Undergraduate ProgramSpecial Topics Courses – Fall 2016

Fall 2016: Special Topics and Writing Class Topics

History 2280: Topics in American History

The Bombing of Hiroshima

Instructor: David Watt

On August 6 1945, the United States government dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima Japan.  When it announced that bombing the United States warned that unless the government of Japan surrendered and unless that surrender was unconditional then the United States would continue dropping atomic bombs on the cities of Japan.   On August 9 1945 another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.  Although it is impossible to determine precisely how many people were killed by the atomic bombs that were dropped in August of 1945, many scholars believe that it is certain that they killed over 200,000 people.  Most of those who died were children, women, and old men.  In the past 71 years, writers have told a great many stories that purport to explain why the bombs were dropped.   Students who in enroll in this course will analyze some of the most influential of those stories.   They will determine which of those stories are the most plausible and which of them are the most preposterous.

History 2900: Honors Special Topics

Political Extremism in the 20th Century

Instructor: Kyle Burke

In this class we will explore how Americans defined, debated, and dealt with various political movements that shaped US and global history in the twentieth century—anarchism, communism, fascism, and others. Within that history, we will focus on several key moments when ordinary people harnessed violence for political ends, and how their actions influenced US politics, statecraft, and culture. Along the way, we’ll consult historical scholarship and a variety of primary sources including journalism, speeches, memoirs, images, and films. Doing so will help students understand how and why the lens of extremism helped Americans understand themselves, their politics, their culture, and the world abroad.

History 3496: Intermediate Writing Seminar in European History

Ancient City: Periclean Athens

Instructor: Caitlin Gillespie

The ancient city of Athens remains unique as a bold experiment in participatory democracy. As far as we know, this is the only time in history in which a large, complex city was ruled entirely and directly by broad-based democratic means. How did this come to be? How did the democratic system work, and how, according to its critics, did it fail to work? In this course we will explore aspects of its history, culture, and society in the 5th century BCE, the time period considered the “golden age” of democratic Athens. We will follow the city’s path as it gained and lost an empire, explore its physical layout and architecture, and study its culture, society, and politics.

History 3697: Intermediate Writing Seminar in African, Asian, Caribbean, and Latin American History

China and the World in the Age of Empire

Instructor: Peter Lavelle

This course examines the history of China from the mid-seventeenth century to the early twentieth century. We chart the rise of China’s last dynasty and largest empire, investigate its connections to the global economy, and study the empire’s long and complex demise in a globalizing world. We also examine the emergence of Chinese national sentiment and pay special attention to its connections to world affairs. In studying Chinese history, we consider major themes of significance to historiography, such as imperialism, science, modernization, and nationalism.

History 4296: Writing Seminar in American History

Civil Rights in the Urban North and West, 1890-1965

Instructor: Bettye Collier-Thomas

This course will assist students in the development of advanced-level skills in historical writing, argumentation, and research. In the capstone course the history major demonstrates his or her integrative capacities through an advanced original research project in which the student takes the primary responsibility for framing the research question, carrying out analysis, and producing a polished written work of substantial complexity and quality. Organized around the theme of Civil Rights in the Urban North and West 1890-1965 – we will examine the history and historiography of African Americans in electoral and partisan politics between 1890 and 1965, a period encompassing southern black disfranchisement, the Great Migration and the rise of urban black politics in the North and West, and the Civil Rights Movement, students will research and write an original research paper focused on some aspect of African Americans in politics prior to 1965.