Students may complete a major or minor in History.
Jane Dammen McAuliffe, President of the College and Professor of History
Ignacio Gallup-Diaz, Associate Professor and Chair
Madhavi Kale, Professor
Kalala Ngalamulume, Associate Professor
Elliott Shore, Professor
Jennifer Spohrer, Assistant Professor
Elly Truitt, Assistant Professor
Sharon R. Ullman, Professor (on leave semester II)
Veronica Martinez-Matsuda, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Predoctoral Fellow in the Humanities
A primary aim of the Department of History is to deepen students’ sense of time as a factor in cultural diversity and change. Our program of study offers students the opportunity to experience the past through attention to long-range questions and comparative history.
The department’s 100-level courses, centered upon specific topics within the instructor’s field of expertise, introduce students to a wide array of subjects and themes, while at the same time exploring how historians devise narratives and provide analysis through the study of primary sources. In the 200-level courses, the department offers students the opportunity to pursue interests in specific cultures, regions, policies, or societies, and enables them to experience a broad array of approaches to history.
The department’s 300-level courses build on students’ knowledge gained in 200-level classes, and provide opportunities to explore topics at greater depth in a seminar setting.
Eleven courses are required for the history major, and three—one 100-level course, Exploring History (HIST 395), and the Senior Thesis (HIST 398)—must be taken at Bryn Mawr. In Senior Thesis (HIST 398), the student selects a topic of her choice, researches it, and writes a thesis.
The remaining eight history courses may range across fields or concentrate within them, depending on how a major’s interests develop. Of these, at least two must be seminars at the 300 level offered by the Departments of History at Bryn Mawr, Haverford or Swarthmore Colleges or the University of Pennsylvania. (It is strongly recommended that at least one of these advanced courses be taken with Bryn Mawr history faculty, as it is with one of them that majors will be working on their senior thesis.)
Only two 100-level courses may be counted toward the major. Credit toward the major is not given for either the Advanced Placement examination or the International Baccalaureate.
Majors with cumulative GPAs of at least 3.0 (general) and 3.5 (history) at the end of their senior year, and who achieve a grade of at least 3.7 on their senior thesis, qualify for departmental honors.
The requirement for the minor is six courses, at least four of which must be taken in the Bryn Mawr Department of History, and include one 100-level course, at least one 300-level course within the department, and two additional history courses within the department.
Explores some of the ways people have thought about, represented, and used the past across time and space. Introduces students to modern historical practices and debates through examination and discussion of texts and archives that range from scholarly monographs and documents to monuments, oral traditions, and other media. (Kale, Division I or III)
The course introduces students to African societies, cultures, and political economies in historical perspective, with emphasis on change and responses among African people living in Africa and outside. (Ngalamulume, Division I)
This course is designed to introduce students to the discipline of history through a critical, historical examination of the idea of Europe. When and why have Europeans thought of themselves as such? How have the boundaries of Europe been drawn? Does Europe really exist? (Spohrer, Division III)
How we understand the history of immigration to the territory now known as the United States has been transformed by recent explorations of the notions of “whiteness.” Framed by the ways this powerful lens has recast the meaning of ethnicity, we will focus on individual immigrant groups and the context which they entered and created from the 17th century to the present. (Shore, Division III) Not offered in 2008-9.
Studies the experiences of indigenous men and women who exercised local authority in the systems established by European colonizers. In return for places in the colonial administrations, these leaders performed a range of tasks. At the same time they served as imperial officials, they exercised “traditional” forms of authority within their communities, often free of European presence. These figures provide a lens through which early modern colonialism is studied. (Gallup-Diaz, Division I or III)
(Jiang, cross-listed as EAST 131)
(Kim, Division III; cross-listed as GNST B155) Not offered in 2008-09.
