Department of History

Michael Martin, Chair and Associate Professor

Office: 210 Noble Hall

Office phone: 970-247-7147


Office hours: MTWR  12:15--1:00 p.m.  [Beginning June 4]

My primary focus is medieval Europe, c. 500-1500 C.E., specifically focusing on sermon literature of the Carolingian Period (c. 750-950). I also teach ancient history, honors, gender/women's studies, and religious studies courses.


Previously Taught Courses


History 150: World Civilization I, To 1500
This course is an introduction to the cultural, economic, intellectual, political, religious and social life of World Civilization from the beginning of time to 1500. This course will examine the above topics chronologically as well as thematically; primarily around themes such as issues of cultural memory, family, gender, and social interactions and relationships.
This course satisfies the HI1 gt-Pathways requirement.

HIST 160: Survey of Western Civilization I, To 1350
Examines the origins of the institutions and beliefs of western civilization from the earliest civilizations in Mesopotamia and Egypt, tracing the development of these beliefs and institutions through Greece and Rome and their preservation and enhancement in the early medieval period of European history.
This course satisfies the HI1 gt-Pathways requirement.

This course is also designated as an e-Learning course. This class will meet at its scheduled time, but a significant portion of class meetings will be delivered online. A schedule of meetings and cancellations will be provided on the first day of class. This course will require the use of a computer.

More information can be found at

History 190: World Civilization I, To 1500
This course is an introduction to the cultural, economic, intellectual, political, religious and social life of World Civilization from the beginning of time to 1500. This course will examine the above topics chronologically as well as thematically; primarily around themes such as issues of cultural memory, family, gender, and social interactions and relationships. This course is now HIST 150, and satisfies the HI1 gt-Pathways requirement.

History 190: Recitation Section for World Civilization I
This one-hour section will build on the historical emphasis of the weekly lectures and focus the discussion to allow students to develop debates about current, crucial issues with respect to world civilizations, multiculturalism, globalization and other such issues.

History 190/390: History of Gay Culture through the Media, 1955-2005 - Enrichment Course
We examine the perceptions and understandings of history of LBGT culture through television and film, and the extent to which these perceptions, and the culture, have changed in just fifty years. We also examine the contributions made to and by the gay community in this fifty-year development of their own culture and history.

History 250: Composition in History      
Building on knowledge acquired in the prerequisite composition course(s), this course will introduce you to the methodologies, skills, and structures of scholarly writing and research, based in part on the historical method. Interdisciplinary skills will be introduced and developed to help students from and for all disciplines. In addition to understanding how academic texts reflect the shared ethos of a community of scholars, students will be introduced to standard methods of citation and to research materials available through the library, taught within the context of plagiarism issues. This course satisfies the CO2 gt-Pathways requirement.

History 262: Tolerance and Persecution in Middle Ages
In his controversial study of the Holocaust, Hitler's Willing Executioners, Daniel Goldhagen argues that ordinary Germans' acceptance of Hitler's deadly mission against the Jews during the Third Reich traces its roots back to medieval German anti-Semitism, indeed to the anti-Semitism inherent in Christianity itself. This controversial book has stimulated debate on fundamental questions such as: how and why does society create its outcasts? Is persecution an ever-present function of organized society, or does it have specific historical catalysts and endpoints? These are the questions we will start with in this course using the Middle Ages and the groups that experienced persecution in medieval society as our case studies. We will look closely at medieval anti-Semitism, but we will also look at other marginal groups, such as gays, heretics, lepers, and women, who were "understood" in medieval society to be deviant, inferior, and even dangerous to the well-being of the whole community; and finally, examine how ruling authorities and ordinary people thought about and acted toward these "dangers". This course draws on readings in medieval history to pursue the issues of tolerance and persecution, but it also touches on sociology, anthropology, literature, religion, gender studies, and politics. This course satisfies the HI1 gt-Pathways requirement.      

History 263: Medieval Life-Modern Film & Literature
"Bring out your dead!" This course covers aspects of the historical European Middle Ages (nobility, knighthood, religion, gender relations, etc.) through modern films and texts, using these resources to pose questions both about the medieval past and our modern need to revisit it in our own media.
This course satisfies the HI1 gt-Pathways requirement.

History 302: Ancient Rome
Introduction to Ancient Rome from its Etruscan beginnings to the end of the Empire. Topics include Republican government, Imperial expansion, daily life, Roman ideas about morality and sexuality, education and the arts. We will also look at the "lighter" side of Rome, including gladiators, baths and brothelspastimes that characterized ordinary life in the Eternal City and its provinces.

HIST 303: Ancient Greece
This course surveys the origins and cultures of the ancient Greeks from early Aegean civilizations to the Hellenistic Period. Topics include Minoans, Mycenaeans, Homeric Age, development of the polis, the contrasting city states of Athens and Sparta, ending with the decline of classical Greece and the arrival of Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic World.

