Modern History

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 13802  The Russian Empire  (F. Hillis)  Empire is back in contemporary Russia. Old imperial insignia have replaced hammers and sickles on government buildings, the bodies of the last tsar and his family have been exhumed and venerated, and Putin's foreign policy stakes imperial claims on the nations on Russia's border. This course examines what the Russian empire was, how it worked, and the legacies that it left behind. Themes to be considered include the culture of the autocracy and the tradition of reform from above; imperial expansion and multiethnic society; the construction of class, ethnic, and estate identities; and the causes and consequences of the Old Regime's collapse. First-year students warmly welcomed; no prior Russian history, culture, or language assumed.

HIST 13900  Introduction to Russian Civilization I  (E. Gilburd & W. Nickells)  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 15100  Introduction to East Asian Civilization I  (G. Alitto)  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 18600  US Labor History  (A. Stanley)  This course explores the history of labor and laboring people in the United States. It will consider the significance of work from the vantage points of law, culture, and political economy. Key topics will include working-class life, industrialization and corporate capitalism, slavery and emancipation, the role of the state and trade unions, race and sex difference in the workplace.  The course is intended for freshmen through seniors, as well as majors in history and in other disciplines.

HIST 18806  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 23400  Sex in Twentieth-Century Europe  (M. Appeltová, Teaching Fellow)  This course will examine the "syncopated" history of sexuality across this tumultuous century. The period took Europeans from bourgeois norms of sexuality through the 1960s sexual revolution to same-sex marriages; genocide and the emergence of rape as a war crime; and the unprecedented regulation of sexuality and biomedical developments treating infertility. Since the history of sex and sexuality in Europe cannot be thought outside of European colonialism and the Cold War, the course will also examine how sexuality shaped and was shaped by political ideologies. In short, by examining the centrality of "who can have sex with whom," students will rethink "standard" political narratives of twentieth-century Europe. Working with Dagmar Herzog's Sexuality in Europe: A Twentieth-Century History, the main text of the course, and drawing on a variety of primary sources—including law and medical treatises, popular culture, and autobiographies—students will also gain an insight into the ways in which sexuality can be studied beyond archival sources.

HIST 24513  Documentary Chinese  (G. Alitto)  This course guides students through critical readings of primary historical documents from approximately 1800 through 1950. These documents are translated sentence by sentence, and then historiographically analyzed. Most of these documents are from the nineteenth century. Genres include public imperial edicts, secret imperial edicts, secret memorials to the throne from officials, official reports to superiors and from superiors, funereal essays, depositions ("confessions"), local gazetteers (fangzhi), newspapers, and periodicals. To provide an introduction to these genres, the first six weeks of the course will use the Fairbank and Kuhn textbook The Rebellion of Chung Jen-chieh (Harvard-Yanjing Institute). The textbook provides ten different genres of document with vocabulary glosses and grammatical explanations; all documents relate to an 1841–42 rebellion in Hubei province. Assignments: each week prior to class students electronically submit a written translation of the document or documents to be read; a day after the class they electronically submit a corrected translation of the document or documents read. A fifteen-page term paper based on original sources in documentary Chinese is also required.

HIST 24612  Chinese Frontier History, circa 1600–Present  (K. Pomeranz)  A study of frontier regions, migration, and border policies in Qing (1644–1912) and twentieth-century China, focusing on selected case studies. Cases will include both actual border regions (where the Qing/China was adjacent to some other polity it recognized), ethnically diverse internal frontiers, and places where migrants moved into previously uninhabited regions (e.g., high mountains). Topics include the political economy and geopolitics of migration and frontier regions, the formation of ethnic and national identities in frontier contexts, borderland society (e.g., marriage, social stratification, and social mobility), and the environmental effects of migration. Assignments for undergraduates are two short papers, a midterm (which can be waived under certain circumstances), a final, and class participation; requirements for graduate students are negotiable, but will include roughly twenty pages of writing (and no in-class exams).

HIST 25304  Goethe: Literature, Science, Philosophy  (R. Richards)  This lecture-discussion course will examine Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's intellectual development, from the time he wrote Sorrows of a Young Werther through the final stages of Faust. Along the way, we will read a selection of Goethe's plays, poetry, and travel literature. We will also examine his scientific work, especially his theory of color and his morphological theories. On the philosophical side, we will discuss Goethe's coming to terms with Kant (especially the third Critique), and his adoption of Schelling's transcendental idealism. The theme uniting the exploration of the various works of Goethe will be the unity of the artistic and scientific understanding of nature, especially as he exemplified that unity in "the eternal feminine."

HIST 26320  Latin American Historiography, 19th–21st Century  (M. Tenorio)  Review of recent trends in the history of the regions. Weekly reviews.

HIST 26810  A Global History of South Asia: Migration in the Age of Empire  (Z. Leonard, Teaching Fellow)  Departing from narratives that privilege the rise of a static, territorially bounded, Indian nation-state, this course will examine modern South Asian history (roughly 1600 to present) through the lens of migration and trans-regional encounters. Analyzing shifting perceptions of "the global" as a spatial concept, we will study labor flows in the Indian Ocean, the colonial state's myriad efforts to circumscribe the movement of its subjects, and population transfers between various colonial sites. Entering the later nineteenth century, we will chart the influence of migration, both historical and contemporary, on nationalist thought; we will also discuss the issues posed by the international circulation of political dissenters. Finally, we will engage with fictional representations of the Partition of India and accounts of the social tensions stemming from South Asian immigration into Britain proper. Featuring moral reform literature, petitions, family histories, and anti-colonial tracts, this course will equip students with the skills to interrogate a range of primary sources and familiarize them with recent trends in global and colonial history.

