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Academics: Courses

The history department's curriculum revision proposal was approved in March. Beginning with Fall 2015, we will be offering a revised roster of courses, including many new and revised courses. The 2015-2016 list of course offerings will be updated here as soon as the college catalog is ready. Click here to view a draft of our 2015-2016 catalog copy.

2014-15 courses in history

Beginning survey courses

151 History of the West and the World I (4). Fall and Spring. This course examines the history of early human societies. The course begins with Paleolithic and Neolithic cultures and their transformation into ancient urban civilizations. It continues with the development of the classical civilizations and the major world religions, and the interaction of impulses from these, down to the European transoceanic voyages around the year 1500 A.D. Secondary themes include evolution of societies around the world, the contrast of urban and sedentary and nomadic strategies for societies, and the development of technology. B. Berglund, D. Howard, W. Katerberg, F. van Liere.

151H Honors Cluster West and the World I (4). Fall. This cluster of honors sections of Art History 101 and History 151 offers a broad but detailed survey of the history, art, and literature from the prehistoric period and dawn of civilizations, through the classical and medieval worlds, up to ca. 1500. Attention will be focused on the developments across the landmass of Eurasia, stretching from the Mediterranean to the Pacific, with a particular emphasis on the emergence and evolution of unique cultural traditions and the interactions that took place among the great societies of the pre-modern world. Along with lectures, classroom discussions and short papers responding to primary sources will structure weekly coursework. A larger multi-disciplinary research paper will ask students to integrate the two linked courses. Stressing the importance of primary source materials, the cluster will include a trip to Chicago to see historical artifacts firsthand – particularly the collections of the Oriental Institute and the Art Institute of Chicago. Additional trips include a Sunday worship service at a Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox church, as well as evening prayers and a lecture at Mesjid-Tawheed, a place of worship for Grand Rapids Muslims. The course fulfills the core credit requirement of History of the West and the World. Enrollment is limited to 20 students and is restricted to those who qualify for honors enrollment. B. Berglund.

152 History of the West and the World II (4). Fall and Spring. The history of modern human societies since c. 1500 is studied. The course includes coverage of the scientific revolution and the European Enlightenment tradition; key political, economic, social, and religious developments in the West, including the non- Western world’s contribution and reaction to them; and events of global significance through the latter half of the twentieth century, such as the industrial revolution, the world wars, and decolonization. J. Bratt, K. Du Mez, D. Miller, R. Schoone-Jongen, K. van Liere, E. Washington.

152H Honors West and the World II (4). Spring. This course is for students who are committed to doing extra reading and writing on the History of the West and World from 1500 to the present. Class lectures and discussions will focus on the major themes and periods of this history, but the over-arching theme of this course, and much of the assigned reading, is on the "meeting" of the West with the rest of the world. In addition to examinations and other smaller essays, students will write a significant (20 page) paper on a specific theme of their choice, based on secondary sources. This course fulfills the core requirement of History of the West and the World. Enrollment is limited to 20 students and is restricted to those who qualify for honors enrollment. W. Van Vugt.

Theory and Practice of History

IDIS 198 Classical and Medieval Palaeography (1). This course offers a practical introduction to reading Late Antique, Medieval, and Humanist Latin and vernacular script, from c. 200 A.D. until c. 1500 A.D. No prerequisites. Not offered 2014-15.

Intermediate Courses

All 200-level courses require taking History 151 or 152 first or permission of the instructor.

World Regions

231 Ancient Near East (3). A cultural history of the ancient Near East from prehistory to Alexander (350 B.C.), based on evidence from archaeology, cultural anthropology, ancient texts in translation, biblical accounts, and contemporary historical records. Special consideration is given to artistic and linguistic traditions, literatures of origin and identity, and the impact of the recovery of these ancient cultures on modern civilization. Not offered 2014-15.

