Academics
Departments and Curriculum

History


All courses in history at Holderness School emphasize the need to read critically, think carefully, and communicate clearly. Teachers attempt to instill the idea that “history” is an ever–changing, individual reinterpretation of the past. To understand history one must therefore understand the historian. Students are challenged to think for themselves, engage their peers’ ideas and to balance the different interpretations of our past as they establish and hone historical thinking skills.

Required Coursework:

Foundations of Modern Society
All ninth grade students are required to take Foundations of Modern Society, a one–semester course in the second semester. Emphasizing fundamental historical thinking skills through diverse case studies, this course serves as a unifying, foundational academic experience. It is intentionally broad in scope and teachers employ 3-4 diverse content areas to grapple with the essential question: How do social groups form and thrive? While the specific units vary from year to year and teacher to teacher, there is a special focus on the role governments play in forming societies, the way perception of the “other” can form a group, and the way an idea can develop a group identity. There is an explicit focus on developing an understanding that every source is an interpretation. Teachers employ at least of two different historians’ interpretations in each unit of a historical event, several contrasting primary sources, and various visual interpretations. This course also shares a main essential question with the English Humanities course, “How do I learn best?” and developing students’ metacognition about their individual learning process.

US History
All tenth-grade students and eleventh grade students, who have yet to take a year of US history, are required to engage one of the following offerings in American History.

Electives
After the introductory course, Foundations of Modern Society, and the year of US history, students are well positioned to embrace our upper-level electives. The history requirement is two full years, and thus at some point in their 11th or 12th grade year students take a minimum of one semester of history. In the upper levels of the curriculum, students may begin to branch out into the social sciences of comparative government, media studies, psychology or economics. Two intellectual history offerings allow students to foray into philosophy. We also offer several area studies courses. Beginning in the spring of 2018, we are excited to have upper level students engage our US History 2 electives.

Our Shared Shelf

These are books the history department has read together:
   


This summer we are collectively reading:
 


Student Work


History Work featured in The Lamp
Other History Work
"Hong Kong" by Yoomi Ren ’17
"Elizabeth Brown Rogers Roche" by Yiyang Mao ’17
"Trail of Tears" by Lexi Black ’16, a 2014 NH Website Winner
"How the Bicycle Changed America" by Michael Buetner ’15
"European Foundling Homes" by Maggie Barton ’16
"Clemens Von Metternich" by Andrey Yao ’19



Holderness School students conducting research in the school archives.



History Course Descriptions

  • Foundations of Modern Society

    All ninth grade students are required to take Foundations of Modern Society, a one–semester course in the second semester. Emphasizing fundamental historical thinking skills through diverse case studies, this course serves as a unifying academic experience for the students and is a foundation for their future studies in history. It is intentionally broad in scope and teachers employ 3-4 diverse content areas to grapple with the essential question: How do social groups form and thrive? While the specific units vary from year to year and teacher to teacher, there is a special focus on the role governments play in forming societies, the way perception of the “other” can form a group, and the way an idea can develop a group identity. There is an explicit focus on developing in each student an understanding that every source, primary or secondary, is an interpretation. To that end, teachers employ in each unit at least of two different historians’ interpretations of a historical event, several contrasting primary sources, and various visual interpretations in each unit. This course also shares a main essential question with the English I course, “How do I learn best?” and focuses on developing students’ metacognition about their individual learning processes.

    Potential and past unit topics (at individual teacher’s discretion):
    • Collective Learning and Early Human Evolution
    • Agricultural Revolution
    • The Development of Ancient States: Rome, China, Political Philosophy
    • The Holocaust and Comparative Genocide Studies
    • New Colonialism and the Belgian Congo
    • Apartheid South Africa
    • Jim Crow America
    • Communist Revolutions
    • The Industrial Revolution

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    No textbook required.
  • US History 1

    This semester-length required US History course will be the starting point for all future historical inquiry at Holderness. The course will focus on the development of the Constitution and the Reconstruction eras. These foundational topics will introduce themes of a variety of civil liberties, but notably freedom of speech and suffrage. The essential question will be: What does it mean to be a US citizen?

