Reed College Catalog

Michael P. Breen

Old Regime France; medieval and early modern European legal, social, and cultural history; Renaissance Italy.

Jacqueline Dirks

American social and cultural history, United States women’s history.

John J. Dougherty

Environmental history, Native American studies, American West.

Douglas L. Fix

Modern China and Japan.

David T. Garrett

Latin America and early modern Spain.

Leah Goldman

Russia, music and European cultural history.

Joshua P. Howe

Environmental history, history of science, twentieth-century United States. On sabbatical and leave 2016–17.

Benjamin Lazier

Modern Europe, intellectual history.

Mary Ashburn Miller

Revolutionary-era France and Europe, modern European cultural and intellectual history. On sabbatical 2016–17.

Margot Minardi

Colonial and revolutionary America, nineteenth-century United States.

Radhika Natarajan

Modern imperial Britain.

Padraig Riley

Nineteenth-century United States, slavery, political history.

David Harris Sacks, Emeritus

Early modern Britain and Europe, Atlantic world.

William Smiley

Middle Eastern and Ottoman history, international law. On sabbatical and leave 2016–17.

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 department expects students to develop competence in various periods and areas of history, as specified in the course requirements below, and to attain analytical skills common to all fields of history. The junior qualifying examination in history requires students to analyze a significant piece of recent scholarship in the discipline. The examination is offered once each semester, in the first week of classes. Students in the major ordinarily take the exam in the first week of the second semester of their junior year. The department encourages but does not require its students to pursue the study of a foreign language.

For students who wish to pursue interdisciplinary study in American history and some other area—for example, literature, economics, or 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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:
    a. Europe;
    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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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 China

Full course for one semester. This course surveys the history of late imperial China (sixteenth through nineteenth 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 nineteenth century. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 221 - From Treaty Ports to Megacities: Chinese Urban History

Full course for one semester. In China today, few environments change more rapidly than those in major metropolitan centers. Uncontrollable hypergrowth, large floating populations, and insufficient resources and infrastructure all make efficient urban planning and healthy community development difficult to achieve. This course will examine the origins of these current challenges, as well as solutions posed to solve earlier problems, both imagined and real. Topics to be addressed will include imperial models and spatial legacies; treaty ports, bunds, and foreign concessions; rural migration, sojourning, and movement between cities; hinterlands, regional networks, and global connections; revolutionary hygiene and public health; department stores, desire industries, and Shanghai fashion; the interwar lifestyles of petty urbanites and Westernized capitalists; covert political communities and urban labor organizing; wartime destruction and relocation; purifying the decadent city via socialist governance; hutongs, alleyway houses, and rebuilt residential space; and reassessing the colonial past and the globalized present in China’s megacities. Conference.

History 240 - World Environmental History

Full course for one semester. This course approaches the study of “world environmental history” as a fascinating problem of historical methodology. We begin by introducing environmental history at its largest scales of time and space, investigating how climate, biodiversity, natural resources, and commodities have affected human history on a global level. We will then move on to a series of more specific case studies that complicate these large-scale historical analyses. As we visit the pastoral landscapes of Nazi Germany, the toxic waters and fields of modern Japan, the denuded countryside of imperial China, and the socially stratified villages of northern India, we will see how culture, memory, religion, and power shape reciprocal relationships between humans and their geographically unique surroundings in a number of different ways. Finally, we will investigate how these different valances of environmental history have informed a twentieth-century regime of global environmental governance—a regime born of good intentions, but one replete with problems of efficacy, equitability, and justice. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 256 - Migration Histories in the British Imperial World

Full course for one semester. The British Empire was built on migrations both forced and free, and in this course we will examine particular migration stories in wider imperial and global contexts. Some of the migrants that we will examine include settler colonists, enslaved persons, transported radicals, colonial officers, missionaries, and indentured and migrant laborers. The course will present a broad chronological survey of the British imperial world since 1700, paying attention to political, economic, social, and cultural dynamics. The final project for this course will be a digital exhibition to which students will contribute content and explanatory material. Conference.