232 Hellenistic and Late Antique Near East (3). Near Eastern civilization from the conquests of Alexander to the early Islamic Caliphates. Particular emphasis is placed on the cultural syncretism of the age, which saw the development of Judaism and the emergence of Christianity and Islam. Scientific, technical, artistic, social, religious, and political developments will all receive attention. Not offered 2014-15.

233 Modern Middle East (3). Spring. The subject matter of this course is the Ottoman Empire and the creation of the Arab countries including Egypt, as well as Turkey, Iran, and Israel in the 20th century. Themes include colonialism and nationalism, secularism and religion, and literature and pop culture. Through this survey of Middle Eastern history the course aims to open up the American mental and emotional atlas and uncover the many meanings of the course title. D. Howard.

235 India and Its World (3). A cultural history of South Asia from the earliest times to the twentieth century. Primary emphasis will be placed on the civilization of Hindustan and the interplay of Hindu and Islamic religious and cultural forces there. Themes include the rise of the major Indian religions; the cultural synthesis of the Mughal Empire; the impact of British rule; and the rise of the modern nations of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. Economic, social, political, religious, and intellectual themes receive consideration.
Not offered 2014-15.

238 Latin American History (4). A study of continuity and change in Latin America from pre-Columbian times to the present. Topics covered include the mingling of races and cultures in the conquest era, the long-term influence of colonial institutions, the paradox of economic development and continued poverty, the Cold War struggle between forces of the Left and the Right, and the growth of Protestantism in a traditional Catholic society. Not offered 2014-15.

242 Africa and the World (3). This course covers specific themes in African history from ancient civilization to the contemporary period. Special attention will be given to Africa’s relation to the Mediterranean world, Africa’s contribution to the development of the Christian church, Islam in Africa, slavery and slave trades, the African diaspora, imperialism, colonialism, and the age of independence. This course seeks to place African within a number of global contexts asserting that far from being the “Dark Continent,” Africa was a major crossroads of civilizations throughout history. Not offered 2014-15.

245 East Asia to 1800 (3). Spring. The history of East Asian civilizations from early times until the early modern period. Emphasis is on China and Japan, but Korea is also included. Primary objectives are for students to grasp the essential patterns of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean social structures, political systems, cultural values, and religious and ethical norms as they developed from the late traditional period through to 1800, and also to appreciate the similarities and differences among these civilizations. B. Berglund

246 East Asia since 1800 (3). This course emphasizes the history of China and Japan, but Korea is also included. Primary objectives are for students to grasp the patterns of East Asian societies on the eve of the modern period, then to gain an appreciation for the travails of modernity in all three countries as they were transformed from traditional societies to modern nation-states. Another objective is to gain an appreciation for the interrelatedness of the East Asian nations in the past 150 years. Not offered 2014-15.

North America

229 U.S.A. (4). Fall. This survey looks at American history according to several interlocking themes: colonial roots and cultural and political divergence; the costs and benefits of expansion; industrialization and immigration; American leadership in the twentieth century; and challenges in the current century. This course is not intended for those who plan to take period courses in American history. R. Schoone-Jongen.

251 Early America (3). Study the region that became the United States, from the first European settlements through the Napoleonic wars. We will treat colonial America as a cluster of distinct socio-cultural regions: plantation Virginia, Caribbean Carolina, Puritan New England, commercial mid-Atlantic, and the Scots-Irish backcountry. These regions converged to sustain a successful war against the British, but almost fell apart again during the first decades of independence. We will pay special attention to the unexpected dynamics of the Revolutionary War and to the Constitution as establishing an arena of combat rather than a set of settled answers. Not offered 2014-15.

252 The Expanding Nation (3). An examination of United States history after independence as the nation expanded, industrialized, and came to dominate the Western hemisphere. Special attention is given to the nation’s foundations, western expansion, and slavery; the Civil War and Reconstruction; the Progressive response to industrialization; and the United States’ overseas expansion and participation in World War I. Not offered 2014-15.

