Comprehensive List of Seminars

The culmination of the history major is a junior-senior level seminar that provides an in-depth examination of a period, theme, or issue of historical importance. This document is a comprehensive listing of all seminars that have been offered, have been considered, or will possibly be offered by members of the department faculty since the inception of these web pages. They are offered as a resource for those wishing to know more about advanced study in history within the department.

Links have been provided from these course descriptions to the faculty member who teaches the seminar.

American and Latin American History Seminars

The Progressive Era in America.

Ms. Brown

Between 1890 and 1915, Americans participated in a wide variety of "reform" activities which challenged existing assumptions about relationships between government and the economy, employers and workers, politicians and citizens, the native-born and immigrants, women and men, blacks and whites. This seminar will examine the philosophical roots of these reform movements, their similarities and differences, their achievements and failures. In addition to completing the course's common readings, each student will write a research paper on a specific reform effort or particular reformer. Emphasis will be placed on incorporation of central historiographical issues into each research paper and on revision of research papers during the semester. Prerequisites: History 112 or equivalent, plus one 200-level U.S. history course.

The Art of Biography.

 Ms. Brown

This seminar will explore the complex blend of objective and subjective elements which necessarily comprise the writing of biography. Using American biographies as our texts, we will examine problems related to sources, including the use of interviews, correspondence, diaries, the popular press, legal records, and, of course, autobiographies. In addition, we will trace trends in the theoretical literature, considering how shifts from psychoanalytic theory to post-structuralist and feminist theory have influenced both writers' and readers' approaches to biography. Students in this seminar will be asked to consider questions of ethics and literary style, as well as questions of logic and veracity, as they examine both the theory and the practice of biography. There will be an opportunity to experiment with the writing of biography. There will also be the opportunity to employ current theories of biography in writing a historiographical critique of the existing biographical literature on selected American subjects. Prerequisites: History 112 and one 200-level course in American history.

History of Nineteenth-Century American Popular Culture.

Ms. Purcell

Students in this seminar will examine the creation and expansion of American popular culture in the nineteenth century as they focus on diverse cultural forms: dime novels, newspapers, music, sports, cartoons, material culture, theater, minstrel shows, magazines, etc. The seminar will focus particularly on how ideas and structures of race, class, and gender were changed and reinforced by American popular culture. Research papers will analyze popular culture in a historical context to consider how popular culture created or changed power dynamics in American society. Prerequisites: History 111 plus any 200-level American History course or permission of instructor.

Politics in the Early American Republic.

Ms. Purcell

Students in this seminar will discover and debate recent developments in the study of political history by focusing intensely on one of its most exciting periods, the early American republic. During the years 1789-1820, the American political system first took shape as federal and state governments established themselves, as the country experienced its first era of party conflict, and as philosophical ideas about the structures of American power and concepts such as "republicanism" and "democracy" were put to the test. The seminar will analyze traditional topics of political interest in this period such as political party formation and interaction among the "founding fathers," and it will also explore the many ways that recent historians have broadened their view of politics to include such factors as political culture, female involvement in politics, the politicization of everyday life, and the global context of U.S. politics. Students will write in-depth research papers on some aspect of politics in the period. Prerequisites: History 111 and any 200-level American History course, or permission of instructor.

Race in Early America.

Mr. Lacson

Students in this seminar will discover and debate recent developments in the study of political history by focusing intensely on one of its most exciting periods, the early American republic. During the years 1789-1820, the American political system first took shape as federal and state governments established themselves, as the country experienced its first era of party conflict, and as philosophical ideas about the structures of American power and concepts such as "republicanism" and "democracy" were put to the test. The seminar will analyze traditional topics of political interest in this period such as political party formation and interaction among the "founding fathers," and it will also explore the many ways that recent historians have broadened their view of politics to include such factors as political culture, female involvement in politics, the politicization of everyday life, and the global context of U.S. politics. Students will write in-depth research papers on some aspect of politics in the period. Prerequisites: History 111 and any 200-level American History course, or permission of instructor.

Advances Special Topic: The Environmental History of the Midwest.

Mr. Guenther, Mr. Carter

Students in this seminar will discover and debate recent developments in the study of political history by focusing intensely on one of its most exciting periods, the early American republic. During the years 1789-1820, the American political system first took shape as federal and state governments established themselves, as the country experienced its first era of party conflict, and as philosophical ideas about the structures of American power and concepts such as "republicanism" and "democracy" were put to the test. The seminar will analyze traditional topics of political interest in this period such as political party formation and interaction among the "founding fathers," and it will also explore the many ways that recent historians have broadened their view of politics to include such factors as political culture, female involvement in politics, the politicization of everyday life, and the global context of U.S. politics. Students will write in-depth research papers on some aspect of politics in the period. Prerequisites: History 111 and any 200-level American History course, or permission of instructor.

European History Seminars

Gender and Empire in Victorian Britain.

