History Gateways are introductory courses meant to appeal to first- through third-year students who may not have done previous course work on the topic of the course; topics cover the globe and span the ages.
HIST 10600 Power and Resistance in the Black Atlantic (M. Hicks) Beginning with the arrival of European explorers on the West African coast in the fifteenth century and culminating with the stunning success of radical abolitionist movements across the Americas in the nineteenth century, the formation of the Black Atlantic irrevocably reshaped the modern world. This class will examine large-scale historical processes, including the transatlantic slave trade, the development of plantation economies, and the birth of liberal democracy. Next, we will explore the lives of individual Africans and their American descendants, the communities they built, and the cultures they created. We will consider the diversity of the Black Atlantic by examining the lives of a broad array of individuals, including black intellectuals, statesmen, soldiers, religious leaders, healers, and rebels. We will examine African diasporic subjects as creative rather than reactive historical agents and their unique contributions to Atlantic cultures, societies, and ideas. Within this geographically and temporally expansive history students will explore a key set of animating questions: What is the Black Atlantic? How can we understand both the commonalities and diversity of the experiences of Africans in the Diaspora? What kinds of communities, affinities, and identities did Africans create after being uprooted by the slave trade? What methods do scholars use to understand this history? And finally, what is the historical and political legacy of the Black Atlantic?
HIST 12203 Italian Renaissance: Petrarch, Machiavelli, and the Wars of Popes and Kings (A. Palmer) Florence, Rome, and the Italian city-states in the age of plagues and cathedrals, Petrarch and Machiavelli, Medici and Borgia (1250–1600), with a focus on literature, philosophy, primary sources, the revival of antiquity, and the papacy's entanglement with pan-European politics. We will examine humanism, patronage, politics, corruption, assassination, feuds, art, music, magic, censorship, education, science, heresy, and the roots of the Reformation. Writing assignments focus on higher level writing skills, with a creative writing component linked to our in-class role-played reenactment of a Renaissance papal election (LARP).
HIST 12603 Modern German History, 1740–Present (A. Goff) This course introduces students to topics in German history from the nineteenth century to the present. Beginning with the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire and ending with the Federal Republic in contemporary Europe, we will follow the transformation of the German lands from a loose federation of small and provincial states into a unified nation and a global power. Wednesday lectures will engage visual, material, and audio sources to explore events and themes including nation-building, the colonial empire, the World Wars, National Socialism, the Holocaust, the Cold War, and re-unification. Friday discussions will center on close readings of primary source texts and films that document the ruptures and discontinuities that define German history in the modern period: the successes and failures of revolution; the construction and destruction of walls; the formation of mass politics; the trauma of genocide; the construction of plural German identities in and beyond the German nation state. We will approach these subjects from a variety of registers of experience, keeping open two fundamental questions: What is German? What is history? A Languages Across the Curriculum (LxC) section will be available pending interest. Assignments: short creative writing assignments throughout the quarter and a final exam.
History in the World
History in the World courses use history as a valuable tool to help students critically exam our society, culture, and politics. Preference given to first- and second-year students.
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.
History majors take at least one history colloquium, though you are welcome to take more than one. Students interested in pursuing the research or BA-thesis track should take a colloquium prior to Spring Quarter of their third year; those pursuing other tracks can take a colloquium at any point prior to graduation.
HIST 29632 The CIA and American Democracy (B. Cumings) This colloquium will examine all aspects of American intelligence and its influence on history, politics, society, and academe since the inception of the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. Particular attention will be paid to how intelligence is gathered and interpreted, intelligence failures and why they happened, the close association between top Ivy League universities and origins of US intelligence, the penetration of the early Central Intelligence Agency by British individuals spying for the Soviets, the wide influence of the CIA in the 1950s and 1960s on major aspects of American life, the crisis of US intelligence in the late 1960s and through the 1970s, the revival of intelligence vigor in the 1980s, and the uses and misuses of intelligence in the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Assignments: Six or seven books during the course of the colloquium, a few films outside of class time, a paper of roughly fifteen pages in the seventh week of the term, and a final exam, which mixes essay questions with questions on the reading. Outstanding participation in colloquium will merit an increment in the final grade, which otherwise will be determined equally by the outside paper and final exam.
