Upper Division Courses
* = Honors section offered
This course investigates the rise and evolution of popular culture in Africa from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. We will explore the social and cultural contexts in which influential forms of popular culture emerged—with particular attention to popular music, fashion, food, sports, film, political cartoons, and street art—and analyze their impact on issues of gender, class, colonialism, and ethnic identity. - Back.
What do Brad Pitt, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, and countless sports teams
have in common? The Trojan War! Vis-à-vis Homer’s epic, this course explores the history,
literature, and myth as well as archaeology and art of not only ancient Greece but
also the popular imaginings of ancient Greece ever since. We’ll figure out what "really"
happened when Helen ran off and Achilles got angry and the Greeks came feasting and
The first third of this course will focus on the actual events of the Trojan War at the end of the second millennium B.C.E. In the last two thirds, we will see how these events and the Trojan War were adapted and used by later civilizations — especially in the periods of Classical Greece and then Alexander the Great — to justify political and cultural hegemony in the ancient Mediterranean. At the end of the course, we will discuss how and why the Trojan War resonated in the Roman Empire and still resonates in society today. - Back.
Memphis native, Shelby Foote, once exclaimed that “The Civil War defined us as what we are and it opened us to being what we became,
good and bad... It was the crossroads of our being.” But was it? Did the war and
its aftermath change the nation forever? Is that what the historical evidence says?
Take this class and decide for yourself. - Back.
Multiple sections available:
3881-001 – Dr. Elton Weaver III: TR 2:40-4::05 MI 307
3881-002* - Dr. Brian Kwoba : MWF 11:30am-12:25pm MI 200
3881-003 – Dr. Elton Weaver III : TR 1:00-2:25pm MI 307
History and culture of African Americans in light of their experiences; aspects of African American life and attitudes of dominant society within which African Americans lived; ways African American men and women shaped and nurtured their own lives, culture and history in U.S. - Back.
In this course, you’ll learn about the histories of the Indigenous peoples of North America from the earliest times to the present day. First and foremost, it will introduce students to the unique and specific histories of indigenous peoples and nation, with a focus on peoples in the Southeast and Mid-South regions. In the process, students will learn about their cultures, languages, religions, political and economic systems, gender relations, and the internal dynamics that helped propel Native histories. The course will consider the effects of colonialism in detail, connecting students with various Native American perspectives on familiar colonial and United States history. Finally, we’ll consider the intersections of Native American and African American history. - Back.
Topical, episodic, and biographical studies in US political history from the early republic through the late twentieth century, with an emphasis on populist and conservative movements. Prior familiarity with American history (such as that gained from HIST2010 and/or 2020) is recommended. - Back.
Will America and China go to war? Will China overtake America’s global military, economic, and cultural leadership? How should we understand the current crisis between the two countries? To answer these questions, the course delves into the intricate web of connections spanning the Pacific Ocean, exploring the exchange of people, ideas, and materials between the United States and China from the 18th century to the present day. We will examine topics such as imperialism, war, migration, trade, ideology, cultural representations, etc. At the end of the course, students will be able to analyze and contextualize the current relationship between the US and China and make educated, historically rooted arguments about the two countries. - Back.
The French Revolution occupies a unique place in modern European and global history. Those that lived through and participated in it recognized that they were living through a pivotal moment in human history. The revolutionaries themselves recognized their achievement and its break with everything that they had known. And even as the Revolution was still unfolding, intellectuals and political leaders from Philadelphia to London to Berlin bitterly debated what it represented for their world and the world to come. The French Revolution has been – and remains today – a lively source of debate and disagreement among observers. This course approaches the events of the late 18th century not as a singular Revolution, but as a set of French Revolutions. By reading, thinking, and writing about the debates around the French Revolution, this course introduces students to both the events and the interpretations of the French Revolution(s).- Back.
This course focuses on the social and cultural, political, and economic roles of African Americans in Memphis over the past 200+ years. We will place Memphis in the context of state, regional and national events, and explore intersections of race, class and gender both within African American communities and between African Americans and other populations in the city. Course evaluation includes quizzes and reflection papers on the assigned readings (Memphis in Black and White; Remembering the Memphis Massacre, An American Story; and An Unseen Light: Black Struggles for Freedom in Memphis, Tennessee) and a research project that will allow you to delve deeply into some aspect of Black Memphis history and culture. I can suggest possible research topics, or you may choose your own topic. In addition to the requirements for undergraduate students, graduate students will complete at least three (3) additional readings and produce a historiography which may be included in your research paper/project. - Back.
