At Reed, history is treated as a basic component of general education. The department attempts to include in its course offerings as many periods and areas of study as student enrollment and available faculty make possible. The priority, however, is on diversity of approach—constitutional, intellectual, economic, social, diplomatic, cultural—rather than on specific coverage of conventional fields. The aim is to arouse sufficient interest in history to stimulate a student’s independent inquiry and the necessary analytical thought and perspectives that go with historical study.
The department tries to inculcate students with a sense of history—to impress them with the legacy, conscious or unconscious, that each present has inherited from its past, as well as the many perspectives one can have on that legacy. While many graduates have become prominent as professional historians and teachers of history, it is even more as a fundamental contribution to liberal, humanistic education and the development of a critical intelligence, carried through in many different professions and ways of life, that the department program is conceived and directed to majors and nonmajors alike.
The junior qualifying examination in history is a critical essay dealing with a given issue or problem within a particular historical field and period. The department expects students to develop some competence in various periods and areas of history, as specified in the course requirements below. The department administers the junior qualifying examination only in November and April of each academic year. Exceptions are made only for students returning from leave away from campus, or for other circumstances beyond the student’s control. The department encourages but does not require its students to pursue the study of a foreign language.
For students who wish to combine American history, literature, economics, and government, Reed offers an American studies major. Among other possible programs are interdisciplinary majors involving history, such as history–literature and international and comparative policy studies.
Requirements for the Major
- Humanities 210, 220, or 230. This course is considered part of the major field of study and may not be used to satisfy the Group A or Group B requirement.
- Six semesters (six units) of history courses. (Lower-division history courses taken outside Reed College may be included only with the consent of the department.) These history courses must be distributed so as to include, chronologically, at least one unit before 1800 and one unit after 1800, and geographically, at least one unit in each of the following areas:
b. United States
c. Areas outside Europe, the United States, and Canada
The same course may fill both a geographical and a chronological requirement. No more than two cross-listed courses from other departments may be included.
- One semester of a junior seminar, to be taken during the junior year (History 411 or 412). (The junior seminar counts as one of the six required units in history.)
- History 470.
- Note: 300-level history courses are ordinarily open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and to first-year students only with the consent of the instructor.
History 220 - Late Imperial ChinaFull course for one semester. This course surveys the history of late imperial China (16th through 19th centuries) by examining several critical issues in the historiography of this period. Weekly discussions will address the following topics: despots, ritualized rulers and the growth of a “bureaucratic monarchy”; global economic crisis, peasant rebellion, and the Ming–Qing cataclysm; ethnicity, violence, and exchange on Chinese frontiers; lineage formation, strategic marriages, and the consolidation of gentry rule; local magistrates and scholars and their popular tales; migration, mobility, and social anxiety in a prosperous age; gender and sexuality in Qing Confucian ideology; exploration, trade, and emigration on the south China coast; and the challenge of seaborne imperialists in the 19th century. Conference.
History 221 - Modern ChinaFull course for one semester. This course examines the numerous transformations in 19th- and 20th-century China from the perspective of both Euro-American and Sinified modernities. We will begin by rethinking both “modernity” and “nation,” locating through that process new enigmatic local subjects for historical study, such as nuxing/women qingnian/youth, nongming/peasants, or renmin/people. Major discussion topics will include imperialist wars, semicolonialism, and anti-imperialist movements; the rise of a new historical consciousness; constructions of Manchu, Chinese, and other ethnic identities; contested nationalisms; peasant rebellions and recurring political revolutions; cultural iconoclasm and cultural revolution; Communist mobilizing in rural and urban settings; and Chinese socialism and socialist China. Conference.
History 230 - Empire and Liberty: The United States in the 19th CenturyFull course for one semester. This course will ask to what extent 19th-century Americans shared in an expanding circle of freedom, the “empire of liberty” as Thomas Jefferson conceived of it. At the beginning of the 19th century, the United States was a tenuously united confederation of states bounded on the West by the Mississippi River. By the end of the century, the country had expanded westward to the Pacific Ocean, fought a civil war over slavery, and emerged on the other side with a powerful federal government, an ascendant industrial economy, a diverse population of native-born Americans and immigrants from all shores, and new imperial interests overseas. Tracing major political and social changes in the American republic, in this course we will consider the 19th century’s most significant battles for freedom and rights fought by wageworkers, immigrants, African Americans, Indians, women, and farmers. Conference.
History 270 - Nature, Culture, and Society in American HistoryFull course for one semester. This course introduces students to the major themes, questions, and methods in American environmental history. Environmental historians see the natural world as both a material place and a historical and cultural idea. This course considers how human societies have shaped the natural world, how the natural world has shaped human societies, and how ideas about nature have been created, challenged, and changed in American history. Conference.
