The History Capstone Seminar (HIST 492) is required for both the AUCC and the History major. In order for the capstone seminar to count toward completion of requirements for the History major, students must earn a minimum grade of C in the class. Sections of HIST 492 are offered in both fall and spring semesters during the academic year.
Spring 2019 Capstone Descriptions:
HIST 492.001 Renaissance Lives: Biography, Autobiography, and History in Europe, c. 1400-1700 by Dr. Diane Margolf
Is the individual person a useful category of historical analysis? What can we learn about history through the lives, experiences, and first-hand accounts of individuals from the past? In this seminar, students will explore these questions by focusing on individuals in early modern Europe – men and women, elites and commoners, spiritual and secular. We will examine how such individuals recounted their lives in letters, memoirs, trial records, and other primary sources; we will also examine how historians use such primary sources to develop interpretations not only of those individuals, but of this era in European history. Course assignments will include readings and discussion; written responses to assigned readings; oral presentations; and a formal research paper (15 – 20 pages) based on primary and secondary historical sources.
HIST 492.002 Interpreting Monuments in an Age of Global Controversies by Dr. Thomas Cauvin
This capstone seminar explores the history of monuments in a global and comparative perspective from the First World War to the recent controversies over Confederate monuments. Case studies will include countries like New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, England, Argentina, France, and the United States. Monuments are crucial sources for historians to study the construction of public memories and political identities. In addition to the different approaches to study monuments (Nora, Young), the course will offer a comparative study of the uses of monuments (celebration, mourning, and identity-building) and their evolution in the public space.
HIST 492.003 Interpreting Modern East Asia by Dr. Hongyan Xiang
This capstone seminar is designed to introduce students to the field of East Asian studies by providing interpretive frameworks, a broad overview of scholarship, and sources on modern East Asia. It introduces broad conceptual works that have influenced the study of East Asia. It also includes reading materials that deal with different themes and regions of East Asia. Readings will include Jaesok Kim’s Chinese Labor in a Korean Factory: Class, Ethnicity, and Productivity on the Shop Floor in Globalizing China; Eric C. Han’s Rise of a Japanese Chinatown: Yokohama, 1894-1972; and Yunxiang Yan’s Private Life under Socialism: Love, Intimacy, and Family Change in a Chinese Village, 1949-1999. Students will engage in reading, analytical writing, and weekly discussion. Students will also complete a 15-20-page research paper on a topic chosen in consultation with the instructor.
HIST 492.04 Public Lands and Their Controversies in the United States by Dr. Leisl Carr Childers
Public lands have always been contested within political circles, environmental groups, and in local communities. How they are managed, who gets to use them and for what purpose are questions that have compelled historians of public lands throughout the twentieth century. Battles between different land management agencies over primacy of control, conflicts between different kinds of land users, campaigns to mine more and preserve more, have been ideological, but they have also been practical and often personal. As such, these controversies reflect the American body politic. In this capstone course, students will explore historic public lands controversies from a variety of perspectives, in the offices of the nation’s capital, in the board rooms of corporations, on the ground between individuals, and in the land itself. Part of this course is an exploration of these controversies and part is an examination of a particular controversy. As their summative assignment, each student will research and produce an original interpretation based on primary sources that historicizes and interprets a public lands controversy of their choice in the twentieth century.
Fall 2018 Capstone Descriptions:
Human Rights in the Americas, 1940s-1990s by Dr. Doug Yarrington
The language of human rights has become an important foundation for thinking about the relationship between the individual and society, and yet the prevalence of this language is also a relatively recent development. This course will examine role of developments in Latin America and the United States, especially during the Cold War, in creating and spreading a consciousness of human rights. Through assigned readings, discussion, and individual research projects, the class will explore questions such as the following: If the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948, why was it only in the 1970s that human rights became a central issue in US-Latin American relations? Did human rights gain prominence in US-Latin American relations primarily because of the actions of political elites, or because of grass-roots activism, especially within Latin America? Over the course of the Cold War, how did conceptualizations of human rights change in the Americas, and why?
