History Course Descriptions
AP credit for a history course is given to those students who have attained a test score of 3 or better. It may be counted as a general elective , but not as one of the courses required for graduation.
All History courses fulfill the "Historical" Ways of Knowing category. Course descriptions that are designated with a (B) or (A) fulfill the "Behavioral" or "Artistic" Ways of Knowing requirement of the Core Curriculum. Courses designated with a (W) indicate writing intensive and fulfill that requirement.
HISTU 101-102 (H)
Credits: 3 per course
Explores Greek and Roman culture and civilization, beginnings of Christianity, institutions and culture of the Middle Ages, geographical discoveries, European political order, Renaissance and religious revolution, Age of Reason, nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
HISTU 104 Topics in Global History (H)
Analyzes selected topics in modern world history with an emphasis on European and American developments from the eighteenth century until the present time. Topics for study include: the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, Industrialization and the emergence of nation states, the United States and foreign affairs, the Middle East, and contemporary events in Europe and Asia. Primary attention will focus upon political, social, cultural, and intellectual trends.
HISTU 106 Survey of Women’s History (H)
A general survey in the history of women from antiquity to the present. Special emphasis is given to women’s roles, their work, and their place in society. While the course will focus on Europe and America, women’s experiences globally will also be considered.
HISTU 141 American Survey I (H)
An exploration of the major movements, events, persons, and ideas of American history from the colonial period to the aftermath of the Civil War. Includes the European background to American history, colonial life, the American Revolution and Constitution, the evolution of the Supreme Court, political developments, comparisons of the enlightenment and romanticism, territorial expansion, growth of technology and the economy, important aspects of American material, intellectual, and popular culture, the Civil War and its legacies. Highlights American history from colonial days to the present.
HISTU 142 American Survey II (H)
An exploration of the major movements, events, persons, and ideas of American history from the end of the Civil War to the present day. Includes the industrial revolution and growth of cities, progressive reform, and the nation’s rise to world power. World War I, the roaring twenties, the Great Depression and the New Deal, World War II, the Cold War, the sixties counterculture, civil rights and the gender revolution, the rise and decline of presidential power, the evolution of political parties, the role of the Supreme Court, the importance of science and technology, major ideas of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, material and popular culture.
HISTU 201 Ancient Greece (H)
Surveys the cultural, social, economic and political development of ancient Greek history beginning with the earliest invasions and concluding with the Roman conquest. Topics include: the Minoans and Mycenaeans, Archaic and Classical Greece, the Peloponnesian Wars, and the Hellenistic Age.
HISTU 202 Ancient Rome (H)
Surveys Rome from its earliest foundations to its emergence as an empire and its eventual decline. Topics include Etruscan background; Republican Rome; the Punic Wars; social and political problems of the Republic; collapse of the Republic; the Roman Empire; Roman culture; Christianity; and the fall of the empire.
HISTU 204 Medieval Europe and the Surrounding World (H,A)
Explores the nature of European civilization from the fall of the Roman Empire to the beginnings of the Renaissance. Also studies the impact upon Medieval Europe of the Byzantine Empire and Islamic societies. Topics include: the Papacy, Byzantium, monasticism, feudalism, Romanesque and Gothic art and architecture, the Islamic challenge, the Crusades, medieval cities and commerce, the growth of monarchy, the Bubonic Plague. (This course also fulfills the Artistic Ways of Knowing requirement).
HISTU 205 Renaissance, Reformation, 1450-1648 (H)
Studies the waning of the Middle Ages and forms of new culture and new institutions in Europe. Topics include: the Renaissance and the new humanism, the Protestant Reformation, Catholic reform and counter-reformation, the Thirty Years War.
HISTU 210 Europe in the Twentieth Century (H)
A survey of Europe from the Belle Époque through the end of the Cold War. Topics include: the Great War, the Russian Revolution, the women’s movement, totalitarianism, World War II, post-war reconstruction, decolonization, European Economic Community, and the break-up of the Soviet Union.
HISTU 212 Culture and Society in Modern Europe (H)
An introduction to the study of labor, the family, popular culture, the arts, class conflict, and social movements since the Industrial Revolution. Special emphasis is placed on developments in Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia.