History 261 - Native Peoples in the Twentieth-Century American West

Full course for one semester. This course is an ethnohistorical examination of political and cultural change among Native American communities in the twentieth- and early twenty-first-century American West, and how these changes differ across time and space throughout the region. A central theme in this course will be how Native American history helps us better understand twentieth-century U.S. history in a more holistic and nuanced way. Among the topics covered in this course will be the closing of the Western frontier, the assimilation era, Indian reorganization, Cold War politics, Indian termination and relocation, Native activism, the emergence of tribal sovereignty, environmental dilemmas, and indigenous politics in the twenty-first century. Conference.

History 270 - Nature, Culture, and Society in American History

Full 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.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 276 - Culture and Society in Twentieth-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.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 278 - U.S. Politics and Culture, 1929–1979

Full 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 - Indigenous Peoples and Environmental Change

Full course for one semester. This course explores the historical relationships between indigenous communities and the continuously changing environmental landscapes of the North American West from before European contact to the present. Since time immemorial, indigenous communities have developed complex interactions with the numerous and diverse environmental landscapes of the region, and these interactions were often the basis for their political, economic, and spiritual practices. But since the arrival of nonindigenous peoples in the region, environmental landscapes became altered and manipulated in ways like they had never been before. Yet still, indigenous communities continue to rethink and adapt traditional cultural practices to meet ever-changing environmental realities. With this broader context, this course examines how specific indigenous communities have navigated their relationship with the natural world amidst the challenges of colonialism, globalization, environmental ruin, climate change, and an increasing national dependency on the natural resources of the North American West. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Conference.

History 303 - Tribes, Treaties, and Tribulations

Full course for one semester. This course examines the historical legacies and contemporary significance of treaties signed between federal Indian tribes and the U.S. government. Indian treaties, most of which were signed in the nineteenth century, have become instrumental in defining federal Indian tribes’ political, legal, and economic organization in the present day. But the original treaties have been contested and reinterpreted. In this course, we will review the major historical eras of federal Indian policy with an emphasis on the impact of treaties as markers of tribal sovereignty and self-determination. Students will also gain an introductory understanding of federal Indian policy and how it can be used to help narrate Native American and United States history. The course seeks to demonstrate the historical development and contemporary implications of Indian treaties, and how they shape the lives of Native peoples today. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Conference.

History 307 - War and Peace in Europe, 1700–1914

Full course for one semester. This course examines the cultures of war in Europe in the period leading up to World War I, and explores changes in the historiography as well as the history of warfare in this critical period. We will examine theories of peace and the rise of philanthropic organizations alongside developments in military recruitment, technology, and mobilization to question the relationships between military and society, and between pacifism and militarism. Key themes will include the influence of the press and public opinion on European wars, the role of women in modern warfare, and the relationship between war, diplomacy, and the development of national and European identities. Note: Because the majority of this class will focus on the period from 1789 to 1914, this class should be considered a post-1800 course for history majors seeking to fulfill chronological requirements. Prerequisites: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 310 - Water and the American West

Full course for one semester. This course uses the environmental and political history of America’s rivers, streams, reservoirs, and aquifers to introduce students to important issues in water history and contemporary water policy. We will begin by exploring a series of different frameworks for understanding the complex relationships between water, labor, land, and political power as those relationships have changed over time. As we build a deeper and more critical understanding of water as a natural, cultural, and political entity in American history, we will pay particular attention to the ways in which history has helped to shape the way we allocate and regulate water across a geographically and politically diverse continent. Armed with the dual weapons of history and basic legal doctrine, we will then begin to tackle some of the key issues in twentieth-century American water policy, starting with the Columbia and Colorado River basins. Looking toward the future, we will also explore the problems and potential solutions on the cutting edge of water politics both in the Colorado River basin and elsewhere, including groundwater policy, water marketing, and an extended discussion of the potential water implications of global warming. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 311 - Music, Meaning and Politics in 20th Century Europe

