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  • Topical: Cultural and Social



    UW-L students touring an art museum, 2013.

    Introduction to the Cultural and Social History Emphasis

    Students in UW - La Crosse's History Department's emphasis in Cultural and Social History will study the history of cultural and social forces embodied in movements and organizations; art, literature, and film; areas of human experience including apparel, architecture, and culinary practices; and the various commercial media inundating our daily lives. Our students will learn how social and cultural phenomena have historically affected and structured our material and intellectual environment in connection with ethical concerns involving political and economic questions. 

    In general, the History Department's Cultural and Social History emphasis will help students develop and make tangible the kinds of relatively intangible skills prospective employers and professional and graduate school admissions committees will value: problem solving, analytical and creative thinking, research skills, the ability to express oneself and one's thoughts clearly and persuasively both verbally and in writing, intercultural communication skills, and the capacity to address immediate concerns with the kind of "big picture" perspective that a historically grounded education provides.

    The History Department will particularly encourage students in topical emphases to apply for and undertake internships with organizations and businesses related to individual students' interests, concerns, and plans. Our faculty will work with students, helping to place them in intern positions that will be of genuine value with respect to their intellectual and professional development. Internships along these lines will help students get their "foot in the door" in areas of prospective post-graduation employment and professional development.

    What really sets apart the three new topical emphases including Cultural and Social History is that faculty will work with students to produce portfolios packaging and showcasing the aptitudes and skills they develop over the courses of their undergraduate education. To some, abilities obtained and developed through a traditional liberal education, such as analytical and creative thinking, may seem abstract and without specific content, being notoriously difficult to measure and assess through means such as standardized testing. However, Cultural and Social History students' portfolios are where their skills, aptitudes, and abilities will become manifestly palpable and concrete. 

    Portfolios will contain the following: a cover letter introducing the portfolio, a resume or CV, examples of scholarly research and writing, and letters of support from teachers and professors, employers, and others who have supervised and are willing to assess students. Our faculty will encourage Cultural and Social History students to personalize their portfolios, including various forms of evidence and artifacts that demonstrate valuable abilities and connect with particular students' interests, concerns, and plans.  Students must submit writing portfolios by the middle of the semester in which they intend to graduate; the portfolios should be submitted to the coordinator for the Social and Cultural History Emphasis, Prof. Iguchi.

    Cultural and Social History students will be encouraged to keep and maintain their portfolios on a publicly or selectively accessible website, which will in turn interact with social media such as One's portfolio can thus remain a resource and tool for students after graduation. In this role, one's portfolio will ease processes of obtaining and updating letters of recommendation, as well as networking with peers at UW-L and beyond.


    Professor Trimmer teaches in 2013.

    Careers, Option, and Internships

    One of the most common questions students and their parents have with regard to obtaining degrees in Humanities and Liberal Arts disciplines is, "what can I [or she or he] do with that?" History's Cultural and Social emphasis, along with emphases in Religious Studies and Public and Policy History are particularly geared towards answering that question, which also entails facilitating graduates' ability to find meaningful and productive professional and gainful employment in a variety of fields. Students majoring in History with a Cultural and Social emphasis will also be primed for further study in professional or graduate school.

    A graduate in Cultural and Social History will certainly be well prepared for graduate work and a career in academia, in addition to immediate entry into the job market or professional school involving all of the professions traditionally valuing a liberal arts education. Areas of prospective employment include, for example, business and marketing; journalism, technical writing, publishing, and mass media; law and legal services; non-governmental organizations (NGOs), non-profit groups, and lobbying; and work in public history, archives,and museums (see this page).

    However, we have designed the social and cultural emphasis to specifically open possibilities for employment involving, for example, management of culturally significant sites for public or private agencies; community activism and advocacy of human rights at local, national, and international levels, in particular involving populations such as migrants, women, children, veterans, members of LGBT communities, and ethnic-racial and religious minorities; the food industry and culinary arts; the entertainment and leisure industries; and the travel and tourism industry, especially insofar as it involves burgeoning opportunities in conducting and managing heritage and ecology tourism.

    Structure and Curriculum of the Cultural and Social History Emphasis

    (1) History Core Coursework

    Students in Cultural and Social History will complete 24 total credits in the core requirements of the history major before graduation. These requirements are made up of the following coursework:

    HIS 200 Cr.3
    Historiography and Historical Methods
    This course is an introduction to both historiography (the history of the study of history) and historical research. In addition to introducing students to historiography, the course also introduces students to historical research methods, use of primary sources, problems of interpretation, and composition. Required for all history majors and minors.

    HIS 490 Cr. 4
    History Research Seminar
    A capstone course in historical research and writing: Themes and techniques of historical inquiry, research methods, use of primary sources, interpretation, and composition. Requires completion of a significant research and writing project. Prerequisite: HIS 200, 12 credits in history, excluding current registration, instructor's permission.