HIST/RS 308: Rise of Christianity
A study of the historical Jesus of Nazareth, Judaism and the first century Jewish Palestine under Roman domination. The development of Pauline Christianity and the struggle between orthodox and Gnostic Christians. Course will also examine the development of the differences between eastern and western Christianity. Course will cover up to 451 C.E., the Council of Chalcedon. Credit can only be taken for one designation (HIST or RS).

History 359: Medieval Europe
An examination of culture, society, politics, religion and gender in the historical development of medieval Europe using both primary and secondary written source material with reference to the art, music and philosophy of the period as well.

History 368: Medieval Women
This course follows two main themes: first, the thematic history of gender and the roles of women in past societies; second, to the time-specific historical study of the European Middle Ages, particularly as women experienced them (c. 500-1500). [May count toward major or minor in Gender/Women's Studies.]

HIST 374: European Topics: Black Death
“I’m not dead yet!” The word ‘plague’ originally meant simply a wound. What has the concept of ‘plague’ been throughout history? What has it become, especially in light of recent plagues such as HIV/AIDS, H1N1, Influenza, Tuberculosis, and Cholera, to name a few. Our class will explore this concept from Antiquity through to The Black Death, or Great Plague, of the 14th century, killing anywhere from 25-50% of the population of Western Europe. Besides mass deaths, in what other ways did this epidemic cause such widespread devastation but also developments and devotion? In asking those questions, we will need to analyze the disease not merely through an historical or medical lens. How was the disease understood Intellectually? Economically? Politically? Religiously? Socially? Culturally? In looking for such explanations, we will need to examine the various factors leading up to all of these meanings of ‘plague’. What were the lasting impacts, good and bad, and for how long each time? What was going on in Europe in general in the centuries preceding the many instances of plague? How have we utilized that knowledge to react, respond, and refine our understandings of modern plagues?

History 390: History of the Crusades
This course will examine the history of the Crusades, primarily those to the Holy Land from the eleventh to the fourteenth centuries. We will also examine the internal crusades of Western Europe at the time. Topics we will look at to help us analyze the period include historical and cultural events leading up to the Crusades, papal involvement, patters of settlement in the Holy Lands; also social, political, economic, legal, and ecclesiastical concerns, along with accounts of this period of history from European Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and Byzantine perspectives and personalities. Readings will be extensive, but on occasion we will split them up between class members for discussion and debate purposes.

History 396: Philosophy and Methods
An introduction to the study of history, this course serves as the Writing Course for the History Department. The course explores the ways historians, past and present, think about and practice the craft of studying, researching, interpreting, and writing about history. It introduces students to new fields of historical research and multidisciplinary approaches to the past. Special emphasis is placed on developing skills necessary for becoming sucessful writers in the field. This course is required for all majors; it is a reading and writing intensive course. Readings will on occasion be divided among students for discussion and debate purposes.

History 496: Research Senior Seminar
A capstone course in the preparation of a senior history research paper with a public presentation and defense.
Prerequisite: HIST 396


Gender/Women's Studies 496: Senior Capstone Course
Theme for Witner 2006: Female Masculinity
Initially building from Judith Halberstam's book, Female Masculinity, we will examine her concept of female masculinity and how she applies it to women and women's roles as defined by society (and which society that is will need to be determined as well). We will then utilize her later work, In a Queer Time & Place, to fully evaluate this concept. Part one of the course will look at what we might express as the flipside to male metrosexuals and look at women who are straight but have a 'masculine' tag, for example, tomboys or the modern day CEOs who dress in a "man's" uniform of the business suit; part two will cover queer theory and lesbians and the various images and historical contexts/debates; and, part three will be the students' own experiences and presentations of projects portion of class.

Gender/Women's Studies 496: Senior Capstone Course
Theme for Winter 2007: Transgenderism
What does the term 'transgender' mean? As Stryker and Whittle write in the introduction to the course textbook, The Transgender Studies Reader, "As we move into a new world, trans academics and theorists are creating new discursive practices which are repositioning the power of gender(s) and allowing more of us to have a say in what gender means, and in what its powers should be." This course will attempt to discuss those new discursive practices and attempt to develop an understanding of the term or to determine if in fact it is a useful or productive term to begin with.

Gender/Women's Studies 496: Senior Capstone Course
Theme for Winter 2010: Queer Theory
What does the word 'queer' mean? We will begin our examination of this field of study with two early psychoanalytical and philosophical texts: Freud's Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality and Foucault's The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction. As Dr. Christopher Nagle writes, "Since [queer theory] is mobile, relational, and perhaps above all performative, we will not start with perfunctory definitions or reductive bits of 'conventional wisdom' which do violence to the complexity of queer production, but we will seek actively and continually to tease out an understanding of what and how queer means. . . . We will ask what it means to 'read queer': what it means to read about or for queers, or even as a queer, but also what it means to read in a queer mode, to queer by rading, in the act itself." To do so we will need to examine these ideas within various contents and contexts: (auto)biography, anthropology, drag culture, film theory, gender, history, language, literature, philosophy, political science, psychoanalysis, science, transgender, and anywhere else from which we wish to draw and examine this concept of 'queer'. The other main text is Sedgwick's Touching, Feeling.


