Spring 2024 Graduate Courses

HIS 503 American History Core 2

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

This seminar examines European history from the French Revolution to the end of the Cold War. The course spans two centuries marked by revolutions, wars, and major cultural, social, economic, and political change. The seminar introduces students to classic texts from the historiography of late modern Europe as well as more recent publications representative of new directions in scholarship.

HIS 545 Special Topics: Stalinism

The Stalin era was one of the most turbulent periods in Soviet history. Between 1928 and 1953, the Soviet Union was dramatically transformed by rapid industrialization, collectivization, state violence and terror, and war. In this seminar, students will explore the major events and turning points of this period. We will also learn about key debates and themes in the historiography of Stalinism.

HIS 545 Special Topics: Histories of Travel

Travel is both a major driver of the modern global economy and a deeply embedded aspect of the human experience. People travel for a range of reasons, freely or coerced, to familiar or alien destinations, with the intention of remaining or of returning. Although motivations for journeys are as varied as the people who set out on them, the experience of leaving home and navigating a new environment while on the move is widely shared across all cultures and peoples, dating to the earliest homo sapiens. This course considers how humans have traveled over time, how travel has shaped human history, and how we may consider the various forms of travel as part of our shared humanity. Readings will include travel diaries, essays on travel, and analytical historical texts. Students will research and present on different travel cultures, and for a final project develop an annotated itinerary of a voyage they might wish to undertake. 

HIS 549 Special Topics: Landmarks and Local History

This project-based seminar will enable students to undertake a research project on a local history topic or landmark. Students will use a landmark designation or historic marker as the foundation of their project and work in local history resources and digital documents and materials. The course will begin with some readings on history and heritage before turning to an analysis of digital scholarship tools as well as digital research resources. Students will research a topic and then present it in a non-traditional format, in digital scholarship, handmade book or art, video, podcast, or another creative format.

HIS 550 Special Topics: Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against the Machine is a class that explores the history of white supremacy in and beyond the United States. No topic could be timelier and more important in light of the recent racist massacre in Buffalo New York. 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 a project aimed at ending white supremacist radicalization online.This class offers a unique opportunity for humanities students to work with computer scientists in a truly cross-disciplinary collaboration centered on social justice. Indeed, your work will directly address a pressing problem in our world.

HIS 556 Special Topics: Microhistory

How much can we learn about the past through the story of a single person, place, object or event? This seminar takes as its focus “microhistory,” a distinctive approach to the study of the past that seeks to reveal broader forces of historical change through detailed stories of obscure individuals and unusual events. Historians have attempted to show that such “microhistories” can in fact reveal much about the grand sweep of history. By narrowing our focus to magnify the small, the particular and the local, scholars have proven that studies of seemingly inconsequential subjects can have a major impact on our understanding of history. This seminar will examine both the microhistories themselves and the extensive scholarship that has been produced explaining, refining, justifying, and critiquing this approach. 

HIS 572 Latin American Studies

This course explores the history of state-sponsored violence, in the Americas paying particular attention to questions of violence, memory, repression and human rights in these different contexts. This class begins with three major monographs that study violence not only as a subject but also as a prism and method of analysis. We build on this foundation throughout the semester, turning to state violence, terror, and human rights in 20th century Latin America, focusing especially closely on Chile, Argentina and Guatemala in the Cold War, and ending with a look at the role of the United States in the history of state and everyday forms of violence and resistance. Short empirical essays contextualize each national story, and connect empirical research to larger theoretical debates and arguments. Throughout the semester, we will complement ¿traditional¿ academic readings with testimonial literature, film, and other forms of critical examination.

HIS 606 Research Transnationalism

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.