History Course Descriptions

UC Irvine Student Center


Fall Quarter

Dept Course No and Title Instructor
The term “genocide” was coined in 1944 to describe “a crime without a name”: the destruction of a whole people by the Nazi regime. In 1948, faced with the horrors of mass killing in Europe, the whole world came together to sign a United Nations Convention against Genocide. Yet in the 50 years after 1945, the world stayed silent as millions were slaughtered in Cambodia, Bosnia and Rwanda.
Should we intervene to prevent genocide? After the military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, the West has little appetite for invasions. Few solutions have been offered to prevent genocidal murders in Syria or North Africa, now carried out not only by governments, but by terrorist groups like ISIS. Yet the past shows us that ignoring these warnings can lead to catastrophe.
This course will investigate the major instances of genocide since 1945, and why the world failed to intervene. It will explore the notion of Crimes Against Humanity, and ask whether greater attention to these crimes could help to stop genocide before it begins. The course will be focused on understanding the trauma and aftermath of genocide, and on preventing such crimes in the future.
What is terrorism? Why has it become such a defining feature of our world? Far from being a purely contemporary phenomenon, terrorism has a long history stretching back many centuries and emerging in its modern incarnations during and after the French Revolution of 1789. Yet its very definition remains disputed. Approaching terrorism as a contested and politicized category, this course surveys its history during the modern era, focusing on the late-nineteenth century through the present day. Using case studies from around the world, we will explore rationales and causes, programs and tactics, the role of state violence (including the history of “wars on terrorism”), and the functions of modern mass media – newspapers, fiction, films, the internet. Some of the specific contexts to be considered include revolutionary and national liberation movements, racialized violence in the US, colonial and post-colonial struggles, reactionary and rightist currents, and religion. In addition to a textbook (Randall Law, Terrorism: A History, 2nd edition, 2016), we will be discussing a wide range of primary sources, including manifestos, memoirs, and movies.
No detailed description available.
“What to eat?” is a question that humans have always asked in various contexts and for different reasons.  For those hunters and gatherers living many millennia ago, the questions reflecting the difficulty of obtaining the basic food to sustain the body.  For gastronomical commentators like Michael Pollan, it is a question about the choices that people make in an age of food abundance – choices that also have a profound social, political, and moral implications and consequences.  The United States is a nation of immigrants.  The question “what to eat” has been shaped by continuous waves of immigration.  This course explores the relationship between immigration and changing American foodways.  It will focus on the impact of several major culinary traditions of immigrants and racial minorities, including Asians, Mexicans, Italians, Irish, and Jews, on America’s gastronomical and socioeconomic landscape.  The class will also help students better understand the local communities in California.  Midterm and final exam.
No detailed description available.
How does the legacy of human evolution affect our world today?  How have technological innovations shaped human societies?  How have human societies explained the natural world and their place in it?  Given the abundance of religious beliefs in the world, how have three evangelical faiths spread far beyond their original homelands?
This class follows the major themes of world historical development through the sixteenth century to consider how developments in technology, social organization, and religion—from the origins of farming to the rise of Christianity—shaped the world we live in today.
This satisfies one course for G.E. category IV and VII.
This course fullfills the pre-1800 History major requirement.
No detailed description available.
This course examines the history of North America from its colonial origins through the 1790’s. The survey focuses on the major themes, ideas, attitudes, institutions, and elements that are part of the early American national development. We will study the combustible mixing of three cultural groups–Indian, European, and African–in these early centuries and trace their influences on the formation of a single country that emerged in 1776. Special emphasis is given to the multiple experiences of the various people living in early America, and the numerous narratives of colonial American history. Students are expected to attend lectures and required to participate in weekly discussion sections conducted by teaching assistants.
How can knowing about the past help us make sense of the confusing news events that dominate the headlines and drive discussions of international politics on the web?  What patterns continually appear when people who live in different parts of the world look at and try to understand the same outburst of violence or non-violent protest?  Are there techniques, such as playing accounts of the same event written by different sorts of authors off of one another, which can make one a more critical and careful consumer of news about the world?  These are the kinds of questions we will explore together in this class, which will include many presentations by specialists in the study of different parts of the world, as well as a librarian working on strategies for differentiating "fake news" from factual reports.  We will begin with a look back at how people living through some past crisis tried to make sense of what was occurring by focusing on how what they were experiencing was similar to and different from things that had happened before.  We will then concentrate for much of the quarter on trying to put whatever crises are in the news into perspective.
No detailed description available.
This class will visit  key historical controversies since the days of the Maya and Aztecs to today. We will explore how historical analyses have been used—and continue to be used-- for political ends and how politics affect historical analysis.  We will debate  the nature of pre-Columbian societies, i.e. the Aztecs, Maya and Incas, the  impact of European “conquest”,  the Black Legend (and tropicalia) and the African influence. Then we will turn to 19th century independence, liberalism, export economies (including slavery),and state formation, and move into 20th century revolutions, populism, the rise of military dictatorships during the Cold War, and Latin America’s relationship with the United States. We will consider topics on Argentina, Brazil, Central America,  Cuba, Haiti, Mexico and Peru as well as larger regional and global questions.

