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Department of History
Sensenbrenner Hall, 202A
1103 W. Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53233
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.
HIST 3104—The Civil War Era
Dr. Alison Efford
The Civil War’s great conflict over slavery and the future of the United States continues to influence American public life. This class addresses the whole era, placing the war, the events leading up to it, and its aftermath in a larger context. We will emphasize Black Americans’ campaign for equality and the reverberations of the war today, but we will also consider the larger global context, settler colonialism, and gender and sexuality. Lecture-based with some discussion. Three assigned books and extra short readings. Students will attend an on-campus session of a Civil War symposium on March 20-21.
HIST 3108—United States in the Twentieth Century 2
Dr. Steven Avella
This course gives a chronological overview of major developments in American politics, foreign relations, and social and cultural developments in the United States from 1941-to the present. This lecture course includes readings, books, and unit exams, and expects active participation from participants. Attendance is a requirement of the course.
HIST 3127—The Vietnam War Era
Dr. David McDaniel
The theme of this course is reflected in the words of one of the war’s chief architects Henry A. Kissinger who said: “Vietnam is still with us. It has created doubts about American judgment, about American credibility, about American power—not only at home, but throughout the world.” History 3127 will examine the history of the Vietnam War from the perspective of the United States. It will provide the student with the historical background that set the stage for the conflict, the events that led directly to the war, the primary political and military issues involved at home and abroad, and an overview of the major battles. Further, and quite significantly, this course will also consider the non-military aspects of the war, such as the changing political climate in the United States during the late 1960s, the rise of a determined anti-war movement that exerted a profound impact on the outcome of the struggle, the nature of the cultural and political polarization wrought by America’s longest war, and finally the lingering scars caused by division and defeat.
HIST 4127/5127—Midwestern Latinx Communities
Dr. Sergio Gonzalez
From 2000 to 2020, the Latinx population increased by more than 90 percent across twelve U.S. midwestern states. How have those populations transformed an area often referred to as the American Heartland? This interdisciplinary class takes up that very question by exploring issues of history, education, literature, art, and politics defining today’s Latinx communities Midwest. We'll delve into a variety of topics, including the migration and settlement patterns of Latinx peoples in urban and rural areas, nativist movements and legislation aimed against Latinx immigrants, bold experiments in dual-language immersion education, as well as issues connected to the integration of neighborhoods, churches, and even sports teams. We’ll ask if there is a particular way of life that Latinx migrants, immigrants, and refugees have made in the Midwest, one that is distinct from how Latinx people have lived in other parts of the country and examine what that regional concept of community formation can tell us about Latinx community formation and placemaking within the larger history of Latinx people in the United States.
HIST 4135/5135—African-American History
MW 3:30-4:45: MW 3:30-4:45 class, with Monday in-person and Wednesday (asynchronous distance learning) hybrid
Mr. Benjamin Linzy, Instructor
The purpose of this course is to examine the role and response of African Americans in American history from the colonial era to the present day. Prominent themes include the middle passage and the problems of slavery, the end of the Civil War and the beginning of Reconstruction, African Americans’ urbanization experiences, the development of the modern civil rights movement and its aftermath.
HIST 4135/5135—African-American History
T 5:00-7:30 pm
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.
HIST 6500—Studies in United States History:Emotions and Mental Health
Dr. Alison Efford
This class introduces students to the burgeoning literature on the history of emotions and mental health. Emotional experiences vary based on time, place, and context, and they influence the course of history. Emotional experience overlaps with mental illness, which different communities have also defined and addressed differently. Questions about these fundamental aspects of the human experience have generated new insights across the discipline of history. A predominance of our class readings will cover North America, but I will also assign books on other continents, and students will have the opportunity to explore works in their particular area of interest and consider how the history of emotions might affect their research.