The aim of this course is to provide an understanding of the way in which peoples, goods, and ideas from Africa, Europe. and the Americas came together to form an interconnected Atlantic World system. The course is designed to chart the manner in which an integrated system was created in the Americas in the early modern period, rather than to treat the history of the Atlantic World as nothing more than an expanded version of North American, Caribbean, or Latin American history. (Gallup-Diaz, Division I or III; cross-listed as ANTH B200)
This course begins at the moment when this part of the world was a colonial playground for various competing world powers. We will look at the relationship between those powers and the native populations, continue on to the development of the political entity known as the United States and conclude at the moment when that political unit collapses in 1860. (Ullman, Division I or III) Not offered in 2008-09.
This semester begins at the collapse of the young United States in Civil War and the subsequent rebuilding of a new country. We will look at the developing industrial and international power that will emerge in the late 19th and 20th century. The course emphasizes social history as well as political developments, and looks at the powerful impact of race, class, and gender on the production of a distinctly “American” ideology. (Ullman, Division I or III)
This course will cover the second half of the European Middle Ages, often called the High and Late Middle Ages, from roughly 1000-1400. The course has a general chronological framework, and is based on important themes of medieval history. These include feudalism and the feudal economy; the social transformation of the millennium; monastic reform; the rise of the papacy; trade, exchange, and exploration; urbanism and the growth of towns. (Truitt, Division I or III, cross- listed as CSTS B203)
(Edmonds, Division III; cross-listed as CSTS B205)
(Gottesman, Chiekova, Division I or III; cross-listed as CSTS B206) Not offered in 2008-09.
(Scott, Division III; cross-listed as HIST B207).
(Scott, Division I or III; cross-listed as CSTS B208) Not offered in 2008-09.
(staff, Division III; cross-listed as EAST B210) Not offered in 2008-09.
In the early modern period, conquistadors, missionaries, travelers, pirates, and natural historians wrote interesting texts in which they tried to integrate the New World into their existing frameworks of knowledge. This intellectual endeavor was an adjunct to the physical conquest of American space, and provides a framework though which we will explore the processes of imperial competition, state formation, and indigenous and African resistance to colonialism. (Gallup-Diaz, Division I or III) Not offered in 2008-09.
This course focuses on the social, cultural, and religious history of the Byzantine Empire with particular attention to Byzantium’s interaction with its neighbors. (staff, Division I or III) Not offered in 2008-09.
(staff, Division I or III) Not offered in 2008-09.
The 19th century was a period of intense change in Europe. Some of the questions this class considers are: the relationship between empire, plantation-style agriculture and industrialization; the development of transportations and communication networks; multinational companies, a mass press, film, and tourism as early markers of globalization. (Spohrer, Division III)
In 2000, the European Union adopted “United in Diversity” as its motto. In this course we will look at the social, demographic, material, economic, and political forces that united and divided Europe in the 20th century, such as war, migration, mass production, mass media, and decolonization. We will also look at the policies of unity, division, homogenization, and diversity that Europeans pursued in an attempt to manage these forces. (Spohrer, Division I or III)
This interdisciplinary class looks at the forms and social roles of public spectacles in America from the end of the Civil War to the present and introduces a range of theoretical approaches to cultural analysis. We will focus on the relationship between technological change and the development of commercialized leisure and look at the construction of national identity through popular forms such as the circus, expositions and fairs, museums, malls, and especially the cinema. (Ullman, White, Division III; cross-listed as ENGL B227) Not offered in 2008-09.
The readings for this course will center on Ben’s own Autobiography, which will be read before the class begins, and biographies of him through the last 300 years. We will discuss the man, his legacy, his meaning to generations of U.S. citizens, his place in the scientific world and in popular culture. Assignments will center on the varying interpretations of his life through the last three centuries. (Shore, Division I or III) Not offered in 2008-09.
The course explores the development of African societies to 1800. Themes will be drawn from across the continent. We will discuss issues related to the creation, maintenance, or destruction of a social order (small-scale societies and states), production, social reproduction, explanations, identities, conflicts, external contacts and social change, and examine selected narratives, documents, debates, and films. (staff, Division I or III) Not offered in 2008-09.
