Historian and Founding President

This dictum of the College’s founding president, Warren H. Carroll, aptly indicates the spirit and the purpose of the courses offered in the History Department.  Dr. Carroll reminds us that cultures, like individuals, derive their identity in large measure from their memories.  Historians are a civilization’s designated rememberers, those who introduce new generations to their heritage and encourage a vision that expands one’s awareness beyond his own age, and therefore makes him aware of the fundamental issues of human life and the ways in which different societies have grappled with them.

In particular, both in the Core Curriculum and in the Advanced Courses offered to History majors and other interested students, the History faculty at Christendom College seeks to hand on a Catholic vision of the human past.  It seeks to clarify the difference made by the Incarnation in time and how its successor, the Church, has influenced history both as an institution and through the actions of its members.  It therefore presents a point of view informed by the Catholic orthodoxy that engages both substantive material and historical interpretation in an effort to integrate faith and reason, and also to show the relationship in time between faith and culture.

This Catholic vision of history is what makes the History Department at Christendom distinctive. Within the context of the College, however, the department seeks to serve the broader goal of educating the whole man in Christ.  As every department at Christendom seeks to develop in its students the skills fundamental to a liberal education, so also the History Department labors to pass on excellence in reading, writing, and public speaking.  For these reasons, and for the breadth of cultural literacy offered by historical studies, the major in History is an excellent preparation for graduate or professional studies, teaching, and work in government and commerce.


The history major at Christendom College requires 27 credit hours of advanced courses, including Senior Seminar and Thesis (HIST 512); one course in American History; one course in European History before 1500; one course in Early Modern European History; and one course in Modern European History.  The history minor requires 18 credit hours of advanced courses.  A course grade of at least C-minus is required to fulfill the requirements of the major or minor.

Students who complete a major in the HIST department will:

  1. demonstrate understanding that history is written from various points of view.
  2. be able to interpret primary sources in terms of appropriate historical context.
  3. demonstrate understanding of and discuss intelligently monographic, secondary source material.
  4. be able to bring theological and philosophical insights to bear on historical material not directly related to the history of ecclesiastical institutions.

HIST 101  History of Western Civilization I: The Ancient and Biblical World
As the foundation of our core curriculum in history, this course introduces students to the study of history, in the context of an examination of the Hebrew, Greek, and Roman contributions to the formation of the West. The course traces the history of the chosen people (especially as presented in the Hebrew Scriptures), examines the rise of classical Greek and Hellenistic civilization in the Eastern Mediterranean, and follows the development of Rome from its semi-mythic origins to its position of military and political dominance in the Mediterranean world. Our Lord became incarnate as a Jew in first-century Palestine “in the fullness of time,” among a people formed by Hebrew revelation and in a world united by Roman statecraft and Greek culture. This course will bring that world to life by illuminating the historical dynamics which led to this central event of history.  Required of all students.


HIST 102  History of Western Civilization II: The Formation of  Christendom   Developments in Late Antiquity gradually produced the three great “worlds” of the Middle Ages: where the Roman Empire once stood, we find the medieval West, Byzantium, and Islamic civilization. Although the principal focus of this course will be on Western Europe, the history of the medieval West is not intelligible without some understanding of the development of the Byzantine and Islamic worlds as well. Therefore, through the study of primary and secondary texts, students will be introduced to the integrated narrative of medieval history from the beginning of Late Antiquity through the fall of the crusader states in 1291. The course will pay particular attention to the fall of Rome in the West and its survival in the East, the development of the medieval ecclesiastical and political order, the Arab and Seljuk conquests, the Gregorian reform, the crusades, the intellectual and cultural movements of the Early and High Middle Ages, the rise of the medieval papacy, and the centralization of European kingdoms in the thirteenth century.  Required of all students.


