Modern History

HIST 10102  Introduction to African Civilization II  (K. Hickerson)  African Civilization introduces students to African history in a three quarter sequence. Part II focuses on Eastern and Southern Africa, including Madagascar. We explore various aspects of how the colonial encounter transformed local societies, even as indigenous African social structures profoundly molded and shaped these diverse processes. Topics include the institution of colonial rule, independence movements, ethnicity and interethnic violence, ritual and the body, and love, marriage, money, and popular culture.

HIST 13001  History of European Civilization I  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 13002  History of European Civilization II  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 II  (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 13600  America in World Civilization II  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. The nineteenth-century segment of America in World Civilizations asks: What happens when democracy confronts inequality? We focus on themes that include indigenous-US relations; religious revivalism and reform; slavery, the Civil War, and emancipation; the intersection between women's rights and antislavery; the development of industrial capitalism; urbanism and social inequality.

HIST 14000  Introduction to Russian Civilization II  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 15200  Introduction to East Asian Civilization II  (M. Fisch)  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.

HIST 18202  Histories of Racial Capitalism  (D. Jenkins)  This seminar takes as its starting point the insistence that the movement, settlement, and hierarchical arrangements of indigenous communities and people of African descent is inseparable from regimes of capital accumulation. It builds on 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, cultural overflow, or aberration from the so-called real workings of capitalism. This course will cover topics such as racial slavery, banking in the Caribbean, black capitalism in Miami, the underdevelopment of Africa, and the profitability of mass incarceration.

HIST 19701  Oral History: Theory and Methods  (N. Kryczka, Teaching Fellow)  This course explores oral history's theoretical issues and engages students directly in the collection of oral histories in an original project of their own design. It involves both technical training (in interviewing techniques, recording technology, and archiving methods) and is an encounter with a set of epistemological challenges: How is an archive produced? Who decides what gets in and what is left out? What is the relationship between individual recollection and collective historical memory? Between historic preservation and academic history? What special opportunities and limits do oral histories have as historical evidence? By doing the work of collecting, preserving, and interpreting oral histories, students will develop a sophisticated self-awareness and a disciplined methodology to wrestle with these questions. The course begins with an exploration of conceptual foundations, with classic essays and recent interventions from practitioners and theoreticians of oral history. With principles and best practices of the Oral History Association as a guideline, the course then proceeds to a practicum, with the class grouped into smaller project groups. Informed by student interest, instructor guidance, and local feasibility, each group will research a historical event or community that can sustain a sample of two informants per student. Assignments: Students will conduct background research, draft legal releases, conduct and record oral history interviews, develop an archiving plan, and submit a final presentation that reflects their engagement with the methodological, interpretive, and ethical questions raised by course readings and discussion.

HIST 21403  The British Empire on Trial: Corruption, Scandal, Dissent  (Z. Leonard, Teaching Fellow)  Throughout the long nineteenth century, British empire building remained a contentious pursuit. It threatened to shatter Britons' moral compasses, destabilize social hierarchies, squander tax revenue, and inflict untold miseries upon foreign populations. To legitimize their expansionism, colonial policy makers claimed that they were introducing benighted regions to the benefits of a universal rule of law. This course will examine how this legalistic form of governing actually functioned by probing the trials of three classes of offenders: "insurgent" and nationalist agitators, reformist critics of colonial misrule, and despotic officials themselves. Focusing on cases in England, the Caribbean, India, and Egypt, readings will reveal the shortcomings of the British judicial apparatus and identify the loopholes that enabled a proudly "free" nation to subjugate and silence dissidents with near impunity. By participating in mock trials, students will gain familiarity with historical legal processes and the rhetorical tactics that actors employed both in the courtroom and in the public sphere.

HIST 23708  Soviet History through Literature  (E. Gilburd)  This course considers the main themes of Soviet history through canonical works of fiction, with an occasional addition of excerpts from autobiographies, memories, and police files.

HIST 24007  Chernobyl: Bodies and Nature After Disaster  (P. O'Donnell)  When reactor number 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station exploded, it quickly made headlines around the world. Swedes found radiation in their air, Germans in their milk, Greeks in their grain, and Britons in their sheep. Ukrainians and Belarusians found it in their rain, wind, water sources, homes, and in their children's thyroids. Americans worried about finding it in their bodies, especially in pregnant or fetal bodies. A lot of roads led to the Chernobyl disaster: the Soviet state system, to be sure, but also the Cold War arms race, a faith in scientific progress shared in East and West, and a global disregard for the natural world and the human body. This course will follow those roads to the climax of the explosion and then examine the many paths out of Chernobyl: the disaster's aftereffects on geopolitics, environmentalism, feminism, and body politics. We will draw on a recent outpouring of scholarly and popular works on Chernobyl, including books, podcasts, and television series. We will also read texts on feminism, environmentalism, and other nuclear disasters, Cold War histories, and fiction to provide context and sites for further inquiry.

