May 23, 2019  
Course Catalog 2014-2015 
Course Catalog 2014-2015 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


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Pablo Mitchell,  Professor of History and Comparative American Studies, Department Chair
Zeinab Abul-Magd, Assiociate Professor

Matthew Bahar, Assistant Professor
Michael Fisher, Robert S. Danforth Professor
Suzanne Gay, Professor
Heather Hogan, Professor
David E. Kelley, Associate Professor
Clayton R. Koppes, Professor

Carol  Lasser, Professor
Shelley Lee, Associate Professor of History and Comparative American Studies
Shulamit Magnus, Professor

Leonard V. Smith, Frederick B. Artz Professor
Emer O’Dwyer, Assistant Professor of History and East Asian Studies
Renee C. Romano, Associate Professor
Annemarie H. Sammartino, Associate Professor
Steven S. Volk, Professor

Ellen Wurtzel, Assistant Professor

History encompasses the study of peoples, cultures, and institutions across many periods of time. The History Department offers courses on the United States, Latin America, Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and South, East and Central Asia. History classes examine these areas from a variety of historical approaches, including political, social, cultural, intellectual, economic, and environmental perspectives. They may also focus on gender, religion, labor, race and/or ethnicity. Some courses concentrate on particular national or regional histories, while others are comparative, transnational or global. Our faculty uses a variety of pedagogical approaches, from lecture to active learning models and intensive discussion. 

Advanced Placement.
Students with a grade of 4 or 5 on the US History, European History, or World History AP examinations may receive one full toward graduation for each qulaifying score.

Students receiving scores of 6 or 7 for IB History of the Americas or IB European may also receive one course of social science credit toward graduation. To apply for graduation credit for other IB courses, students should bring the transcript, the syllabus, and a sample written work to the History Department chair for review. Students may not receive credit for both AP and IB courses in overlapping areas.  No student may receive credit toward graduation for any combination of more than 2 courses in either the IB or AP programs in History. AP or IB credit is granted only during the first year that a student enrolls at Oberlin College.

All AP or IB courses transferred in through the History Department count toward the 5-course (20 credit) maximum that may be transferred for all courses taken before matriculation, as per Oberlin College regulations.

History Course Levels

Course Levels: 

  • 100-level courses are introductory-level survey classes that focus on large geographical areas over long periods of time. They introduce content as well as historiography, and help students develop skills in historical thinking. Survey classes usually comprise a two-semester sequence, though the first is not a prerequisite for the second, and students are not obligated to take both semesters. 
  • 200-level courses are generally offered without prerequisites, and focus on a theme, a shorter time period, a particular group of people, or a smaller geographical unit than 100-level surveys. Like 100-level courses, they introduce content as well as historiography. They help students develop skills in historical thinking and, often, research methodologies. 
  • 300-level courses are research-oriented courses and are open to students with appropriate preparation with the instructor’s consent. They explore a theme, time period, and/or particular location. They emphasize the tools and processes that historians use to do research, including work in primary sources as appropriate. 
  • 400-level courses are open to students with appropriate preparation with the instructor’s consent. They focus on exploring the historiography of specific areas, themes, and/or time periods, and emphasize critical reading and writing. 
  • 500-level courses include Senior Projects (History 500, a one-semester course in which seniors pursue an in-depth research project) and the honors sequence (History 501-502), available by departmental invitation to seniors (see “Honors” below).


 The History Major requires 9 full courses, including:

  •  At least 2 survey courses at the 100-level representing two different geographical areas (excluding FYSP) This requirement may be fulfilled by 100-level survey courses in Africana Studies, Classics, and East Asian Studies that count toward the History major.
  •  At least 1 course at the 300-level
  •  At least 1 course at the 400-level. In exceptional cases, students may apply to the department to count a structured private reading in place of a 400-level course. Students seeking this unusual exemption should obtain and complete the appropriate form from the History Department office. 

 In addition, the 9 courses must include

  •  At least 1 course designated as “Pre-Modern”
  •  At least 1 course from each of the following categories:
    •  Europe including Russia/USSR
    •  North America/US
    •  Global/Comparative (outside the Western tradition)/Other geographical areas
  •  At least 5 full courses taught by faculty regularly appointed in the History Department
  •  No more than 2 full courses taken in approved study-away programs
  •  No more than 3 full courses taken from selected courses based on historical methodologies taught in Africana Studies, East Asian Studies, and Classics.  

Note: Students may find the additional courses needed to complete 9 full courses at the 100- 200- 300- 400- or 500-levels. Credit earned in First-Year Seminars taught by members of the Oberlin History Department may also be applied toward the major. Courses in which a student has earned a letter grade lower than a C- or P cannot be used to fulfill the requirements of the major. Courses taught by regular faculty jointly appointed in History and another program/department are counted as courses within the History Department. The list of courses approved for the History Major but taught outside the History Department is available from the History Department.

Focus within the History Major

Students declaring a History Major consult with their adviser to complete a Major Proposal Form, projecting their course work and defining their own area of focus within the major. Majors are expected to develop a balanced program of historical study, including a concentration of coursework focused in a geographic, chronological, or thematic area. Students are encouraged to consider pursing a senior capstone that focuses on advanced work in their area of concentration through either the one-semester Senior Projects course (History 500), or the two-semester Honors Program (History 501-502).


 The minor in History consists of not fewer than 5 full courses in History.
These must include at least one 300- or 400-level course.
Minors must take at least 3 courses of history from regular members of the Oberlin History Department.


The Honors Program in history offers the opportunity for recognition of distinguished achievement in historical research and writing. Qualified students are invited to enter the program in their seventh semester. Students wishing to be considered for Honors should indicate that interest to the department chair in their sixth semester. Further information is available from members of the department. See also the general statement on Honors on our web site (

Transfer of Credit

Students seeking to transfer credit toward the History Major for classes not taken at Oberlin must consult with their advisors and/or the chair of the History Department in advance, and gain written preliminary approval for courses they wish to take elsewhere.

A detailed explanation of History Department Transfer Guidelines is available on-line. Students may be eligible to transfer toward the major credit for a maximum of two full courses completed outside Oberlin. Other courses may be transferred for general credit toward graduation. Normally, the History Department does not accept toward the major any courses completed at two-year institutions after a student has declared a major in History at Oberlin.

Winter Term

The History Department maintains a list of faculty who will be available to sponsor projects in Winter Term 2014.

History Online

For more information on the History Department, courses, times, and instructors, please visit our home page at:

VI. Individual Projects

The following list of courses include Senior Projects (History 500, a one-semester course in which seniors pursue an in-depth research project) and the honors sequence (History 501-502), available by departmental invitation to seniors (see “Honors” below).

Honors and Private Readings

Private readings and Honors information is on the History web site at or the Registrar’s page at Available faculty members are listed on these sites.

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