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Courses in LSA History

History is the study of the past and how we remember and understand it. If it happened, historians deal with it — whether it happened yesterday or five thousand years ago. Far too many people imagine that history is merely the dry memorization of names and dates, but a course in history at the University of Michigan will quickly dispel that myth. If you are interested in people and how they interact with the social and natural world, then you should be interested in history. Our courses cover everything: music, politics, family life, technology, war, gender relations, science, medicine, religion, ideologies, sports, and much, much more. Students who major in History develop skills that will be invaluable throughout their post-graduate careers and lives: critical thinking, persuasive writing, and thoughtful reading. Above all, we help students appreciate every aspect of life as part of a much broader and more complicated context, which not only enriches our students but also helps them to become more sophisticated decision-makers.

Undergraduate History Courses

Course Numbering. Unlike some departments, our courses do not build upon each other in ways that require you to take a 100-level course before taking a 200-level course, and so on. Nor does a particular level number indicate that the topic of the class is broader or more specific—it is possible to have an advanced class on a long time span and an introductory course dealing with one historical episode. What differentiates our classes is the level of sophistication and (usually) the workload. Broadly speaking, those differences are as follows:

  • 100-level classes. These are designed as gateways to the discipline of history. They cannot be applied towards a major or minor in history, so they are targeted at the broadest possible audience. With this in mind, the assignments are designed to be accessible and manageable (though the precise workload will vary by professor). There are two types of 100-level classes. The first are large classes with both lectures and discussion sections. In these courses, assessment is usually based on in-class exams. Major research projects are not typically assigned, though there might be some shorter writing assignments. The second type of 100-level classes are the first-year writing courses (HISTORY 195) and the first-year seminars (HISTORY 196 and 197). These are writing-intensive courses that focus on discussion rather than lecture, and are capped to ensure small class sizes.
  • 200-level classes. These are intended as introductory courses for history majors and as electives for non-majors. Most are large surveys covering a broad topic or a major world region or country. The workload and grading structure of these classes would be slightly more challenging than what you would find in a 100-level class.
  • 300- and 400-level classes. There is no difference between these two levels. The topics explored in these courses can vary widely, as can the format. They tend to emphasize writing and include more sophisticated readings. Some upper-level classes involve formal research papers, others are based on a series of shorter writing assignments. Although 300- and 400-level courses are more advanced than those at lower levels, they do not usually require any previous familiarity with the subject matter.

Courses for First-Year Students

First-Year Writing Courses
All LSA students take a First-Year Writing course to satisfy the LSA writing requirement. If you have an interest in history, HISTORY 195, “The Writing of History,” is designed to allow you to develop your college-level writing skills in the context of doing history. Sections are taught by advanced graduate students in the final stage of degree completion, and the topics change each term. Classes are limited to 18 to allow individual attention and student participation.

HISTORY 195 does not count toward a History major.

First-Year Seminars (HISTORY 196 and 197)
First-Year Seminars provide an opportunity to begin your college study of history in a small seminar setting. These courses are taught by history professors on topics in the area of their expertise and seek to engage their students in the historical discipline. Students are active participants in discussion and develop college-level critical thinking, reading, and writing skills. History First-Year Seminars satisfy LSA area distribution for non-majors (HISTORY 196 = Social Science; HISTORY 197 = Humanities).

First-Year Seminars do not count toward a History major.

100-Level Gateway Courses
History 101: What is History? introduces students to new ways of thinking critically and internationally about the world we live in—its past, present, and future. History 102: History of the Present traces the historical connections of events, phenomena, and trends that make headlines today. History 103 and History 104 are topics courses that provide an introduction to history in the humanities and the social sciences respectively through changing topical foci.

Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS)

University of Michigan’s program in Medieval and Early Modern Studies is distinctive because of its global conception—embracing work on the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the Americas as well as Europe, the traditional focus of MEMS scholarship. We cover a similarly broad temporal range, from ca. 500 CE to 1800 CE, that is, late antiquity through the Industrial Revolution (in the European context) and encourage exploration of the cultural range of this period in and across other geographic regions. Within this historical period, MEMS affiliates study history, the history of art and architecture, archaeology, history, literature, linguistics, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, religious studies, music, and the history of science and technology.

< ahref=http://www.lsa.umich.edu/mems/undergraduates/currentcourses>Courses in Other Departemnts

MEMS 210 / HISTORY 210. Early Medieval Europe, 300-1000
(4; 3 in the half-term). (SS). (R&E). May not be repeated for credit. F.

A survey course covering the decline of Rome and the rise of Germanic monarchy, the Carolingian and Ottonian Empires, the growth of feudalism, monasticism and papal reform.

MEMS 211 / HISTORY 211. Later Medieval Europe, 1000-1500
(4). (SS). (R&E). May not be repeated for credit. W.

A survey of political, economic, religious, and intellectual developments within western Christendom. Special emphasis on main currents of medieval thoughts.