HIST 4212/5212—The Crusades
Dr. Lezlie Knox
The Crusades represent one of the most fascinating, complex, and troubling episodes in medieval history—how should we understand this mix of brutal warfare and religious motivation? To start answering this question, this class studies the medieval crusades through contemporary documents and cultural artifacts—the chronicles, sermons, letters, art, and architecture produced by medieval Christians (Latin and Greek), Muslims, and Jews in response to the crusade phenomena. We will strive to understand the origin and motivations for the crusades, the ways in which they were carried out, the experiences of ordinary crusaders, and the impact of the crusades both in the Middle East and in Europe, including the experience of being crusaded. We also will evaluate their legacy in modern society, including our immediate political moment.
For graduate students who enroll in 5212, we will have supplemental meetings in addition to the regular class which will allow us to delve more deeply into the historiography of the Crusades and its sources.
HIST 4260/5260—Modern Ireland: From the Rising to the Revolution
Dr. Timothy McMahon
This spring, students will have the opportunity to engage in an intensive study of modern Irish history and culture centered on one of the defining events of twentieth-century Irish history: the 1916 Easter Rising, when a small group of Irish men and women attempted to seize control of Dublin and declare Irish independence from the United Kingdom. HIST 4260 will focus on the period between 1858 and 1948, beginning with the creation of the underground Irish Republican Brotherhood and ending with the declaration of the Irish Republic in the 26-county state with its capital in Dublin. We will pay particular attention to the issues of land ownership, cultural revival, and terrorism (both by the state and by revolutionary actors) and how they shaped the Ireland we know today. Students in HIST 4260 will also create a digital humanities project utilizing primary source documents from the revolutionary period and mapping technologies to create presentations about the revolutionary era. A major emphasis of the course will be to see how different disciplines examine the interrelationship of social change, cultural innovation, and political revolution.
HIST 4298/4298H—The Cold War
Dr. Alan Ball
Study of the Cold War offers an opportunity to witness diverse nations caught up in a conflict more wide-ranging and—in a nuclear age—more dangerous than anything the world had witnessed previously. This course will survey the origins and nature of the Cold War, with a focus on the first twenty years or so after World War II. Along the way, topics will include not only international tensions but also the domestic fallout of the Cold War in countries on several continents. For students seeking a global experience touching the United States, the Soviet Union, Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa, this is it. Together with films from the period and segments from CNN’s Cold War documentary, the course features frequent small-group discussions of primary documents, memoirs, and recent works by US and Russian historians.
HIST 4955 Undergraduate Seminar in History: Empires, Colonies, Resistance
Dr. Timothy McMahon
This undergraduate seminar raises questions about the phenomena of empires in various parts of the world at different moments in time. We will begin the term with a series of readings aimed at familiarizing students with several different empires in order to find commonalities and differences among them. We will be cognizant of how the timing and assumptions of scholars has shaped our views of empires, and we will also discuss various forms of resistance to empires deployed by indigenous peoples in different eras. Students will then design research projects in consultation with the instructor to interrogate a specific empire or the interactions of multiple empires at a particular point in time.
HIST 6250—Twentieth-Century Europe
Dr. Peter Staudenmaier
The colloquium in twentieth century European history introduces graduate students to central historical debates spanning the continent during an especially turbulent era. Our focus includes classics of the historical literature as well as recent innovations in scholarship from a variety of perspectives, addressing themes such as the two world wars, the rise of Fascism and Stalinism, the ambiguities of the post-war period, the politics of memory, and the de-centering of traditional assumptions in a post-colonial world.
HIST 3165—History of Rock and Roll
Dr. Karalee Surface
As writer Jeva Lange explains, “Rock and roll is a rich history of reactions that still reverberate throughout our culture. The history of rock and roll is a history of race, of gender, of protest, and it is tied deeply into the structure and struggles that underlie society’s foundation.”