    Students must also complete coursework amounting to nine credits, picking two courses from HIS 200-level 3-credit surveys on the United States, the Ancient Medieval World, Modern Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and/or Modern Africa. In addition, Social and Cultural History students are required to take six credits or two courses of 300-level coursework from any two regions. These are history courses with specific concerns involving particular areas of the world such as "Twentieth Century Latin America" (HIS 342), "Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" (HIS 361), "African Environmental History" (HIS 379) or "History of Modern Europe (20th Century)" (HIS 349).

    (2) Social and Cultural History Coursework

    Lastly, the following is a September 2013 list of courses making up the substance of the Social and Cultural History emphasis. (It is likely that as the new emphasis develops new courses will be added to this list. In the immediate future, some courses not included here will be cross-listed for credit in either a region or the Cultural and Social History emphasis) First (A) is a group of courses offered by the History Department, and secondly (B) are courses offered by other departments. Cultural and Social History emphasis Students must choose 18 units of coursework total from the following, and no more than six of those units can be from courses offered by departments other than History.

    (A) Social and Cultural History courses offered by the History Department:

    HIS 406 Cr.3
    Topics in Social History
    Social historians investigate the ways that different social groups are defined and treated according to categories such as race, class, and gender. They are also concerned with the way that ordinary people define themselves, make claims on governments, and organize for change. Each time the class is offered it will focus on a particular topic important to social historians. Examples might include migration, urbanization, industrialization, social movements, the family, identity, or slavery. Examples and case studies will be drawn from several times and/or places. Offered Occasionally.

    HIS 413 Cr.3
    Topics in Cultural History
    This is an introductory course on relationships between history and culture. Emphases will vary whenever the course is taught. Generally, it covers three interrelated areas: (a) the history of the concept of culture and cultural practices, (b) cultural history, and (c) trans-disciplinary cultural studies. The course will focus upon signification in history, which may involve arts and aesthetics, symbols and signs, language and writing, customs and traditions, and various manifestations of culture in realms such as performances, architecture, cuisine, and apparel. The course will make connections between the place of culture in historical studies and other disciplines in the social sciences and humanities. Instructors may choose to introduce students to both conceptually oriented readings and studies of particular manifestations of culture in various times and places across history and the globe. Offered Alternate Years.

    HIS 311 Cr. 3
    Dilemmas of Peace and War
    An examination of the causes, consequences and nature of both war and peace in a global context. This course will consider war and peace throughout history and within various cultures. Offered once every three years.

    HIS 387 Cr. 3
    African Novels And History
    An introduction to the intellectual and cultural history of Sub-Saharan Africa and the experiences of African people in the 20th century specifically through novels. Emphasis on historical theory and research methods. African novels are used as sources of information to deepen understanding of African history. Offered Sem. II.

    HIS 392 Cr. 3
    History Through Film
    This course uses film, television or similar media as a primary or secondary source in the study of the history of a region, nation, or historical theme. The premise is that we may study the history of peoples, nations and cultures through film, rather than studying the history of film itself. This course will examine the perils and promise of using film as a source, briefly discuss film criticism and terminology, and include historical context for the films in the course. Students should expect to read and write about film criticism, history and historiography. Depending upon the instructor, students may be required to attend regularly scheduled film showings, watch the films on their own time, or make other arrangements requiring additional student time. Offered once every three years.

    HIS 397 Cr. 3
    Social History of African Nationalist Movements
    This course examines the role that ordinary African men and women played in ending colonialism and forming new nations, from the 1940s through the 1980s. It focuses on the processes of creating groups with collective goals, and the ways in which Africans articulated and contested their political visions for the future in the context of decolonization and the Cold War. Offered Fall - Every Third Year.

    HIS 398 Cr. 3
    Social and Cultural History of Colonial Africa
    Social History of Colonial Africa. This course focuses on African social history in the face of European colonialism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It particularly examines the ways in which ordinary men and women accepted, adjusted to, or contested the changes that colonialism brought to their work, family, and community lives. Offered Spring - Every Third Year.

    HIS 404 Cr.3
    Migration and Empire
    This course offers in-depth case studies of the Mongol, Ottoman, Dutch, and British empires (1200s-1900s CE), with particular emphasis on the role human migrations played in the creation and expansion of these empires. Selected types of migration to be analyzed in the context of these historical empires include: military, refugee, enslaved, and opportunity-seeking. The construction of migrant group identity, and reactions to migrants from different segment of imperial societies, will also be explored. Special emphasis will be placed on the labor, religious, and ethnic or racial distinctions that emerged as diverse populations came into contact with each other. Offered Fall - Even Numbered Years.

    HIS 405 Cr.3
    Migration: Personal Accounts
    This course examines personal experience (individual, family level) of long distance migration and what they can help us understand about historical migration patterns can the 1700s-2000s CE. Types of world migration covered include 16th-18th century indentured and enslaved migrations to the Caribbean, 19th century wage-labor migrations to the Americas, and refugee migrations as a result of world wars in the 20th century. The course prioritizes analysis of visual and written primary source materials created by emigrants. Examples include diaries, letters, photographs, oral histories, and manga. These types of materials will be used to investigate selected aspects of the migrant experience, including: life in transit, maintaining ties to home, adjustment to new economic and cultural contexts, and prospects for being accepted into receiving societies. Offered Spring - Odd Numbered Years.

