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History Undergraduate Courses

HI200 The Making of Our Contemporary World

This course is designed to provide a broad conceptual grasp of the modern world by examining the major developments and events of the past century. Two world wars, a cold war, decolonization and ethnic conflicts have made the 20th century one of the most tumultuous in world history. The growth of the global economy has produced fundamental changes in lifestyles and in the types of issues that confront us. Rapid urbanization, the changing roles of women, the communications revolution and the spread of consumer societies have created conditions unknown to earlier generations. But not all cultures have created conditions unknown to earlier generations. Not all have benefited equally, and this has created tensions between the "haves" and "have nots." The world's different societies share the globe uneasily, but know they must coexist. The challenge is to make that happen.

HI236 History of Ireland: From St. Patrick to "The Troubles"

This course traces the history of Ireland from the days of St. Patrick to today's "troubles" in Northern Ireland. It will consider the experience of the Irish people, their lives, religion and political plight as they struggled for independence, stability and respect. It will also focus upon the rich and lively culture they created over the centuries and their impact on the larger world community.

HI261 Latin America (1800-present)

Introduces the major currents of Latin American history from 1492 to the 20th century. Topics will include the Iberian and Amerindian background, the social and economic structures of the colonial period, slavery and race relations, the Wars of Independence, the continuing legacy of the colonial period, the integration of Latin America into the world economy, 20th- century revolutions, and the history of U.S. relations with Latin America.

HI264 History of China: Before Confucius, After Mao

Introduces the civilization of China. Examines the intellectual, political, social and economic patterns of the civilization. Discusses the roles of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. Traces the growth of Chinese culture, including thought, art and life, dynastic cycles, inner Asian barbarians, and Confucian civilization at its height. Examines the coming of the West and the traumatic consequences of that encounter for China. Traces the struggle to resist, adapt and respond to the Western challenge. Emphasizes the revolutionary nature of the entire process for China. Examines the 20th-century blend of traditional Chinese and modern Western techniques that have combined to create contemporary China.

HI265 History of Japan: Samurai and Salarymen

Introduces the civilization of Japan. Examines the intellectual, political, social and economic patterns of the civilization. Discusses the warrior society of early Japan and its response to Chinese culture. Traces the development of a distinctive Japanese civilization in early Heian society, the resurgence of the warriors, and the development of feudalism. The course examines Japanese aesthetics and the influence of zen in noh plays, gardens and paintings. Discusses the long civil war and the reasons for closing the country in the early 17th century. Examines the growth of pre-modern society and economy during the long Tokugawa era. Treats the coming of the West and Japan's sprint to modernize during the Meiji period, the decisions that led to the China and Pacific wars, the American Occupation, and the growth of a dynamic global economy in contemporary Japan.

HI266 Middle East: Islamic and Contemporary

Studies geography and peoples of the Middle East today. Examines Muhammad's teachings, Arab conquests, the formation of Islamic civilization, dominions of the Turks and Mongols, Latin Crusades, Ottoman Empire and Safavid Iran. World War I and European mandates, emergence of modern Turkey and Egypt, Israel's birth and struggle for existence, plight of the Palestinian refugees, Arab conservatism versus socialism, and other issues are explored.

HI267 The Past and Present in Africa

Examines a variety of African cultures as background for understanding recent African history. Introduces the basic institutions of African societies and the ways in which these resemble or differ from those of the West. Historical topics include slavery and the slave trade, colonial conquest and rule, African religions, Islam and Christianity, the rise of nationalism, independence, and the crisis in southern Africa.

HI279 Modern South Asia

This course provides a general overview of Modern South Asian history for students with no prior background in the study of the subcontinent or its history. After a brief introduction to ancient and pre-modern India, the course will address the rise and decline of the Mughal empire; the advent of British colonial rule and subsequent cultural and social change under the British Raj; race, gender and caste during the colonial period; the emergence of nationalism and the freedom struggle, with particular emphasis on Gandhi; Independence, Partition and decolonization; the colonial and postcolonial economic history of the region; and popular perceptions of South Asia by western and diasporic communities. It will engage with the larger processes of social change in South Asia by focusing on the interrelated themes of politics, economics, religion, race and gender.

HI280 The Caribbean: Past, Present, Future

This course will build an understanding of the insular Caribbean using traditional historical sources as well as fiction, film, and the Internet. The focus will be on the societies of the Greater Antilles-Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Jamaica-although the smaller islands will also be considered. About two-thirds of the semester will highlight historical events that have shaped the modern Caribbean-slavery, the plantation system, the transition to free labor, independence movements and relations with the United States, to name a few. The last month of the course will examine current trends, including democratization, the growth of tourism, free trade zones, drug trafficking, and migration, as well as attempts at regional integration. Those discussions will help us forecast what the future of a small, poor, underdeveloped region like the Caribbean might be.

