Department of History

History Department Faculty (Fall 2015). Not pictured: Drs. Jennifer Le Zotte, Yixin Chen, Venkat Dhulipala, Chris Fonvielle, and Eva Mehl.

Welcome History Majors!

As usual, the UNCW history department will be an active place during the 2017-2018 academic year. We'll be offering many new classes, leading great public discussions, publishing new materials, and offering lots of opportunities for you to learn more about history.


Some interesting career news - according to the last survey of recent graduates, the History department is the department in the College of Arts and Sciences with the HIGHEST PERCENTAGE of our former majors in graduate programs. These include programs in Law, International Relations, and Education as well as History programs. Nearly 40% of our graduates wind up in graduate school. We will have some opportunities this year for majors to learn more about graduate school options in many areas.

Class Updates for Fall 2018 semester

Remember, we offer several classes each semester that have unique topics. Check out the list below to see what next semester has in store.

  • HST 290 satisfies Information Literacy, Writing Intensive, and Explorations Beyond the Classroom University Studies Requirments:


    • HST 290 Major Political Crises and Controversies in U.S. History (Bredbenner)
    • HST 290 Sports and Social Justice: The Black Athlete and American Liberation Struggles (Harris)
      • In an attempt to better understand the origins, development, structure, and progression of racial social movements and practice, this HST 290 course, Sports and Social Justice (The Black Athlete and American Liberation Struggles), analyzes the cultural politics and ideology of particular debates to comprehend the role these debates played in shaping arguments concerning the interconnections among athletic sports, race, and the push for social justice in American society. 
      HST 290 The American Environmental Movement (Hart)
      • This course will require to students to read and examine a range of primary and secondary sources in order to better understand the forces that gave rise to the modern environmental movement after World War II. In this course. We will focus on the intersection of ecology, culture, politics, and society and cover issues including the impact of Silent Spring, the Wilderness Act, Endangered Species, and the Clean and Water Act.
  • HST 270 satisfies Living in a Global Society

    • HST 270 Global Issues in Historical Perspective: History of Drugs and Drug Trafficking in Latin America (LGS and HPA) (Mehl)
      • This course focuses on the history of mind-altering drugs in the continent of the Americas. Psychoactive drugs have not always been connected to crime. Moreover, they have long played a pivotal role in human societies: in connecting peoples and economies and in defining the frontiers of medicine, law, and recreation. We will move from the pre-Columbian usage of psychoactive drugs to European colonialism, when some stimulants (coffee, tobacco, yerba mate, cacao) turned into items of globalizing imperial commerce (commodities). In the 19th century, drugs such as marihuana, opiates and cocaine slowly moved from a medicinal context into a recreational one with increasing popular consumption. Gradually, these drugs were criminalized and drug-control regimes emerged. Finally, we will analyze how a definitive division between illicit and licit drug cultures emerged and an era of global, illicit drug trafficking started in the 1940s. Topics of study will be the ‘cartel’-ization of the trade and the drug wars that have engulfed the US, Mexico, Colombia and other Latin American regions that have become transit zones.
    • HST 270 Global Issues in Historical Perspective: Sports and History (LGS and HPA) (Harris)
      • In an attempt to better understand the origins, development, structure, and progression of racial social movements and practice, this seminar course, Sports and History, analyzes the cultural politics and ideology of particular debates to comprehend the role these debates played in shaping arguments concerning the connections between United States sports, race relations, and the push for social justice in American society.

  • Classes of interest

    • HST 204: Women in Modern America (Bredbenner)

    • HST 205 History of Science I (Crowe)

    • HST 207 Jewish History from 1492 to the Present (HPA and LGS) (Tanny)
      • This course will examine Jewish history from the Bible until the early 1500s. We will begin by exploring the emergence of the ancient Hebrews, the first monotheistic people, whose religion fundamentally transformed life in the ancient near east. We will compare and contrast the Jewish encounter with the great civilizations of the pre-modern era, including the Roman Empire, the world of Islam, and Catholic Europe. As the Jewish people migrated to distant lands – to Persia, to North Africa, to Spain, and to Poland – their customs and values evolved to meet the needs of their new environments. Jewish life before modernity was characterized by its great diversity. Yet amid this great diversity the Jews always possessed a sense of unity, sustained by their religion and by the cherished memory of their mythic origins in the biblical days of the patriarchs and the prophets.
    • HST 326: Russia and the Soviet Union since 1881 (McCaffray)
      • This is a whirlwind tour of the collapse of Russian monarchy, the Revolutions os 1917, the invention of the Soviet Union, the catastrophe of Stalinism, World War II, post-Stalin efforts at reform, and the eventual collapse of Soviet communism and of Europe's oldest empire. Readings emphasize the diversity of voices among the millions of people whose lives intersected with this often tragic history.
    • HST 353: The American Revolution and the Formation of the U.S. (Houpt)
      • In the summer of 1776, a group of colonists in Philadelphia did the unthinkable—they declared their independence from Great Britain, then the world’s most powerful nation, and established a representative government. It is easy to lose sight of that fact that this was an experiment with no guarantee of success. England, after all, had the most powerful military in the world and significant portions of the American public remained loyal to the British monarchy. The greatest philosophers had also concluded that republics were weak and could only work in small areas. America, as we know, survived its rocky first few years but, as the dust settled, the new nation was forced to confront a basic question: what did the Revolution actually accomplish? Was it just a change in government, or was it about something bigger? Who got to decide? In this course we will explore social, political, economic, and intellectual environment of America during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. We will utilize both primary and secondary sources to consider this era from the “top-down” by looking at the “founding fathers” and from the “bottom-up” by viewing the lives of ordinary white men and women, slaves, and Native Americas.
    • HST 355: Civil War and Reconstruction (Zombek)
      • The Civil War attracts broad popular and scholarly attention.  This course examines the political, cultural, and economic differences that threatened the life of the young republic; analyzes battles and changing military tactics; considers how civilians responded to the conflict on the home front, and details the successes and failures of Reconstruction, which ultimately set the tone for race relations in the twentieth century.  We will move thematically and chronologically to see how the war shaped - and was shaped by - Northern and Southern politicians, men in the ranks, and women on the home front (and occasionally on the front lines).  Finally, we will examine how the war and Reconstruction changed civilians' assumptions about the proper role of the federal government in American life. 
    • HST 360: History of Modern China (Chen)

