History in the World Courses
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 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 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 14701 Human Rights in Chinese History (J. Ransmeier) This Gateway course will introduce students to China's contentious rights environment and both domestic and international ideas of human rights. The course will consider social movements, dissent, the role of the press, environmentalism, and debates over "Asian values." While the course surveys the modern period we will also discuss legacies of China's philosophical traditions.
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.
HIST 19402 Economic History II: The Early Modern World, circa 1300–1800 (P. Cheney & K. Pomeranz) This course both describes preindustrial economic life and weighs the models used to explain fundamental changes to it. We will begin by describing some of the basic structures that determined patterns of production, exchange, and consumption in a period of low and easily reversible growth. These include agricultural productivity, demographic constraints, modes of transportation, and the social structures that governed the distribution of what little surplus premodern societies produced. Turning to the sources of economic dynamism that may have contributed to later industrialization, we will first examine the growth of long-distance trade networks starting in the late fourteenth century. How were traditional economies characterized by limited movement stimulated by the circulation of people, goods, and money from afar? We will then move to a discussion of the factors leading to (or frustrating) transformational patterns of economic growth: agricultural productivity, institutions, "proto-industrial" production in an era of limited urban growth, and changing norms of consumption.
Making History courses forgo traditional paper assignments for innovative projects that develop new skills with professional applications in the working world. Open to students at all levels, but especially recommended for third- and fourth-year students.
HIST 20210 History Lab: Migration and Mobility in Human History (E. Osborn) This Making History course will explore different episodes of human mobility. We will study forced and voluntary migrations by considering the earliest movements of people out of Africa, the transatlantic slave trade, the displacements in Europe produced by World War II, and the current flows of people from Africa and the Middle East across the Mediterranean. These wide-ranging topics necessarily demand that students use a variety of primary sources and methodologies; assigned readings will thus be supplemented by documentaries, audio recordings, artistic renditions, and material culture. For their final project students will be required to work individually or in teams to investigate an example of human migration. Student may present the results of this research as a formal academic essay, may create a website or video, or use some other medium.
History majors take at least one history colloquium, though you are welcome to take more than one. If you are pursuing the Research Track take a colloquium prior to Spring Quarter of your third year. If you are in the Regular Track can take a colloquium at any point prior to graduation.
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.
HIST 10102 Introduction to African Civilization 2 (K. Takabvirwa) African Civilization introduces students to African history in a three quarter sequence. Part Two 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 century. The course begins with an examination of colonialism, the institutionalization of racism, and dispossession, before examining anti-colonialism and the postcolonial period. Over the course of the quarter, students will learn about forms of personhood, subjectivity, kinship practices, governance, migration, and the politics of difference.
HIST 12001 Medieval History: Theories & Methods (J. Lyon) This course will introduce students to research methods and historical theories that are central to the field of medieval European history (500–1500 AD). The first section of the course is designed to give students a grounding in some of the most important historical narratives (political, social, economic, religious, intellectual, cultural) about the medieval period. Students will then spend the middle weeks of the quarter exploring the different types of original sources (written and non-written) that historians use to conduct research on the Middle Ages. This section of the course will include class time at the Regenstein Library's Special Collections. In the final weeks, we will concentrate on some of the scholarly debates that have shaped the modern field of medieval history. Grades will be determined on the basis of a midterm exam, a final exam, two short papers, and classroom discussion. No prior knowledge of medieval European history is required; the course is open to all undergraduates.
MUSI 12100/HIST 12700 Music in Western Civilization 1: To 1750 (R. Kendrick) This two-quarter sequence explores musical works of broad cultural significance in Western civilization. We study pieces not only from the standpoint of musical style but also through the lenses of politics, intellectual history, economics, gender, cultural studies, and so on. Readings are taken both from our music textbook and from the writings of a number of figures such as St. Benedict of Nursia and Martin Luther. In addition to lectures, students discuss important issues in the readings and participate in music listening exercises in smaller sections.
HIST 13001 History of European Civilization 1 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 13002 History of European Civilization 2 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.
EALC 13010/HIST 15404 Introduction to the History and Civilizations of Central Eurasia I, Pre-1500 (H. Cheuk Shing) This course will explore narrative and thematic histories of Central Asia up to the fifteenth century, starting from the development of pastoral nomadism and ending during the rule of the Timurids. We will discuss the everyday practices of the peoples in the area, the formation and influence of political, economic, and religious forces, and the region's wider interactions with other parts of the premodern world. While acknowledging the disparate peoples and cultures of the region, the course nevertheless assumes that Central Asia can be studied as a cohesive unit of historical inquiry. Throughout the course we will address the problems of historiography and methodology in the study of premodern Central Asian history and will explore possible solutions to these issues.