HIST 27006  Not Just the Facts: Telling About the American South  (J. Dailey)  This course engages the various ways people have tried to make sense of the American South, past and present. Main themes of the course include the difference between historical scholarship and writing history in fictional form; the role of the author in each, and consideration of the interstitial space of autobiography; the question of authorial authenticity; and the tension between contemporary demands for truthfulness and the rejection of "facts" and "truth." We will read across several genres, including historical scholarship, biography, and fiction.

HIST 28000  US Latinos: Origins and Histories  (R. Gutiérrez)  An examination of the diverse social, economic, political, and cultural histories of those who are now commonly identified as Latinos in the United States. Particular emphasis will be placed on the formative historical experiences of Mexican Americans and mainland Puerto Ricans, although some consideration will also be given to the histories of other Latino groups, i.e., Cubans, Central Americans, and Dominicans. Topics include cultural and geographic origins and ties; imperialism and colonization; the economics of migration and employment; legal status; work, women, and the family; racism and other forms of discrimination; the politics of national identity; language and popular culture; and the place of Latinos in US society.

HIST 28004  The Carceral State in Modern America  (N. Maor, Teaching Fellow)  In this course, we will examine the origins of mass incarceration in the United States: a country that only accounts for five percent of the world's population but nearly a quarter of its prison population. We will trace the ideologies and state apparatuses that have shaped the American carceral state from the post–Civil War era to the twenty-first century. Central themes will include the criminalization of racialized and marginalized communities; the rise of new policing regimes, along with new methods of surveillance and confinement; and the connection between welfare programs and penal policies. Over the course of this quarter, we will also discuss the emergence of social movements that have advocated for the rights of incarcerated people, as well as the eradication of prison labor and the abolition of prisons altogether.

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. Assignments: class participation, weekly short memos (250 words) responding to questions about the required reading, and a short (8–10 pages) problem paper. There will be two short midterm exams, but no final exam.

HIST 29007  Capitalism and Revolution in the Atlantic World  (O. Cussen, Teaching Fellow)  What was the relationship between the "Age of Revolutions" and the rise of capitalism? This course places the social and political upheavals in France, Haiti, and the Americas between 1776 and 1821 in the context of broader developments in the long eighteenth century, including innovations in finance (debt, credit, banks, corporations), the expansion of overseas commerce and colonial slavery, and the emergence of Enlightenment political economy. Above all, we will consider the extent to which the institutional and intellectual structures of the world economy determined both the causes and the outcomes of the revolutions. Readings will cover long-standing debates in the scholarship concerning social class and revolution; the imperial origins of national consciousness; humanitarian reform and the abolition of slavery; colonialism and industry; and the legacy of eighteenth-century revolutions in the twenty-first century.

HIST 29430  The Planned Economy: A Global History of Central Planning, from Bismarck to the Green New Deal  (M. Lowenstein, Von Holst Prize Lecturer)  This course will change the way you think about politics. One of the most urgent political questions for any modern society is what economic activity to leave to private actors and what economic activity to place under state control. Today we hear much political debate over whether capitalism or socialism is superior, and what these terms mean. This debate can obscure the historical fact that many different ideological systems around the globe have experimented with highly centralized, state-directed economic organization. In what contexts have these experiments succeeded and failed? What counts as success and failure? To what extent has one experiment in central planning studied and/or learned from examples that preceded it? This course pursues these questions beginning with the origins of modern central planning in Prussia and later during World War I. It goes on to assess other experiments in central planning, including the New Deal, the Soviet Union and Maoist China; the Axis Powers of Italy, the Third Reich, and Imperial Japan; and later in the postcolonial global south from India to Ghana. The class ends by contemplating the Green New Deal and the role of central planning in the future of the United States.

HIST 29681  Radical America  (J. Dailey)  This undergraduate research colloquium explores various sorts of radicalisms (religious, political, sexual, environmental) from the eighteenth century to the present. Students will write a fifteen-page work of original historical research.

HIST 44001  Colloquium: Ending Communism  (E. Gilburd)  This course focuses on the demise of one of the most enduring, ambitious, appealing, transformative, and destructive political ideologies. We will consider the collapse of communism as a religion, an aesthetic, and a way of life, an economic system and a material culture, a political structure and an international order. We will also discuss communism's afterlives in biographies and memoirs (including those of scholars). Topics include reforms and revolutions, political and cultural dissent, generations and languages, secrecy and publicity, travel and immobility, competing religions and rival ideologies, the Cold War and détentes, privileges and shortages, apartment blocks and palaces of culture, the Gorky Park, the Memento Park, and other Luna Parks. Our readings will range across Europe, focusing primarily on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the last forty years of the twentieth century.

HIST 47201  Colloquium: US Legal History  (A. Stanley)  This course focuses on the connections between law and society in modern America. It explores how legal doctrines and constitutional rules have defined individual rights and social relations in both the public and private spheres. It also examines political struggles that have transformed American law. Topics to be addressed include the meaning of rights; the regulation of property, work, race, and sexual relations; civil disobedience; and legal theory as cultural history. Readings include legal cases, judicial rulings, short stories, and legal and historical scholarship.

HIST 56705  Colloquium: Modern Korean History I  (B. Cumings)  By modern Korean history we mean Korea since its "opening" in 1876. This term we will be reading a number of books written by University of Chicago PhDs, in other words, by people who went through the same regimen some of you are beginning. This is a two-quarter course, although it may also be taken just for the autumn quarter. Students only taking the course for the autumn quarter must submit a 25-page paper during exam week; otherwise all requirements are the same. In the first quarter we will read about one book per week, and the colloquium will be devoted to an assessment of the reading. Before each session one student will write a 3–4 page paper on the reading, which will begin our discussion. All students should complete the reading before each seminar, and may be called upon at any time to discuss the reading.