HI299 Experimental Course in History

Experimental courses explore curriculum development, with specific content intended for evolution into a permanent course. A topic may be offered twice before it becomes a permanent course. Students may repeat experimental courses with a different topic for credit.

HI304 History of Espionage

This course surveys the world of espionage from ancient times to the present. Students will study historically important spies, spymasters and organizations and their methods and motivations. In the final analysis students will attempt to understand the role espionage has played in shaping international relations, the modern state, military operations and more recently, the corporate world. To that end, the course will attempt to understand the kinds of motivations for spying, the evolution of and professionalization of espionage organizations, how the spy is regarded in society at large. Additional themes to be explored include the differences between the realities of espionage and how it is portrayed in fiction and film, and ethical questions surrounding both corporate and state espionage.

HI305 Arts and Society

This course examines the interaction of art, politics, economics and culture during the last six centuries, starting with the Renaissance. Particular attention will be paid to three different countries in three very different centuries. Holland in the 17th century, the Age of Rembrandt and the Dutch East India Company; France in the 19th century, the Age of Impressionism and the Industrial Revolution; America in the second half of the 20th century, the Age of Abstract Expressionism and American Empire. This course will provide an introduction to the history of art and the art of history for the beginner. (Course requires students to meet at Boston museums at least 3 times which each count as a class.)

HI306 War and Society

War has had a decisive impact on past civilizations and is a preoccupation in our own. This course explores a community's hopes, pretenses and fears; its social structure and level of technology; and its sense of honor and capacity for sacrifice. The course examines the place and practice of war in five different settings; the medieval West, 17th-century England and the English Civil war, 18th-century France and the French revolutionary army, Western Europe and World War I, and America in the nuclear age. A variety of books, films and other materials are used to present a vivis and thoughtful account of each culture and its involvements with war.

HI307 Through Children's Eyes: Crises of the Twentieth Century

This course examines selected crises in 20th-century history through literary, film and other recorded or remembered experiences of children. Emphasizing primarily the history of Europe, it also discusses other areas of the world deeply influenced by European ideas, imperialism and economic domination.

HI308 Drugs Trades in World History

Drugs trades — licit and illicit — are often controversial. By examining the histories of trade in drugs — both small, easily transported and large bulk commodities — this course aims to explore the long history of the global economy and its relevance to contemporary problems of "globalization."

HI309 Genocide in Modern History

Mass killing has become one of the most troubling and permanent features of our modern world. The Holocaust under the Nazis prompted the United Nations to draft the 1948 Convention on the Prevention of Genocide, and yet the world continues to see mass killings that target specific ethnic or religious groups around the world. Why has genocide remained endemic in a world preoccupied with humanitarian causes and human rights? This course studies the historical causes of past genocides, and explores some recent cases of genocide in context. What do the perpetrators and victims tell us past and present? What makes genocide distinct from other mass killings, and what were the historical conditions and contexts that paved the path to genocide? Why are genocides so difficult to prevent? This course will examine four cases of genocide around the world in search of answers.

HI310 Historic Approach to Modern Terrorism

This course traces three centuries of terror and “terrorism,” from the French Revolution of 1789 to the present day. The course will examine the specific socio-cultural contexts and ideologies that shaped terrorist actions in modern history. The course will study the ideologically and culturally diverse motives and goals that drove political radicalism: the overthrow of feudal monarchies, national liberation, anarchist ideals, and establishing a religious fundamentalist state, as with ISIS, are just some examples of modern terrorism.

HI311 Revolutions and the Modern World

Why do revolutions happen and how do they change the world? This course focuses on three great revolutions: the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution and the Chinese Revolution. The course will examine the conditions that led to these revolutions, key revolutionary players and their opponents, as well as revolutionary values, beliefs and strategies. It will look at popular movements and mass social conflict, but will not neglect such colorful individuals as Robespierre, Napoleon, Lenin, Stalin and Mao Zedong. There will be opportunities to grasp the experience of these revolutions through studying historical documents, maps, audio and film recordings. Ultimately, the course should help students develop a better understanding of the modern world.

HI314 History of the World Economy

This course traces the history of a world economy from its formation in the pre-industrial era to the present, showing how trade and colonial interests have influenced modern history. It focuses on the competition for world markets and the struggle for empires. It also considers the impact of this struggle on foreign relations and the quality of life in industrial nations.