    • HST 376: Slavery, Abolition, and Work (Seidman)
      • This course will explore the related topics of slavery, abolition, and work from the ancient world to the present in a global context.  
    • HST 377: Topics in International History: Science and Technology in the 20th Century – An International Perspective (Crowe)
      • Henry Ford’s system of mass production. Electrification. Eugenics. The atom bomb. The Green Revolution. Genetic engineering. All of these major developments in science and technology that transformed the United States also had profound effects throughout the rest of the world. In this class we will not only look at the history of science and technology in our American context, but we will also analyze these developments in a variety of political, social and cultural settings such as Soviet Russia and colonial and post-colonial Africa, South America, and Asia. No knowledge of science required. Be prepared, however, to see science and technology much differently after you’re done with this class.
    • HST 385: Zionism and Israel (Tanny)
      • For nearly two centuries, nationalism has proven to be one of the most powerful political ideologies, first emerging in nineteenth-century Europe. Zionism – the idea that the Jews are a nation entitled to a state of their own – was born in this environment, and the Jews who embraced it launched a revolution that challenged and ultimately transformed Jewish culture, religious practices, identity, and politics. This course will examine the birth of Zionism, how it fueled the migration of the Jews to the Middle East, and how it led to the establishment of Israel in 1948, the first Jewish state in 2000 years. We will then look at the ways in which Zionism has shaped politics and daily life in Israel, the ongoing conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the place of Israel in the larger context of a global Jewish community, and the rich culture Israelis have created during their homeland’s brief yet turbulent history.

HST 400s satisfy Capstone Course and Writing Intensive requirements:

  • HST 408/548: Medieval Europe: Monks and Monasteries in the Middle Ages (Usilton) 
    • A study of monks and their numerous contributions to medieval society.  Among other things, the monks wrote the histories of the day, served as advisors for kings and queens, built cathedrals and churches, farmed the land, managed huge flocks of sheep, provided alms for the poor, lodging for pilgrims, and a relatively safe haven for those who wished to take the vows and serve God.
  • HST 440: U.S. Social History: The US Civil Rights Movement (Gisolfi)
    • This course examines the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. The first half of the course is an in-depth and interdisciplinary examination of the rise and fall of the Civil Rights Movement—what participants called “the Freedom Struggle”—in the United States. After a brief background on Reconstruction and the rise of Jim Crow and the roots of the Movement, our readings will explore the philosophy of non-violence, black power, the role of gender, and the backlash against the Movement and the rise of the Right. In the second half of the semester, students will write a history research paper (20 pages).
  • HST 478: Interpreting U.S. Material Culture: History and Meaning of Objects (Le Zotte)
    • For centuries, humans have surrounded themselves with objects which affect and reflect their specific historical moment. The aim of this course is to introduce students to the historical study of physical objects. To explore some of the ways that material culture can illuminate the past, we will learn from objects as tiny as a button and material systems as comprehensive as slave plantations, from across the world and over centuries. We will read studies produced by scholars in a wide range of humanities and social science disciplines showcasing material culture analysis. Guided by those examples, students will produce their own historical interpretations of “things.” This course will be helpful not only to students interested in incorporating material culture into more traditional historical sources, but also to those considering a career in public history.
  • HST 487: Topics in Global History: Warfare in the Global Human Experience (McFarland)
    • This course will be presented in an asynchronous format, meaning there will be no specific times for students to meet online.  The course will investigate the human experience with war on a global scale; the study of world societies in conflict with other societies and with themselves.  The course studies the ways societies respond to change, but also how societies initiate and distribute those changes over time through warfare.  It focuses on the conduct of war through the ages, examining how war reflects the values of the societies engaged in it, but also the impact war has had on human societies.  The course adds a thematic approach to global history, tracing history through a military lens focused on the impact geography, climate, gender, religion, art, music, political structures, social systems, economic systems, and especially technology have had on warfare, but also the impact the military and war have had on these aspects of world societies.  The primary pedagogical approach will be the case study, focusing on the development and impact of the chariot, the Greek phalanx, the Roman legion, and the Eurasian steppe nomads; the rise of the nation state and the revolution in military affairs; the great captain theory with a special focus on Robert E. Lee; and the controversy over how to end the Allied war with Japan in 1945.

Faculty and Staff Updates

Dr. Jennifer Le Zotte has joined our department. She specializes in public history and material culture. We're excited to have her on board.

Dr. Rob Hart has become a full-time member of the department. He specializes in environmental history and history of the south.