Illinois State University
Illinois State University
Jump over the site's masthead's navigation bar.
Jump over the site's left-side navigation bar.

Detailed Course Descriptions

Fall 2015


History 300, Senior Seminar

Section 1, 3:35-4:50 MW, Professor Paehler

"Reporting from Hitler's Germany/Reporting the War" - In Buried by the Times,Laurel Leff shows how information about the Holocaust was quite literally buried in and by the NYT; he aptly and persuasively ties the decisions at paper to the historical context in which it was published.

This class will take an approach similar to Leff's and investigate U.S. reporting on Nazi Germany and World War II. Students will do primary source research in international, national, and local papers and evaluate their findings in the matrix of reporting in the 1930 and 1940s, Nazi Germany and its racial and imperial designs, and the U.S. at the dawn of the (rather short) "American century."

Section 2, 4:30-7:20 T, Professor Crubaugh

"The Enlightenment" - This section focuses on the 18th-century m movement known as the Enlightenment, which applied a critical spirit and the methods of science to understand the laws governing humans in society. We will explore enlightenment thinking on religion, human nature, economics, gender, society and politic to highlight the m movement's profound impact on modern life. Although the instructor's specialty is in European history, students may write their research papers on a topic related to the American Enlightenment.

Section 3, 12:35-1:50 TR, Professor Hartman

"The Culture Wars in US History" - for decades, the United States has been plagued by what pundits have referred to as the "culture wars." Since the 1980s, commentators have described the nation as intensely divided between secular liberals and traditionalist conservatives, especially over issues such as abortion, homosexuality, multicultural education, evolution, and prayer in school. This course will examine these culture wars historically. We will examine how a fragile cultural consensus that developed during World War II and the early Cold War shattered during the 1960s, and how the shouting matches have grown increasingly intense ever since. The net result will be to familiarize students with the best new historiography of the recent United States, which will better prepare them to write their capstone research paper on a culture wars topics.

Section 4, 11-12:15 TR, Professor Gifford

“The U.S. Civil War” – Focusing on the war years, 1861-1865, students will formulate a research project concerning the conflict. As background for your individual research, we will explore a variety of questions and historical arguments, including a look at the war and its effect on Bloomington, IL.

Section 5, 10-10:50 MWF, Professor Jasper

“Roman Writers” - This course explores the various genres and styles in Roman writing from the end of the Republic through Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages (the first century BC to the sixth century AD). We read a range of documents, including personal correspondence, military accounts, romances, and histories. We also read secondary articles addressing these sources to practice analyzing and criticizing scholarly arguments. In class we focus on interpreting primary sources and formulating an argument based on original research. Discussions and assignments prepare students for writing a substantial research paper. The papers may address topics proposed in class, or any topic on an ancient or medieval subject outside the parameters of the course.


History 307, Topics in Non-Western History

Section 1, 11-12:15 MW, Professor Topdar


Section 2, 12:35-1:50 TR, Professor He

"Mass Media and Popular Culture in Modern China" - Never before did China undergo such sweeping social and cultural changes in the last one hundred and fifty years. This period time witnessed foreign intrusion, demise of imperial system, foundation of Chinese republican, world wars, communist revolution, Cold War and beyond. This course is designed to examine China's political and social changes through the lens of the mass media and popular culture in the modern era, from late nineteenth century to the present. I attempt to explore a series of questions such as "How did the introduction of the modern press help reconceptualize "public" and "private" in modern China? "How did the industrialization, commercialization and urbanization in the early twentieth century stimulate the growth the media and culture in China?" "How did political and social activists incorporate the modern media and popular culture into their agenda of mass mobilization?" and "How did expansion of the cultural markets jeopardize or reinforce the existent political power relations?" Students are required to read both western theoretical works about mass culture and recent scholarships regarding modern Chinese cultures. Moreover, students will be exposed to cultural works such as newspapers, popular songs, dramas and films produced in twentieth-century China.


History 308, Topics in European History

Section 1, 12:35-1:50 MW, Professor Reger

History 308 will cover the evolution of European armies from the Medieval period through the Military Revolution (about 1700). It will give special attention to military organization, strategy and tactics, and changes in weaponry, and will address the question of how armies contributed to the rise of nations and European global expansion.


