Spring 2024 Courses

Welcome to the Spring 2024 semester! This is a great moment to plan and declare your History major, minor, or cluster. The BA in history is a flexible major that consists of 10 courses, although many students exceed that number. The history minor requires 6 courses. The department also offers over sixteen options for the 3-course clusters in History. For more info on declaring, please visit the following page: Declaring a major or minor

History students also have considerable research opportunities through the HOUR Program, the Honors Program, and other initiatives.

First- and Second-Year Students

Students in the Class of 2027 and 2026 should enroll in HIST 200 – Gateway to History. This course is required for the History major and serves as an introduction to historical practice. Gateway courses explore what professional historians actually do and how they do it.

In Spring 2024, we are offering two Gateway courses: Deviants in Medieval Europe and Japanese Empire and its Afterlives. 


Deviants in Medieval Europe

Professor Laura Smoller, T/R 2-3:15 pm 


This section focuses upon the concept of deviance in medieval European society, studying the process of identifying persons as “deviants” because of their religious beliefs, sexual preferences, alleged witchcraft, or presumed status as werewolves. Along the way, we will discuss the various ways in which historians have approached this topic and will engage with key primary sources. Readings will address the question of whether the persecution of “deviants” began only in the twelfth century as part of the process of centralizing power in church and state. We will consider the relationship between persecution and power, as we ponder why certain groups were singled out for persecution. And we will ask what Europeans really were afraid of when they labeled certain groups as “deviant."





Japanese Empire and its Afterlives

Michael Hayata, M/W 3:25-4:40 pm


The Japanese empire mediated large parts of East Asia and the global capitalist economy during the first half of the twentieth century. This course examines major themes that are relevant to the study of Japanese imperialism across Japan, China, Korea, and Taiwan, including industrialization, agrarian colonization, mass/popular culture, resistance, and wartime mobilization. As a historical methods course, it will prepare students to conduct original historical research by training them to develop their own historical questions, gather and analyze primary and secondary sources, create original conclusions, and contribute to ongoing discussions. Using locally available or online archival materials, they will write a research paper on a topic of their choice in consultation with the instructor.





Third- and Fourth-Year Students

Students in the Class of 2025 and 2024 should pursue writing-intensive “W” courses and work of completing their focus area. All majors are required to take two “W” courses, one of which must be at the 300-level. Third-year students interested in the Honors Program should register for HIST 299H – UR Research and pursue a “W” course if they have not done so already.

Transfer students interested in the major or minor should schedule a meeting to talk with Prof. Thomas Fleischman, director of undergraduate studies, by emailing thomas.fleischman@rochester.edu.


Suggested Spring 2024 courses


HIST 187: Science, Magic, and the Occult


Professor Laura Smoller, T/R 11:05 am-12:20 pm 


This course explores the early history of humans' attempts to explain and control the cosmos, taking into account the real contributions made to early science by areas of inquiry now dismissed as magic or superstition, such as astrology, alchemy, and 'natural magic.' One major theme of the course will be the continuing way in which societies have policed the boundary between what they define as 'magic' and what they dub legitimate 'science.' What is legitimate knowledge about nature, and who gets to define what counts as legitimate? The course will end around 1700, with Newton and the so-called 'scientific Revolution' and the marginalization of astrology, alchemy, and similar fields of inquiry as 'pseudo-sciences' or popular error.




HIST 195: History of Treasure
Jeff Baron, M/W 11:50 am-1:05 pm 
The History of Treasure will broadly survey all kinds of treasures in Europe and the Americas from over two thousand years of history. Readings and lectures will span a variety of senses and definitions of the term, from biblical and literary metaphors to tangible stashes of wealth. The course will begin in prehistory and antiquity by introducing treasures in their most literal sense, examining who buries or hides wealth and why, then spend considerable time in the Middle Ages and early modern periods, and end in modernity, discussing questions of law, archaeological patrimony, and museum repatriation. This course will trace two millennia of laws, literature, searches, and excavations, to explore why treasure looms large in European and American culture, why it has long been the source of deep contention, and why it remains a term that signifies the most precious things.

HIST 196: Night at the Museum: Dark Histories on Display
Alice Wynd, T/R 4:50-6:05 pm 
Institutions across America interpret and disseminate narratives about tragic events in history; slavery, the Holocaust, institutional racism, and the genocide of Native Americans are all “on display” for visitors to see. Museums are—and have always been—political entities that use their collections and resources to promote specific arguments. Furthermore, museums themselves have attracted criticism about their funding, curation, and collecting practices. This course examines how modern American museums interpret tragic pasts and what ethical issues plague museums. Considering this topic, we will explore three central questions: how do museums and historic sites narrate the cruelty of past events? How do these institutions perpetuate cruelty themselves? How can museums do better? The readings and discussion will focus on the American past to highlight the specific incentives and social context that affect interpretation in American museums, and the course will culminate in a final project, where each student creates a digital micro-exhibit on a narrow topic.


HIST 211: Guns, War, and Revolution in Southern Africa 


Professor Elias Mandala, R 2-4:40 pm 


The peoples of southern Africa’s fifteen states freed themselves from the yoke of European and settler colonialism in different ways. In some countries, Africans pursued, from the time of World War II, a nationalist agenda whose principal objectives were limited to political independence. In other colonies, however, frustrated nationalists became revolutionaries, determined to achieve both political and economic autonomy. With the support of peasants and workers, the radicalized leadership launched guerrilla wars that turned portions of southern Africa into bloody battlefields from the late 1960s to the fall of apartheid in 1994.





HIST 227: Podcasting History: Hear UR


Professor Tom Fleischman, T/R 12:30-1:45 pm


Hear UR is a history-oriented podcast that takes on a subject related to the environmental history of Rochester. Over the course of this semester, this class researches, develops, and produces one season of episodes for Hear UR. Students divide into teams of three, where they take on the roles of Producer, Lead Researcher, or Engineer. Together they develop the subject matter of the season and episodes; locate primary sources to interpret; identify a body of secondary literature; draft and re-draft podcast scripts; master the use of microphones, recording studios, and audio editing software; create a website to host each episode, where they post a written article on the same topic, provide primary source images, additional links, and script; finally they organize and execute a public roll out of the season, using social and traditional media platforms, local public radio and television, and University communications.





HIST 254: Big Business in Brazil


Professor Molly Ball, 2-3:15 pm 


This Course Explores how big business emerged in modern Brazil and impacted the country's development and classification as one of the world's five major emerging economies. Using an economic historical lens, we will investigate how Brazilian growth and development conforms to or diverges from traditional economic history models. The course looks particularly at theories of development and how transportation, banking, and the film industry impacted Brazil’s 19th and 20th-century history.





HIST 373: American Health Politics and Policy


Professor Mical Raz, R 2-4:40 PM


This course examines the formation and evolution of American health policy from a political and historical perspective. Concentrating on developments from the early twentieth century to the present, the focus of readings and discussions will be political forces and institutions and historical and cultural contexts. Among the topics covered are periodic campaigns for national health insurance, efforts to rationalize and regionalize health care institutions, the creation of Medicare and Medicaid and the further evolution of these programs, the rise to dominance of economists and economic analysis in the shaping of health policy, racial and gender disparities in access to care and in quality of care, the formation and failure of the Clinton administration's health reform agenda, health reform in the George W. Bush administration and the 2008 presidential campaign, and national health reform and pushback during the Obamaadministration.