Ms. Prevost

This course will examine the centrality of women, gender, and sexuality to British colonialism in the "long nineteenth century." The first half of the course will focus on three related investigations: women's historical experience in the empire through travel, emigration, and philanthropy; the role of imperial identity in shaping metropolitan feminist and reform movements; and the gendered dynamics of both colonial encounters abroad and British imperial culture at home. We will also consider the impact of poststructuralist and postcolonial theory on studies of gender and empire. The shared readings will facilitate students' development of an independent research project. Prerequisite: History 236, 262, 295 (British Empire), or 295 (Disease & Public Health in Europe), or permission of instructor. 

The Civilizing Mission and Its Discontents.

Ms. Prevost

Nineteenth-century Britain witnessed the birth of modern social action through various public and private institutions. The middle-class faith in progress and perfectibility, the social problems of an industrializing economy, and the expansion of British global influence all sparked a moral imperative to emancipate and elevate the human condition. Yet these lofty Victorian ideals often replicated the inequalities the reformers sought to transform, and alienated the beneficiaries they hoped to rescue. This seminar examines the development of the "civilizing mission" through various arenas in Britain and the Empire, including missionary work, charity organizations, humanitarian campaigns, Parliamentary commissions, education, medicine and public health, suffrage movements, and popular culture. Since social action carried the potential for both empowerment and subjugation, we will also consider how marginalized groups responded to this growing imperative to civilize Britain and the world. We will therefore approach philanthropy, social justice, and reform movements as cultural encounters that encompassed conflicting ideas of race, gender, sexuality, class, religion, and empire. The shared readings will facilitate students' development of a research project later in the course. Prerequisites: History 236, 295 (British Empire), 295 (Sub-Saharan Africa), 295 (Disease and Public Health in Europe) or permission of instructor.

Crusades and Crusaders.

Mr. Wei

This research seminar will introduce students to modern debates and research into the crusades. In the first seven weeks, students will read extensively in the primary sources of the first four crusades and choose a research topic. Class discussion will focus on understanding these written texts as both literary works and historical sources. Weeks 8-13 will be devoted to special topics and students' research projects. A different student/group of students will be responsible for structuring class discussion in each of these remaining weeks and assigning (short) readings for the rest of the class. This exercise will help students become familiar with their classmates' research area and teach them how to understand and frame their own research within a broader context. Prerequisite: History 233 or the permission of the instructor.

Representing the Metropolis.

 Ms. Maynard

This seminar investigates cities such as Paris, Vienna, London, and Berlin by exploring the visual arts, film, literature, architecture, consumer culture, and music since the late 19th century. Our study of inherent qualities and tensions in the modern urban experience will include community and alienation, the fluidity of the self, spectacle and entertainment, disease and criminality, gender and class. Final papers will apply course themes to primary source research topics. Prerequisite: Any 200-level European history course, including Russian or British history.

Stalinism.

Mr. Cohn

This seminar will concentrate upon the major historiographical divide over Stalinist Russia and evaluate the evidentiary bases that sustain these interpretations. Traditional historiography of this era has concentrated upon the "totalitarian" model, and has depended upon official documents, as well as the memoirs and public statements of major figures and йmigrйs. More recent interpretations have sought to complicate the story, and give voice to more ordinary historical actors-as preserved in the archives of the secret police, in private diaries, and in the collections of unprinted denunciations and letters to the editors of Soviet publications and Soviet leaders. Through scrupulous reading of some major representatives of these views, as well as through careful consideration of representative examples of the various sources, participants in the seminar will develop a better understanding of the historiographical issues and the way that these issues inform historical research. The first part of the seminar will depend upon our common reading, but students will also select a project of their own on which to work the entire semester, culminating in a written paper and oral presentation to the seminar. Prerequisite: History 242 or its equivalent.

History of the Developing World Seminars

Labor in Twentieth-Century Latin America.

Mr. Silva

During the twentieth century, Labor Movements helped transform many Latin American countries socially, politically, and economically. Organized workers have played key roles in the Mexican Revolution, the rise of Peronism, and the recent political triumphs of Brazil's Worker's Party. The common readings for the seminar will include some of the classic works and then move to more recent studies. These readings raise questions about the effect of employer paternalism on workers; the impact of special privileges on workers; and the role of women in the home, in the shop and in the union. In the second half of the course students will then write a major research paper on labor in twentieth-century Latin America. A reading knowledge of Spanish or Portuguese is helpful but not required. Prerequisite: History 201, 202, or 204.

Latin America and the United States.

Mr. Silva

As the saying goes, Latin America lies too far from God and too close to the United States. This proximity has affected Latin American economics, demographics, culture, and politics. The seminar will begin with common readings. This year those common readings will focus on US attempts-both official and unoffical-to democratize and modernize the region. Students will then write a research paper using primary documents. These papers could focus on any one of a number of issues that were central to US-Latin American relations such as hemispheric security, economic affairs, democracy, and socialism. A reading knowledge of Spanish or Portuguese is helpful but not required. Prerequisite: History 201, 202, or 204.