HIST 29678 Medicine and Society (M. Rossi) How does medical knowledge change? How do medical practices transform over time? What factors influence the ways in which doctors and patients—and scientists, artists, politicians, legislators, activists, and educators, among others—understand matters of health and disease, of proper and improper interventions, of the rights of individuals and the needs of communities? This course treats these questions as a starting point for exploring the interactions of medicine and society from 1800 to the present. Through a combination of primary and secondary sources we will examine changing causes of morbidity and mortality, the development of new medical technologies and infrastructures, shifting patterns of disease and shifting ideas about bodies, and debates about health care policy, among other topics. Sudents will be expected to conduct original research and produce an original research paper of fifteen to twenty pages.
HIST 24922 Archival Practice for Environmental Studies: Policy, Science, and Economics (A. Coombs, Teaching Fellow) This course will introduce students to the use of historical records for environmental research. Through virtual and site visits to archives, we will explore best practices for locating and surveying digitized and physical historical materials. Our practicums will engage critically with peer-review publications to examine the diverse uses of historical sources for qualitative and quantitative research. We will use archival theories to question collection-management strategies that select some works over others for preservation and explore the role of historical sources in reproducing environmental narratives. Final assignment: A project in digital humanities, data mining with R or ArcGIS for spatial analysis using primary sources (manuscripts, rare books, data, and surveys).
HIST 29801 BA Thesis Seminar I (A. Hofmann and C. Rydell) History students in the research track are required to take HIST 29801–29802. BA Thesis Seminar I provides a systematic introduction to historical methodology and approaches (e.g., political, intellectual, social, cultural, economic, gender, environmental history), as well as research techniques. It culminates in students' submission of a robust BA thesis proposal that will be critiqued in class. Guidance will also be provided for applications for research funding.
HIST 29803 Historiography (P. O’Donnell) The course provides a systematic introduction to historical methodology and approaches (e.g., political, intellectual, social, cultural, economic, gender, environmental history), as well as research techniques. Students will gain analytical, research, and writing tools that will assist them in their research colloquia and their BA theses.
NEHC 10101/HIST 15801 Introduction to the Middle East This course aims to facilitate a general understanding of some key factors that have shaped life in this region, with primary emphasis on modern conditions and their background, and to provide exposure to some of the region's rich cultural diversity. This course can serve as a basis for the further study of the history, politics, and civilizations of the Middle East. Prior knowledge of the Middle East not required.
HIST 10103 Introduction to African Civilization III (K. Takabvirwa & Staff) This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. Taking these courses in sequence is recommended but not required. Part three uses anthropological perspectives to investigate colonial and postcolonial encounters in sub-Saharan Africa, with a particular focus on Southern Africa. The course is centered on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It begins with an examination of colonialism, the institutionalization of racism, and dispossession, before examining anti-colonialism and the postcolonial period. The class draws on scholarship on and by African writers: from poets to novelists, ethnographers, playwrights, historians, politicians, political theorists, and social critics. Over the course of the quarter, students will learn about forms of person-hood, subjectivity, gender, sexuality, kinship practices, governance, migration, and the politics of difference.
HIST 13002 History of European Civilization II 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. 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 History of European Civilization III: The Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism (O. Cussen) 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. This class will explore one of the enduring debates in historiography and social theory: Why did capitalism emerge in early modern Europe, and how are we to understand its relationship to the economic systems and societies it replaced? We will consider rival accounts of the origins of capitalism in the British countryside, Italian city states, the Protestant reformation, the scientific revolution, and the Enlightenment, while registering the effects of the “transition” in popular culture, rebellion, and revolution. Students will use a mixture of primary sources, films, and secondary literature and learn critical tools for making sense of some of the major themes and developments explored in the first two quarters of the European Civilization sequence.