History 276 - Culture and Society in 19th- and 20th-Century America
Full course for one semester. Chronological survey of selected social, cultural, and political developments in the United States, 1890s to 1940s. We will be especially concerned with the interaction of the society (defined here as social, economic, and political institutions) and culture (the values, ideals, and structures of meaning) through which Americans understood and interpreted private and public life.
Topics include the ideals and reforms of the Progressive era; a comparison of World War I and the influenza pandemic; the 1919 race riot in Chicago; domestic culture in the 1920s; the respective economic and cultural effects of the Great Depression, Dust Bowl, and New Deal; U.S. prosecution of World War II abroad and its effects on the home front; and the global and domestic legacies of the war.
The course is open to sophomores considering the history major and transfer students; others, including students in their first year, will be admitted as space permits by consent of the instructor. Conference with occasional lectures.
History 278 - U.S. Politics and Culture, 1929–1979Full course for one semester. Examines the immediate and long-term social, cultural, and political effects of the Depression, World War II, and the Cold War, and the changing political landscapes of the 1960s and 1970s. Topics include the rise and fall of organized labor, the emergence of the civil rights movement, suburbanization, the economic and legal status of women, new immigrants after 1965, and the cultural roots of the new American right. The course is open to sophomores considering the history major and transfer students; others, including students in their first year, will be admitted as space permits by consent of the instructor. Conference with occasional lectures.
History 302 - Origins of the Second World WarFull course for one semester. The course will examine the question of how Europe emerged from one world war only to enter another 20 years later, and how far the outbreak of the second war can be traced to diplomatic, ideological, economic, political, military, and other factors. We will consider the structure of international relations from the Versailles Conference of 1919 through the “appeasement” period of the late 1930s, and the sources of continuity and instability in the European system; how the major powers, both policy-makers and publics, thought about and dealt with the challenges of foreign policy and diplomacy; and the interpretive controversies that have exercised contemporaries and historians—e.g., how the “orthodox” interpretation of the origins of the war has fared in recent historiography. Conference.
History 303 - The Cold WarFull course for one semester. A survey of the diplomatic, strategic, and ideological conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union, from the last years of the Second World War through the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. The course will emphasize the early years of the Cold War and the sources of Soviet–American antagonism; other topics will include the atomic bomb in 1945 and the subsequent nuclear arms race; the Cold War in American society and politics; the Cuban missile crisis of 1962; the Vietnam war; and in general the role of ideology, public opinion, military strategy, and domestic politics in American and Soviet policy-making. There will be discussion throughout of the controversies among historians. Conference.
History 308 - Special Topics: War and Society in the 20th Century
Full course for one semester. Each semester will cover a different specific topic within 20th-century history to examine how modern Western societies have experienced war, hot and cold, and the interrelationships between armed forces and the states and societies from which they have emerged. Questions will include: civil-military relations in a period of mass democracy and totalitarianism; the effect of advanced industrialization and technological change on war-preparation and war-fighting; the role of institutions, values, and ideologies in civilian and military policy-making; and how far one can speak of the militarization of modern society. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
The Vietnam War
An examination of different aspects of “America’s longest war”: its historical and diplomatic background; its connection to the Cold War and to indigenous political and social factors in southeast Asia; the battlefield experience for Americans and Vietnamese; the course and dynamics of American policy-making; and the traumatic interaction between the war and American society and politics.
The First World War
An examination of World War I in Europe and the United States as the first experience of “total war”: how major societies dealt with modern industrialized warfare and war economies, the militarization of mass society, civil-military relations, and the cultural climate of modern warfare.
History 312 - The Environmental History of the American WestFull course for one semester. The American West with its majestic beauty, strange landscapes, and abundant natural resources has inspired wonderment, desire, and fear in those who traveled there. This course will focus on the theme of land, water, and power in the West. We will examine the intersection of natural resource use, property rights, politics, and values in the 19th and 20th centuries. We will ask questions about how natural resources are regarded and claimed, how institutions governing resource use arise and evolve, and the impact on the communities who need, use, and/or control the resources. Topics will include the political battles over Indian land cessions, land speculation and urbanization, water rights, irrigation, and fishing, and the rise of conservationism and preservationism. Conference.
History 313 - Race and Region in American HistoryFull course for one semester. This course will consider how notions of racial and ethnic difference in the United States have changed over time and place. Through primary and secondary readings and films, we will explore the experiences of Indian, Anglo, Irish, African American, Asian American, and Latino peoples in the North, South, Midwest, Pacific Northwest, Far West, and places in between. We will ask how regional variation has changed the lived experience of race and ethnicity in the United States from the colonial period to the civil rights movements and culture wars of the 1960s and 1970s. We will also ask how an attention to region has changed the historical scholarship on race and ethnicity. Conference.