Due to an administrative mix-up, enrollment in this course is a little different than usual. Just worry about enrolling in a discussion and we will send you an authorization code to enroll in the lecture later!
The United States became a modern, urban-industrial society in the late 19th Century. This transformation changed the economic circumstances of many Americans and the broader social structure. It also inspired reformers, who hoped to transform the state to meet the challenges of a modern capitalist society. Crusading men and women sought better city services, protections for workers, environmental conservation, and government regulation of big business. However, their initiatives also reflected deep divisions in society with regard to income, race, ethnicity, and gender, and many seemed to reject modernization altogether. This course will examine America’s transformation between 1890 and 1920 with particular attention paid to the experiences of workers, women, children, and immigrants. History 100W fulfills the upper-division writing requirement for UCI and the historical writing requirement for the History Major with requirements that are set by the school and the department.  Our goal will be to analyze how historians approach a topic, examine evidence, and create arguments and students will demonstrate understanding through written work.
"The Craft of History Writing" will emphasize the teaching of "History Writing" from a writer's rather than from a historian's perspective.
Each week we will read one fully-realized historical essay, published in a contemporary, peer-reviewed historical journal and also one chapter from a book-length historical narrative, The Sea Captain’s Wife: A True Story of Love, Race, and War in the Nineteenth Century, by Martha Hodes.
And each week, through these works (all drawn from US history), we will focus on a different element of "craft" through which we can approach the different language, argument and research skills necessary to compose a compelling and academically credible essay in historical inquiry.