HIST 13300 History of Western Civilization III (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 III The American Civ sequence examines 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 14100 Introduction to Russian Civilization III (Staff) The third quarter of Russian Civilization is a new (2020) addition to the curriculum. When taken following Introduction to Russian Civilization I and II, Introduction to Russian Civilization III meets the general education requirement in Humanities, Civilization Studies, and the Arts. The course is thematic and will vary from year to year. In spring 2021 this course will explore the nature of state socialism, or "communism"—the political and economic system that governed much of the world's population during the twentieth century—and the transition from that system to alternative modes of governance. Course material will emphasize the experience of the (former) Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, where communism as a system has disappeared most completely, but many of the lessons of transition apply also to China, Vietnam, North Korea, and Cuba. A nontrivial portion of the course covers the nature of communism, as both the tasks and obstacles of transition are determined in part by the character of the previous system. However, the bulk of the material addresses postcommunist policies, institutions, and outcomes.
HIST 15411 East Asian Civilization I, Ancient Period–1600 (S. Burns & K. Pomeranz) This course examines the politics, society, and culture of East Asia from ancient times until c. 1600. Our focus will be on examining key historical moments and intellectual, social, and cultural trends with an emphasis on the region as a whole. Students will read and discuss culturally significant texts and be introduced to various approaches to analyzing them.
LACS 16300/HIST 16103 Introduction to Latin American Civilization 3 (D. Borges) Taking these courses in sequence is not required. This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. This sequence is offered every year. This course introduces the history and cultures of Latin America (e.g., Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean Islands). The third quarter focuses on the twentieth century, with special emphasis on economic development and its political, social, and cultural consequences.
HIST 16900 Ancient Mediterranean World III: Late Antique (R. Payne) 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. Part III examines late antiquity, a period of paradox. The later Roman emperors established the most intensive, pervasive state structures of the ancient Mediterranean, yet yielded their northern and western territories to Goths, Huns, Vandals, and, ultimately, their Middle Eastern core to the Arab Muslims. Imperial Christianity united the populations of the Roman Mediterranean in the service of one God, but simultaneously divided them into competing sectarian factions. A novel culture of Christian asceticism coexisted with the consolidation of an aristocratic ruling class notable for its insatiable appetite for gold. The course will address these apparent contradictions while charting the profound transformations of the cultures, societies, economies, and political orders of the Mediterranean from the conversion of Constantine to the rise of Islam.
HIPS 18500/HIST 17510 Science, Culture, and Society in Western Civilization III: Modern Period (A. Johns) Taking these courses in sequence is recommended but not required. This course provides the historical background necessary to understand the place of science in the contemporary world. Many of the major contests of our time emerge from the worlds of science, medicine, and technology, from debates on genetic engineering to anxieties about intellectual property, and from clashes over climate change to concerns about nuclear proliferation. In such cases, scientific questions are inseparable from social ones. Our collective future may well depend on how we answer them. In light of that, this course has two main aims. First, it helps students to understand what science itself is, by exploring its historical development, and second, it helps us to decide what role science plays—and should play—in a sophisticated and complex society.
HIPS 18504/HIST 17314 Science, Culture, and Society in Western Civilization III: The Computational Life (J. Evans) This course considers the rise of computation and computers from ancient analog efforts through state calculations and steampunk computers of the nineteenth century to the emergence of digital computers, programming languages, screens and personal devices, artificial intelligence and neural networks, the Internet and the web. We will explore how the fantasy and reality of computation historically reflected human and organizational capacities, designed as prosthetics to extend calculation and control; consider how computers and computational models have come to influence and transform twentieth- and twenty-first-century politics, economics, science, and society; and examine the influence of computers and AI on imagination, structuring the utopias and dystopias through which we view the future. Students will read original texts and commentary, manipulate analog and digital hardware, software, networks and AI, and contribute to Wikipedia on the history and the social and cultural implications of computing.
HIPS 18505/HIST 17515 Science, Culture, and Society in Western Civilization III: Histories of the Bomb (E. Kern) In the long history of the planet, the years since 1945 have a remarkable and unique geological signature: one left by the creation and testing of atomic weapons, medicine, and energy. This class explores the intellectual, social, economic, and political histories of nuclear research, including topics such as transnational scientific migrations; the Manhattan Project; weapons testing and development; the rise of "Big Science"; postcolonial histories of nuclear development; domestic and international anti-nuclear activism; and ecological and environmental impacts of fallout, waste, and nuclear accidents. Drawing on both primary and secondary sources, we will consider how the story we tell about the history of the nuclear age and the rise of science came to be, and how that story has transformed at different points in the twentieth century.
