Department of History

Dr. John Baranski, Associate Professor

 Dr. John Baranski, Associate Professor

Office: 211 Noble Hall
Office phone: 970-247-7269
Curriculum Vitae: baranski_cv14.doc


Previously Taught Courses

Courses in History, Gender and Women's Studies, and the Sociology Mexico Program

HIST 281: Survey of US History, 1877-Present

Tired of the same old dates, facts and historical clichés? History 281 is for you! We will look at the major issues since 1877 and ask big questions: Who were the Wobblies and why did they sing so much? How did Franklin Delano Roosevelt save capitalism? Why did the U.S. government drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Why did we “lose” the war in Vietnam? Was it Reagan or Soviet Premier Gorbachev who really ended the Cold War? How can we understand, historically, liberalism? In History 281, we will practice the art of historical detection, enter into the debates that defined our national history, and read about the ordinary men and women who defined our country. You will discover that history is far more interesting and complicated, the players more diverse and more human, than you ever imagined.

HIST 283: Women in U.S. History Since 1848                                    

This is a course about the history of women in the U.S. from 1848 to the present. We will explore several themes in this course. We will look at the ways work and the sexual division of labor have influenced the lives and experiences of women in the United States. We will examine the way gender roles, race, and sexuality have found their ways into institutions, laws, and policies to maintain women’s subordination in society. We will also investigate the role of family and personal life in the lives of women. In all of these areas, we will reconstruct the ways women have banded together, and at times opposed each other, in influencing their position and status in society, especially in relation to the political values and practices of democracy, equality, and justice.

Note: HIST 283 is the same course as GWS 283 – credit will be given for only one of these courses.

HIST 318: Emergence of Modern America

This course will cover the key events, debates, and social movements that forged Modern U.S. politics and society. Topics will include the Populist, labor, and progressive movements, World War I, the cultural of the 1920s, the Great Depression and the New Deal. We will also look at the characters that animated the era, from Joe Hill and Emma Goldman to Eleanor Roosevelt. We will try to understand how the U.S. went from being a largely agricultural and rural nation to being a global superpower. We will also examine the ways ordinary people banded together to bring ideas and goals of freedom, equality, and democracy into their workplaces, neighborhoods, communities, and nation.

History 331: Poverty in U.S.
“Poverty has always been with us,” it is often said. How and why poverty has persisted in the United States will be the focus of this course. We will ask the following questions: How, amidst progress and plenty, can poverty exist? What, if any, is the role of government to end poverty? Who is responsible for poverty? What is a community’s role in finding a solution to this problem? The ideas, public and private policies, and social movements that have attempted to address these key questions, from the colonial period to the present, will drive the readings, discussions, and lectures of this course.

History 332: Women in American History
An analysis of women’s experience from the colonial period to the present, this course focuses on the way gender has been defined and redefined. Three core themes will guide our exploration of gender over time: Work and the sexual division of labor, gender and the meaning of politics, and the role of family and personal life. As we chart the evolution of these themes as they related to men and women, we will examine how inequality based on sex was both maintained and challenged. By doing all of this, we will gain a deeper understanding of the major events and developments in U.S. history and the ways women participated in them. One of the assignments of this course will be a class project that contributes to International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.

Note: HIST 332 is the same course as WS 332 – credit will be given for only one of these courses.

History 333: America Since 1945
This course explores the individuals, social movements and forces that have shaped America since the end of World War II. Topics include: the history of the Cold War from the dropping of the atomic bomb and the war in Vietnam to the fall of the Soviet Union; affluence and poverty; work and the economy; social movements and countercultures; the rise of the New Right and national debates over the proper role of government; and foreign policy in the post Cold War era.

HIST 334: United States & Vietnam
Vietnam continues to haunt the collective psyche of the United States. In this course, we will examine why this is so. We will begin with a discussion of colonialism/imperialism and why the U.S. government intervened in Southeast Asia, then explore two important questions: what did the U.S. government do in Vietnam? And what did those activities there do to the U.S. as a nation? At moments, we will consider the ways the Vietnamese responded to U.S. policies and reflect on the nature of imperialism in the last two centuries. Finally, we will discuss how the legacy of Vietnam has influenced domestic and global conversations about U.S. foreign policy in the last three decades.

HIST 335: Work and Workers in the U.S.
Work is a basic human activity. In the last 35 years, the history of "labor," "work," and "workers" has attracted a great deal of scholarly attention. This course explores the history of work, and working peoplemen and women, paid and unpaid workers, white and nonwhite workersfrom the emergence of the Maritime State to the present. At times, we will compare what happened in the United States with the history of work and workers in other regions, particularly the Americas, Europe, and Africa. We will examine the ways new technologies have altered the ways in which work is done and consider the role of the labor movement as a force for both democracy and the preservation of traditional hierarchies, past and present.

The larger questions for consideration will be how work relates to change and continuity in society and politics. From 1776 to the present, U.S. employers have generally maintained a dominant position in the workplace—and society and politics. This imbalance in power has meaning for many aspects of our lives, including our families and education, our standard of living and health, our ability to be free and participate in formal politics. Not surprisingly, work has been a key terrain of struggle for civil rights, civil liberties, and human rights. To many, an examination of work and workers can help us understand the history of justice, power, and democracy.

History 390: Latinos in the United States
This course is about Latinos in the United States. It will begin with the Spanish colonization of the Americas and the resistance to their arrival, then follow the history of individuals and communities with linguistic, cultural, and political ties to Spain who now live in the United States. To be sure, the largest of this group to reside in the United States is of Mexican descent, but we will also be exploring the historical experiences of individuals from the Caribbean, and Central and South America. As the fastest growing social and political group in the U.S., over 40 million at last count, an inquiry into the influence of Latinos on U.S. politics and society will expand our understanding of work, immigration, urban and rural changes, politics, and culture.

HIST 396: Philosophy and Methods
This course explores the ways historians, past and present, think about and practice the craft of writing history. It introduces students to new fields of historical research and multi-disciplinary approaches to the past. Special emphasis is placed on developing skills necessary for becoming successful writers in the field. This course is required for all majors and should be taken in the second term of the sophomore year or during the junior year.

History 485: Advance Studies in US History

History 496: Research Senior Seminar
In this course, students produce an original historical research project based on skills acquired and preparations made in History 396. The Research Senior Seminar is a capstone course. At the end of the term, each student will have a thoughtfully written and carefully polished Senior Thesis (sophisticated, historical research paper). In addition, each student will share the thesis and central arguments/ideas of their research in a public presentation and defense.
Prerequisite: History 396

Education for Global Citizenship Courses (Sociology Mexico Program)

EGC 324: Movements of Resistance

This course explores how modes of resistance are launched, maintained and sometimes falter in a number of different sociological, historical and cultural contexts.  This course asks students to examine different modes of resistance in terms of various forces as disparate as nation-states, international policies sponsored by states and international organizations.

EGC 319: Social Poetry

This course assumes that poetry reflects the society from which it originates. Poetry will be explored according to its type, language employed, author’s gender, and ethnic origin within the framework of the socio-historical context under which it was written.