History

Requirements & Courses

  • The study of history provides a historical perspective which contributes to an understanding of the economic (E), social (S), political (P), intellectual (I) and technological (T) factors which affect human behavior as well as the historical interpretation (H) which explains that behavior. Students may identify these central course themes by noting the explanatory caption, e.g. (ESPI). All lower level courses focus on the principal economic, social, political and intellectual problems in particular historical eras. Similarly, courses which emphasize a multinational or global perspective are noted by the caption (GP).

  • Major Requirements

    Thirty-six credits which must include:

    1. One 300-level United States history course from: HST-323, 325, 326, 327, 328, or another course pre-approved by the department.

    2. One 300-level European history course from: HST-300, 330, 331, 332, 333, or another course pre-approved by the department.

    3. One 300-level African or Asian history course from: HST-353, 360, or another course pre-approved by the department.

    4. One 400-level seminar (not an independent study).

    5. All 36 credits that count toward the major must be taken for a letter grade. History courses may be taken for S/F credit but only above and beyond the 36 credits taken for letter grade for the major.

    6. Successful completion in student’s senior year of the comprehensive examination administered by the department.

    7. Honors candidates must have a minimum 3.3 overall GPA and 3.5 in the History Department, complete a one-credit advanced bibliography course, submit an honors thesis, and where possible present the thesis in an external forum.

  • Minor Requirements

    Twenty-four credits which must include:

    1. One four-credit American history course at any level.

    2. One four-credit European history course at any level.

    3. One four-credit Asian or African history course at any level.

    4. At least two upper-level four-credit courses. Upper-level courses may be at the 300 or 400-level; a 400-level seminar is recommended as one of these, but not required. 200-level courses are particularly recommended when selecting the remaining courses for the minor.

    5. All 24 credits that count toward the minor must be taken for a letter grade. History courses may be taken for S/F credit, but only above and beyond the 24 credits taken for a letter grade for the minor.

    6. Successful completion of the comprehensive evaluation administered by the Department.

  • Teaching Major Requirements

    Students seeking a History Teaching Major are strongly urged to have an academic advisor who is a tenured or tenure-track faculty member of the History Department.

    Thirty-six credits which must include:

    1. One 300-level United States history course chosen from: HST-323, 325, 326, 327, or another American history course pre-approved by the department.

    2. One 300-level European history course chosen from: HST-300, 330, 331, 332, 333, or another European history course pre-approved by the department.

    3. One 300-level African or Asian history course chosen from: HST-353, 360, or another history course pre-approved by the department.

    4. One 400-level seminar (not an independent study).

    5. HST-100, 101, 104, 105, and 206.

    6. The following cognate courses, unless a student is taking one or more of the following as part of another major or minor: ECN-111, GGR-101, GGR-102, and POL-101.

    7. All 36 credits that count toward the teaching major must be taken for a letter grade. History courses may be taken for S/F credit but only above and beyond the 36 credits taken for letter grade for the major.

    8. Successful completion in the student’s senior year of the comprehensive examination administered by the department.

    9. Honors candidates must have a minimum 3.3 overall GPA and 3.5 in the History Department, complete a one-credit advanced bibliography course, submit an honors thesis, and where possible present the thesis in an external forum.

  • Additional Notes

    100 and 200 level courses are recommended for first-year students and sophomores. HST-300 and above are recommended for sophomores, juniors and seniors; freshmen admitted only with permission of the instructor.

  • Four credits from HST, with the exception of practicum or independent study courses, count towards the Distributive Requirements in the Social Sciences.

