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Course Descriptions


Want to know what we're offering next semester?
Check out our Spring 2015 course offerings.


Required Methods Courses

For All Students:

699. An Introduction to the Graduate Study of History--Drs. Coohill, Dwyer, and Hyland. 3 credits
Through a variety of research and writing assignments, students develop the critical skills essential for historical study at the graduate level.

For Historical Studies Students:

691. Graduate Research Seminar--Drs. Dwyer and Mayer. 3 credits
In this seminar, students review elements of historiography and writing and then pursue primary source research on a topic of their choice. They will write a lengthy research paper under close faculty direction.

For Public History Students:

627. Commemoration and Preservation-U.S. History--Dr. Bucciantini. 3 credits
This course uses careful study of the history of commemorative and preservation efforts in the United States as a platform from which students will conduct research on topics vital to the future of Public History and Public History institutions, including historic sites, monuments, history museums, historic homes, and archival institutions.

 

Content Courses

American History Surveys

563. Early America: Colonization to Revolution--Dr. Mayer. 3 credits
A survey of the major trends, events, and persons in early American history. This course will begin with a comparison of native and European cultures in the New World and end with the establishment of the United States

568. Sectionalism: U.S. History, 1789-1868--TBA. 3 credits
An examination of the American Union from its confirmation in the ratification of the Constitution through its disruption in the Civil War and then Reconstruction. Primarily through discussion of current historical works, the course analyzes such topics as the differences between North and South and the social impact of evangelicalism and slavery, as well as the political history of the era.

571. Expansion and Reform: U.S. History, 1868-1929--Dr. E. Parsons. 3 credits
Explores themes in American history from the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson to the onset of the Great Depression. In addition to lectures, extensive reading in both contemporary works and the most recent historical writings is offered.

574. Modern America: U.S. History, 1929 to the present--Dr. Simpson. 3 credits
A study of the contemporary United States with an emphasis on its emergence as a leader in global, political, economic, and cultural issues. Another primary emphasis will be on domestic developments and tensions.

 

American History Topical Courses

530. Atlantic World, 1450s-1750s--Dr. Mayer.  3 credits
Instead of defining the Atlantic Ocean as a moat dividing East and West and even North and South, it should be seen as a great conduit of not just peoples, but of products, pests, pestilence, and ideas.  Changes in Europe fostered exploration and colonization, which in turn promoted the development of empires, conflicts over trade and territories, and social and cultural innovations.  This course examines some of the issues that connected and divided countries and peoples along the Atlantic rim in the Early Modern Era.

533. Gender in American History--Dr. E. Parsons. 3 credits
This class focuses on several key issues in the development of gender roles in North America from the colonial era through the present. While the bulk of the class will concern the evolving roles of women, we will also consider men's history and the history of sexuality.

542. American Architecture--Dr. Hyland. 3 credits
The long history of the American architectural scene is both dynamic and complex. This course provides students with a historical overview of the American built environment from prehistoric eras to today. Lectures present noteworthy architectural styles, building types, and construction innovations, with attention also given to America’s prominent architects and theorists. Students will learn what is distinctively “American” about the built environment. Students will assess what American cities, landscapes, and buildings tell us about the American people? Students will gain tools for reading and understanding the architectural landscape as a way to understand American pasts and the present.

561. African American History: Multiple Voices--TBD. 3 credits
An examination of the experiences of African Americans in the United States beginning with antebellum slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction, turn-of-the-century America, the Civil Rights movement, and their continuing struggle to attain true equality in American society. This course will examine these topics primarily through the exploration of key political and autobiographical texts.

565. Reform in America--Dr. E. Parsons. 3 credits
From its founding to the present day, the United States has been noted for the strength of its reform movements. Whether they were striving to end drinking, prostitution, political corruption, or slavery, to achieve rights for women or minorities, to stop unpopular wars, or to usher in a Christian or socialist utopia, reform-minded Americans have banded together to try to achieve political and social change. In this course, we will consider the membership, motives, rhetoric, tactics, and consequences of social movements.