The course analyzes the history of Africa in the last two hundred years in the context of global political economy. We will examine the major themes in modern African history, including the 19th-century state formation, expansion, or restructuration; partition and resistance; colonial rule; economic, social, political, religious, and cultural developments; nationalism; post-independence politics, economics, and society, as well as conflicts and the burden of disease. The course will also introduce students to the sources and methods of African history. (Ngalamulume, Division I) Not offered in 2008-09.
The course examines the cultural, environmental, economic, political, and social factors that contributed to the expansion and transformation of preindustrial cities, colonial cities, and cities today. We will examine various themes, such as the relationship between cities and societies; migration and social change; urban space, health problems, city life, and women. (Ngalamulume, Division I; cross-listed as CITY B237)
Described as Late Antiquity or the Early Middle Ages, the period from Constantine to Charlemagne (roughly 300 to 800 C.E.) represents an age of dynamic cultural transition sometimes viewed as a crucible for the blending of Roman, barbarian, and Christian. This course will examine key categories of cultural change including urban and rural landscapes, court society and elites, the movement of migrant peoples, education and literary practices, art, diverse religious practices, and Church authority. (Truitt, Division III; cross-listed as CSTS B239) Not offered in 2008-09.
(Harrold, Division I; cross-listed as CITY B248, HEBR B248 and POLS B248)
While the 20th century has often been called the American Century (usually by Americans), this century can truthfully be looked to as the moment when American influence and power, for good and ill, came to be felt on a national and global scale. While much of this “bigfoot” quality is associated with the post-WWII period, one cannot understand the America of today—at the dawn of the 21st century—without looking at this earlier moment. This course looks closely at the political, social, and cultural developments that helped shape America in these pivotal years. (Ullman, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.
From a country devastated by economic crisis and wedded to isolationism prior to World War II, America became an unchallenged international powerhouse. Massive grass roots resistance forced the United States to abandon racial apartheid, open opportunities to women, and reinvent its very definition as it incorporated immigrants from around the globe. In the same period, American music and film broke free from their staid moorings and permanently altered global culture. We will explore the political, social, and cultural factors that created modern American history. (Ullman, Division I or III) Not offered in 2008-09.
The course explores the process of self-emancipation by slaves in the early modern Atlantic World. What was the nature of the communities that free blacks forged? What were their relationships to the empires from which they had freed themselves? How was race constructed in the early modern period? Did conceptions of race change over time? Through readings and discussion we will investigate the establishment of autonomous African settlements and cultures throughout the Americas, and examine the nature of local autonomy within a strife-torn world of contending empires and nation-states. (Gallup-Diaz, Division I or III) Not offered in 2008-09.
(Ataç, Division III; cross-listed as ARCH B244, CITY B244 and POLS B244) Not offered in 2008-09.
(Kenosian, Division I or III; cross-listed as CITY B247 and GERM B223) Not offered in 2008-09.
This course examines political, cultural, and socioeconomic factors in the creation of the Third Reich and the mass murder of European Jews as well as the memory and representation of the Holocaust. (staff, Division I or III) Not offered in 2008-09.
Surveys the history of Christianity from its inception until the beginnings of European colonial expansion in the first half of the 16th century. We begin in the first century and trace the growth of Christianity as it spread throughout the Mediterranean basin, into Mesopotamia, Africa, Europe, and central Asia, and eventually to sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, and the Americas. (staff, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.
Focusing on the Atlantic slave trade and the slave plantation mode of production, this course explores English colonization, and the emergence and the decline of British Empire in the Americas and Caribbean from the 17th through the late 20th centuries. It tracks some of the intersecting and overlapping routes—and roots—connecting histories and politics within and between these “new” world locations. It also tracks the further and proliferating links between developments in these regions and the histories and politics of regions in the “old” world, from the north Atlantic to the South China sea. (Kale, Division I or III; cross-listed as CITY B257) Not offered in 2008-09.
