WIN 19: US History Courses
HIST 13600 America in World Civilization 2 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. The nineteenth-century segment of America in World Civilizations asks: What happens when democracy confronts inequality? We focus on themes that include indigenous-US relations; religious revivalism and reform; slavery, the Civil War, and emancipation; the intersection between women's rights and antislavery; the development of industrial capitalism; urbanism and social inequality.
HIST 17204 Thou Shalt Not Kill: Human Rights and War from Napoleon to the War on Terror (P. O'Donnell) This course will consider the intersection between human rights and humans in wars from Napoleon's first forays into a nationalized army, citizen soldiers, and battlefield medicine in the early nineteenth century to the contradictions of the global "war on terror": Abu Ghraib, drone strikes, and Support Our Troops bumper stickers. Along the way, it will consider the evolution of rights alongside the evolution of war, using historical examples as stepping stones, from the horrors produced by European colonial firepower and the global cataclysms of the twentieth century's world wars, to the Cold War's proxy wars and nuclear threats, to failed attempts at peacekeeping in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. 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 17704 The Old History of Capitalism (D. Jenkins) What is the relationship between race and capitalism? This course introduces students to the concept of "racial capitalism," which rejects treatments of race as external to a purely economic project and counters the idea that racism is an externality, acultural overflow, or an aberration from the so-called real workings of capitalism. Spanning the colonization of North America to the era of mass incarceration, topics include the slave trade, indigenous dispossession, antebellum slavery, the Mexican-American War, "new imperialism," the welfare state, and civil rights. This course neither presumes a background in economics nor previous coursework in history. 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 25308 Lab, Field, and Clinic: The History and Anthropology of Medicine and the Life Sciences (M. Rossi) In this course we will examine the ways in which different groups of people—in different times and places—have understood the nature of life and living things, bodies and bodily processes, and health and disease, among other notions. We will address these issues principally, though not exclusively, through the lens of the changing sets of methods and practices commonly recognizable as science and medicine. We will also pay close attention to the methods through which scholars in history and anthropology have written about these topics, and how current scientific and medical practice affect historical and anthropological studies of science and medicine.
HIST 27006 Not Just the Facts: Telling about the American South (J. Dailey) Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. once observed: "The main part of intellectual education is not the acquisition of facts but learning how to make facts live." 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."
HIST 28103 The American Novel in History and the Historical Novel (A. Rowe, Teaching Fellow in the Social Sciences) We will read several American novels—some canonical, others largely forgotten—to explore the relationship between literature and history from the early Republic to the present. A novel like Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables is both a historical artifact, a rich and suggestive reflection of the world in which it was written, and a profound meditation on history itself, on the narratives by which a culture acknowledges and denies its inheritance from the past. Indeed, many novelists have explored dimensions of our collective past that historians, tethered to the surface of recorded fact, cannot reach and should not ignore. From the creation of the American republic to the unraveling of the American working class, from the experience of slavery to the experience of industrialized warfare, we will examine some of the most significant issues in American history through the art of some of the nation's most gifted novelists.
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 29678 History Colloquium: 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. Students will be expected to conduct original research and produce an original research paper of fifteen to twenty pages.