History 322 - 19th-Century Treaty Port CommunitiesFull course for one semester. The treaty ports of China and Japan (such as Shanghai or Yokohama) were critical nodes in the complex web of commercial, political, and cultural networks that enabled multilateral exchange across East Asia in the 19th century. Yet these cities were also colonized and ghettoized spaces, governed by disparate legal frameworks, and built with a range of native and foreign architectural styles. This course will examine the multiethnic, multinational communities that emerged from this new environment. Central topics will include: tribute-trade legacies, mixed courts and extraterritoriality; coastal ghettos and hybrid architecture; business and taxation by proxy; civilizing missions and reform agendas; commercial photography and tourism; sex and interracial intimacy; treaty port journalism; and scientific collaboration in multinational entrepots. Conference.
History 323 - Japanese ModernitiesFull course for one semester. A historical investigation of Japan’s competing modernities, 1870–1960. Major topics will include Meiji Westernization and its critics, statist narrations of modern Japanese subjectivity, hierarchy and individualism in modernist reform ideologies, territorial and ethnic displacements within the Japanese empire, cosmopolitan literariness and nostalgia for cultural and spiritual homelands, ethnic nationalism in the cultural sciences, and transcendence of the past in Japanese painting and films. Conference.
History 324 - Turning Chinese Farmers into Peasants?Full course for one semester. This course examines the complexities of Chinese rural society and culture during the 19th and 20th centuries, focusing on the interactions between farm households and the state—relationships that were mediated by rural elites, market forces, political brokers, and Maoist activists, among others. Major topics include: dissemination and domestication of popular deities; commercialized agriculture before its time; antimodern/anti-Christian rural protests; intellectual apprehensions of rural communities; the gendering of rural industrialization; central state penetration and rural defenses; and farmer narratives of bygone eras. This course assumes some familiarity with at least one of the following subjects: Chinese history, popular culture, village society, or peasant studies. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 325 - The Family in China and JapanFull course for one semester. This course explores the visions and myths, manifestations and transformations of the family in China and Japan from the 17th century to the present. Major topics will include: classical statements on filiality, ancestors, and the family as paradigm for social and political theory; demographic change and family "life cycles"; household and lineage interactions; marriage and adoption practices; familial authority, inheritance regulations, and household management strategies; domestic rituals; child rearing and child-parent relations; gender and generational conflicts; social impact of population control; the effect of modern revolutions on the family and its manifestations. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 326 - Imperialism and Colonialism in East AsiaFull course for one semester. This course will introduce some of the theoretical literature on imperialism and colonialism before examining East Asian experiences with such exploitation and control in the 19th and 20th centuries. Major topics will include imperialist policies; economic imperialism; colonialism as a system of values and social relations; the relationship of culture and power in the colony; colonial elites and nationalist movements; gender, race, and class in both colonial and nationalist agendas; colonial writers and their literature; and the promises of decolonization and postcoloniality. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 327 - Meiji Restoration/RevolutionFull course for one semester. Few events in Japanese history receive more attention than the Meiji Restoration (or Revolution). A critical marker in Japanese political history, the restoration is also perceived as a major watershed in economic, social, and cultural developments. This course will examine the specific drama of imperial restoration, the modernizing revolution initiated from above thereafter, and the historical contexts that help to explain both. Major topics will include agrarian uprisings, new religious movements, and ee ja nai ka dancing; nativism and world rectification thought; the “opening” of Japan and the effect of international trade and diplomacy on internal Japanese conflicts;bakafu attempts at political reform and the avoidance of foreign invasion; the military rebellion of “loyalist” samurai; and the transformative changes initiated by the Meiji oligarchy after 1868. Readings will include both participant observations and post-Meiji assessments. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 328 - Chinese FrontiersFull course for one semester. After 1400 Chinese explorers and traders increasingly extended the limits of the “known world” in their search for profit, knowledge, tribute, and exotica; large-scale Chinese emigration followed in their footsteps. Conceptual and physical boundaries were also challenged by Manchu troops from the north and European traders and diplomats from the south. This course will explore the nature of this geographical and epistemological boundary transgression from 1400 to 1800. After a brief examination of Zheng He’s great explorations in the early 15th century, we will discuss Chinese practices of charting and mapping physical frontiers. Official and private attempts to represent and domesticate cultures and societies on China’s periphery will be the focus of our second exploration, and the effect of this conceptual and physical “travel” upon accepted notions of ethnicity, gender, and self-identity will make up the final leg of our voyage. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 330 - Transnational Identity in Early Modern EuropeFull course for one semester. This course seeks to examine questions about the development of national, regional, and religious identities, as well as the growth of Enlightenment cosmopolitanism, through accounts of early modern Europeans who moved beyond their borders as missionaries, colonists, naturalists, soldiers, tourists, and emigres. Through primary and secondary sources, we will consider how transnational movement in the 17th and 18th centuries influenced the rise of nationalism, as well as the expansion of international commercial and scholarly networks; we will also explore approaches to history that transcend the traditional borders of the nation. Conference.
