History Gateways are introductory courses meant to appeal to first- through third-year students who may not have done previous course work on the topic of the course; topics cover the globe and span the ages.
HIST 11301 Global British Empire to 1784: War, Commerce, and Revolution (S. Pincus) This course traces the origins, development, and revolutionary transformation of the British Empire. Students will explore the English Civil War, King Philip's War, Bacon's Rebellion, the development of slavery, the Revolution of 1688, the making of British India, the rise of Irish discontent, the Scottish Jacobite Rebellions, the causes of the American Revolution, and the transformation of the British Empire into an authoritarian state. Students will read selections from Locke, Defoe, Swift, Franklin, Burke, and many others.
HIST 17805 America in the Twentieth Century (J. Dailey) This thematic lecture course on the past 115 years of US history. The main focus of the lectures will be politics, broadly defined. The readings consist of novels and nonfiction writing, with a scattering of primary sources.
Making History courses forgo traditional paper assignments for innovative projects that develop new skills with professional applications in the working world. Open to students at all levels, but especially recommended for third- and fourth-year students.
HIST 25425 Censorship, Information Control, and Revolutions in Information Technology from the Printing Press to Internet (A. Johns & A. Palmer) The digital revolution is triggering a wave of new information control efforts and censorship attempts, ranging from monopolistic copyright laws to the "Great Firewall" of China. The print revolution after 1450 was a moment like our own, when the explosive dissemination of a new information technology triggered a wave of information control efforts. Many of today's attempts at information control closely parallel early responses to the printing press, so the premodern case gives us centuries of data showing how diverse attempts to control or censor information variously incentivized, discouraged, curated, silenced, commodified, or nurtured art, thought, and science. This unique course is part of a collaborative research project funded by the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society and is co-organized with digital information expert Cory Doctorow. The course will bring pairs of experts working on the print and digital revolutions to campus to discuss parallels between their research with the class. Classes will be open to the public, filmed, and shared on the Internet to create an international public conversation. Rather than writing traditional papers, students will create web resources and publications (print and digital) to contribute to the ongoing collaborative research project.
History majors take at least one history colloquium, though you are welcome to take more than one. If you are pursuing the Research Track take a colloquium prior to Spring Quarter of your third year. If you are in the Regular Track can take a colloquium at any point prior to graduation.
HIST 29673 History Colloquium: The Politics of Housing (D. Jenkins) This course examines the struggle of Americans to find and access housing from the first Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century to the Gilded Age of the present. Conceptualizing housing as more than a place where people live, we address the ways in which shelter is bound up with race, gender, labor, law, consumption, and immigration. Topics include company towns, homelessness, redlining, public housing, suburbanization, and gentrification. This course exposes students to the methodologies of writing history (social, architectural, intellectual, cultural, and political economy). We will also engage with historical documents such as maps, magazines, census records, congressional documents, rental listings, music, and films. Students will be expected to conduct original research and produce a fifteen- to twenty-page research paper.
HIST 10101 Introduction to African Civilization 2 (E. Osborn) African Civilization introduces students to African history in a three-quarter sequence. Part One considers literary, oral, and archeological sources to investigate African societies and states from the early Iron Age through the emergence of the Atlantic World. We will study the ancient empires of Ghana, Mali, and Great Zimbabwe, the expansion of Islam, the origins and effects of European contact, and the transatlantic slave trade.development.
HIST 13001 History of European Civilization 1 European Civilization is a two-quarter sequence designed to use close readings of primary sources to enrich our understanding of Europeans of the past. As we examine the variety of their experiences, we will often call into question what we mean in the first place by “Europe” and “civilization.” Rather than providing a narrative of high politics, the sequence will emphasize the contested geographic, religious, social, and racial boundaries that have defined and redefined Europe and its people over the centuries. We will read and discuss sources covering the period from the early Middle Ages to the present, from a variety of genres: saga, biography, personal letters, property records, political treatises, memoirs, and government documents, to name only a few. Individual instructors may choose different sources and highlight different aspects of European civilization, but some of the most important readings will be the same in all sections. The two-quarter sequence may also be supplemented by a third quarter, in which students will have the opportunity to explore in greater depth a particular topic in the history of European civilization.
