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Research Seminars (4930s) for Spring 2019

AMH4930 The Watergate Crisis                                                         Tues 8-10
Instructor: Dr. Bill Link                                                             Keene-Flint 117
On June 17, 1972, five men were arrested in a bungled burglary of the Watergate, a Washington, D.C., complex housing the Democratic National Committee.  Although the extent of involvement by the Richard Nixon reelection campaign remained, for months, immediately unclear, eventually the break-in, and the attempt to cover it up, brought down the Nixon presidency. This seminar examines the crisis by exposing students to the rich primary sources that document it.


AMH4930 The Making of Modern America                                         Tues 8-10
Instructor: Dr. Ben Wise                                                               Matherly 010
This course is an in-depth exploration of the emergence of modern America in the late 19thand early 20thcenturies. Situated between Reconstruction and the Great Depression, how might we best understand this period?  The period witnessed both radical experimentation and conservative retrenchment; an enormous accumulation of wealth and grinding poverty; hopes for peaceful democracy and political violence, racial violence, and world war.   While complex historical developments have been reduced to labels such as “The Gilded Age,” “The Jim Crow Era,” or even “Modern America,” we will seek to develop a more nuanced portrait of American life in this time.

Looking at historical literature written about the United States during this period, this senior seminar will closely explore what historians have argued about the central developments of the era—in culture, society, and politics—to better understand the emergence of “modern America.” The course will focus on several animating questions: What exactly is “modernity” in the context of American history? In what ways did individuals seek to make meaning, find moral guidance, and maintain cultural traditions in an age of increasing secularization, mobility, urbanization, and pluralization? What was the role of violence in social change? How did the relationship between the individual and society change in this period? The readings in the course will expose to students to the main themes of the period, and students will develop a final research paper using original, primary sources.​


EUH4930 Twentieth-century European Migrations                                Weds 4-6

Instructor: Dr. Alice Freifeld                                                               Flint 101

This course will study European mass migration in historical perspective. We will begin in the aftermath of World War I, when “stateless” passports were established for Russian refugees, but our major focus will be the movements of people following World War II, the largest mass migration before today. Topics include ethnic cleansing and the creation of homogenous nation-states, the American and UN responses to Holocaust survivors as well as political and economic refugees, and the fears within European countries that mass migrations elicited (especially of Communist infiltration). The course traces the issue of mass migration through the 1950s (the UN Convention of 1951 redefined refugee status) and the 1960s when the US National Origins Formula quota system ended (1965) and the United Nation issued its Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (1967).


The History Research Seminar is an opportunity for students to be practitioners of history. Primary materials are abundant. We can explore the distinctiveness of events as well as the effect of historical precedent on subsequent events. Students will be able to pursue final topics of their own choosing within the general themes of the course, including comparative topics.


LAH4930* The Native Struggle for Justice in the Spanish Empire             Mon 6-8
Instructor: Dr. Max Deardorff                                                             Flint 115
This course focuses on the experience of Aztecs, Incas, and other indigenous groups who formed part of the Spanish Empire (1492-1808). The Spanish conquest brought new flora and fauna, new diseases, a new religion, and a new legal system. The collision and combination of material existences created a “New World” for everyone involved. Students will explore topics such as the process of conquest, the expansion of slavery, the battle for indigenous rights as imperial subjects, the survival of native religions, the impact of Christian missionaries, the coexistence of indigenous communities with both free and enslaved Africans, the growth of hybrid native “Catholicisms,” the intercultural importance of commodities such as chocolate and tobacco, and the outbreak of colonial rebellions in the late eighteenth century.

Through this History Research Seminar, students will have the opportunity to develop their own original scholarship. Drawing on primary documents from the colonial period, students will be able to develop final research projects of their own choosing.

*Note: students may receive AFH or EUH credit for this class pending consultation with the professor and the Undergraduate Coordinator, Professor Ben Wise

WOH4930* Radical Religions of the Atlantic World                             T/Th 4/4-5
Instructor: Professor Jon Sensbach                                                      Flint 115
The meeting of Native American, European, and African peoples in early America brought about, among many things, a collision of religious worldviews. From this new “religious frontier” arose a host of radical faiths that challenged and often destabilized orthodox spiritual and social practices in the Atlantic world between the seventeenth and the early nineteenth centuries. Through a combination of secondary and primary readings we will examine religious groups in Europe, North America and the Caribbean such as Puritans, Quakers, Muslims, and several lesser-known sects. The course will address the role of nonconformist religions in shaping attitudes toward gender, race, and the self, as well as on the ways Native Americans and enslaved Africans used religion to respond to the pressures of European colonization.

*Note: students may receive AFH, AMH, EUH, or LAH credit for this class pending consultation with the professor and the Undergraduate Coordinator, Professor Ben Wise