Why does history matter? HS 100 Encountering the Past explores why the study of the past is essential for understanding our present. Through the lens of a single historical topic that varies by instructor, students are introduced to what it means to think like a historian and weave compelling stories. Along the way, students learn to ask critical questions, to evaluate evidence, to make persuasive arguments, and to write clearly and cogently. The course introduces students to how and why histories are produced, but more than that, it sets out to provide new ways of thinking about the human experience and about our place in the world today.
Below you will find information about individual topics, sections and professors.
HS 100.01S, HS100.06T Encountering the Past: The World of Margery Kempe
Dr. Brandon Parlopiano
This section explores why History matters through the eyes of Margery Kempe, a fifteenth century English woman. Margery came from a prosperous merchant family, she married and gave birth to fourteen children, and she occasionally ran her own businesses. She also had intensely emotional visions of communicating directly with Jesus, Mary, and other Biblical figures. We'll use her exceptional life to explore how historians think about religious identity and practice, gender roles, and travel experiences (among others) in the Middle Ages.
HS100.02T, Encountering the Past: The Weimar Republic
Dr. Willeke Sandler
Emerging after Germany’s defeat in the First World War, the Weimar Republic (1919-1933) saw vast social, political, and economic changes before being dismantled and replaced by the Nazi dictatorship in 1933. Was Germany’s first experiment with democracy doomed to fail? Did it bring about radical change of its own or simply unleash currents already underway? What were the legacies of total war for this society? How “modern” were the gender politics, ideas about sexuality, and cultural movements of the Weimar Republic? Exploring the Weimar Republic allows us to trace many of the changes and tensions of the 20th century that emerged out of the First World War and that still shape the world we live in today.
HS100.03S, HS100.12, HS100.13 Encountering the Past: The Taiping Rebellion
Dr. Austin Parks
This section will focus on the causes and consequences of the “Taiping Rebellion”—the largest rebellion in human history—in China’s long nineteenth century. We will discuss, among other topics, nationalism, imperialism, religious rebellion, ethnicity and identity, and revolution through our critical engagement with text-based and visual primary and secondary sources.
HS100.04T Encountering the Past: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery in Africa
Dr. Oghenetoja Okoh
In this course, students will develop the skills necessary for understanding and producing histories, which include the critical evaluation of sources and the ability to write cogently and persuasively about events in the past. It also asks students to think about why the study of history is important to our lives today. We will engage these topics and questions by exploring the trans-Atlantic slave trade and slavery as a practice and institution in Africa. The development of this economic system was critical to the making of the modern world. We will explore the conditions that led to its development, consider the humanistic contradictions inherent in its evolution, the debates over abolition, and its legacy on our modern world.
HS100.05T Encountering the Past: The French Revolution
Dr. Andrew Ross
This section will use the French Revolution as our case study. The French Revolution was many things. An absolute monarchy was overthrown. An effort at democracy descended into terror. Women made new claims to citizenship. Enslaved people in Haiti overthrew their masters and founded an independent state. A European empire emerged that brought new hierarchies and the rule of law to other countries at the same time. The French Revolution thus proves an apt event with which to explore how historians debate and understand the past because the French Revolution offers to pat answers to the questions it raises: How should we organize our politics? Why have democracies struggled to ensure equity, especially for women and people of color? How is the law used to perpetuate inequality? By exploring how historians have debated the meaning of the French Revolution we will, turn, debate some of the most important questions facing us today.
HS100.07G, HS100.08G Encountering the Past: The Middle East in Myth and Reality
Dr. Bahar Jalali
This course will explore myths and realities about the Middle East. The term Middle East is loaded with implications, stereotypes, projections and clichés. Often defined as a “cradle of civilization,” the region has not only been the setting for premodern events and narratives of lasting impact upon the world at large; it has also been mythicized from outside like few other places in the modern era, and remains globally contested both in myth and in reality. In this course, students will be introduced to the Middle East as region where its real-life experiences often clash with past and present expectations and prejudices.
HS100.09, HS100.10 Encountering the Past: The Jesuits in India 1542 to the Present: Their Lives, Their Times
Rev. Charles Borges
This course examines how the Society of Jesus, barely two years old in Europe, established itself in India and in the East in 1542. Important Jesuits like St Francis Xavier and Father Alessandro Valignano marked their unique stamps on the way the men who would follow them would work in the mission lands. Other Jesuits who came in the succeeding centuries worked in the fields of local languages and cultures while striving at the same time to convert people to the Christian faith. The history of the Society of Jesus in India is closely linked to Indian social, political and cultural history. Thus while studying Jesuit history in India one becomes aware of how much Jesuits contributed to Indian history and in the process of the ways in which they were influenced in return.
HS100.11 Encountering the Past: The Vikings
Dr. Kelly DeVries
HS100.15, HS100.21, HS100.22 Encountering the Past: The Reconstruction Era, 1863 - 1877
This section of Encountering the Past will use the Reconstruction Era (1863-1877) as our case study. In the years following the Civil War, the United States experienced profound change as the nation attempted to reintegrate and, in the process, reconsidered the meaning of freedom, citizenship, and democracy. At the federal and state levels, governments passed legislation to define the meaning and rights of citizenship. Formerly-enslaved African Americans worked for wages, attended schools, opened businesses, voted in elections, and held political offices. White supremacy paramilitary groups, however, challenged the new racial order by enacting “Black Codes” and terrorizing Black men, women, and children. The many failures of Reconstruction are still abundantly apparent today, and this course will grapple with its lasting legacies.
HS100.16, HS100.17, HS100.18 Encountering the Past: Civil Rights and the History of the Present
Dr. Sam Klug
This course examines how the civil rights movement has shaped the modern United States. On issues ranging from voting rights to the minimum wage, contemporary political conflicts often reflect divisions forged during the civil rights era, and contemporary political debate often invokes the civil rights movement’s legacy. In this class, we will explore the histories of the civil rights and Black Power movements, their lasting effects on Black politics, activism, and thought, and their impact on the development of American society since the middle of the twentieth century. We will further interrogate the ways the midcentury Black freedom movement is remembered and invoked in contemporary public discourse, in order to investigate the relationship between history, mythmaking, and memory. A central emphasis of this course will be the critical analysis of the uses to which history is put in the present.
HS100.19, HS100.20 Encountering the Past: Roman Slavery
Dr. Alex Cushing
Slavery was a major economic, social, and cultural force in the ancient Roman world. By the end of the first century BCE, as much as 30% of the population of Roman Italy, roughly 1.8 million people out of 6 million or two times the population of Baltimore City, was enslaved. These enslaved people came from a wide range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, were exploited in a variety of economic and occupational roles, and left records of their experiences in everything from urban graffiti to wax writing tablets to archaeological remains. This course will use primary source evidence produced by the enslaved themselves, as well as by their enslavers, to examine the diverse experiences of those who lived through slavery in the Roman Mediterranean. Students will learn how to analyze an array of ancient primary evidence from different historical contexts and how to use secondary scholarship to support their conclusions. We will also consider the legacies of Roman slavery, exploring, for example, how the ideologies of ancient enslavers influenced American colonial ideas of freedom and unfreedom and how slave resistance by figures like Spartacus continue to capture popular imagination.