Department of History

History Department Faculty (Fall 2015)

Welcome History Majors!

As usual, the UNCW history department will be an active place during the 2020-2021 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 Fall 2020 Semester

Fall & summer 2020 advising memo

  • HST 290 satisfies Information Literacy, Writing Intensive, and Explorations Beyond the Classroom University Studies Requirments:  
    • HST 290 – Historical Issues in the Modern Middle East: The Practce of History (McFarland)
      • This course will introduce students to the nature of historical inquiry and the historical methods used to make historical arguments by analyzing issues in the modern Middle East.  The course will work backwards in time, with students examining contemporary issues in this region and then pursuing their historical roots. 
    • HST 290 – History and Populaation (Chen)
      • This course aims at training the students to employ population data to analyze how the change of population in size, race, age, sex or structure has shaped modern history at both the macro and micro levels. The students will study the examples of population impact on world economy, global pandemics, national and political identities and family planning, and will write their own research paper on a topic relevant to population and history of any geographic region.
  • Classes of interest

    • HST 270 – Biotechnology and Society (Crowe)
      • Biotechnology pervades our modern world. Today, we exert significant control over reproduction and food production. We can test our DNA to tell us where we supposedly come from and who we are. We have mastered how to use organisms to produce alcohol, vaccines, and medicines. Biotechnologies are a thriving sector of our economy and are routinely pointed to as the key to our a future health and food security. Though they are often brought up in conversations about the future, biotechnologies have histories and those histories are important if we want to understand how they affect our world and their future directions. This class will examine the social, political, and technological forces that have generated many of our most well-known contemporary biotechnologies and how society has reacted to them. 
    • HST 270 – Trade and Contact in the Medieval World (Spaulding)
      • This course explores the extensive web of trade links and human contacts that characterized the Afro-Eurasian medieval world in the years between 1000 and 1500 as Indian pepper reached northern Europe, European cloth flooded the Middle East, Chinese porcelain arrived in East Africa, and West African gold flowed into the global economy. Merchants, captains, and sailors carried foreign goods over long distances to faraway markets, but trade also brought pilgrims, travelers, scholars, adventurers, diplomats, and missionaries as part of an extensive web of contacts.

        The recognition of a “global medieval” world has appeared only in the past few decades as evidence mounted for a new perception of the medieval period. The relatively higher degree of global interconnectedness in the period 1000 to 1500 is one important element that sets the medieval world apart from the ancient world that preceded it. In some respects we might view the medieval world as very distant and even primitive, for example in its meagre stock of medical knowledge. But in its patterns of trade and contact, the medieval period is easily recognizable as an important developmental phase in the long growth of the global economy, an essential step towards the globalized world economy that surrounds us today.