Courses

  • HST
    100
    .
    World History Survey I
    4 credits
    Introductory overview of ancient world history from Paleolithic times until the sixteenth century, emphasizing how early civilizations developed and their relationships with each other. Goals include familiarizing students with the major (shared and unique) characteristics of early societies, highlighting the continuity and change as societies developed around the globe. (ESPIT/GP)
  • HST
    101
    .
    World History Survey II
    4 credits
    Introductory overview of modern world history since the 16th century, emphasizing developments within Europe and interaction with the rest of the world. Focuses on topics such as the origins of European expansion in the first “global age,” rise of absolutism, Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment, age of revolution and industrialization, modern imperialism, origins and impact of the World Wars, and the Cold War and its aftermath. (ESPIT/GP)
  • HST
    104
    .
    The Making of America to 1877
    4 credits
    Examines American history from colonial times to Reconstruction; concentration on political, constitutional, social, economic and intellectual problems. (ESPITH/GP)
  • HST
    105
    .
    The American Century: 1877-Present
    4 credits
    Political, economic, social and intellectual issues from Reconstruction to the present. Focuses on 1877-1990. (ESPITH/GP)
  • HST
    121
    .
    American Legal History I
    4 credits
    Introductory survey, 1620-1877. Indigenous and colonial law, crime and punishment, religion and the law, creation of the law of slavery, imperial conflicts and the Revolution, the Constitution, the Marshall and Taney courts, abolition and women’s rights, and legal aspects of the Civil War and Reconstruction. (ESPI)
  • HST
    122
    .
    American Legal History II
    4 credits
    Introductory survey, 1877-Present. Labor and industrialization in the law, legal education and philosophies, civil rights, the New Deal and the courts, law and the economy, the growth of government and the expansion of presidential power, terrorism and the law. (ESPI)
  • HST
    130
    .
    Women in European History
    4 credits
    Survey of Western European history, focusing on women’s (and men’s) roles in the family and society from Classical Greece and Rome through the French Revolution, highlighting particular women whose contributions have been celebrated through the ages as well as discussing what kinds of lives most women led. (ESPI/GP)
  • HST
    140
    .
    American Women’s History
    4 credits
    Introductory survey and examination of problems and issues in American women’s history and American feminism, colonial era to the present. Emphasizes gender, race and class as categories of historical analysis. (ESPITH)
  • HST
    150
    .
    What Do Historians Do?
    2 credits
    Prerequisite: Any HST course.
    This course aims to guide history majors and minors through the preparatory work required to enter the job market. Students will learn about the development of history as a profession and how various historical figures found their vocations. They also will reflect upon the skills fostered by the study of history and will consider how to market those skills effectively during the job search. The course also will expose students to a variety of career paths taken by history majors, drawing upon the experiences of Alma College alumni who studied history. In doing so, the course helps students to reflect upon what they wish to do after graduation. Students also will search for job advertisements and produce key job search materials (e.g., cover letter, résumé).
  • HST
    180
    .
    Topics & Problems in History
    2-4 credits
    Today, the internet has made an unprecedented amount of information available to us. But in the past, humans have experienced other “information revolutions.” In Europe, the development of the printing press (c. 1450) facilitated an unprecedented exchange of knowledge. This course examines sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe through some of the most popular books of the time, as well as recent scholarship on printing in early modern Europe. We will consider what sort of books European readers sought most frequently. We also will explore the challenges that this newly accessible information posed for religious and political authorities.
  • HST
    180C
    .
    China: History and Culture
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Permission
    This course allows students to personally experience China and Chinese people by exploring their history, culture, and society. Students will meet Chinese people, exchange ideas with their Chinese counterparts,visit businesses, and rural communities. We will learn not only China’s rich ancient history and culture, but also its current dynamic economic developments and social changes. China is a land of diversity that few people in the world will realize until they see it. Spring Term only. (ESPI/GP)
  • HST
    199
