Department of History

Department of History
Department of History

2020-21 First Year Courses

Welcome to Queen's! If you are an incoming first year student, 100 level courses are the courses you are eligible to enroll in. If you're planning on becoming a History major, medial or minor, you'll need to take 6.0 units (two 3.0 unit courses) of 100 level History to eligible for a History plan at the end of your first year. If you have any questions about History at Queen's, please contact 

Please note that all Fall 2020 undergraduate courses at Queen's will be remotely delivered. For more information, visit the Faculty of Arts and Science's INFORMATION FOR STUDENTS FALL 2020.

(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. Pay careful attention to these when planning for course enrollment!)
100 Level Fall Courses (F) 3.0 units

HIST 104 F : Pre-Confederation Canada: A History of the Present

Instructor: Steven Maynard 

In this course, we adopt an approach called “a history of the present.” We start with present-day Canada – a liberal-democratic, capitalist nation. But rather than assume these features have always defined the nation, we will move back into the history of this place we now call Canada to explore how people organized their economic, political, and social lives in ways dramatically different from the liberal capitalism we know today. For example, centuries before Canada, Indigenous peoples constructed diverse, complex societies, in which kinship was valued over the liberal individualism that will later come to characterize Canada. During the early French regime, a highly hierarchal, semi-feudal socio-economic system took root along the St. Lawrence long before the Atlantic revolutions of liberty, democracy, and equality hit these shores. Vast swathes of northern North America were made up of merchant empires of fish and fur, which functioned as virtual monopolies, not as a competitive, free-market system.

A history of the present seeks to answer the question, then, how did we end up with the liberal-capitalist Canada we know today? We will answer this question by exploring the very different social formations of the pre-Confederation period. What were they like and what happened to them? We’ll then track how liberal capitalism emerged as the dominant social formation by 1867. At the same time, we will look at how earlier historical formations, such as kin-ordered Indigenous societies, live on to challenge present-day Canada. The value of a history of the present is that it demonstrates nothing was preordained about Canada’s history, nor is there anything inevitable about our current political/economic/social systems. Such a view of the past opens up possibilities. It invites us to start a dynamic dialogue between the past and our present. How can critical historical thinking play a part in our everyday lives as we ponder news ways of inhabiting our uncertain and changing world?

In terms of format, the course will be delivered remotely/online, and it has two main components: a weekly ‘lecture’ by the instructor in the form of short audio-visual podcasts uploaded to the course website, and a weekly ‘seminar,’ run by a team of Teaching Fellows (TFs). At the beginning of the course, students will be divided into small seminar sections, each with its own TF. The course is designed to be asynchronous, allowing you to do course work week by week according to your schedule. There will also be ample opportunities throughout the term to meet with the instructor and TFs via online, live-chat sessions. Couse assignments are tied to the seminars and will take two different forms. Frist, in a series of online, discussion-focused workshops, moderated by TFs, students will hone their skills at primary historical document analysis, using a free, online textbook. Second, a term project will put ‘the history of the present’ into practice by focusing on the history of a present-day problem much in the news: the roots of anti-Black racism in Canada.

Note: HIST 104 and 105 are separate courses, and students can take one without taking the other. That said, the two courses are designed together to provide a common approach and an overarching interpretation of Canadian history.

Although this course does not yet appear on the Canadian content list, HIST 104 does count towards your Canadian content requirement. 

3.0 units

HIST 108 F: Early Globalization: Contact, Conflict and Pandemics

Instructor: Aditi Sen

The electric speed at which the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the world reminds us about the nature of the globalized world that we now live in. And yet, globalization is not recent. Early River Valley Cultures in Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt and the Indus Valley, the tumult of the Crusades, the early global pandemics like the Black Death, and the global spread of the Renaissance, and the turmoil unleashed by the revolutions of the 18th century are some of the themes and topics that will help us to understand the history of globalization as a continuous process and how early globalization has affected every aspect of our lives from the ancient times until the mid 1700s. By examining warfare and conquest, the formation of early empires, trading networks, commodity exchanges, global pandemics, and medicine and religion, this course will show how over the centuries the world became an interconnected whole. This is a text-free course and you are not required to purchase any textbook. Course readings will be provided online.

3.0 units

100 Level Winter Courses (W) 3.0 units

HIST 105 W: Post-Confederation Canada: A History of the Present 

Instructor: Steven Maynard

What does modern Canada mean to you? Is it having the right at 18 to vote in a liberal democracy? Getting a job and pursuing your aspirations? Living in a multi-racial, multi-cultural society? Moving here to study or work? Expressing your gender difference and sexual diversity? These have become some of the defining features of modern Canada in the post-Confederation period, so much so they can seem like common sense. In this course, we’ll adopt an approach called “a history of the present.” We’ll start with the defining features of present-day Canada, but rather than take them for granted, we will subject them to historical scrutiny. When and why did Canadians first start to work for wages, and how did we become a nation of consumers dependent on the market to meet our needs and desires? Has liberal democracy always delivered on its promise of political and social equality? When in the country’s complicated history of immigration did Canada first become a multi-racial, multicultural society, and what about those who wished to maintain a “white Canada forever?” How, over the course of the twentieth century, did the state come to assume its vast role in regulating our personal lives, in everything from our drinking habits and sexual behaviour to how we express our cultural and religious identities?

Looking at the forces of regulation, we will also examine how ordinary Canadians, through political parties and social movements, have contested liberal capitalism and resisted efforts to regulate their lives. We will track the back-and-forth movement between regulation and resistance, including moments of social and political upheaval, like the 1880s, the First Word War and its aftermath, the Great Depression, the 1960s, the advent of neoliberalism. Ultimately, approaching modern Canadian history as a history of the present means thinking about the past not as a done deal or a bunch of dead facts but as an ongoing and open-ended process of change, in which we all have a part to play.

The course comprises three parts: a weekly lecture by the course coordinator; a bi-weekly seminar led by Teaching Fellows; and, in the weeks between seminars, a self-directed research project. Seminars will focus on the interpretation of primary historical documents. The research project will press the ‘history of the present’ into action by focussing on a present-day debate, specifically, the current controversy over the presentation of Canadian history on public statues and memorials, particularly from the perspectives of Indigenous history and decolonization.

Note: HIST 104 and 105 are separate courses, and students can take one without taking the other. That said, the two courses are designed together to provide a common approach and an overarching interpretation of Canadian history.

Although this course does not yet appear on the Canadian content list, HIST 105 does count towards your Canadian content requirement. 

3.0 units 

HIST 106 W : The Making of Modern Europe

Instructor: Andrew Jainchill

This course charts the making of Modern Europe from the middle of the seventeenth century through to the middle of the twentieth century. The course will focus on the different processes, events, and ideologies that created modern Europe and key parts of the modern world order, notably political revolution and changing notions of citizenship; the emergence of global capitalism and consumerism; colonialism; fascism and communism; and world war.

3.0 units

HIST 109 W: War and Revolution in the Modern World

Instructor: Awet Weldemichael 

Wars and revolutions are among the most transformative forces in world history. This survey course in world history starts from the Industrial Revolution, abolition of slave trade and emancipation of slaves and ends with the ongoing global war on terror, popular uprisings and other forces shaping our world today. In between, the course will explore colonial and anti-colonial wars, the two world wars, the Cold War, and nationalist revolutions. In the process, we will critically examine questions like: What is a revolution? How is it that a war can be ‘cold’? What is terrorism? Why are state-society relations progressively securitized? And what explains widespread trend of militarized police?

3.0 units