This course considers ideas about and experiences of “modern” India, i.e., India during the colonial and post-Independence periods (roughly 1757-present). While “India” and “Indian history” along with “British empire” and “British history” will be the ostensible objects of our consideration and discussions, the course proposes that their imagination and meanings are continually mediated by a wide variety of institutions, agents, and analytical categories (nation, religion, class, race, gender, to name a few examples). The course uses primary sources, scholarly analyses, and cultural productions to explore the political economies of knowledge, representation, and power in the production of modernity. (Kale, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.
(Neuman, Division I; cross-listed as ANTH B261, GNST B261 and HEBR B261) Not offered in 2008-09.
Is empire (on the British variant of which, in its heyday, the sun reportedly never set) securely superseded (as some have confidently asserted) or does it endure and, if so, in what forms and domains? Focusing on the expanding British colonial empire from the 17th century on, this course considers its impact through the dynamics of specific commodities‚ production, and consumption (sugar and tea, for example, but also labor and governance), their cultures (from plantations and factories to households to the state), and their disciplinary technologies (including domesticity, the nation, and discourses on history and modernity). (Kale, Division III)
This course explores the histories and effects of migration from the Indian subcontinent to far-flung destinations across the globe. It starts with the circular migrations of traders, merchants, and pilgrims in the medieval period from the Indian subcontinent to points east (in southeast Asia) and west (eastern Africa). However, the focus of the course is on modern migrations from the subcontinent, from the indentured labor migrations of the British colonial period (to Africa, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific) to the post-Independence emigrations from the new nations of the subcontinent to Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States. (Kale, Division I or III)
This course will focus on the intersection of the sense of Philadelphia as it is popularly understood and the Philadelphia that we can reconstruct individually and together using scholarly books and articles, documentary and popular films and novels, visual evidence, and visits to the chief repositories of the city’s history. We will analyze the relationship between the official representations of Philadelphia and their sources and we will create our own history of the city. Preference given to junior and senior Growth and Structure of Cities and History majors, and those students who were previously lotteried out of the course. (Shore, Division I; cross-listed as CITY B267) Not offered in 2008-09.
Examines the rise and fall of Islamic empires, focusing on political, social and religious movements within the Islamic world from the early conquests until the early Ottoman state. Considers the role of geography in history, state formation and consolidation; the change from tribal societies into settled empires; the place of the medieval Islamic world in a global context; and the social and sectarian divisions that caused political turmoil. (staff, Division I or III) Not offered in 2008-09.
Explores religious movements during the Middle Ages. Some were incorporated into the church, whereas others were condemned as heretical. Examines the origins of these groups and motivations for their religious beliefs to determine why the church embraced some and condemned others. (staff, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.
(Stroud, Division I; cross-listed as CITY B278).
(Harrold, Division I; cross-listed as POLS B281) Not offered in 2008-09.
Investigates the participation of women in European history from the French Revolution to the present and examines how gender analysis informs narratives of the past. Topics include: gender and nationalism, socialism and feminism, women and war, femininity and masculinity. (staff, Division I or III) Not offered in 2008-09.
(Harrold, Division I; cross-listed as HEBR B283 and POLS B283) Not offered in 2008-09.
(Scott, Wright, Division III; cross-listed as ARCH B255, CITY B260 and CSTS B255) Not offered in 2008-09.
This course explores the politics and genealogies on nationalist movements in the Indian subcontinent from the late 19th century through the establishment of sovereign nations from 1947-72, considering the implications and legacies of empire, nationalism and anti-colonialism for the nations and peoples of the subcontinent from Independence through the present. (Kale, Division I or III; cross-listed as CITY B286 and POLS B286) Not offered in 2008-09.
Recent topics have included medicine, advertising, and history of sexuality. (Martinez-Matsuda, Division I or III)
Recent topics have included Marxism and History; Socialist Movements and Socialist Ideas. (Spohrer, Division I or III) Not offered in 2008-09.
