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History Department

Course Description

Germany in the late 19th and first half of the 20th centuries involves the most problematic national case of political radicalism, military aggression, and genocidal persecution of minorities in recent historical memory. As such, it underpins any useful analysis of European affairs and Western Civilization more broadly in the past two hundred years. In this course students will survey the development of Germany after its unification in 1871 with an eye toward explaining the rise of Adolf Hitler at the head of the Nationalist Socialist German Workers Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei - NSDAP) and the nature of the war he initiated.

What You Will Learn

  • Students will develop a more refined understanding of causality, the form and intensivity of political radicalism in otherwise liberal societies.

Intended Audience

Any and all interested students with a fair grasp of the broad run of Western - and especially European - history since the French Revolution.

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Course Description

Ancient Rome's effect on the modern world can hardly be overstated. We owe the Romans many of our most cherished philosophical and political ideas of liberty and citizenship, as well as a wealth of technical, architectural, and engineering knowledge. But Rome is more than a one-dimensional historical narrative

Throughout this course we will explore not only Rome's historical and political development, but the idea of Rome and Roman values both in the past and present—the real vs. the ideal, and how that comes to bear on our society and ideas today.

What You Will Learn

  • Develop and demonstrate proficiency with history and methods such as research and the evaluation of primary and secondary sources.

Intended Audience

For History majors or any students interested in learning more about the ancient world.

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Course Description

Democratic Revolutions in Europe explores the uneven history of democracy in modern Europe. Almost two hundred years after French revolutionaries celebrated the victory of liberty and democracy, Europeans still struggled to free themselves from authoritarian rule. From the French Revolution to the European Union, midshipmen will investigate how Europeans supported democratic reforms and resisted efforts to restrict liberty.

They will also examine how authoritarian regimes, from the Napoleonic Empire to the Soviet-controlled German Democratic Republic, used the institutions of democracy to justify the exclusion of the people from political power. We will analyze democratic institutions, revolutions, and political movements in order to understand the development of democracy in modern Europe. Finally, we will consider what the history of European democracy can teach us about future of democracy in the twenty-first century.

What You Will Learn

  • Students will examine the origins of enduring conflicts over the meaning of political and economic liberty
  • Students will learn key historical conflicts that led to the rise and fall of representative governments and democracies in modern Europe.
  • Students will consider how authoritarian regimes, such as the Napoleonic Empire and the Soviet Union, attempted to create the illusion of democratic institutions.

Intended Audience

For History majors or any interested students.

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Course Description

This course focuses on the experiences of European populations under occupation or foreign domination during the Second World War. How did populations respond to an invader or hegemonic power such as Nazi Germany? Should one fight? Or was cooperation the more sensible and even more moral route? This course also explores how postwar Europe judged the choices made in the face of this dilemma. Our topics span high politics to individual lives.

What You Will Learn

  • Context. Successful counterinsurgents must understand the operational and strategic environments, especially the socio-cultural aspects of the indigenous population groups. Additionally, insurgency and counterinsurgency may occur within the context of larger events or grievances.
  • An appreciation for the variety and complexity of experiences and behaviors in Axis-occupied Europe
  • The moral dilemmas posed by occupation
  • Challenge simplistic labels such as "collaborator" or "resister"

Intended Audience

Anybody with an interest in European history.

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Course Description

HH347 discusses the rise of sectionalism in the U.S., the collapse of the 2nd Party system ansd the rise of the Republican Party. It follows the path of the Southern states to secession. The social, political military aspects of the Civil War are examined. The course concludes with Reconstruction.

What You Will Learn

  • Students will learn about the origins of sectionalism; the impact of the Civil War on American society
  • Develop skills in critical thinking and analysis of sources.

Intended Audience

Anyone interested in the American Civil War.

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Course Description

Students will conduct an exploration of early 20th Century American historiography, construct a comparative analysis between populist movements in the first half of the century and today, exercise examining current events in a historical perspective, and effectively deliver multiple written argumentative essays throughout the semester.

The social, political military aspects of the Civil War are examined. The course concludes with Reconstruction.

What You Will Learn

  • To conduct an exploration of early 20th Century American historiography
  • To construct a comparative analysis between populist movements in the first half of the century and today
  • To exercise examining current events in a historical perspective
  • And to effectively deliver multiple written argumentative essays throughout the semester.

Intended Audience

For History majors or any interested students.

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Course Description

This course will explore change and continuity in Middle Eastern history from the era of Muhammad to the present day, with particular emphasis on the period since Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798.

What You Will Learn

  • This course will provide a basic understanding of the history of the Middle East over the last two centuries.

