Course Descriptions

Spring 2023 Course Descriptions

Choose from the tables below for descriptions of the courses, the professors teaching the courses, and the days of the week the courses are offered.


United States History

HIST 3118—American Military History

TTh 2:00-3:15
Dr. David McDaniel

History 3118 will undertake an analysis of the military history of the United States from the colonial period to the present. This course considers the role of the U.S. armed forces in relation to the social, cultural, political, economic, and technological development of the United States. It will not only address such themes as wartime strategy, operational tactics, and combat technology, but also the impact of warfare on society and the reflections of ordinary men and women in uniform.

HIST 4114/5114—U.S. Rise for Global Superpower: American Foreign Relations II

This course will examine the people, ideas, and institutions that have shaped the U.S. rise to global power in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.   Although this is a history and not a current events course, we will establish a dialogue between events in the past and current U.S. foreign policy, specifically the U.S.-led “War on Terrorism” and recent standoffs with North Korea and Russia. We will look at the origins of current international problems and trace the broad themes, attitudes, and policies that have recurred in US foreign relations throughout the last century including how race, gender, and culture have influenced their development.  The course will also address the major events that shaped the extraordinary US rise to power including the two world wars, the Cold War in Europe and Latin America, the Korean and Vietnam conflicts and the more recent U.S. interventions in the Middle East.  All this will be tied to the larger trajectory of U.S. superpower status in the twentieth century that continues to this day.  The course will be reading-intensive with a midterm, a final exam, short in-class writing exercises, and 2 short papers. 

 HIST 4115/5115The American West

TTh 11:00-12:15

Rev. Dr. Steven Avella

Where is the American West? Is it a distinct region like New England or the South? Or is it an ever-changing frontier as older historians have characterized it? Where does it begin and where does it end? How have westward moving Americans engaged and interacted with its distinct environment: the rivers, the plains, the mountains, the coastal regions? What has been the nature of engagement with the Native peoples and Spanish speaking peoples who originally inhabited these lands? What role has the dynamic of westward expansion played in American history?  What has been the role of the federal government in developing the vast expanses west of the Missouri River? These and other questions frame our study of the American West which is simultaneously region, frontier, and middle ground in American life. We will focus a good bit on the lands west of the Missouri River--especially on their geography and environmental diversity. Cattle drives and cowboys, miners and movie moguls, railroad barons and defense contractors all have a part to play in this story.We will also devote attention to the evocative power of the West in American history. The "West of the imagination" has been transmitted to us through art, popular novels, motion pictures and television. These images are also "history" in some sense. Perhaps more than any other genre, the American western--in its various forms--has shaped our collective understandings of the West. All of these art forms have transmitted memorable (if not always accurate) images of the land and its peoples.  Still, they accentuate important lessons about American character and identity–not only to American audiences, but to the world.

 HIST 4135/5135—African American History

W 6:00-8:30

Dr. Robert Smith

This course explores the unique experiences of persons of African descent in the United States. The class will trace the evolution of race/racism/racial formations pertaining to the African American experience using readings, discussions, and assignments. The class will cover the key moments and scholarly debates regarding African American history by relying on seminal primary and secondary materials. When its most useful to do so, we will also investigate the legal cultivation of race using important court briefs and relevant state and federal legislation. By the end of the class, we will be well-versed in the seminal developments of African American history in the United States spanning nearly 400 years.

  • Course requires faculty approval
  • Class meets Wednesday evenings, 6:00-8:30pm, at the Milwaukee County House of Corrections in Franklin, WI. 
  • Travel is provided to Marquette students on a limited basis.

HIST 4953/5953—Readings in History: "Got to Revolution": The U.S. 60s

TTh 2:00-3:15
Dr. Kristen Foster

This colloquium will focus on the domestic upheavals of the “the Sixties” in the United States and ask to what extent these events became a revolution.  Each week we will meet to discuss shared readings, film, and music, and examine together how the upheavals of these years shaped a culture that left the United States changed forever. What makes change revolutionary?  What differentiates these changes from chaos and anarchy?  What might make these years in American history truly revolutionary, or not revolutionary at all?  Topically, we will explore the post-World War II years and the culture of conformity that Americans tried to forge in the fires of this devastating conflict. The majority of the course, however, will be spent examining the voices that challenged conformity on all levels.  The Beats, the Civil Rights Movement, the Counterculture, the New Left in general, Women’s Lib, and the Vietnam War will all receive our careful attention.  As a colloquium, you can expect demanding reading assignments, intensive discussions, and shorter papers. 

HIST 6125—The United States in the Twentieth Century

T 2:00-4:30
Rev. Dr. Steven Avella

This course will survey the historiography of the various eras and themes of 20th Century US history. Active participation in weekly discussions, book reports, and a historiographical essay will be required.  