    • HST 270 – Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Era (Ellithorpe)
      • This course examines (1) the rise of Philip II of Macedon, (2) the life, career, and campaigns of Alexander the Great, (3) the creation, administration, and impact of Alexander’s vast empire as well as the cultural exchange that stretched from western Greece to the Indus River Valley. We will also explore (4) the succeeding era that followed Alexander’s premature death in 323 bc, the Hellenistic Age, wherein his leading generals carved up his empire into independent and ever-clashing kingdoms that would all, ultimately, clash with a new rising power from Italy, a previously insignificant backwater in the western Mediterranean, called Rome.
        This course maintains a deliberately tight focus upon a single historical figure and will use him as a point of departure for exploring a wide range of broader socio-cultural and economic developments, the role of inclusivity and multi-culturalism in a premodern context, and the insurmountable historiographical problems faced by historians, both ancient and modern, in properly assessing such a monolithic and influential individual.
    •  HST 329 – Science and Technology in the 20th Century (Crowe) 
      • Henry Ford’s system of mass production. Electrification. Eugenics. The atom bomb. The Green Revolution. Computers. 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 with reference and comparison to other areas of the world including Russia. No knowledge of science required. Be prepared, however, to see science and technology much differently after you’re done with this class.
    • HST 333 – American Social History (Hart)
      • This course explores the social history of America by examining the ways that people inhabit, imagine, and utilize spaces---urban and rural, private and public. Topics may include: the social history of urban centers, the expansion of suburbia, the architecture of the American home, the decline of the family farm, and the 3 transformation of recreational spaces. By exploring the social history of these spaces, we will better understand historical change and its implications for race, gender, class, and the environment in America.
    • HST 363 – History of Premodern East Asia (Chen)
      • This course traces the history of China, Japan and Korea from the beginning of their civilizations until they entered modern world around 1800. It will examine the dynastical changes in China, the rise and fall of Japanese aristocracy and samurai, the divisions to union of the Korean kingdom, and the interactions of the three countries in culture, politics and warfare. The course includes lectures, discussions, essays and midterm and final exams.
    • HST 372 – History of Modern Africa
      • Historical survey of African history from 1800 to the present with emphasis on the abolition of slavery and the slave trade; the scramble for Africa; establishment and operation of colonial rule; independence movements; and the post-colonial period.
    • HST 385 – Zionsim 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 – The Good, the Bad, and the Tyrannical: A Study of Medieval English Kings (Usilton)
    • A Study of Medieval English Kings.  In this course, an effort will be made to discover whether or not our modern perception of medieval English kings conforms to or is at variance with the literature of an earlier age.  In other words, why is it that Richard the Lionheart is seen as the epitome of a chivalrous knight?  Why, also, is it that King John, his brother, is traditionally seen as a monster?  To answer these questions, we will study both the works of medieval chroniclers and also the works of modern historians.
  • HST 454 – The American South: From Reconstruction to the Reagan Revolution (Gisolfi)
    • This course explores the social, political, and economic developments in the history of the American South since 1865. Specific topics covered include: Reconstruction, Redemption, Jim Crow, the New Deal, WWII, the Civil Rights Movement, the rise of the New Right, globalization, race relations, industrialization, and the question of southern distinctiveness. 
  • HST 478 – The History and Meaning of Things (Le Zotte)
    • The stuff of history is all around us— in what we eat and wear, where we live and play, and how we work and travel. This class will explore history through the lens of objects. Objects tell us of changes in human ideas, preferences, and perceptions about race, gender, class, and many other aspects of individual and communal identity. This term, we will focus specifically on the the material culture of death and dying, especially but not only, through an American perspective.* From urns and coffins to memorial objects such as hair jewelry, the ways in which things have helped people in different places and times ritualize mourning gives insight into cultural differences and similarities. For this course, your final major assignment will be the production of a podcast episode focused on a single object, for inclusion in the podcast Object Project.
    • *Specific topic may be subject to change
  • HST 487-001 – The Nation on Screen: Understanding Modern Indian History through Bollywood Films (Dhulipala)
    • This course will utilize Bollywood (popular Hindi cinema) as a mirror to understand political, economic, social and cultural continuities as well as changes that have happened in India over the last seven decades since it became an independent nation-state, free from British colonial rule. In this class we will explore how these films reflect and also shape the hopes and aspirations of millions of Indians besides providing at times the only common point of identification in a vast land with enormous diversities. The films that we shall watch, read about, analyze, and discuss, reflect certain themes that have acquired salience and hence are relevant for understanding Indian State, society, and popular culture. These include Partition, Nation Building, Development, Indian State and its Discontents, Elections and Indian Democracy, Religious Conflicts, Family in Modern India, Diaspora and the mother country, Empire & Cricket, etc. Students will watch films in class, participate in discussions that will reflect upon the readings that are relevant to the film (books, essays, and articles), write short response papers besides a final paper for this course. In addition to providing a window to understand culture, society and State of one of the most diverse countries in the world, this course will also be Fun!
  • HST 487-002 – British Imperial Culture (Townend)
    • This seminar will examine the impacts of the diverse British imperial system on both metropolitan and colonial cultures, with an emphasis on the impacts on political culture on British subjects around the world.

