Professor Jenny Barker-Devine
Professor Robert C. Kunath
Assistant Professor Gwendolyn Gillson
Assistant Professor Brittney Yancy

History courses offer understanding of the development of civilization; appreciation of its varied social, economic, political, and cultural components and their historical interaction; and basic familiarity with historical methods and reasoning. These courses have vocational value for students preparing for the legal, ministerial, journalistic, library, and teaching professions and for others intending to enter governmental service.

Students must complete the major or minor in history with a grade point average of 2.0 or better for courses in the discipline. No courses in which a student earns below a “C-” will be counted as meeting major or minor course requirements.

Majors & Programs


HI 111: World Civilization I

A survey of the development of world civilizations from antiquity to approximately 1500 A.D. Readings will include many historical documents.

HI 112: World Civilization II

A general survey of the development of world civilizations since approximately 1500 A.D., emphasizing the rise of Europe and the “West” to world power. Readings will include many historical documents.

HI 140: The Sixties in America

The 1960s represent a period of tremendous social, political, economic, and cultural transitions in U.S. History. We will study the historical events that unfolded during this decade, as well as their precedents and lasting effects on the modern United States. We will discuss the contentious issues Americans argued about during the 1960s, and perhaps argue about them again: Cold War, civil rights, Vietnam War, women's liberation, student movements, drugs. Through course readings, lectures, films, music, and web exhibits, students will learn to critically evaluate historical sources and arguments.

HI 185: History of Ghosts & Monsters

H.P. Lovecraft, now considered the greatest American writer of horror stories since Edgar Alan Poe, wrote in the 1930s that “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is the fear of the unknown.” Ghost and monster stories therefore become historical sources that enable us to have a sense of what people in the past and in different cultures have fears, and that historical knowledge tells us important things about those societies. Students in HI 185 will read a variety of ghost and monster stories, using them as sources that reflect how past era and different cultures have drawn the boundaries of the known and the unknown, and what their fears were. The course will cover ghost and monster stories from ancient Mesopotamia, Japan, Latin America, and Europe and the United States. We will place the stories in the context of broader cultural and intellectual developments, especially common elements in folktales and the emergence of modern science and psychology. In doing so, we will see how ghosts and monster stories address basic social and cultural beliefs, form human mortality to social justice, and from evolution of the psychology of unconscious. 

HI 200: History as High Adventure

This proseminar introduces new and prospective History majors to the art of doing history, asking historical questions, and employing research methods. Readings and discussions will better equip students to succeed in 200- and 300-level history courses and will provide a strong foundation on which to prepare for their work on the capstone essay. The course is open to all interested students, but declared majors will have priority for registration and minors are encouraged to participate. HI 200 is required for all History majors.

HI 211: The African American Experience I

This course examines the experiences of African Americans from 1619 to 1877/Reconstruction Era. This course presents African American history both as an integral part of American history, and as a unique subject of historical investigation.

HI 212: The African American Experience II

This course examines the experiences of African Americans since the Reconstruction Era. This course presents African American history both as an integral part of American history, and as a unique subject of historical investigation.

HI 223: Japanese History and Religion

Japanese history and religion are intimately intertwined; indeed, it is impossible to understand one without the other. This course is intended to assist you in understanding Japan in the context of its history and major religious traditions. It will cover the sweep of Japan's story from its archaeological and mythical beginnings to today. We will explore the development of its primary religious traditions, Buddhism and Shinto, as well as other religions such as Confucianism that play an important part in Japanese history and thought. Readings will include texts by Japanese and non-Japanese alike. No previous knowledge of Japan is assumed.

HI 224: China: History and Religion

This course is intended to assist you in understanding contemporary China in the context of its history and major religions. It will cover the sweep of China's story from its beginnings to the 21st century. Traditions treated will include ancient beliefs and practices, Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, and modern political ideologies such as Maoism. Readings will include texts by Chinese and non-Chinese alike. No previous knowledge of China is assumed. 