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  • US History 2: 20th Century America through Film

    In this semester long elective, students will examine and study key events and topics of the twentieth century in America utilizing films as both primary and secondary sources. In a growing digital age, where video and films have become increasingly prevalent, students need to be critical viewers and recognize the possibility for bias and see the importance of perspective and point of view. Over the course of the semester we will look at four or five main events and time periods. Each unit will consist of three main parts. First we will spend time reading, discussing, and learning about the historical context of the given unit. This will be done through the readings of largely primary source documents, but also some secondary sources. Second we will watch a major motion picture that addresses some aspect of the topic (instead of purchasing books for this class, they will be required to purchase a digital copy of the films). Lastly, students will either write an essay or conduct in-depth debate style discussions both confirming and complicating the film as either a primary and/or secondary source.  One of the main questions to be answered will be, how does [said film] contribute to our study and understanding of [said topic]?

    List of Potential Films Used: The Birth of A Nation (1915), Cinderella Man (2005), Mississippi Burning (1988), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), Dr. Strangelove (1964), Platoon (1986) Or Apocalypse Now (1979)

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    No textbook required.
  • US History 2: A Bigger Government: The Great Depression and the New Deal

    Every facet of American society was rapidly changing at the turn of the 20th century and the modern American Identity was beginning to take shape. This semester elective will focus on the time period of 1900- 1945, primarily focusing on the how America got itself into the Great Depression and then how the Second World War, pulled America out of the Great Depression. We will look not only at the economic impacts of Depression but also the social and political impacts. Through primary and secondary source analysis, students will be forced to confirm and complicate the documents to further develop their own understandings of the time period. Lastly, we will also make connections to the 2008 Recession, the largest economic recession, since the Great Depression.

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  • US History 2: America in the 50’s and 60’s

    As many survey courses are forced to address this period in a brief span of time, America in the 50s and 60s allows students to take a longer look into this formative post-World War II period.   While being taught as a focused survey course, the class will particularly focus on key topics, including: the Civil Rights movement, Korean Vietnam Wars, Eisenhower and Johnson presidencies and policies, Cold War, and political radicalism.  Particular attention will be paid to the cultural history of the period, including books, movies, and music. Open to qualifying sophomores, juniors, and seniors in the Spring.

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    No textbook required.
  • US History 2: An African-American History for Today

    This course will consider what it means to be both African and American in today's United States by considering often over-looked African-American voices of our past and present.  By using such touchstone moments as the arrival of the first Africans to the British colonies, early slave rebellions, the American Revolution, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Era, the Obama Presidency, and the Black Lives Matter movement, students will discover a new, richer history that pre-dates the Founding Fathers.

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    No textbook required.
  • US History 2: Case Studies in American Democracy

    This course was developed along with the Case Method Project at Harvard Business School.  The foundational belief of the class, and the Case Method Project, is that the enduring challenges of self-government are complex and each individual must be prepared to make sense of them.  The course will center around a diverse set of highly focused case studies from key moments in American history, including:
    • Meat Packing in the Progressive Era
    • Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Fight for Black Voting Rights
    • Leadership at the Federal Reserve in Relation to the 2008 Financial Crisis
    • Citizens United (2010) and Corporate Speech
    These cases will force students to confront questions that have been at the heart of America since its inception, including:
    • What is the proper balance between majority rule and the protection of individual rights
    • Who is included in ‘We the People’?
    • What is (and should be) the role of informal institutions, such as the press, in democratic decision-making?
    • How should lawmakers conceive of the relationship between democracy and the market?
    By working within various historical contexts during case-based discussions, students hone their ability to think about key issues confronting our country today, in addition to gaining a deep understanding the nation’s history. By showing how these profound questions relate to tangible, concrete problems and outcomes, the cases also encourage students to take interest in them even outside of class. The course not only trains students to competently confront difficult questions facing citizens—it inspires them to seek these questions out in the first place.
  • US History 2: The American Civil War

    Not offered in 2019-20
    The two principal goals of this seminar will be to familiarize students with some of the most important aspects of the Civil War and Reconstruction as well as the legacy left by the wake of such a divisive war. This course will include close examination of some of the more important historiographical debates. Topics include: sectionalism, antebellum political parties, slavery, abolition, Civil War politics, Presidential and Congressional Reconstruction. The course will then turn to look at more contemporary case studies illustrating the differences between the emancipation of slaves and the long to road to equality in American society. Students will read both primary and secondary resources to gain a complex understanding of the Civil War period and its lasting legacy.


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  • US History 2: Remember the Ladies!: American Women's History

    Not offered in 2019-20
    The purpose of this course is to examine the role that women have played in the history of the United States from the start of the women’s rights movement to the present. We will look at the ways in which women have empowered themselves in the context of patriarchal oppression and assess the stumbling blocks they met in their quest for social, political, and economic equality. In so doing, we will elevate women to their rightful place in the larger study of history and better understand what it means to be a woman, a man, and a human being.