European History

HIST 3295—The "Great World War": World War I, 1914-18

TTh 3:30-4:45
Dr. David McDaniel

History 3295 will consider what was once known as the Great War, one of the most significant events in western history. Not only will we study the war itself, a truly horrific conflict that lasted from August of 1914 to November of 1918 and cost the lives of nearly nine million soldiers and over two million civilians from some twenty nations, (about 7,000 per day) but we will also investigate the causes of the war and review its unsettled aftermath that included a controversial peace settlement and a deadly influenza pandemic that killed from twenty to forty million worldwide. The First World War put an end to what historians have termed la belle époque in the West, toppled the structure of dynastic Europe, caused ongoing cultural despair in the wake of unprecedented carnage, and paved the way for an even greater cataclysm a scant twenty years later due to the disastrously punitive Versailles Treaty. Ultimately, we will come to view the war as a major turning point, indeed, as the bloody gateway to the modern world. 

HIST 4247/5247—Comparative Homefronts during the Second World War

TTh 12:30-1:45

Dr. Chima Korieh

World War II had a profound impact on the world. It required unprecedented efforts to coordinate strategy and tactics with other members of the Grand Alliance in battle against the Axis powers—Germany, Italy, and Japan. At the same time, it demanded a monumental production effort in European colonial territories and dominions to provide the materials necessary to fight the war. This course concerns itself with the relationship between World War II and the phenomena of home front. It will examine the challenges of the war years and the lasting effect they would bring to different regions. The course deemphasizes the Eurocentric focus of much of Euro-North American history by focusing on the experiences of non-Western societies—European colonies in the global conflict.                                   

HIST 6525-701—Studies in European HIstory: National Identity in History

W 4:30-7:00

Dr. Timothy McMahon

The purpose of History 6525 National Identity in History is to familiarize you with some of the key texts and authors in the study of nationalism and national identity, to encourage you to read the texts critically, to push you to consider the impact of nationalism and national identities in modern history, and to prompt you to consider the various ways in which to investigate these phenomena as historical subjects.  Among the issues we’ll address are: How have the concepts of the state and the nation informed and influenced each other?  Are there different varieties of nationalism, and if so, what characterizes them?  What part, if any, has modernization played in the emergence of nationalism?  Is nationalism a primordial phenomenon, or is it something that can be (and was) invented and/or manipulated? Are nationalism and national identity one and the same things?  How have various peoples used and encouraged the growth of national identity over time?  This class will require you to read approximately one book every week, as well as supplementary articles; to prepare response papers; and to write a paper in which you focus on some aspect of nationalism or national identity touched upon by the course readings and applied to any state or country of your choosing.


Additional History Courses (Global, Transnational, and Comparative Histories)

HIST 3753—History of Capitalism

MWF 10:00-10:50
Prof. Sam Harshner

This course will examine the origins, development, and contemporary form of our economic system, capitalism.  We will examine both the dizzying levels prosperity it has created and the formidable crises it has engendered.  We live in a time of great change and great peril.  Understanding the confusing and evolving world around us requires understanding the challenges and opportunities afforded us by the capitalist system in which we all carve out our day-to-day existence.  And understanding capitalism requires understanding forces that created it and sustained it over the past five hundred years. 

HIST 3800—Environmental History: Ecology and Society in the Modern World

MW 2:00-3:15
Dr. Peter Staudenmaier

This course provides an introduction to the complex and expanding field of environmental history and its implications for both the past and the present. Through a variety of case studies from around the world, we will explore the role of social structures in shaping the natural environment as well as the role of environmental factors in shaping historical change. Readings and discussions will address controversial questions, including the dynamic relationship between empires and colonies; the rise of market economies and modern states; shifting attitudes toward technology, sustainability, and preservation; idealized images of a bucolic nature before the advent of industrialization; and increasing political turmoil on a rapidly heating planet. The guiding principle in our study of these topics is that critical engagement with challenging aspects of the past can enrich and deepen our understanding of environmental dilemmas in the present.

HIST 4100/5100—Public History

Th 2:00-4:30

Dr. J. Patrick Mullins

For communities as for persons, we are what we remember. The identity of nations and communities hinge on how the public recollects shared historic events and applies those lessons to present and future challenges. Historians have considerable power in shaping how the public remembers the past—as well as much to learn from the public. In this course, we will consider four pivotal historic events: the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War II and the Holocaust, and the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks. We will approach each event as a case-study in public memory, examining how events are interpreted for the public by historians through museum exhibitions of artworks and artifacts, preserved or restored sites (such as buildings, battlefields, cultural landscapes, and monuments), and documentary or Hollywood films. Graduate students and undergraduates will explore together the practical advantages and theoretical challenges of working directly with artifacts and places and engaging constructively with communities about their shared memories. Together, we will gain appreciation for the power of artifacts, places, and images to help public historians connect communities with their past and to help academic historians understand marginalized communities and hear silenced voices.

