Seminar 2015-16

Fall 2015

History 314.01  “The U.S. Civil War:  History and Memory.” 

Students in this seminar will complete major research projects about the U.S. Civil War and/or its presence in public memory.  The Civil War was a major watershed event, and students will study a number of important recent trends and debates in its historiography before defining their own topics of research.  We will consider new approaches to analyzing the military, economic, social, gender, and racial dimensions of the war as well as topics such as popular culture, geography, immigration, and transnational history.  In addition to studying the war itself, students will also consider how Civil War commemorations continued to shape U.S. history and culture during Reconstruction and beyond.  Prerequisites:  HIS 100 course and HIS 214.  4 credits.  Ms. Purcell

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 336.01  “The European Metropolis.” 

This seminar takes as its starting point the explosion of large cities in Europe from the mid-nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries.  As the narrative goes, parallel political and economic revolutions made possible–-even inevitable–-the blossoming of entirely new spaces characterized by unprecedented population density and diversity, radical shifts in architecture and infrastructure, and vertiginous social and cultural developments.  We examine this phenomenon by concentrating upon the ways in which artists and intellectuals in London, Paris, Vienna, and Berlin (and occasionally elsewhere) grappled with the idea and the experience of the metropolis.  Our investigations include political developments, social theory, the visual arts, film, literature, architecture, consumer culture, and music.  Among the myriad of qualities and tensions inherent in the modern urban experience, we consider community and alienation, the fluidity of the self, spectacle and entertainment, disease and criminality, gender, and class.  Prerequisites:  HIS 100 and HIS 236, 237, 238, 239, or 241.  4 credits.  Ms. Maynard

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

History 371.01.  “Propaganda in Twentieth-Century Asia.” 

In modern history, the term propaganda refers to attempts by political actors to sway opinion and influence morale. Propaganda, or political communication, has often been seen as a key element in solving social problems related to the mobilization of human beings toward specific ends; for example, as a means of fostering rapid economic development or building support for a new government.  When social mobilization intensifies, as in times of war and conflict, activities related to propaganda become intensified as well.  Using twentieth-century Asia as a temporal and geographical starting point, participants in this seminar will conduct original research to answer questions concerning the rationale behind modern propaganda operations--their origins, institutions, and consequences.  Preliminary topics of research might include, but are not limited to:  economic mobilization, empire and decolonization, cultural diplomacy, psychological warfare.  The instructor’s primary areas of research expertise are in modern East Asian history and U.S.-East Asia relations.  Asia-focused topics in other areas may be possible depending on the demonstrated and immediate availability of relevant sources.  The goal of each seminar participant will be to produce and present a roughly 25-page research paper whose main findings are grounded in primary source material.  Prerequisites:  HIS 100 and one 200-level course focusing on twentieth-century history and one 200-level course in the history of a non-U.S./Europe geographic region.  4 credits.  Mr. Johnson

Spring 2016

History 32X.01  “Discovering the Poor in Latin America, 1850-1960.” 

During the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century, Latin American intellectuals and policy-makers became increasingly concerned with the plight of the poor. The period saw an expansion of charity services, alongside the birth of welfare protectionism and social liberalism. The common readings for the seminar will survey some recent scholarship on the topic. In the second half of the course, students will then write a major research paper on social policy and attitudes towards poverty in Latin America. A reading knowledge of Spanish or Portuguese is helpful but not required. Prerequisite: HIS 100 and HIS 201 or HIS 202.  4 credits.  Mr. Silva

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 325.01  “American Indian Reservations.” 

This course examines the history of American Indian reservations from the late-nineteenth century to the present.  The common readings will introduce students to the origins and major historical problems of reservation history, especially the tricky task of defining the relationship between American Indian reservations and the United States.  Specifically, we will examine the end of treaty-making between the United States and Indian tribes, allotment of Indian land, federal assimilation programs, boarding schools, the meaning of U.S. citizenship for Native peoples, and the opportunities and challenges of casinos.  Prerequisites:  Any HIS 100 course and any 200-level history course.  4 credits.  Mr. Lacson

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

PLEASE NOTE: Mr. Elfenbein will not be teaching seminars 2014-2015 or 2015-2016.