Fall 2023 Graduate Courses

HIS 501 Historical Inquiry

M. Rembis
D. Caraballo Muller

There will be two sections of HIS 501.

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 specific methods, and what can we learn from other disciplines?  

HIS 502 American History Core 1

Instructor: J. Barclay
This course is designed to introduce Master’s and Ph.D. students to the history and historiography of the United States from the colonial period to the Civil War. In the process, students will master a basic narrative of U.S. history while being introduced to concerns central to the historians’ craft such as key scholarly debates; different methodological approaches and narrative styles; and other significant trends that influence the production of historical knowledge. Students will become acquainted not only with “what happened” in the past but also the critical analytical skills needed to trace how historians construct their arguments and what factors implicitly and explicitly shape this process.     

HIS 504 Early Modern European Core

Instructor: J. Dewald

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 Europe between 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 scholars and 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 and research.

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

HIS 522 Oral History

Instructor: K. Stapleton

This course introduces oral history principles and best practices in conducting oral history, including methods and approaches to interviewing, ethical issues, and the maintenance of oral history archives. We will also discuss the uses and limitations of oral history for various types of historical research and interpretation. Participants will design and conduct a group project: an oral history collection related to the history of the UB History Department and plans for making it public as an online exhibition or in other formats. Possible interview subjects include History alumni and emeriti professors, as well as other people with knowledge of departmental history.

HIS 529 European Social History

Instructor: C. Schen

What is social history? What is the relationship between this subfield and others, like political, economic, or cultural history? Our readings will include reflections on the practice of history and changes in topics and methods. Broad themes include the family, memory, religious change, women and gender, and the social impacts of war, exploration, and science. We will also explore how longstanding questions and historical problems in social history have gained renewed prominence in the field of digital humanities. We will explore the intersections of digital and social history research methods and survey digital collections and scholarship.

HIS 549 US and the World

Instructor: G. Zubovich

This course surveys the myriad of ways Americans have engaged with peoples abroad. In addition to foreign policy, Americans have gone abroad as tourists, missionaries, and musicians, they have flooded foreign markets with consumer goods, taken part in human rights organizations, received immigrants, and waged wars across the world. This course will introduce students to the methodological debates about the field of U.S. and the World. It will cover both American influence on foreign peoples and the impact of the world on the history of the U.S. in the twentieth and twenty first centuries. 

HIS 580 Radical Religion in the Anglo-Atlantic World

Instructor: E. Seeman

This course examines individuals and groups at the margins of religious practice in the early modern Anglo-Atlantic world. Starting with the Protestant Reformation and continuing through the Second Great Awakening of the early nineteenth century, religion became an even more highly charged arena of contestation than it had been before. Out of this religious ferment, some people embraced beliefs considered problematic or bizarre by the orthodox mainstream. This course seeks to understand these individuals on their own terms, as well as to understand the reactions--alternately dismissive, mocking, and violent--against them.

HIS 635 Research Seminar

Instructor: D. Herzberg

This seminar guides students in producing an article-length original research paper (approximately 30-35 pages) based on primary sources and engaged with relevant historiographical and methodological debates in the scholarly literature.  Unless given advance permission by the instructor, topics should be related to the long 20th century (1877-2000) United States.  Students will also develop their critical reading and engaging skills by providing peer feedback on others’ written work.