HIST 201  History of Western Civilization IIIThe Division of Christendom
In this course, we will explore the dynamics of western history in the later Middle Ages and the early modern era, which witnessed a profound centralization of power in individual European kingdoms, a corresponding decline in the political authority and prestige of the papacy, a complex set of cultural and intellectual phenomena known collectively as the Renaissance, the collapse of Christian unanimity during the Protestant Reformation, and a series of deep spiritual and institutional reforms within the Catholic Church. Other important themes will include European exploration and colonization in Asia and in the Western Hemisphere, European religious wars, and the Scientific Revolution that preceded the beginnings of the Enlightenment.  Required of all students.


HIST 202  History of Western Civilization IV: Church and World in the Modern Age
The course is an introductory survey of secularization and the expansion of Western European society and culture from the death of Louis XIV to the pontificate of Benedict XVI. Particular attention will be devoted to a study of the transforming effects of the Enlightenment, political revolutions, the industrial revolution, the financial and commercial revolutions, and the accompanying political ideologies of liberalism, communism, and nationalism. The course will also examine the Catholic responses to the religious, cultural, political, and economic challenges posed by the emergence of global modernity.  Required of all students.


HIST 301 Art & Architecture of Rome and Florence.  Rome Semester below.


MUSC/HIST 305 History of Music in Western Civilization  This course is a one-semester introduction to the history of music in Western civilization.  Since this course is open to students with no musical background, it will begin with an overview of some of the simpler technical aspects of music that are a sine qua non for intelligent listening and discussion of this fine art.  After this, the course will deal with the study of the compositions, events, and people in music history, but also with writings about music and how music fits in with the culture and other arts of the times.  There will be a listening component in which students will be required to recognize recordings of important compositions in music history. (3 credits)


HIST/CECS 309  History of Ancient Greece   This course examines ancient Greek culture from the Bronze Age to the Hellenistic period with a special interest in the Heroic Age of Homer, the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars, Periclean Athens, and the establishment of Hellenistic order.  This course is built around the reading and discussion of primary texts by writers such as Hesiod, Homer, Aeschylus, Thucydides, Isocrates, Aristotle, Xenophon, Polybius, and Philo.  The course concludes with a reflection upon the Hellenistic influence on the Greek Fathers of the Church.  (Cross-listed in Classical and Early Christian Studies)


HIST/CECS 310  History of Ancient Rome   This course examines ancient Roman culture from its legendary origins through the Republic and Empire to the conversion of Constantine the Great with a special emphasis on the Punic Wars, the impact of thought of Cicero on western society, the reorganization of the Roman world under Augustus, provincial life in the empire, and the chief factors leading to the transformation of Roman political power in the West.  This course is built around the reading and discussion of primary texts by writers such as Cato the Elder, Polybius, Cicero, Sallust, Quintillian, Tacitus, Julian the Apostate, and Eusebius.  The course concludes with a reflection on history and political life by Saint Augustine.  (Cross-listed in Classical and Early Christian Studies)


HIST/CECS 311  History of the Byzantine Empire   This course examines the nearly 1,200-year history of the Byzantine Empire, from its foundations in Late Antiquity until its final expiration in the fifteenth century; it also introduces students to important historiographical questions in the field of Byzantine studies. “Byzantine” is a modern term, crafted by historians to describe the long-lived Eastern Roman Empire, which emerged as a distinct political entity at the end of Rome’s third-century crisis, adopted Christianity in the fourth century, and weathered many transformations and challenges over the course of the subsequent millennium. These included the fall of the Western Roman Empire, barbarian and Islamic invasions, and violent religious controversies, not to mention coups, usurpations, and conflicts with the resurgent Christian West. Although long a victim of scholarly neglect, Byzantium constituted a distinct political and cultural world during the Middle Ages, and it has left behind a rich legacy among the Christian peoples of Eastern Europe and the Levant. (Cross-listed in Classical and Early Christian Studies).