HI315 Fashion Film and Food in South Asia

This course introduces students to major historical examples of architecture, painting, sculpture, clothing, cuisine and film in the Indian subcontinent. An emphasis is placed on understanding the cultural, political and religious significance of these works against changing ideas of domesticity, economic development and concepts of beauty and taste.

HI316 Women and Gender in South Asia

This course is an interdisciplinary investigation into the meaning of gender in South Asia. It looks into the way women's lives and gender constructions have been influenced by the major historical events of colonialism, imperialism and post-colonialism. Students will study feminist, orientalist, post-colonial, psychoanalytic and nationalist critiques through specific historical and ethno-historical works on South Asia. It is an interdisciplinary investigation into how gender, race and class have affected colonial and post-colonial South Asian consciousness. On a broader level, readings will examine some of the historical motivations for colonialism and imperialism, the nature of the "colonial encounter," the relationship between colonial peoples and the metropole, and gender identities in post-colonial South Asia and diasporic South Asian communities.

HI317 South Asian Religions

South Asia has a rich cultural legacy, which has spread around the world. Not only did it birth several world religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, but it is also home to ancient communities of Muslims, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians. In an interdisciplinary manner, students will engage with a broad history of the region through examining the origins, cultural practices and political influences of different religious traditions. Studentns will examine the development of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism in the time of antiquity, the rise of a unique Indo-Islamic culture during the medieval period, the influence of British colonialism on indigenous religious practice and law, the emergence of religiously oriented nationalism in South Asia during the 20th century and the practice of religion by diasporic South Asian communities today. The emphasis will be placed on reading a wide variety of sources at the crossroads between history, literature and scripture.

HI323 The Medieval West

This course covers approximately 1,000 years of Western history, from the decline of the Roman Empire to the beginnings of the Italian Renaissance. It includes topics such as early Christianity, Germanic invasions, Byzantine and Islamic cultural influences, Carolingians, feudalism and manorialism, Vikings, church-state controversies, monasticism, Romanesque and Gothic architecture, Crusades, growth of towns and universities, Scholasticism, the Black Death, and everyday life.

HI331 Modern British History

This survey of modern British history begins with the origins of British nationalism in the 18th century and concludes with an analysis of the problems of contemporary Britain. Themes include the interplay between society and institutions, persistence and change, as well as an examination of internal and external factors which contributed to Britain's 19th-century ascendancy and 20th-century decline.

HI334 The Soviet Union and After

This course introduces the main currents of Soviet history, from the Bolshevik Revolution to the present. Treats social and cultural factors and their interrelation with politics, Stalinism, World War II, growth and expansion of the Soviet bloc, and the post-Stalin era. It also discusses the breakup of the Soviet Union and the development of the successor states.

HI340 Colonial America (1400-1750)

This course analyzes the processes by which European states discovered, explored and colonized the Western Hemisphere. The political, economic and cultural expansion of Europe, the development of intercolonial rivalries and a comparison of imperial systems are some areas of inquiry.

HI342 The Revolutionary Generation in the United States (1750-1815)

This course studies intensively the causes, course and result of the War for Independence. It also examines the formation of the national state.

HI343 Modern United States History (1920-present)

This course provides an overview of U.S. history from the aftermath of World War I to the present. The topics covered include Prohibition, the Depression, the New Deal, World War II, the Korean War, the McCarthy Era, campaigns for the civil rights of multiple groups, the Vietnam War, the countercultural Sixties, the Watergate Scandal, the Reagan Revolution, and 9/11.

HI344 Constitutional History of the United States

This course focuses on America at the time of the break with England. It looks at constitutional documents — their sources and their inclusions. It also includes the development of constitutional aspects of order in the United States as the country grew from an agrarian and simple commercial republic to an urban and industrialized world power, and from a homogeneous to a widely diversified people.

HI346 Economic History of the United States

This course provides an overview of American economic development from the colonial period through the 20th century. It considers political and social issues (e.g., slavery and race) in the creation of the American nation and examines the shift from an agricultural to an industrial environment. In that context, it pays special attention to the emergence of rationalized corporate structures and the political/regulatory responses to these changes.

HI347 Work and the American Worker

This course looks at the history of work and the American worker from, roughly, the late 19th century to the present. It considers such issues as shifting styles of work, i.e., the evolution and meaning of the assembly line, scientific management, and the re-engineered workplace of today. It also examines the changing nature of working-class life and community among native-born and immigrant workers, women, and racial minorities. It explores the evolution of organized labor movements in the U.S. and their relationships to government and politics. This leads us into discussion of the role of law and government in workers' lives through the state response to strikes, government support or opposition to unionization, and anticommunism.

