The History Department introduces students to the serious study of the world's civilizations, and cultivates a perspective through which students begin to see themselves as individuals with opportunities and responsibilities in a modern, post-industrial world. With a focus on primary documents, our aim is for students to gain a particular knowledge of their own immediate culture through the study of United States history, as well as to initiate a study of the human condition in the broadest sense of the term.
By learning to evaluate and use evidence to make qualified generalizations, our students develop analytical skills that will serve them in college and beyond. All history courses require short, carefully structured papers that demand close analysis of primary sources, and longer term papers that require extensive research on a particular topic or issue.
Ultimately, we are committed to the notion that the study of history is an integral component in the general humanizing process of a liberal education. We encourage our students, as they study specific periods, cultures, and historical themes, to develop the intellectual skepticism and analytical rigor to identify demagoguery, hagiography, and the parochialisms of ethnicity and gender.
History Department Chair Emily Pressman gives a rousing Chapel Talk on the roots of her own love of history and the work of civil rights activist Diane Nash, and urges us to ask ourselves: "What can I do?"
Students must take a minimum of two yearlong course credits in history, including one in United States history. The U.S. history requirement may be fulfilled in any year, but with rare exception it is the first history course a student takes at St. Andrew's; incoming III Form students are required to take U.S. History. Students entering the V and VI Forms may gain an exemption from this requirement if they have taken a comparable course in high school before enrolling at St. Andrew's.
- United States History: Research Challenges
- United States History: Interpretations of the Past
- Advanced Study in History: 20th Century History
- Advanced Study in History: Ancient Greece & Rome
- Advanced Study in History: East Asia and the Japanese Empire
- Advanced Study in History: Global Studies
- Advanced Study in History: History of the Middle East
- Advanced Study in History: History of Social Reform Movements
- Advanced Study in History: Modern European History
- Advanced Study in History: History, Literature, and the Contested Past
- Great History Books
- Advanced Topics Tutorial in History
Open to III and IV Form students
This course serves not only as an in-depth introduction to American history but also as an introduction to the field of history itself. Students use primary sources to answer authentic historical questions; these "research challenges" require written responses based on students primary source reading and additional research. Prepared each class period with his or her own research and arguments, each student is actively invested in and responsible for the class discussion. This method encourages students to think deeply about the past, to ask questions and interpret evidence, to develop cogent arguments, and to collaborate with their peers. By the end of the course, students will have an understanding of American history, and a well-developed ability and desire to ask meaningful questions when presented with an unfamiliar historical text, whether document or newspaper, film or book. Course readings come from a primary source reader developed by the History Department, supplemented by journal articles, excerpts from monographs, and texts, such as the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.
OPEN TO V and VI FORM STUDENTS
This is our U.S. history course for students who enter St. Andrew's in the sophomore or junior year; it can be taken in the junior or senior year. While the texts and topics in this course differ slightly from those encountered in U.S. History: Research Challenges, they share the same methods and objectives. Course readings include a series of monographs and primary documents, and selections from the following:
- Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave;
- Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States; and
- John Parker, His Promised Land.
In order to understand the current challenges of the current century, one must understand the important events and questions faced in the twentieth century. Therefore the goal of 20th Century History is to generate thoughtful, well-informed twenty-first century citizens of the world.
Toward this end, students will use the first semester to study the first two World Wars. We look at the reasons the wars started, the way they were fought, and they way these wars were ended. To understand the first half of the twentieth century, we must also study genocide, and we try to understand the motivations behind these events, as well as the international response. We dig deep to understand fascism, communism, and republicanism. In the second semester students study the major events of the Cold War like the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the war in Vietnam. Discussions questions include: When should a country go to war? How should a nation best apply the lessons from the past? How should a nation respond to a country it has identified as its enemy?What do I need to know in order to understand the twenty-first century world?