570. History of Urban America--TBD. 3 credits
This course examines the development of the American city with special focus upon changes in land-use patterns, social class arrangements, political organization, social mobility and migration, ecological patterns, industrial and commercial development, transformation of the built environment, and the creation of a national urban policy.

572. Work and Enterprise in American History--TBD. 3 credits
This course offers an analysis of the forces which have shaped American industrialization, focusing on the impact of unionization, the development of big business, and their impact on the everyday lives of Americans from pre-industrial craftsmen to industrial workers. Students read and discuss a variety of recent historical works in the field.

573. American Intellectual and Cultural History--Dr. Cahall. 3 credits
A survey of major movements in thought and culture including religion, science, the arts, and philosophy, including moral, political, and economic thought. The course includes extensive readings in primary sources dating between 1630 and 1990.

576. Individualism in American History--Dr. Cahall. 3 credits
A study of American individualism as demonstrated in the writings of politicians, novelists, political theorists and others who have dealt with this important aspect of American culture

577. Nature and the American Experience--Dr. Cahall. 3 credits
Is nature to be tamed or protected? How have Americans responded to the incredible and at first untamed natural bounty that greeted them? What impact have these natural surroundings had on the development of the American character? These are some of the issues dealt with in this course.

579. U.S. Diplomatic History--Dr. Mayer. 3 credits
An examination of the various topics and interpretations of the history of American foreign relations to World War I. This is a study of the nation's rise to world power and the internal and external conflicts that resulted.

582. Inter-American Relations--Dr. Dwyer. 3 credits
An examination of U.S.-Latin American relations since the early19th century. Topics covered include Manifest Destiny, the U.S.-Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, the Panama Canal, U.S. imperialism in the circum-Caribbean, Dollar Diplomacy, the Good Neighbor policy, the CIA-backed coup in Guatemala, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the U.S. invasion of the Dominican republic, the Contra War in Nicaragua, the U.S. overthrow of Panama's Manuel Noriega, and Narco traffic.

591. Special Studies in History--TBD. 3 credits
Subject matter varies according to instructor's interest.

 

American Art History Courses

541. American Painting and Sculpture--Dr. Sienkewicz. 3 credits
An exploration of a rotating variety of special topics such as portraiture in 18th-century America, 19th-century American impressionism, American impressionism and realism (1855-1915), 20th-century American painting and sculpture, American woman artists, and art and patronage in 19th- and 20th-century America.

542. American Architecture--Dr. Hyland. 3 credits
Construction, style, building types, and the theory of architecture and city planning are examined from the seventeenth century to the present. Students are also introduced to the theory and practice of historic preservation.

543. American Decorative Arts--Dr. Cahall. 3 credits
A survey of the decorative arts in the United States from the seventeenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. In addition to considering style and production techniques, this course will investigate the social and cultural context within which such works were created and displayed.

 

European History Surveys

501. Medieval Europe--Dr. J. Parsons. 3 credits
A lecture and discussion course examining the unique characteristics of the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages, with a special focus on social history and the lives of medieval people, from 300 to 1500.

511. Early Modern Europe--Dr. J. Parsons. 3 credits
This course will investigate major issues in the history of Europe from c.1450-1789. Themes may include the impact of the New World and globalized trade; the Protestant Reformation and its Catholic counterparts; the development of modern states and political systems; and the Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment. Specific attention to artistic and cultural developments and evolving conceptions of class and gender roles.

519. 19th-Century Europe--Dr. Coohill. 3 credits
An examination of the European experience between 1815 and 1914, with emphasis on political, social, and cultural trends.

522. 20th-Century Europe--TBD. 3 credits
A study of the European experience between 1914 and the present, centering on such topics as the great wars, fascism, and contemporary trends in both eastern and western Europe.

