Department of History

Department of History
Department of History

Second Year Core Seminars 

Second Year Core Seminars are identified by course codes ranging from HIST 300 - 330.  These course are only open to History Majors and Medials who must take one of these courses (ideally in their second year) before proceeding to upper level seminars in third and fourth years. If you have any questions please contact

Please note that all Fall 2020 undergraduate courses at Queen's will be remotely delivered. This means that the first half of the Core Seminars will be taught as online courses. 

For more information, visit the Faculty of Arts and Science's INFORMATION FOR STUDENTS FALL 2020.

(Please note, F and W in the course code is used to indicate whether the course is offered in the Fall or Winter term. F courses start in September. W courses start in January. FW courses are full year courses from September to April. Pay careful attention to these when planning for course enrollment!)
301 FW   Medieval Societies
Instructor: Darren Henry-Noel

This course is designed as an introductory exploration of the heyday of the medieval world, examining the socio-political, cultural, and economic development of medieval Europe, the Byzantine Empire, and the Islamicate societies of the Middle East during the later medieval period. It aims to challenge traditional historical boundaries and periodizations, positing the existence of a dynamic and transnational world of intersecting religions, cultures, and polities, with a focus on medieval Europe. Prior knowledge of the Middle Ages, while welcome, is by no means required and this course seeks to situate the medieval period in a new analytical framework that stresses connections, historicity, and to re-orient the place of the Middle Ages in the wider historical narrative.

Topics to be covered may include medieval government and lordship, medieval warfare, the construction of “Christendom” and the emergence of a European identity, the Crusades, transregional material culture and economic systems, the rise of religious institutions and conflicting orthodoxies, gender construction and daily life in the medieval world, the presence of the religious “Other” in different polities, diseases and ecological change, migration and frontier societies, the question of the “global Middle Ages”, and the nature of medieval history and historiography.

These topics will be explored with an emphasis on the use of primary sources in translation from the Middle Ages, including royal charters, monastic chronicles, and lay histories, as well as current scholarly works in the field such as journal articles and monographs. Being a core seminar, this course aims to introduce students to the research and writing skills necessary to the historical discipline, including engagement with current trends in historical scholarship, the writing and analysis of historiography, and theoretical methodologies for the studying of medieval history.

6.0 units

303 FW   History of the Caribbean in a Global Perspective
Instructor: Elyse Bell

The Caribbean has long been a place of interactions between cultures and communities, a site where global processes intersect, and where ideas and traditions merge and evolve. This course will explore these themes and more from the 15th to 20th centuries, engaging with topics including early European contact with indigenous populations, the establishment of plantation systems and societies, transatlantic slavery, resistance and rebellion, American intervention, postcolonial movements and globalization.

This is a full year core seminar course on Caribbean history designed as a comprehensive introduction for second year students. In the fall term, we will concentrate on the major events and processes of Caribbean history in a chronological fashion within the boundaries of the Caribbean geographical space, but also consider its transnational and global dimensions. In the winter term, we will take a thematic approach in order to deepen our understanding of the region, including perspectives on race, gender, and identity in Caribbean history. We will also consider popular culture, cultural transactions with the wider world, and intellectual networks with a global scope.

The course will provide a thorough understanding of the methods and sources of history as an academic discipline and prepare second year students for advanced seminar courses. We will examine the various sources of Caribbean history, including primary documents, multimedia resources, and digital repositories, and engage in discussions on methodology, modes of reading, critical thinking, schools of historiography, and academic writing.

6.0 units

305 FW   Muslim Societies
Instructor: Hanna Mackechnie

In History 305, students will examine Muslim societies in the pre-modern Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. Selected issues in religious, political, social, economic, and cultural history will be explored with an emphasis on the interpretation of translated primary sources and debated scholarly issues.

6.0 units

306 FW   Holocaust: Problems and Interpretations
Instructor: Gordon Dueck

A fall/winter course taught in conjunction with HIST 295, the first half comprises the lecture component; the second half is a seminar that explores the vast field of Holocaust literature/historiography. The background to and processes of the destruction of the Jews of Europe between 1933 and 1945. Themes to be covered include: modern anti-semitism, Jewish communities in the inter-war era, Nazi racial policies, the Judenrat, the organization of the death camps, the attitudes of the Christian churches, the role of collaborators, the ideology of mass murder, and the questions of ‘compliance’, ‘resistance’, and ‘silence.’

