during modern colonialism, the post-colonial aid community, the Bretton Woods Institutions, the rise of small-scale NGO aid interventions, aid in modern warfare, and the varied contemporary impacts of aid. Readings focus on Africa, along with examples from Latin America and South Asia. Participants should have some background in the history of at least one of these regions. Each student will write an original research paper on the history of an aid project.