Academics Navigation


Get a feel for the exciting variety of courses taught at Marlboro.

This is a list of courses that faculty felt was representational of the courses offered. It is not a complete list of courses, some courses are offered yearly, while others are infrequent. A course may be inspired by events or strong interests and taught only once.

Most advanced work is in the form of tutorials on specific subjects, a collaboration between one faculty member and one student or a handful of students.


(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Spring 2013

In this course, we will survey a number of famines and food shortages from ancient Rome to modern Africa, looking at the changing nature of famines throughout history as well as some persistent similarities. The course will investigate the human and natural causes of famine, the experience of starvation and economic displacement and the attempts by governments and individuals to avoid and ameliorate shocks to the food supply. Particular attention will be paid to economic and social theories of famine and how they affect historical interpretation and modern food aid. Previous coursework in history, economics or political science helpful but not required. Prerequisite: Permission of Instructor

Prerequisite: Consent of Instructor

Advanced Medieval Studies
(4.00 Credits — Multi-Level)

Fall 2010

Intended to further advanced work towards a Plan in history or medieval studies, students in this course will build on the background acquired in Introduction to Medieval Studies and expand their knowledge of the techniques used to study the European past during the middle ages. We will cover in greater details techniques including manuscript work, paleography, diplomatics, and archeology. Students will spend part of the semester preparing a research project in their area of interest which will then be presented and discussed as part of the introductory course. An additional weekly 1-hour meeting to be scheduled. Some knowledge of Latin would be helpful, but is not required. Prerequisite: Medieval Studies or permission of instructor

Agriculture Before the Industrial Revolution
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Spring 2012

In this course we will look at a selection of topics covering agricultural practices in a variety of cultures and time periods up to the end of the 18th century.  The initial topic will look at the earliest shift from hunter/gatherer or mobile agriculture practices to sedentary agriculture in the Middle East.  Subsequent topics will be chosen by the students in the course but might include Roman Agronomics, the grain supply in the Roman Empire, Muslim Agronomics, the Muslim "Green Revolution," agriculture in "feudal" Europe, the crisis of the 14th century, the Columbian exchange, causes of famine, European Agricultural technology on the eve of the Industrial Revolution, and possibly comparisons with agronomic practices in non-industrialized societies today.  Student work will involve in class presentations and a research paper in an area of their choosing.

Prerequisite: Intro work in History or related field

Early Modern Europe
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Fall 2017
Designated Writing
Global Perspective

This course will provide an introduction of the study of history focused on Europe from Columbus to the beginning of the 20th century. Prior to mid-terms, we will cover major elements in the development of European nations and peoples including religious changes, imperial expansion, economic systems, and cultural identity. After this basic timeline, students in the course will choose and present on several areas that will be covered in greater depth. Options might include but are not limited to: Early Navigation, the Reformation, Enlightenment Philosophy, the 17th Century Crisis, Sex and Gender, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution or others.  These topics will include a presentation of a historiographic debate and will frequently be student led.

  • none

History, Memory, and Identity in Spain and the Atlantic World
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Spring 2014
Global Perspective

Students in this course will learn how to investigate the role that history plays in contemporary identity.  Focusing on Spain and Latin America will highlight several major debates about identity that revolve around events often in the distant past, but that continue to shape cultural identity into the present day: the role of Muslim culture in Spain, language and nationalism, colonialism and indigenous identity, and the shadow of the Spanish civil war - an event with resonance well beyond the Spanish speaking world.  Because cultural identity receives expression in many ways, each of these topics will cover a combination of literature and primary and secondary historical sources, as well as using art, music, and film to investigate the creation of modern identities.  In addition, the course should provide students an overview of Spanish history from the late medieval period to the end of the colonial period.  For students that have taken Spanish, some readings, discussion, and writing can be done in Spanish.