Your own writing will consist of focused reading responses, in-class exercises, and two essays. Your first essay, developed from response drafts, will be based on analyzing elements of craft exemplified by two or several of the class readings; the second essay will be devoted to applying these elements to a historical subject/text/period/area of your own choosing/specialization (which need not be drawn from US History); this second essay will be workshopped, substantially revised and resubmitted for a third grade.
The phenomenon first became noticeable during the First World War, but during the 1920s it was clear for all to see: the “New Negro” had arrived. Located mainly within the large urban centers of the North, such as Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and especially New York City’s Harlem, the “New Negro” was described by contemporaries as that segment of the black population that was more self-confident, more vocal and articulate in airing the grievances of “the race,” and more militant in the defense of his or her rights as a citizen than the “Old Negro” was. The self-styled “New Negroes” described themselves in identical terms. New journals, magazines and newspapers emerged that articulated this new outlook in urban black America. The Messenger, the Crusader, the Negro World, the Chicago Defender were the most widely read and well-known of these organs.
The course is primarily concerned with the making of the “New Negro.” It begins with an examination of the place of black people within American society at the turn of the century, analyses the profound changes brought about by the First World War, the epic movement of African Americans from the South (known as the “Great Migration”) and Afro-Caribbeans from the islands, and follows the “New Negro” movement to the end of the 1920s, the eve of the Great Depression. Throughout the course, attention will be paid to the inter-relationship between culture and politics, and in particular, how these two phenomena influenced and conditioned each other. The course aspires to place the remarkable black cultural outpouring of the 1920s, especially that of the “Harlem Renaissance,” within its proper political, economic and social contexts.
Medieval Spain: its northern part under Catholic rule and its southern part under Islamic rule was once home to the largest Jewish community of Europe, until the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. Through the centuries, the Jews of Spain and their descendants lived on the frontier between the Christian and the Islamic worlds, between Europe and the Middle East, between West and East. In the first half of this course, we will learn about Jewish life in medieval Spain up to 1492. In the second part of the quarter, we will follow the Spanish Jews into exile and see how they made a new home for themselves in cities around the Mediterranean and along the Atlantic seaboard. We will see how they forged a unique blend of Jewish, Arab, and Spanish culture that makes them unique in the Jewish world.
A survey of Persian history in the context of Late Antique and Medieval Islamic history.
Africa's western black rhino is now officially extinct according to a recent review of animals and plants by the world's largest conservation network. Why was this global news story reported out of London, rather than Cameroon or one of the neighboring West African countries that were once home to this species?
The politics of conservation loom large in the story of environmental change in Africa. This course will examine case studies that illuminate the multiple relationships human communities have formed with the natural world in Africa since 1600.
We will examine the continent's rich ecological diversity; legacies of European hunting, global demand for commodities such as gold, oil, and ivory; the specifics of indigenous environmental knowledge; and Africa's role in global environmental movements. We will also have the opportunity for hands-on engagement with O.C.-based environmental NGOs working in Africa.
Course material will include film, web-based resources, academic articles, recent journalism, and historical descriptions. We will engage with sources as diverse as eighteenth and nineteenth-century hunting records, African and European descriptions of African resource use, and the memoirs of individuals involved in conservation efforts. Most required course materials will be available as links from the course website (either to other websites or to PDFs for download).
This course introduces students to interdisciplinary ethical analyses of science. It explores the social role of scientific knowledge, focusing on the history of the biological sciences with special attention to gender, race, class, and empire. How does science influence everyday life? How do the priorities of a society shape its approach to science? Over the past two decades, ethical and diversity issues in the practice science have grown dramatically in importance. Scholars as well as policy makers and activists have argued that the views of practicing scientists, of social scientists, and of philosophers should inform one another. Any systematic social and historical understanding of the sciences requires us to use a wide range of disciplines. We will survey the history and politics of biology, with a focus on the sciences of sexuality, race, and the body, the readings are drawn from academic studies of history, culture, and politics.
The “American Dream” was first conceptualized by James Truslow Adams in 1931, who said that life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, regardless of social class or circumstances of birth. Many Americans have accepted this ethos as central to our democracy and believe that education is the basis for achieving it. This class will examine the relationship between public schooling and the promotion of democratic ideals in American society over the past two centuries. Students will explore the historiographical debates about the central goals and purposes of American public education and will consider whether those goals promote or contradict those of particular groups who seek to benefit from it.
No detailed description available.
This course seeks to understand how the Chinese-American Pacific Rim became a new center of gravity in our rapidly shifting globe.  It will look at the economic and cultural developments as well as interactions between the United States and China - now the two largest economies on earth - from the late 18th century to the present.  We will combine economic and cultural perspectives in an effort to understand the transpacific Sino-American world as a historically coherent region.  We will also seek to understand that world from the perspectives of an important but often overlooked group of players: Chinese Americans.  Topics include the following: pre-20th century encounters between “the World’s Oldest and Newest Empires;” US immigration policies; China's changing status in global geopolitics; education; the paradigm-shifting transformation of the Chinese economy; the political and socioeconomic changes of American society and economy, Orientalism; Chinatown and its meanings.
This course will study coffee's 500 year life in Ethiopia,  the Middle East, Indian Ocean, Europe, South  and North America and Asia. We will explore coffee's consumption and production to understand  its cultural, economic, social, political, ecological and medical consequences as we follow its path from African tree to a global commodity consumed in homes and cafes on six continents. Coffee in the US will be a particular focus and we will study Specialty Coffee and Fair Trade Coffee as well.
Post-emancipation and anti-colonial struggles ending with political independence for most of the region. Examines social, political, economic, cultural dimensions of post-emancipation period, including large-scale migration to Central America, the U.S., and Britain; the region's global cultural and political contribution.
No detailed description available.
Each week we will examine a different marginalized group within Japanese society as a means of  1) examining developments in Japanese history from the late nineteenth century to the present and 2) understanding how individuals operate within the distinctive framework of Japanese institutions and social networks.
The Russian Revolution of 1917 was a defining moment of the twentieth century that marked the birth of the world's first socialist state and inaugurated the ideological conflict of the Cold War. In fact, several separate revolutions occurred that year, from the overthrow of the monarchy in February through the Bolsheviks' seizure of power in October. This course, which marks the centenary of the 1917 Revolution, will dive deeply into the revolutionary year itself, exploring the historical context of autocracy, social change, and world war, the complex dynamics of mass social movements, the evolving tactics and platforms of political parties, and the dreams, aspirations, and fears that motivated ordinary people. The last few weeks of the course will then consider how the Revolution was subsequently remembered and commemorated, including in personal accounts, mass celebrations, and film; the final week will look at its legacies and meanings in Russia today.