HI 231: Women in U.S. History

From Pocahontas to Hillary Clinton, this broad survey provides an overview of women's intellectual, political, literary, and material contributions to American society, from the colonial period to the present. This course also offers an introduction to theories of race, class, and gender in historical inquiry.

HI 234: Sex, Science and the Female Body

This course investigates intimate representations of women's bodies and social constructions of gender throughout American history, in fields such as education, entertainment, and medicine. Students will gain an understanding of how gendered identities and images evolve over time and play a significant role in ordering our society. Embedded within this course are overviews of theories related to gender, science and technology, embodiment, and cultural identities.

HI 254: Ordinary People and War: Germany, 1900 to Present

Germany was at the center of the three most destructive wars in history: World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. This course will cover the history of Germany over those times as seen through the eyes of common people: German students on the front in World War I, a small German town experiencing the takeover by the Nazis from the late 1920s to the end of World War II, a sister and brother determined to resist the Nazis, and men and women in Communist East Germany betrayed to the secret police by their friends and even their spouses. We will also examine how Germany responded to its defeat and occupation, and how nationalist movements are rising again in Germany.

HI 262: Food and the Environment in US History

In 1782, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God,'' and declared that democracy could only thrive though the influence of farmers and small town folks. At that time, 90 percent of Americans lived on farms. Today that number stands as less than 2 percent. Yet Jefferson's ideas, and others like them, have had a tremendous influence on the history of the United States, even as it became an increasingly urban, industrial nation. This course explores the social and political aspects of rural America from the colonial period to the present, covering such topics as daily life in colonial America, the institution of slavery, Westward expansion, and the current decline of small towns across the country.

HI 272: Civil War and Reconstruction

This course is designed to introduce students to the history of the American Civil War and its profound impact on the United States. It focuses on the period from the nullification crisis of 1830 through the end of Reconstruction in 1877 and takes as its central theme, an in-depth exploration of the concept of freedom for nineteenth-century Americans. To that end, we will discuss national debates concerning slavery, the politics of the 1850s, and the creation of Southern nationalism, paying particular attention to concepts of freedom and nationality. It also examines the military, economic, and social aspects of the war, the process of emancipation, and the role of African Americans in these events. Finally, this course concludes with an exploration into the Reconstruction era and its legacy for race and gender issues, as well as politics and economics.

HI 276: Museum Studies

Why do we have museums? What do museums do? Are museums relevant or necessary in a digital world? This course will engage students with a foundation in the museum field, exploring the role of museums in society today by exploring their past and contemplating their future. Students will discover the behind-the-scenes of museums, gaining insight into current practices and debates from class discussions, visiting experts, hands-on class activities, and site visits. Students will gain an understanding of the range of skills and expertise needed in this varied career field by investigating the history and philosophy of museums; the social, economic, and political context that shapes museums; and the main operating functions of museums - collection and care of objects, exhibits, interpretation, education, and governance.

HI 277: Public History

How is the past remembered? How do we get our ideas about history outside the traditional classroom? How do venues like museums shape how we understand past? Public history, or applied history, refers to history that you find in public spaces outside of the pages of academic journals and beyond college walls. We encounter examples of public history every day through exhibits, performances, walking tours, visits to historic sites, books, film, etc. This introductory course familiarizes students with examples of public history, with a focus on community engagement, unique hands-on experiences, and service hours with community partners. Through course readings, activities, guest speakers, and site visits, students learn how the study of history may be applied in public fields. Potential community partners include the Findley Congressional Office Museum, the Khalaf A1 Habtoor Archives at Illinois College, the Prairie Land Heritage Center, the Governor Duncan Mansion, the Heritage Cultural Center Museum, etc.

HI 279: Archival Methods

This course takes students into the archives to explore both practical archival methodologies, as well as the ethical, political, and historical aspects of creating and maintaining archives in public and private institutions. In addition to completing course readings and discussions, students will work in the Khalaf A1 Habtoor Archives at Illinois Colleges, gaining hands on experience in accessions and assessment of archival materials, processing collections, appraising rare books, and providing patron access.