Rinderpest (Cattle Plague) in World History by Dr. Thaddeus Sunseri
Rinderpest virus, arguably the most destructive livestock disease in European, Asian, and African history, was globally eradicated in 2011 – only the second disease after smallpox to be successfully eliminated. Before then, it was a disease that for hundreds of years destroyed cattle and other bovines throughout the Old World, usually accompanying military conflict. In the 1890s, Rinderpest swept throughout Africa for the first time, destroying ninety percent of the continent’s cattle and countless wildlife, causing widespread famine at the moment of colonial conquest. Rinderpest was present in the American war in the Philippines, in China during the Boxer Rebellion, and in Europe from the Napoleonic wars until the aftermath of World War I. The virus only briefly reached the Americas following World War I. This seminar will examine the global history of Rinderpest, from the Middle Ages to the recent past, examining the complex historiography of this malady, including its environmental, economic, medical, and social dimensions. Following several weeks of common readings on the history of Rinderpest, each student will research and write an original 20-page article based on primary sources, covering a unique dimension of Rinderpest in world history, from a region and time period of your – and Rinderpest’s – choosing.
Fall 2017 Capstone Descriptions:
Between Memories and Identities: International History of National Monuments by Dr. Thomas Cauvin
This course explores the history of national monuments in an international and transnational context from the First World War until the recent controversies over Civil War monuments in the United States. Monuments are crucial sources for historians to study the construction of public memories and political identities. In addition to the different approaches to studying monuments (Nora, Young), the course will offer a comparative study of the uses of monuments (celebration, mourning, and identity-building) and their evolution in the public space.
How to be an Emperor or Empress (Asia) by Dr. John Didier
Being an accomplished emperor or empress is a tricky business. Writing and speaking well are also tricky. While the cost of being a poor emperor/empress --- usually involving loss of throne, empire, life, or all three -- probably exceeds the cost of being an unattained writer or unpolished speaker, being a poor empress/emperor of one’s own life and an unaccomplished writer or speaker either singly or in tandem can leverage very unhealthy forces to act unpropitiously on one’s life. Thus, what are the true purposes of our exercises in this course? We wish to learn to become good emperors / empresses of our own lives and environs. To do this we must understand and utilize both power and its utility. The latter, in this world, surely involves the complex use of the word, both written and spoken. Thus do we read about empresses and emperors, and, here, about particularly Asian empresses / emperors, and thus do we then write and talk about them. Written assignments include four five- to six-page reading response papers; keeping two weekly reading journals to be turned in alternatively each week for review; and a term paper of approximately 15-20 pages, properly footnoted and including a formal bibliography, to be presented to the class orally and submitted in written form during the final weeks of the semester.
American Sexualities: Identity, Regulation, and Liberation in the Twentieth-Century by Dr. Carrie Pitzulo
Sex and sexuality are often perceived to be natural and unchanging facets of human life and society. But like society itself, sex has a history. This course will examine the changing ways that Americans have defined, regulated, practiced, and theorized about sexuality in the twentieth-century. We will also consider the historiographic trends that inform our knowledge of the past. Throughout, we will explore the societal expectations of acceptable and deviant sexualities, challenges to the status quo, technological, medical, and scientific impacts on American sexual culture and practice, as well as the influence of popular culture and politics.
Here is more detailed information about the courses: Capstone Descriptions
HIST 201: Approaches to History
The Approaches to History (HIST 201) is designed for students who are interested in learning more about history, its methods, and its value in a liberal arts education. It is a new course that satisfies the AUCC 3D requirements of Historical Perspectives.