Full course for one semester. This course explores the social and political construction of musical meaning, and the many ways music has been used for political purposes, in Europe from the early 20th century to today. Themes will include: music and modernity; music and national identity; music and political protest; and music, unification, and globalization. In the course of our enquiry, we will consider the perspectives of composers, performers, states, political parties, opposition to movements, and countercultures, and develop our own understanding of what it means for music to be political. Sources will encompass primary and secondary texts exploring the perspectives of a variety of actors, as well as music, video, and film. No prior musical training required; through our discussions in conference and on the course website, we will develop our own vocabulary for discussion. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

History 312 - The Environmental History of the American West

Full 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 nineteenth and twentieth 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 315 - Defining and Defying Difference: Race, Ethnicity, and Empire

Full course for one semester. From the origins of the British Empire in the sixteenth century, the encounter between Britons and colonial subjects demanded explanations of human difference. In this course, we will consider race and ethnicity as contingent and contested categories shaped by political and economic circumstances. Topics will include the international slave trade and abolition, caste and community in South Asia, color and class in the twentieth-century Caribbean, and immigration and multiculturalism in late twentieth-century Britain. Throughout we will pay attention to gender. Prerequisite: Humanities 110. Conference.

History 316 - Russian Revolution(s), Peter to Putin

Full course for one semester. This course explores the many types of revolutions Russia has undergone from the time of Peter the Great’s 17th century turn to the West up to Vladimir Putin’s global ambitions today. Peter was one of Russia’s great revolution-makers, orchestrating change in governance, society, and intellectual pursuit, and setting the stage for future revolutions both from above and from below. In his own way, Putin has been no less revolutionary and provocative. This course will proceed thematically, exploring Russia’s revolutionary experiences in four areas: politics, society, culture, and science and technology. Through analysis of multimedia primary and secondary sources, we will consider the many meanings the term “revolution” may take, investigate the often cyclical nature of revolutions, and interrogate why change in Russia has so often taken on a revolutionary character, rather than proceeding by a more gradual path of development. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or consent of the instructor.

History 317 - The American Earth: U.S. Environmental History in the Twentieth Century

Full course for one semester. This course will address the concurrent histories of American environmental politics and the changing environment itself in twentieth-century U.S. history. We will approach the American continent both as a unique constellation of material and geographical spaces and as a changing and historically contingent cultural construct dependent on ideas about power, labor, identity, and morality. Topics will include nature and American nationalism, cultural constructions of nature, the American environmental movement, science and environmental management, and climatic change and sustainability in modern environmental politics. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 323 - Japanese Modernities

Full 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. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 325 - The Family in China and Japan

Full course for one semester. This course explores the visions and myths, manifestations, and transformations of the family in China and Japan from the seventeenth 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; and the effect of modern revolutions on the family and its manifestations. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

History 326 - Imperialism and Colonialism in East Asia

Full 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 nineteenth and twentieth 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. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 327 - Meiji Restoration/Revolution

Full 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. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 328 - Chinese Frontiers and Border Crossings

Full course for one semester. This course will explore the nature of the geographical and epistemological boundary transgression from 1400 to 1800. Major topics will include: Zheng He’s fifteenth-century maritime explorations; merchants without empire; travelers, emigrants and illegal crossings; Chinese cartographic technologies; Confucian governors and native chieftains in Yunnan and Guizhou; the Sino-Dutch colony of Taiwan; Qing conquest of central Eurasia; and the construction of textual landscapes and ethnographic portraits in these Chinese frontiers. Prerequisites: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 329 - Cameras and Photography in Nineteenth-Century East Asia

Full course for one semester. This course examines the early history of photography in China and Japan. Attention will be given to the complex (and disparate) technological histories of the medium, the varied uses to which the camera was put, and the impact of this new technology upon visual cultures in China and Japan. The dissemination of photographs into other media and the impact of consumer preferences upon content and style will also be examined. Travel landscapes, studio portraits, ethnographic photographs, and documentary images by Euro-American, Japanese, and Chinese photographers are among the visual data to be analyzed. Other sources include optical treatises, travel literature, government reports, and early ethnographies. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

History 331 - Violence in Early Modern Europe

Full course for one semester. From the outbreak of religious violence in the sixteenth 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. Prerequisite: sophomore standing, Humanities 110, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 335 - Development: An Imperial History

