Carnegie Mellon University

2018 Summer Semester

Below is the list of Undergraduate courses offered by the History Department for Summer 2018. Extensive course listings can also be found on the Undergraduate Catalog.

Complete Course Descriptions as a PDF »


Instructor Units Lecture
N. Kats 9 MTWRF 10:30-11:50

This course covers a broad sweep of Russian history from the socialist revolution in 1917 to the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s.  Spanning almost a century of upheaval and transformation, the course examines the October revolution in 1917, the ruthless power struggles of the 1920s, the triumph of Stalin, the costly industrialization and collectivization drives, the battle against fascism, and the "wild west" capitalism and collapse of the social welfare state. The course provides essential background for anyone interested in understanding Russia's place in the world today and its relationship with the West.



Instructor Units Lecture
N. Kats 9 MTWRF 12:00-1:20

This course is based on use of historical documents and films to study problems that reshaped the world during and after the Cold War. We will examine how documentary and feature films depicted the most important events of the Cold War, such as the Korean War, the construction of the Berlin Wall, the Cuban missile crisis, and others. In addition to films, sources will include documents, lectures and readings.



Instructor Units Lecture
N. Kats 9 MTWRF 1:30-2:50

How did World War I and World War II change European society and culture? Defining the meaning of "Europe" or "European" is complicated, since it refers to both a geographical location and a shared history and cultural identity. This course will focus on the most important cultural developments and achievements of Europe in the 20th and 21st centuries. Students will learn how historical cataclysms of the last century were reflected in European music, art and literature. Based on an interdisciplinary approach to the multiple regions and countries located on a single continent, the course will equip students with the skills, methods, and concepts essential for a better understanding of European culture, society and thought. It will focus particularly on such tragic events as World War I and World War II, and the rise and fall of Nazi and Communist regimes and ideologies. Students will also learn how to present material effectively, to analyze texts critically and to construct coherent arguments.



Instructor Units Lecture
J. Roszman 9 MTWRF 10:30-11:50

Human activity transcends political, geographical, and cultural boundaries. From wars to social movements, technological innovations to environmental changes, our world has long been an interconnected one. Acquiring the ability to understand such transnational and even worldwide processes is an indispensable part of any college education. This course provides students with an opportunity to develop the skills and perspectives needed to understand the contemporary world through investigating its global history. A variety of sections are offered in order to give students the opportunity to choose between different themes and approaches. All sections are comparable in their composition of lectures and recitations, required amounts of reading, and emphasis on written assignments as the central medium of assessment. The sections all aim to help students: (1) master knowledge through interaction with the instructors, reading material, and other students, (2) think critically about the context and purpose of any given information, (3) craft effective verbal and written arguments by combining evidence, logic, and creativity, and (4) appreciate the relevance of the past in the present and future.

Individual lecture descriptions for sections E and U below:

Global Histories: Global Empire: Commerce, Finance, and Naval Power in the Rise & Fall of the British Empire

Great Britain at the height of its power controlled a quarter of the world’s population, a fifth of its dry surface, and mastery across its oceans. The British Empire operated as a vast  network of people, institutions, commercial interests, and commodities that fueled Britain’s rising geopolitical importance and made London the financial capital of the world through the First World War. Often relying on the power of the Royal Navy, the Empire incorporated far-flung territories into this web of interconnectedness and unleashed what we now call “globalization.”

Using the writings of historians, as well as primary sources such as newspapers, travel accounts, letters, and literature, “Global Empire” will follow the development of the British Empire from the sixteenth century to its demise after the Second World War.  We will pay particular attention to the way Britain’s economic interests shaped its imperial project. Thus, the course will explore topics such as colonial commodities, slavery, imperialism, naval power, free trade, and war in the Americas, Asia, Africa, and the British Isles. Ultimately, students will not only be able to recognize and assess the role of the British Empire in the development of “globalization,” but will also be able to identify the ways that economic interests shape state policy in the world we live in today.



Instructor Units Lecture
S. Alfonso-Wells 9 MTWR 6:00-7:50pm

How do societies make meaning? Is culture a set of shared values or are these values continuously negotiated, altered, and adjusted? How do individuals and societies account for change and how do they aim to incorporate it into their values? This course introduces students to anthropological approaches to these questions. Readings will draw on case studies from very different settings: from a ruined city in Brazil to interethnic conflict in Cyprus, oil and chocolate in post-Soviet Russia, pyramid schemes in postsocialist Romania, and vampires stories in East and Central Africa. We will assess the advantages and pitfalls of comparing cross-cultural data, analyze the workings of power within and between societies, and consider the politics of cultural representations. We will also discuss the anthropologist's relationship to the people s/he studies, and the responsibilities inherent in that relationship. Throughout the course, students will learn the importance of a historical perspective on culture, looking at how and why societies change, and considering how we, as anthropologists, should assess these changes.



Instructor Units Lecture
N. Slate 9 MWF 12:00-1:20

If you wanted to change the world, who would you ask for guidance? Mahatma Gandhi? Rachel Carson? Nelson Mandela? In this interdisciplinary course, we will examine the history of efforts to create sustainable social change. Through a series of targeted case studies, we will examine the successes and failures of notable leaders, past and present, who strove to address social problems nonviolently and to create lasting improvements in fields such as education, healthcare, and human rights.  In keeping with the example of the people we will be studying, we will bring our questions and our findings out of the classroom through a variety of creative, student-driven experiments in sustainable social change.