SPR 19: Modern History Courses
HIST 10103 Introduction to African Civilization 3 (K. Hickerson) African Civilization introduces students to African history in a three quarter sequence. Part Three investigates the long nineteenth century. It considers the Egyptian conquest of Sudan, Omani colonialism on the Swahili coast, and Islamic reform movements across the Sahara. It will also explore connections between the end of the transatlantic slave trade and the formal colonization of the African continent.
HIST 13002 History of European Civilization 2 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 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 13300 History of Western Civilization 3 (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 13700 America in World Civilization 3 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. What conditions have shaped inclusion and exclusion from the category "American" in the twentieth century? Who has claimed rights, citizenship, and protection, and under what conditions? The third quarter America in World Civilization focuses on multiple definitions of Americanism in a period characterized by empire, transnational formations, and America's role in the world. We explore the construction of social order in a multicultural society; culture in the shadow of war; the politics of race, ethnicity, and gender; the rise and fall of new social movements on the left and the right; the emergence of the carceral state and militarization of civil space; and the role of climate change and the apocalyptic in shaping imagined futures.
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 14204 History of the Present (K. Belew) This gateway course takes a reverse approach to the study of history, defining issues relevant to the current moment—some determined by the students—and exploring the long stories required to understand the present. We might examine the election of 2016, social movements, climate change, debt, gun ownership, statelessness, and other issues. Each topic will occupy one week of the class. Students will learn historical thinking skills, critical reading, and argumentation, and will complete a final assignment geared towards providing historical context for an ongoing debate in the public sphere. This lecture course is an elective open to non-majors and to first- and second-year students, although upper-year students and History majors and minors are welcome. No previous history course work is required.
HIST 15300 Introduction to East Asian Civilization 3 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 18101 Democracy in America? (J. Sparrow) This course will explore the unlikely career of democracy in US history. Throughout its past, the United States has been defined by endless and unpredictable struggles to establish and extend self-government of one kind or another—even as those struggles have encountered great resistance and relied on the exclusion or subordination of some portion of society to underwrite expanding freedom and equality for those enjoying the fullest benefits of citizenship. American democracy has also relied on a conceptual separation between state and society that has necessarily broken down in practice, as political institutions produced and sustained economic forms like slavery or the corporation, social arrangments like the family, and cultural values such as freedom—even as private interests worked their reciprocal influence over public institutions. Over the course of the quarter we will explore this contested history of democracy in America through a close reading of classic texts (including Tocqueville’s famous study), contextualized by the most current historical scholarship. Small, incremental writing assignments and individual presentations will culminate in a final essay that can emphasize philosophical/theoretical or historical/empirical questions according to students’ interests. Students will also have the option of conducting their own original research to satisfy some portion of the coursework, which may lead to subsequent internship opportunities with relevant faculty.
HIST 18702 Race, Politics, and Sports in the United States (M. Briones) Kneeling or standing for the national anthem? Breaking the glass ceiling, coming out of the closet, or crossing the color line in sports? This course will take up the question of why sports are so central to American identity and what historic role sports and athletes have played in American political life. Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King, Jackie Robinson, and Bill Russell are only a few of the athletes who fought for freedom, inclusion, and equality in sports and American life. Through close critical readings of popular and scholarly writing, memoirs, and visual culture (film and television), we will examine the seminal overlapping events in sports history and American history to understand the collision and convergence of our politics and sports culture.
HIST 20111 History of Death (K. Hickerson) From the treatment of mortal remains to the built environment of cemeteries, tombs, and memorials, the dead have always played a role in the lives of the living. This course examines how beliefs and practices surrounding death have been a source of meaning making for individuals, institutions, religious communities, and modern nations. It will ask students to consider how examining death makes it possible to better understand the values and concerns of societies across time and space. This course will consider case studies from Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, North America, Europe, and Asia, from the Middle Ages to the Vietnam War. It introduces students to the methods and debates that animate the historical study of death—coming from histories of the body, social history, and the study of slavery—and ends by asking the question: "Is it possible to have a global history of death?"
HIST 22610 Paris and the French Revolution (Colin Jones, Professor of History, Queen Mary University of London) The French Revolution is one of the defining moments of modern world history. This course will explore the mix of social, political, and cultural factors which caused its outbreak in 1789 and go on to consider the overthrow of the Bourbon monarchy in 1792, the drift towards state-driven Terror in 1793–94, and the ensuing failure to achieve political stability down to the advent of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1799. We will view these epochal changes through the prism of France's capital city. Paris shaped the revolution in many ways, but the revolution also reshaped Paris. The urbane city of European enlightenment acquired new identities as democratic hub from 1789 and as site of popular democracy after 1793–94. In addition, the revolution generated new ways of thinking about urban living and remodelling the city for the modern age. A wide range of primary sources will be used, including visual sources (notably paintings, political cartoons and caricatures, and maps).