Intended Audience

Anyone interested in Middle Eastern history.

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Course Description

This course engages midshipmen to explore the salient aspects of Chinese history from the time of Confucius and Sun Zi (Sun Tsu) to the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. It attempts to explain the historical roots of the modern rise and traces the cultural, intellectual and military evolution of Chinese society from the Warring States, through Pax Sinica of Han and Tang, to the mighty yet fragile Ming and Qing empires of the recent centuries.

What You Will Learn

  • Major aspects of traditional China's cultural strands and strategic wiles
  • Historical depth in understanding contemporary China and its rise to global prominence.

Intended Audience

For History majors or any interested students.

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Course Description

For too long, the racial system (e.g. binary black/white) and politics (e.g. segregationist Jim Crow) of the United States has dominated hemispheric discussions and understandings of how race is and was used to include and exclude people. This course examines the role of race and ethnicity as categories of identification and exclusion in Latin America from the colonial to the modern period. It closely follows the experiences of Latin Americans of indigenous (e.g. native) and African descent who faced the harshest legal and de facto discriminatory policies.

It also looks at how nineteenth century Latin American nation-builders conceived of their nations in ways that made race subordinate to national identities and upheld race mixture as an intrinsic part of national identity. Moving beyond the experiences of indigenous and Afro-descended populations in Latin America, this course explores how immigration—from Asia, Europe, and the Middle East—has affected constructions of national identity. While the focus of study has regional implications, most of our case studies are drawn from Brazil, Cuba, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru.

What You Will Learn

  • Students will understand that the concept of race is socially and historically constructed drawn from specific examples.
  • Students will also learn how the United States is an exception and not the rule in how to think about race and ethnicity.
  • Students will strengthen their analytical and written skills with a plethora of authentic assignments.

Intended Audience

This class is for anyone interested in Latin America or understanding the experiences of racial and ethnic communities. It makes for a great way to compare with the role of race and ethnicity in the United States.

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Course Description

“We [in the Middle East] live in a tough neighborhood” once said a senior Israeli politician. What makes the Middle East a “tough neighborhood,” and why should we care? This course untangles the intertwined threads that shaped this vital region of the world and made it what it is today -- from the defeat (and subsequent fragmentation) of the Ottoman Empire in World War I until the present. It is a journey that explores the rise of (new) states and their efforts at state-building.

Within this context, this course explores the history of Syria, a once strong Levantine state now at war with itself, its domestic political dynamics and the external intrusions that shaped it. How did a once democratic state become a brutal dictatorship? How did a once downtrodden rural-based sectarian minority supplant an urban-based sectarian majority? How did that minority accede to power and consolidate its rule? How and why did this minority regime descend into a war with its own citizens? How has that war affected neighboring states, the region and beyond?

What You Will Learn

This course will assist you in making sense of the otherwise confused and confusing mess in which the Middle East currently finds itself and, over and above that, the on-going tragedy that has befallen Syria.

Intended Audience

It is intended for Midshipmen majoring in History, Political Science, International Relations, Regional Studies -- and anyone interested in understanding what makes this important region a "tough neighborhood".

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Course Description

Possessing the two holiest sites in Islam as well as some of the largest petroleum reserves in the world, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia represents an important global power. This course examines the evolution of the Saudi state since its inception in the 1700s, with particular emphasis on the puritan Wahhabi Islamic movement on which it was founded. In the mid-eighteenth century Muhammed ibn Abd al-Wahhab founded on the Arabian Peninsula an Islamic reform movement that continues to shape the world today. From its beginning the movement proved controversial and violent, as adherents spread their faith and fury outward from the Nejd desert of central Arabia, evoking military responses from neighboring powers.

When in the 1920s the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz --Ibn Saud -- captured the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina, he enshrined there Wahhabism as the preferred strand of Islam, after which the ideas of the Puritan movement spread further around the world, intensified in the late 20th century as Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth and global influence grew. Today, adherents of widely dispersed Islamist movements harbor beliefs and practices, many violent, that stem in part from Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s teachings. This course aims to explore the history and ethical claims of the Wahhabi movement, many of whose adherents claim to represent orthodoxy in the contemporary Islamic world.

