SPR 19: History of Empire and Colonialism

HIST 13003 (Section 4)  History of European Civilization 3—Crossing the Channel: England and France  (A. Locking, collegiate assistant professor) The two-quarter sequence may 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. There are few countries that have such a long and complex relationship as England and France. Both connected and separated by the English Channel, England and France have directly aided, invaded, and invariably shaped each other for well over a millennium. In this course, we will examine some of the most crucial moments of political alliance and division and cultural diffusion and differentiation which have helped create the popular image of the love-hate relationship between the English and French peoples. We will focus on major historical moments ranging from medieval conflicts such as the Norman Conquest and the Hundred Years’ War to the modern religious and political upheavals of the Protestant Reformation and the French Revolution. We will discuss a variety of sources from French and English authors. Throughout the course we will explore how the constant rivalry and alliance between the English and French peoples helped shape the political and cultural developments of Europe as a whole.

HIST 13803  The Soviet Union  (E. Gilburd)  This lecture course surveys the making and unmaking of the Soviet Union as a society, culture, economy, superpower, and empire from 1917 to 1991. The Soviet Union began as an unprecedented radical experiment in remaking society and economy, ethnic and gender relations, personal identities, even human nature. In the course of its history, it came to resemble other (capitalist) societies, sharing, in turn, their violence, welfare provisions, and consumerism. The story of this transformation—from being unique and exhilarating to being much like everyone else, only poorer and more drab—will be at the center of our exploration. The main themes of the course include social and cultural revolutions; ideology and the role of Marxism; political violence from the birth of the socialist state to the end of the Stalin terror; Stalinism, its origins, practices, aesthetics, legacies, and critiques; law, dissent, and human rights; nationality policies and the role of ethnic minorities; the economy of shortages and the material culture it created; institutions of daily life (communal apartments, courtyards, peasant markets, dachas, and boiler rooms); socialist realism and the Soviet dreamworld.

HIST 20902  Empires and Peoples: Ethnicity in Late Antiquity  (R. Payne)  Late antiquity witnessed an unprecedented proliferation of peoples in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Vandals, Arabs, Goths, Huns, Franks, and Iranians, among numerous others, took shape as political communities within the Roman and Iranian empires or along their peripheries. Recent scholarship has undone the traditional image of these groups as previously undocumented communities of "barbarians" entering history. Ethnic communities emerge from the literature as political constructions dependent on the very malleability of identities, on specific acts of textual and artistic production, on particular religious traditions, and, not least, on the imperial or postimperial regimes sustaining their claims to sovereignty. The colloquium will debate the origin, nature, and roles of ethno-political identities and communities comparatively across West Asia, from the Western Mediterranean to the Eurasian steppes, on the basis of recent contributions. As a historiographical colloquium, the course will address the contemporary cultural and political concerns—especially nationalism—that have often shaped historical accounts of ethnogenesis in the period as well as bio-historical approaches—such as genetic history—that sometimes sit uneasily with the recent advances of historians.

HIST 22102  Medieval Travelers  (R. Fulton Brown)  Why did Europeans respond as they did to the opportunities opened to them with Columbus's discovery of a "new world" in the late fifteenth century? What precedents and preconceptions did they have for their encounter with this "new world"? This course seeks to answer these questions by looking to the accounts of those who traveled both within and beyond Europe, in fact and in imagination, during the centuries preceding Columbus's voyage. Its argument will be that to understand what Columbus and his contemporaries found when they arrived in the "new world," we must first understand what they thought they were looking for—and that what they were looking for is not necessarily what we might expect. The course gives students the opportunity to write a significant research paper, written in the character of a medieval traveler, whether a merchant, pilgrim, crusader, missionary, geographer, or conquistador.