History 331 - Violence in Early Modern EuropeFull course for one semester. From the outbreak of religious violence in the 16th century to the terror of the French Revolution, the early modern period in Europe gave rise to dramatic violence that brought tensions between cultures, classes, and faiths to the fore. This course will examine the issue of violence in early modern Europe, with a particular focus on how histories of violence have been written. We will consider various forms of violence including popular violence, symbolic violence, execution, and war, in an effort to investigate the relationship between violence and authority, legitimacy, and society in this period. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 332 - Early Modern British Social History: Villages, Towns, and Cities, 1500–1700Full course for one semester. This course focuses on the history of rural and urban communities in the context of the great religious, political, social, and cultural upheavals of the 16th and 17th centuries: the Reformation, the political revolutions of the 17th century, and the development of commercial society and empire. Drawing on a wide range of historical and literary sources, we will pay special attention to examining the processes of social, political, and cultural change that helped the British Isles emerge from the 17th century with a powerful state and a modernizing economy, both centered in England. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 333 - Europe and the Americas in the “Age of Discovery,” 1400–1700Full course for one semester. This course focuses on the history of the Atlantic peoples, nations, and states from the earliest period of contact, conquest, and colonial settlement to the growth of settled commercial networks and systems of communication, the establishment of formal and informal imperial regimes, and the emergence of new societies with their own regional and cultural identities. Topics examined will include the impulses behind early European voyages of “discovery,” the sociopolitical and cultural characteristics of native peoples living in the Americas, the history of first encounters and the development of social and cultural relations between indigenous peoples and Europeans, the place of slavery as a system and the development of new patterns of enterprise in the Atlantic world, and the effects of contact on the social, political, and cultural life of Europe and the Americas. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 334 - The English RenaissanceFull course for one semester. Did the English experience a "renaissance" in the Tudor and Stuart age? Through examination of a variety of 16th- and 17th-century writings and artifacts, the course explores the cultural history of England and the English from the time of King Henry VIII to King Charles II. Particular attention will be paid to works concerned with the representation of authority, community, gender, social rank, and personal identity. The course will analyze the role of the literary and visual arts in the shaping of culture, the relationship between elite and popular cultural forms, and the development of new religious ideas and practices and new ideologies and mentalities. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 335 - The Development of Britain, c. 1680–1830Full course for one semester. This course focuses on British sociocultural and political history, and to a lesser extent on British religious and intellectual history, as Britain changed from an agrarian and preindustrial society in the 17th century to a commercial and industrial society in the early 19th century. It analyzes the development of the British state and British empire during the “long 18th century,” focusing especially on the formation of political hierarchies and social classes and the growth of characteristic political, economic, and cultural institutions from the Revolution of 1688 to the Napoleonic wars and the beginnings of Reform. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 336 - The Enlightenment in ContextFull course for one semester. This course will introduce students to the 18th-century enlightenment(s) and counterenlightenment in Europe, focusing especially on Britain and France. Integrating both primary and secondary sources, the class will engage with debates about what the Enlightenment was, and what its legacies continue to be. We will consider the ideas, practices, and social spaces of the Enlightenment, and integrate scientific inquiry, aesthetics, and literature into our discussion of the 18th-century public sphere. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 337 - Community, Authority, and Culture in Europe’s “Wars of Religion”Full course for one semester. Concentrating on the history and culture of northern Europe (especially the British Isles, France, the Netherlands, and Germany) between 1500 and 1700, this course focuses on the formation of the characteristic ideologies and mentalities regarding society, politics, religion, culture, and the person in the era of Europe’s “Wars of Religion.” Using documents, texts, and visual sources from the period as well as modern historical interpretations, the course will introduce students to the major developments and the historical interpretations and controversies they have generated. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 338 - Crisis and Catastrophe in 18th- and 19th-Century EuropeFull course for one semester. Between 1720 and 1870, a series of natural and manmade crises disrupted the political and intellectual worlds of Europeans, threatening and transforming their ideas about progress, religion, and political authority, and restructuring the relationships between man and the natural world. This course will consider the political, religious, intellectual, and cultural ramifications of disaster and crisis, including financial collapse, revolution, war, earthquakes, disease, and famine. We will explore religious and scientific explanations for these crises, consider their representations in the artistic and literary spheres, and examine the changing relationship between state and society, and metropole and colony, in the wake of disaster. Conference.
