WIN 19: Political History Courses

HIST 16800  Ancient Mediterranean World 2: Rome  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. This sequence surveys the social, economic, and political history of Greece to the death of Alexander the Great (323 BC), the Roman Republic (509 to 27 BC), and late antiquity (27 BC to the fifth century AD). This quarter surveys the social, economic, and political history of Rome, from its prehistoric beginnings in the twelfth century BCE to the end of the Severan dynasty in 235 CE. Throughout, the focus is upon the dynamism and adaptability of Roman society, as it moved from a monarchy to a republic to an empire, and the implications of these political changes for structures of competition and cooperation within the community.

HIST 12001  Medieval History: Theories & Methods  (J. Lyon)  This course will introduce students to research methods and historical theories that are central to the field of medieval European history (500–1500 AD). The first section of the course is designed to give students a grounding in some of the most important historical narratives (political, social, economic, religious, intellectual, cultural) about the medieval period. Students will then spend the middle weeks of the quarter exploring the different types of original sources (written and non-written) that historians use to conduct research on the Middle Ages. This section of the course will include class time at the Regenstein Library's Special Collections. In the final weeks, we will concentrate on some of the scholarly debates that have shaped the modern field of medieval history. Grades will be determined on the basis of a midterm exam, a final exam, two short papers, and classroom discussion. No prior knowledge of medieval European history is required; the course is open to all undergraduates.

HIST 20110  Trans-Saharan Africa  (R. Austen)  This course will deal with various developments (trade, politics, religion, slavery, voluntary migration) linking the Maghrib/North Africa with the great African desert and the "Sudanic" lands to its south. Along with lectures and discussions of readings we will visit an exhibit, Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Medieval Trans-Saharan Exchange, at the Block Museum of Art in Evanston.

HIST 22203  The Holy Roman Empire, 800–1500   (J. Lyon)  During the first seven centuries of its existence the Holy Roman Empire emerged as one of the most politically and culturally heterogeneous states in all of Europe. A vast expanse of central Europe that is today divided among more than a dozen nations was ruled, at least in theory, by the emperors during the central and late Middle Ages. The purpose of this course is to trace some of the major developments in imperial history between 800 (Charlemagne's coronation as emperor) and the early sixteenth century. Topics will include the changing nature of imperial authority from the Carolingians to the Habsburgs, the Church's and the nobility's establishment of quasi-independent lordships inside imperial territory, papal-imperial relations, and the eastward expansion of the empire.

HIST 23306  Europe, 1914–Present  (T. Zahra)  This lecture course will provide an introductory survey to European history in the twentieth century. It aims to provide a critical overview of political, economic, social, and cultural developments. Topics covered will include the rise of mass politics and the conflict between Bolshevism and fascism; the causes, experiences, and effects of the First and Second World Wars in Western and Eastern Europe; the transformation of Eastern Europe's multinational empires into nationalizing states; interwar democratization and economic crisis; ethnic cleansing and population displacement; decolonization and the Cold War; the challenges of postcolonial migration; transformations in society and economy, including changes in class and gender relations; new social and protest movements in the 1960s and 1970s; mass culture and consumption; the collapse of Communism; and European integration at the end of the twentieth century.

HIST 25115  Francis Bacon's Philosophy of Nature  (J. Niermeier-Dohoney, Teaching Fellow in the Social Sciences)  Historians of science have traditionally regarded Francis Bacon (1561–1626) as one of the most prominent seventeenth-century champions of induction, empiricism, and experimental methodology. While these are perhaps his most important contributions to natural philosophy, Bacon and his adherents also exerted a profound influence on Western notions of power over nature and of the possibilities of alteration, manipulation, and exploitation of the natural world. This course will examine some of Bacon's principal works (The New Organon, The Advancement of Learning, The New Atlantis, and The Great Instauration) in order to first develop an understanding of Bacon's philosophical positions and the changing landscape of natural philosophy in the seventeenth century. Then, we will examine the implications of Bacon's philosophy from his lifetime to the present, focusing particularly on the rise of artisanal and craft knowledge; the emergence of civil institutions for cooperative knowledge making;  utopian and cornucopian conceptions of the natural economy; science as the manipulation of nature; the competing and complementary notions of dominion over nature versus environmental stewardship; the practical uses of natural materials during European imperial expansion; the origins of industrialization and technological development; and his influence on modern science, politics, economics, and environmentalism.