In this course we’ll explore the social and cultural landscape of post-World War II America through the lens of rock and roll music. On one level, we’ll tell the story of how rock emerged. First, we’ll trace the development of early rock music in the 1950s—from its country and blues roots to the rise of the first rockabilly artists and the eventual corporate, political, and social backlash against it. Next, we’ll turn our attention to how the music of the 1960s is an expression and extension of the social, cultural, and political changes of the decade. In our final unit, we’ll explore the ways in which rock became fragmented in the late twentieth century—giving special attention to the emergence of abrasive, often angry music (i.e., punk/grunge/rap), the impact of music videos, and also to a more expansive view of rock music that moves away from a strictly U.S. focus to explore the influence of rock music on a more global scale. At a deeper level, by situating rock music in its historical context, this class will take a look at the problematic interrelated issues of music, politics, gender, race, class, and culture in the post-war era.
This course fulfills the Humanities requirement for the MCC Discovery tier theme of Expanding our Horizons, and the ultimate goal is to do just that—helping students to reexamine our nation’s history (and the discipline of history itself) through music and gain a richer appreciation for how the two intersect.
HIST 3753—History of Capitalism
Professor 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
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 4101/5101—Applied History
Dr. J. Patrick Mullins
Applied History is a project-centered course in which students apply the principles and methods of Public History toward development of a public-facing project in collaboration with a museum, historical society, or other community partner. The object of the semester project is to serve the public by preserving the traces of the past for posterity through documentation. This documentation can take forms ranging from research, writing, and online publication; archival cataloging; exhibit design and educational programming; photography and film; and oral-history recording. In accord with their own research interests and career goals, students will have a variety of assignments—applying different methods of documentation—on which they can choose to work.
This spring, our community partner is the Captain Frederick Pabst Mansion. Working with the curatorial staff, students will investigate different aspects of this respected historic house museum, including the architectural history of the mansion and the Grand Avenue neighborhood, the history of the Pabst family and Pabst brewery, and the museum’s collections of archives, fine art, and decorative arts. This course gives undergraduates and graduate students an opportunity for “real world,” experiential learning through creative thinking, practical problem solving, teamwork, and field research while collaborating with public history practitioners in service to the wider community.
HIST 4320/5320—United States-Latin American Relations
Dr. Michael Donoghue
This course will explore the often troubled and complicated relations between the United States and Latin America from the American Revolution through the present day. We will analyze the early and continuing perceptions of nations on all sides of this equation regarding race, gendered, cultural, and ideological differences. Conflicts over revolution, independence, U.S. expansion, foreign intervention, the Cold War, and immigration marked the interactions of nations, individuals, and groups within this hemispheric crucible. Special attention will be given to U.S. desires for hegemony countered by resistance, defiance, and alternative hopes for development and integration from the Latin American side of an often-volatile relationship. The course will call for close reading of assigned works, engaged discussion, two short papers, a midterm, and a final examination.
HIST 4953/5953—Readings in African History: Colonial Africa
Dr. Chima Korieh
This course focuses on the history of colonial Africa from late 19th century to the end of Apartheid in South Africa. We will approach the course through a multidisciplinary lens drawing on history, politics, cultural and literary perspectives as they relate to the making of colonial Africa. Particular attention is paid to the colonial violence and roots of Africa’s underdevelopment. It will also focus on the greed and extractive tendencies of colonial regimes in Africa, the genocidal and mass killings of African people under various European colonial powers, human right abuses and the dehumanization of Africans and their personhood, memory, and memorialization of the African colonial past. Students who take this course will be exposed to the challenges faced by African societies as a result of European imperialism.
HIST 6954 Seminar in History: Contacts and Encounters
Dr. Bryan Rindfleisch
Throughout human history, different peoples and populations, places and spaces, even continents and time have experienced first and sustained contacts and encounters for millennia. This course specifically focuses on the first contacts of the early modern era, from the "New Worlds" of the Americas and Oceania in the fifteenth and sixteenth-centuries, to the centuries-long encounters that unfolded throughout the globe - in the Americas, Africa, Eurasia, and Oceania - for the next three centuries. Particular themes of emphasis include first contact experiences, colonization and decolonization, compromise and exchange, violence and resistance, foodways and space paths, and more.