Undergraduate ProgramSpecial Topics Courses – Spring 2017

Spring 2017: Special Topics and Writing Course Topics

CLA 1010: Seminar on Plunder: A.O. Scott’s Top Plunder Films

Instructors: Bryant Simon and Benjamin Talton

In this course, student watch a series of films recommended by the New York Times’ Chief Film Critic A.O. Scott related to the theme of “plunder”.  Students meet once a week to discuss the films’ major themes and issues and connect them with broader social and political issues.

History 2280: Topics in American History

Twentieth-Century American Drug Wars

Instructor: Jessica Bird

This course explores the history of drug control in the United States from the outlawing of narcotics use with the Harrison Act in 1914 to the contemporary era of mass incarceration.  Major themes include criminalization and the development of the criminal justice system over the twentieth century; the role of race, gender, and class as factors in regulation and law enforcement; and the globalization of the American war on drugs.  An example of the topics we will examine include the southern “cocaine fiend” panic of the early twentieth century, the FBI’s war on marijuana and heroin users, the legalization movement of the 60s and 70s, the Reagan administration’s “Just Say No” campaign, and the involvement of the DEA and US military in international drug control.  In each we will focus on the price paid by communities targeted for drug enforcement and the consequences of national policy dedicated to a failed war.

History 2280: Topics in American History

Native American History

Instructor: Jessica Roney

This course is challenges students to approach not only the history of Native Americans after first contact (invasion?) with Europeans, but also how we write the history of peoples who left little or no written records for much of the time period under consideration.  It begins with pre-contact societies and cultures and charts how native peoples were affected by Spanish, French, English, Dutch, and American exploration and settlement.  Thereafter the course examines how Indian peoples resisted and adapted in the face of encroachment upon their land and assaults upon their way of life.  Finally, the course examines the strategies of native peoples in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries as they fought (and continue to fight) for Indian political, economic, and cultural rights.

History 2280: Topics in American History

Instructor: Seth Tannenbaum

Baseball and American History

This isn’t just a course about baseball, it’s a course that uses the game of baseball to try to make sense of a complicated last 175 years of American history. It’s a course about the place of baseball in American society and how the game both reflects and influences American society.  We will examine issues of race, gender, class, immigration, suburbanization, urban planning, business, and identity in American history using America’s National Pastime, baseball, as our lens.  You do not need to love (or even understand) baseball to enjoy this class, all you need is a curiosity about the American past!

History 2680: Topics in Asian History

Instructor: Peter Lavelle

East Asian Environmental History

This course offers an introduction to the modern environmental histories of East Asian societies. In the course, we will explore how shifting political, economic, and social conditions in China, Japan, and other countries influenced the transformation of the natural world over the past three centuries. We will use a variety of materials, including documentary films and literature, to investigate topics ranging from sustainable agriculture to the environmental impact of the Chinese revolution as we seek to understand the historical roots of the contemporary environmental crisis in East Asia.

History 2900: Honors Topics in History

The Mafia in Italy

Instructor: Eileen Ryan

History 3880: Topics in Comparative History

History 3900 Honors Topics

CIA and US Foreign Policy

Instructor: Richard Immerman

This course seeks to provide students with greater understanding of the relationship between national intelligence, U.S. foreign policy, and national security.  It examines the role and responsibility of national intelligence—operations, collection, and analysis—and illuminates its history through a detailed assessment of its successes, failures, and attempts at reform.

History 4296: Writing Seminar in American History

African American Politics and Politicians in the North and West

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 African American Politics and Politicians in the North and West, students will research and write an original research paper focused on black women as political activists and politicians in the period 1900 – 1950.

History 4497: Writing Seminar in European History

European Travel Writing

Instructor: Eileen Ryan

This is a writing intensive course for senior history majors that centers on the topic of modern European travel writing. The modern era, especially in the context of European history, has been defined by mobility.  The voyages of Columbus across the Atlantic, the development of British colonial rule in India, and explorations of the African continent all contributed to a narrative of European exceptionalism that continues to inform the way we understand the concepts of modernity and civilization.  How did encounters with distant people and places (and sometimes nearby people and places) influence the development of European identities? We will examine European travel writing from the past as primary source materials that will guide our discussions, but our primary concern is developing your research and writing skills. Through a series of writing exercises, you will work on the skills associated with research and writing history at a professional level.  Your work will culminate with a final project at the end of the semester.