History 342 - Special Topics in European Historiography: Historical Practice in Britain from the 16th to the 20th CenturyFull course for one semester. In each semester a different topic will be used to examine the traditions, practices, and methods of historical study and historical writing in Europe since ca. 1500. A central aim of the course will be to study the evolving characteristics of history as a discipline, the development of its distinctive methods and interpretative schools, and its relationships to neighboring disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Prerequisite: at least one semester of Humanities 210, 220, or 230 and at least one history course. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 344 - Germany: 1918–1945Full course for one semester. This course introduces students to some of the major themes and problems posed by the historical study of Germany between the World Wars and beyond, among them the Weimar Republic and its attendant crises, interwar cultural and intellectual activity, and the rise and consolidation of National Socialism. The course also broaches issues of more global concern: what does it mean to live in a time of political and existential crisis? what does it mean to come to terms with a morally troublesome past? how do interpretations of this period of German history continue to underwrite claims about the nature of modernity itself? Reading includes both primary sources and secondary accounts, supplemented by music and film. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 345 - Whole Earths, Globalizations, and World PicturesFull course for one semester. Hear the word “Earth” or “world" and the image likely to flash through the mind is a photo known as “Whole Earth” (1972), which reveals the disk of our terraqueous planet suspended alone in the void. It is reputed to be the most widely distributed photograph in human history, and together with other views of the Earth from beyond has prompted a revolution in the global imagination. The aim of this research seminar is to assess the plausibility of that claim, by situating these images in their diverse historical contexts. These contexts include the history of humankind’s imaginative self-projection into the beyond from ancient times to our day; how the “whole earth” image has been mobilized by environmental campaigns, political movements, and commercial enterprises; how the view of Earth has figured in economics, aesthetics, anthropology, philosophy, and the natural sciences; and how this pictorial imaginary has become integrated into the unthought ways we inhabit our natural and human-built worlds. Conference.
History 346 - Technology and Social Thought in 20th-Century EuropeFull course for one semester. “The fully enlightened Earth radiates disaster triumphant.” So the German philosophers Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer argued in 1944, just before Hiroshima provided an eerily literal proof. Their unease was shared by many. Something about humanity’s attempt to master the world by technological means had gone seriously awry. This course will examine how European intellectuals of the 20th century revisited notions of culture, nature, politics, economics, and religion as part of a wide-ranging reassessment of the modern age prompted by the rise of technocracy. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 351 - France and Its Colonies in the Age of Absolutism (1598–1760)Full course for one semester. This course traces the complex and often tumultuous processes that established France as one of the preeminent political, cultural, and economic powers in Europe and the Atlantic in the 17th century, and its gradual decline during the first half of the 18th century. In the process, we will analyze the causes and consequences of the royal state’s expansion under Richelieu, Mazarin, and Louis XIV; the ideology and realities of “absolute monarchy"; the vexing religious problems posed by Huguenots and Jansenists; and transformations in elite and popular culture. Particular attention will be devoted to the constantly evolving relationship between center and periphery, both in the French provinces and the kingdom’s growing colonies in North America (Canada, the Illinois Country, and Louisiana) and the Caribbean, where divergent economic, social, racial, and political imperatives often strained royal authority, and even the very notion of French identity, to its limits. Conference.
History 352 - Renaissance and Civil War in the French World (1494–1610)Full course for one semester. This course will examine France’s rise from the devastation of the Hundred Years' War to a position of prominence in early 16th-century Europe, focusing particular attention on the reign of Francis I, when France became a center of Renaissance culture and a major rival to the Habsburgs. From there we will trace the spread of the Reformation in France and the subsequent crises that spawned four decades of religious civil wars, two royal assassinations, and the near collapse of the monarchy, culminating in a religious and political settlement that promised toleration for France’s Protestant minority and the accession of the Bourbon dynasty to the throne. The course will also examine French explorations of the Americas; the effects of religious and political tensions on efforts to establish settlements in Canada, Florida, and Brazil; and the influence of these experiences on French culture and society. Conference.
History 353 - The French Revolution, 1775–1800Full course for one semester. Within a generally chronological framework, this course will focus on the social and cultural history of the French Revolution. Particular attention will be given to the ideological origins of the Revolution, the question of class, the popular movement, revolutionary culture, gender and citizenship, the role of terror, and the nature of counterrevolution. Another focus of the course will be the historiography of the French Revolution. Works from both traditional historiography and contemporary revisionist historiography will be included on the syllabus. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 356 - The Revolutionary Tradition in France from 1789 to 1871Full course for one semester. An examination of the uneven development of a revolutionary tradition in France. We will follow the attempts to define, deny, foreclose, and revive the Revolution from its inception in 1789 through the final stabilization of a republican government in the mid-1870s. A strong historiographic focus will direct our attention to the gendered nature of the revolutionary project; the tension between liberty and equality that runs throughout French revolutionary history; and the plausibility of competing social, political, and cultural interpretations of the Revolution. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 361 - Mapping Colonial AmericaFull course for one semester. This course considers the significance of space and geography to the history and historiography of colonial America. Major questions include: Why is geography such an important—perhaps the most important—organizing principle in early American historiography? How important should it be? How did cartographic knowledge shape colonial power, and vice versa? How did Indians, Africans, and Europeans give meaning to the various “new worlds” in which they found themselves? How did the convergence of different peoples in key locations give rise both to hybrid cultures and devastating violence? How did the diverse peoples of colonial America seek to order not only the physical landscape, but also domestic spaces and human bodies? This course focuses on negotiations for space and power in British North America, alongside comparative perspectives from other colonial contexts, including New France, New Spain, the Caribbean Islands, South Africa, and the early United States. Conference.