    .
    Independent Study in History
    1 credit
    Prerequisite: Permission
  • HST
    200
    .
    Ancient Near East
    4 credits
    Ancient history from its beginnings in Mesopotamia until the 4th century B.C. Includes the kingdoms and empires of the Fertile Crescent (Sumerian, Babylon, Assyria, Israel and foundations of Judaism, Phoenicia, etc.), Egypt, Persia and other Near Eastern societies. (ESPITH/GP)
  • HST
    201
    .
    Ancient Greece
    4 credits
    An overview of ancient Greece from Minoa through Mycenae, the Dark Age, Archaic and Classical Greece, and the Hellenistic Period. Includes an examination of Greek culture, the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars, Alexander and his conquests and more. (ESPITH/GP)
  • HST
    202
    .
    Ancient Rome
    4 credits
    History of Rome from its legendary beginnings through the Republic, the Principate and the Empire. Traces the rise of Christianity, the causes of Roman decline and Rome’s legacy. (ESPITH/GP)
  • HST
    203
    .
    Medieval World
    4 credits
    From the 3rd through the 15th centuries. Uniqueness of medieval society and its legacy to the modern world. Origins of the Middle Ages, society and decline of the medieval world. (ESPI/GP)
  • HST
    206
    .
    Approaches to Michigan History
    4 credits
    An introduction to historical methodologies, focusing on the history of Michigan from the pre-contact period to the present. Native American societies, European contact and first settlements, imperial wars and the American Revolution, territorial period and statehood, economic development and reform movements, Civil War, industrialization and urbanization, immigration and race relations, the two World Wars and the Great Depression, the civil rights movement, suburbanization and the decline of the auto industry, contemporary Michigan. Course fee. (ESPITH)
  • HST
    207
    .
    American Foreign Relations
    4 credits
    Introductory survey and examination of the American foreign relations, including policy-making process and implementation, from 1890s to the present. Analyzes the expansion of American Empire, World Wars I and II, the Vietnam War, the Cold War and the Post-Cold War era. (ESPITH/GP)
  • HST
    209
    .
    Selected Problems in Historical Research
    2-6 credits
    Prerequisite: Permission
    Introduction to archival research. Classification and cataloging; search and retrieval methods in local, state and federal government archives; periodical literature and research in the social sciences. Problems may be selected. Examples are literature of American history, European studies, Asian studies, Latin American studies and Mediterranean studies. (ESPIT)
  • HST
    221
    .
    English History
    4 credits
    Survey of English history from the Norman conquest to modern times. The principal emphasis is on political and constitutional issues and problems, but attention is also given to social, economic, legal and cultural developments. (ESPI/GP)
  • HST
    228
    .
    Immigration & Ethnicity in American Hist
    4 credits
    Examination of the experiences of immigrants and their transformation into ethnic Americans during the 19th and 20th centuries. Discussion of what it means to be American and the diversity of American society in a historical perspective. (ESPI/GP)
  • HST
    238
    .
    Europe in Upheaval, 1914-45
    4 credits
    Analysis of causes and course of World War I; Russian Revolution and Stalinism; interwar diplomacy, crisis of democracy, and Great Depression; Fascism and Nazism; special focus on causes, course, and impact of World War II. (ESPITH/GP)
  • HST
    240
    .
    Modern Germany
    4 credits
    Survey of German history since 1815, with emphasis on the period 1848-1945. Topics include historic characteristics of major German regions, emergence of a modern industrial economy, the failed liberal revolution in 1848, unification, politics of Imperial Germany, promise and failure of democracy in the Weimar Republic, rise and fall of Nazism, and emergence of a united, democratic Germany out of the divided society of the postwar era. Emphasis is on the struggle between liberalism and authoritarianism in shaping modern Germany, but also explores major social, economic and cultural developments. (ESPIT/GP)
  • HST
    249
    .
    Russian Studies
    4 credits
    Analysis of Russian economic, social, political and intellectual development from the era of Peter the Great, with particular emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries; origins of the Russian intelligentsia; Slavophiles and Weternizers; abolition of serfdom; Bolsheviks and the Russian Revolution; and others. (ESPI/GP)
  • HST
    253
    .
    Asian Studies: Modern China & Japan
    4 credits
    Introductory study of the modern history of China and Japan. Examines the dynamic developments of political, social, economic and cultural changes, including relations with the West, from 1800 to the present. (ESPI/GP)
  • HST
    254
    .
    Colonial Americas