HI 291: Reason and Terror: The Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Politics

In the 1700s, writers and philosophers in Europe championed a new movement called the Enlightenment, dedicated to religious tolerance, individual liberty, and human rights. But the 1700s ended with the French Revolution, the Reign of Terror, and wars of unprecedented destructiveness. How did that happen? Is there a connection between Enlightenment and violence, reason and terror? History 291 seeks an answer by reading major Enlightenment writers and French Revolution documents to search for connections between the Enlightenment and the Revolution.

HI 292: Modern Europe since 1789

Survey of modern European history from the French Revolution to the present, focusing especially on the theme of the tension between the rise of democracy and the development of repressive and totalitarian governments in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Special attention will be given to the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the rise of movements seeking political, social, and legal equality for workers, minorities, and women, the rise and decline of Imperialism, and the rise of and resistance to Fascism, Nazism, and Soviet Communism. The readings and assignments will emphasize how cultural products (art, music, and literature) express the experiences of individual men and women in these turbulent centuries.

HI 300: Making History

What do historians do? This course offers students an introduction to historiography — the history of historical writings and methods. Students will learn the major approaches to writing history since 1700, concentrating especially on the period since 1900, and students will apply their knowledge by developing a personal historical research project.

HI 306: The Gilded Age and Progressive Era

This course will explore the last decades of the 19th century coined by Mark Twain as the Gilded Age. Rather than an age of prosperity and positive growth, Twain believed the period was besmirched with corruption and inequality—particularly enormous wealth for the few, and massive poverty for the vast majority of the American population. This class examines the social inequalities of this period by focusing on race, class, and gender.

HI 313: Rethinking American Enslavement

Covers the history and development of slavery and the process of emancipation in the United States. Examines the economic, social, legal, political, and cultural characteristics of American slavery, how these evolved, and how the institution grew in the Atlantic world. The South became the primary location for the development of slavery in the U.S., although other states and colonies actively shaped the institution as well, and the history of slavery in the South followed a different trajectory from other societies in the Americas. Also explores the development of emancipation from the colonial period to the end of the Civil War, including self liberation, slave resistance, compensated emancipation, the anti-slavery and abolition movement, and colonization projects.

HI 325: Love and War in Ancient Greece and Rome

The Greeks and Romans created models of politics, culture, and life that still influence societies. This course focuses on reading primary sources by Greek and Roman authors to understand their views of war and death, love and sex, men and women, and power and corruption. Among the readings are classics that have endured for more than 2,000 years, which range from the tragedy of Achilles facing death in Homer's Iliad, to the comedy of Greek women stopping a war with a sex strike in Aristophanes' Lysistrata, and to the epic of the founding of Rome and its human cost in Virgil's Aeneid.

HI 341: Social Movements in U.S. History

An exploration of social movements throughout U.S. history. This course explores the roots of varied movements in economic, social, and political conditions, and the effects of reform efforts. Consult instructor for specific topic. Prior completion of HI 101 or 102, or junior standing recommended.

HI 358: The Holocaust

An introduction to Nazi Germany's systematic attempt to murder the Jews of Europe. Special focus on the mentality of the killers and issues of moral responsibility. Readings will include many documents from the period

HI 379: Digital History

This course explores the applications of digital tools to public history. Students will consider the ethical and methodological challenges of digital history, as well as the various tools of the trade, including databases, websites, crowdsourcing, text analysis, GIS, and digitization hardware. Integrated with the existing resources in Schewe Library, including the Digital Learning Center, the GIS Lab, and the Kahlaf A1 Habtoor Archives, students will complete hands-on projects that may include digitization projects, the creation of a website or mobile app, managing a collection on SharedShelf, or completing a research project using the GIS Lab.

HI 463: Internship in History

Students serve as interns in such institutions as the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, Illinois, for approximately 120 hours and keep a journal of their work.

HI 464: Internship in History

Students serve as interns in such institutions as the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, Illinois, for approximately 120 hours and keep a journal of their work.

HI 485: Senior Seminar

A capstone seminar bringing together all Senior majors to write senior essays on topics of their own choosing, advised by a member of the History faculty. This is a required senior experience and is open only to history majors.