WIN 19: Early Modern History Courses

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 13200  History of Western Civilization 2  (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 15200  Introduction to East Asian Civilization 2  (J. Ketelaar)  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 16200/HIST 16102  Introduction to Latin American Civilization 2  (M. Tenorio)  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 second quarter addresses the evolution of colonial societies, the wars of independence, and the emergence of Latin American nation-states in the changing international context of the nineteenth century.

HIST 19402  Economic History II: The Early Modern World, circa 1300–1800  (P. Cheney & K. Pomeranz)  This course both describes preindustrial economic life and weighs the models used to explain fundamental changes to it. We will begin by describing some of the basic structures that determined patterns of production, exchange​,​​ and consumption​​ in a period of low and easily reversible growth. These include agricultural productivity, demographic constraints, modes of transportation, and the social structures that governed the distribution of what little surplus premodern societies produced. Turning to the sources of economic dynamism that may have contributed to later industrialization, we will first examine the growth of long-distance trade networks starting in the late fourteenth century. How were traditional economies characterized by limited movement stimulated by the circulation of people, goods, and money from afar? We will then move to a discussion of the factors leading to (or frustrating) transformational patterns of economic growth: agricultural productivity, institutions, "proto-industrial" production in an era of limited urban growth, and changing norms of consumption. 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 20110  Trans-Saharan Africa  (R. Austen)  This course will deal with various developments (trade, politics, religion, slavery, voluntary migration) linking the Maghrib/North Africa with the great African desert and the "Sudanic" lands to its south. Along with lectures and discussions of readings we will visit an exhibit, Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Medieval Trans-Saharan Exchange, at the Block Museum of Art in Evanston.

HIST 24500  Reading Qing Documents  (G. Alitto)  This course introduces documentary Chinese of the Qing (1644–1912) and the Republican ((1912–1949) periods, with an emphasis upon critical use of these documents and the related historiography. Students read a wide variety of  genres, including imperial edicts, secret memorials, local gazetteers, newspapers, funeral essays, as well as selections from the Qing "Veritable Records" (Qing Shilu) and the Draft History of the Qing Dynasty (Qing Shigao). We first translate the documents into English and then analyze them.

HIST 24602  Objects of Japanese History  (J. Ketelaar)  The collections of Japanese objects held at the University of Chicago's Smart Museum, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Art Institute of Chicago will be examined as case studies in museum studies, collection research, and, more specifically, in the interpretation of things "Japanese." Individual objects will be examined, not only for religious, aesthetic, cultural, and historical issues, but also for what they tell us of the collections themselves and the relation of these collections to museum studies per se. This year, in particular, we will examine the major exhibition of Floating World (Ukiyo) paintings held at the Art Institute. We will make several study trips to the Smart Museum, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Art Institute of Chicago during class time.

HIST 25115  Francis Bacon's Philosophy of Nature  (J. Niermeier-Dohoney, Teaching Fellow in the Social Sciences)  Historians of science have traditionally regarded Francis Bacon (1561–1626) as one of the most prominent seventeenth-century champions of induction, empiricism, and experimental methodology. While these are perhaps his most important contributions to natural philosophy, Bacon and his adherents also exerted a profound influence on Western notions of power over nature and of the possibilities of alteration, manipulation, and exploitation of the natural world. This course will examine some of Bacon's principal works (The New Organon, The Advancement of Learning, The New Atlantis, and The Great Instauration) in order to first develop an understanding of Bacon's philosophical positions and the changing landscape of natural philosophy in the seventeenth century. Then, we will examine the implications of Bacon's philosophy from his lifetime to the present, focusing particularly on the rise of artisanal and craft knowledge; the emergence of civil institutions for cooperative knowledge making;  utopian and cornucopian conceptions of the natural economy; science as the manipulation of nature; the competing and complementary notions of dominion over nature versus environmental stewardship; the practical uses of natural materials during European imperial expansion; the origins of industrialization and technological development; and his influence on modern science, politics, economics, and environmentalism.

HIST 25308  Lab, Field, and Clinic: The History and Anthropology of Medicine and the Life Sciences  (M. Rossi)  In this course we will examine the ways in which different groups of people—in different times and places—have understood the nature of life and living things, bodies and bodily processes, and health and disease, among other notions. We will address these issues principally, though not exclusively, through the lens of the changing sets of methods and practices commonly recognizable as science and medicine. We will also pay close attention to the methods through which scholars in history and anthropology have written about these topics, and how current scientific and medical practice affect historical and anthropological studies of science and medicine.

HIST 29522  Europe's Intellectual Transformations, Renaissance through Enlightenment  (A. Palmer)  This course will consider the foundational transformations of Western thought from the end of the Middle Ages to the threshold of modernity. It will provide an overview of the three self-conscious and interlinked intellectual revolutions which reshaped early modern Europe: the Renaissance revival of antiquity, the "new philosophy" of the seventeenth century, and the light and dark faces of the Enlightenment. It will treat scholasticism, humanism, the scientific revolution, Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Voltaire, Diderot, and Sade.

HIST 43002  State Formations and Types of States: Global Perspectives (S. Pincus & J. Robinson, director, Pearson Institute)  Why, historically, did states emerge, and what did they do? The course begins by investigating standard narratives of European state formation, then proceeds to ask whether non-European and premodern state formations conform to the scholarly theories. Finally, we wonder whether theories of state formation fit empires or federal states. This course asks students simultaneously to take seriously social science explanations for state formation and the historical record. Upper-level undergraduates with consent of instructors.