HIST 5100—Introduction to Public History

Th 2:00-4:30 
Dr. J. Patrick Mullins

For communities as for persons, we are what we remember. The identity of nations and communities hinge on how the public recollects shared historic events and applies those lessons to present and future challenges. Historians have considerable power in shaping how the public remembers the past—as well as much to learn from the public. In this course, we will consider four pivotal historic events: the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War II and the Holocaust, and the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks. We will approach each event as a case-study in public memory, examining how events are interpreted for the public by historians through museum exhibitions of artworks and artifacts, preserved or restored sites (such as buildings, battlefields, cultural landscapes, and monuments), and documentary or Hollywood films. Graduate students and undergraduates will explore together the practical advantages and theoretical challenges of working directly with artifacts and places and engaging constructively with communities about their shared memories. Together, we will gain appreciation for the power of artifacts, places, and images to help public historians connect communities with their past and to help academic historians understand marginalized communities and hear silenced voices.

HIST 4271H-901—The Russian Revolution and the Soviet Union

MWF 9:00-9:50
Dr. Alan Ball

HIST 4271 is a survey of modern Russian and Soviet history that begins with an introduction to tsarist Russia in order reach an understanding of the revolutions in 1917 that swept away much of the old regime and left the Bolshevik (Communist) Party in power.  The bulk of the course will concentrate on the Soviet period, featuring the tumultuous development of “the world’s first socialist state,” the emergence of the Soviet Union as one of the world’s two superpowers, and the country’s recent fragmentation.  In particular, we will examine the Bolsheviks’ aspirations in 1917 and then see to what extent these hopes for a new society were realized as the Communist Party confronted both domestic and foreign challenges.  The course is composed of lectures, a few Soviet films, and eight periods set aside for discussion.  On these eight weeks, in place of a Friday lecture, students will meet with me in small groups to discuss sources pertaining to major topics in the course.  These readings include a variety of primary documents, memoirs, and selections from the wealth of Russian literature that provoked tsarist and Soviet authorities alike.

HIST 4500/5550—Modern Japan

MWF 12:00-12:50
Dr. Michael Wert

This is an intense survey of modern Japanese history from the nineteenth century to the present. Topics include: dynamic changes that occurred at all levels of Japanese society in the nineteenth century, the creation of Japan as a modern nation-state, its development as an empire-building power, and how these affected people‘s lives (gender, ethnicity, nationhood and culture). A major portion of the course is devoted to WWII and postwar issues: how Japan coped with military defeat, how it regained its regional and global influence and contemporary attempts to deal with its past. Grading will be based on (in order of importance): three short papers (five pages), midterm/final and informal essays.

HIST 4955-701—Undergraduate Seminar in History: Genocide and Mass Killing in Colonial Africa

T 4:30-7:00
Dr. Chima Korieh

This seminar is an introduction to the field of genocide studies from an historical, comparative, and thematic perspective. While we focus on genocides and mass killings in Africa, we will provide a good understanding of the extreme diversity of this form of mass killing, especially in the twentieth century. We will begin with a broad examination of genocides in world history and the current state of the historiography. We will then focus on case-studies including the destruction of the Herero in German South West Africa (1904-08), the Rwandan genocide and the less known genocide against the Igbo people in postcolonial Nigeria. Finally, we will focus on the strategies that victims and perpetrators have used to cope at the time and afterwards with the moral issues involved as well as the international responses to genocide, and the contemporary tension between the principle of national sovereignty and `humanitarian intervention'.

HIST 4955-702—Undergraduate Seminar in History: Histories of Race and Racism

M 4:30-7:00
Dr. Peter Staudenmaier

This advanced seminar is an opportunity for History majors to gain first-hand experience with research in primary sources, the foundation on which historical inquiry is built. Our theme centers on the multiple histories of race and racism in global context. Each student will prepare their own project, in coordination with the instructor, leading to a final paper of approximately fifteen pages based on original research. We will also share our work through class presentations. All historical topics related to race and racism are welcome.  

HIST 6954-701—Graduate Seminar in History: Race and Gender in International Relations

 M 4:30-7:00

Dr. Michael Donoghue

This course will explore historical constructions of race and gender within the international encounters of Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas over the last several centuries. We will examine how attitudes and beliefs regarding the racial make-up of peoples and the assumed proper (or perverse) roles for men and women in society shaped relations among nations and peoples of diverse origins from the Age of Discovery through the formation of global empires, the Atlantic Revolutions, and the conflicts of modern nationalism in the 19th and 20th centuries.  The role of race-thinking and gender models formed a key component of the way in which different peoples and nations confronted one another, waged war, traded, and allied over the last few centuries. The emphasis on perceived difference within the realms of race and gender profoundly impacted notions of empire, hegemony, and ideology in the conflicts that followed. By analyzing a common set of readings that range from the Early Modern Era to current perceptions of the West in the Middle East we will establish a body of knowledge to work off as students choose topics and gather sources for their final projects: an article-length original research paper of 20-25 pages, based mainly on primary sources that will analyze a key aspect of race or gender in an historical case study from these years. Students will also give oral presentations of their finished work in our final class sessions.