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    No textbook required.
  • AP US/AP European History: Advanced History of the West 1

    Application required
    This two year course,
    beginning in the 10th or 11th grade year, will prepare students for both the Advanced Placement European History Exam and the Advanced Placement US History Exam. Students must submit an application and will be vetted for admission. This course will employ a broader lens to explore historical phenomena on both sides of the Atlantic embracing the globalized approach of modern historical research. Study of the American constitution, for example, will be endowed with prior study of the Enlightenment. Students will be expected to engage in a project in the summer between the two years of the course. Students will take both exams, but may petition to take only one at the end of their second year of the course (in their junior or senior year). This course will be team taught (either two teachers ½ time, or two teachers full time) for the first iteration of the course.


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    Click on the book(s) above for direct purchasing options. Please note: if you would like to find the books through another vendor, be sure to take note of the exact ISBN numbers so you/your child has the correct book for class.
  • AP US/AP European History: Advanced History of the West 2

    Application required
    This two year course,
    beginning in the 10th or 11th grade year, will prepare students for both the Advanced Placement European History Exam and the Advanced Placement US History Exam. Students must submit an application and will be vetted for admission. This course will employ a broader lens to explore historical phenomena on both sides of the Atlantic embracing the globalized approach of modern historical research. Study of the American constitution, for example, will be endowed with prior study of the Enlightenment. Students will be expected to engage in a project in the summer between the two years of the course. Students will take both exams, but may petition to take only one at the end of their second year of the course (in their junior or senior year). This course will be team taught (either two teachers ½ time, or two teachers full time) for the first iteration of the course.


    Order Your Textbook(s)

    Click on the book(s) above for direct purchasing options. Please note: if you would like to find the books through another vendor, be sure to take note of the exact ISBN numbers so you/your child has the correct book for class.
  • AP Comparative Government & Politics

    The AP Curriculum mandates study of six core core countries. In this elective students will consider the Iran, Russia and China (three of the core countries) and a fourth country of relevance in that year that could be: North Korea, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Cuba or Venezuela.

    Order Your Textbook(s)
     
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  • AP Comparative Government & Politics I

    This semester-length course, at full time can be taken in tandem with the following Authoritarian Societies elective to prepare students for the AP Comparative Government exam. The AP Curriculum mandates study of six core core countries. In this elective students will consider the United Kingdom, Mexico, Nigeria (three of the core countries) and India, a notable exception from the curriculum.

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  • AP Comparative Government & Politics II

    Pre-requisite course: AP Comparative Government I: Democratic Societies
    This semester-length course, at full time can be taken in tandem with the prior Democratic Societies elective to prepare students for the AP Comparative Government exam. The AP Curriculum mandates study of six core core countries. In this elective students will consider the Iran, Russia and China (three of the core countries) and a fourth country of relevance in that year that could be: North Korea, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Cuba or Venezuela.


    Order Your Textbook(s)

    Click on the book(s) above for direct purchasing options. Please note: if you would like to find the books through another vendor, be sure to take note of the exact ISBN numbers so you/your child has the correct book for class.
  • AP European History

    Open to qualified 11th graders and 12th graders, the AP European History elective introduces students to the cultural, intellectual, economic, social, political, and diplomatic developments of European history from 1450 to the present day. In addition to providing a basic narrative of events and movements that shaped Europe, the goals of the AP program in European history are to develop an understanding of the principal themes in modern European history, an ability to analyze historical evidence, and an ability to express historical understanding in writing.
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  • Americans in East Asia

    Not offered in 2019-20
    During the 20th century the United States fought three wars in East Asia: the Pacific War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. How did the East Asians perceive and react to the wars? How did the wars affect people's lives and societies in East Asia? How did these wars impact postwar relations between the United States and East Asia? How did race, culture, and ethnicity play significant roles in these wars? This course examines these questions by studying East Asia in these three American wars as an oral and social history. The course focuses on the human dimensions of the wars as experienced by those East Asians who fought and lived through them.


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  • Ancient Greece

    In this survey course (with a thematic approach), students will learn the history of ancient Greece. Topics covered in this course include Greek warfare, the Trojan War, Greek mythology, the origins of democracy, the Golden Age of Athens, Sparta, The Persian Wars, The Peloponnesian War, and Alexander the Great. Students will learn how the ancient Greeks influenced modern society and how they left behind a rich cultural and political legacy that still affects us today.