Spring 2019 Approaches to History Descriptions:
HIST 201.001 Performative History: American Historical Storytelling and the Contestation of Identity through Performance and Pageantry by Dr. Adam Thomas
“We are the storytellers…,” writes Della M. Cummings Wright. “…Those who have gone before us cry out to us: Tell our story. So, we do. In finding them, we somehow find ourselves.” From the smash Broadway hit Hamilton to the wild popularity of historical movies and documentaries, the ancient art of historical storytelling remains incredibly adaptable, relevant, and even profitable. This course will investigate the power and pitfalls of American historical storytelling through a variety of media, ranging from film and music to monuments and museums. In particular, the course will examine the contestation of race and how these stories both silence and empower marginalized people. Students will analyze the purpose, power, and problems of mythmaking, from cultural origin narratives to family genealogies. They will learn to “read” and critique a variety of nonconventional sources. Finally, students will hone their skills as storytellers by creating an original piece of performative history.
HIST 201.002 Outdoor Recreation and the Environment in the American West by Dr. Michael Childers
Over 200 million Americans participate in some form of outdoor recreation. In 2017, consumers spent $887 billion on gear, travel, and lodging, making recreation one of the largest industries in the United States. From skiing to fishing, outdoor recreation, then, has come to define many American’s understandings of nature, particularly in the American West. Home to the majority of the nation’s public lands, the region is the country’s playground. This course will explore the history of outdoor recreation in the American West, tracing its global roots, its production and management by governmental agencies (from local to federal), controversies surrounding various forms of recreation, and its role in defining the region’s environmental history. In doing so, students will learn and employ skills such as critical thinking, research, and writing, essential to historical thinking.
HIST 201.003 The Protest Movements by Dr. Mike Mansfield
Beginning with the Civil Rights Movement this class will examine the protest movements of the Sixties and Seventies. This includes the student movement, the anti-war movement, women’s rights movement, environmental movement, and the gay-rights movement. Students will use the foundations of historical methodology - primary source research, historiography, analytical and narrative writing, etc. – to uncover the motivations and personalities behind this fascinating period in American History.
Here is more detailed information about the courses: HIST201-topics
Fall 2017 Approaches to History Descriptions:
"Mad Men Modern: Exploring Postwar America through Modern Design," by Dr. Adam Thomas
The tide of the civil rights movement began to turn at counters of sparkling stainless steel and glittering pastel Formica. In rambling ranch houses with the latest appliances housewives silently suffered the “problem that has no name.” Tiki torches and Hawaiian shirts hinted at expanding American imperialism, while the space-age architecture of the Watergate Hotel ultimately came to stand for the failure of the American political system. The struggles of the United States during the twentieth century took place in extraordinary settings—gleaming spaces of austere modernity that had no precedent in human history. Yet the rise and fall of modern design says much about the successes and failures of the United States during “America’s century.” Students will explore the history of the United States in the latter two-thirds of the twentieth century through material culture (fashion, furniture, architecture, etc.) and popular culture, with primary evidence pulled from a variety of media, including film, television, and popular music. The course will train students in the historical methodology of the recent past. For the final project, students will combine secondary and primary evidence with an original reading of material culture and oral history.
"National Border, National Park: A History of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument ," by Dr. Jared Orsi
In this course we will build ArcGIS story maps about Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Organ Pipe, in southern Arizona on the Mexican border, is home to many rare plant and animal species and some of the nation’s most spectacular deserts. When you are there, it is easy to see why writer Wallace Stegner called the national parks “America’s best idea.” But journalist Tom Clynes recently called Organ Pipe “America’s most dangerous park” because of the 300,000 annual visitors who enter as drug smugglers or undocumented immigrants, turning rangers into law enforcement officers. This course will explore the history of this complicated and fascinating place through the methodologies of borderlands and environmental history. Along the way, students will learn the foundations of historical methodology—primary-source research, historiography, narrative writing, peer-review, citation, and digital skills—but the end product will not be an individual term paper. Instead, students will work together to research and write content for ArcGIS story maps that take visitors on a virtual tour of the park’s history, looking at it from both sides of the border. Students need NO technical web or GIS skills to take this course, just a curiosity about stunning scenery and desperate people.
Here is more detailed information about the courses: HIST201-topics