 

European History Topical Courses

513. Renaissance Europe: Courts and Nobles--Dr. J. Parsons. 3 credits
This course will examine the life and culture of the early modern European aristocracy, particularly in the princely and royal courts of the period. From the Medici of Florence to Queen Elizabeth of England and Louis XIV of France, the courts of this era were scenes of opulence, great literature, and brutal conflict, and have fascinated historians for centuries. Topics will include the social foundations of the nobility; ideology and political thought; artistic and literary culture; sex and gender; and warfare, violence, and dueling.

528. British Empire--Dr. Coohill. 3 credits
This course will examine some of the major political, social, economic, and cultural aspects of the history of the British Empire since 1783. These include the abolition of slavery, the impact of industrialization on the empire, imperial wars, the expansion of empire into Africa, the world wars in an imperial context, and decolonization. Different historiographic themes will be analyzed in different semesters.

545. Imperial Russia--Dr. Várdy. 3 credits
An investigation of the political, social, and intellectual evolution of the Russian Empire in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

546. 20th-Century Russia: Romanovs to Putin --Dr. Várdy. 3 credits
This course examines the challenges to and overthrow of the Romanov rule, the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, and the creation of the new Russia since 1991. It explores political, social, and cultural issues.

548. World at War--TBD. 3 credits
This topical course examines one or both of the world wars of the early twentieth century.  The instructor may choose to focus on just one of the conflicts in depth (for example, just World War I) or provide a comparative study of both.  In either case, the course examines the diplomacy leading up to, through, and concluding the conflict(s). It also explores the cultural and social changes, technological innovations, and political revolutions that contributed to and were part of the European struggles that became global battles.

550. The Cold War--TBD. 3 credits
An analysis of the diplomatic and political struggle between the United States, the Soviet Union, and the respective allies in the aftermath of the Second World War and the ideological conflict between free enterprise and communism around the world.

552. Modern Germany 1871-1991--TBD. 3 credits
Since the 1870s, arguably, no other country has left more of an impression on the continent of Europe, if not the world, than Germany. The issues raised by Germany's rise to power, from colonial questions to the Treaty of Versailles, from fascism to the Holocaust, dominated world politics and war from the turn of the century through 1945. Efforts to ensure that human societies would not repeat German mistakes have had an equally profound impact; The European Union, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations, all owe their existence to the German legacy. This course will examine the history of Germany from its first unification (1871) to its second (1991). Our aim is twofold: First, to learn, in detail, the history of a people who lived through two Empires, three Republics, and three World Wars. Second, to unearth all the ways that German history has made us - i.e., how this history is concealed in the ways we think about ethics, politics, and culture today.

 

Global History Courses

528. British Empire--Dr. Coohill. 3 credits
This course will examine some of the major political, social, economic, and cultural aspects of the history of the British Empire since 1783. These include the abolition of slavery, the impact of industrialization on the empire, imperial wars, the expansion of empire into Africa, the world wars in an imperial context, and decolonization. Different historiographic themes will be analyzed in different semesters. (As an alternative, this may be used as a European topical course.)

530. Atlantic World, 1450s-1750s--Dr. Mayer. 3 credits
Instead of defining the Atlantic Ocean as a moat dividing East and West and even North and South, it should be seen as a great conduit of not just peoples, but of products, pests, pestilence, and ideas.  Changes in Europe fostered exploration and colonization, which in turn promoted the development of empires, conflicts over trade and territories, and social and cultural innovations.  This course examines some of the issues that connected and divided countries and peoples along the Atlantic rim in the Early Modern Era. (As an alternative, this may be taken as an American topical course.)

548. World at War--TBD. 3 credits
This topical course examines one or both of the world wars of the early twentieth century.  The instructor may choose to focus on just one of the conflicts in depth (for example, just World War I) or provide a comparative study of both.  In either case, the course examines the diplomacy leading up to, through, and concluding the conflict(s). It also explores the cultural and social changes, technological innovations, and political revolutions that contributed to and were part of the European struggles that became global battles.