History 362 - Revolutionary AmericaFull course for one semester. In the late 18th century, 13 North American colonies severed their colonial ties to Britain and constituted a new nation. This course will assess the causes of these changes, as well as the extent to which they altered the political, economic, social, and cultural landscape of North America. We will address major conflicts of the period from 1763 to 1815, including the tensions between libertarian ideology and institutionalized slavery, household dependence and national independence, centralized authority and local control, enlightenment rationalism and evangelical religion, private property and communal interests, and Indian sovereignty and American expansionism. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 363 - American Social Reform from Revolution to ReconstructionFull course for one semester. Countless 19th-century Americans participated in movements for social reform. What made it possible for ordinary people to believe that they should and could change their world? What were the boundaries of their reformist visions? How did reformers balance radical and conservative impulses within their movements? This course considers these questions with reference to temperance, abolitionism, women’s rights, health reform, and other reform agendas. In contextualizing these movements, the course will consider the transnational dimensions of American reform, as well as connections between social reform and the rise of market capitalism, evangelical Christianity, and democratic politics in the early republic. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 365 - Consumer Cultures in Historical PerspectiveFull course for one semester. We will examine the ways in which historians have employed various theories about the economic, social, and culture meanings of consumption and commodities to describe the material worlds and mentalities of the past. Historians’ debates about when identifiable consumer cultures emerged will be explored, with emphasis on how these debates illuminate our understanding of the development of Western capitalism. We will consider changes in production as well as consumption, and how such developments altered peoples’ understandings of self, class, and community. Readings focus on cases in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries, with some comparative material from earlier periods and Britain. The course is open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors, with preference given to majors in history and the social sciences. Conference.
History 367 - Early African American HistoryFull course for one semester. What do historians know about the early African American past (c. 1619–1865), and how do they know it? This course will explore major problems in African American historiography, including the relationship between the rise of slavery and the development of racial ideology; the nature of slave resistance, rebellion, and revolution; the transmission of African cultural forms and the creation of black culture(s); the social dynamics of the slave plantation; and the significance of regional differences in the historical experience of African Americans. We will study various historians’ interpretations of these problems, as well as the primary sources that form the basis of those interpretations. While analysis of written texts remains a mainstay of historical practice, scholars in this field have also drawn on less traditional forms of evidence, such as DNA, demography, folklore, oral history, material artifacts, and human remains. We will critically assess the possibilities and pitfalls of using these diverse sources to reconstruct the early African American experience. Students will apply what they have learned from other scholars’ methods to produce their own primary source–based research papers. Conference.
History 370 - The Problem of Western Prosperity: Political Economy in History and TheoryFull course for one semester. Why is prosperity a problem? This course surveys the development of modern political economy in search of an answer: from its beginnings in 18th-century liberal thought to the radical permutations prompted by the industrial revolution and finally to some of its 20th-century, postindustrial incarnations. The bulk of the course considers in historical context the work of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Max Weber, and Emile Durkheim. We will also explore their contemporary relevance by considering more recent debates about neoliberal globalization, labor rights and practices, capitalism and religion, and the relationship between wealth and democracy. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 371 - Environmental History of the American WestFull course for one semester. With its majestic beauty, strange landscapes, and abundant natural resources, the American West has inspired wonderment, desire, and fear in many who traveled there. This course will examine concepts and representations of Western nature and Western peoples in the late 19th and 20th centuries. We will ask how the Western landscape, environment, and economy have been shared and shaped by a diverse array of individuals, communities, and institutions. Topics will include land rights, wilderness and frontiers, urbanization, conservation, extractive economies, disease and the body, and the rise of green politics in the postwar West. We will ask how environmental history contributes to our understanding of the political, social, and cultural history of the American West, and how, in turn, the history of the West contributes to our understanding of the environment. Conference.