This course will be accompanied by a spring break trip to Madrid and Cordoba in Spain.  Attendance on the trip is by advanced application only.  Students may request to take the course without going on the trip, but this will depend on the number of trip applicants and specific arrangement with the faculty.  Please contact Rosario de Swanson or Adam Franklin-Lyons with further questions.  Prerequisite: By application only

Jewish, Christian, Muslim Relations
(4.00 Credits — Multi-Level)

Fall 2010

Viewed alternately as an idyllic time of cultural cooperation - such as in the poetry and art of Andalusia - or as the foundation of the eternal conflicts between the Abrahamic religious sects - from the Crusades to the Inquisition - medieval religious relations between Jews, Christians, and Muslims have been a point of broad contention among medievalists for decades. Through a variety of primary and secondary sources we will investigate the changing social conditions that helped to create religious interactions ranging from cooperation to violence. Topics will include the Crusades, Spanish Convivencia, sermon writing, literary production, and legal culture, among others. These medieval antecedents all resonate clearly in the modern world and often provide the historical/mythic backdrop to contemporary debates on continuing modern conflicts from Israel/Palestine to Afghanistan. While the focus of the course will be the complexities of medieval religious relationships, the end of the course will spend time looking directly at how the medieval past gets used in the framing of modern political rhetoric. Prerequisite: Introductory course in history, religion or equivalent

Local History
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Spring 2011

By focusing on the historical archives and primary source material available here in Windham county, students will be able to do genuine historical research based in the archives of our local townships. Throughout the semester, we will look at the history of Vermont, Marlboro, Brattleboro, and the college itself through a variety of lenses including natural history, archeology, photography, and archival work. We will discuss persistent questions addressed through local and micro-history as well as focus on the more advanced techniques useful in all areas of historical research. The long Thursday afternoon timeslot will be used to visit to several historical societies and museums. Prerequisite: permission of instructor

Sex and Gender in Late Medieval Europe
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Spring 2014
Global Perspective

In this course, we will investigate the late medieval conceptions of sex, gender identity, ideas about love, and legal restrictions on sexuality and behavior.  The course will cover four broad categories: Ideas about sex, Female identity, Male identity, and Queer identity.  Reading both primary and secondary sources across these topics, we will look at what did and did not count as sex.  We will seek to better understand the limits and acceptable rolls placed on both men and women in their participation in the family, in the medieval church, and in the institutions of society.  Readings will also cover the ways in which religious and secular institutions regulated behavior through legal and other means.  Finally, we will look at debates about sexual behavior outside the commonly sanctioned procreative sex of heterosexual marriage, focusing primarily, but not exclusively, on historiographic debates about homosexuality.  The course will be run in more of a tutorial style with students often being responsible for choosing their own readings to create a general group discussion. Prerequisite: At least one introductory history course

The Making of the Contemporary World
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Spring 2011

The seminar will follow five paths through the years 1870-1970 to illuminate the development of several issues in the contemporary world. These paths will include three French republics and their army, Japan in the Pacific, the British in Asia, the question of Palestine, and the United States becomes a world power. This class fulfills the WSP course requirement for The Origins of the Contemporary World. Prerequisite: Previous work in American Studies, Cultural History, Asian Studies or permission of the instructor

Wine Dark Sea: Historiography of the Mediterranean
(4.00 Credits — Advanced)

Fall 2018
Global Perspective

Not a history of the many cultures that have existed around the Mediterranean--Roman, European, Arab, Turkish--but rather a course about the sea itself, we will look at what and why scholars have written with fascination and even love about the "Middle Sea." 20th century historiography has often sought to portray the multitude of nations and peoples who have populated the Mediterranean since ancient Rome as inextricably linked, through geography, environment, economy and even in anthropological descriptions of culture. The discourse of interconnectedness in turn influenced thinkers and writers studying everything from Japan to the 17th century Atlantic. In this course we will survey the idea of Mediterranean unity, debates about the nature of "Europe" and some of the philosophical assumptions that make up large historical narratives. The final project for this course is a group research project.

  • Courses in History, Art History or related and permission of instructor

For History offerings, also see:

A Frog Jumps In: Seminar in Japanese History & Culture
A History of Now
After 9/11
Brush, Sword, and Hoe: Ancient Chinese History & Culture
Contemporary Political & Social Thought
Cultural History of Espionage
Dark Twins: The Underside of Asian Urbanization
East-West Thinking
Finding Stuff: Research Methods in the Humanities
First Contact: Voices of America's Frontiers
Introduction to Cartography: History, Theory and Practice
Living with War
Modern Chinese History & Culture
Modernity & Postmodernity in Cultural History
MUSIC: 1600-1800
Origins of the Contemporary World
Political Rituals
Rethinking Rome: Power, Society, and Faith in the High Roman Empire
Rice, Ritual, & Revolution: A Survey of Southeast Asian History
Russia & The Caucasus
The Soviet Era Through Film and Memoir


(a mostly random selection of Marlboro microdestinations)