From the 1700s to the present, Europe underwent a series of sweeping changes in how people used and related to goods: how consumer goods were produced, where they came from, how they were marketed, who could afford them, and who set the standards for fashion and taste. This seminar looks at the social and economic forces behind changes in consumption in this period, and the social anxieties and tensions they produced. Our texts include historical scholarship on European economies, consumer goods and society and treatises, novels, films and texts created by contemporaries in this period. Enrollment limited to 15 students. (Spohrer, Division I or III)
(Ullman, Division I or III) Not offered in 2008-09.
(Jiang; cross-listed as EAST B325)
This course explores the complex nature of the “religious conquest” of indigenous peoples that was an adjunct process to the physical conquest of territory in the early modern period (1500-1800). We will investigate the indigenous religious systems as they existed before contact, the modes of Christianity that the European missionaries worked to impose upon the “conquered,” and the nature of the complicated forms of ritual practice and spirituality that arose in the communities of those peoples that survived the conquest. (Gallup-Diaz; cross-listed as ANTH B327) Not offered in 2008-09.
This course examines disease and illness, and health and healing, in an African context. We will begin by focusing on indigenous understandings of disease that extend the causes of illness beyond the patient’s body, into society and the spiritual world. The course will also include a discussion of the influences of missionary and colonial medicine, and emphasize the pluralistic nature of medicine in postcolonial Africa and the African diaspora. We will also look at examples of epidemics in Africa, including the AIDS pandemic. Enrollment limited to 15 students. (Ngalamulume, Division I)
Recent topics have included social history of medicine; women and gender; and witchcraft ideology, fears, accusations, and trials. (Ngalamulume, Division I or III) Not offered in 2008-09.
The early modern transatlantic slave trade played a key role in several world-historical processes. Taking in an Americas-wide geographic scope, the course explores how the trade operated and changed over time; the contours of culture in the diaspora; slave resistance; and the formation of maroon communities. Enrollment limited to 15 students. (Gallup-Diaz) Not offered in 2008-09.
(Stroud, Division I; cross-listed as CITY 345)
(Cast; cross-listed as CITY B355 and HART B355) Not offered in 2008-09.
Using a wide range of visual and literary sources, this seminar on British empire will explore the politics of race and nation—both “at home” and “away”—in the making of Britain in the 20th century. (Kale, Division I or III)
What is magic? What does it mean to refer to magic as “the occult” or “the Dark Arts”? In medieval Europe, magical knowledge was hotly contested—widely practiced at all social levels, yet often decried as morally and intellectually suspicious. In this seminar we will investigate the definitions and practices of magic and examine what they can reveal about the traditional divides between high and low culture, as well as between licit and illicit knowledge. Enrollment limited to 15 students. (Truitt, Division III; cross-listed as CSTS B368)
Enrollment limited to 15 students. (Truitt, Division III; cross-listed as ARCH B369 and CSTS B369)
This course will explore piracy in the Americas in the period 1550-1750. We will investigate the historical reality of pirates and what they did, and the manner in which pirates have entered the popular imagination through fiction and films. Pirates have been depicted as lovable rogues, anti-establishment rebels, and enlightened multiculturalists who were skilled in dealing with the indigenous and African peoples of the Americas. The course will examine the facts and the fictions surrounding these important historical actors. (Gallup-Diaz)
(Elkins, Division I or III; cross-listed as POLS B378) Not offered in 2008-09.
This course will bring together the latest research findings from the fields of neuroscience, psychology, and neurobiology with the insights into human memory from the fields of literature and art history into a discussion of the implications for the writing of history. Prerequisite: senior standing. (Shore, Division III)
(Harrold, Division I; cross-listed as POLS B383) Not offered in 2008-09.
An intensive introduction to theory and interpretation in history through the discussion of exemplary historiographical debates and analyses selected by the instructor. The coursework also includes research for and completion of a prospectus for an original research project. These two goals prepare senior majors for their own historical production, when the senior thesis is complete. Enrollment is limited to senior history majors. (Kale, Ngalamulume)
Students research and write a thesis on a topic of their choice. Enrollment is limited to senior history majors. (Gallup-Diaz, Spohrer, Truitt, Division I or III)
Optional independent study, which requires permission of the instructor and the major adviser. (staff)