There is a vast difference between "the past" and "history." The past is what really happened. History is what people, professional and non-professional alike, say happened. And, if history is one of the building blocks of our personal and national identity and perspective, it always offers something of a skewed perspective of ourselves. History is a memory of the past. And, like memory, some of the past is lost; some is ignored; some is deliberately buried; some is incompletely remembered; some of it reflects more of the present than of the past; some is read into; some is distorted when remembered... History views and shapes the past in its own image. -- Louis Schmier
My research interests center on
the politics and culture of early modern
You can see my CV here.
The courses I teach include:
HIST 10203, Origins of Western Civilization: Europe to 1348
HIST 20203, Origins of Western Civilization: Europe to 1348 (Honors)
HIST 10213, The World Expanded: Europe 1348-1789
HIST 20213, The World Expanded: Europe 1348-1789 (Honors)
In this course we will explore the history of Western Europe from the fourteenth through the eighteenth centuries (from the Black Death to the French Revolution). Historians often refer to this time as the “early modern” period, during which Europe developed many of the characteristics we associate with modern civilization. These centuries saw, among other things, the artistic glories of the Renaissance, the expansion of education and literacy, the invention of the printing press, the religious conflicts of the Reformation, the growth of centralized nation-states, the dramatic discoveries of the Scientific Revolution, and Europe’s gradual rise to supremacy on the world stage. Our principal task over the course of the semester will be to explore and define these changes, question why they happened, and evaluate their impact. Coursework includes primary source analysis, article summaries and comparisons, and essay exams.
HIST 30203, The Renaissance
Michelangelo’s David, Machiavelli’s political savvy, the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci: it is easy to call to mind examples of the great advances in learning, creativity, and individualism that we associate with the Renaissance. These developments also have significance for our own time, since traditionally we have taken the Renaissance to be a major turning point in history – the point at which Western Europe left behind the medieval world to become ‘modern’ and to extend its political, economic and cultural dominance over much of the rest of the world.
Increasingly, though, scholars are questioning this perception of the Renaissance and its significance as a break from the past. Do the outstanding accomplishments of a few individuals truly represent the history of a time and place? How many people actually had a Renaissance, and what did it mean to them? In this course, we will consider these questions as we explore various aspects of the Renaissance, study its origins, and evaluate its significance. We will examine the cultural and artistic accomplishments of the great ‘Renaissance men,’ as well as the lives of the ordinary artisans, merchants, and peasants who made up most of the population.
HIST 30243, History of Spain to 1830
Those searching for relevant historical lessons will find rich material in the history of the Iberian peninsula: the legacy of religious cooperation and repression, the rise and fall of an empire, experiments in absolute monarchy and constitutional government, the tension between the desire for national unity and the recognition of regional differences.
This course will focus on Spain at the height of its power as a world empire in the early modern period (1500-1800). The first and final weeks of the semester will frame this period in a larger perspective, beginning with the Romans and ending with the present day. We will consider Spain’s culture, politics, and society in the context of its creation out of a collection of small medieval kingdoms recently freed from Islamic rule, its rise to the status of the greatest world power in the early modern period, and the collapse of this empire in the nineteenth century. Along the way, we will gain an appreciation for the many contributions of Spanish culture, from Don Quixote to bullfights to the paintings of Goya.
HIST 30253, Popular Culture of Early Modern Europe
Most of the history you’ve studied or read about deals with the most significant people and events of the past: rulers, scholars, scientists, battles, artists, inventions. Many of these things in one way or another have shaped the world we live in today. Yet the vast majority of the people of the past had little to do with these great individuals and events. They were the peasants, artisans and laborers who made up over 90% of the population in the early modern period. Historians have only recently begun to pay attention to what is known as “popular culture,” or the culture and lifestyle of ordinary people. We will examine a set of case studies from European history as well as sources such as Inquisition trials, court cases, petitions, and chronicles to analyze the culture and customs of ordinary (and not so ordinary) people from the period 1400-1700.
Europe has provided many of the cultural, economic, and political frameworks on which the United States is built, so many of the elements of European popular culture will seem familiar and sensible. At the same time, the popular culture of the past includes elements that will seem surprisingly foreign and incomprehensible. The study of the past helps lead you to understand how even the most foreign behaviors may be seen as reasonable responses to the circumstances in which people found themselves. To be a respectful and ethical citizen in the global community requires the ability to recognize that not everyone has the same basic assumptions about the world that you do, and the study of European popular culture will aid you in developing this recognition and sensitivity.
HIST 30970, Special Topics: Spanish Civil War
During the years 1936-1939, Spain was torn apart by a civil war that highlighted many of the political, social, and economic challenges of the modern world. Nationalists, republicans, monarchists, communists, socialists, anarchists, the Catholic Church, Soviet Russia, Hitler's Germany, and thousands of American and other international volunteers were among those who joined the conflict, which has often been described as “the dress rehearsal for World War II.”
This course explores the historical and ideological tensions that led to the conflict and how these divisions were reflected in the rest of Europe. We will study various historical interpretations of this event as well as its treatment in literature and film to examine how the civil war was portrayed, interpreted, represented, and used for various ideological purposes both as it was occurring and over the following decades. In a society that was governed by forty years of dictatorship as a result of the civil war, accounts of this conflict still generate much passion and partisanship, and this makes it particularly challenging to attain an objective account of the events and their meaning. This course will encourage a sensitivity to the perspectives and methodologies of historians, propagandists, and participants who have given us varying accounts of the Spanish Civil War.
HIST 49973, History Major Seminar: Europe
In this course, which serves as a capstone to the undergraduate history major, you will conduct research in primary and secondary sources on a topic of your choosing (within the field of early modern European history) to write a substantial research paper similar to those published in professional historical journals. The course will focus on the stages of research and writing, during which you will complete assignments and drafts, participate in class discussion and in a peer review process, and make a formal presentation of your final work.
HIST 50960, Historiography
HIST 70303, Graduate Seminar: Readings in Early Modern Europe
HIST 70403, Graduate Seminar: Readings in Modern Europe
Links of interest:
last updated 2/29/12