HI349 History of Modern U.S. Foreign Policy, 1945-Present

Examining the drama of the Cold War, the policies that defined it, and the resulting search for a post-Cold War approach to world relations, This course analyzes the twists and turns of recent U.S. foreign affairs. Meant to hone one's powers of analysis, the course is especially valuable to students with interests in international business and the general "global mission" of Bentley University.

HI350 Serfs, Slaves and Sojourners: The Minority Experience in the United States

This course examines the historical experiences of minorities in the United States. It looks specifically at Mexican-American, Afro-American, Native American and Asian American peoples. It discusses their experiences in the development of the United States and their contributions to contemporary American society and culture. The course focuses on major figures, events, presidential actions and legislative fiats that have impacted the American experiences of these minority groups. The diverse nature of contemporary American society will be examined and discussed.

HI351 The American Religious Experience

This course explores the role of religion in American life from the colonial settlements of the early 17th century to the present.

HI353 20th Century U.S. Economic History

This course examines the history of economic development in the United States since the 1890s. It considers the emergence of mass production and consumption, changes in the organization of business, changes in the role of government, the impact of depression and war on the economy, globalization and the impact of international economic activity, and gender and race as they relate to the economy. Other topics may include (but are not limited to) agriculture, labor, the environment, health, education, and technology in the economy.

HI354 The New Nation

This course focuses on the monumental changes that took place in the first half of the 19th century, as well as the Civil War that tore the nation apart. Topics such as the emergence of democratic politics, Western expansionism, Indian removal, the rise of industrial capitalism, slavery, the birth of the women's rights movement, and Abraham Lincoln's political career will all be studied intensively. Students should come away from the course with a sophisticated understanding of how the social, political and economic institutions that define our own world began and developed over time.

HI355 American Environmental History

This course introduces students to the major events, issues and ideas in American environmental history. It enables them to analyze the role played by the environment through American history. It also encourages students to confront changing definitions of wilderness and nature and enable them to appreciate the role that ideologies play in shaping Americans' relationship with their environment.

HI356 The United States: From Nation to Empire (1865-1920)

This course focuses on the history of the United States in the "Gilded Age" and "Progressive Era" periods. It begins with an overview of Reconstruction in the South and ends with and account of World War I. Along the way, topics for discussion include immigration, urbanization, business, art, religion, literature, technology, organized labor, machine politics, women's suffrage, the Populist movement, the status of African-Americans, the displacement of Native Americans in the West, range wars in the West, and the Spanish-American War.

HI357 America and Its Arts

An introduction to the arts of America (painting, sculpture, decorative arts, architecture, photography, prints and print advertising) as they relate to the unfolding of American history from the time of the American Revolution to the present.

HI358 U.S. Women's History

This course will examine U.S. women¿s history from the colonial era to the present. Course material will offer a broad perspective on women¿s lives, especially their work lives and economic contributions, as they have changed over time.

HI359 Immigration in U.S. History

This course provides an overview of the history of immigration to the United States. Because America is a nation of immigrants, immigration and immigrants have constantly challenged and transformed the nation. The course will examine the shifting causes and patterns of immigration, similarities and differences among the experiences of immigrant groups in the United States, the growth of nativism, the development of legal restrictions, and the effects of immigration on the economic, social, cultural and political life of the nation over time. Finally, because immigrants are also individuals, students will read several biographical accounts.

HI362 Ten Ideas That Shook the World

Ideas have power in the world. This course explores the influence of ideas on events of the 20th and 21st centuries. Focusing primarily on European ideas and thinkers, such as Darwin, Marx and Freud, nationalism, socialism, evolution, it makes connections between political and social movements and the ideas that inspired or justified them. The ideas may be old, but their effects continue.

HI370 History of American Sports

Sports occupy a central place in American life. But that was not always the case. Through the careful reading of old and new books, articles, and visual texts, this course will trace sports-related changes in the U.S. from the mid-19th century onward, addressing a series of socially and culturally revealing questions about how the U.S. developed its obsession with sports, and what it all means.

HI371 Baseball as American History

This reading-intensive class will use professional baseball as a lens to explore American history from the mid-19th century to the present.

HI372 History of Boston

This course will focus on the history of Boston, one of America’s oldest and most influential cities (as well as the birthplace of Bentley). The course will chart the transformation of Boston from a small Native American settlement into a major metropolis, and it will introduce students to the people, ideas, inventions and events that shaped the city.

HI373 History on the Road: Exploring Massachusetts in Five Field Trips

Note: Saturdays course: first orientation session on campus, followed by five full-day field excursions. A course fee applies.

