Interested in a History Major or Minor?

The History Department has a dual advising system.  Melissa Calderon, our Student Services Advisor, helps History students navigate the Department and University requirements.  Faculty advisors help students plan their major and offer guidance for pursuing the field of history both within and beyond USC.

  • To declare a major or address questions and issues concerning Dornsife College and University requirements or to have advising holds lifted, please see Melissa Calderon, SOS 153, (213) 740-1659.

Please use the new Dornsife Advising Online Appointment Manager Portal to             schedule an appointment with Melissa by clicking here

  • To discuss History Majors, Minors, the Honors Program, overseas studies, courses, funding, internships, honors societies, or careers, make an appointment or visit the Faculty Advisors during their weekly office hours.

For more information, contact Professor Lindsay O’Neill, Director of Undergraduate Studies, SOS 255, (213) 821-1680.


Fall 2023 Course Descriptions

Please click below to learn more about our courses offered for the Fall 2023 semester.

To download this list as a PDF, please click here.

  • Rubenstein                   T/Th                 9:30-10:50am

    Course Description:

    This class will examine the many worlds of the Middle Ages. We will cover roughly 1000 years of history, from 400 to 1400, focusing mainly on European lands and peoples, but with forays into Byzantium, the Middle East, and China. Topics to be covered include the late Roman Empire, the barbarian kingdoms, Viking culture, early Islam, the Crusades, courtly love, chivalry, the medieval university, the Gothic cathedral, Popes, inquisitors, and the catastrophes and upheavals of the fourteenth century. Course requirements include two papers, a midterm, a final, and active participation in discussion sections. Readings will be drawn mainly from primary sources.

  • O’Neill                     T/Th                 5:00-6:20pm         

    Course Description:

    Between 1350 and 1800 there lived many individuals whose names remain familiar to us today: Michelangelo, Gutenberg, Christopher Columbus, Martin Luther, Napoleon. However, where their importance lies and how they fit into the larger picture of the period is less well known and this class seeks to explore, among other things, who made Michelangelo’s art possible, why Columbus sailed the ocean blue, why the printing press was important, and who besides Martin Luther participated in the Reformation. During this period people faced massive religious change, new forms of knowledge, changing forms of governance, a geographical reorientation and all the upheaval put in motion by these alterations. This class traces the causes and consequences of these changes. It asks why the Italian city states gained so much power in the fifteenth century and why they became the crucible of the Renaissance. It looks at the impact of the Reformation upon people’s sense of self and upon forms of government. It examines the reasons behind the growth of the state, the consequences of European imperial expansion, and the influence changing forms of knowledge had upon this world. It asks why we see this period as witnessing and producing what we call the “modern” world.

  • Ibarra                      T/Th                 9:30-10:50am

    Course Description: 

    This course is a broad introduction to some of the main aspects of Latin American history, from the formation of American imperial civilizations before the invasion and settlement of Europeans up to the present. The progression of the course will be largely chronological, but we will also consider developments comparatively across three key themes. These include:

    • the construction of identity and its hybridization
    • the relationship of various communities with the environment and their economic activities
    • the larger trans-Atlantic, trans-Pacific, and Global ties of Latin America

    In this way, one of our primary questions that cuts across our three themes is how the convergence of Indigenous, European, African, and Asian peoples in “Latin America” created many complex and dynamic cultures and societies. How did various entities and attempts at social organization try to manage such diversity? To what extent were they successful or not? What new problems did some of these attempts create? The lectures for each week will provide general overviews of developments and their relation to our main themes; however, the focus of the course will be on the reading and analysis of the primary sources, from Nahuatl accounts of the conquest of Mexico to Lula.

  • Mseba                             T/Th                 2:00-3:20pm

    Course Description:

    This course surveys the major dynamics of economic and political change in Sub-Saharan before the imposition of European colonial rule in the late nineteenth century

  • Antaramian                     T/Th                 12:30-1:50pm

    Course Description:

    Introduction to Armenian history and its connections with the region and the world.

  • Antaramian                          T/Th                 11:00-12:20pm                 

    Course Description:

    Methods and theories of historical interpretation of evidence; uses of archives; modes of presenting the past to the public. Required of all History majors. Duplicates credit in former HIST-300.