History 372 - U.S. Women’s History, 1890–1990Full course for one semester. This course examines transformations in women’s economic status, political participation, educational opportunities, and familial and reproductive lives from the late 19th to the late 20th century in the United States. We consider how structural changes and political movements involved and affected women of different classes, races, and ethnic groups. Major topics will include: women’s increased participation in the paid labor force, especially wage work by married women with children; political struggles for equal rights (e.g., woman suffrage, pay equity); the separation of sexuality and reproduction; and the intellectual origins and development of feminism, as well as the arguments of those opposed to it. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 373 - The Progressive Era ReconsideredFull course for one semester. The United States from the 1890s through 1920 used to be characterized by historians as "the Progressive era." Yet a look at the social and political history of this epoch reveals much that seems contradictory or even repressive. Direct democracy was established, even as Jim Crow laws, enforced by lynchings, shored up racial segregation. Women emerged as reform professionals and wageworkers, yet lacked full suffrage. Recent immigrants and their children were sought out by settlement house workers who wanted to "Americanize" them, and vilified by nativists who wanted to restrict immigration. Proponents of war and imperialism met opposition. To understand these tensions, the course will compare old and new secondary works on this period, and make extensive use of primary documents and key works published at the time. Conference.
History 374 - Gender and SexFull course for one semester. Examination of the changing ideas about gender and sex roles in the context of key transformations from the late 19th through the late 20th centuries in America. These include the second industrial revolution, which enabled women and men to live on their own outside of household economies, the emergence of modern consumer culture, service in same-sex militaries during two world wars, the rise of social scientific and psychological experts who named and quantified “deviant” and “normal” sexual practice, and the so-called sexual revolutions of the 1960s and beyond. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 375 - 1968: Origins, Actions, AfterlivesFull course for one semester. A global revolution or an interpretation in need of an event? The year 1968 has been characterized as both and much in between. This course situates the tumultuous events of the late 1960s in a broader story about the evolution and transformation of movements for social change in Europe and the U.S. following the Second World War. We will trace its intellectual roots in debates about decolonization, civil rights, the welfare state, and the Cold War. We will also pursue some of its legacies: left-wing terrorism, the global environmental movement, the neoconservative reaction, and the myth of the 1960s itself. Reading includes memoirs, manifestos, political philosophy, and social thought, complemented by classic secondary accounts, music, and film. Conference. Not offered 2008-09. Not offered 2009-10.
History 378 - Gender and FamilyFull course for one semester. The course begins with the rise and spread of waged labor, with emphasis on how new economic structures altered household and familial life. Families under slavery will be considered, especially African Americans under slavery and in transition to freedom. Migration and resettlement in the West shaped families on the frontier and workers in male-dominated mining towns. The legal and political meanings of marriage also changed; we will examine arguments for and against married women's ownership of property, and Mormon polygamy, to see how 19th-century Americans understood the relationship between patriarchy (legal rights of fathers and husbands over children and wives) and democracy. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.
History 381 - Rebellion, Revolution, and Independence in Latin AmericaFull course for one semester. This course examines the breakdown of colonial rule in Latin America from the 1750s through independence in the 1820s. Starting with a brief examination of the late colonial societies and economies of Latin America and the Caribbean, and their relations to European powers, the course focuses on violent opposition and resistance to the colonial order by different sectors of society. We will study in detail indigenous and peasant rebellions in central Mexico and highland Peru, the slave rebellion and struggle for independence in Haiti, and the wars of independence in Spanish America. The course pays particular attention to the different social, economic, and political objectives of the various movements, the different manners in which they articulated their grievances and demands, and the complex interplay between racial and class dynamics within Latin American societies and tensions in the metropolis-colony relationship. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 382 - 16th-Century Peru and Mexico: Conquest and Cultural SynthesisFull course for one semester. Few moments have so radically altered the course of history as Spain’s encounter with the Americas. The first century of contact changed Europe’s economy, agriculture, and diet; it altered the balance of power between European empires, and upset European ideas about history, geography, and nature. The effects on the Americas were even more profound: European diseases decimated indigenous populations while Spain’s people, language, and religion spread throughout the western hemisphere. Spain built its American empire on a foundation of Inca and Aztec civilizations, making Peru and Mexico its new-world capitals and co-opting native leaders into the colonial hierarchy. Missionaries spread literacy among indigenous elites, initiating an exchange of ideas still accessible to historians. This course will study early Spanish and indigenous writings about the conquest, and the conditions of life in the hybrid society that emerged thereafter. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 385 - Catholicism and Counterreform in the Spanish WorldFull course for one semester. This course examines the development and maturation of counterreform Catholicism in the Spanish world during the 16th and 17th centuries. Topics include the collapse of religious pluralism in medieval Iberia and the emergence of militant intolerance, the intellectual and theological challenges provoked by the conquest of the Americas, the varieties and gendering of elite religiosity, church-state relations, and popular religion in both Spain and the Americas. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 386 - Andean Civilization and the Spanish ConquestFull course for one semester. This course focuses on Andean society from the rise of the Inka Empire in the 14th century through the Spanish conquest and the establishment of the colonial order in the 1500s. Topics include the political and material organization of the Inka Empire, ideology and religious practice, and the impact of conquest and disease on the indigenous societies of the Andes. We then examine the effects of Spanish attempts to “re-form” indigenous societies by the forcible introduction of Catholicism and Spanish understandings of property and exchange, the imposition of Spanish imperial government, and the dismemberment and reorganization of indigenous polities. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 388 - Borderlands in the Spanish WorldFull course for one semester. The term “borderlands” usually describes the southern frontier of Anglo-America and the northern frontier of Mexico—a crossroads for indigenous and European cultures. This course seeks a broader understanding of Spain’s many borderlands, taking into account colonial experience in North America, South America, and Asia. We will study Spain’s encounters with Comanches and Apaches, but also with Mapuches and Filipinos. Chile’s Bío-Bío river was the dividing line between Spanish colonial governance and the lands of the Mapuche—a place of violence but also of cultural and economic exchange. The Philippines was a frontier for Spain and later for the United States—a vast archipelago whose complex population included Chinese merchants, Muslim princes, farmers, fishermen, and small bands of hunter-gatherers. We will consider these and other “borderlands” raising comparative questions about war, trade, and colonization on the unstable periphery of empire. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 391 - Ancient History: GreeceSee Classics 371 for description.