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.
NEHC 20013/HIST 15604 Ancient Empires III For most of the duration of the New Kingdom (1550–1069 BC), the ancient Egyptians were able to establish a vast empire and becoming one of the key powers within the Near East. This course will investigate in detail the development of Egyptian foreign policies and military expansion which affected parts of the Near East and Nubia. We will examine and discuss topics such as ideology, imperial identity, political struggle and motivation for conquest and control of wider regions surrounding the Egyptian state as well as the relationship with other powers and their perspective on Egyptian rulers as for example described in the Amarna letters.
SALC 20200/HIST 10900 Introduction to the Civilizations of South Asia II (D. Chakrabarty) This sequence introduces core themes in the formation of culture and society in South Asia from the early modern period until the present. This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. These courses must be taken in sequence. The second quarter analyzes the colonial period (i.e., reform movements, the rise of nationalism, communalism, caste, and other identity movements) up to the independence and partition of India.
NEHC 20203/HIST 15613 Islamicate Civilization III, 1750–Present This course covers the period from ca. 1750 to the present, focusing on Western military, economic, and ideological encroachment; the impact of such ideas as nationalism and liberalism; efforts at reform in the Islamic states; the emergence of the "modern" Middle East after World War I; the struggle for liberation from Western colonial and imperial control; the Middle Eastern states in the Cold War era; and local and regional conflicts.
NEHC 20603/HIST 25616 Islamic Thought and Literature III This course covers the period from ca. 1700 to the present. It explores Muslim intellectuals' engagement with tradition and modernity in the realms of religion, politics, literature, and law. We discuss debates concerning the role of religion in a modern society, perceptions of Europe and European influence, the challenges of maintaining religious and cultural authenticity, and Muslim views of nation-states and nationalism in the Middle East. We also give consideration to the modern developments of transnational jihadism and the Arab Spring. This course sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies.
NEHC 20840/HIST 25901 Radical Islamic Pieties, 1200–1600 (C. Fleischer) This course examines responses to the Mongol destruction of the Abbasid caliphate in 1258 and the background to formation of regional Muslim empires. Topics include the opening of confessional boundaries; Ibn Arabi, Ibn Taymiyya, and Ibn Khaldun; the development of alternative spiritualities, mysticism, and messianism in the fifteenth century; and transconfessionalism, antinomianism, and the articulation of sacral sovereignties in the sixteenth century. All work in English; some knowledge of primary languages (i.e., Arabic, French, German, Greek, Latin, Persian, Spanish, Turkish) helpful.
RLST 20903/HIST 25620 The Historical Jesus (C. Trotter) Is it possible to get behind the textual remains of early memories about Jesus of Nazareth to recover objective facts about his life? If so, how do scholars navigate and assess the various ancient stories about Jesus of Nazareth to reconstruct "what actually happened"? What assumptions and methods guide their analysis? Do the Gospels contain eyewitness testimony? This course introduces students to the study of the historical Jesus, a branch of biblical scholarship that seeks to reconstruct what can be known about Jesus's birth, life, and death using the tools of modern historical research. Students will learn how to apply the methods of historical Jesus research and gain familiarity with the various portrayals of Jesus in ancient Jewish, Christian, Greek, and Roman sources. At the end of the course, we will consider both the benefits and limitations of this line of inquiry for contemporary concerns.
BCSN 21300/HIST 24008 (Re)Branding the Balkan City: Contemporary Belgrade, Sarajevo, and Zagreb (N. Petkovic) The course uses an urban-studies lens to explore the complex history, infrastructure, and transformations of cities, mainly in the capitals of today's Serbia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, and Croatia. Yugoslav architecture embodied one of the great political experiments of the modern era, which creates a particular need to survey this region. Drawing on anthropological theory and urban ethnography, we consider processes of urban destruction and renewal, practices of branding spaces and identities, urban life as praxis, art and design movements, film, music, food, architectural histories and styles, metropolitan citizenship, and the broader politics of space. The course includes cultural and historical media, guest speakers, and virtual tours, such as the 2018 MoMA exhibition, Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980, which placed Yugoslav modernism in the modern architectural canon. Classes are held in English; no knowledge of South Slavic languages is required.