HIST 13100 Western Civilization 1 (K. Weintraub) Available as a three-quarter sequence (Autumn-Winter-Spring) or as a two-quarter sequence (Autumn-Winter or Winter-Spring). This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. The purpose of this sequence is threefold: (1) to introduce students to the principles of historical thought, (2) to acquaint them with some of the more important epochs in the development of Western civilization since the sixth century BC, and (3) to assist them in discovering connections between the various epochs. The purpose of the course is not to present a general survey of Western history. Instruction consists of intensive investigation of a selection of original documents bearing on a number of separate topics, usually two or three a quarter, occasionally supplemented by the work of a modern historian. The treatment of the selected topics varies from section to section. This sequence is currently offered twice a year. The amount of material covered is the same whether the student enrolls in the Autumn-Winter-Spring sequence or the Summer sequence.
HIST 13500 America in World Civilization 1 The American Civ sequence is nothing like your high-school history class, for here we examine America as a contested idea and a contested place by reading and writing about a wide array of primary sources. In the process, students gain a new sense of historical awareness and of the making of America. The course is designed both for history majors and non-majors who want to deepen their understanding of the nation's history, encounter some enlightening and provocative voices from the past, and develop the qualitative methodology of historical thinking. America in World Civilization I examines foundational texts and moments in American culture, society, and politics, from early European incursions into the New World through the early republic of the United States, roughly 1500-1800. We will examine encounters between Native Americans and representatives of imperial powers (Spain, France, and England) as well as the rise of African slavery in North America before 1700. We will consider the development of Anglo-American society and government in the eighteenth century, focusing especially on the causes and consequences of the American Revolution.
HIST 13900 Introduction to Russian Civilization 1 (E. Gilburd & W. Nickell) This two-quarter sequence, which meets the general education requirement in civilization studies, provides an interdisciplinary introduction to Russian civilization. The first quarter covers the ninth century to the 1870s; the second quarter continues on through the post-Soviet period. Working closely with a variety of primary sources—from oral legends to film and music, from political treatises to literary masterpieces—we will track the evolution of Russian civilization over the centuries and through radically different political regimes. Topics to be discussed include the influence of Byzantine, Mongol-Tataric, and Western culture in Russian civilization; forces of change and continuity in political, intellectual and cultural life; the relationship between center and periphery; systems of social and political legitimization; and symbols and practices of collective identity.
HIST 15100 Introduction to East Asian Civilization 1 (G. Alitto) This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. This is a three-quarter sequence on the civilizations of China, Japan, and Korea, with emphasis on major transformation in these cultures and societies from the Middle Ages to the present. Taking these courses in sequence is not required.
LACS 16100/HIST 16101 Introduction to Latin American Civilization 1 (A. Kolata) Taking these courses in sequence is not required. This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. This sequence is offered every year. This course introduces the history and cultures of Latin America (e.g., Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean Islands). The first quarter examines the origins of civilizations in Latin America with a focus on the political, social, and cultural features of the major pre-Columbian civilizations of the Maya, Inca, and Aztec. The quarter concludes with an analysis of the Spanish and Portuguese conquest and the construction of colonial societies in Latin America.
HIST 16700 Ancient Mediterranean World 1: Greece Available as a three-quarter sequence (Autumn-Winter-Spring) or as a two-quarter sequence (Autumn-Winter or Winter-Spring). This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. This sequence surveys the social, economic, and political history of Greece to the death of Alexander the Great (323 BC), the Roman Republic (509 to 27 BC), and late antiquity (27 BC to the fifth century AD). This quarter surveys the social, economic, and political history of Greece from prehistory to the Hellenistic period. The main topics considered include the development of the institutions of the Greek city-state, the Persian Wars and the rivalry of Athens and Sparta, the social and economic consequences of the Peloponnesian War, and the eclipse and defeat of the city-states by the Macedonians. The sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies.
HIPS 17300/HIST 17300 Science, Culture, and Society in Western Civilization I (J. Wee) This course focuses on the origins and development of science in the West. The aim is to trace the evolution of the biological, psychological, natural, and mathematical sciences as they emerge from the cultural and social matrix of their periods, and in turn, affect culture and society. Taking these courses in sequence is recommended but not required. This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. This three-quarter sequence focuses on the origins and development of science in the West.
HIPS 17403/HIST 17403 Science, Culture, and Society in Western Civilization II: Early Modern Science (R. Richards) Taking these courses in sequence is recommended but not required. This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. This three-quarter sequence focuses on the origins and development of science in the West.
