Environmental History

HIST 22310  The Commons: Environment and Economy in Early Modern Europe  (O. Cussen, Teaching Fellow)  Drawing on case studies from Europe and the Atlantic world, this course will track changes in land use and property rights over the early modern period (ca. 1500–1800), inviting students to reflect on the relationship between natural environments (woodlands, waterways, pasture) and histories of state formation, economic growth, rebellion, and colonialism. Organizing concepts and debates will include the tragedy of the commons, moral economies, sustainability and scarcity, the "organic economy" of the old regime, primitive accumulation, and economic takeoff. Readings will encompass classic works in agrarian, environmental, and social history (i.e., Marc Bloch, E. P. Thompson, Silvia Federici, James Scott, Carolyn Merchant) as well as primary documents and contemporary texts (i.e., More, Bacon, Smith, Paine, Babeuf). We will also reflect on how these histories bear on debates about land use and natural resources in the present day.

HIST 25218  American Epidemics, Past and Present  (C. Kindell, Teaching Fellow)  This course explores how disease epidemics have shaped watershed periods in US history from the late eighteenth century to the present. Through readings, lectures, and in-class discussions, we will employ different categories of analysis (e.g., race, gender, class, and citizenship) to answer a range of historical questions focused on disease, health, and medicine. For instance, to what extent did smallpox alter the trajectory of the American Revolution? How did cholera and typhoid affect the lived experiences of slaves and soldiers during the Civil War? In what ways did the US government capitalize on fears over yellow fever and bubonic plague to justify continued interventions across the Caribbean and the Pacific? What do these episodes from the American past reveal about contemporary encounters with modern diseases like HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and COVID-19? Course readings will be drawn from book chapters and scholarly articles, as well as primary sources ranging from public-health reports, medical correspondence, and scientific journals to newspapers, political cartoons, maps, and personal diaries. Grades will be based on participation, weekly Canvas posts, peer review, and a series of written assignments (a proposal and an annotated bibliography, primary source analysis, book review, and rough draft) all of which will culminate in a ten-page final research paper.