Fall 2021 Graduate Course

HIS 501 Historical Inquiry

What is historical knowledge? How is it put together, and what is it good for? Those are the questions on which this seminar focuses. We'll address them partly by looking at recent work by practicing historians, asking how they define the problems they study, construct their arguments, and discover and use evidence. From these examples, we'll try to deepen our understanding of the topics and interpretive strategies that engage the historical profession today.

But those questions specific to the contemporary discipline of history can't be separated from broader problems that surround all study of the past, and we'll consider some of those as well. By definition the past is over and done, and we never have direct access to it; even our memories of our own experiences are incomplete, unstable, and often false, so how much can we really know about other peoples' long-gone experiences and thoughts? At the same time, we historians aren't the only ones thinking about the past. It also interests novelists, movie makers, social scientists, psychotherapists, and many others. Do historians have specific approaches to the past, and how widely do our approaches differ from those of the others who study it? What strengths and weaknesses characterize our specificmethods, and what can we learn from other disciplines? 

HIS 502 American History Core Seminar 1

This course introduces Masters and Ph.D. students to the history and historiography of America to 1865. That is, this course will help students master a basic narrative of American history through the Civil War. At the same time, it will introduce them to the main historiographical trends of the past fifty years or so.

HIS 504 Early Modern European Core Seminar

The “Early Modern Core”satisfies requirements in the graduate program in History as well as programs in other departments and for students in the UBTeach program. My aim is that students will increase their knowledge of particular historical events or developments in Europebetween c. 1450 and 1800.I also hope that students will develop a stronger understanding of elements of the historical profession, including by studying the writing of history (historiography) and the ways in which fields, approaches, and arguments have changed over time among scholarsand for all students of history. Although the course is not a research seminar, meaning the purpose is not to conduct primary source research on a particular topic, we will discuss how historians conduct research and analyze the persuasiveness of evidence and the effectiveness of their arguments. The Core is not a complete survey of the period, but seeks to build on students’ foundation of historical knowledge and to sharpen historical thinking. The Core should enable students to begin planning research projects and engage in historiographical debates, or to envision guiding other students through historical analysis andresearch.

A running theme this semester is the importance of and foundations forchallenging paradigms and assumptions. We may be evaluating familiar events in new ways and developing new perspectives and arguments.

HIS 507 Asian History Core Seminar

The Asian Core seminar is designed to introduce key themes and works in Asian history and give students the opportunity to explore and write about the literature on Asian historical issues that most interest them. It seeks to meet the needs of those who are preparing a major or minor field in these areas, those who are focusing on other world regions but realize they need to know something about Asia, those who are preparing to teach Asian or world history in primary and secondary schools, and/or those who are working on Asia in other disciplines and who need to deepen their understanding of the history of the region. It also provides an overview ofthe historical profession in the U.S. and around the world and how Asianists fit into it.

HIS 526 The Role of the City in American History

This readings course will introduce students to the major themes and historiography in American Urban History from the eighteenth century to the present. We will examine some of the theoretical underpinnings of urban history and view American cities in their global context. Topics will include the political economy of cities, race relations, gender and sexuality, immigration, and environmental history.

HIS 531 Civil War and Reconstruction

This course will familiarize graduate students with some of the major issues and problems in the history of the American Civil War and Reconstruction. This course is not comprehensive; no course on such a vast and contested topic could be. However, the readings are intended to be provocative and challenge students to think not only about the more conventional questions circulating about the war (e.g. what were the causes of the Civil War?) but also new questions about race, gender, and historical memory. The readings will expose students to the varieties of methodologies and narrative strategies that writers of history use and that might serve as models for their own work. Topics to be covered include: abolitionism and slavery in national politics, slavery in pre-war southern society, the idea of Unionism, the politics of emancipation, the writing of battlefield history and the conceptualization of the civil war, manhood and war, gender and emancipation, the legacy of slavery and Reconstruction, and the continued struggles over the war's memorialization.

HIS 545 Special Topics: Comparative Slavery: Africa, America, and Caribbean

This seminar examines slavery in a global context, by comparing and contrasting systems of slavery and slave experiences from classical Greece and Rome, through Medieval Europe and Islamic Mediterranean Slavery, to the Modern Atlantic (Africa, Europe and the Americas). The course demonstrates how slavery went from a common human practice to a racialized operation in the modern period. It is divided into five parts: old world slavery, colonial slave systems, slave societies, slavery and gender, and slave soldiers. Throughout the course, we will seek to understand how and why the institution of slavery changed over time and why it was different from place to place. This course fulfills the General Education “Global Diversity” and “Domestic Diversity Learning” requirements. It is acomponent of the following “Thematic Integrative” cluster: War, Violence and Society. The course would suit students in the Humanity or Justice integrative cluster. It fulfills the following SUNY-GERs: Arts, Humanities, Other World Civilization, and Social Sciences.

HIS 564 Imperialism and Decolonization

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the study of modern European imperialismand its aftermath since the 18th century. It will not be a survey course and therefore “coverage”will not be the aim. Rather it will be a somewhat eclectic sampling of different approaches to therise and fall of imperialism and an exploration of the main debates within the field. It is hopedthat students will gain a broadened understanding of the complex process of imperial expansionand retraction.

HIS 680 Special Topics: Health, Medicine, Disability, and the Body

In this research seminar, graduate students will be encouraged to pursue research topics related to the history of medicine, health, illness, disability, orthe body in any geographic location and time period.Special attention will be given to the methodological and theoretical approaches historians employ in researching and writing about these specific topics. Students will engage in skill building exercises related to research, writing, and revising throughout the semester.Emphasis in class will be placed on historical writing, but students from other disciplines will be allowed to work on discipline-related topics and skills.