253 Recent America (3). An examination of United States history from the 1920s to the present, focusing on the ways in which recent history shapes contemporary American culture, politics, economics, and religion. Topics include the “Roaring Twenties” and the Great Depression, WWII, Cold War America and Vietnam, the Civil Rights Movement and the Rights Revolution, conservative politics and religion, a post-industrial economy, and the role of the state at home and abroad. Special attention is given to changing configurations of race, religion, ethnicity, and gender in American social relations, and to the intersections of cultural history with political and economic history. Not offered 2014-15.

255 African-American History (3). Fall. A survey of African-American history from West African societies to contemporary times. Highlights include the creation of a slave society in British North America, African-American intellectual traditions, the African-American church, and social and political movements for freedom. E. Washington.

256 Women and Gender in U.S. History (3). A study of the lives of women and men in American history from the colonial era to the present. The course examines the history of feminism and women’s rights, the social construction of femininity and masculinity, changing understandings of sexuality, and the relationship between Christianity and feminism. It provides an introduction to significant questions and methodologies in women’s history and gender studies, and equips students to approach contemporary issues related to women and gender from a historical perspective. Not offered 2014-15.

257 History of the North American West (3). Spring. A study of the American West from the pre-Columbian plains to present-day California, and as a landscape of the mind as well as a real place. The course will plumb the historical significance of the myths made about the West as well as events that actually transpired there, and students will be encouraged to reflect on what the existence of the two “Wests” tells them about America as a whole. W. Katerberg.

258 U.S. Military History (3). Spring. This course studies the military as an American institution from the colonial period through the "War on Terror." Though primary focus will be on the major wars fought by the United States, the course will also examine the various social, economic, and political factors influencing the development of the American military. E. Washington.


223 Russia (3). A survey of the political, social, and cultural history of Russia from its medieval origins as Muscovy through the Romanov Empire and Soviet Communism. The course will address the importance of Orthodox Christianity, the expansion of Russian rule across Eurasia, the interactions between ethnic Russians and their subject peoples, the attempts to modernize Russia along Western lines, and the history of the Soviet regime and its legacies for Russia today. Not offered 2014-15..

225 England (3). Spring. A survey of English history including the Anglo-Saxon background; the medieval intellectual, religious, and constitutional developments; the Tudor and Stuart religious and political revolutions; the emergence of Great Britain as a world power; and the growth of social, economic, and political institutions in the modern period. Not offered 2014-15.

261 Ancient Greece and Rome (3). Spring. A study of the political, social, cultural, and economic developments of the ancient Mediterranean world, with a focus on the histories of Greece and Rome, chronologically from late Bronze Age to the beginning of Late Antiquity. In-depth study includes the formation of the Greek polis, radical democracy in Athens, the effects of Alexander’s conquests, the Roman Republic, the transition to the Roman empire, and the rise and spread of Christianity. Y. Kim.

262 Early Medieval Worlds (3). Fall. The emergence of Europe out of the Roman Empire alongside the Byzantine Empire and Islamic commonwealth. Special attention is given to the Christianization of the Roman Empire, Christian missions to Western Europe, the role of monasticism, and the way that early medieval Europe, like its neighboring cultures, integrated its Roman-Hellenistic heritage into its new forms. F. van Liere.

263 Medieval and Renaissance Europe, 1000-1500 (3). A treatment of one of the most formative periods in the development of European culture and institutions, when strong monarchies emerged out of feudalism and a new religious vitality transformed Christian spirituality. These impulses are traced through the rise of schools and universities, the Crusades, and the role of the papacy as a unifying political force in Western Christendom, concluding with the late-medieval economic and demographic crisis and the break-up of the medieval worldview in Renaissance Italy. Not offered 2014-15.

264 Reformation and Revolution: Europe 1500-1800 (3). A survey of early modern European political and social history from the early 16th century to the late 18th century, with particular emphasis on the Protestant Reformation, its social and intellectual origins, and its political and social contexts and consequences, and on selected “revolutionary” political and intellectual movements, such as the Thirty Years’ War, the English Revolution, the emergence of modern science, the Enlightenment, and the French Revolution. Not offered 2014-15.