Full course for one semester. Improvement and welfare have not always been the work of government. This class traces the origins and uneven history of development through the moments when colonial governments in the British Empire became interested in raising the material and social quality of life of colonial subjects. More than a matter of administering policy, attempts to better conditions arose through political circumstances and impacted the lives of colonial subjects in ways that administrators could not have foreseen. We will consider development as a broad category through efforts to manage and improve education, the economy, and maternal health. We will pay attention to the importance of colonial ethnography to know populations; the way development emerged as a rationale for empire; the international contexts of development; and continuities of colonial development after formal decolonization through nongovernmental organizations such as the World Bank and Oxfam International. Our examples will be drawn from metropolitan Britain; subject colonies such as India, Kenya, and the West Indies; and international organizations working with postcolonial nation-states. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 336 - The Aftermath of World War I in the British Empire

Full course for one semester. While for many years the main historiographical question surrounding World War I concerned its origins, recently scholars have turned to the consequences of the war, particularly the postwar settlements that remade national, imperial, and international politics. The war demanded the mobilization of millions of men and women throughout the world; what was owed to these individuals for their service? In this class, we will approach this question in a variety of contexts and braid together the political and social history of the interwar period. Topics will include the League of Nations, the Commonwealth, anticolonial nationalist movements, international women’s movements, humanitarianism, development programs, and the welfare state. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 338 - Crisis & Catastrophe in Modern Europe

Full course for one semester. Between 1720 and 1870, a series of natural and manmade crises forced Europeans to question the purpose of violence in a supposedly “improving” society and the role of rational individuals in a world sometimes beyond their control. This course will consider the political, religious, intellectual, and cultural ramifications of disaster and crisis, including financial collapse, revolution, war, earthquakes, disease, and famine. These crises disrupted the political and intellectual worlds of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europeans, threatening and transforming their ideas about risk, progress, religion, and political authority, and restructuring the relationships between man and the natural world. Prerequisite: sophomore standing, Humanities 110, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 342 - Legalizing Europe: Church, State, Society and “The Rule of Law,” 1200–1600

Full course for one semester. The emergence of the “rule of law” as a basic principle of social organization, a primary mechanism for dispute resolution, and a fundamental cultural value was one of the most far-reaching developments in European history, yet the causes and consequences of this sweeping social, cultural, and political transformation remain poorly understood. This course will examine how “the law” became one of the primary ways Europeans came to comprehend their world and act within it by focusing on the sweeping changes that took place in the administration of justice during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Among the topics we will consider are the central role of the Catholic Church in creating new legal procedures, theories, and experts; the emergence of increasingly professionalized legal institutions and practices that supplanted judicial combats, trials by ordeal, and the swearing of oaths; and the reasons why official law courts were increasingly utilized not only by the expanding states of this period, but also by ordinary men and women who increasingly turned to them as alternatives, or complements, to vendettas, private settlements, and other forms of dispute resolution. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

History 344 - The Psychoanalytic Tradition in Historical Perspective

Full course for one semester. This class explores how the psychoanalytic tradition inaugurated changes in what we mean when we call ourselves human beings. The first half of the course reviews Freud’s thought as it evolved in the context of clinical practice. The aim is to consider how influential ideas about the unconscious, love and sexuality, dreams, fantasy, and the organization of the psyche developed in response to the peculiar kind of suffering Freud called neurosis. The second half of the course asks what is to be learned by situating psychoanalytic thought in its scientific, cultural, and social contexts, and by following its international dispersion in the work of those who extended (and revised) Freud’s ideas in ways he did not foresee. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Conference.

History 345 - Whole Earths, Globalizations, and World Pictures

Full 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 disseminated 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 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, anthropology, philosophy, biology, chemistry, cartography, and art; and how this pictorial imaginary has become integrated into the unthought ways we inhabit our natural and human-built worlds. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

History 346 - Technology and Social Thought in Twentieth-Century Europe

Full 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 twentieth 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. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 349 - Science in Twentieth-Century America