NEHC 20605/HIST 26005 Colloquium: Sources for the Study of Islamic History (J. Woods) This course is designed to acquaint the student with the basic problems and concepts as well as the sources and methodology for the study of premodern Islamic history. Sources will be read in English translation and the tools acquired will be applied to specific research projects to be submitted as term papers.
KNOW 21412/HIST 24916 Your Body is a Construct: Medicine, Religion, Law (M. Carlyle) This course studies how the interplay of medicine, religion, and the law in early modern Europe (1600–1800) gave rise to new ideas and ideals about the human body. We will examine the crafting and dissemination of bodily knowledge by medical professionals, religious leaders, and legal experts who were arbitrators on the right way to live. We will read primary and secondary sources on superstition and witchcraft, prisons and hospitals, sex and sexuality, the rise of automata, crime and punishment, and rituals of power. Readings will encompass France, Britain, Italy, and Germany.
HIST 23008 Montesquieu's The Spirit of the Laws (P. Cheney) From its publication in 1748, The Spirit of the Laws has been interpreted, among other things, as a foundational work of method in historical jurisprudence; a pæan to the English constitution and an inspiration for that of the future United States; a precocious call for penal reform and the abolition of slavery; a monument to the Enlightenment's capacity for cultural relativism that laid the groundwork for the discipline of sociology; an historical treatise on the rise of globalized commerce and its political effects in Europe; and a manifesto for a reactionary feudal aristocracy. We will read The Spirit of the Laws with an attention to these and other possible interpretations. This course is mainly an exercise in close reading, but we will also think about the contexts for the writing and reception of this landmark work of Enlightenment social and political thought.
CRES 24001/HIST 18301 Colonizations 1 This three-quarter sequence approaches the concept of civilization from an emphasis on cross-cultural and societal connection and exchange. We explore the dynamics of conquest, slavery, colonialism, and their reciprocal relationships with concepts such as resistance, freedom, and independence, with an eye toward understanding their interlocking role in the making of the modern world. The course covers themes of slavery, colonization, and the making of the Atlantic world in the first quarter.
EALC 24256/HIST 24512 Everyday Maoism: Work, Daily Life, and Material Culture in Socialist China (J. Eyferth) The history of Maoist China is usually told as a sequence of political campaigns: land and marriage reform, nationalization of industry, anti-rightist campaign, Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution, etc. Yet for the majority of the Chinese population, the revolution was as much about material changes as about politics: two-storey brick houses, electric lights and telephones (loushang louxia, diandeng dianhua) promised by socialism; new work regimes and new consumption patterns—or, in many cases, about the absence of positive change in their material lives. If we want to understand what socialism meant for different groups of people, we have to look at the "beautiful new things" of socialist modernity, at changes in dress codes and apartment layouts, at electrification and city planning. We have to analyze workplaces and labor processes in order to understand how socialism changed the way people worked. We also have to look at the rationing of consumer goods and its effects on people's daily lives. The course has a strong comparative dimension: we will look at the literature on socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, to see how Chinese socialism differed from its cousins. Another aim is methodological. How can we understand the lives of people who wrote little and were rarely written about? To which extent can a focus on material artifacts and daily work routines help us to understand people's life experiences?
HIST 24612 Chinese Frontier History, circa 1600–Present (K. Pomeranz) A study of frontier regions, migration, and border policies in Qing (1644–1912) and twentieth-century China, focusing on selected case studies. Cases will include both actual border regions (where the Qing/China was adjacent to some other polity it recognized), ethnically diverse internal frontiers, and places where migrants moved into previously uninhabited regions (e.g., high mountains). Topics include the political economy and geopolitics of migration and frontier regions, the formation of ethnic and national identities in frontier contexts, borderland society (e.g., marriage, social stratification, and social mobility), and the environmental effects of migration. Assignments for undergraduates are two short papers, a midterm (which can be waived under certain circumstances), a final, and class participation; requirements for graduate students are negotiable, but will include roughly twenty pages of writing (and no in-class exams).
HIST 24803 Histories in Japan (J. Ketelaar) An examination of the discipline of history as practiced in Japan from ancient times to the modern. Readings in translation of works such as the Kojiki, Okagami, Taiheiki, and others will be used to explore both the Japanese past and the manner of interpretation of that past.
