Department of History

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

Welcome History Majors!

As usual, the UNCW history department will be an active place during the 2019-2020 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 2019 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 The Internal Combustion Revolution (McFarland)
      • This course will employ historical inquiry and the techniques and methods of history to explore the Internal Combustion Revolution of the 20th century.  The primary focus will be on the automobile and airplane, pursuing the technological, cultural, social, artistic, political, economic, environmental, and military history of the internal combustion engine.  How can we understand rock ‘n’ roll, “two cars in every garage,” “flight as a veritable religious cause,” strategic bombing, interstate highways, fast food, suburbia, autopia, women’s liberation, regular and premium gasoline, speeding tickets, motels, the sexual revolution, lead poisoning, smog, and lawns without examining the impact of the Internal Combustion Revolution?
    • HST 290 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 arguments over what social justice means in American society. The debates in this class offer a lens on how different voices and viewpoints have shaped public opinion in modern American history. The course is not intended to be a complete or linear history of the push for social justice and liberation in modern America society. Indeed, the thematic divisions of the course are not intended to suggest a natural unity inherent in the body of global discourse as a whole. Rather, the divisions are intended to suggest those ideas that most consistently informed American history during the second half of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first century.
  • HST 270 satisfies Living in a Global Society

    • HST 270 Global Issues in Historical Perspective: Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust (LGS and HPA) (Tanny)
      • Anti-Semitism has often been called “the longest hatred.”  Seemingly irrational hostility toward the Jewish people can be traced from Antiquity to the twenty-first century, with the Holocaust, the Nazi-sponsored systematic genocide of the Jews, standing out as the most cataclysmic series of event in this traumatic history. Although our main focus will be on the period from 1933 to 1945, covering Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, through the Nazi conquest of Europe, and the subsequent segregation, dehumanization, and murder of the Jews, we will situate Nazi Germany and the Holocaust in the larger historical context of anti-Semitism. We will examine the Judeophobia of the Middle Ages which culminated in the massacres of the Crusades and the Inquisition, the racialization of “the Jew” in modern European politics, and the astonishing revival of Jew-hatred in present day America.
    • 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.
  • Classes of interest

    • HST 205: History of Science I: Antiquity to the Scientific Revolution (Crowe)
    • HST 207 Jewish History to 1492 (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 271 – Topics in U.S. History: Sport and Social Justice: The Black Athlete and American Liberation Struggles (Harris)
      • This course explores the relationships between race and sports since the 1960s to ascertain if (and how) some of the activities in the realm of sport made a productive contribution to the larger struggle for African American freedom and justice. The notion that sport is a positive, progressive force for African Americans and race relations in general is an idea—or, in social scientific parlance, an “ideology”—that resonated deeply in contemporary American popular culture. In an attempt to better understand the origins, development, and structure of the race-based athletic protest that had emerged in the United States in the late 1960s (the movement that has come to be called the “revolt of the black athlete), this HST 279 course analyzes the larger context of social and intellectual messages conveyed by writers, scholars of sport and race that inform how we thing about sport and history. That is, this class asks, “Why study the relationship between race and sport? The examination of this question offers an informative and provocative account of how the perception of the revolt of the black athlete (perceived or otherwise) has been transformed in the course of the early 20th century. With your final research paper, you will have made an original contribution to the historiography of this topic.
    • HST 292 - The Making of Modern India and Pakistan (Dhulipala)
    • HST 301 – U.S. Foreign Policy Since the Progressive Era (Fain)
    • HST 306 - Ancient Greece and Rome (Ellithorpe)
    • HST 354 – The Antebellum U.S. (Zombek)
      • What characterized life in the American nation, particularly in the North, from the end of the American Revolution to the Civil War? Learn how northerners responded to the creation of the new American nation by pushing for westward expansion, championing the abolition of slavery, and transitioning to a market economy inspired by roads, canals, and railroads. This progression occurred in the midst of the rise of partisan politics and political parties, the expansion of suffrage, and religious revival and reform movements, as women, African-Americans, and Native Americans strove to harness the ideals of republicanism to argue for their own political rights.  
    • HST 377 -Topics in International History: Warfare in the Ancient World (Ellithorpe)
    • HST 394 – Europe in the Age of Absolutism and Enlightenment (Mollenauer)
      • This course will focus on the social, political, and cultural history of western Europe from the age of religious wars to the era of the French Revolution.  We will analyze the dynamics of historical change in the 17th and 18th centuries through the writings of both modern historians and contemporary figures.  Readings will examine major events and developments including the rise of absolutism, the intellectual and cultural currents that contributed to the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment, and the impact of the French Revolution.  We will also explore such topics as the persistence of magical belief, the birth of consumer society, and the evolution of the concept of human rights. While there will be occasional lectures to provide background information, this class will be conducted primarily as a seminar in which students are encouraged to raise issues to discuss. 
    • HST 398 – Europe in the Age of War and Dictatorship (Seidman) 
      • We will explore the social, political, and economic history of Europe from the origins of the First World War to the end of the Second World War.  The course begins with World War I and shows how communism and fascism developed from the consequences of this conflict.  The Great Depression brought about massive economic disruption in key European nations and helped to provoke the rise of Nazism and the Popular Fronts.  Subsequent economic, political, and social forces led to World War II and the Holocaust.   