Full course for one semester. This conference will investigate the role of science in American culture and politics in the twentieth century. Beginning with the history of what became the most powerful and politically active scientific community in America, the physicists, we will investigate the changing nature of scientific authority and expertise in government, industry, and society at large. We will discuss Albert Einstein’s rise to fame as an icon of the scientist-genius, the making of the atomic bomb and the role of scientists in international arms control policy, and the genesis and character of “big science” at American universities. Using the physicists as a standard for comparison, we will then move on to discuss environmental and biological scientists, public health officials, and other scientific experts as they gained social and political influence on issues from resource management and urban planning to air pollution, tobacco regulation, and climate change over the course of the century. As we investigate this history, we will also begin to explore different approaches to the history of science, along with the complex concepts of neutrality, objectivity, and authority at its center. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

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 seventeenth century, and its gradual decline during the first half of the eighteenth 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. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 352 - Renaissance and Religious 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 sixteenth-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. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 353 - The French Revolution, 1775–1800

Full 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. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 355 - Heretics, Witches, and Inquisitors: Deviance, Orthodoxy, and the Law in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

Full course for one semester. This course will examine the evolution and operation of one of medieval and early modern Europe’s most infamous religious and legal institutions—the Inquisitions of Heretical Depravity. Initially established in the late eleventh and twelfth centuries to affirm the Roman Church’s spiritual authority and to repress religious heterodoxy, Inquisitions could be found across much of Catholic Europe by the early sixteenth century. This course will examine several of the most prominent examples: the Inquisition of medieval Languedoc, the Roman and Venetian Inquisitions, and the Spanish Inquisition, to compare how they functioned as hybrid legal and religious institutions in distinct historical contexts. We will also explore the complex interplay between inquisitors, secular authorities, and the populace by looking at their treatment of a specific heretical crime—witchcraft—during the early modern period. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

History 362 - Revolutionary America

Full course for one semester. In the late eighteenth 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. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 363 - American Social Reform from Revolution to Reconstruction

Full course for one semester. Countless nineteenth-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. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

History 365 - The Depression-Era U.S.

Full course for one semester. Students will study secondary texts and primary documents that focus on key events and various historical approaches of the period that spans the agricultural depression of the 1920s up to the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor. Topics include the expansion of executive power, struggles and compromises in the establishment of New Deal agencies and programs, and the growth of labor unions. We will also explore the political and popular culture of this epoch, including documentary photography and art spawned by federal programs, Hollywood movies and commercial radio, and selected literature of the Popular Front. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

History 367 - Sources and Methods in Early African American History

Full 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. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 368 - Making Race: History of a Fiction

Full course for one semester. What does it mean to call race a “social construction” or a “historical fiction”? How, when, and why did race develop as a way to categorize human beings? What roles did law, social practice, and scientific and religious thought play in the process of race making? What alternative notions of human community or human difference resisted the power of the race concept? This course focuses on North America from the age of European colonization to the present, but we will also reach back to antiquity, the Middle Ages, and early modern Europe to understand the roots of modern racial thought. Sojourns to other parts of the world (such as South Africa and Latin America) will help put our discussion of American racialization into comparative perspective. Throughout, we will consider the development of race in relationship to other categories of human difference, including gender, ethnicity, nation, and religion. Examining both classic and recent scholarship, we will devote particular attention to several historiographical problems: understanding “whiteness” as a racial category; interpreting race “mixing” and “passing”; and placing race in American history beyond the black-white binary. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 370 - The Tragedies of American Diplomacy: U.S. Foreign Policy since 1893

Full course for one semester. Building from the framework laid out in William Appleman Williams’ hallmark essay, “The Tragedy of American Diplomacy,” this course will explore the history of American foreign policy since Frederick Jackson Turner declared the end of the American Frontier in 1893. Beginning with Turner’s “Frontier Thesis” and John Hay’s famous “Open Door Note,” we will investigate how the flexible, economically oriented policies of the late nineteenth century became the sacred political ideologies at the heart of twentieth-century American imperialism. Topics will include the Spanish-American War, policies leading up to each of the two world wars, the advent of and decision to drop the atomic bomb, the Marshall Plan, and a variety of political, economic, and military issues associated with the Cold War, including its origins, its institutions, its many phases, and its ultimate end. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 372 - U.S. Women’s History, 1890–1990

Full 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 nineteenth to the late twentieth 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 who opposed it. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

History 373 - The Progressive Era Reconsidered

Full 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. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 374 - Gender and Sex

Full course for one semester. Examination of the changing ideas about gender and sex roles in the context of key transformations from the late nineteenth through the late twentieth 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 2016—17.