HIST 22207 The Social History of Alcohol in Early Modern Europe (C. Rydell, Teaching Fellow) This course will examine the multifaceted historical role that beer, wine, cider, and spirits played in European society and will challenge students to consider how a seemingly familiar commodity was a key component in shaping early modern social relations. It will focus on several major themes that have guided historical inquiry and show how hard drink intersects with and entangles these histories. Major themes will include alcohol and gender relations; state legality and taxation; moral policing; environmental projects and crises; labor and technology; and colonialism. Using both primary and secondary sources will push students to look below the surface to see how drink alternately challenged or reinforced social hierarchies, much as it continues to do in the present time.
HIST 23519 The Arts of Number in the Middle Ages: The Quadrivium (R. Fulton Brown) Alongside the arts of language (grammar, rhetoric, and logic), medieval students would encounter the arts of number: arithmetic, the study of pure number; geometry, number in space; music, number in time; and astronomy, number in space and time (in Stratford Caldecott's formulation). In this course, we will be following this medieval curriculum insofar as we are able through some of its primary texts, many only recently translated, so as to come to a better appreciation of the way in which the study of these arts affected the development of the medieval European intellectual, scientific, and artistic tradition. This is a companion course to "The Arts of Language in the Middle Ages: The Trivium," but the two courses may be taken in either order.
CRES 24003/HIST 18303 Colonizations III This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. These courses can be taken in any sequence. The third quarter considers the processes and consequences of decolonization both in the newly independent nations and the former colonial powers.
HIST 24100 Zen and History (J. Ketelaar) This course examines Chan/Zen history, debates over this history, and consequences of Chan/Zen for understanding history and historiography per se.
EALC 24512/HIST 24511 Social and Economic Institutions of Chinese Socialism (J. Eyferth) The socialist period (for our purposes here, c. 1949–80) fundamentally transformed the institutions of Chinese social and economic life. Marriage and family were redefined, rural communities were reorganized on a collective basis, and private property in land and other means of production was abolished. Industrialization created a new urban working class, whose access to welfare, consumer goods, and political rights depended to a large extent on their membership in work units (danwei). Migration between city and countryside almost came to a halt, and rural and urban society developed in different directions. This course will focus on the concrete details of how this society functioned. How did state planning work? What was it like to work in a socialist factory? What role did money and consumption play in a planned economy? Our readings are in English, but speakers of Chinese are encouraged to use Chinese materials (first-hand sources, if they can be found) for their final papers. All readings will be posted on Canvas.
HIST 24115 Japan's Empire (S. Burns) The Japanese empire has long been considered "anomalous" among other modern empires: it was the first modern imperial project undertaken by a non-Western nation, one that was (purportedly) based not on racial difference but rather on cultural affinity; one that positioned itself as anti-imperialist even as it was involved in colonization. Although the empire was short-lived, it continues to shape the geopolitics of East Asia today. With an aim to reassessing the "uniqueness" of the Japanese imperial era, this seminar focuses on key issues in the historiography of the Japanese empire through the critical reading and discussion of recent Anglophone works. Assignments: Weekly Canvas posts and final research paper.
HIST 24602 Objects of Japanese History (J. Ketelaar) The collections of Japanese objects held at the University of Chicago's Smart Museum, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Art Institute of Chicago will be examined as case studies in museum studies, collection research, and, more specifically, in the interpretation of things "Japanese." Individual objects will be examined, not only for religious, aesthetic, cultural, and historical issues, but also for what they tell us of the collections themselves and the relation of these collections to museum studies per se.
HIST 25415 History of Information (A. Johns) Everybody knows that ours in an information age. No previous generation ever enjoyed access to the mass of material made available by Google, iTunes, Amazon, and the like. At the same time, however, no previous generation ever had its reading, listening, and traveling so thoroughly tracked, recorded, data-mined, and commercialized. Information thus shapes our culture for both good and ill, and it is up to us to understand how. This course provides students with the materials to do that. It ranges across centuries to trace how information has been created, circulated, and controlled. In short, it tells us how our information age came into being, and why it has generated the issues with which it now confronts us.