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  • Ancient Rome

    At its peak, the Roman Empire covered 2 million square miles and stretched from Scotland to the Persian Gulf. How did a village of mud huts, built next to a swamp, and about the size of Plymouth, NH achieve this? In this course we will follow the rise of this modest “kingdom” to a scrappy city-state with a representative government, to a vast imperial power ruled by an emperor and mighty armies. The history of this enterprise is part legendary, part political, and part economic. Along with a cast of larger than life characters such as Julius Caesar, Caesar Augustus, Caligula, and Constantine, we will peer into the lives of common men and women, slaves and freedmen, merchants and gladiators, and priests and prostitutes. We will examine how this global society that controlled much of Europe and the Mediterranean World laid the foundations for the modern world structures of law, politics, religion, and trade. We will end the course by considering what ways the American experience does, and does not, mirror that of the Romans.

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    Textbooks will be assigned in class.
  • Early Arab-Israeli Conflict

    Not offered in 2019-20
    This course will examine the history of the encounter and conflict between Jewish and Arab peoples surrounding the Holy Land from the late 19th through the mid-20th century. Coverage includes introductions to modern Jewish and Arab histories, evolution of Zionism and Arab nationalism, demise of the Ottoman Empire following World War I, the operation and demise of the British Mandate in Palestine between 1922 until 1948, and the effect of the developing Cold War in the 1950s. The course will address these issues through a variety of readings, primary sources, and films. As a conclusion, students will present their own reflections and analyses of various aspects of the history of the conflict as a means to discuss its future implications.

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  • Enlightenment and Romanticism

    Offered on a bi-annual bases. LIKELY NOT TO BE OFFERED IN 20-21, interested rising juniors are advised to take in 2019-20.
    This semester elective is designed for students who develop an interest in intellectual history and want the opportunity to seek further depth. By reading and studying the poetry, art, and prose literature of these two movements, we hope to understand the dynamic interaction between the rationalism and optimism of 1750-1800 and the haunted, wild Romantic ideas of 1800-1850. We will also trace the legacy of these movements in the Western tradition. Students will spend most of their time evaluating and commenting on selected primary sources from Locke to Poe.


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  • Intro to Philosophy

    What do I know? Why do I exist? Where does evil come from? These are just some of the questions this course attempts to answer. Introduction to philosophy aims to teach students how philosophy emerged in ancient times, from the presocratics like Thales of Miletus, to more established and recognized ancient philosophers like Socrates and Aristotle, and how they influenced later thinkers like Hypatia and Seneca. Besides covering famous philosophers, this course attempts to introduce students to life’s most riveting questions using both ancient and modern philosophy, and philosophy in today’s popular media like Star Wars. 
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  • Irish History

    Not offered in 2019-20
    This is a survey course of Ireland’s 8,000-year history presented as a simulcast of past (history proper) and present (current affairs). The premise is that Ireland provides an effective case study for the concerns of contemporary peoples and historians: imperialism and post-colonialism, nationalism and globalism, religious and sectarian conflict, immigration and emigration, terrorism and conflict resolution. We explore how writers, filmmakers, and musicians have represented the rebirth of this “troubled” nation, and we ask provocative questions about nation building and defense.
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  • Political Media

    Not offered in 2019-20
    In this semester-long junior or senior elective students will consider the role of mass communications in politics. Each unit will consider a different aspect of the media including traditional print journalism, political cartoons, photography, radio, comedic television, and the expanding landscape of social media. Study of a particular medium will begin with case studies on how the communications technology was developed and used in various historical periods. Students will hone their analytical skills in each unit by composing an analysis of a modern example of the medium in question. With a growing public criticism of the role of the media in politics and the questions surrounding “Fake News,” this course will also focus on developing educated and inquisitive consumers of media. As a projects-based class, each unit will be assessed with students trying their hand the media form in question to comment on the a current events topic. Students should expect to engage in collaborative work, group discussions, short analytical compositions and practice real-world application of the theories, ideas and examples studied as they generate their own media.


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  • Psychology 1

    Psychology I concentrates on the study of the human mind and human behavior. It is broken down into four units:
    1. The History of Psychology
    2. Biological Psychology
    3. Developmental Psychology
    4. Social Psychology
    The course is designed to give students a foundation of psychology and lead to an interest in further study of psychology. Regardless of how far students go with their study of psychology, students will have a better understanding of the human mind and reasoning behind human behavior after this introductory course.

