Spring 2023 Graduate Courses

HIS 503 American History Core 2

Instructor: D. Herzberg

The graduate core is a survey of U.S. historiography in the long 20th century (i.e., since the Civil War).  We will read books and articles that introduce us to some of the major topics and fields, themes and issues, and research and analytical methods from this time period.

The goal is not primarily to increase your factual knowledge of U.S. history, but to get a sense of the relationship between history and historians.  What kinds of questions do historians ask of the past?  How do they go about answering them?  What kinds of evidence do they look at, how do they choose, and how do they interpret it?  How do historians build on and/or challenge each others’ work and interpretations?  If history only happened once, why does history as written by historians change over time?  What are some of the most active and exciting subjects and approaches in 20thcentury U.S. history today? These kinds of questions are central to critical reading and thinking, i.e., figuring out how to take apart and (hopefully) put back together again the kinds of narratives—stories—that we are all familiar with as the stuff of “history.”

HIS 505 Modern Europe Core

Instructor: K. Zubovich

This course introduces you to some major issues of modern European history. It spans the period from the late 18th century and the French Revolution to the end of the Cold War around 1989-91, and covers different geographical areas.  The course is designed to

·         make you aware of—and analyze—the diversity of European histories:  Is there, in fact, a “European History”? What role do nation-states and regions, international relations and non-state actors play in this history? Who are “the people” of Europe, and how do they interact? What impact do ethnic identities, gender roles, and cultural expressions have on their societies?

·         help you gain an understanding of recent scholarship on modern Europe: How have historians cast European history? What methods, sources, and perspectives have they chosen to define their topics, formulate their questions, and arrive at their arguments? In what ways has the historiography of Europe changed over time?

·         train you in reading and utilizing academic literature as well as historical sources, ranging from an autobiographical accounts to visual images and films. This seminar thus also wants to assist those of you who are planning to teach history at the high school or college level.

HIS 506 N. and S. Atlantic Core

Instructor: C. Trumper

This course will introduce students to the rapidly growing field of the Atlantic world.  Within the historical profession, the term “Atlantic world” is often applied to the North Atlantic in the early modern period.  This course will engage with that material while also expanding the concept to include the South Atlantic and the post-colonial era.  Students will gain an understanding of how the field has been defined, how it has changed over time, and how it might evolve in the future.  This course is required for History Ph.D. students who wish to offer the “North and South Atlantic” for the major field of their oral examinations.  It is highly recommended for those who wish to offer a minor oral examination field in the Atlantic World, and for anyone who wishes to employ transnational or comparative perspectives on the past.

HIS 520 History of France

Instructor: L. Vardi

This course covers the History of France from the Middle Ages to the Algerian War through books selected for their historical importance and their varied methodological approaches. We will encounter the Annales School, political, social and cultural historians, sample biographies and autobiographies, and touch on the history of emotions.

HIS 545 Special Topics: Civil War & Reconstruction

Instructor: C. Emberton

This class 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 civil war, manhood and war, gender and emancipation, the legacy of slavery and Reconstruction, and the continued struggles over the war’s memorialization.

HIS 550 Special Topics: Rage Against the Machine

Instructor: D. Muller

Rage Against the Machine is a class that explores the history of white supremacy in and beyond the United States over the course of the 19thand 20thcenturies. In addition to learning about this topic, students in "Rage" will have the opportunity to work on a project with peers in a CSE 440/441/540 Machine Learning and Society. Students from both classes will work together on an Impossible Project aimed at ending white supremacist radicalization online and will present their ideas to a public audience in Buffalo, where our city has recently been devastated by white supremacist violence during the Tops massacre in May of 2022. No knowledge of computing is necessary for this class. However, students in “Rage” will receive the following: A high level overview of the main steps involved in building a Machine Learning (ML) model, an opportunity to work with Google Colab notebooks that create ML models from data, the experience of contributing to the creation of a better ML model. The option to continue research on the project with funding during the summer of 2023 will be provided.  

HIS 577 Disability History I

Instructor: J. Barclay

This course is an introduction to the field of disability history. It is a chronological survey of disability history from antiquity to the present and as such offers students a broad overview of relevant texts in the field. It places disability in historical context, exploring changes and continuities in the ways in which people in different times and locations have thought about both concepts in law and policy, in scientific, medical, political, and social discourse, and in popular and high culture. A critical analysis of the lived experience of those individuals perceived to be disabled, as well as the intersection of disability with race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, age, class, gender, and sexuality are central to this course.

HIS 606 Research Transnationalism

Instructor: A. Daum

This course is intended primarily for students in the second year of their History graduate program; first-semester students may be admitted with the approval of their advisers and the DGS. The main purpose of this class is to guide students in the preparation of a substantial essay reflecting original research. To this end, each student will write a seminar paper of between 7,000 and 8,000 words that is based on primary sources and engages the relevant historiographical and methodological debates in the scholarly literature. Under the broad umbrella of transnational themes and methodologies, participants are free to choose topics of interest to them, and they are encouraged to draw on the specialized expertise from faculty across the department and solicit their advice. This semester, the instructor would encourage students to embark on topics involving European, transatlantic history, and the history of science & knowledge.

The first weeks of the semester will be devoted to making participants familiar with the craft of advanced historical research and writing, as well as the relevance of historiographical debates and controversies, especially in regard to transnational themes. To that end, we will discuss together one exemplary monograph and several articles, while participants already approach topics of their own. In the subsequent weeks, we address specific issues related to the individual research projects; participants will present, peer review, and discuss their work in progress. Toward the end of the semester, each participant will provide an in-depth presentation of their research paper to the seminar.

HIS 702

Instructor: E. Seger

A forum for conversations on the diverse array of careers available to holders of MA and PhD degrees in History. Class sessions are devoted to discussion of readings on career diversity and strategies to prepare for careers within and beyond the academy. Alumni of UB's History graduate program, as well as other programs, visit class to share their experiences. Open as an elective to all graduate students.