HIST 25613 Saints and Sinners in Late Antiquity (R. Payne) Between the third and seventh centuries, Christian communities came to flourish throughout the Middle East and neighboring regions in the Roman and Iranian empires as well as the kingdoms of the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Ethiopia. This course will examine the development of Christian institutions and ideologies in relation to the distinctive social structures, political cultures, economies, and environments of the Middle East, with a focus on the Fertile Crescent. The makers of Middle Eastern Christianities were both saints and sinners. Holy men and women, monks, and sometimes bishops withdrew from what they often called "the world" with the intention of reshaping society through prayer, asceticism, and writing; some also intervened directly in social, political, and economic relations. The work of these saints depended on the cooperation of aristocrats, merchants, and rulers who established enduring worldly institutions. To explore the dialectical relationship between saints and sinners, we will read lives of saints in various Middle Eastern languages in translation.
HIST 26304 Literature and Society in Brazil (D. Borges) This course explores the relations between literature and society in Brazil, with an emphasis on the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the Modernist movement of 1922. We will read poetry but pay special attention to the novel. The Brazilian novel, like the Russian novel, was an arena in which intellectuals debated, publicized, and perhaps even discovered social questions. We will examine ways in which fiction may be used and misused as a historical document. All works available in English translation.
RLST 26316/HIST 24924 Medical Innovation and Religious Reform in Early Modernity (M. Lambert) Through a survey of innovative medical authorities and religious reformers, students will investigate the co-constitution of two bodies of knowledge in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when questions of authority and epistemology were in considerable flux. Often construed as a period haunted by outbreaks of plague and the oppression of religious superstition, early modernity has long been implicated in the "conflict thesis," which portrays the relationship between religion and science/medicine as inherently adversarially. This course scrutinizes the confict thesis through seemingly contradictory examples where reformers touted both divine providence and public health infrastructures; where the Vatican relied on university-trained physicians to validate saints and their miracles; where theologians were viewed as authorities on Galen and responsible for medical breakthroughs; and where medicine and metaphysics were considered complementary pursuits. Ultimately, we will unveil a portrait not of conflict, but of a symbiotic relationship between religion and medicine.
HIST 27012 Histories of Violence in the United States (K. Belew) How does violence change life stories and national narratives? How can a nation remember and retell obscured histories of violence, reconcile past violence, and resist future violence? What does it mean that lynching emerged at the same moment as the Bill of Rights and that certain kinds of violence have been central to American identity? The story of the United States is built on the inclusion or omission of violence: from the genocide of Native Americans to slavery to imperial conquest, from the "private" pain of women to the nationalized pain of soldiers. This course brings violence to the center of US history. Moving from early America to the present, we will discuss these overlapping stories in terms of their visibility and invisibility, addressing questions of representation and the haunting function of traumatic experience. Following an emerging subfield of scholarship in histories of violence, this course examines narrative, archival, and political issues around studying, teaching, and writing such stories. The final project emphasizes public history.
RLST 27305/HIST 26813 Haj to Utopia: Race, Religion, and Revolution in South Asian America (A. Venkatkrishnan) With the election of Kamala Harris as vice president in the 2020 US election, it would appear that Americans of South Asian descent find themselves nearer than ever to the center of political power. But what if one narrated the history of South Asian Americans not according to their inevitable embrace of imperialist politics and economic and cultural capital, but as fraught subjects of a settler colonial regime? What are the alternative futures of life, love, and liberation as imagined by transnational revolutionaries? How does the politics of immigrant identity operate at the nexus of race and caste? How does religion index race in the eyes of the surveillance state? How do South Asian histories of migration prefigure the mass displacements, border enforcements, and unequal labor conditions that have defined the politics of globalization in the twenty-first century?
HIST 27900 Asian Wars of the Twentieth Century (B. Cumings) This course examines the political, economic, social, cultural, racial, and military aspects of the major Asian wars of the twentieth century: the Pacific War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. At the beginning of the course we pay particular attention to just war doctrines and then use two to three books for each war (along with several films) to examine alternative approaches to understanding the origins of these wars, their conduct, and their consequences.