KNOW 27004 Babylon and the Origins of Knowledge (E. Escobar) In 1946 the economist John Maynard Keynes declared that Isaac Newton "was the last of the magicians, the last of the Babylonians." We find throughout history, in the writings of Galileo, Jorge Luis Borges, Ibn Khaldun, Herodotus, and the Hebrew Bible, a city of Babylon full of contradictions. At once sinful and reverential, a site of magic and science, rational and irrational, Babylon seemed destined to resound in the historical imagination as the birthplace of knowledge itself. But how does the myth compare to history? How did the Babylonians themselves envisage their own knowledge? And is it reasonable to draw, as Keynes did, a line that begins with Babylon and ends with Newton? In this course we will take a cross-comparative approach, investigating the history of the ancient city and its continuity in the scientific imagination.
HIST 27508 Conspiracy Theory in American History (M. Kruer) This course examines conspiracy theories in American history—and some actual conspiracies—ranging from the seventeenth century to the 1990s. The alleged conspiracies that we will study include slave uprisings, monarchical plots against liberty, Catholic secret agents, Freemasons and other secret societies, the abolitionist movement and the Southern "Slave Power," the JFK assassination, and the modern fascination with UFOs, among others. What ties these diverse topics together is a sense that hidden forces are pulling the strings behind the scenes, exercising power in secret to control the course of events, invariably with sinister agendas. We will examine these conspiracy theories not to prove or disprove them, but to understand how such beliefs come about, why they become popular, and how even paranoid fantasies can exert a decisive influence on culture and politics in America.
HIST 28000 US Latinos: Origins and Histories (R. Gutiérrez) An examination of the diverse social, economic, political, and cultural histories of those who are now commonly identified as Latinos in the United States. Particular emphasis will be placed on the formative historical experiences of Mexican Americans and mainland Puerto Ricans, although some consideration will also be given to the histories of other Latino groups, i.e., Cubans, Central Americans, and Dominicans. Topics include cultural and geographic origins and ties; imperialism and colonization; the economics of migration and employment; legal status; work, women, and the family; racism and other forms of discrimination; the politics of national identity; language and popular culture; and the place of Latinos in US society.
HIST 29324 Slavery and Capitalism (G. Mount) The course examines how the interrelated transnational forces of slavery and capitalism shaped our modern world from the 1400s to the present. We will examine the history of this relationship and the living legacy of that history in the narratives of everyday people. Are recent frameworks theorizing a global hegemonic system of "slavery and racial capitalism" really our ultimate horizon? Are there any redemptive possibilities in older renderings committed to a more distinctive and disaggregated parsing of slavery and capitalism? Critical to approaching these questions are how people of African descent have themselves remembered slavery, experienced capitalism, and marshalled those memories in the service of emancipatory political movements. As such this course will focus on primary documents that give voice to enslaved peoples as well as secondary literature written by black historians attempting to shape international thought on this question. The ultimate aim is a wider understanding of the rise of Western modernity and how peoples of the African diaspora navigated and, at times, contested its consequences.
HIST 29412 The Face in Western Culture from the Mona Lisa to the Selfie (Colin Jones, Professor of History , Queen Mary University of London) The course will consider some key themes in the history of the human face, from the Renaissance to the present. It will range across art history and cultural history through to the histories of science, technology, and everyday life. The course will draw on specialized readings from secondary literature alongside a wide range of literary and visual primary sources including paintings and drawings, photographs, literary and scientific writings, and identity documents. We will highlight primary materials within Regenstein Library's Special Collections, where the classes will be held.
HIPS 29626/HIST 24920 Romantic Bodies: Theater in the History of Science and Medicine (A. Clark) Scientific, medical, and technological advancements alter our everyday lives in profound ways, and theater can play with the development and repercussions of these advancements, altering our memories of history. This stimulates a line of questioning for historians who view “science plays,” or plays that use science as the basis of their content and often also their form. In this tutorial, we will explore how these plays can (or cannot) fit into intellectual history as well as social and cultural histories of science. We will investigate how these plays can act as vehicles for remembering (or reconstructing) histories of science, reminding ourselves that the moral quandaries and ethical dilemmas that we juggle in science and medicine are as recurring as the theatrical productions are. In the first five weeks of class, we will read one of the original science plays from the romantic era, Goethe's Faust, Part I (1808), in relation to developing ideas, experiments, and treatises on alchemy, political landscape, and history. We will consider the body in terms of anatomy, perception, sense, and emotions. We will spend one week discussing the ability of and regulations on the actor’s body during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In our second case study, Tony Kushner's Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes (1991 and 1993), bodies are engage in risky romance that may lead to disease and, once infected, are judged differently by society. We will focus less on intellectual debates and more on the social, cultural, and political environment that instigated Kushner's writing and ignited protests and injunctions. We will attend Frankenstein at Court Theatre and read a short play about the discovery of the Higgs boson by two playwright who collaborated with Caltech scientists; one of the playwrights will attend our final class.