    4 credits
    Examines the development of European colonies in the Americas from 1492 to independence, including the comparative interaction of Native American, African and European cultures in the Spanish, Portuguese, French and English colonies. Analysis of the political, economic, social and intellectual changes from the early colonies to independence. (ESPI/GP)
  • HST
    255
    .
    Latin America Since 1825
    4 credits
    Analyzes selected countries. Caudillos and dictators, reform and revolution, neocolonialism and imperialism, economic growth and development. (ESPI/GP)
  • HST
    256
    .
    1492 and the Spanish Empire
    4 credits
    The year 1492 has a mixed legacy. For many, it was a triumph. But it also had a tragic side: the eventual deaths of millions of African slaves and Native Americans. This course explores the aftermath of 1492: the history of Spanish America until the start of the wars of independence in 1810. Political and religious institutions created in the “New World” are examined, and the resulting social and cultural tensions. (ESPI/GP)
  • HST
    260
    .
    Introduction to African History
    4 credits
    Introductory survey of African history, emphasizing the sub-Saharan region. Chief focus is on the pre-colonial peoples and cultures of the region; attention also given to the nature and impact of the trans-Atlantic trade, European colonization, and the struggle for national independence in the 20th century. (ESPIT/GP)
  • HST
    271
    .
    Science & Public Health: A Global Study
    4 credits
    Germ theory and bacteriology revolutionized the knowledge of disease. This course studies modern public health in a global perspective, covering details about Europe, the United States, and China. (ESPIT/GP)
  • HST
    272M
    .
    Plagues and Peoples
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Permission
    Scientific and historical approaches to explore the connections between major epidemics and world history, combining a general overview of the subject with more focused case studies. Study the social, economic, political, cultural, religious, and technological contexts in which epidemics arose, how those contexts shaped responses to them, and the impact of these epidemics on society at large. Spring Term only. (ESPIT/GP)
  • HST
    277
    .
    Am Studies: Civil War & Reconstruction
    4 credits
    Examines sectional crisis, disunion and reunion from 1845-77. Topics include significance of Civil War era for industrialization; agriculture and urbanization; emancipation of slaves and race relations; development of the Presidency; constitutional issues; and modern warfare. (ESPI)
  • HST
    280
    .
    Topics and Problems in History
    2-4 credits
    Topical course in history.
  • HST
    299
    .
    History Independent Study
    1 credit
    300-, 400- and 500-level courses are recommended for sophomores, juniors and seniors. Freshmen admitted only with permission of the instructor.
  • HST
    323
    .
    Creating the Republic, 1763-1815
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Sophomore Standing, and one history course or Permission
    Analysis of selected economic, social, political and intellectual issues, including the coming of the American Revolution; “state-building” during the war for Independence; the “Critical Period,” ratifying the Constitution; origins and early development of political parties, ideologies of republicanism and nationalism; diplomatic problems and territorial expansion; minorities in the early republic; and the War of 1812. (ESPI/GP)
  • HST
    325
    .
    Reform & Search for Order
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Sophomore Standing, and one history course or Permission
    Urban revolution; middle class reforms; response of industry, labor, and public institutions to the progressive era; World War I; the Jazz Age; the stock market crash of 1929; and the Hoover administration. (ESPITH/GP)
  • HST
    326
    .
    The Roosevelt Revolution, 1932-45
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Sophomore Standing, and one history course or Permission
    Analysis of the Great Depression, the New Deal, American isolation in 1930s, and American involvement in World War II. Historical perspectives of the New Society which emerged from the Great Depression and World War II. (ESPITH/GP)
  • HST
    327
    .
    Constitutional History
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Sophomore Standing, and one history course or Permission
    Beginning with the debates over the ratification of the Constitution in 1788-89, this remarkable document has been contested, amended, and reinterpreted through many dramatic developments in American history. As a blueprint for a national government, it has shaped government, politics, and society; in turn, it has been influenced by changes in American politics, society, culture, technology, and the economy. The interplay between, on the one hand, the Constitution and constitutional law, and on the other, major historical events and trends, is the focus of this course. (ESPIH)