What You Will Learn

  • Understand the evolution of the Saudi state in its three iterations, from the mid-1700s to today.
  • Understand the central precepts of Wahhabi doctrine, and how they comport with, and diverge from, other interpretations of Islam.
  • Understand how 19th, 20th, and 21st century Islamic reform movements, as well as Western ideas, shaped -- and have been shaped by -- Wahhabism.
  • Recite the key milestones in the history of the Wahhabi movement, and how they have impacted the Arabian Peninsula region and the greater Islamic world, from the mid 18th century to the present.
  • Understand the long-standing and enduring relationship in Saudi Arabia between the Wahhabi clerical establishment and the House of Saud's princely leadership.
  • Understand how Wahhabi concepts of the just use of force contrast with those of the Western "Just War" tradition.
  • Analyze archival source documents to help discern the evolution of Wahhabism from the 18th to the 20th centuries.

Intended Audience

Anyone interested in the history of the Middle East, the history of Islam, and/or the evolution of Islamic extremism.

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Course Description

Samurai rank among the most widely recognized yet least understood figures in popular history. Spanning from the 8th to the 21st centuries, this course demystifies samurai and their successors--imperial Japanese servicemen--by examining materials drawn from successive eras of Japan's past. Course topics will include the Gempei War, the Mongol Invasions of Japan, Japan's "Age of Warring States," the political structures of Japan's 3 shogunate governments, the emergence of Japan's imperial military, and popular depictions of samurai that date to eras of war and peace.

Course materials include autobiographical writings, literature, military instructions, and diverse visual materials such as manga and film. Studying historical developments as well as real and imagined warrior traditions in Japan will enable you to develop your ability to analyze the often contradictory roles ascribed to and assumed by warfighters. In the process, this course challenges you to answer a key question: where did Japan's "samurai values" go?

What You Will Learn

  • How have militarized social concepts such as honor, shame, duty, and loyalty evolved over time?
  • How did modern forms of military institutions come to replace premodern martial practices?
  • What are some best practices to employ when distinguishing historical facts from historical representations?

Intended Audience

This class is designed for any student interested in learning more about Japan and its samurai and soldiers...oh, and ninja, too.

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Course Description

"The Golden Age of Piracy" explores the figure of the pirate in history from the sixteenth century through today. Who were the pirates of the early-modern seas, what did they do, and what did the rest of world think of their activities? Were they anything like the image they maintain in modern popular culture? This course, through reading relevant primary and secondary sources, will endeavor to answer these questions. We will sort out the differences between the "mythical pirate" familiar to today's public and the "historical" pirate of the early-modern era, and analyze how and why this "real" pirate has become distorted over time.

We also will learn about contemporary piracy and the role of the U.S. Navy in dealing with this growing problem, and analyze why piracy has erupted today and how it might be stopped. Finally, we will augment our knowledge of historiography and social scientific theory, learn about early-modern primary source materials, discuss the benefits and limitations of particular types of primary sources, probe the intellectual and cultural history of the modern West, and refine our analytical skills.

Intended Audience

For History majors or any interested students.

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Course Description

What is true, and how do we know it? Questions that have animated human production and being since the dawn of time.

We will look at examples of how people have attempted to answer these questions, from classical philosophical theorists like Descartes, physicists like Schrödinger, films like the Matrix, linguists like Saussure, and computer scientists like Turing.

Intended Audience

For History majors or any interested students.

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Course Description

This course uses soccer as a lens to explore world history since the late nineteenth century. Examining the intersection of soccer with colonialism, nationalism, war, gender, religion, and globalization, the course explains the centrality of sport to the human experience and its unexpected impact on a host of political, economic, and social issues.

This course tells the story of modern human history though the world's most beautiful game.

What You Will Learn

  • In this class, midshipmen will learn: how and why soccer became a global phenomenon and how soccer was mobilized in the cause of the titanic political struggles of the twentieth century.
  • Midshipmen will also gain a new perspective on the interconnectedness and shared experiences of our global world.

Intended Audience

This class is intended for all those midshipmen with a desire to take a more academic look at soccer's immense influence on world history.

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Course Description

Franz Fanon ends Black Skin, White Masks with these words: My final prayer: "O my body, always make me a man who questions!" This course follows Fanon and many others, tracing the lineage of their deep and sharp critique of the modern world, capitalism, and their hope for a better, socially just, future. "History is the subject of a construction whose site is not homogenous, empty time, but a time full by now-time," Walter Benjamin tells us. He writes of a person, a historical materialist in this case, who is "man enough to blast open the continuum of history."

For this course, we will be "human enough" to see what might be revealed should we blast open that continuum, and do so with a variety of approaches.

What You Will Learn

  • Explain important traditions of critical thought, including critique of capitalism, theories of imperialism, colonialism, and revolution, subaltern studies, and gender.
  • Think critically, welcome diverse historical interpretations as well as contradictory data, and appreciate complexity.