RLST 28005/HIST 27120 Illicit Religion: Contesting Religious Freedom under the Law in Modern America (G. Chatterley) Freedom of religion is one of the most enduring and celebrated ideals of the United States. In this course, we will examine historical events, legal principles, and academic debates over the meaning and execution of religion's "free exercise" in the United States. Three case studies will ground our investigations: the Pueblo Indian dance controversy of the 1920s, the organization of the Church of Scientology in the 1950s, and conflict over property and political rights at Oregon's Rajneeshpuram in the 1980s. Historical and cultural study will be augmented with theory and legal analysis by scholars of American religion and law. Student will make final presentions of controversial developments in the exercise of religion since the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, including its enforcement of religious boundaries around drug use, gay marriage, and women's reproductive health.
RLST 28009/HIST 28709 God-Given Whites: Christianity and White Supremacy in the United States from Colonization to Trump (G. Chatterley) This course will examine the enduring legacy of Christianity and white supremacy in regions that became the United States nearly three hundred years after Christopher Columbus first imported church-state rule, racial hierarchy, and capitalist economic exploitation to the Americas. We will survey successive episodes of white supremacist racial formation under American Christianity and its predecessors, from European Catholic and Protestant colonization through more recent cultural and political projects of conservative white evangelicalism. We will identify historical and religious nuances of disparate racial regimes while aiming to cultivate more general analytical frameworks for the study of religion, racism, and white supremacy in American culture over time.
RLST 29050/HIST 28005 Religion, Race, and Gender in the (Un)Making of American Mass Incarceration (E. Crews) The United States has the largest population of incarcerated people in the world. A disproportionate percentage of that population is made up of people of color and an increasing number are women and people with nonconforming gender identities. Scholars, activists, and lawmakers have offered a number of explanations for the situation of mass incarceration, from theories about the war on drugs, the prison industrial complex, and the new Jim Crow. What all these theories have in common are the significance of race and gender in the long process of criminalization and incarceration. This course explores the intersection of race and gender in the complex surrounding the American penal system and the experiences of those affected by it. Together we will trace the ways in which these major markers of identity have shaped and been shaped by the construction of the billion dollar correctional industry in the United States, beginning with arrests and legal system, proceeding through sentencing, the experience of incarceration, and post-release rehabilitation and parole. Along the way we will explore, inter alia, ideas of racialized violence, the criminalization of blackness, the gendered divisions of prison labor, the gendering and sexualizing of inmates' bodies, and the role of Christian prison ministries in programs and narratives of rehabilitation.
HIST 29105 Gendering Slavery (M. Hicks) This reading seminar will introduce students to the key questions, methods, and theories of the burgeoning field of gendered histories of slavery. Global in scope, but with a focus on the early modern Atlantic world, we will explore a range of primary and secondary texts from various slave societies. Assigned monographs will cover a multitude of topics including women and law, sexualities, kinship, and reproduction, and the intersection of race, labor, and market economies. In addition to examining historical narratives, students will discuss the ethical and methodological implications of reading and writing histories of violence, erasure, and domination. Learning to work within and against the limits imposed by hegemonic forms of representation, the fragmentary nature of the archive, and the afterlives of slavery, this course will examine how masculinity and femininity remade and were remade by bondage.
HIST 29536 Global Goods: Exchange in the Early Modern World (N. O'Neill, Von Holst Prize Lecturer) How did a Chinese porcelain plate end up in a sixteenth-century Portuguese shipwreck off the West African coast? Why would a seventeenth-century Japanese artisan make a samurai helmet with Mexican silver? Why would every self-respecting eighteenth-century Parisian wear Oregon fur to the opera? What did each of these objects mean to the people who made, traded, and used them? This class will explore the patterns of economic and cultural exchange that connected people across the early modern world via the objects passed from place to place. Through case studies of commodities—such as porcelain, silver, and fur—we will study the links between local and global and develop skills for analyzing artifacts of material culture. By the end of the course, we will not only understand how material objects mediated and propelled the early era of globalization, but know how to "read" those objects in order to reconstruct the past.