  • HST
    328
    .
    Cold War America
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Sophomore standing, and one HST course or Permission
    The Cold War dominated America and its rivalry with the Soviet Union in the world during the second half of the twentieth century. This course examines the origins, strategies, policies, and conflicts of the Cold War that shaped American domestic development and its global involvement. (ESPITH/GP)
  • HST
    330
    .
    Europe and the Islamic World
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Sophomore Standing and one history course or Permission
    Since 9/11, the relationship between the Islamic world and the West has become a topic of renewed interest and controversy. From one vantage point, Muslims and Christians have been at odds for centuries, engaged in what some have called a clash of civilizations. But some historians have questioned that interpretation. While Christians and Muslims have experienced much violence and tension, they have also managed to coexist for long periods of time and to engage in fruitful exchanges. This course examines how Christians and Muslims interacted with one another in the pre-Modern Mediterranean World (i.e., pre-1800). (ESPIH/GP)
  • HST
    331
    .
    The Renaissance & Reformation
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Sophomore Standing, and one history course or Permission
    Analysis of European society in the crucial era of transition from the medieval to the modern world, Renaissance in Italy and northern Europe, humanism, Protestantism, the Counter-Reformation and religious wars. (ESPI/GP)
  • HST
    332
    .
    Inquisitions
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Sophomore Standing, and one history course or Permission
    Few institutions in history are as infamous as the Inquisition. It represents some of the most notorious instances of intolerance and violence produced by religious belief. Our knowledge of this institution, however, too often relies upon myth. This course, thus, explores how religious authority functioned during a time very different from our own. Readings examine inquisition documents, as well as scholarship on Spain’s inquisition and other inquisitions in Europe and the Americas. (ESPIH/GP)
  • HST
    333
    .
    European Enlightenment
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Sophomore Standing, and one history course or Permission
    Perhaps the key intellectual movement to signal the dawn of the modern world, the European Enlightenment is known as an “age of reason” that spanned the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and dismantled religion as the dominant force in European societies. But by no means did the Enlightenment spell the end of belief or superstition. Through sources from the period, we examine the ideas of several famous individuals, each of whom contributed and reacted to the European Enlightenment. While this course centers on development taking place in Europe, we also will devote some attention to the interaction between Europe and the wider world. (ESPIH/GP)
  • HST
    335
    .
    London Pre-Seminar
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: HST 238 or another approved history course and Permission
    HST 335 is the preparatory course taken in Alma in the winter before the spring term London Research Seminar. Introduction to advanced historical research, focusing on World War II. Interpret the relevant aspects of World War II,as well as the rudiments of British culture and history. Includes major research project. Prerequisites include HST-328 or another approved HST course and instructor permission. (ESPITH/GP)
  • HST
    341
    .
    Presidential Elections
    4 credits
    Studies the history of presidential elections focusing on the changing role of the media, campaign fundraising, electoral strategies, the role of the media in shaping campaigns, and the impact on public policy; offered especially in national election years, where the election can serve as a laboratory to test theories.
  • HST
    353
    .
    China’s 20th Century Revolution
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Sophomore Standing, and one history course or Permission
    Examines China’s 20th-century revolutionary history, including the Republican Revolution of 1911, the Nationalist Revolution of the 1920s and 1930s, and the Communist Revolution of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, culminating with an analysis of the Communist party’s revolutionary rule, 1949 to the present. (ESPITH/GP)
  • HST
    360
    .
    South African History
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Sophomore Standing, and one history course or Permission