  • O’Neill                      T/Th                 2:00-3:20pm

    Course Description:

    It has been said, “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” In this course we will think about history as a foreign country, as an unknown and sometimes confusing place, and then we will seek to understand it. We will examine how history became an academic discipline, how historians themselves attempt to understand the past, and we will explore what happens when the past is appropriated by the present. We begin by looking at the history of history before moving onto the tools of the historian. Next, we examine how different historians have inspected the same topic and what the implications of those viewpoints are. Finally, we consider the relationship between the past and the present to grapple both with the role of history in the present and the place of the historian. The goal of this course is to teach students to become historians, but also to cause them to think critically about how histories are made and used.

    Required Readings: 

    • John H. Arnold, History: A Very Short Introduction
    • Paul Boyer & Stephen Nissenbaum, Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft
    • Carol Karlsen, The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England
    • Mary Beth Norton, In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692
    • Tony Horowitz, Confederates in the Attic
  • Morgan                         T/Th                 2:00-3:20pm

    Course Description:

    This course will investigate what race is, how race has been instrumental in the formation of the American republic and of the Americas as a whole, how race has been entrenched through legal and legislative mechanisms, how it has been built into societal structures, and how it operates both obviously and subtly.  We will discuss how race and racial ideologies have been constructed since the first encounter with indigenous American populations, how they have shifted and changed over time, and how daily actions and systems reflect racist ideology. We will begin with the first European encounters of American Indigenous populations of the 16th Century and continue to the present day.

  • Ethington                             T/Th                11:00-12:20pm 

    Course Description:

    A thematic approach to California history from precontact to present; focus on peoples, environment, economic, social, and cultural development, politics, and rise to global influence.

  • Goldstein                          M/W                 2:00-3:20pm

    Course Description:

    History and science of anthropogenic climate change; climate dynamics; carbon cycle; climate modeling; fossil fuel economy; climate denial and political tactics; group research of solutions.

  • Sheehan                          T/Th                 12:30-1:50pm

    Course Description:

    How do we account for the economic rise of the West in the period since 1800 (perhaps 1500?) and the subsequent economic rise of East Asia (China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore)?  In order to answer that question, this class argues that we need to think about business and its links with economics on the one hand and politics, culture, and society on the other.

    This course will challenge students to link the history of the corporation and other forms of business organization in East Asia to broad narratives of cultural, social, economic, and political change. Students will read case studies of East Asian businesses, mostly drawn from the casebook of the Harvard Business School, and interpret those cases to make evidence-driven arguments. No prior study of business history or East Asia is required, but the course will prove to be an accessible and excellent opportunity for anyone interested in learning about East Asia, its business culture, and its increasingly important economic influence in our world today.

  • Soll                          T/Th                 2:00-3:20pm

    Course Description:

    The varied history of ideas of a free market from Cicero, through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, to the Enlightenment, Adam Smith, Colbert and beyond.

    • Crosslist: This course is offered by the PHIL department but may qualify for major credit in HIST. To register, enroll in PHIL 314.
  • Ibarra                   T/Th                 12:30-1:50pm

    Course Description: 

    The concepts of “renaissance” and “reform” are often implied to characterize the beginning of modernity. In this class, we will compare developments in the medieval and early modern periods and beyond Europe to refine what exactly we mean when we talk about these concepts. In the process, we will cover the medieval movements for church reform, the Twelfth-Century Renaissance, and the rise of new religious orders in the thirteenth century, alongside the Italian Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, and the rise of new religious orders within early modern Catholicism. We will approach these topics through a focus on social and institutional history, as well as considering other interpretive possibilities such as the internal causes of religious change (spirituality and theology), economic developments (depressions, expansion, and capitalistic activity), and cultural change. The lectures for each week will provide general overviews; however, the focus of the course will be on the reading and analysis of primary sources ranging from Machiavelli and Petrarch to Erasmus and Garcilaso de la Vega “El Inca”.

  • Thompson                               T/Th                 2:00-3:20pm          

    Course Description: 

    Role of Native Americans in American public life from colonial times to the present; Native American societies and governments and their relations to the U.S.