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    No textbook required.
  • Psychology 2

    A semester-length opportunity for continued study in Psychology. The prerequisite is Psychology I, but these two courses do not have to be taken in the same calendar year (could be taken 11th and 12th grade for example). Psychology II includes topics such as learning and memory, motivation and emotion, intelligence testing and individual differences, and abnormal psychology. The course is an opportunity to dive deeper into the different types of psychology discussed in Psychology I, such as biological, developmental, cognitive, and social psychology.

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    No textbook required.
  • Women and Warfare

    The history of warfare is a history that is seldom offered in schools. Yet, the history of war is the history of civilizations, which is why this topic is essential for the study and understanding of human civilization. Using as case studies individual women who were prominent in wartime, students will learn how warfare endured, evolved, and how it transformed the way humans interacted with each other in complex societies.
     
    Covering topics ranging from the ancient battles between Greek and Persian civilizations, to modern wars like World War II and recent 21st century military conflicts, this course will teach students the complexities of war throughout history using prominent women who were involved in conflict in diverse ways. Students, for example, will learn about the beginning and end of the Roman Empire through Cleopatra and the early Christian martyr Perpetua, about the One Hundred Years’ War through Joan of Arc, and about European Imperialism through the warrior women of the Kingdom of Dahomey in West Africa, among others. We will address the fundamental question of what happens to the history of warfare when it is looked at through women’s eyes.

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    No textbook required.
  • The Modern Middle East

    Offered on a bi-annual bases. LIKELY NOT TO BE OFFERED IN 20-21, interested rising juniors are advised to take in 2019-20.
    Open to 11th and 12th graders, this semester-long elective explores the complexity of one of the most paradoxical regions in the world. The Middle East encompasses some of the richest and poorest countries. It is the geographic foundation of the three largest world religions and is perhaps one of the most turbulent regions of the twenty-first century. This course examines the sources of today’s socio-political problems, including twentieth century imperialism, the Balfour Declaration, the Cold War, and globalization. This course seeks to determine what needs to change in order to create a viable peace in the Middle East.

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View Our Curriculum

Faculty

  • Photo of Kelsey Berry
    Kelsey Berry
    History Faculty & Director of Teaching & Learning
    (603) 779-5310
    New Hampton School
    St. Lawrence University - B. A. History and Government
    Plymouth State University - M.Ed in Heritage Studies
    Teachers College, Columbia University - Ed. M Private School Leadership
    Bio
  • Photo of Tyler Cabot
    Tyler Cabot
    History Faculty & Assistant Dean of Students
    (603) 779-5355
    The Peddie School
    Washington College - BA History
    Bio
  • Photo of Jordan Graham
    Jordan Graham
    History Department Chair
    (603) 779-5369
    University of Montana - MA History
    University of Montana - BA History and Political Science
    Bio
  • Photo of Douglas Kendall
    Douglas Kendall
    History & Latin Faculty
    (603) 779-5314
    St. John's College (NM) - MALA
    U of Montana - BA
    Bio
  • Photo of Patrick Livingstone
    Patrick Livingstone
    English Faculty
    (603) 779-5286
    Columbia University--Teachers College - MA
    Bates College - BA
    Bio
  • Photo of Christine Lushefski
    Christine Lushefski
    History Faculty & Assistant Director of Athletics
    (603) 779-5263
    Dartmouth College - BA
    Bio
  • Photo of Jennifer Martinez
    Jennifer Martinez
    History & English Faculty & Senior Thesis Advisor
    (603) 779-5363
    Bio
  • Photo of Conor O'Meara
    Conor O'Meara
    History and Theology & Religion Faculty
    (603) 779-5327
    Fairfield University - BA
    Boston College High School
    Bio
  • Photo of Andrew Sheppe
    Andrew Sheppe
    History Faculty
    (603) 779-5350
    Holderness School (NH)
    Georgetown University (DC) - BA: History
    Bio
  • Photo of Carlos Villafane
    Carlos Villafane
    History & Spanish Faculty
    (603) 779-5329
    University of Liverpool, UK - PhD in Classics & Ancient History
    University of Liverpool, UK - MA in Ancient History
    University of Puerto Rico - BA in European History
    Bio
Holderness School
33 Chapel Lane, Holderness, NH 03245
mail P.O Box 1879 Plymouth, NH 03264-1879
phone (603) 536-1257