HIST 24514  Colonial Power in East Asia  (J. Dahl, Von Holst Prize Lecturer)  This course takes a transnational and comparative approach to the study of colonialism in East Asia from the Opium Wars through the end of World War I. Using foundational theories of postcolonial scholarship as a starting template, we will explore the interrelationship of colonial power and ideologies of race and gender across China, Japan, and Korea during the nineteenth century. Critically evaluating both primary and secondary sources will help us contextualize the development of the Japanese empire within a larger narrative of the expansion of Euro-American colonial power into East Asia. In doing so, we will discover that sites of empire in East Asia often destabilize the most common binaries of postcolonial study: Occident/Orient, colonizer/colonized, white/other, and premodern/modern.

HIST 25014  Introduction to Environmental History  (F. Albritton Jonsson)  How have humans interacted with the environment over time? This course introduces students to the methods and topics of environmental history by way of classic and recent works in the field: Crosby, Cronon, Worster, Russell, and McNeill, etc. Major topics of investigation include preservationism, ecological imperialism, evolutionary history, forest conservation, organic and industrial agriculture, labor history, the commons and land reform, energy consumption, and climate change. Our scope covers the whole period from 1492 with case studies from European, American, and British imperial history.

HIST 25110  Philosophy of History: Narrative and Explanation  (R. Richards)  This lecture-discussion course will focus on the nature of historical explanation and the role of narrative in providing an understanding of historical events.  Among the authors discussed are Edward Gibbon, Immanuel Kant, R. G. Collingwood, Leopold von Ranke, Lord Acton, Fernand Braudel, Carl Gustav Hempel, Arthur Danto, and Hayden White.

HIST 25709  Race and Ethnicity in the Modern Middle East  (K. Hickerson)  This seminar examines the ways that race and ethnicity are identified and discussed in Middle Eastern societies from the late-eighteenth century to the contemporary period. This class will analyze debates surrounding Middle Eastern racial and ethnic constructions in order to consider the extent to which these are the products of European colonialism—as some claim—or other legacies including Ottoman slave trade networks. This course addresses the ways these categories have shaped nationalist discourses, anticolonial struggles, US involvement in the Middle East, and contemporary questions of citizenship. Students will examine the role of diaspora encounters in Europe and the Americas in crafting these categories and ask whether new flows of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and the Philippines to the Middle East are reconfiguring old constructions or creating new ones. Sources will include literature, music, and film and methodologies are cultural, social, and political history. The class comprises case studies from Morocco, the Nile Valley, Turkey, Israel, and the Gulf States.

HIST 26409  Revolution, Dictatorship, and Violence in Modern Latin America  (B. Fischer)  This course will examine the role played by Marxist revolutions, revolutionary movements, and the right-wing dictatorships that have opposed them in shaping Latin American societies and political cultures since the end of World War II. Themes examined will include the relationship among Marxism, revolution, and nation building; the importance of charismatic leaders and icons; the popular authenticity and social content of Latin American revolutions; the role of foreign influences and interventions; the links between revolution and dictatorship; and the lasting legacies of political violence and military rule. Countries examined will include Guatemala, Cuba, Chile, Argentina, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Peru, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Mexico.

HIST 26511  Cities from Scratch: The History of Urban Latin America  (B. Fischer)  Latin America is one of the world's most urbanized regions, and its urban heritage long predates European conquest. And yet the region's cities are most often understood through the lens of North Atlantic visions of urbanity, many of which fit poorly with Latin America's historical trajectory, and most of which have significantly distorted both Latin American urbanism and our understandings of it. This course takes this paradox as the starting point for an interdisciplinary exploration of the history of Latin American cities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, focusing especially on issues of social inequality, informality, urban governance, race, violence, rights to the city, and urban cultural expression. Readings will be interdisciplinary, including anthropology, sociology, history, fiction, film, photography, and primary historical texts.

HIST 27200  African American History to 1883  (T. Holt)  A lecture course discussing selected topics in the African American experience (economic, political, social) from African origins through the Supreme Court decision invalidating Reconstruction Era protections of African American civil rights. Course evaluations via online quizzes and take-home essays.

HIST 27509  A New Order for the Ages? An Intellectual History of the Early American Republic  (A. Rowe, Teaching Fellow in the Social Sciences)  This course examines the conflicting political ideas that Americans built into the new republic and how the heirs to the revolution transformed the resulting ambiguities and contradictions into a new national creed, at once fragile and extraordinarily powerful. Americans in the early republic were almost pathologically deferential to the founders, and especially to the constitution. Yet, the rigid constitutionalism that held the nation together disguised an explosion of political innovation at the local level. A cultural federalism, more potent than its institutional counterpart, fragmented the legacy of the revolution without diminishing the reverence it inspired. We will explore the different concepts Americans used to define their political system: as the outgrowth of one or another colonial history, as the singular achievement of heroic ancestors, and as an ongoing experiment with universal significance for the cause of human freedom. We will see how these concepts evolved as Americans argued over them. We will conclude by examining how these intellectual currents culminated in the Civil War.

