Department of History

History Department Faculty (Fall 2015)

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.



Class Updates for Spring 2020 Semester

  • HST 290 satisfies Information Literacy, Writing Intensive, and Explorations Beyond the Classroom University Studies Requirments:  
    • HST 290 - Rock 'n Roll & American Society (Zombek)
      • This course introduces students to the nature of historical inquiry and the historical methods used to craft historical arguments by analyzing the Rock ‘n Roll artists, songs, and moments that reflected and shaped American culture, society, and politics. 
    • HST 290 - The Return of Slavery to Twentieth-Century Europe (Seidman)
      • This research seminar will examine work and labor during the Armenian genocide, Italian Fascism, Russian Communism, German Nazism, Spanish Civil War, World War II, and the Holocaust.  
  • Classes of interest

    • HST 204 - Women, Gender, and Sexuality in America (Le Zotte)
      • HST 204 will cover major changes in America attitudes, ideologies, and actions regarding the status and accomplishments of women. The course will also consider broader shifts in perceptions of sex and gender, including laws and cultural ideas regarding homosexuality and medical opinions about gender identity. Social movements, from the women's rights movement beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, to ongoing gay and transgender rights movements, will also be discussed. 
    • HST 208 - Jewish History from 1492 to the Present (HPA and LGS) (Tanny)
    • HST 271 – History of Elections and Political Parties in America (Houpt)
      • This class will explore the evolution of American political practices from the colonial era to the present. Specifically, it will focus on a series of especially consequential elections including the presidential elections of 1800, 1824, 1860, 1876, 1960 and 2000. Topics we will discuss include the general theory of representative government, emergence and development of political parties, changes in who is entitled to vote, the role of media, and evolving approaches to campaigning.
    • HST 329 - Superhumans: Medicine, Mind, and Body in the Modern World (Laursen)
      • How have humans shown mental and physical qualities that make them stand out as “superhumans”? As if they were somehow magical, these people can do things that most others cannot. We will study how certain people’s exceptional qualities make them culturally powerful or even mythic like superheroes — such as savants, psychics, and super athletes. Over the past two centuries, the medical world both celebrated and marginalized such people, elevating human abilities and how we understand them like never before but also bringing social apprehensions and even harm. Topics of historical study include mesmerism, hysteria clinics, eugenics, human potential, psychosomatic medicine, altered states of consciousness, and biotechnologies. 
    • HST 332 - American Environmental History (Hart)
    • HST 343 - Wilmington: A Study in Development (Saunders)
    • HST 377 - History of the Early Roman Empire (Ellithorpe)
      • The course focuses upon Imperial Rome from A.D. 14 to 235. The performance of certain emperors is discussed but the emphasis is upon a range (inevitably far from complete) of interconnected social, administrative and economic themes.  There is wide-ranging investigation of how Imperial power was self-fashioned, communicated, and wielded by various emperors and the Imperial court as well as how powerful women often adjusted and (re)directed the trajectory of imperial policy.  We will look to see how the provinces and cities of the Empire were governed, defended, and taxed, and of how several significant services were provided – among them, transport, supply of food staples, and child allowances.  The nature and values of society are probed through exploration of such varied topics as the character of 'Roman' religion; the status and role of slaves and ex-slaves; the activities of sophists; and the interaction of communities and the authorities with Christians.

        The fascinating world of Rome is likely to emerge as both less familiar, and less easy to understand, than might have been anticipated.  The course is intended to stimulate students to form their own conclusions about the merits and limitations of the early Roman Empire as (among much else) a well-ordered state and a cohesive society.  Critical exploitation of original source material, both literary and non-literary (all in translation), is an important component throughout.  

HST 400s satisfy Capstone Course and Writing Intensive requirements:

  • HST 414 – Food in European History, 1200-1800 (Mollenauer) 
    • The study of food sheds light on broad social, cultural, and economic trends even as it allows for a close examination of almost every aspect of everyday life in the past.  After all, over the course of human history, the central preoccupation of most people has been producing, processing, and consuming food. Our investigation into the history of food between 1200 and 1800 will take us across three oceans and six centuries.  We will analyze such topics as the impact of new foods on premodern European taste and diet, the relationship between food, health, and medicine, and the role of food in constructing identity.  We will also study the ways in which changes in food production and consumption transformed social relations, facilitated global networks of exchange, and radically altered the environment.
  • HST 456 - Animals in American Environmental History (Laursen)
    • Over the past decade, the study of animals as historical subjects has gone mainstream. Studying animals as historical actors has expanded and deepened the practice of history from below. It has enhanced understandings of historical relationships between humans, non-humans, and ecosystems – the very core of environmental history. But how do historians do it? We will historicize animals as shapers of American history focusing on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Historical methods interrogate who has been considered a person or being with agency and who has not, issues that have contributed to bigger debates on human and non-human rights, consciousness, and nature. To inspire students’ original research, we will examine how practicing historians have studied working animals, livestock, animals as entertainment and pets, feral animals, and urban animals as significant to the American past.
  • HST 495/INT 495 - War and Diplomacy in Europe, 1750-1856 (Spaulding HST, Masters INT)
    • The revolutionary Era of 1750-1850 transformed nearly every aspect of war and diplomacy in Europe.  Ironically many of these key developments remained understudied, especially in the field of international relations (IR). This course offers and in-depth examination of these profound changes using a combination of historical and IR scholarship.  Major themes include sources of international stability and instability, linkages between equilibrium on the domestic and international levels, and explicit comparison of historical and IR approaches to the era.  Student will engage common readings and produce an individual research paper. As a centerpiece of the seminar, each student will frame and pursue her/his own research question attached to the themes of war and diplomacy (broadly defined) in this period
  • HST 495 – Jewish Humor and History: From the Shtetl to Seinfeld (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 496 – The Darwinian Revolution (Crowe)
    • Since the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species in 1859, the theory of evolution has provoked controversy and consideration within both the scientific community and society at large. Evolution has been debated and considered by academics in not only the biological disciplines, but also in economics, psychology, literature, and many others. Even before Darwin's major work, concepts of organic evolution stoked controversy within the clergy that still exist to this day. In this class, we will look at the history of the theory of evolution, beginning with Darwin and his work in the Victorian context and ending with discussions of how evolutionary theory has been applied (with significant controversy) to explain human behavior. During the semester we will not only trace how scientific discussions surrounding the theory of evolution have changed, we will also look carefully at how evolution has been incorporated into social policy in the form of eugenics and also sparked controversy in the classroom.

Faculty and Staff Updates

Dr. Corey Ellithorpe has joined the department for the 2019/2020 academic year.  He specializes in the history of ancient Rome.