Faculty Profile

Karl Qualls

Professor of History; John B. Parsons Chair in the Liberal Arts and Sciences (2000)

Contact Information


Denny Hall Room 201


His teaching interests include Russian and German history, the Holocaust, comparative revolutions (political, social, and cultural), dictators, urban history, and more. His book "From Ruins to Reconstruction: Urban Identity in Soviet Sevastopol after World War II" (Cornell, 2009) challenges notions of totalitarianism, investigates the creation of historical myths, and outlines the role of monuments and urban space in identity formation in a city torn between Ukraine and Russia. His forthcoming book about refugee children of the Spanish Civil War who were raised in the Soviet Union examines the special boarding schools designed for them and the educational methods used to develop the children into Hispano-Soviets.


  • B.A., University of Missouri at Columbia, 1993
  • Ph.D., Georgetown University, 1998


  • Ganoe Award for Inspirational Teaching, 2003-04

2017-2018 Academic Year

Fall 2017

HIST 253 Autocracy/Uprisings/Daily Life
Cross-listed with RUSS 253-01.

RUSS 253 Autocracy/Uprising/Daily Life
Cross-listed with HIST 253-01.

HIST 375 Europe's Dictators
Contrary to the hope of contemporaries, World War I was not "the war to end all wars." Instead, at its end Europe emerged into a world of unprecedented turmoil and confusion, a time that was nonetheless permeated with hope, idealism, and possibility. This course explores European politics, society, gender, and culture between 1918 and 1945, focusing on the extreme developments in Germany, Russia, Spain, and Italy during this time. We will examine the emergence, development, form, and consequences of the rule of Hitler, Stalin, Franco and Mussolini and explore the relationship of these dictators to the states that sustained them. Offered occasionally.

HIST 500 Independent Study

Spring 2018

HIST 107 Modern Europe, 1789-2000
We know that we live in a modern society, but what does it mean to be “modern?” The course will examine the changing relationship between state and society, the growth of nationalism, the industrial revolution, liberalism, imperialism, socialism, fascism, secularization, urbanization, warfare, gender roles, the arts, and more. These topics allow us to understand many present-day problems in Europe—and much of the rest of the world--including ethnic and national tensions, economic and gender inequality, refugee crises, global economic and political competition, minority rights, environmental degradation and many other topics.

RUSS 254 Revolut/War/Daily Life Mod Rus
Cross-listed with HIST 254-01.

HIST 254 Revolut/War/Daily Life Mod Rus
Cross-listed with RUSS 254-01.

JDST 316 The Holocaust
Cross-listed with HIST 376-01. The course explores the causes of the Shoah/Holocaust from anti-Semitism, the eugenics movement, the growth of the modern state, and the effects of war. Themes will also explore perpetrator motivation, gendered responses, bystanders and rescuers, and the place of the Holocaust among other genocides. The course also deals with the continued relevance of Holocaust studies to the present by looking at issues of reparations for victims and commemoration/representation in museums, monuments, literature and films. More broadly, students will learn to assess human rights violations, the problems of states limiting the rights and freedoms of their citizens and the horror of state violence that was at the center of most of the previous century and continues in the twenty-first century. Students will approach the Holocaust thematically and conceptually, which will equip them to interpret facts as you encounter them through further study.

HIST 376 The Holocaust
Cross-listed with JDST 316-01.

HIST 550 Independent Research

HIST 550 Independent Research