For History 290: Graduate students taking this seminar will complete additional readings, and we will meet separately, either weekly or fortnightly. These additional readings will be tailored to the interests of students but may include theoretical and comparative works on revolution and the study of political culture.
How did enslaved women and men understand their selves within slavery? The course will explore how individuals articulated their identities within and beyond enslavement in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Cuba, Brazil, and throughout Latin America. Our task will be to explore how scholars investigate, build arguments, and write histories based on the documents available: judicial records, Inquisition cases, slave and free testimonies, and other primary sources. By asking how historians excavate their sources, we will explore questions such as: How did enslaved men and women claim communities within enslavement? How did distinctions of gender change the meanings of enslavement and freedom? What constituted resistance given the shared religious values of the enslaved and slaveholders? Who was a slave and why? How did women and men claim their bodies and their beings within and beyond slavery?

This is a seminar devoted to the discussion of assigned articles and books as we work to articulate the concerns and the politics of the current historiography. Students will lead discussion, submit weekly reading responses, and submit a historiographic essay and a research paper.

This course explores the interconnected histories of racial science and empire. Readings will focus on gendered and colonial contexts of European racial science in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Racial theories of European identity, American IQ, and Global North advancement were built on data gathered from non-western contexts. How can we understand the intertwined histories of science and the emergence of a racialized, gendered “Third World”? What do colonial and post-colonial historians have to say about science, and how have scientists played a part in the emergence of post-colonial politics?

A 1968 scientific symposium on race records a scholarly observation about primitive contexts: ”Where it is a duty to worship the sun, it is fairly certain to be a crime to study the laws of heat” (an “Englishman of letters,” cited in Mead et. al. 1968, p 177). We will examine the strategic importance of scientific fieldwork in primitive sites, as well as the intellectual histories of universal and local knowledge, rationality and worship, science and belief.

This is a special topics class, with a focus on gendered and imperial contexts of racial science. Since science is historically shaped by both theoretical and practical knowledge, students must be prepared to engage at all levels required by the primary texts: empirical, practical, and theoretical. We will address a range of canonical as well as non-canonical texts, ranging from “racial science” classics to popular commentary, fiction, and film.
Students learn to “do history” by working with professionals who work as public historians in settings other than the formal classroom.
“Doing history” does not mean memorizing past events but involves research, critical reading, analysis, and presentation of material. This internship program allows students to “do history” in public settings and in dialog with public audiences. It will improve students’ abilities to research and analyze historical questions and then to communicate them effectively in oral, visual, and written forms.
Students will select an internship from several partners with which the History Department collaborates.  They will each work in this partner institution with professionals who may be archivists, researchers, teachers, project advisers, or exhibit curators.  They will also participate in weekly on-campus workshops, where they will interact with their peer group to reflect on the kinds of histories being produced in their internship experience and thereby to deepen their understanding of historical analysis and modes of historical presentation.