HISTU 214 Twentieth Century Germany (H)
The History of Germany and the German speaking lands in the twentieth century. Topics discussed: the era of Kaiser Wilhelm II, the First World War, the Weimar Republic, the rise of Adolf Hitler and National Socialism, the Second World War, the Holocaust and anti-Semitism, West and East Germany in the age of the Cold War and the EEC, and the re-unified German nation.
HISTU 218 French Revolution (H, W)
A detailed analysis of the European Revolutionary Era of 1789-1815 with particular emphasis on the old regime, the Enlightenment, popular culture, the course of the Revolution and the Reign of Terror. (This class also fulfills the Writing Intensive course requirement).
HISTU 219 France and the Modern World (H, W)
Focuses on France from the Bourbon Restoration of Louis XVIII to the Fifth Republic of Nicolas Sarkozy. Emphasis is placed on political, social, and cultural developments from 1815 to 1990s. Topics include: industrial revolution, French colonialism, women in French society, bohemian Paris, fascism and anti-Semitism, the student movement of the 1960s and the course of French socialism. (This course also fulfills the Writing Intensive Course requirement).
HISTU 220 Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union (H)
The history of Russia from the first revolution in 1905 through the break-up of the Soviet Union. Topics include: Lenin and the Bolshevik seizure of power, the Civil War, Stalin and the Five Year Plans, Soviet society, the “new woman”, the Gulag experience, de-Stalinization, the Gorbachev experiment, and the age of free market reform.
HISTU 224 History of Great Britain: Tudors to the Present (H)
Highlights the cultural, social, political and economic development of modern Britain from the Tudors to the present. Special consideration is given to: Shakespearean England, the English Civil War, the growth of Parliament, Industrialization, Imperialism, women’s suffrage, the Irish question, the two World Wars, and contemporary British society.
HISTU 226 Europe in the Age of World War (H)
This survey will consider the development of Europe in the first half of the 20th Century. Specifically, it will look at how this period was characterized by unprecedented violence, culminating in civil and global war, revolution, and genocide. The focus of the course will be on World War I and World War II, examining not only the political and military cost of global warfare, but also understanding the human and psychological cost of world conflict and its implications for the remainder of the century.
HISTU 228 Women in Modern European Society (H)
Focuses on the economic, social, political and cultural position of women in Great Britain and Western Europe from mid-eighteenth century to the present. Examines industrial society’s impact on women in the workplace, within the family, and in the political sphere.
HISTU 231 History of American Foreign Relations (H)
The development of American foreign policy and its relationship to social, economic, political, and cultural forces.
HISTU 233 America and the Two World Wars (H,B)
Describes and analyzes the many ways in which World War I and World War II changed the United States, including the country’s role in world affairs, wartime mobilization, the expansion of government, the revolution in manners and morals, the great depression, the baby boom, the GI Bill, the expansion of higher education, civil rights, the role of women in American life, the cold war, scientific research, the nuclear age, and much more. (This course also fulfills the Behavioral Ways of Knowing requirement).
HISTU 236 Progressive America, 1900-1940 (H)
Explores the similarities and differences between the two great reform movements of the first half of the twentieth century: the Progressive Era and the New Deal. Topics include the settlement house movement, women’s suffrage, prohibition, the social gospel, political reform, problems of the city, “normalcy” and the critics of progressivism, the progressive education movement, the influence of movies and the radio, the Great Depression, the rise of entitlements and the welfare state, the realignment of political parties, the emergence of the modern presidency and its critics, and the New York World’s Fair of 1939.
HISTU 245 The 1960s and its Legacies (H)
Examines the great upheavals in American life during the 1960s and early 1970s and their on-going consequences Topics include the baby boom, hippies, the counterculture, the new left, the sexual revolution, women’s liberation, changing family patterns, civil rights, the revival of ethnic consciousness, the Vietnam War, suburbanization, political correctness, multiculturalism, the renewal of conservatism, the moral majority, casual dress, the reassertion of Congressional authority, and fears of American decline.
HISTU 247 African Americans During the Age of Slavery (H)
Examines the development and experiences of the African American community during the age of slavery. We will focus on the development of African American culture and an in-depth examination of the slave community, family, and religion. The course considers the growth of the free black community and the creation of black political, social, and economic ideologies and institutions. Particular topics include the struggle against slavery, slave insurrections, the abolitionist movement, and the Civil War.
