History faculty

Michael Kugler, Ph.D.

Professor of History

Ph.D., University of Chicago
M.A., Western Washington University
B.A., Judson Baptist College

VPH 208


Dr. Kugler primarily teaches European history from the Reformation through the modern era. His research and writing include the Enlightenment era, particularly in Scotland; historical narrative in a variety of forms, including formal history but also film and graphic novels; and more recently, the history of incarnational theology. He has presented papers at a wide variety of conferences and has published reviews and essays in Fides et Historia, The Eighteenth-Century: Theory and Interpretation, and Scotia.


  • Western Civilization to 1789

    Western Civilization to 1789

    (4 credits) (IGE option under Historical Perspectives) This course acquaints students with the major periods and contours of Western Civilization from its roots in the ancient Near East through its development in the 18th century Enlightenment. Among the topics treated are the medieval centuries and the eras of the Renaissance and the Reformation.
  • Issues in Western Civilization from 1789

    Issues in Western Civilization from 1789

    (2 credits) This course provides students with thematic investigations of issues prominent in Western Civilization since the 18th century (e.g., political, intellectual, popular culture, technological, military, colonial/imperial, racial/ethnic, gender, environmental, etc.).
  • Reformation Europe

    Reformation Europe

    (2 credits, alternate years, consult department) (European/world history) A survey of the major events, characters and ideas of the Reformation, with special attention to Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, the Anabaptists, the English Reformation and the Catholic Reformation. Prerequisite: HIS120HP.
  • Issues in European/World History

    Issues in European/World History

    (2 credits, non-yearly, consult department) (European/world history) A study of selected, issue-oriented topics in both European and world history more generally. Sample topics have included: The Early Middle Ages, The Scottish Highlands and The Millennium in Historic Perspective. Prerequisite: HIS120HP.
  • Topics in European/World History

    Topics in European/World History

    (4 credits, alternate years, consult department) (European/world history) A reading and research seminar focusing on selected topics in European history. The time period and the topic under consideration will vary. Prerequisites: HIS120HP or permission of instructor.
  • Interdisciplinary Honors Seminar

    Interdisciplinary Honors Seminar

    (2 credits) A seminar designed to expose Honors Program students to significant issues by means of interdisciplinary study of selected topics chose on a year-to-year basis. Prerequisite: membership in the Honors Program or special permission from Honors Program directors.
  • Nazi Germany and the Shoah

    Nazi Germany and the Shoah

    (4 credits, alternate years, consult department) (European/world history) This course takes up German history on the eve of the Great War, and follows the effect of the war on Imperial German society. Special attention will be paid to the historiographic debates surrounding Hitler's role in the Nazi party, the reasons for the party's electoral success, the nature of Nazi government and rule, and the gradual marginalization of Jews and political opponents from the center of civil society. Roughly the last half of the course takes up the Final Solution or Shoah in the context of Germany's war in Europe. Attention is given to the Jewish experience in the ghettos and camps, the question of resistance, theology and moral issues after genocide, and the effect of the Shoah on contemporary theology, art and fiction. Prerequisite: HIS120HP.
  • Philosophy of History and Historiography

    Philosophy of History and Historiography

    (4 credits) (European/world history) A study of problems relevant to history as a scientific and humanistic discipline. Among the questions considered are the following: What sorts of meaning have philosophers of history ascribed to the overall process of history? What approaches have historians taken to questions of objectivity, causation, and moral values in the study of history? How does philosophy of history relate to the Christian faith? Prerequisite: HIS120HP or an IGE Belief and Reason (BR) course.

Publications and presentations

  • “Enlightenment History, Objectivity, and the Moral Imagination”, a chapter in Christian Faith and the Historian's Vocation, ed. John Fea (Notre Dame, 2010).
  • “Adam Ferguson and Enlightened Provincial Ideology in Scotland”, in Adam Ferguson: A Reassessment, v.2, ed. Eugene Heath and Vincenzo Merolle (Pickering and Chatto, 2009).
  • "The Cross, the Powers, and Enlightenment Techniques of the Self," Fides et Historia (2004).
  • “How Many Cheers?: Assessing the Enlightenment Grand Narrative of Modern Progress”, to be presented to the Conference on Faith and History, George Fox University, October 7-9, 2010.
  • “Civil Piety and Christian Culture in the Debate Over John Home’s Douglas”, presented to the Joint Conference for the Society for the Study of Scottish Philosophy, the Eighteenth-Century Scottish Studies Society, and the International Adam Smith Society, Princeton Theological Seminary, June 25, 2010.
  • “The Faun Beneath the Lamppost: What Christians Often Mean When They Talk About the Enlightenment”, Conference on Secularization and Revival, Baylor University, October 9, 2009.
  • “Faust’s Bastards: Academic Humility in the Shadow of the Cross“, Conference on Christianity and the University, Baylor University, March 18, 2004.

Professional experience

  • Professor of History since 1994
  • Assistant Coach and Goalkeeper Coach, Men's Soccer, Northwestern College (until 2007)


  • The Conference on Faith and History
  • The Eighteenth-Century Scottish Studies Society


  • Calvin College Summer Faculty Fellow, 1997, 2007
  • Teaching Excellence Award, Northwestern College, 2006
  • Eric Molen Prize, for the paper "Provincial Intellectuals: A Model for Enlightenment Studies," delivered at the annual conference of the East-Central American Society of Eighteenth Century Scholars, 1992
  • Century Scholar, University of Chicago, 1986-89