History 376 - The United States in the 1970s

Full course for one semester. For many years U.S. historians neglected the 1970s to focus on the political and cultural shifts in the 1950s and 1960s. Drawing on a wealth of new historical studies, we will look at the 1970s to assess the successes and defeats of movements that originated in earlier decades. These include civil rights, feminism, gay and lesbian rights, environmentalism, and organized labor. We will examine transformations in party politics in the wake of Vietnam and Watergate, and chart the changing fortunes of liberals and conservatives. This was a time of economic turmoil and anxiety, and we will consider how inflation, deindustrialization, and the oil crises in 1973 and 1979 influenced the lives of working Americans. We will also look at the changing demographics of families, households, and suburbs in this epoch. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 378 - Gender and Family

Full 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 nineteenth-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.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 379 - The Fifties in America

Full course for one semester. We will use a range of secondary texts and primary documents to focus on key events and different historical approaches to the study of this era. The ’50s were shaped by the Great Depression and World War II, and we will look back at those cataclysmic events. Topics include the Cold War and its effects on domestic politics; the baby boom and the ideology of the American family; civil rights battles in the legal and political arenas; medical and public health responses to polio; and the political and economic ramifications of postwar consumer culture. Prerequisites: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

History 380 - Europe and North Africa in the Long Nineteenth Century

Full course for one semester. The nineteenth century marked a period of changing relationships between Western Europe and the communities of North Africa, as both Britain and France attempted to expand their imperial reach into the regions of Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. This course examines these imperial interactions from Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798 until the creation of a Moroccan protectorate in 1912. During this time, countless British and French men and women traveled to the spaces of North Africa as scholars, soldiers, missionaries, diplomats, engineers, tourists, artists, and merchants. There, they confronted challenges both to their preconceived notions of the Islamic world and to their own ideas of nationhood, empire, and religion. This class will focus on the experiences of individuals who acted as agents of, and sometimes at odds with, empire in these spaces; we will also read accounts of Moroccan and Egyptian immigrants and travelers in Europe, and examine the appropriation of ideas, symbols, and objects from North Africa in European art, architecture, literature, and science. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 382 - Riddles of Reciprocity

Full course for one semester. “Exchange” in the present day is commonly considered an economic category, but, understood as “the action of reciprocal giving and receiving,” it has been a ubiquitous feature of sociability and social interaction—of commodities and gifts, greetings and blows, friendships and enmities—across the globe from ancient times. It has been construed by many commentators as a blessing, in some instances a providential one, promoting peace and harmony among individuals and peoples. In practice, however, it has also been a source of oppression, violence, and conflict. Through a series of particular case studies and the analysis of major primary texts from the relevant periods, this course considers the principal practices of exchange as they emerged over time along with the main theories—philosophical and ethical as well as economic, social, and cultural—put forth in the past and the present to understand and analyze them. The coverage will begin with evidence of ancient exchange across the globe, and end with consideration of recent episodes in the world history. However, the case studies will concentrate on major developments in the Mediterranean and Atlantic worlds from ca. 1400 to ca. 1850—i.e., from the “age of discovery” to the “age of the industrial revolution.”  Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

History 384 - The Mexican Revolution

Full course for one semester. This course examines the roots, development, and effect of the Mexican Revolution (1910–17), from the Porfiriato through the institutionalization of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) rule. Principal themes include regionalism and tensions caused by centralization; industrialization, economic development, and dependency; class conflict; gender, citizenship, and political participation; and the production of a modern Mexican identity. Conference.