Classics 371 Description
History 393 - Ancient History: RomeSee Classics 373 for description. Not offered 2009-10.
Classics 373 Description
History 395 - Special Topics in Greek and Roman HistorySee Classics 375 for description. Not offered 2009-10.
Classics 375 Description
History 396 - Marx and Jesus in Modern Latin AmericaFull course for one semester. Few ideological forces have been as influential in shaping Latin America as Christianity and Marxism. Sometimes mutually antagonistic and sometimes compatible, the Marxist and Christian traditions have both inspired selfless moral acts and excused moral atrocities. In this course we will study the origin of modern, secular, liberal economies in the 19th century and the consequent debates among Marxists and Christians over property, the stages of history, the legitimacy of state authority, and the standards of just war. At the heart of the course are the mass movements of the 20th century—movements as varied as the Cristeros of the 1920s (who fought to defend the Catholic church and private property from the secular state) and the liberation theology movements of the 1960s and 1970s (many of which found a mandate for revolution in the example of Jesus and the historical analysis of Marx). Conference.
History 398 - Animals: An Intellectual and Cultural HistoryFull course for one semester. This class traces the history of the relation between humans and animals, principally as it has emerged in Western thought and culture. What does it mean to be an animal? How have our answers to this question figured in the development of our moral, political, and religious traditions? How have we made recourse to the notion of animality to make sense of what it means to be human? What could it possibly mean for an animal to be free? What is the historical and conceptual relation between animal liberation and human liberation? How have these issues played out in practices such as zookeeping, husbandry, slaughter, sex, consumption, companionship, ritual, jurisprudence, or dressing your dog in silly little sweaters? These are some of the foremost questions broached by the burgeoning academic field of “animal studies,” and we will address them by means of primary source readings (complemented by secondary readings and the occasional film) that span time from the ancients to our day. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
History 411 - Junior Seminar: The Andes in the Atlantic WorldFull course for one semester. This course examines how the 16th-century incorporation of the Andes into the Atlantic world by Spain affected Europe, and transformed indigenous society in creating the vast viceroyalty of Peru. The four thematic foci of the class are the Andean mining and market economy centered around Potosí, and its impact on the European economy and politics; the role of the royal state in Andean society; the organization of colonial society; and its cultural and religious dynamism. (A reading knowledge of Spanish is an asset for the research project, but is by no means essential.) This course is designed for junior history majors, and is limited to those who have completed two courses in history at Reed. Conference.
History 412 - The Junior Seminar: Histories of Biological Life in the Liberal EraFull course for one semester. The aim of this research seminar is to use the conceptual tools developed by a series of seminal intellectuals to investigate cultural, social, and scientific practices pertaining to biological life, primarily in the 20th century. These might include arguments about biotechnology, the extension of legal personhood to natural objects, patent claims over living species, the regulation and production of seeds, the development of organic agriculture, the incorporation of natural objects into our systems of political representation, bioethics, bioart, bioprospecting, and biopolitics (the administration of human populations as if they were living organisms). Notwithstanding their diversity, these phenomena all played out against the backdrop of liberal systems of jurisprudence, politics, property rights, and ethics. Hence, the normative claims and institutional structures associated with modern liberalism, rather than specific geographic locales, will serve as proximate historical contexts for our investigations. Prerequisite: this course is designed for junior history majors, and is limited to those who have completed two courses in history at Reed. Conference.
History 470 - ThesisFull course for one year.
History 481 - Individual StudyOne-half or full course for one semester. Individual study in fields either more specialized than the regular courses or not covered by them. Individual reading also may be done in connection with a regular course for one or two units additional to the course. Prerequisites: junior or senior standing and approval of instructor and division.