Department News

New Courses Offered

Fall 2013
HIS 389 - History Through Hollywood
Films, like novels, art, or music, are cultural texts. Historical films offer representations of the past and also serve as artifacts of the society and period in which they were created; as such, they are primary source documents about their own time and place. When films purport to represent historic events, they more emphatically shape the way we imagine the world. This course examines Hollywood’s portrayal of America’s racial past and juxtaposes it against a range of other historic texts. By doing so, students will learn how to read and analyze film as texts that -- like all other texts -- are fraught with political motivations, bias, and ulterior motives. We will consider why Hollywood so often distorts and oversimplifies the past, and how the shaping of false memories and stories affects contemporary race relations.

Spring 2014
HIS 289 - Mexican-American History
The study of Mexican-American history forces us to re-think common understandings of U.S. history. This class will examine the evolving construction of Mexican-American identities. Starting with a discussion of the labels (Mexican-American, Spanish, Chicano/a) used to identify Mexican-descent people, we will consider how skin color, race mixture, language use, gender, poverty, and region play into the varied meanings of "being Mexican-American" from 1848 to the present.

Britain’s Imperial Muse: The Classics, Imperialism, and the Indian Empire, 1784—1914

The History Department is delighted to announce the publication of Professor Chris Hagerman's book, Britain's Imperial Muse:  Imperialism, and the Indian Empire, 1784—1914. Professor Hagerman will offer a talk about his work on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 4:30 p.m. in the Wendell Will Room.

The public is invited and a reception will follow.

History Majors Present at MCAA

Three history majors, Patrick Buck '15, Kevin Rhee '14, and Scott DesRosiers '15, presented papers at the Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs at Michigan State University on Friday, October 25, 2013. Buck presented on “Militarizing China: Mao’s Revolution of Physical Education." Rhee's paper addressed “When Politics Meets Science: Devil’s Bargain between Japan and the U.S. over Human Experimentation," and DesRosiers spoke about “From Palomares to Fukushima: Lessons in Nuclear Remediation."

Congratulations to our history students for their fine work!

ABC's Bill Blakemore Joins Geoff Cocks for Campus Screening of 'Room 237'

ABC News correspondent Bill Blakemore joins Albion College history professor Geoff Cocks for the Michigan premiere of "Room 237," the new documentary exploring Stanley Kubrick's 1980 classic The Shining." Blakemore and Cocks will hold a panel discussion following the Michigan premiere of "Room 237" on Monday, November 19, at 7 p.m. in the Albion College Bobbitt Visual Arts Center.

"Room 237" is a fascinating exploration of the hidden meanings and symbols woven into "The Shining." Five commentators and scholars, with widely different points of views, draw viewers into a maze of meanings actually or allegedly inhabiting the Kubrick film. Their commentary provides narration for an ingenious presentation, including digital manipulation of scenes from "The Shining" and other films.

Blakemore and Cocks are each featured in "Room 237," explaining how aspects of "The Shining" address genocide of Native Americans and European Jews. Cocks, who has written books and taught courses on Kubrick' s films, notes that "a German typewriter, a shirt sporting the number 42, and certain selections of music, all refer to the Nazi Final Solution, the deadliest year of which was 1942. None of this is accidental," said Cocks. "Kubrick was a voracious reader, especially of modern European and German history, and this knowledge--as well as his own Jewish background--deeply influenced his usual meticulous work on this film. The scenes in all of Kubrick's films are filled with information and reference and you can watch them over and over and still find something new."

ABC News correspondent Blakemore has spent more than 35 years covering stories around the globe. His career included reporting on 12 wars, the entire tenure John Paul II's papacy and the fall of the World Trade towers on 9/11. Blakemore's current ABC work focuses on global warming-related issues.

"Rodney Ascher's 'Room 237' is a very clever and entertaining film," Cocks said. "It contains a great deal to delight and inform lovers of cinema in general and fans of Kubrick in particular."

This event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Cocks at 517/629-0390 or .

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