266 Nineteenth-Century Europe (3). The history of Europe from the French Revolution to World War I. Special attention is paid to social and cultural developments, including the rise of industrial society, ideologies and protest movements, nation building, mass politics, materialism, and the fin-de-siècle revolution in art and thought. Not offered 2014-15.

267 Twentieth-Century Europe (3). From World War I to the present, this course examines the social, cultural, and political implications of the century’s major events such as the two World Wars, the rise of totalitarianism, the Holocaust, the Cold War, the founding of the European Union, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Special attention is given to the enduring tension between European unity and national particularism as well as to the burden of the European past. Not offered 2014-15.

268 Women and Gender in European History (3). An introduction to topics in the history of women in Europe and to the use of gender as a historical category of analysis. This course examines experiences unique to women as well as the changing perceptions of masculinity and femininity throughout European history. Not offered 2014-15.

Global Histories

271 War and Society (3). This is not a military history course. Instead, the course addresses the social and cultural contexts of warfare. Case studies are drawn from different conflicts during the 20th century in different world regions, such as Austria-Hungarian World War I, Japan after World War II, post-colonial West Africa, and the recent wars of the United States. Not offered 2014-15.

272 Contemporary World (3). Focus on the Korean War, using the war as a point of entry for the study of post-World War II global dynamics. The course will consider the antecedents and consequences of the war, but especially the meanings it held in the eyes of the different nations affected by the conflict, and the policies and behavior they generated in response. Not offered 2014-15.

273 The Communist World (3). A survey of the history of Communism and the legacies of communist rule. The course will address the variations in Marxist thought, the totalitarian model of Stalinism, the rise of communist movements in the developing world, dissident resistance, Communism and the church, the failures of the regimes in Eastern Europe and Russia, and the reforms and repression of Deng Xiaoping in China. Not offered 2014-15.

Theory and Practice of History

294 Research Methods of History (2). Fall, Interim. An introduction to historical sources, bibliography, and research techniques, giving particular attention to the different genres of history writing, the mechanics of professional notation, and critical use of print and electronic research data bases. Intended as preparation for 300-level courses. D. Miller, K. van Liere.

Advanced Courses

Enrollment in all 300-level courses requires completing two courses in history first or permission of the instructor.

World Regions

331 Studies in Middle Eastern History (3). Spring. A study of U.S.-Middle East relations since about 1900. Under the conceptual framework of culture and imperialism, the topic is not limited to just foreign policy but the full range of economic, social, and cultural exchanges between Americans and Middle Easterners, including military alliances, commercial ties, media coverage, Christian Zionism, immigration, scholarship, and the like. This course is eligible for concurrent registration with History 394. D. Howard

338 Mexico and the Americas (3). Mexico has two roots-Hispanic-Catholic and Amerindian. It is poised between modernity, visible throughout the country, and tradition which continues to influence the thought and behavior of individuals at all levels of society. Mexicans are torn between a fierce loyalty to their country and a profound cynicism about its institutions and leaders. Finally, Mexicans simultaneously admire and resent their rich and powerful neighbor to the north. This course examines Mexico from its pre-Columbian and Iberian origins through its recent embrace of neoliberal economics and democratic politics. It concludes with the experience of Mexican-Americans in the US. This course is eligible for concurrent registration with History 394. Not offered 2014-15.

346 Modern China (3). An in depth, comprehensive treatment of Chinese history from the Qing Dynasty, about 1650, to the present. In addition to the basics of political, social, and economic history, the course will also stress intellectual and religious currents, including the role of Christianity. Appropriate for Asian Studies or Chinese/Japanese majors, business or international relations students, or anyone who has had HIST 245 or 246, or has upperclass standing and has taken HIST 151  or 152. Not offered 2014-15.