HIST 26516  The United States and Latin America, a History from 1840s to Trump  (M. Tenorio)  Over the second half of the twentieth century, it became a cliché that the United States was an empire and that the so-called Latin America was its backyard, the region where the empire paraded, with largesse, its mighty will. And yet, on one hand, over the last 150 years both the United States and "Latin America" have had variegated forms of interactions, which cannot be easily characterized as one single historical constant; on the other, in today's world the question seems unavoidable: is "Latin America" still an homogenous unique region with which the United States interacts collectively in the same ways whether in political, economic, or military terms? Making use of historical analysis in tandem with constant discussions of current events in the United States and "Latin America," the course seeks to invite students to add a disciplined historical imagination to the historian/political scientist/analyst toolbox. The course will consist of lectures, student presentations, and class discussions. Each student will be required to introduce readings in class at least once, depending on the number of students. In addition, there will be two take-home essays over the semester. The essay questions will be distributed a week in advance of the due dates.

HIST 29000  Latin American Religions, Old and New  (D. Borges)  This course will consider select pre-twentieth-century issues, such as the transformations of Christianity in colonial society and the Catholic Church as a state institution. It will emphasize twentieth-century developments: religious rebellions, conversion to evangelical Protestant churches, Afro-diasporan religions, reformist and revolutionary Catholicism, new and New Age religions.

HIST 29416  Modern European Intellectual History  (E. Tschinkel, Teaching Fellow in the Social Sciences)  In this lecture course, we will examine the ways in which European thought in the late-nineteenth and twentieth centuries was a period of radical critique of some of the most basic tenets that had prevailed in previous centuries. We will trace some of these modern critiques through the decades, such as ontological critiques of Enlightenment rationalism, the use of genealogy as a form of critique, critiques of modern life, critiques of colonialism, and critiques of these critiques. This course will represent an overview of the high intellectual history of modern European thought. Context, both historical and intellectual, will be provided in the lectures, and weekly texts will be discussed in discussion sections. Authors will include, for example, Heidegger, Sartre, Foucault, Benjamin, Beauvoir, Arendt, and Derrida.

HIST 29524  Approaches to World History  (D. Knorr, Von Holst Prize Lecturer)  What is world history? This seemingly simple question is a source of great debate, such as the heated responses to the College Board's recent decision to cut material prior to 1450 from AP World History. How we answer it says a great deal about how we view the world and history generally. This course introduces answers to this question by previous scholars and challenges students to assess how these answers relate to their own education and intellectual interests at the University of Chicago. We will touch on major approaches and trends in the growing field of world history, including civilizational studies, the "great divergence" or "rise of the West," world-systems theory, environmental history, "big history," and the study of specific people, places, and objects in the context of world history. Students will leave with a solid grounding in one of the most vibrant and contentious fields of history today and a better understanding of the diversity of ways to situate historical narratives and current events into a global perspective.

HIST 29533  Economic History III: The Global Economy from Great Depression to Great Recession  (J. Levy)  This is the third part in the economic history sequence. Topics include the second Industrial Revolution and the new imperialism, the Great Depression and World War II, the American postwar world economic order, communism, and third-world development; globalization, growth, inequality, and climate change; the great recession.

HIST 29674  History Colloquium: American Indian History  (M. Kruer)  This colloquium will explore the history of the indigenous peoples of North America from the century before contact with Europeans to the present day. Topics will range from early encounters between American Indians and European colonists, the contested creation of a shared world in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Native struggle for independence in the early United States, the nineteenth-century subjugation of Indian tribes in the west, and the twentieth-century indigenous resurgence of "Red Power" movements and other groups advocating for self-determination. Readings are primarily scholarly monographs, which provide examples for discussion, and guidebooks on project design and writing techniques. Readings will also include theoretical pieces on the development of the field and methodological discussions of scholarly practice, with the aim of "decolonizing" the study of Native American societies and their histories. Students are expected to plan, research, and write an original paper using resources available through the University of Chicago libraries and the special collections of the Newberry Library, a national center for the study of Native American history.