In the final third of the course, students study the rise of Communist China, and read The Looming Tower—a Pulitzer prize winning book that explores the long and short term history of the attacks of September 11, 2001. Emphasis is placed on critical reading of primary and secondary sources and written work that requires careful analysis, independent thought, and compelling argumentation. Texts include the following:
- Ian Kershaw, Hitler;
- The Communist Manifesto;
- Eugene Sledge, With the Old Breed;
- The Stanford Prison Experiment;
- The Milgram Experiment; and
- Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower.
Formerly Offered As As History: Western CivilizationWho were the Greeks? Who are the Romans? What is Western Civilization? This advanced study course focuses questions of identity in ancient Greece, ancient Rome, and today. Students will look at how different cultures identify themselves in comparison with other groups, as well as how difference within a culture is used to develop cultural identity. Using poems, histories, plays, and other primary sources, this course asks students to begin to understand ancient cultures on their own terms, not merely as precursors to the modern West. As a result, we pay special attention to the role of gender, sexuality, and ethnic difference both in the daily lives of the ancient world and in the construction of a cultural identity. Students begin to develop the critical reading skills necessary to identify “invisible” members of ancient societies.
In addition to reading from a variety of ancient authors including Homer, Herodotus, Aristophanes, Livy, Vergil, and Augustine, students learn the skills of research through an annotated bibliography and a scholarly research paper.
OPEN TO V AND VI FORM STUDENTS
What forces—cultural, economic, and political—will shape the twenty-first century? And what are our obligations as citizens in this new globalized, interconnected, "flat" world? Drawing on a range of disciplines, including ethics, economics, geography, ecology and cultural and literary study, students will work to develop an intellectual toolkit for understanding some of the most pressing issues facing the world today. This work will serve as the foundation for crafting informed points-of-view, responding to the ideas of others, and attempting to articulate paths forward. Students first examine the duties and obligations of citizens in a global world, and ways in which the media and popular culture shape—and misshape—our understanding of people and events beyond our national borders. Further topics include:
- the scope and limits of military power;
- the emergence of the international human rights movement;
- world poverty;
- nuclear weapons, war crimes and genocide;
- the cultural and political impact of economic globalization; and
- the debate over climate change, overpopulation and environmental collapse.
Each unit is framed around a series of readings that offer multiple perspectives on a single issue. Course readings include newspaper and magazine articles, and all students will receive a year-long subscription to The Week. Texts include Fareed Zakaria, The Post-American World; and Dambisa Moyo and Niall Ferguson, Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa
What forces have brought the Middle East to the current situation and, given that information, what are the best chances for peace in the future? This Advanced Study course is designed to provide students with the background and the skills to understand events that are transpiring in the region today. Students will further develop their ability to analyze opinionated sources rigorously, and to approach potentially controversial issues in a helpful and scholarly manner.
The course begins with an investigation and discussion of a contemporary event, and then leaps backwards in time to study the historical roots of modern events. Students will examine the origins of Islam, the rise of the Muslim empires, explore the Crusades, the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire, Zionism, Israel and the Palestinians. The course then concludes by examining Iraq and Iran from the 20th century to the present. Throughout the course, students discuss journalism in the Middle East and always seek connections between past and present. Forms of evaluation will vary, including presentations, position papers, journalistic writings, and a major research paper. We read many primary sources: selections from the Qur’an; a knight's journal; and writings by Jamal al-Afgani, Theodor Herzl, Yasir Arafat, Hanan Ashrawi, Yitzak Rabin, King Hussein of Jordan, Ariel Sharon, Marwan Barghouti, the Ayatollah Khomeini, George W. Bush, Osama bin Laden and others. We also use selections from an assortment of secondary sources, including writings by Akbar Ahmed, Sayed Hossein Nasr, Bernard Louis, Edward Said, Jason Goodwin, Daniel Bar-On, and Sami Adwan.