    Introductory survey of main themes and problems in recent South African historiography. Focuses on early colonial roots of segregation and white supremacy, impact of British rule and mineral revolution, development of institutionalized racism through segregation and radical apartheid program, ethnic conflict, constitutional problems, industrialization and urbanization, and Afrikaner and black nationalism. Also analyzes contemporary crisis and potential for conflict resolution in this key area of confrontation between the developed and developing worlds. (ESPI/GP)
  • HST
    380
    .
    Topics and Problems in History
    2-4 credits
    Prerequisite: Sophomore Standing, and one history course or Permission
    Advanced level history problem-solving. Topics include United States and China; United States and Japan; American foreign policy and world politics, 1917-73; oral history, World War II; comparative study in 20th century revolutions; the Nazi revolution; Churchill and his times; Constitutional history.
  • HST
    380CM
    .
    China: History and Culture
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Permission
    This course allows students to personally experience China and Chinese people by exploring their history, culture, and society. Students will meet Chinese people, exchange ideas with their Chinese counterparts,visit businesses, and rural communities. We will learn not only China’s rich ancient history and culture, but also its current dynamic economic developments and social changes. China is a land of diversity that few people in the world will realize until they see it. Spring Term only.
  • HST
    385
    .
    Internship in History
    4-12 credits
    Prerequisite: Permission
    Study/work program requiring archival and/or field work in conjunction with archives, research libraries, or private or public agencies. Only eight credits may count toward the degree.
  • HST
    399
    .
    History Independent Study
    1 credit
    Prerequisite: Permission
  • HST
    407
    .
    Foreign Policy Seminar
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Permission
    Research seminar examining problems and issues in American foreign relations and diplomacy with emphasis on the 20th century. Frequent discussion, limited lecture, term research paper. Fulfills history major seminar requirements. (ESPITH/GP)
  • HST
    425
    .
    Riot and Rebellion in America
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Permission
    This seminar will examine instances of civil disorder in American history, from the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, to Revoultionary-era mobs, slave revolts, and contemporary protests. Students will consider whether to classify each instance as a riot or a rebellion (and why that matters), and whether violence is a central characteristic of American history or an aberration.
  • HST
    433
    .
    World War II Seminar
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Permission
    Focuses on the Second World War, primarily but not exclusively the European theater. Introduction to advanced historical research, including developing complex bibliographies, writing a literature review, developing a hypothesis, using different kinds of primary sources, the technicalities of referencing sources, and stylistic issues in writing history. Design a major research project, written in stages, with close feedback and group discussion in weekly meetings. Also an introduction to important relevant aspects of interpreting the Second World War. (ESPITH/GP)
  • HST
    434
    .
    Comparative Fascism
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: Permission
    Research seminar compares the varieties of fascist and semi-fascist political movements, investigating theories of fascism and a variety of case studies. Special focus on German Nazism and Italian Fascism, using a global perspective - including other European countries, the United States, South Africa, Latin America, and Japan - to enrich comparative analysis. Includes an examination of contemporary far right movements. (ESPITH/GP)
  • HST
    435
    .
    London Research Seminar
    4 credits
    Prerequisite: HST-238, 335 and Permission
    Focus on World War II, primarily in Europe, using the National Archives of the United Kingdom in London. Study various aspects of history and culture, in relation to World War II, Britain and Western civilization as a whole, by visiting selected museums, galleries, cathedrals, palaces and other historical landmarks in the greater London area and other selected British locations. Continue archival research and development of papers written in HST 335. (ESPITH/GP)
  • HST
    480
    .
    Topics and Problems in History
    2-4 credits
    Prerequisite: Permission
    Senior Honors Seminar. Analysis of business and economic history of East Asian- American relations; comparative revolutions; 20th century technology, geo-politics and global perspective. No more than 12 credits may count toward the degree. Only eight credits may count toward the History Major.
  • HST
    499
    .
    History Independent Study
    1 credit
    Prerequisite: Permission
    Advanced bibliography and selected problems.
  • HST
    500
    .
    Senior Thesis
    1 credit
    Prerequisite: Permission