HIST 321 Tudor-Stuart England  Tudor-Stuart England surveys the essential events, developments, and figures of early modern Great Britain, from 1485-1714. During this period England was transformed from a relatively minor, feudal, European state into a constitutional monarchy, dominating its neighbors in the British Isles—Ireland, Scotland, and Wales—and, by the end of the period, a force dominating Europe and beyond, in short, the most powerful nation on earth. Particularly emphasized in the course will be the emergence of parliamentary government, the triumph of English Protestantism, Roman Catholic recusancy and missions, the changing social structure in England, and English expansion and colonization.


HIST 322  History of Modern Britain   British history from the accession of Henry VII (1485) to the present.  Focus on Tudor-Stuart absolutism and the Protestant Revolt; the rise of the British Empire and industrialism; the resurgence of the Catholic Church during the Victorian period led by John Henry Newman and other converts from the Oxford Movement; Britain’s role in World War II; and the decline and disappearance of the British empire in the second half of the twentieth century.


HIST 331 History of Ireland   This course examines the character of Irish Catholic culture in the Golden Age, with special emphasis on the role of the early Irish monasteries; the English penetration and conquest, and the Irish resistance culminating in the Nine Years’ War (1594-1603); the oppression and persecution of the Irish Catholics in the 17th and 18thcenturies; the building of an independent Ireland; and the great emigration from Ireland since 1845.


HIST 341  United States History An introductory course examining political and social developments within the United States from the Revolution to the end of the Cold War. The course will emphasize the struggle to realize the founding ideals of liberty and equality in the face of constantly changing social and political circumstances. Students with explore this struggle by examining a range of historical issues, including the conflict over slavery, the rise of free labour, westward expansion, the industrial revolution, the development of the regulatory state and the emergence of the United States as a world leader in the aftermath of World War II.


HIST 342  American Catholic History An introductory course examining the relation between Catholicism and American society from the colonial period to the present. The course will explore the theme of inculturation—the incarnation of the universal truth of the Christ in particular human cultures—through an examination of key points of cultural conflict between Catholicism and America, including democracy, education, nationalism, ethnicity and economics. It will, moreover, place particular emphasis on how the forces of immigration and industrialization facilitated the rise of a distinct urban, ethnic Catholic sub-culture and the ways in which Catholics have struggled to maintain cultural and theological integrity in a post-urban, post-industrial America. (Cross-listed in Theology).


HIST 343 History of Education in America This course examines the history of the purposes, methods, and experience of American schooling from the Early Republic up until the early 21st Century, including public, parochial, and home education. What has it meant at different times to be a schoolchild in America? How have school and American society and politics affected each other over time? Through seminar-style discussion, research, and deep reading in the history and philosophy of education, students develop their own answers to these questions and seek to understand what the history of schooling might mean for American education today.


HIST 350 The Renaissance This course surveys the political, intellectual, social, and cultural history of the so-called “long” Renaissance (c1275-c1600). Certain themes will be highlighted: the economic and political development of the city-state, republicanism and despotism, the revival of classical learning, developments in education, the social order, and of course art. Above all, the course will emphasize the Renaissance fascination with the past: origins, antiquity, pedigrees, ancient rights and liberties. Renaissance humanism will be closely examined through the works of Petrarch, Boccaccio, Pico della Mirandola, Erasmus, and Thomas More. Additionally, students will be introduced to the rudiments of paleography through assignments deciphering copies of early modern manuscripts.


HIST 351  Catholicism in Asia Jesus was born in Asia, and today Asia is home to over 130 million Catholics. This course examines the history of Catholicism in Asia, from the early Church’s growth in Persia and India, up to the present day. The geographic regions of focus will stretch from Mesopotamia and Persia in the west, to India and Southeast Asia, to China, Korea, and Japan in the north and east. We will consider the causes for greater or lesser success in the growth of Christianity in different Asian contexts: e.g., attitudes of temporal authorities, missionaries’ strategies, interactions of Christians with other religious groups, and the witness of Asian saints. Throughout the course, we will pay special attention to “inculturation,” the dynamic, creative interplay between faith and culture.