History 386 - The Incas

Full course for one semester. This course examines the Incas of the central Andes, from their emergence in the thirteenth century, as a small clan alliance, through their imperial apogee, their colonial reconstitution, and their republican demise; the class concludes with a brief look at the Inca legacy in modern Peru. Topical emphases are archaic imperial organization; Andean history and cosmology; and Spanish colonialism and evangelization. Methodologically, the class focuses on the challenges of studying nonliterate civilizations and of reading sixteenth- and seventeenth-century texts as historical and ethnographic sources. Fulfills departmental pre-1800 requirements; does not fulfill departmental post-1800 requirement. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 388 - Race and Ethnicity in the Modern Andes

Full course for one semester. This course examines the central role of race and ethnicity as organizing principles and categories in the political, economic, and intellectual life of the Andean republics since independence. Particular topics include race and the definition of citizenship and national identity; the intellectual and cultural construction of racial difference; the emergence of indigenismo as the dominant political and cultural criticism of twentieth-century Andean society; and the emergence of indigenous movements as important political actors in recent decades. Prerequisite: Humanities 110 or sophomore standing, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 389 - Labor in Modern Latin America

Full course for one semester. This course examines the social relations of labor, labor organization and militancy, and the political and cultural importance of the working classes in twentieth-century Latin America. Particular topics include the emergence of organized labor and its relation both to earlier guild-based relations and to oligarchic rule in the early twentieth century; the role of organized labor in Mexican, Bolivian, Peruvian, and Chilean revolutionary movements; alliances between labor and bureaucratic-authoritarian states; the position of rural laborers in these modernizing economies; the relationship between race, ethnic, and class identities; and the effects of the vast “informal” working class on postmodern Latin American societies. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 390 - Music and the Black Freedom Struggle, 1865–1945

See Music 360 for description.

Music 360 Description

History 391 - Ancient History: Greece

See Classics 371 for description.

Classics 371 Description

History 392 - Ancient History: The Hellenistic World

See Classics 372 for description.

Not offered 2016—17.

Classics 372 Description

History 393 - Ancient History: Rome

See Classics 373 for description.

Not offered 2016—17.

Classics 373 Description

History 395 - Special Topics in Greek and Roman History

See Classics 375 for description.

Classics 375 Description

History 396 - International Law and Human Rights in Global History

Full course for one semester. Concepts of “human rights” and “international law” shape how we think about international politics today. Where do these ideas come from and how have they changed over time? This course tackles these questions from the standpoint of political, social, and intellectual history, paying close attention to the interaction between European and non-European states and ideas. We will examine how historical structure and contingency have combined to shape changing ideas about international law. Our discussions will also put historical narratives into conversation with some of the dominant theoretical perspectives from the fields of law and international relations. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Not offered 2016—17.

History 411 - Junior Seminar

Writing the History of Colonial Spanish America
Full course for one semester. This seminar focuses on how people of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries wrote the history of pre-Hispanic and Spanish America. From the first decades of the Spanish presence in the Americas, Spanish and indigenous scholars sought to record and analyze the native American societies. Over the next two centuries, American and European intellectuals would also produce histories of colonial societies; locate the Americas in universal histories of humanity; and examine the natural history of the Americas. We will read recent historical scholarship on this early modern historiography, as well as indigenous, Spanish, French, and English accounts to examine their intellectual frameworks and biases, their political intentions, and their methodologies. All readings will be in English translation. Participants will produce an extended research paper based on primary and secondary sources. Prerequisite: junior standing history majors, and two history courses at Reed. Conference.

History 412 - Junior Seminar

The United States in the 1840s
Full course for one semester. This course focuses on a vibrant and tumultuous decade in American history—the 1840s. This was an era of religious and cultural ferment, large-scale migration and long-distance travel, imperial ambition and millennial anxiety, and agitation for both war and peace. As the nation’s territorial boundaries expanded and its population diversified, Americans wondered what, if anything, held them together as a nation, and they grappled to make sense of their young republic’s place in the world. Major historical events of interest in this period include the Mexican-American War, migration to Oregon, the emergence of a women’s suffrage movement, the California gold rush, Irish immigration, and ongoing contestation over slavery and sectionalism. In the course of studying these and other problems, students will develop and write a substantial research paper based on both primary and secondary sources. Prerequisite: junior standing history majors, and two history courses at Reed. Conference.

History 470 - Thesis

Full course for one year.

History 481 - Individual Study

One-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.