Bentley University is located in a small New England region that has exerted a disproportional influence upon the history and development of the United States. Following the first English settlement upon Massachusetts shores in 1620, important events in early American history occurred at places located just a few short miles from this campus. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, talented and energetic individuals established and developed political, social, economic, cultural and scientific innovations here that shaped a new nation. This field-based course will transport you to five of those places: Concord, Salem, Waltham, Cambridge and Plymouth. Upon arrival, local academics, experts and guides will impart their knowledge of places they know and love. There is an extra course fee to cover the costs of transportation and museum admission fees.

HI380 Modern East Asia

This course considers East Asia's response to Western penetraton from 1840 to the present. It Includes the collapse of traditional cultures in China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam, and the building of new societies in these areas; the rise and fall of Japan as an imperial power; nationalist and communist revolutions in China; decolonization and nationalism in East Asia; and the Cold War (Korea and Vietnam) and its aftermath.

HI381 The Civil War

The Civil War was arguably the most cataclysmic event in American history. This course explores reasons for the war, the war itself, and the consequences of the war.

HI382 World War I

This course traces the origins, progress and consequences of World War I. Consideration is given to politics, diplomacy and military developments. Original films of the fighting are included, as well as slides of the battlefields and monuments as they now appear. Major consideration is given to the literature inspired by the war.

HI383 World War II

This course deals with the rise of fascism and international tensions that led to World War II, the conflict itself in its many campaigns, and the results of the war on our present environment. Particular attention is devoted to the role of the leading military, political and diplomatic personalities of the period and their impact on the main events. Full use is made of film, and guest lecturers who experienced the war in various capacities visit the class.

HI384 Nazi Germany

Nazi Germany was one of 20th century’s most horrific genocidal regimes. How did this regime come to power and topple Germany’s liberal democratic government? This class begins with the final years of the Austro-Hungarian empire as they shaped Adolf Hitler’s personal and political thinking. It examines the impact of World War I on Germany, the history of anti-Semitism in Europe, the Nazi occupation of Europe, its racial policies, economy, culture, and the Holocaust. We will also discussNazi Germany as a case study of fascism, and will debate fascism and neo-fascism conceptually and historically.

HI385 The Vietnam War

This course examines the origins, events and consequences of the wars in Vietnam from 1945 to 1979. Special emphasis will be given to the causes of American involvement and the reasons for the failures of U.S. policy. The events of the wars are placed in different contexts demonstrating how ideological, diplomatic, social, cultural and economic considerations influenced the conduct, duration and end of the war. Topics include: French colonialism and in Vietnam, the outbreak of the Cold War and America's road to Indochina, how the war was fought, the battlefield experience of American troops, the media and the war, the American anti-war movement, the impact of war on Vietnamese society, Ho Chi Minh and Vietnamese nationalism, the roles of the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union, the Khmer Rouge and Cambodia, the Sino-Vietnamese war, cinematic representations of the American War, and the Vietnam War's legacies in Southeast Asia and in the U.S.

HI388 Europe Reborn: Cold War to European Union

This course explores and analyzes post-World War II reconstruction, decolonization, the growth and development of consumer economies, contrasts in familial and societal roles of women, European economic integration and continuing sources of conflict.

HI391 Selected Topics in American History

Explores a specific topic, location, period or theme in U.S. history, such as cultural/social, political, economic and intellectual history.

HI392 Selected Topics in European History

Explores a specific topic, location, period or theme in U.S. history, such as cultural/social, political, economic and intellectual history.

HI393 Selected Topics in Asian History

Explores a specific topic, location, period or theme in U.S. history, such as cultural/social, political, economic and intellectual history.

HI394 Selected Topics in Latin American/Caribbean History

This course explores a specific topic, location, period or theme in Latin American/Caribbean history, including cultural/social, political, economic and intellectual history.

HI395 Selected Topics in World History

This course explores a specific topic, location, period or theme in world history.

HI401 Directed Study in History

Prerequisite(s): Department chairperson's permission

This course presents opportunity for superior students to engage in specialized study. (Allows repetition for credit.)

HI402 Seminar in History

Prerequisite(s): Department chairperson's permission

Note: Not offered regularly. Check with department chair for availability.

This course gives opportunity to small groups for study of selected topics. (Allows repetition for credit.)

HI421 Internship in History

Prerequisite(s): Junior-level standing, 3.0 cumulative average, and permission of liberal arts internship coordinator

An internship provides students with an opportunity to gain on-the-job experience and apply principles and issues raised in the academic discipline to a work environment. Students are required to attend pre-internship workshops sponsored by the Center for Career Services, meet regularly with a faculty advisor, and develop a final paper or special project.