History 309, Topics in US History

Section 1, 9:35-10:50 TR, Professor Hartman (Tentative TBA)

"The History of Capitalism in the United States" - Historians have long studied the history of capitalism in the United States, basing their research on some of the following essential questions: Has the United States always been a capitalist nation? Was there a market revolution in the 19th century that fundamentally changed the nation? Was slavery a capitalist institution? How has the state helped create and regulate capitalism? Yet despite this well developed historiography only recently has the history of American capitalism been considered a trendy topic. As the New York Times recently reported: "A specter is haunting university history departments: the specter of capitalism." This class will investigate this new history of capitalism, which focuses on the culture of capitalism, while keeping in mind some of the age-old questions that historians have long asked.


History 417, Topics in 20th Century US History

Section 1, 5-8:50 M, Professor Ciani

"Deviants or Dynamos: Understanding Activist Women in the United States"

*This course counts for the Women's and Gender Studies Graduate Certificate"

We will examine women who challenged the systems they found themselves subjected to and the ways in which communities dealt with their actions. The readings will focus on gendered concerns: reproductive freedoms, sexual restrictions, labored justice, citizenship rights, and political persuasions. We will explore the associations and organizations to which activist women belonged, and the avenues they used to maneuver through colonial, heterosexual, and patriarchal systems. Our focus will be on issues that raised eyebrows among "respectable" folk, including mixed race relationships, single pregnancy, lesbian love, union organizing, and peaceful protest to end armed conflict. We will also interrogate how American society has tainted certain professions, crafts, and talents as deviant precisely because women have engaged in them. Along the way we will meet some liberated daughters, protesting moms, frustrated aunts, and assertive grandmas.


History 424, Am Cultural & Social History

Section1, 6-9:50 W, Professor Wood

"Modernity in America" - At the turn of the twentieth century, modernization brought forth a host of social and economic changes throughout the western world: the rise of corporate capitalism; the growth of massive metropolitan centers; the development of new technologies like electricity, telephones, radio, and motion pictures; the mounting pervasion of bureaucracy, technology, and consumerism into everyday life; an increasing skepticism toward traditional forms of knowledge and authority; and a growing reliance on science and rationalism to solve social problems and explain life's mysteries. In the United States, these transformations were accompanied by a set of nationally specific changes and circumstances, including the final expansion into the west and the 'closing' of the 'frontier', unprecedented levels of immigration, new configurations of racism in the wake of Emancipation and black migration to northern cities, and, finally, the emergence of the U.S. as a world and imperialistic power. This seminar will center on how Americans perceived, conceptualized, and responded to these changes related to modernization. That is, we will examine modernization in America primarily as a cultural experience, the experience of modernity. As a course in cultural and intellectual history, we will study social ideas, attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions in this period, as experienced through various things like entertainment practices, home decor and architecture, and consumer habits, as well as through scientific thought and philosophy.


History 478, Topics in Global History

Section 2, 5-8:50 R, Professor Olsen

“Intervention in Latin America” - History 478 is designed to introduce students to the study of overt and covert interventions in Latin America. In particular, students will develop an understanding of interventions by the United States in Latin America since 1945, and when, where, why, and how overt and covert interventions take place. Students will investigate the structure and operations of the United States intelligence community, focusing on the actions of the Central Intelligence Agency in the Cold War and post-Cold War eras. This course does not attempt to put forward a particular interpretation of the Agency and its actions in Latin American states. Rather, through extensive case studies, its objective is to provide the opportunity for students to interpret and analyze for themselves the political and social impacts of particular operations, and the short- and long-term repercussions of such operations. This course provides students with the opportunity to gain further understanding of contemporary Latin American states, reaching beyond the polemics frequently found in this field of study. Course assignments will introduce students to a range of primary and secondary sources. Students will also have the opportunity to strengthen writing and oral presentation skills as they conduct research on a particular problem and assess the repercussions (or “blowback”) of a particular intervention.



Email History

Department of History
Normal, Il 61790-4420
Phone: (309) 438-5641
Fax: (309) 438-5607