    • Crosslist: This course is offered by the ANTH department but may qualify for major credit in HIST. To register, enroll in ANTH 316.
  • Rubenstein                  T/Th                 12:30-1:50pm

    Course Description: 

    This course will examine the Crusades in the Middle Ages, a topic that encompasses social, cultural, political, intellectual, and military history, among other themes. It also involves a variety of cultures (French, German, Greek, Arab, Turkish, Mongolian, etc.). We will therefore attempt to balance chronological narrative with background information and cultural analysis. Readings will be mainly primary sources. Writing will consist of three papers, a mid-term, and a final essay/exam. The class will begin with a detailed examination of the First Crusade. Next, the course will consider the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, with a focus on some of its characteristic institutions (the Templars, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the practice of kingship), taking into account as well the events of the Second Crusade and the fall of Jerusalem to Saladin in 1187. Finally, we will consider the later crusades, with an eye toward the underlying question of how Latin, Byzantine, and Muslim societies all changed as a result of these conflicts. The course will end in 1291, when the final crusading state of Acre collapsed.

  • Uchiyama                      T/Th                 2:00-3:20pm           

    Course Description: 

    Development of Japan as a modern world power; tradition and change in Japanese life; impact of Western culture, politics, and diplomacy from 1550 to 1945.

  • Goldstein                          M/W                 8:30-9:50am           

    Course Description: 

    Western impact and dynastic decline; problems of the Chinese Republic; nationalism and communism.

  • Menchaca                     T/Th                 9:30-10:50am           

    Course Description:

    This course examines the longstanding presence of Mexicans in and their migration to the United States, from 1848 to the present. We will draw on interdisciplinary and transnational approaches to examine the movement of people, ideas, and cultural productions between Mexico and the United States. We will place Mexican migration within the context of larger global, imperial, and/or colonial socio-economic forces that propelled US-bound migratory flows from the Americas. The course highlights key historical moments and themes such as the Mexican American War, detention and deportation regimes, the Mexican American Civil Rights Movements, the Bracero Program, anti-nativist discourses/policies, cultural expressions, immigration debates, and immigrant rights organizing. Students will produce a podcast as their final project.

  • Echols                          T/Th                    12:30-1:50pm

    Course Description:

    GSS/HIST 358 introduces you to the dynamic field of LGBTQ+ history in the U.S. In this class you will learn how the social organization and cultural meanings of same-sex desire and cross-gender identity have shifted since the late 19thC.  This class, which is open to Law, History & Culture majors, examines how the law has affected the experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals and communities, and how those individuals have shaped the law.

    Some of the questions with which we will grapple include: What constitutes the history of same-sex desire and cross-gender phenomena?   In what ways do the experiences and self-understandings of early 20thcentury gays and lesbians resemble those of gays and lesbians today?  What are the borders between the identity and practices of transgender people and those of gays and lesbians, and how have these changed over time?  How have class, race and ethnicity helped to structure lesbianism, male homosexuality, and transgender identity?   How has the law affected the experiences of LGBTQ individuals and communities?  How have the federal government and the states helped to shape sexual identities and how has sexual identity affected governmental policies and the boundaries of citizenship in America?  Does the periodization of gay and lesbian history shift when we include understudied regions, far from the big cities of either coast?  How intimate have gay men and lesbians been with each other and has this shifted over the past 100 years?  Has the commodification of gay and lesbian life in the years after 1969’s Stonewall uprising enabled or hobbled the movement for LGBTQ liberation?  How has the movement’s emphasis on the strategy of “coming out” affected our understanding of pre-Stonewall life and who counts as part of the movement today?

    • Crosslist: This course is offered by the SWMS department but may qualify for major credit in HIST. To register, enroll in SWMS 358.
  • Velmet                           M/W                 3:30-4:50pm         

    Course Description:

    A history of computing and society in global perspective: information states, empire, gender, war, computing in the Soviet Union and the global South, infrastructures, artificial intelligence, computing in politics, cultures of coders and users.

  • Logan                          M/W                 8:30-9:50am           

    Course Description:

    Exploring the legal history of the United States through a range of sources from graphic histories to oral histories, we will focus on the narratives and experiences of people sentenced to “transportation,” witnesses in the Salem Witch trials, Supreme Court justices, Abolitionists, grade-school children in Orange County, Presidents and more. The legal histories of the formations and experiences of race and gender connect to the systemic realities of the present – and for those who are more activist-minded – offer cautions and strategies for future work. By the end of this course, students will have the skills to analyze case law, conduct legal history research, and will apply their own arguments about the relationships amongst history, law, and culture to a relevant topic of their choosing.

  • Goldgar                      T                 3:30-6:20pm

    Course Description:

    Early modern historians have been pioneers in investigating cultural history: how people in the period thought about and acted in their world. This course examines issues such as identity, community, power, space, and cultural transmission, looking cross-culturally at Europe (including Britain) from 1500 to 1800.