MEMS 212 / HISTORY 212. Renaissance Europe
(4). (HU). May not be repeated for credit.

Social, cultural, intellectual traditions and innovations, predominantly in Italy, with comparisons with northern Europe, 1300-1500, will be the subject of this course.

MEMS 240 / HISTART 240. The Visual Arts in Medieval Society
(3). (HU). May not be repeated for credit.

A study of masterworks of medieval art in relation to society, environment, technology, and literature and as an expression of a phase in the development of the moral and intellectual ideas of the western world. Emphasis is on the fortress, the castle, the city, the cathedral, the abbey, and the book. Lectures and discussions are supplemented by museum trips and by readings in medieval epic, romance, and general history in addition to more specialized studies in the history of art.

MEMS 250 / HISTART 250. Italian Renaissance Art
(4). (HU). May not be repeated for credit.

This course examines the principal monuments of Italian Renaissance Art: Giotto's Arena Chapel, Botticelli's Birth of Venus, Michelangelo's David and Sistine Chapel Ceiling, and Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.

MEMS 253 / HISTORY 253. Europe, 300-1648: The Rise and Fall of the Middle Ages
(4; 3 in the half-term). (SS). May not be repeated for credit.

Survey of European history from the end of the Roman Empire through the 17th century. The creation of European medieval society out of its Roman, Christian and Germanic components, its evolution through political and scientific revolutions of the 17th century.

MEMS 260. Special Topics in Medieval and Early Modern Studies
(3). May be elected twice for credit. May be elected more than once in the same term.

This course examines an aspect or topic in Medieval and/or Early Modern Studies.

MEMS 310 / RCHUMS 310. Pagans, Christians, Barbarians in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages
(3). (HU). May not be repeated for credit.

An introduction to the literature and the visual arts of the Late Antique/Early Christian period. Topics covered include: the Desert tradition and its influence; Augustine's Confessions and its philosophical foundations; Gregory of Tours and the transmission of Roman culture; Beowulf and the art of northern peoples.

MEMS 314 / RCHUMS 314. The Figure of Rome in Shakespeare and 16th-Century Painting
(3). (HU). May not be repeated for credit.

An interdisciplinary course including literature and the visual arts focused on the figure of "Rome" in four of Shakespeare's Roman plays and in painting by Caravaggio, Mantegna and Titian.

MEMS 316 / HISTORY 316 / WOMENSTD 316. Women and Gender in Medieval Europe: 500-1500
One course in Women's Studies or History. (3). (SS). May not be repeated for credit.

The Middle Ages have a bad reputation with respect to women, but just how bad were they? This course explores the history of women and gender relations in medieval European society and culture from roughly 500 to 1500.

MEMS 317 / HISTORY 317 / WOMENSTD 317. Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800
At least one course in WOMENSTD or HISTORY. (3). (HU). May not be repeated for credit.

This course explores the history of women and gender relations in European society and culture from the Protestant Reformation and the opening out to the New World through the French Revolution.

MEMS 323 / FRENCH 343 / HISTORY 323. French Enlightenment
(3). (HU). May not be repeated for credit.

Through primary source readings, discussions, and lectures, students gain an understanding of the French Enlightenment as a part of the critical response to French society, politics, and culture before the French Revolution. Through readings in secondary sources students are introduced to current debates about the Enlightenment. All Readings are in English translation.

MEMS 324 / POLISH 324. Polish Literature from the Middle Ages to 1795: God's Playground
(3). (HU). May not be repeated for credit. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in POLISH 524.

This course traces the rise of Polish literary culture alongside dramatic developments in the visual arts, politics, and the sciences. We pay particular attention to how worldviews are reflected in and altered through literary texts. Major authors include Jan Kochanowski, Jan Andrzej Morsztyn, Ignacy Krasicki, and others.

MEMS 325 / ASIAN 324 / HISTORY 325 / ISLAM 325 / NEAREAST 375 / RELIGION 325. The History of Islam in South Asia
(4). (HU). (R&E). May not be repeated for credit.

This course examines the history of Muslim communities and institutions in South Asia. It will consider Muslim political expansion and sovereignty, conversion, the interaction between religious communities, Islamic aesthetics, the impact of colonial rule, India's partition and the creation of Pakistan, and the contemporary concerns of South Asia's Muslims.

MEMS 327 / ISLAM 327 / NEAREAST 327. Shahnameh: Iranian Myth, Epic, and History
(3). (HU). May not be repeated for credit.

This course is an introduction to Iranian myth, epic, and history through a close reading of the Shahnameh (Book of Kings), the foundational text of Persian classical poetry and one of the major achievements in world literature.

MEMS 333 / ITALIAN 333. Dante's Divine Comedy
A knowledge of Italian is not required. (3). (HU). May not be repeated for credit. Taught in English.

Study of Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso in context of medieval culture and history, with focus on the encounter between Dante and the classical past as a model for a present-day encounter with the Middle Ages. The course is taught in English, but uses bi-lingual editions of the text for readers with some knowledge of Italian.

