1. K-State home
  2. »Arts and Sciences
  3. »History
  4. »Undergraduate Program
  5. »Topics Courses

Department of History

Topics Course Descriptions

Each semester, the History Department offers several "topics" courses. These are often new courses or those that cross traditional chronological and geographical divides. General Historical topics fall under HIST 301; American History topics under HIST 533; European topics under HIST 597; and Non-Western topics under HIST 598. The KSU catalog does not offer a full description of these topics classes, so we do so below.

Spring 2022 Topics Courses:

HIST 301, Sec A   Topics in History - Top/Salem Witch Trials

T U       9:30 - 10:45 a.m.   Calvin 218    Breen, Louise

This course will examine the social, political, religious and cultural context of the witch trials that occurred in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. Students will explore the various explanations that historians have offered for this anomalous event, while also reading and interpreting primary sources for themselves. 


HIST 301, Sec ZA   Topics in History - Top/Framing & Amending the U.S. Constitution

100% online, asynchronous    Aley, Ginette

This course provides an historical introduction to the shaping, framing, and amending of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, from their origins to the mid-twentieth century. We will also explore landmark Supreme Court decisions and their impact on American society. Global Campus Course Fees apply.


HIST 301, Sec B   Topics in History - Top/Pirates

M W F       9:30 - 10:20 a.m.    Calvin 116   Brandom, Eric W

Pirates have long been a real practical danger and at the same time objects of fantasy. This class takes a historical view of maritime predation, attending both to the realities and popular imaginings of piracy. The class will spend the most time on the so-called golden age of piracy in the early 18th century Caribbean. Our perspective, however, will be global, starting with piracy in the Roman Mediterranean, and passing through the South China Sea, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Horn of Africa. We will consider the different forms, including digital, that piracy has taken more recently. This is an introductory course, no prior experience in history classes is required.


HIST 301, Sec C   Topics in History - Top/Nazi Germany & the Holocaust

T U          1:05 - 2:20 p.m.       Calvin 218    Maner, Brent

Formerly HIST 588; This course examines Germany’s turbulent history from 1918 to 1945. We will study the rise of the Nazi party as part of the transformation of political life between the end of World War I and 1933. Then we will examine the effects National Socialist policies had on politics, society, and culture. And we will consider war and violence as central components of the Nazi world view that manifested themselves in World War II and the Holocaust. **Students who have enrolled in HIST 588 cannot receive credit for this section of HIST 301.**


HIST 301, Sec D   Topics in History - Top/American Imperialism

M W F      11:30 - 12:20 p.m.   Calvin 218    Smith, Kenneth

This course seeks to better understand the particular ways in which the United States has projected its power from Colonial America to the present. How has the United States gained influence globally through settler colonialism, territorial government, military interventions, counterinsurgency, the rule of experts, military bases, and U.S. global markets? How have its attempts to dominate the world (or parts of it) shaped the domestic history of the United States? How has American imperialism affected the discourse of the colonized? This course will explore these questions and more.


HIST 301, Sec E   Topics in History - Top/Renaissance & Reformation

M W F      12:30 - 1:20 p.m.   Calvin 209    Holgerson, Timothy

This course explores European history from the end of the fourteenth century to the beginning of the seventeenth century.  The Renaissance (as a precursor to the Enlightenment) and the Reformation (with its disruption of the Medieval Church) were two overlapping movements that not only accelerated the transition of politics and society in Europe, but also produced the beginning of the modern world.  While the Renaissance featured the cultural achievements of humanists and artists whose influence reached beyond Italy and spread throughout Europe, the Reformation introduced the religious ideas and practices of reformers whose impact extended beyond Martin Luther’s German Reformation and encompassed all of Europe.  Although the primary focus of the Reformation will be on the reform movements of Protestants (i.e., Lutherans, Calvinists, Anglicans and Radicals), attention will also be given to the Catholic Reformation.


HIST 301, Sec F   Topics in History - Top/Modern Central Europe

T U      11:30 - 12:45 p.m.   Calvin 218    Bergstrom, Stefan

The history of Central Europe is less well-known than the history of Western Europe. But Europe’s central regions have had an eventful and exciting past. The area has been part of empires, but it has also included small kingdoms, principalities and republics. The region’s precarious location between Russia and Germany and its effects on Central European developments will be examined in detail. This course will trace Central European history back to Samo’s medieval empire. But the main emphasis will be on modern history. The geographic and political borders of Central Europe have varied greatly over time. In our course we will particularly stress developments in an area mostly corresponding to the modern states of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. We will, however, also discuss the history of the Habsburg Empire in its entirety, including the past of its Austrian heartland. Political, economic, and social developments will be the primary focus of the course, but we will also have a look at the intellectual and cultural history of Central Europe. Apart from political leaders such as Empress Maria Theresa and Lech Walesa, we will meet leading intellectual and cultural personalities in this class. We will learn about the significance of Central European scientists such as Sigmund Freund, Ignaz Semmelweis, and Marie Curie. The region has had, and still has, a rich cultural life. In the course, we will discuss the contributions of authors such as Franz Kafka and Vaclav Havel, composers such as Frederic Chopin, Franz Liszt, and Bela Bartok, and artists like Gustav Klimt and Alphonse Mucha. We will also go beyond intellectual and cultural trends and have a close look at developments of political ideologies in the region. We will look at the reasons for economic backwardness in parts of the Central European countries. The emergence and success of nationalism in the area will be a major theme in the class. We will also discuss the impact of communism on Central Europe after the Second World War in great detail. We will conclude our work in the class with an analysis of developments in post-Communist Central Europe.


See the full schedule of courses for the Spring 2022 HERE.