This course deals with women's experiences in and contributions to society in early
and modern American history. We will examine women’s lives in the past from various
viewpoints: social, economic, political, and cultural, focusing on both exceptional
and everyday women. We will also pay explicit attention to the intersections of race,
class, gender, and sexuality in American culture. Another primary objective of this
course is to learn to think like historians. Rather than merely memorizing names and
dates, students will learn to analyze and interpret historical documents, and in your
written assignments you will put these two genres into conversation. Students will
write short papers, take midterm and final exams, and carry out historical research
on a topic of their choice in U.S. women’s history. This can take the form of a traditional
research paper or a more creative “unessay.” Honors students will create more extensive
research projects and will present them to the class. Graduate students will read
several additional books and write a historiography paper. - Back.
Spring 2024 - Online Course Descriptions
Online courses are fully online and completely asynchronous.
Popular American music offers historians a new archive of primary sources to examine in order to understand the past. This course will introduce students to the historical narrative of popular American music and its industries, highlighting emerging musical genres chronologically over the 19th and 20th centuries. Students will analyze the social and cultural aspects of popular music to understand how American society has changed over time. Music itself became an industry in modern America: how did the economic side affect the art and artists? Can music and other cultural forms create societal change? How have issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, region, and technology affected performers and popular music and its industry? And what role has music played in Memphis history, especially when it comes to issues of race? These are some of the questions students will learn to answer through this class via readings, quizzes, videos, weekly discussions and writing assignments. - Back.
East Asia is a dynamic center of economic and political power in today’s world. It is also a place of great tension and uncertainty. This survey course will focus on the three key countries of China, Japan, and Korea and explore their dramatic transitions across two centuries, their deep connections, and the important ways they differ and clash. Join me as we learn about imperialism, warfare and friendship, surveillance and persecution, cultural exchange, natural resources and disasters, and the convoluted nexus of democracy, communism, and capitalism. Using historical documents, fiction, scholarly writings, and contemporary news sources, we’ll work to understand their complex, integrated histories and how the past shapes their current prominence on the global stage.- Back.
Surveys the histories of the major political and cultural groups of the eastern Mediterranean,
Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Persia, and the Arabian Peninsula. A special focus on cultural
diversity of the ancient Near East will be evident through an examination of the archaeological
and textual material from which history is written. - Back.
Ideas have a history, too! In this course, we will investigate the ways Americans have thought about essential features of social, economic, and political order. We will pay particular attention to the development of and debate over central ideas of equality, freedom, and individualism that have defined the order of common life, and how they contributed to the notion of an "American" identity. - Back.
Multiple sections available
3881 M50 – Dr. Beverly Bond
3881 M51-52 – Dr. Elton Weaver III
3881 M53-54 – TBA
This course examines African American history from the 17th century through the beginning of the 21st century. We will focus on the complex nature of race relations, on the development of African American culture, and on themes, issues, events, and personalities that have contributed to shaping the experiences of African Americans. We are living through some of the most confusing, turbulent times in African American History. I hope you'll be able to use what you learn from our textbook, the primary source documents, the videos, and some additional resources in the modules/units to better understand these events. - Back.
In this course we will explore Britain’s rise and fall as a global superpower between 1815 and the present day. We will consider the making and unmaking of the British empire; British humanitarianism at home and abroad; the expansion of the voting franchise and the development of democratic politics in Britain; class politics and the creation of the British welfare state; Britain’s role in the post-World War II order, including the decolonization of its global empire; and how Britain’s past as a great imperial power is being remembered now, in the era of Brexit. - Back.
This online course facilitates conversations around political, economic, cultural, and scientific developments in world history since 1945. While the main textbook is Odd Arne Westad's The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of our Times, course material will also include interdisciplinary methods informed by research in the social sciences, film and media studies, and the humanities. - Back.
This course covers the history of West Africa from the precolonial era to the present as well as the origins of the West African diaspora in the Americas. We will consider economic, social, cultural, and political developments in West Africa and the diaspora within a global context. Major topics examined in the course include the following: agriculture and technology; Sudanic empires; West African-European relations; the Atlantic Slave Trade; the Atlantic World; European colonization; African nationalism; Pan-Africanism; the return to independence; and the Cold War. - Back.
This course examines the origins of modern America during the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era. In less than forty years, American society, culture, and its economy experienced changes that were nothing short of revolutionary. From Nikola Tesla to George Eastman, technological wizards, daring entrepreneurs, and even ordinary laborers, helped usher in the modern age, creating new possibilities and new problems—all of which continue to matter today. - Back.
Historians are detectives: we dig through archives and examine artifacts. We use tools to help us analyze what we find. We present our findings in a multitude of ways, including in classrooms, books, presentations, museums, historical sites, and even digital spaces. This course will introduce you to the ways historians find and analyze sources, and present their findings to students, scholars, and the general public. In this course, you will learn about these methods and develop new skills as work as a historian, too. - Back.