North America

354 American Religious History (3). Selects a particular theme in American religious life and thought for advanced historical study. For Fall 2013 we will trace the tumultuous development of American religion over the course of the 20th century. We will study epochal events like the Scopes (“Monkey”) Trial; eminent personalities like Dorothy Day and Martin Luther King Jr.; and tidal shifts like the birth and explosion of Pentecostalism, the fall and resurrection of evangelicalism, and the movement of Catholics, Jews, and African Americans from the sidelines to the center of American faith. We will attend throughout to the interaction between personal faith and its public effects against the backdrop of two persisting questions: How was it that religion continued to hold a central place in American life despite (because of?) the accelerating diversity of American society and opinion? And how did religious faiths of all kinds not only survive but thrive in the face of challenges from science and technology to scandals and doctrinal rivalries? This course is eligible for concurrent registration with History 394. Not offered 2014-15.

355 American Intellectual History (3). A study of the rival systems of ideas and values—liberal, radical, and conservative—that came into conflict in the 1960s and ‘70s as evidenced in Hollywood movies of the era. Since the film industry was undergoing its own overhaul during these years, this episode provides an exemplary case study in the interaction of art and life, of ideas and context, and of cultural products and their audiences. The course will conclude by considering how these contentions led into the ‘culture wars’ that beset the United States to the present. This course is cross-listed with CAS 395 and is eligible for concurrent registration with History 394. Not offered 2014-15.

356 American Social and Cultural History (3). Spring. A study of the development of American society from colonial times to the present organized around the themes of power, consumption, material culture, and the social construction of space. Attention will be given to the ways in which new sources, methods, and theoretical frameworks open up new topics and questions in American history, including the changing meaning of the American landscape, the development of suburbia, the rise of consumerism and the mass media, popular religion and the creation of sacred space, and the hidden ways in which power is exercised. Class, gender, and race will be categories of inquiry and analysis. This course is eligible for concurrent registration with History 394. K. Du Mez.

357 American Economic History (4). Fall. A study of United States’ economic history from colonial times to the present, emphasizing the foundations of the American economy, the dynamics behind American economic expansion, the history of American business, the costs and benefits of industrialization and modernization, and the causes for the economic changes of the 21st century. This course is eligible for concurrent registration with History 394. W. Van Vugt.

358 Native American History (3). (Studies in the North American West). Surveys the history of Native Americans in what is now the United States from the centuries before European contact to the present. The course is continental in scope, but focuses especially on the American West, with some comparisons to indigenous peoples in Mexico and Canada. Specifically, the course looks at the rise and decline of regional Native American chiefdoms and states in the centuries before European contact; Christian missions and the fur trade in the eighteenth and early-nineteenth century; the "Indian Wars" in the American West, 1840s-1890s; efforts to assimilate Native Americans in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century; and efforts to promote Native American civil rights and sovereignty—"Red Power"—in the twentieth century. Not offered 2014-15.


362 Studies in Medieval Europe (3). Offers an in-depth analysis of a particular topic or period within the Middle Ages (c. 500-1500). Previous topics have included the Bible in the Middle Ages and the Papacy in the Middle Ages, and the Crusades. The Spring 2014 section will explore the medieval Crusades, the religiously inspired military expeditions to conquer the Holy Land, from c. 1096 to c. 1572, from both Christian and Muslim perspectives. It will reflect on the role of Christianity in medieval politics, explore the ideas of just war and holy war, and examine the interactions between Christians and Muslims as well as Jews and heretics in the Middle Ages. This course should be of interest not only to students of medieval history, but also of Middle Eastern history. This course is eligible for concurrent registration with History 394. Not offered 2014-15.

363 Studies in Early Modern Europe (3). Fall. This course focuses on a particular period or movement in European history within the early modern period (c. 1500–1800). The specific content will vary from year to year. Past topics have included the Italian Renaissance, international Calvinism, the Counter-Reformation, and early modern Spain. K. van Liere.