- the debates over the 15th Amendment from the American Equal Rights Association Convention;
- texts from advocates and opponents of the American Indian Boarding School Movement;
- Stokely Carmichael's position paper, “Basis of Black Power;”
- the New York Radical Women's protest against the Miss America pageant;
- Gandhi's writings on non-violent non-cooperation;
- Leni Riefenstahl's film, Triumph of the Will;
- the arpillera tapestries made to protest the Pinochet regime;
- the songs of the Irish Republican movement; and
- the training materials from the April 6th Movement, a driving force behind the 2011 democratic movement in Egypt.
A few months into the class, each student will choose a particular historical case study to examine in an original research project. In addition to this research paper, the course will culminate with students designing a campaign for a social reform movement of their choice, past or present, thereby allowing students to take their historical study and put it into action.
Not Offered 2017-18
This course explores the cultural, economic, political and social events and ideas that have shaped European history from 1450 until the outbreak of World War I in 1914. Students examine the rise of modern Europe and the impact of European actions during this time period, both on the continent and throughout the word, with a focus on the following topic areas:
- the Renaissance;
- the Protestant Reformation;
- the Age of Discovery;
- the Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment;
- the "Glorious Revolution";
- the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars;
- the Industrial Revolution;
- Romanticism and other ideological "-isms";
- the rise of nation-states; and
- the road to World War I.
Students write analytical essays, conduct independent research, and read from primary and secondary sources.
DOUBLE-CREDIT COURSE; CREDIT RECEIVED FOR BOTH Advanced Study English 4 AND AN AS HISTORY COURSE
This interdisciplinary VI Form course, taught jointly by members of the English and History Departments, examines how historians, novelists, and poets have wrestled with and made sense of the past, and their own relation to it. Structured around a series of case studies at the intersection of literature, history and memory, the course explores the relationship between the documented past (historical primary sources) and the imagined one (literature). Students study novels and poems deeply shaped by the social and cultural moments from which they emerged and consider how an understanding of the historical circumstances that produced a work of literature can inform their reading of it. They also examine how writers of fiction have used history as source, inspiration and charge. Can the imaginative work of literature actually help us more fully understand the “real” past? What responsibility does the novelist have to history? Students also consider how the construction of a narrative—the storytelling—of a novelist differs from that of a historian. What might each learn from the other?
Case studies and related texts may include the following:
- slavery and its legacy, with Toni Morrison’s Beloved or Edward Jones’ The Known World;
- the American immigrant experience, with The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz;
- war and its effects, both social and personal, with Pat Barker’s Regeneration or Tim O’Brien’s In the Lake of the Woods; and
- Reagan-era political and cultural identities and the AIDS crisis, with Tony Kushner’s play Angels in America.
PRIORITY GIVEN TO IV FORM STUDENTS; ALSO OPEN TO V AND VI FORM STUDENTS
In this course, students are introduced to a wide range of historical topics by reading entire books of historical scholarship. Students examine the ways in which the author collects and uses evidence to create and sustain a historical argument. Over the course of the year, students read four books, each one taught by a different member of the History Department, with a focus on opportunities for interdisciplinary study. Selected texts may include:
- Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War;
- Jung Chang, Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China;
- Christopher R. Browning, Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland;
- Nicholas Lemann, The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy;
- William Cronon, Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England;
- John W. Dower, Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II;
- Timothy B. Tyson, Blood Done Sign My Name.
Not Offered 2017-18
PREREQUISITES: FULFILLMENT OF SCHOOL GRADUATION REQUIREMENT FOR HISTORY & DEPARTMENTAL PERMISSION
This individualized course allows the advanced VI Form student to explore further topics and research in history outside of normal departmental curriculum. For example, in a recent tutorial, students researched the antebellum Episcopal Church in Delaware and its dual participation in and opposition to slavery. Students studied the broad history of slavery in the mid-Atlantic region and then worked through extensive diocesan and individual church archives to understand the church's fluctuating stance on slavery. Their research contributed to a larger ongoing contemporary history project. Students experienced real-life deadlines for their written work and presented their papers and findings to the Diocesan Committee on Slavery in Delaware intermittently during the school year.