US History

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 17805  America in the Twentieth Century  (J. Dailey)  This is a thematic lecture course on the past 115 years of US history. The main focus of the lectures will be politics, broadly defined. The readings consist of novels and nonfiction writing, with a scattering of primary sources. Assignments: Three 1,500-word papers.

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 arrangements 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 20404  Troy and Its Legacy  (M. Andrews)  This course will explore the Trojan War through the archaeology, art, and mythology of the Greeks and Romans, as well as through the popular imaginings of it in later cultures. The first half will focus on the actual events of the "Trojan War" at the end of the second millennium BCE. We will study the site of Troy, the cities of the opposing Greeks, and the evidence for contact, cooperation, and conflict between the Greeks and Trojans. Students will be introduced to the history of archaeology and the development of archaeological fieldwork. The second half will trace how the narrative and mythology of Homer's Iliad and the Trojan War were adapted and used by later civilizations, from classical Greece to twenty-first-century America, to justify their rises to political and cultural hegemony in the Mediterranean and the West, respectively.

HIST 27300  African American History since 1883  (T. Holt)  A lecture course discussing selected topics in the African American experience (economic, political, social) from Reconstruction Era protections of African American civil rights through social and political movements in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries seeking their restoration. Course evaluations via online quizzes and take-home essays.

HIST 27307  Schools and Space: A Chicago History  (N. Kryczka, Teaching Fellow)  This course fuses urban and educational history into a two-century case study of Chicago. When the Chicago Public Schools closed fifty schoolhouses in 2013, many stressed the links between public education, uneven neighborhood investment, and racial segregation. But this episode was part of a longer regional history of how metropolitan development, labor markets, and anxieties over migration affected educational policy. The course stresses the relationship between educational policy and the politics of urban development, gender, and race. Schools were sites of gendered work, for the women who operated them and for the children who navigated the moral and vocational paths laid for their futures; meanwhile, the rise of racial ghettoes had an enduring impacts on educational inequity and the shape of African American political life. Over the time span covered by the course, the United States became an indisputably "schooled" society, and Chicago was a leading indicator of national trends. Key historic episodes in American education—the rise of the modern high school, the birth of progressive education, the origins of teachers' unions, the Catholic encounter with race, the fragmentation of suburban school districts, the civil-rights critique of de facto school segregation, the pronounced "failure" of urban education, and the triumph of choice-and-accountability reforms, and the teacher-led resistance that followed—are especially well-illustrated by this course's focus on Chicago. Assignments: This course combines lecture with discussions of primary sources and secondary literature each week, beginning with the one-room, log-stable schoolhouses of the antebellum Illinois prairie and ending with the nation's first charter-school teacher strikes in 2018. In addition to composing a research paper on a chosen school or school policy, students will take a field trip to local schoolhouses, reading the city's urban history through its educational architecture.

HIST 27709  Soul and the Black Seventies  (A. Green)  This course considers in what ways soul as cultural genre and style shaped, and was shaped by, the political, social, structural, cultural, and ethical shifts and conditions associated with the 1970s. It will focus on popular music as both symbolic field and system of production, while also taking up other forms of expression—literary, intellectual, institutional, activist—in order to propose an alternate, and compelling, archive for this era. The course intends to deepen understanding of the feel and meaning of soul by relating it to consequential legacies of the 1970s: urban identity and crisis, emerging limitations of racial reformism, the deepening class stratification of Black life, and the radical disruption of social norms through feminism, in particular Black feminism.

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.

HIST 28103  The American Novel in History and the Historical Novel  Republic  (A. Rowe, Teaching Fellow)  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)  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 29421  Politics of Commemoration  (L. Auslander)  Most of the time we pass in front of the statues, commemorative museums, monuments, and flags that inhabit our cities without noticing them. In recent years, however, they (along with pre-college history curricula) have become controversial across the globe. This course addresses those controversies primarily in Europe and the United States, but also in Latin America, West Africa, and South Africa. Through a series of case studies we will analyze the conditions of the creation of statues, monuments, and museums. Who conceptualized them and lobbied for their creation? Who paid for them? For whom were they originally intended? What message did they convey? What happened over time? How did their message change? Did they provoke controversy at the moment of their planning or inauguration or later and, if so, from whom? Equal attention will be paid to scholars' efforts to address the question of what these commemorative works actually do. If they really become unnoticeable, then why does the threat of their removal so often spark such intense controversy? Assignments: Active participation in class, one secondary text analysis, one analysis of a controversy, and one proposal for a monument, museum, or school curriculum.

HIST 29529  Hawai‘i in Global Context, 1778–1959  (C. Kindell, Teaching Fellow)  Extinct volcanoes perched behind sun-soaked beaches; hula dancers and cocktails at hotel luaus; something with Spam followed by pineapple Dole whip. Cultural images like these dominate the popular imagination when one considers Hawai‘i in the twenty-first century. Yet less understood, and often unexplored in the classroom, is the Hawaiian Islands' rich, unusual, and disputed past. Adopting a global perspective, this course examines the history of this mid-Pacific "paradise" from its European discovery in 1778 to its acquisition of statehood in 1959. It will employ transnational, comparative, and micro-historical methods to demonstrate how Hawaiian history has been indelibly shaped by global developments, including indigeneity and colonial encounters, mercantilism and environmental exploitation, informal empire and the law, land and agricultural reform, health and depopulation, labor and immigration, commercial growth and urbanization, annexation and militarization, tourism and cultural commodification, and citizenship and statehood. Grades will be based on participation, weekly Canvas posts, peer review, and a series of written assignments— i.e. a research paper proposal and bibliography, primary source analysis, literature review, and rough draft—that culminate in a 10-page final research paper.

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 47503  Colloquium: 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 48700  Colloquium: Social Movements in Chicago, 1950–2010  (A. Green)  This graduate colloquium considers the constellation of social movements that emerged in Chicago in the late 1960s, using old and new approaches to contentious politics. Chicago comprises an urban context that simultaneously encompasses a robust labor tradition, coherent expressions of situated or identity-oriented advocacy, a sustained radical intellectual tradition, localized community-oriented philosophy of organizing, and one of the fullest concentrations of municipal authority, as a party machine regime and also a law enforcement apparatus. Taken together, these conditions and others mark Chicago as among the most revealing crucibles for movement building in the United States over the past half century. The course seeks to survey emerging scholarship on the constitution, contradictions, and impact of movement building in Chicago, seen largely through four case studies—the Puerto Rican movement, radical feminism, LGBTQ liberation/rights, and African American struggles to achieve police accountability. Additionally, the course will survey classic and emerging models of social-movement theory, in order to offer models of analysis for a mode of politics, power, and social formation especially consequential to recent history and poised, it seems, to continue to exert significant influence. Finally, the course will introduce students to new archives, new source bases, and community-based principles and authorities, in order to suggest innovative and relevant research projects.

HIST 49700  Colloquium: The Informal—Economics, Politics, and Social Ties in the City  (D. Jenkins)  This course engages the paradox of the informal, the range of political practices, social ties, and economic modalities seemingly in but not of "formal" institutions, norms, and sectors. It begins with engaging the foundational debates on the informal, debates that challenge the neat separation between the formal and informal and which sharpen the conceptual differences between the informal, the illicit, and the underground. Readings consist of some theory, a handful of primary sources, and mostly secondary readings on cities that cut across different political economic contexts and chronological and geographical boundaries. Themes include urban space, race, gender, borders, policing and regulation. Along the way we will consider the problem of the archive (its silences and elisions) as well as the normative judgments that frame historical interpretations of the informal.