Honors 220: Human History and the Liberal Arts
This course will look at the history of liberal arts education primarily from the ancient Greek and Roman perspectives. Since this is a learning community Honor's course, all work will be coordinated with the two associated courses: HIST 160: Survey of Western Civilization (taught by Dr. Martin) and ANTH 151: Introduction to Anthropology (taught by Dr. Fine).

Honors 220/420: Covering: Hidden Assault on our Civil Rights
Using Kenji Yoshino's book Covering: The Hidden Assault on our Civil Rights, we will look at the concept of how various groups, including gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, physically challenged, religious, have all in some form or another covered, or 'passed', in society so as to not be discriminated against. We will look at how this is achieved, and also potentially overcome. Yoshino teaches law at Yale University.

Honors 220/420: History of Gay Culture through AIDS
This course will examine the history of AIDS in America, beginning in the 1980s (known as the Plague Years) and moving through to today. We will examine AIDS from and through various perspectives: theatrical, historical, literary, political, medical, film, the arts, and muscis, along with important people and events associated with AIDS. By looking at these various perspectives we will attempt to determine how AIDS has come to be understood by and taught to America. The main influence and "jumping off" point for the class will be Tony Kushner's Angels in America. Each student will be expected to attend the Theatre Department's production of Part II of Angels in America in April 2006.

Honors 220/420: Scholarship of The Da Vinci Code
This course will attempt to unveil the various "truths" behind Dan Brown's fictional novel The Da Vinci Code. We will look at the scholarly and historical contexts behind and within the work, and then branch out into such fields as religious studies, theology, Opus Dei, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Holy Grail.

HON 221/421: Tolkien: Fantasy Realized
J.R.R. Tolkien is widely recognized for his books The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. While these texts are major accomplishments and world renowned, Tolkien is also known for his academic work in Anglo-Saxon studies, Norse mythologies, commentaries on the epic poem Beowulf, his coverage of World War II, and his friendships with the likes of C.S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia and The Screwtape Letters). Many believe that all of these events and people had some impact on his fantasy works; Tolkien vehemently denies many external influences upon his work. Working from both premises, students will examine what is it that Tolkien has taught us. Throughout the course students will examine how, in cooperative and separate manners, popular and academic culture shaped, and has been shaped by, Tolkien's many works.

HON 250: Community of Scholars
An introduction to the roles and responsibilities of scholars and researchers in contemporary society. This course also serves as the gateway course to the John F. Reed Honors Program Minor entitled Rhetoric of Inquiry. Students will learn their roles and responsibilities within the John F. Reed Honors Program, as well as the expectations for them to graduate with honors.

ON 350: Rhetoric of Knowledge
Students will examine and develop knowledge in rhetorical study, with an emphasis on developing successful writing skills, developing scholarship writing abilities, as well as developing an understanding of the methodologies and ideologies of the rhetoric of their, and other, discipline(s). Students will learn sophisticated strategies for critical analysis through learning rhetorical criticism. The result of this course will be for students to develop a research project that examines a particular element of rhetorical study in their chosen discipline, and will then be presented to the class in a formal presentation, OR, if the student is part of the John F. Reed Honors Program, that student MUST write a Prospectus for their Honors Thesis. The project and topic must draw significantly on at least two academic disciplines (and if you are an Honors student, your Major field of study may NOT be one of them). Students will begin by building a bibliography and literature review of the relevant research in their field of study, with writing assignments throughout the semester that help to develop particular aspects of rhetorical analysis. A working relationship with a faculty mentor as well as a reader from the second discipline will help to supplement this process. Throughout, students will practice writing as a process through multiple drafts, peer response workshops, and thoughtful critique and revision. Throughout this course you will need to identify an artifact with which you will perform numerous rhetorical analyses and write several projects around. Rooted in a discipline, your artifact can be something like a periodical table, a historical narrative, a building, a business plan, a scholarly article, etc. This course satisfies a GT-CO3 requirement. Prerequisite: any approved GT-CO2 course as well as Sophomore+ standing (30 completed credits).

HON 450: Honors Thesis I

This course is a continuation of HON 350: Rhetoric of Knowledge. In this course the student will move beyond the Prospectus to collect additional data and begin the writing process for the Honors thesis.

HON 451: Honors Thesis II

This course is a continuation of Honors Thesis I. In this course the student will focus on articulation of the implications of their research, polishing their thesis and preparing for the required public presentation of their work.
Prerequisite: HON 450


TS2R 402: History of the Book
This course focuses on the book to examine notions of "progress" and the relationships between technological development and intellectual activity. Ancient information recording systems and the development of Western writing will be studied along with writing technologies in non-Western cultures. The most revolutionary bookthe computer or "virtual book"will also be examined.