HIST 27705  Introduction to Black Chicago, 1893–2010  (A. Green)  This course surveys the history of African Americans in Chicago, from before the twentieth century to the near present. In referring to that history, we treat a variety of themes, including migration and its impact, the origins and effects of class stratification, the relation of culture and cultural endeavor to collective consciousness, the rise of institutionalized religions, facts and fictions of political empowerment, and the correspondence of Black lives and living to indices of city wellness (services, schools, safety, general civic feeling). This is a history class that situates itself within a robust interdisciplinary conversation. Students can expect to engage works of autobiography and poetry, sociology, documentary photography, and political science as well as more straightforward historical analysis. By the end of the class, students should have grounding in Black Chicago's history and an appreciation of how this history outlines and anticipates Black life and racial politics in the modern United States.

HIST 28703  Baseball and American Culture, 1840–Present  (M. Briones)  This course examines the rise and fall of baseball as America's national pastime. We will trace the relationship between baseball and American society from the development of the game in the mid-nineteenth century to its enormous popularity in the first half of the twentieth century to its more recent problems and declining status in our culture. The focus will be on baseball as a professional sport, with more attention devoted to the early history of the game rather than to the recent era. Emphasis will be on using baseball as a historical lens through which we will analyze the development of American society and culture rather than on the celebration of individuals or teams. Crucial elements of racialization, ethnicity, class, gender, nationalism, and masculinity will be in play as we consider the Negro Leagues, women's leagues, the Latinization and globalization of the game, and more.

HIST 29422  Ancient Stones in Modern Hands  (A. Goff and S. Estrin)  Objects from classical antiquity that have survived into the modern era have enticed, inspired, and haunted those who encountered or possessed them. Collectors, in turn, have charged ancient objects with emotional, spiritual, and temporal power, enrolling them in all aspects of their lives, from questions of politics and religion to those of race and sexuality. This course explores intimate histories of private ownership of antiquities as they appear within literature, visual art, theater, aesthetics, and collecting practices. Focusing on the sensorial, material, and affective dimensions of collecting, we will survey histories of modern classicism that span from the eighteenth century to the present, from the Mediterranean to the Pacific. Historical sources will include the writings of Johann Gottfried Herder, Johann Joachim Winckelmann, Emma Hamilton, Vernon Lee, and Sigmund Freud, among others; secondary source scholarship will draw from the fields of gender studies, the history of race, art history, and the history of emotions. We will supplement our readings with occasional museum visits and film screenings. Assignments: Active participation in class, one secondary text analysis, one analysis of a controversy, and one proposal for a monument, museum, or school curriculum. Special Prerequisite: instructor consent required. Email both instructors describing your interest in the course, how it fits into your broader studies, and any relevant background (agoff@uchicago.edu & sestrin@uchicago.edu). This is a traveling seminar that includes a 4-day trip to visit California museum collections.

HIST 29423  Just War Theory and Realism  (E. Tschinkel, Teaching Fellow)  This course will explore the just war versus realist debate during the twentieth century by investigating three key moments, represented by three key texts: Politics Among Nations by Hans Morgenthau, Just and Unjust Wars by Michael Walzer, and "On the Moral Equality of Combatants" by Jeff McMahan. We will begin with the "Walzer Moment" andl discuss the radical (or not) nature of the text, its critical reception and Vietnam War context, as well as the important concepts of jus in bello, jus ad bellum, and other basic just-war concepts. We will then look backwards to Morgenthau and discuss, among other concepts, the circumstantial application of morality. Finally, we will fast forward to McMahan and discuss the debate on the separation, or lack thereof, between jus in bello and jus ad bellum. Throughout the course our readings will be supplemented by historical texts such as The Global Cold War by Odd Arne Westad and Vietnam at War by Mark Bradley.

HIST 29528  Property and the Public Interest  (J. Levy)  In this colloquium, drawing from law, history, philosophy, and social science, we examine the conflicted relationship between property and the public interest.  Topics include the basis and evolution of private property rights, reasons for the state, and the relationship between property rights and the public interest. Assignments: Two short essays and a final paper.

HIST 29652  Migration and Citizenship  (M. Briones)  Looking through a broad interdisciplinary lens, this colloquium examines the history of migration and citizenship. The focus is largely on the United States, but, given its topic, the course will necessitate transnational and comparative histories. How did nineteenth- and early twentieth-century "sojourners" become "citizens"? What constituted the public's perception of some immigrants as inassimilable aliens and others as an ostensible "model minority"? We will interrogate not only what it means to have been and to be an immigrant in America but also what it means to be a citizen in a multiracial democracy. As a history colloquium, the course's main purpose is to help students learn to write a long research paper based on primary sources. The class is not a survey course. We will be taking on specific episodes and themes in immigration history. Assignments: An original research paper (-20 pages) using primary and secondary sources.

HIST 29679  Writing Family History—Migration Stories  (T. Zahra)  Almost every family has a migration story, whether it involves a move across international borders or within a single nation (south to north, east to west). Sometimes these movements entailed deportation or flight from war or persecution, other times a search for better opportunities or to join (or escape) family members. These stories often become a part of family lore and identity, even if we don't know much about how or why they took place, or even if they are true. This course will combine genealogical and historical research. Students will research the history of a family member's migration, using primary sources and genealogical tools, and will contextualize that individual story in the broader history of migration (and migration in our own times).