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 Spring 2018 semester

Remember, we offer several classes each semester that have unique topics. Check out the list below to see what Spring 2016 has in store.

  • HST 290 satisfies Information Literacy, Writing Intensive, and Explorations Beyond the Classroom University Studies Requirments:
    • HST 290—001 and 002 Social Movements in the U.S. (Bredbenner)
    • HST 290 –004 Jewish Humor and History (Tanny)
      • Why are the Jews so funny? What is unique about Jewish humor? Why are so many comedians, satirical novelists, and film directors Jewish?  And why do Jews ask so many questions?  This seminar will explore the rich universe of Jewish humor.  We will trace its evolution from the Yiddish culture of the 19th-century shtetl all the way to 21st-century cinema and television, where Woody Allen, Jerry Seinfeld, Mel Brooks, and others have made American humor Jewish, and Jewish humor American.  We will probe the significance of the schlemiel, the schlimazel, and the schnorrer, and why these cultural archetypes which emerged centuries ago in Eastern Europe still have such resonance today.
  • HST 270 satisfies Living in a Global Society

    • HST 270 Global Issues in Historical Perspective: Historical Experiences of Public Health and Illness (LGS) (Amponsah, online)

  • Classes of interest
    • HST 206 History of Science II (Crowe)
      • A survey of the history of science from the Scientific Revolution till today. We will cover topics that will include the Enlightenment fascination with chemistry and physics, nineteenth century natural history, including Charles Darwin and evolution, Einstein and the quantum revolution, the creation and use of the Atomic Bomb, and the growth of post-WW biomedical sciences.
    • HST 208 Jewish History from 1492 to the Present (HPA and LGS) (Tanny)
      • This course will explore the rich history of the Jewish people from the Spanish expulsion in 1492 until the present day.  We will examine how the different Jewish communities across the globe have met the diverse challenges of a modernizing world.  Topics will include: the breakup of medieval Jewish communities; emancipation, cultural transformation, and religious reform; expulsions, migrations, and the building of new Jewish communities in new lands; assimilation and acculturation; anti-Semitism and the Holocaust; nationalism, Zionism, and the creation of modern Israel; diversity and unity across the global Diaspora.
    • HST 209 African American History (HPA and LDN) (Harris)
      • This course covers the scope of African American history and ideas from the pre-colonial American Era (1620-1680) to the present. Unlike some forms of history, which are little more than memorization of dates and events, the history of ideas instead asks students to assess and interact with the ideas and values of the culture in which they live. In an attempt to better understand the origins, development, structure, and progression of racial discourse and practice, this course analyzes the cultural politics and ideology of particular debates to comprehend the role these debates played in shaping arguments over what African American History represents in American society.
    • HST 295 Contemporary Issues in Historical Perspective: Custer and the Little Bighorn (La Vere)
      • We’ll be historical detectives and see if we can find out what happened to Custer and his men at the Little Bighorn in 1876. Custer, Sitting Bull, the 7th Cavalry, geography, tactics, weaponry, and Indian life will all come into play
    • HST 301 Foreign Policy of the US (Fain)
    • HST 317 Northern Ireland from 1880 (Townend and Masters)
      • This course, co-taught between Dr. Masters (in International Studies) and Dr. Townend (History)  looks at the history of Northern Ireland, with particular focus on the period of the “Troubles” (1966-1998). It involves committing to a study abroad experience (a week in Ireland, focused on visits to Belfast and Derry). Northern Ireland is a beautiful and fascinating place. Course themes include progressive social movements, violence, political resistance, terrorism and counter-terrorism, but also community-building and peace-making in difficult circumstances. Both Dr. Townend and Dr. Masters have spent a great deal of time in Northern Ireland researching these issues. Contact Dr. Townend or Dr. Masters if you have questions, and attend an info session if you can.
    • HST 321 History of Modern France (Seidman)
      • This course shall examine France from the late eighteenth century to the 1960s.  This course will focus on social history, but it will not ignore political, intellectual, religious, and economic developments.  Our goal is to explore how France, a “feudal” society in the eighteenth century, became a modern and powerful nation which participated in the industrial revolution, imperialist expansion, and the two great wars of the twentieth century
    • HST 329 Issues in Modern Science: The Supernatural, Religion, and Science in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century America (Laursen)
      • This hybrid in-class/online course examines the question "Why have modern Americans historically reveled in the weird and fantastical while simultaneously fearing and marginalizing it?” Students will explore primary sources, cultural depictions, and historical analyses on topics such as powers of mind, life after death, UFOs, and extraordinary dreams. Such encounters historically persist at the intersection of reported experiences, the boundaries of knowledge, and the cultural imagination. This is the History Department’s first “blended course.” There will be six in-class sessions over the Spring term, held on specific Tuesdays, 6:30-9:15 pm. Between each in-class session, there will be several weeks of online readings and discussions to historicize experiences, ideas, and studies of the supernatural.
    • HST 343 Wilmington: A Study in Development (Fonvielle)
    • HST 363 History of Premodern East Asia (Chen)
    • HST 377 Topics in International History: The Vietnam War (McFarland) This is an intensive, in-depth study of the Vietnam War covering the period from World War II to the reunification of Vietnam in 1975, though many events and topics before and after this period with be discussed to provide a proper perspective of the war and its implications.  The course will focus on historical background, colonization and decolonization, ideologies, causes, strategies and tactics, battles and campaigns, technologies, politics, culture and the arts (the music, film, and literature of the war and the anti-war), international relations, diplomacy, social impact, economics, and historiography (the battle over who won or lost the war and what should have been done). The course will answer the question, “Why did the United States win every battle of the Vietnam War, yet still lose the war?”
    • HST 388 History of the Middle East from WWI (TBA) (Online)

