WIN 19: Economic History Courses

HIST 16800  Ancient Mediterranean World 2: Rome  Available as a three-quarter sequence (Autumn-Winter-Spring) or as a two-quarter sequence (Autumn-Winter or Winter-Spring). 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 Rome, from its prehistoric beginnings in the twelfth century BCE to the end of the Severan dynasty in 235 CE. Throughout, the focus is upon the dynamism and adaptability of Roman society, as it moved from a monarchy to a republic to an empire, and the implications of these political changes for structures of competition and cooperation within the community.

HIST 17704  The Old History of Capitalism  (D. Jenkins)  What is the relationship between race and capitalism? This course introduces students to the concept of "racial capitalism," which rejects treatments of race as external to a purely economic project and counters the idea that racism is an externality, acultural overflow, or an aberration from the so-called real workings of capitalism. Spanning the colonization of North America to the era of mass incarceration, topics include the slave trade, indigenous dispossession, antebellum slavery, the Mexican-American War, "new imperialism," the welfare state, and civil rights. This course neither presumes a background in economics nor previous coursework in history. History Gateways are introductory courses meant to appeal to 1st- through 3rd-yr students who may not have done previous course work on the topic of the course; topics cover the globe and span the ages.

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 1st- through 3rd-yr 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 21006  The Present Past in Greece since 1769  (J. Hall)  This discussion-based course will explore how conceptions of the ancient past have been mobilized and imagined in the political, social, and cultural discourses of modern Greece from the lead up to the War of Independence through to the present day. Among the themes that will be addressed are ethnicity and nationalism, theories of history, the production of archæological knowledge, and the politics of display.

EALC 24512/HIST 24511  Social and Economic Institutions of Chinese Socialism  (J. Eyferth)  The socialist period (for our purposes here, circa 1949–1990) fundamentally transformed the institutions of Chinese social and economic life. Marriage and family were redefined; rural communities were reorganized on a collective basis; private property in land and other means of production were abolished. Industrialization created a new urban working class, whose access to welfare, consumer goods, and political rights depended to a large extent on their membership in work units (danwei). Migration between city and countryside came to a halt, and rural and urban society developed in different directions. This course will focus on the concrete details of how this society functioned. How did state planning work? What was it like to work in a socialist factory? What role did money and consumption play in a planned economy? Our readings are in English, but speakers of Chinese are encouraged to use Chinese materials (first-hand sources, if they can be found) for their final papers.

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.