      Students will be provided with an overview of the development of empire from its 16th century roots, but our course will focus on the 19th and 20th century, including some of the immediate and long term impacts of decolonization. There will be an opportunity for students to develop research projects on topics of personal interest, including conflict and “martial races”, the development of political systems (local and transnational), migration, race and gender, and trading networks, to name just a few.

  • HST 495 – Christianity and the Roman Empire (Ellithorpe)
    • This course examines the history of Christianity in the broader Romano-Byzantine world. We will examine the Jewish roots of Messianic prophecy, the state of affairs between Rome and their Jewish subjects prior to the time of early Empire, the birth of Christianity, its spread, influence, and its underpinning theolog(ies), the reaction and response to the new sect by the Jewish and the broader Romano-Hellenic world. We will seek to understand how the early Church fathers formed and directed what would become one of the world's most significant institutions, including why certain ‘Christianities’ were stamped out from within. Significant emphasis will be placed upon Christian persecution by the Roman state, which could be bottom-up and top-down. We will seek to understand why a great number of Christians actively sought persecution and martyrdom. We will explore how the Roman administration evolved in its response to Christianity’s growing presence and how, ultimately, Christianity was adopted by Rome. We will explore Roman religious practice and how ‘pagan’ elements deeply penetrated Christian theology. We will seek to better understand the motivations of certain emperors who figure prominently in the (re)direction of the trajectory of Christianity (e.g., Constantine, Julian, Theodosius). This course will continue its survey into the Byzantine Empire. We will seek to understand how and why Latin and Eastern Christianity codeveloped and how, on the one hand, the ‘fall’ of Rome in 476 led to a spread of heresies as the ‘barbarian’ kingdoms took over the West, while, on the other hand, the East post-476 (Byzantine Empire) maintained relative consistency and homogeneity until the disruptive iconoclasm controversies, which lasted until ad 843, when the course concludes.

Class Updates for Summer 2020 

  • HST 271 – Appalachia: Cultural and Environmental History (Hart)
    • This course explores the social, cultural, and environmental history of the Appalachian Mountains. Home to the nation’s oldest mountains, Appalachia has played an important and often complicated role in the nation’s cultural and environmental imagination. In this class, we will look beyond Appalachian stereotypes to understand the diversity and richness of the region. We will also focus on the changes that have threatened and continue to endanger the region’s culture and ecology.
  • HST 295 – History of Modern U.S. Capitalism (Le Zotte)
    • This course explores the history of American capitalism from slavery to Starbucks. Chronologically, the course focuses mostly on the mid-nineteenth century to the present, after a brief introduction. Topics covered include the rise of big business and the corporatization of finance, the causes and the responses to the Great Depression of the 1930s, the rise of the United States as a global economic power in the post-World War II years, and the economic crises of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. We will focus on the effects of American capitalism on the social, political, and cultural structure of the United States. We will explore the culture of work and changes in attitudes towards labor, class, race, sexuality, and gender in a capitalist society, and the role of global imperialism in the expansion of American capitalism.
  • HST 329 – Haunted Histories: The Modern Supernatural, Science, and Society (Laursen)
    • Over the past 175 years, scientists, scholars, and paranormal enthusiasts have actively sought out haunted places. Various theories emerged about why people experience ghostly phenomena at specific locations: for example, that buildings and landscapes record and play back scenes from the past, that deceased historical actors become trapped in purgatorial limbo, or that psychic mediums can communicate with those who lived there in the past. Experiences of apparitions, uncanny feelings, and things seemingly moved by unseen forces have enticed locals and researchers alike to reach back into history to find clues and reasons for hauntings. Archives and oral history collection provide puzzle pieces which have created narratives to try and make sense of how past traumas haunt the present. In this summer course, students compare case studies of hauntings and their historical narratives to determine the roles of history, sciences, technology, religion, and reason in making sense of ghostly experiences. Students will each study a public site with a reputation for haunting (near to them or afar) and, step by step, excavate the making of hauntings in history and history in hauntings.


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.