582. Inter-American Relations--Dr. Dwyer. 3 credits
A study of U.S. relations with Latin America since the 1820s' Monroe Doctrine. Topics include Manifest Destiny, the U.S.-Mexican War, sectionalism, filibusters, the Spanish-American War, the Panama Canal, the Roosevelt Corollary, U.S. imperialism, the Good Neighbor Policy, the Cold War, the Bay of Pigs invasion, covert U.S. intervention, the Contra War, and post-Cold War trade, narco traffic, and immigration.

583. Mexico and the U.S.--Dr. Dwyer. 3 credits
This course focuses on U.S.-Mexican relations since the 19th century and covers the Texas rebellion and annexation, the U.S.-Mexican War, American economic penetration during the Porfiriato, U.S. military intervention in the Mexican Revolution, the expropriation of American-owned lands and oil companies in the 1930s, Mexican migration to and repatriation from the U.S., the Mexican foreign debt crisis, the narcotics trade, NAFTA, and the Mexican immigrant community in the United States.

585. China in Revolution--Dr. Li. 3 credits
This course examines the revolutionary changes that transformed China in the twentieth century. Topics of study include the heritage of traditional China, Western imperialism and China's national survival crisis, the Republican revolution, the Communist revolution, Mao's Great Cultural Revolution, the post-Mao reforms, and the ongoing struggle over the tension between tradition and modernity.

588. China and the West--Dr. Li. 3 credits
This course explores China's encounters with the West from the early times through the modern age, with an emphasis on cultural exchanges. It first surveys Chinese history and Sino-Western interactions over time and then examines subjects such as the Silk Road, the Chinese Empire and the Philosophes, Christianity in China, American influence and Chinese liberalism, Marxism and the Chinese Communist Revolution, and Sino-Western exchanges today.

 

Public History Courses

524. Historical Editing--Mr. Butko. 3 credits
Students undertake a wide variety of writing and editing tasks, from working with historical documents and oral history transcripts to writing grant applications and critiquing articles for historical publication. Students also gain experience working with desktop publishing equipment. This course is offered in the summer only.

525. Archival Studies--Mr. White. 3 credits
This course is an introduction to the basic principles and practices of archival work, in particular the acquisition, evaluation, organization, description, and preservation of archival materials. Students work with actual archival materials in completing their course project.

526. Museum Studies--Dr. Cahall. 3 credits
Considers administrative, curatorial, and educational functions of museum operation in the United States. It utilizes both lecture and "hands-on" sessions to introduce students to museum work. The course will include visits to various types of museums in the Pittsburgh area, and guest lecturers will bring their specialized knowledge and experience into the classroom.

529. Historic Preservation--Dr. Hyland. 3 credits
This course examines the movements and organizations that developed so as to save, protect, and present historical sites. It introduces preservation law and procedures established to survey and list buildings and sites as national, state, and local treasures.

 

Public History Internships

Students perform from 125 to 150 hours of professional work at archives, museums, and historical societies. In recent years, students have taken internships at such institutions as the Heinz History Museum, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Old Economy Village, Archives of Industrial Society, the Archives of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and Clayton (the home of Henry Clay Frick).  Students must have completed the corresponding Public History professional course before registering for one of these internships.

656. Historic Preservation Internship--Dr. Cahall. 3 credits

657. Historical Editing Internship--Dr. Cahall. 3 credits

658. Archival Internship--Dr. Cahall. 3 credits

659. Museum Internship--Dr. Cahall. 3 credits

 

Other Courses

HIST 591. Special Studies in History--TBA. 3 credits

HIST 599. Directed Readings in Historical Topics--TBA. 1-3 credits 

HIST 700. Thesis Research in History--TBA. 3-6 credits