HIPS 29800/HIST 25503 Junior HIPSS Seminar: My Favorite Readings in the History and Philosophy of Science (R. Richards) This course introduces some of the most important and influential accounts of science to have been produced in modern times. It provides an opportunity to discover how philosophers, historians, anthropologists, and sociologists have grappled with the scientific enterprise and to assess critically how successful their efforts have been. Authors likely include Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, Robert Merton, Steven Shapin, and Bruno Latour.
HIST 29801 BA Thesis Seminar I (S. Burns) History students in the research track are required to take HIST 29801–29802. BA Thesis Seminar I provides a systematic introduction to historical methodology and approaches (e.g., political, intellectual, social, cultural, economic, gender, environmental history), as well as research techniques. It culminates in students' submission of a robust BA thesis proposal that will be critiqued in class. Guidance will also be provided for applications for research funding. All third-year history students in the research track and in residence in Chicago take HIST 29801 in spring quarter. Those who are out of residence take it in autumn quarter of their fourth year.
Graduate Courses Open to Undergraduates by Consent
TURK 40589/HIST 58301 Colloquium: Advanced Ottoman Historical Texts (C. Fleischer) Based on selected readings from major Ottoman chronicles from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries, the course provides an introduction to the use of primary narrative materials and an overview of the development and range of Ottoman historical writing. Knowledge of modern and Ottoman Turkish required.
HIST 42603 Colloquium: Virtues and Vices in Medieval Christian Thought (R. Fulton Brown) What is virtue? How does a soul acquire it? What happens when it succumbs to vice? As medieval monks, preachers, poets, and scholastics understood, training the soul in virtue is no easy task. The vices, like demons, are ever ready to attack, rendering the soul a battlefield—or a castle under siege. How ought the soul prepare? In this course, we read across the medieval tradition of thinking about the soul's struggle with virtue and vice from Prudentius's Psychomachia to Dante's Inferno and Purgatorio. We will consider sources commenting on scripture, particularly Gregory the Great's Moralia in Job, as well as those drawing on Aristotle, including William of Auvergne's Treatise on the Virtues. We will pay special attention to the role of memory, allegory, and confession as practices for training the soul, along with more formal theories of virtue and vice. Upper-level undergraduates by consent of instructor.
HIST 48501 Colloquium: Debt and the State (D. Jenkins) With a focus on the long twentieth century, we explore how government debt—whether repudiated by the American Confederacy, used to finance municipal infrastructure, or issued by the World Bank to stimulate development around the globe—shaped matters of governance, sovereignty, and inequality. Readings consist of some theory, a handful of primary sources, and mostly secondary readings that cut across geographical and political boundaries. Upper-level undergraduates with consent of instructor.
HIST 58601 Colloquium: Iran and Central Asia (J. Woods) A colloquium on the sources for and the literature on the political, social, economic, technological, and cultural history of Western and Central Asia from 900 to 1750. Specific topics will vary and focus on the Turks and the Islamic world, the Mongol universal empire, the age of Timur and the Turkmens, and the development of the "Gunpowder Empires."
HIST 60302 Colloquium: Immigration and Assimilation in American Life (R. Gutiérrez) This course explores the history of immigration in what is now the United States, starting with the colonial origins of Spanish, French, Dutch, and English settlements, the importation of African slaves, and the massive waves of immigrants that arrived in the nineteenth and twentieth century. Additionally, we will study the adaptation of these immigrants, exploring the validity of the concept of assimilation, comparing and contrasting the experiences of the "old" and "new" immigrants based on their race, religion, and class standing. Open to upper-level undergraduates with consent of instructor.