MEMS 344 / HISTART 344. Early Medieval Kingdoms and Cultures: European Art 400-1000
(3). (HU). May not be repeated for credit.

This course treats that period in European history, when, after the fall of Rome, waves of invading "barbarians" occupied the lands of the former empire and, as a product of dynamic interchange between cultures over time, new forms of art and architecture emerged. Cultural historical in orientation, the focus will be on functions of imagery in early medieval societies.

MEMS 345 / HISTART 345. Introduction to Medieval Architecture
(3). (HU). May not be repeated for credit.

This course provides an introduction to the built environment of the Middle Ages from the fall of Rome to the dawn of the Renaissance. Students will integrate the study of architecture with the study of medieval culture, exploring for example the impact of the cult of saints, princely courts and civil authority, religious reform and radicalism and rising urbanism.

MEMS 348 / HISTART 348. The Medieval Book
(3). (HU). May not be repeated for credit.

This course focuses on an art form highly developed in the Middle Ages: the richly illuminated hand-written book. Students come to know such masterworks as the Lindisfarne Gospels and the Tres Riches Heures as they are learned about significant episodes in the history of manuscript production, beginning with the invention of the codex in late antiquity and ending with the advent of the printed book in the early modern era.

MEMS 350 / ENGLISH 350. Literature in English to 1660
(4; 3 in the half-term). May not be repeated for credit. F.

Part one of a two-term sequence designed to give students a principled sense of the range of literary works in English to 1660.

MEMS 355 / HISTART 355. The Miraculous and the Diabolical in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe
(3). (HU). May not be repeated for credit.

In this course we investigate 'supernatural' phenomena in the visual arts: divine acts, miracles, magic, and sorcery. We are interested in how and why people in late medieval and early modern Europe distinguished between the 'supernatural' and the 'natural', as well as the extreme fluidity of these terms.

MEMS 360. Special Topics in Medieval and Early Modern Studies
(3). May be elected twice for credit. May be elected more than once in the same term.

This course examines an aspect or topic in Medieval and/or Early Modern History.

MEMS 367 / ENGLISH 367. Shakespeare's Principal Plays
(3 - 4; 3 in the half-term). (HU). May not be repeated for credit.

An intensive study of 8 to 10 plays designed to increase the student's critical appreciation and understanding of Shakespeare's art and thought.

MEMS 375 / GERMAN 375 / SCAND 375. Celtic and Nordic Mythology
(3). (HU). May not be repeated for credit. Taught in English.

A study of the Celtic and Nordic cycles of myths and sagas, including the Nibelungenlied, Tristan and Isolde cycles, the Irish Tain, the Welsh Mabinogi, the Scandinavian Edda and some of the literature based on mythology of these cycles.

MEMS 377 / FRENCH 367. Literature, History, and Culture of Early Modern France
Two courses in FRENCH numbered FRENCH 250-299; or FRENCH 235 and two RCLANG 320; or FRENCH 235, one course in FRENCH numbered FRENCH 250-299 and one RCLANG 320. (Prerequisites enforced at registration.) (3). (HU). May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits. May be elected more than once in the same term.

Readings and topical studies relating to French culture under the ancient regime (Renaissance through French Revolution).

MEMS 391 / RUSSIAN 391. Art, Culture, and Literature in Old Russia
(3). (HU). May not be repeated for credit. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in RUSSIAN 551.

An examination of the culture, arts, and literature of the Eastern Slavs from the ninth to the seventeenth centuries.

MEMS 398 / HISTORY 398. The Black Death
(3). (ID). May not be repeated for credit.

In the fourteenth century, a massive epidemic hit East Asia, the Middle East, and finally Western Europe. Known conventionally as the Black Death, in two years, it killed a third to a half of the European population. How did it come to kill so many people? How did Europe cope with such as loss? Did it change medieval society or just accelerate changes already underway? This course will look primarily at the impact of the Black Death on late medieval European society and culture. We will start with medieval attitudes towards disease, and the role of modern science in studying this epidemic, then move to discussion of its short- and long-term impact on such issues such as politics, economics, religion, and social structure.

MEMS 411. Special Topics
(1 - 3). May not be repeated for credit.

MEMS 421 / RCHUMS 386. Medieval Drama
(4). May not be repeated for credit.

Designed to trace parallel developments in the medieval drama of France and England, with special reference to problems of production, from the tenth century to the sixteenth century. The Germanic origins and the German carnival play also are addressed.

MEMS 441 / LATIN 436. Postclassical Latin II
Two years of college Latin. (3; 2 in the half-term). May not be repeated for credit.

MEMS 465 / ENGLISH 465. Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales
(3). May not be repeated for credit.

This course is an intensive study of Chaucer's major works. It includes reading in Middle English and background lectures covering as many tales as possible at the instructor's discretion.

MEMS 490. Directed Reading
Permission of instructor. (1 - 4). (INDEPENDENT). May be repeated for credit.

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