Intended Audience

This is a course that involves complex readings and thought. It is for anyone who is interested in exploring unique and challenging thoughts and perspectives that exist or have existed on the "radical left."

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Course Description

Beginning with prehistoric attitudes toward nature and the beginning of science in early Mesopotamia and Egypt, this course will examine the history of science (including forays into the history of medicine) up through the contemporary world. The first part of the course covers the Western natural philosophical/scientific tradition within its philosophical, cultural, religious, and institutional contexts starting with the ancient Greeks and ending in the late medieval period and increasing Western interaction with Islamic science.

The second part treats the evolution of scientific and philosophical knowledge between 1500 and 1700, the period of the Scientific Revolution. The third section incorporates specific episodes in the development of modern science including salient themes within the historiography of modern science such as gender, religion, popularism, and ideology.

What You Will Learn

By the end of this course, successful students will have a firm grasp of the history of science, historiographical themes within the field, and will have honed their analytical, research, and writing skills all of which are critical to their professional development and academic growth.

Intended Audience

For History majors or any interested students.

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Course Description

War, real war, involves "Breaking Things and Killing People – often in Large Numbers," a distinguished naval historian observed, and that is the subject of Total War. In sweeping terms, the course examines the divide between post-Napoleon century of general peace and limited conflicts for marginal goals waged by monarchies and cabinets, on the one hand, and the wars of democracies and passions of the first half of the 20 th century, on the other. The formation and dissolution of alliances, the high politics of command, generalship on the battlefield, and the sources of victory and defeat in battle and war are treated in detail.

Conflict became more lethal both to combatants and populations between 1815 and 1945 thanks not only to more ambitious war aims, but also to improvements in weaponry, for the smooth-bore cannon was replaced by fast-firing artillery, the flintlock musket was discarded in favor of auto-firing shoulder arms, and horses lost pride of place to motorized supply and mechanized armor. And revolutions in science and engineering transformed munitions: machined shells replaced iron round shot, air bombardment supplanted siege cannon, and entirely new munitions such as gas and atomic bombs appeared.

In short, Total War deals with one of the most peaceful centuries in human history – and the first half of one of the most violent.

Intended Audience

For History majors and anyone interested in learning more about modern warfare.

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Course Description

This course is a history of the United States Marine Corps from its founding in 1775 until the twenty-first century. Its purpose is to familiarize students with a basic narrative concerning the growth and development of the Marine Corps over time. Like the Army and Navy, the growth of the Marine Corps has coincided with the growth of American economic, military, and naval power. The Marine Corps is a military and naval institution and we will discuss how that peculiar amalgam of traditions and jurisdictions has affected the Marine mission, identity, culture, and history.

What You Will Learn

Students will learn how the Marine Corps evolved as a warfighting institution from the American Revolution to the 21st century. Along the way, students will investigate the social evolution (particularly along lines of race and gender) of the organization and pay particularly attention to the Corps' unique institutional culture.

Intended Audience

For History majors or any interested students.

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Course Description

Insurgency and counterinsurgency are hardly new phenomena. The purpose of this course is to provide an overview of the history, theory and doctrine of irregular warfare, with a focus on modern counterinsurgency warfare. The course will also explore factors that have influenced U. S. irregular warfare success/failure as well as introducing the concept of a globalized insurgency to prepare students for the challenges of dealing with emergent non-state entities.

For this course, we will be "human enough" to see what might be revealed should we blast open that continuum, and do so with a variety of approaches.

What You Will Learn

  • Context: Successful counterinsurgents must understand the operational and strategic environments, especially the socio-cultural aspects of the indigenous population groups. Additionally, insurgency and counterinsurgency may occur within the context of larger events or grievances.
  • Dynamics of Insurgency: The dynamics of insurgency are a framework to evaluate insurgencies over time. The dynamics include: leadership, objectives, ideology, operational approaches, external support, internal support, phasing, timing and organization.
  • Principles of Counterinsurgency: Certain principles of counterinsurgency provide a framework to evaluate specific campaigns over time. These principles include: understanding the strategic and operational environments, legitimacy, unity of effort, political primacy, intelligence driven operations, isolation of insurgents, expropriation of the insurgent cause, security under the rule of law, long-term commitment, management of the narrative and expectations, use of the appropriate level of force, learning and adapting as an organization, empowerment of the lowest levels in the chain-of-command and support of the host nation.
  • Efficacy: One of the key outcomes for this course is for the students to be able to evaluate the efficacy of specific insurgency and counterinsurgency campaigns. What worked? What did not? Why? These are key questions for your future.

Intended Audience

For History majors or any interested students.

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