HST 400s satisfy Capstone Course and Writing Intensive requirements:

  • HST 408 – The Black Death and Fourteenth-Century England (Usilton) 
    • In the mid-fourteenth century, a terrible pestilence called the Black Death swept out of Asia and into Europe where it killed an estimated twenty to thirty percent of the population.  The loss of so many people had a tremendous impact on the people and institutions of the day.  The business of government moved more slowly, wars with fought with greater difficulty, travel was not always safe, and manorial lords struggled to find workers to replace the deceased.  Many felt the disease presaged the end of time.  Matters were made worse by the fact that the pestilence would return many times over the next three centuries. Using primary accounts and various books and articles written on the subject in the modern era, we will take a long, hard look at the various ways in which life was impacted in medieval England.
  • HST 442 – The American Dream: An Economic and Social History of the 20th Century United States (Gisolfi)
    • What is the American Dream? Satisfying, remunerative work and the promise of upward mobility? The material and psychological security provided by comfortable housing, nutritious food, good health, and educational opportunities for one's family? The pleasures of enjoying leisure time and stimulating entertainment, rather than having one's life defined entirely by work?  This course will explore the struggles, conflicts, and achievements of the workers, managers, consumers, political leaders, intellectuals, and participants in mass social movements who defined and redefined the American Dream over the course of the twentieth century.
  • HST 444 – U.S. Political History: Roots of American Democracy (Houpt)
    • What exactly does American democracy mean? What do terms including “liberty,” “freedom,” and “equality” mean? Such seemingly basic questions can be surprisingly difficult to answer. How these terms are defined, however, has a profound impact on what we think about America (both past and present). To help shed light on these, and other, foundational questions, this class will explore the intellectual and political debates surrounding the American Revolution and ratification of the Constitution. In particular, it will focus on the struggle to establish a government based on the principle of popular sovereignty that balanced the desire to protect individual liberties with the need to preserve order. The class will rely heavily on primary sources, and students will be encouraged to think through some of the larger questions about the nature and scope of self-government raised during the Revolution. We will read a selection of writings by philosophers including John Locke and Montesquieu that influenced the thinking of the first generation of Americans, and we will analyze some of the most important political tracts from the era of the American Revolutionary. By the end of the semester, students will have gained a more complete understanding of the ideological origins of this country and have a new appreciation for how the institutions and practices of American democracy took shape.
  • HST 456 – An Environmental History of America's Mountains (Hart)
  • HST 478 - The History and Meaning of Things (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 units ranging topically from toys to war, students will produce their own historical interpretations of “things,” as well as a podcast episode in collaboration with classmates. 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.

Faculty and Staff Updates

Dr. Angela Zombek has joined our department. She specializes in Civil War Era history.

Dr. David Houpt has joined our department. He specializes in the American Revolution and Early National Period.

Welcome! UNCW is lucky to have you.