Social Change, Labor, and Social Movements
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.
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 13100 Western Civilization I (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 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 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 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 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 58601 Colloquium: Iran and Central Asia I—Safvid Iran (J. Woods) The first quarter will take the form of a colloquium on the sources for and the literature on the political, social, economic, technological, and cultural history of Western and Central Asia from approximately 1500 to 1750. Classroom presentations and a short paper are required.