  • Lerner                    T/Th                 2:00-3:20pm

    Course Description:

    This course explores the meaning of nation, citizenship, and national identity through the example of Central Europe from the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 through today’s Europe. In our survey of modern Central Europe we ask: how did Prussians, Bavarians and Saxons become Germans? How did Prague become a Czech city and Vienna an Austrian city, when both were as German as Frankfurt, Berlin or Munich two hundred years ago? How did Jews become Germans over the course of the nineteenth century and then stop being Germans in the middle of the twentieth? How are notions of gender and sexuality embodied in national projects and ideas of citizenship and political participation? How, finally, do immigrants, migrants, and their descendants in today’s Germany participate in, experience, and change German identity?

    The course has several intertwined goals: First, it provides a historical overview of the last two centuries of German and Central European history. Along the way, it offers an in-depth exploration of several major historical and historiographic issues and controversies. Finally, it uses the case of Germany as way of reflecting on the ideas of nationhood, national identity and nationalism in modern history and in the contemporary world.

    Our readings consist of a selection of primary sources — novels, short stories, films, political documents, eyewitness accounts, etc. — secondary historical works and comparative and theoretical reflections on nationalism and Central European history. The course culminates in independent research projects on any topic related to these issues.

  • Morgan                          Th                    3:30-6:20pm      

    Course Description:

    This advanced undergraduate seminar explores the critical intersection of race and the formation of systems of punishment and discipline in the United States, including the development of the prison, indentured servitude, the rise of the police force, slave patrols, mob violence and lynching, and state sanctioned violence. Students will consider how narratives of race, gender, criminality, and vulnerability have been historically intertwined with the rise of the American carceral system. Although this course is primarily historical in its approach, we will pull from other disciplines, including law, sociology, criminal justice, and geography to demonstrate the relationship between race and punishment in the United States.

  • Kamei                           M/W                 3:30-4:50pm     

    Course Description:

    In 1942, the U.S. government incarcerated more than 125,000 persons of Japanese ancestry for the duration of World War II based solely on their race upon the assertion of “military necessity.” In the Korematsu and related decisions, the Supreme Court started what has become a tangle of constitutional issues pitting national security against civil liberties. With the benefit of recent historical and legal scholarship, primary sources, multi-media materials, and guest speakers, we will “go behind the scenes” in some of the historically significant executive, legislative, and judicial actions relating to the Japanese American wartime experience, the consequences and redress to those actions, and the ramifications and relevance in assessing today’s tensions regarding the reach of executive powers and constitutional accountability.

    Susan H. Kamei is the author of When Can We Go Back to America? Voices of Japanese American Incarceration during World War II (Simon & Schuster, 2021). She served as a National Deputy Legal Counsel for the Japanese American Citizens League Legislative Education Committee for the redress campaign that resulted in the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, recognizing the wrongfulness of the government’s wartime actions.

  • Ethington                          T/Th                     12:30-1:50pm         

    Course Description:

    A survey of the accelerating changes that transformed the nation’s domestic life and revolutionized America’s role in world affairs.

  • Flores-Villalobos                     W                     2:00-4:50pm         

    Course Description:

    Writing of the honors thesis; for students in the History Honors Program. Requirements for acceptance into the History Department Honors Program.

    • 3.5 History GPA
    • B+ or higher in HIST 201
    • Completion of at least one 400-level seminar in area of concentration
    • Approval of Faculty Thesis Advisor and Honors Seminar Instructor
  • Davidson               M                      3:00-6:20pm

    Course Description:

    Writing of the honors thesis; capstone for students in the Law, History and Culture major.

    • Restriction: Registration open to the following major(s): Law, History and Culture
  • Corbett                       W                     2:00-4:50pm

    Course Description:

    An exploration of cultural, political, and economic history in pre-modern Japan via the theme of tea. Meeting at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens we will make use of spaces there such as the Japanese and Chinese Gardens, Japan Heritage House (a 300 year old magistrate’s house relocated from Japan), and Seifuan (a traditional Japanese tea house). These spaces will allow us to think about the botanical history of tea in China and Japan; the role of tea in both daily life and formal contexts, including the development of chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony), and material culture associated with tea. Other topics we will cover include how tea ceremony was used as a political tool by warrior elites in the 15th and 16th centuries, economic changes over the premodern period which impacted tea production, and whether increased tea consumption helped fuel an “industrious revolution” from the 16th century.