HIST/THEO 352 History and Theology of Vocation This course examines the concept of “vocation,” in both theory and practice. We will seek to understand what Christians through the ages thought about “being called” to a state of life (especially marriage, religious life, and Holy Orders); and how social, cultural, and legal circumstances affected one’s entry into and living in a state of life. In pursuing these questions, we will explore both classic theological texts and social realities (such as coercion in marriage and religious vocations; dowries and laws of marriage; the proliferation of new religious orders; and the relationship between vocational choice and the growth of individualism). Studying vocational choices ultimately helps us to understand the nature of modernity and the embeddedness of individuals in larger communities of family, Church, and society. (Cross-listed in Theology)


HIST/THEO 353 The Catholic Reformation This course explores the chief developments in Catholicism during the early modern era (approx. 1450-1700), with a special focus on the notion of “reform” as it was used within Catholic contexts, distinct from (but sometimes related to) the rise of Protestantism. Students will explore reform efforts leading up to the Council of Trent, at the Council itself, and in the implementation of the Council, in addition to grassroots reform such as that of Sts. Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Avila, and Francis de Sales. Finally, we will explore the globalization of Catholicism through early modern missions. (Cross-listed in Theology).


HIST 361  Religion and Culture in Early-Modern France  This course considers the pivotal role of France in religion, politics, and culture during sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The first part of the course focuses on the way in which France, the birthplace of John Calvin, endured decades of bloody confessional warfare in the latter half of the sixteenth century. The second part of the course highlights the dynamism of French Catholic life during the seventeenth century, known simultaneously as France’s “Great Century” and as its “Century of Saints.” Having emerged from the wars of religion, France arguably became once again the most influential centre of Catholic Reform in Europe.


HIST 399 Historiography   Historiography is the study of the methods and goals of the writing of history.  This course will introduce students to the major figures and schools of historical interpretation from Ancient Greece through the modern period.  The course will also involve the critical analysis of differing interpretations of persons, events, and trends by modern historians. The chief goal of the course is to assist students in articulating a Catholic vision of history, informed by the reading of selections of St. Augustine’s City of God.


HIST/THEO 401  History of the Papacy   A survey of the development of the Papacy and its impact on history from St. Peter to the present.  Emphasis is placed on institutional growth, the advancement of papal ecclesiology, major challenges to the Papacy, and both the elements and effects of papal leadership in the Church as a whole. (Cross-listed in Theology)


HIST 410: History of Islam This course examines the complex social, political, and religious history of Islam, acquainting students with the development of Islamic doctrine, statecraft, theology, philosophy, historiography, science, and art. The course proceeds thematically, with units devoted to pre-Islamic Arab society, Islamic origins, approaches to the Qur’an and hadith studies, the theory and practice of the caliphate, Islamic intellectual history, the Ottoman imperial era, and over two centuries of Islamic interaction with the modern West.


HIST 411  Reconquista and Crusade   This course examines the complex interactions between the Islamic and Christian worlds, from the first Islamic century to the end of the crusading era, and pays special attention to the current state of scholarship on the crusades, on medieval Islam, and on medieval Iberia. “Reconquista” and “Crusade” are both modern terms rather than medieval ones, and therefore their validity and precise meaning have been actively debated for generations. Nevertheless, the terms retain wide currency and utility. This course acquaints students with the historical realities that these terms designate, and with the prolific scholarship devoted to them.


HIST 412  Spain, Portugal, and the New World since 1492   This course begins with the reign of the Catholic kings of Spain, Fernando and Isabel, and then charts the rise of the Spanish colonial empire, paying special attention to the reigns of Carlos I (the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V) and Philip II.  The second half of the course treats the influence of the Enlightenment and French Revolution upon the Iberian peninsula and Latin America and culminates in a consideration of the Cristero rebellion in Mexico, the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, and the Catholic victory in the Spanish Civil War.


HIST 431  Causes and Effects of the French Revolution   A study of the pivotal political event of modern Western history, with special attention to its antagonism to the Christian Faith, the Catholic Church, and Christian moral teachings.  Its causes and essential character as manifested in its principal events are carefully examined and its consequences traced in detail to the fall of Napoleon and, somewhat more briefly, to the Paris Commune in 1871, with emphasis on the causes and manner of its apparent defeat by 1815 and its subsequent revival.