    HIS 407 Cr.3
    State and Society
    Could absolute monarchs actually rule with absolute power? Were fascist and communist states really totalitarian in their control of society? Political arguments frequently make generalized claims about "the government" or "the nation" and its relationship to its citizens or subjects. Yet these terms are often only vaguely understood, especially in any historical depth. This course enables students to understand the historical development of state forms and the ways that states and societies interact with one another. Students will use theories and arguments employed by historians to make clearer the complicated relationships by which states exert power and societies demand, accept, or resist the imposition of order by their states. Offered Occasionally.

    HIS 412 Cr.3
    Global Trade and Labor, 1500 to Present
    This course examines the history of everyday commodities that we consume or use, often without considering where they came from (sugar, coffee, rubber). It centers on the development of plantation-style agriculture in the Americas, Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and Africa from the 1600s-1930s CE. Power relationships between laborers, landowners, colonial governments, and consumers are examined in order to connect trade goods to the historical societies in which they were produced. A particular emphasis is placed on links between European imperialism, labor migration, and inequality. Offered Every Third Semester.

    HIS 450 Cr.3 - 12
    History Internship/Field Experience
    The internship or field experience is intended to provide a student with an on-the-job experience which is related to the history profession, inside or outside academe. A history faculty member shall supervise the selection process, the internship or field experience, and grading. A maximum of six credits may be counted toward the history major and three credits toward the history minor from HIS 450. Prerequisite: Minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75 and minimum GPA of 3.00 in history. Offered Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer.

    (B) Social and Cultural History Courses offered by other Departments:

    ENG 301 Cr.4
    English 301: Foundations for Literary Studies
    An introduction to foundational knowledge and skills for the advanced study of literature. The course fosters understanding of the importance of historical, cultural, and intellectual contexts for literary study as well as appreciation for diversity of literary  expression. Facility for critical work with literature is developed through expanding students' knowledge of literary genres and their understanding and use of basic literary terminology and through enhancing their abilities to do literary research, conduct close textual analysis, and write critically about literature. Prerequisite: Three credits in 200-level English courses. Offered  Fall, Spring.

    ENG 348 Cr.4
    English 348: Studies in Film Literature
    An introduction to the study of film and film criticism, with some attention to the history of the medium and its relation to literary genres. Prerequisite: three credits in 200-level English courses. Offered Annually.

    WGS 210 Cr.3
    Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies: 210
    Women's Voices / Women's Culture
    An examination of how women have expressed female experience in a variety of forms, including fiction, autobiography, oral traditions, and song. By analyzing women's words and forms of self-expression, students will explore what is individual and what is common in women's lives, and will learn tools for understanding female experience and culture. Offered Occasionally.

    WGS 373 Cr.3
    Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies 373: Gender and Human Rights
    This course will provide an overview of transnational women's human rights movements in a variety of locations around the world; locations will vary with the instructor. Included in this overview will be the study of women's political participation as a human rights issue; women's bodily integrity as a human right; violence against women and reproductive sexual health and rights; human rights as a framework for social and economic and gender justice; and human rights as (quasi) legal accountability; UN agreements, treaties and venues of redress. Prerequisites: WGS 100 or WGS 210 or WGS 215 or WGS 230 or  EFN 205 or ERS 100. Offered Fall - Odd Numbered Years.

    WGS/SOC 375 Cr.3
    Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies/Sociology 375: Lesbian Studies
    Examines the social construction of sexual orientation and its meaning for women and women's equality. The course draws on a range of sources, including scientific research, history, literature, psychological theory, and popular culture. Prerequisite: WGS 100 or WGS 210 or WGS 230 or EFN 205. (Cross-listed with SOC/WGS; may only earn credit in one department.) Offered Alternate Years.

    ART 251 Cr.3
    Art History I: Ancient and Medieval Art
    A survey of the visual arts from the Paleolithic era to 1400 A.D. The course will consider in depth art of the ancient civilizations that are part of the Western heritage, including Egypt, Greece, Rome and art of the Middle Ages from Europe and the Byzantine Empire. Non-Western art to be studied will include Islamic, Asian, African, and pre-Columbian art of the Americas. Offered Fall.

    ART 252 Cr.3
    Art History II: Renaissance to Contemporary Art
    A study of the visual arts from 1400 A.D. to the present. The course will focus on art of the Renaissance and subsequent styles  such as Baroque and Rococo, as well as on the art of the modern/post-modern eras. Besides studying art produced in Europe and the United States, the course will consider post-1400 art from Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Offered Spring.

    ART 301 Cr.3
    World Art
    This course will be an in-depth examination of art forms in various historical, social, and religious contexts of Africa, South and Southeast Asia, the Pacific, and the Americas, Students will explore issues, approaches and controversies in cross cultural civilizations through art as a primary source of understanding. They will experience how, through art, the values and ideas of many cultures have evolved and new patterns of globalization have shaped the modern world. Prerequisite: junior standing. Offered Fall, Spring.