  • HST 400s satisfy Capstone Course and Writing Intensive requirements:

    • HST 408/548 Medieval Europe: “The Good, the Bad, and the Tyrannical”: Medieval Kings and Queens (Usilton)
      • This course looks at the kings and queens of medieval England from the time of Alfred the Great in the ninth century to 1485 in an effort to answer the question:  why do we regard these kings and queens as “good,” “bad,” or “tyrannical.”  To answer those questions, we will use a variety of primary and secondary sources. 
    • HST 414/554 World of Goods: Commerce, Commodities, and Consumption in Early Modern Europe (Mollenauer)
      • What can objects teach us about the social, political, and economic worlds of early modern Europe? How can the study of material culture serve as a source of knowledge about the past? To consider these questions, this class will examine the meanings and functions that Europeans attributed to consumption and consumer goods during the early modern era.  Our wide-ranging investigation will travel across three oceans and four centuries.  Among other topics, we will analyze the impact of the introduction and adoption of new and exotic goods such as chocolate and tobacco, how and why European attitudes to consumption and display changed over time, and the ways in which material goods developed and facilitated global networks of exchange.  
    • HST 450/529 US Intellectual History: Social Justice and Liberation Struggles (Harris)
      • In an attempt to better understand the origins, development, structure, and progression of racial social movements and practice, this seminar course analyzes the cultural politics and ideology of particular debates to comprehend the role these debates played in shaping current arguments over what social justice and liberation means in American society. The fundamental premise upon which this class rests is that social justice in modern American society has long been characterized by diversity, that “whites” and “people of color are multiple in their roots and multiple in their branches, and that this multiplicity has been evident in virtually every aspect of their culture and in the social institutions they have constructed since arriving in this country in the seventeenth century. The debates in this class offer a lens on how different voices and viewpoints have shaped public opinion in modern American history. 
    • HST 454 US Regional History: National Parks (Hart)
      • This course will explore the nation's national parks through the lens of environmental history. We will explore issues such as tourism, endangered species, predators, park management, and historical preservation. This course will also incorporate fields trips as a means of understanding the relationship between history and ecology.
    • HST 497/597: Topics in Asian History: Gandhi and Modern India (Dhulipala)
      • This course will examine the life and ideas of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948), also known as Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi is best known as the architect of the philosophy of non-violence and the pre-eminent leader of India’s Independence movement. However, Gandhi was not just a political leader actively involved in the freedom struggle, but also a spiritual thinker, a social reformer, a critic of modernity and industrial civilization, a journalist, and above all a grand experimenter in the pursuit of Truth. Gandhi’s writings were not just confined to politics but spanned a wide array of subjects ranging from sexuality to vegetarianism, from the importance of spinning charkha to the cleaning of latrines. The course will therefore contextualize Gandhi in his times and ours, focus on some of his most important ideas, look at how they evolved and changed as he moved ‘from truth to truth’. Gandhi was a hugely inspirational figure but he also generated harsh criticisms, huge debates, and controversies in his lifetime and continues to do so in ours as well. We will also therefore examine the writings of those who were inspired by Gandhi in India and outside, whether they agreed or disagreed with him.

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.

Dr. Chen is on leave during the Fall 2017 semester.

Dr. Gisolfi is on leave during the Spring 2018 semester.