HIST 23612 Modern German History, 1740–Present (A. Goff) This course introduces students to topics in German history from the late eighteenth century to the present. Our focus will be on the complex dynamics that transformed the German lands from a federation of small central European states into a major broker of power in contemporary Europe. Lecture topics will include the German Enlightenment, the Napoleonic wars, the social and political revolutions of the nineteenth century, unification, German colonialism, the World Wars, the Weimar Republic, National Socialism, the Holocaust, divided Germany, and reunification. Throughout, we will consider the relationship of Germany to the world by examining the place of the German lands between western and eastern Europe, and by taking up German participation in international trade, imperial networks, and global migration. As we approach these subjects from a variety of registers of experience, course materials will emphasize primary sources, including historical documents, music, works of art, literature, and artifacts. No background in German or European history is required.
HIST 24810 China and Global Capitalism since 1911
HIST 25117 Natural History of Humans/Human History of Nature (J. Niermeier-Dohoney, Teaching Fellow in the Social Sciences) This course asks students to think very broadly about human history as a type of natural history and the recent history of nature as a part of the human narrative. Students will be introduced to the concept of "deep time," its discovery by geologists and biologists in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the impact that these had on the subject of human history. Topics will include sixteenth- and seventeenth-century historiography and Biblical exegesis; the geological theories of Hutton, Cuvier, and Lyell; and the biological theories of Lamarck and Darwin. We will then examine ways in which certain modern sciences have affected the way historians have approached the study of humanity. Topics will include how the structure and function of the brain affected kinship development, language acquisition, and social bonding; interpretations of "human nature" from theological, philosophical, anthropological, and psychological perspectives; the problem of massive time scales and intergenerational governing, justice, and ethics; and the role of geography in shaping civilizational development. Finally, we will consider ways in which the rising human impact over natural earth systems may necessitate a radical change in the way the subject of human and civilizational history will be studied going forward. Topics include anthropogenic changes to the biosphere through hunting and agriculture in the ancient world and the globalization of communicable diseases and invasive plant and animal species after 1492; the impact of climate change on modern civilization; the potential that humans are responsible for a new geological epoch; and what "history" looks like without humans.
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 28205 Revolutions and Reactions: The United States in the Nineteenth Century (A. Rowe, Teaching Fellow in the Social Sciences) We will examine the history of the United States from the Revolution to the twentieth century, a period that saw virtually every aspect of American life transformed. Thirteen embattled states along the Atlantic coast became a continental empire by 1850 and a world empire by 1898. Railroads and telegraph lines tied the country together, changing the pace of overland travel and communication for the first time in millennia, since people had learned to write and ride horses. The expanding frontier drew Americans into the West and, even more, expanding commerce drew Americans into cities. An artisan system of production, in which workers produced their own wares with their own tools, gave way to industrial production, in which capital and labor were divided into two more or less antagonistic social classes. Rural America was not immune to these sweeping changes. Farmers on the western prairie, who worked in a barter economy in 1820, found themselves involved in global commodities markets by 1870 with their crop traded as futures contracts in Chicago, Brussels, and London. Finally, the idea of equality announced in the Declaration of Independence seized the imagination and inspired the implacable demands from indentured servants, middle-class women, and slaves. If all this seems overwhelming for a single course, imagine living through most of it in a single lifetime.
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 29419 Writing Women: Feminist History and Feminist Historiography (P. O'Donnell) This course is an introduction to both the lived experience of feminist history and feminist historiography—the ways in which that lived experience has been written and remembered. Although this course specifically focuses on US feminism in the late twentieth century, it aims to place this history in a broader, transnational context, while paying close attention to the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality. We will think critically about how the waves of feminism swelled and crested across the twentieth century's latter decades and about how narratives about those waves were, and are, constructed. We will examine a wide range of material, including archival documents, historical analyses, theoretical texts, memoirs, and films. Students in this course will develop the critical tools to engage with a variety of historical documents, while sharpening their understanding of the contexts out of which these texts emerged. Students will also be challenged to (re)examine their approach to their own historical writing: why and how they choose to tell the stories they do.
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 29525 The Global Life of Things (O. Cussen, Von Holst Prize Lecturer) We are often told that the market has taken over all aspects of our social lives. The effects of this process can be seen in the financialization of the economy, the deregulation of labor, and the exploitation of natural resources. Goods are produced on one side of the world and consumed in another. Even college students are seen as investments that accrue value. How did this happen? This course will examine the deep history of how so much of the world became commodities. Focussing primarily on the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, we will ask how work, time, land, money, and people were commodified. We will also consider how historians and anthropologists have told the history of global capitalism through particular commodities, including sugar, cotton, meat, grain and mushrooms. Readings will span western Europe, India, the Atlantic World, Chicago, and contemporary Japan. Periodically, we will reflect on how these histories bear on questions of labor, gender, and the environment in the present day.
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.
HIST 29675 History Colloquium: Urban History (A. Lippert) According to Hank V. Savitch and Paul Kantor, "cities are the crucibles through which radical experiments become convention. They are concentrated environments in which people adapt and their resilience is tested. They are the world's incubators of innovation—made possible by critical mass, diversity, and rich interaction." This undergraduate research colloquium will explore American cities and their influence on United States history, with an emphasis on the nineteenth century. We will discuss a range of secondary historical monographs and will examine primary sources, including print culture, material objects, images, architecture, and the built environment. Requirements include careful reading, active and thoughtful participation, and a fifteen-page work of original research that will be presented in class.