HISTU 248 African Americans Since Emancipation (H)
Examines the development of the African American community in the United States since emancipation. We will chronologically and thematically explore the process of reconstruction, segregation, disenfranchisement, migration, and urbanization and the rise of African American protest organizations, black nationalism, the Harlem Renaissance, and the modern day civil rights movement. Special attention will be given to the social, economic, political, religious, and cultural forces inside and outside of the African American community that have helped shape the course of African American history.
HISTU 250 The Pennsylvania Experience (H)
As one of the original English settlements and then as one of the first states in the Union, Pennsylvania boasts a history that extends from the colonial period to the present. This course will look at Pennsylvania as a microcosm of American life and will examine such issues as Native American cultures, ethnic diversity and ethnic conflict, social stratification, geography, architecture, religious history, political development, revolution and civil war, agriculture, industrialization, urbanization, and suburbia.
HISTU 251 – 252 History Topics A & B
Credits: 3 each
HISTU 270 History of Chestnut Hill (H)
A history of the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia with an emphasis on its social development over the past century. Students will be introduced to basic techniques in researching and writing local history. The course will include field trips, slide lectures, and student presentations.
HISTU 275 Film and History (H,A)
Examines the relationship between film and history. Emphasizes the historical and aesthetic concerns at work upon particular directors. The format consists of weekly film showings, lectures and discussion. Students read critical Historical works. Among the directors to be studied are: Eisenstein, Chaplin, Capra, Welles, Renoir, Bergman, Truffaut, Hitchcock, Fellini, Kurosawa, Satajit Ray, and Buñuel. (This course also fulfills the Artistic Ways of Knowing requirement).
HISTU 322 Genocide in the Modern World (HW)
This seminar will concentrate on the nature of genocide in the 20th century. Students will examine the definition and meaning of genocide in the modern world, focusing on five case studies: Armenia (1915-23), the Nazi Holocaust (1933-45), Cambodia (1975-79), Rwanda (1994), and Bosnia (1992-95). It will look at the historical forces and trends at work leading to each genocide and its long-range impact on the victim population.( This course fulfills the behavioral Ways of Knowing requirementand the Writing Intensive course requirements)
HISTU 330 Revolution, War, and Peace: Women’s Activism in the Modern World (H,B, W)
This seminar focuses on the public role of women in terms of their activism in key events shaping their world from the French and American Revolutions to the present. The clash between society’s perceptions of women’s “proper sphere” and the reality of women’s experiences will be examined. Topics include: collective action and the revolutionary crowd, war and women’s work, women in totalitarian societies, resistance and retribution, the Nazi Holocaust, pacifism and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. (This course fulfills the Behavioral Ways of Knowing requirement and the Writing Intensive course requirement).
HISTU 332 Cities and Suburbs (H)
A study of American cities and their suburbs from the colonial period to the present. Students examine growth patterns, immigration, social, ethnic, and racial contours, economic and technological factors, architecture, politics, reform movements, religion, urban planning, and the art and architecture spawned by cities and suburbs.
HISTU 334 The American Presidency: A History (H)
Considers the evolving scope of the American presidency from the Constitutional Convention of 1787 to the present day. Stresses the growing power of the presidency, the shifting contours of presidential elections, and the lives of important presidents within the wider context of American and world history.
HISTU 343 The Civil War and American Life (H)
Examines the great, tragic epic of American life, the Civil War of 1861-1865. Students examine the roots of the Civil War, the major issues of the conflict, life during the war (in the military as well as on the home front), the reason for northern victory and southern defeat, and the many important legacies of this seminal time in the nation’s History.
HISTU 400 Honors
Independent research projects by Honors candidates under the direction of the department faculty. Note: By departmental invitation only.
HISTU 401-402 Field Work
Work with historical societies, archives, governmental agencies, newspapers, law firms, corporations, parks, etc., where students’ activities are related to historical topics and concerns. Involves directed readings and independent study. Students will receive a letter grade. Majors may take both HISTU 401 and 402.
HISTU 497 History and Historiography (H)
Introduction to Historiography and the development of the methods used by historians from the ancient world to the present.
HISTU 498 The Senior Seminar
A weekly seminar in one of four major areas (ancient, medieval, modern European or American history) elected by history majors. Supervision of exercises in research and composition of senior papers.