History Seminars 2020–21

Fall 2020

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 any 200-level U.S. History course. 4 credits. Purcell

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. We examine these new spaces, filled with unprecedented population density and diversity, by considering the ways in which denizens of London, Paris, Vienna, and Berlin (and occasionally elsewhere) grappled with the idea and the experience of the metropolis. Our analysis includes political developments, social theory, the visual and performing arts, film, literature, architecture, consumer culture, and music. Individual student research papers centered upon one or more metropolitan context(s) in Europe and/or elsewhere may draw upon course themes including 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. 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. Cohn

Spring 2021

History 324.01 “Illicit Medicine in the U.S.

In the U.S., laws and licensing bodies have regulated medicine since the early nineteenth century. Looking at examples of medicinal practices and products that have been or currently are considered “illicit” permits us to see how regulations intended to protect patient-consumers are shaped by broader cultural, social, and political factors. This seminar examines the histories of illicit medicines in the United States as windows into national–and sometimes globalhistory. Students will identify topics for further investigation and complete a substantial research project using a combination of primary and secondary sources. Prerequisites: any 200-level history course or permission of instructor.  Priority will be given to students who have taken at least one of the following: HIS 223, ANT 210, or SOC 265. 4 credits. Lewis

History 326.01 “The Civil Rights Movement”

TBA. Prerequisites: Any HIS 100 course and one 200-level history course. 4 credits. Lacson

History 371.01 “Human Rights in Asia”

Few things are more prominent in contemporary political discourse than discussions of human rights. But which ideals are included at the core of this concept and what kinds of practices give it expression? In this seminar, students will first engage with the history of human rights as a category by exploring key foundational and contemporary texts. From there, we will explore the related concept of "international human rights", a powerful idea in our time, but also the focus of numerous controversies. We will discuss issues of international law and political interests, universal standards and cultural relativism, civil society and social norms, and the challenges of contemporary advocacy. With these twin foundations established, students will embark on a series of case studies exploring the question of human rights in various Asian contexts, such as torture and capital punishment, religious freedom, economic justice, minority rights, gender equality, and freedom of expression. Along the way students will conceive and execute a research paper on a case study of their own choosing, with ample opportunity to workshop their research and writing in the context of the seminar's ongoing readings and discussion. Prerequisites: HIS 100 and any 200-level history course. 4 credits. Luo

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