HIST 432  History of Totalitarianism This course presents the development of communist ideology by, principally, Marx and Engels, with examinations of its elaborations and modifications by the likes of Lenin. It also examines the growth, impact, and decline of communist political movements, chiefly in the early to mid-twentieth century. Topics will include the origins of these movements, the Bolshevik revolution, and the nature and effect of Stalinism. This course further examines the rise and development of fascism, especially in its National Socialist incarnation. The class will thus offer an examination of the broader phenomenon of totalitarianism in its most signal historical manifestations, while noting Catholic critiques of it by Pius XI and John Paul II.


HIST 433 The Great War The Great War course introduces students to the monumental conflict in the second decade of the twentieth century that tore Europe apart, caused the deaths of millions, and destroyed the existing European political order. The collapse of four long-standing empires—the Hapsburg of Austria-Hungary, the Romanov of Russia, the Hohenzollern of Germany, the Ottoman of Turkey—spurred the emergence of independent nations formerly part of those empires and reshaped the map of Europe and the Middle East. The Great War facilitated the emergence of Communism in Russia and sowed seeds for the growth of Fascism in the succeeding decades elsewhere. World War I turned the United States into a major world power and gave rise to the League of Nations. Issues to be explored include: nationalism, responsibility for 1914, technology and the unprecedented destructiveness and social impact of the conflict, the notion of “total war,” and the Great War’s unintended consequences.


HIST/THEO 451  The General Councils    The history and theology of the ecumenical councils from Nicaea I to Vatican I.  A knowledge of Latin is recommended. (Cross-listed in Theology)


HIST/ENGL 460  The Catholic Literary Revival    This course examines the revival of orthodox Catholicism in modern Britain. It treats a wide variety of genres, including realistic fiction, fantasy literature, poetry, history, and social criticism. Students discuss texts in seminar discussions and conduct original research on the work of a modern Catholic author. Among the writers studied are G. K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, David Jones, Christopher Dawson, J. R. R. Tolkien, and such members of high Anglo-Catholic circles as T. S. Eliot, C. S. Lewis, and Dorothy L. Sayers.  (Cross-listed in English)


HIST/ENGL 461: The Inklings The modern West has been marked by a simultaneous steady secularization, especially among intellectuals, and a renewal of Christian faith and culture, also among leading thinkers and artists. This course explores this revival of orthodoxy during a post-Christian age by an intensive examination of one of its chief exemplars, the Oxford literary fellowship known as the Inklings. This group centered around C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams, but drew from earlier figures like G. K. Chesterton and influenced peers such as Dorothy L. Sayers. The course presents the cultural context of this movement, and also explores in depth some of its leading figures’ writings, with particular concentration on how they used the modern genres, like fantasy, to communicate traditional, Christian beliefs. The class consists of close readings, discussions, and evaluations of these authors. (Cross-listed in English)


HIST 480  John Paul II and the Twentieth-Century Church Pope St. John Paul II was one of the most important figures of the twentieth century, both in the Church and in the world political landscape. His life illuminates topics ranging from Polish village life to resistance to Fascism and Communism; from collegiality among bishops to the meaning and implementation of the Second Vatican Council. Through an in-depth biographical study of John Paul’s life and works, in combination with developments in theology and politics, this course asks both how the century shaped the Pope and how he influenced our Church and world.


HIST 489  Honors Seminar   A seminar on a special topic in history to be determined by the department chairman in consultation with interested and qualified students.  Prerequisites:  Minimum 3.25 GPA and permission of the Department Chairman. (3 or 4 credit hours)


HIST 490-99  Special Topics or Directed Studies in History   Specially designed courses of readings in areas not sufficiently covered by another course already in the curriculum.


HIST 512 Senior Seminar and Thesis    Senior History majors prepare their senior thesis in this course.