HIPS 29643/HIST 25026 Tutorial: Toxic America—Pollutants, Poisons, Politics (A. Seber) Exposure to toxins is a condition of life in the United States. If toxins are "adverse effects" to living systems, how and why did they become so abundant in the air, water, and food we ingest? The premise of this course is that the twentieth century witnessed soaring levels of toxic pollutants. As novel toxins proliferated in the form of synthetic chemicals, antibiotic residues, radiation, and heavy metals, American scientists, activists, and artists identified and politicized them. Students will first learn about the history of toxicology, pathology, lethal doses, thresholds, and environmental health in the United States. We will use these concepts to examine major toxic events and everyday exposures. We will investigate the distribution of toxins in relation to race, gender, and class, with the goal of forming an environmental history that centers on violence and justice. The course focuses on the United States, with consideration of Mexico and Canada. One of our primary concerns is how invisible, microscopic, and nonhuman living things inform our historical methods and questions.
Graduate Courses Open to Undergraduates by Consent
HIST 42303 Renaissance Humanism (A. Palmer) Humanism in the Renaissance was an ambitious project to repair what idealists saw as a fallen, broken world by reviving the lost arts of antiquity. Their systematic transformation of literature, education, art, religion, architecture, and science dramatically reshaped European culture, mixing ancient and medieval and producing the foundations of modern thought and society. Readings focus on primary sources: Petrarch, Poggio, Ficino, Pico, Castiglione, and Machiavelli, with a historiographical review of major modern treatments of the topic. We will discuss the history of the book, cultural and intellectual history, and academic writing skills especially planning the dissertation as a book and writing and submitting articles to journals.
HIST 42901 The Habsburg Monarchy and the Austrian Republic, 1740–1983 (J. Boyer) This colloquium will give students in modern European history a systematic overview of major interpretive problems in Hapsburg and Austrian history from 1740 to 1983. We will consider issues such as the competing historiographical narratives about the fate of the empire; reform absolutism and eighteenth-century communities in the empire; 1848 in Vienna and in the empire; the empire during the constitutional crises of the 1860s; liberalism, nationalism, and the political culture of the post-1867 dualism; mass politics in the empire after 1890; fin de siècle culture in Vienna; the social history of World War I and the collapse of the empire; the revolution of 1918 and the reasons behind the ultimate failure of the First Republic; and authoritarianism, Nazism, and postwar reconstruction.
HIST 47503 Chicago in United States Urban History (K. Conzen) Chicago has long been one of America's most studied cities and has often been regarded as one of its most "representative" ones. This graduate colloquium aims to increase familiarity with Chicago's own history, to use Chicago as a case study in which to explore American urban development from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, as well as the historiography, methods, and sources that shape the field of US urban history. Readings and discussion each week will focus on a selected theme and moment in Chicago's development; written assignments will include three brief critical essays and a final paper in the form of a "mock proposal" for a well-conceptualized research project on a significant issue in Chicago's history.
HIST 49502 Colonialism, Globalization, and Postcolonialism (R. Austen) The narrative of this course encompasses European overseas expansion from the fifteenth through nineteenth centuries and the emergence from this process of, first, early modern proto-colonies (monopolistic trading companies and slave plantations), then modern colonies (European-ruled territories inhabited by non-European "colonial subjects"), and, finally, the fate of these territories as postcolonies in the late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century global order. The analytic goal is to integrate politics (the formation of colonial regimes and successor nation-states); economics (the dialectics of global capitalism, European overseas expansion, and varieties of development/underdevelopment); and culture (the construction of European and "third-world' identities via colonialism). The lectures and assigned readings will privilege "northern" European (British, Dutch, German, as opposed to Iberian, but including French) colonialism and focus upon tropical Africa, the British and French Caribbean, and South Asia. Students are welcome, however, to challenge or extend this definition of the topic. Class sessions will combine lectures and discussions of readings. Requirements are two short (3–5 pages) critical discussion papers and one longer final essay (10–12 pages) either discussing an approved, self-selected topic or responding to prompts on general course issues.
HIST 49701 Cultural Cold War (E. Gilburd) In this course we will consider culture wars amidst the Cold War. We will range across media and aesthetic schools to examine the entanglement of art and politics, culture and diplomacy, creativity and propaganda, consumerism and the avant-garde, nuclear aspirations and dystopian visions, artistic freedom and police operations. The course's basic premise is that, notwithstanding the bipolar world it created, the Cold War was a multisided affair, so our readings will extend beyond the United States and the Soviet Union to include various national contexts.