6.0 units

313 FW  British North America, 1759-1867
Instructor:  Jeffrey McNairn

This course will survey the political, social, economic, and cultural development of the British colonies that became Canada from the conquest of Quebec to Confederation. Native‐newcomer relations, the maturation of settler societies, and new institutional structures will receive special attention. Different historical approaches and the use of primary sources will be emphasized.

6.0 units

318 FW   Modern East Asia
Instructor:  Emily Hill

How did the modern states of East Asia emerge? This core seminar course considers the formation of China, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan in historical and regional contexts. Topics include the concepts of “East Asia” and “Confucian civilization,” forms of monarchical rule, integration into regional and global networks of commerce and intellectual exchange, the rise of Imperial Japan, anti-colonial, socialist, and communist movements, and experiences of social and cultural change since the 1970s.

Format: Short introductory lectures, seminar discussion, and oral reports.

Assignments: Like other seminar courses, HIST 318 is structured to teach critical reading and research skills.  Reading assignments include fiction, pioneering scholarly works, and news analysis. The writing assignments are short essays, in-class analytic exercises, a longer essay based on research conducted in stages during the year, and a take-home final exam. In addition, participants will join teams to prepare for and lead class discussion. During two end-of-term class conferences, participants will present brief overviews of their research in progress and take questions from classmates.

6.0 units

321 FW   Social and Cultural Change in Europe, 1500-1800  
Instructor:   Jamie Bonar

Straddling the medieval and modern worlds, the period 1500–1800 was one of considerable change for Europeans. Reeling from the revelations of Constantinople and Columbus, the continent would experience a series of drastic reformations that would irrevocably rend the cultural fabric of the Western World. Viewing this turbulent transformation from the perspectives of popes, princes, and peasants alike, this course will examine a diverse array of sources and subjects including: Imperialism, Witchcraft, Women and Gender, Carnival, Popular Culture, Marriage and Sexuality, and Revolution.

6.0 units

330-001 FW   Indigenous History of North America
Instructor: Scott Berthelette

This course examines the Indigenous History of North America. Through our weekly readings and seminar discussions, we will explore themes as diverse as Euro-Indigenous relations, sovereignty and possession, warfare and slavery, the fur trade and métissage (cultural hybridity), religion and spirituality, women and gender, dispossession and destruction, and reclamation and revival. Over the span of the course, students will acquire knowledge of the ethnohistory of Indigenous societies and cultures as well as gain knowledge of the political history of Indigenous peoples in Canada and the United States. Through this course, students will also understand contemporary Indigenous issues, their foundations, and their social and political impacts.

Please note - HIST 330-001 and HIST 330-002 are two separate courses. Pay close attention to the section number (001 and 002) when enrolling in the course.

6.0 units

330-002 FW   Jewish and World Civilizations (from Biblical to Modern Times)
Instructor: Vassili Schedrin

A thematic-chronological exploration of Jewish history from ancient times to the post World War II period. Topics to be covered include: emergence of Biblical Judaism; political, social, religious and cultural interactions of the Jews and other ancient and medieval civilizations and religions, such as Babylon, Greece, Rome, Christianity and Islam; the rise of rabbinic Judaism and Jewish communities in Diaspora; political emancipation of the Jews in Western Europe; Jewish attempts to integrate into European societies; reform and counter-reform of Judaism; rise of modern antisemitism; Holocaust; emergence of Zionism and establishment of the Jewish state. The geographic span of the course includes Western and Eastern Europe, North America, and Middle East. The seminar traces continuity and change of Judaism and Jewish civilization through examination of a variety of source material: primary historical texts, historiography, and works of art, including literature and film.

Please note - HIST 330-001 and HIST 330-002 are two separate courses. Pay close attention to the section number (001 and 002) when enrolling in the course.

6.0 units