HIST 26515  Political and Cultural History of Modern Mexico  (M. Tenorio)  This course is not a survey of Mexican history but a discussion of the recent contributions to the cultural and political historiography of modern Mexico. It will blend lectures and discussion of such topics as the new meanings of citizenship, peace, war, national culture, violence, avant-garde art, and cinema.

HIST 28204  The Civil War and the Transformation of American Democracy  (A. Rowe, Teaching Fellow in the Social Sciences)  The Civil War announced the dramatic failure of American constitutional democracy to resolve or avoid a fundamental conflict over slavery. The costly achievements of the war, however, only replaced one inescapable problem with another: namely, how to incorporate the results of an abrupt, catastrophically violent assertion of military force into an enduring political regime that remained true to the ideal of free government. A national commitment to equal rights was established, but did not resolve, the problem of how to transform a society of slaves and conquered belligerents into equal citizens in a constitutional democracy. It is misleading to separate the abstract and practical dimensions of this essential problem. The moral principles at stake in the conflict ultimately depended on salvaging a bitterly divided nation from the abyss into which it had plunged. In this course, we will examine the history of the Civil War era through the dynamic controversies of high politics, as an entirely new conception of the American republic emerged from the failure of the old.

HIST 28607  War, Diplomacy, and Empire in US History  (J. Sparrow)  World politics have profoundly shaped the United States from its colonial origins to the war on terror. Yet only recently have US historians made a sustained effort to relate the foreign relations of the country to its domestic history. For a century and a half prior to independence, empire, trade, great-power politics, and violent conflict with Native Americans formed the large structures of power and meaning within which colonists pursued their everyday lives. In violently repudiating the claims of the British Empire, the revolutionaries commenced a political tradition that sought to avoid the perils of great-power statecraft for roughly the next century and a half. Yet even as it lent a distinctive cast to US politics and society, this pursuit of exceptionalism had to reckon with the requirements of state power and geopolitics from the Civil War onward. With its sudden embrace of great-power politics and the "rise to globalism" from WWII onward the United States became increasingly like the European societies it had repudiated at the founding, even as its exceptional military and economic power set it apart as a "unipolar power" by the turn of the millennium. To understand these developments in depth students will write two modest-length "deep-dive" analytical essays and three brief reports on targeted expeditions into primary materials, while reading broadly across the historiography of the new diplomatic and international history.

HIST 29663  History Colloquium: The American Vigilante  (K. Belew)  From the Regulators to Rambo, the vigilante has played a leading role in the history and culture of the United States. This colloquium traces a long history of the American vigilante as a character, as well as episodes of vigilante violence from early America to the present. We will focus on the questions central to this history: What is the relationship between the vigilante and the state? Where can we draw distinctions between vigilantism, terrorism, and rebellion? How has the vigilante contributed to nation building? We will also explore the predominance of the vigilante in popular culture, focusing on figures such as Jesse James, Dirty Harry, Machete, the Punisher, superheroes, the movies of John Wayne, and the lyrics of Toby Keith. Students will write substantial final papers based on primary sources that explore one element of this discussion.

HIST 43002  State Formations and Types of States: Global Perspectives (S. Pincus & J. Robinson, director, Pearson Institute)  Why, historically, did states emerge, and what did they do? The course begins by investigating standard narratives of European state formation, then proceeds to ask whether non-European and premodern state formations conform to the scholarly theories. Finally, we wonder whether theories of state formation fit empires or federal states. This course asks students simultaneously to take seriously social science explanations for state formation and the historical record. Upper-level undergraduates with consent of instructors.