Seminar 2013-14

Students must complete two 300-level history seminars in order to complete the major.  Here are our seminar offerings for the 2013-2014 academic year.

FALL 2013

History 311.01 "Politics in the Early American Republic."

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:  HIS 100 and any 200-level American History course.  4 credits.  Ms. Purcell 

History 342.01 "Stalinism."

This seminar will examine the political, social, and cultural history of the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin, with a particular focus on the 1930s.  The first half of the course will feature a series of common readings on topics such as the rise of Stalin’s dictatorship, the Great Terror of the 1930s, and the drive to collectivize Soviet agriculture and industrialize the economy; we’ll discuss the nature of everyday life and social identity under Stalin, look at the impact of propaganda and revolutionary ideology on the values and mindset of the population, and debate whether Stalinism represented the continuation of the revolution or a divergence from its ideals.  After looking at a set of representative primary sources (such as oral histories, memoirs, and diaries), students will then produce a research paper in the second half of the semester, delving into some aspect of Soviet society and politics under Stalin. Prerequisites:  HIS 100 and HIS 242 or 244.  4 credits.  Mr. Cohn

SPRING 2014

History 312.01 "Race in Early America."

This seminar examines the social construction and significance of race during the colonial and early national periods in North America.  In what ways did the concept of race in early America differ from our twenty-first century assumptions about race?  How did Europeans, Africans, and Native Americans understand race?  How did their experiences with one another shape their ideas about race? The readings are meant to introduce students to the various ways in which historians have examined race.  Each student will be challenged to develop a historical question related to race.  Students will then write a research paper to answer that question.  Prerequisites:  HIS 100 and any 200-level American History course, or permission of instructor.  4 credits.  Mr. Lacson

History 322.01 "Sex and Sexuality in American History."

This seminar investigates the history of sex and sexuality in the United States, from the colonial era through the twentieth century.  We will identify changes, contradictions, and continuities in sexual ideals as well as the even more complicated realities of Americans’ sexual experiences.  We will discuss the invention of heterosexualities and same-sex sexualities, as well as the laws, policies, and traditions that shape them.  Students will write in-depth research papers on some aspect of American sexual history.  Prerequisites:  HIS 100 and either HIS 222 or GWSS 111.  4 credits.  Ms. Lewis

History 331.01  "Making Knowledge in Early Modern Europe."

A knowledge explosion took place in Europe between 1450 and 1700. Its powder keg was stocked with newly recovered ancient texts, with thrilling stories from Europeans' encounters with the New World, and with the results of the observation and experimental interrogations of nature. Independent research projects will examine the effects of the media revolution-the development of print culture-which ignited and sustained the blast of this "information age" in Europe and beyond. This course offers its students an opportunity to explore the impact of the knowledge explosion on the formation of social, ethnic, religious and political identities, and the creation of museums, libraries, archives, databases, and learned societies. Ultimately, we will ask whether early modern practices of communication and information transmission actually redefined the meaning of "knowledge" for the modern world. Prerequisites: HIS 100 and HIS 233, 234, 235, or 295-03 (on “Sex, gender and family in Europe, 1300-1700”). With permission, students may substitute HIS 233, 234, 235 with relevant coursework in classics, renaissance, or early modern studies. 4 credits. Ms. Pollnitz

History 334.01 "Decolonization." 

In the decades following the Second World War, more than a quarter of the world’s land mass and population were converted from colonies into nation states with surprising speed. But did the end of empire constitute a meaningful transformation or merely the change of a flag? In this seminar we will explore some of the debates surrounding the timing, causality, character, and consequences of decolonization and consider how historical actors impacted and were impacted by the changing relationship of metropolitan centers and colonial peripheries. Themes will include anti-colonial nationalism; labor militancy; agrarian change; settler colonialism; partition and displacement; post-colonial states and identities; and global development. Common texts and student research projects will focus on the political, social, intellectual, and cultural dimensions of decolonization in British Africa and South Asia, as well as in Britain itself; students with relevant background may also pursue a topic related to another national/geographic context. Prerequisites: HIS 100 and either HIS 236, 261, 262, or 295 (Religion & Socio-Political Change in Colonial India, Sp12). 4 credits.  Ms. Prevost

History 377.01 "From Samurai to Soldiers: Japan at War."

This seminar follows Japan's military conflicts from the "opening" of the country by US gunboats in 1853 through to the country's demobilization and disarmament at the end of WWII in 1945. During this century, Japan rapidly modernized its military, became the first Asian nation to defeat a Western power, and expanded its empire to encompass much of East and Southeast Asia. The lectures, discussions, and readings in this class will focus on the social, cultural, economic, and political impact that the phenomenon of modern military mobilization had on Japan during this pivotal period. Prerequisites: HIS 100 and any 200-level East Asian History course. 4 credits. Mr. Mayo

Please note:

Mr. Cohn will not be offering his Stalinism seminar in 2014-2015. 

Mr. Elfenbein will not be offering his Sacred and Secular History in the Modern Middle East seminar in 2014-2015 or 2015-2016. 

Due date: 
June 2, 2014