364 Studies in Modern Europe (3). The course focuses on major trends, events, or regions in post-1789 Europe. Topics in the past have included nationalism and communism in Eastern Europe and the history of Christianity in 20th-century Europe. The Spring 2014 section will address sports, culture, and society in 19th- and 20th-century. Not offered 2014-15.

Global Histories

371 Asia and the Pacific since 1850 (3). An examination of the experience and impact of Westerners in East Asia, principally between 1850 and 1950. Includes a sampling from each category of Western residents (many Americans) who played interesting roles in the modern history of China, Japan, and Korea: foreign missionaries, merchants, diplomats, and academics. In addition to other course work, each student will select a case study of an individual, family, or small group as the subject of a paper. Not offered 2014-15.

372 Europe’s Global Empires (3). Examine the dimensions of European imperialism from its inception and rise in the 15th century to its disillusion in the 20th. Learn about the wars, people, environment, religion, technology, and politics that created these empires and led to their demise. This course is eligible for concurrent registration with History 394. Not offered 2014-15.

Theory and Practice of History

359 Seminar in the Teaching Secondary Social Studies (3). Fall, Spring. This course is designed to assist student teachers in developing appropriate goals and effective methods of teaching history and social studies at the middle and high school level. The seminar also provides a forum for the discussion of problems that develop during student teaching. Prerequisites: History 375, concurrent enrollment in Education 346, and an approved history major. R. Schoone-Jongen.

IDIS 375 Methods and Pedagogies for Secondary Social Studies (3). Interim. A course in perspectives on, principles of, and practices in teaching of history, government, geography, and economics at the secondary level. Included are teaching strategies, curriculum studies, readings regarding new developments in social studies education, and an examination of these topics as they relate to a Christian view of human nature. Prerequisites: Education 302-303 or permission of the instructor. R. Schoone-Jongen.

390 Independent Study. Fall, Interim, and Spring. Talk to your advisor for more information.

390H Honors Tutorial in History (3) and 391H Honors Senior Thesis (3). A two-semester sequence designed to lead students to the writing of a more substantial seminar paper than is possible in History 394. Students spend fall term in History 390H conducting a thorough investigation of the secondary literature on and around a topic which they choose in close consultation with their advisor. They proceed in spring term to write a senior thesis upon that topic. Required for students in the department’s honors track and highly recommended for those planning to pursue graduate studies in history. Consult with your advisor for additional information.

393 Museum Studies (3). (Also listed under Art History 393) Fall, Spring. Students in this museum internship will engage in 140 hours of interning in a museum with historical or archaeological exhibits, like the Grand Rapids Public (Van Andel) Museum, under the supervision of a curator. Placement will be facilitated by the instructor, and performance evaluation will be based on reviews by the museum staff and the course instructor. See your advisor or Prof. Kate van Liere for information on the application process.

394 Research Seminar (2). Fall, Spring. An intensive study of a specific question or topic to the end of producing an article-length (20-25 pages) paper based on original sources and addressing a well-defined historiographical problem in the field. Must be taken with a concurrent 300 level course. Not open to first- or second-year students. See a listing of concurrent courses or check with the department for details. K. Du Mez, D. Howard, K. van Liere, W. Van Vugt.

395 Historiographical Perspectives (3). Fall, Spring. The capstone in the history major, this course examines the history of historical writing in the Western tradition with a view toward articulating a critical Christian perspective on the discipline. Emphasis is on reading and discussion of significant monuments of Western historiography. By means of persistent critical reflection on the texts and on current epistemological and methodological issues, a variety of Christian and non-Christian perspectives are engaged and evaluated, and the students challenged to articulate their own. W. Katerberg, K. van Liere.

Quick links

394 Sections for 2015-16

Beginning survey courses

Intermediate courses

Advanced courses

Course schedules

The semesters when the courses are offered and faculty teaching them are listed with each course. For days and times, go to the Registrar's web page.