HIST 13200 History of Western Civilization 2 (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 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 14000 Introduction to Russian Civilization 2 (E. Gilburd & R. Bird) 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 15200 Introduction to East Asian Civilization 2 (J. Ketelaar) 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.
LACS 16200/HIST 16102 Introduction to Latin American Civilization 2 (M. Tenorio) 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 second quarter addresses the evolution of colonial societies, the wars of independence, and the emergence of Latin American nation-states in the changing international context of the nineteenth century.
HIST 16800 Ancient Mediterranean World 2: Rome Available as a three-quarter sequence (Autumn-Winter-Spring) or as a two-quarter sequence (Autumn-Winter or Winter-Spring). This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. This sequence surveys the social, economic, and political history of Greece to the death of Alexander the Great (323 BC), the Roman Republic (509 to 27 BC), and late antiquity (27 BC to the fifth century AD). This quarter surveys the social, economic, and political history of Rome, from its prehistoric beginnings in the twelfth century BCE to the end of the Severan dynasty in 235 CE. Throughout, the focus is upon the dynamism and adaptability of Roman society, as it moved from a monarchy to a republic to an empire, and the implications of these political changes for structures of competition and cooperation within the community.
HIST 17001 Introduction to Women and Gender in the Ancient World (M. Andrews) This course provides an introduction to aspects of women's lives in the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean: primarily Greece and Rome, but drawing occasionally on examples also from the Near East and Egypt. We will examine not only what women actually did and did not do in these societies, but also how they were perceived by their male contemporaries and what value to society they were believed to have. The course will focus on how women are reflected in the material and visual cultures, but it will also incorporate historical and literary evidence, as well. Through such a comparative and interdisciplinary approach, we will examine the complexities and ambiguities of women's lives in the ancient Mediterranean and begin to understand the roots of modern conceptions and perceptions of women in the Western world today.
HIPS 17300/HIST 17300 Science, Culture, and Society in Western Civilization I: Ancient Greece and Rome (J. Wee) Taking these courses in sequence is recommended but not required. This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. This three-quarter sequence focuses on the origins and development of science in the West. This quarter focuses on aspects of ancient Greek and Roman intellectual history, their perceived continuities or discontinuities with modern definitions and practices of science, and how they were shaped by the cultures, politics, and aesthetics of their day. Topics surveyed include history writing and ancient science, the cosmos, medicine and biology, meteorology, ethnography and physiognomics, arithmetic and geometry, mechanics, taxonomy, optics, astronomy, and mechanical computing.
HIPS 17403 /HIST 17403 Science, Culture, and Society in Western Civilization II: Early Modern Science (M. Carlyle) Taking these courses in sequence is recommended but not required. This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. This three-quarter sequence focuses on the origins and development of science in the West. This course explores scientific developments in Western Europe from the sixteenth-century scientific revolution to the eighteenth-century enlightenment. During this period, European understandings of the natural world—and ways of achieving such understandings—underwent a series of radical and far-reaching transformations that are often called the scientific revolution.
ENGL 17950/HIST 17604 The Declaration of Independence (E. Slauter) This course explores important intellectual, political, philosophical, legal, economic, social, and religious contexts for the Declaration of Independence. We begin with a consideration of the English Revolution, investigating the texts of the Declaration of Rights of 1689 and Locke's Second Treatise and their meanings to American revolutionaries. We then consider imperial debates over taxation in the 1760s and 1770s, returning Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography to its original context. Reading Paine's Common Sense and the letters of Abigail Adams and John Adams we look at the multiple meanings of independence. We study Jefferson's drafting process, read the Declaration over the shoulders of people on both sides of the Atlantic, and consider clues to contemporary meanings beyond the intentions of Congress. Finally, we briefly engage the postrevolutionary history of the place and meaning of the Declaration in American life.
REES 20001/HIST 23704 War and Peace (W. Nickells) Tolstoy's novel is at once a national epic, a treatise on history, a spiritual meditation, and a masterpiece of realism. This course presents a close reading of one of the world's great novels and of the criticism that has been devoted to it, including landmark works by Victor Shklovsky, Boris Eikhenbaum, Isaiah Berlin, and George Steiner.
NEHC 20012/HIST 15603 Ancient Empire 2 (H. Karateke) This sequence introduces three great empires of the ancient world. Each course in the sequence focuses on one empire, with attention to the similarities and differences among the empires being considered. By exploring the rich legacy of documents and monuments that these empires produced, students are introduced to ways of understanding imperialism and its cultural and societal effects—both on the imperial elites and on those they conquered.
SALC 20100/HIST 10800 Introduction to the Civilizations of South Asia 1 (M. Alam) 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 first quarter focuses on Islam in South Asia, Hindu-Muslim interaction, Mughal political and literary traditions, and South Asia's early encounters with Europe.
HIST 20110 Trans-Saharan Africa (R. Austen) This course will deal with various developments (trade, politics, religion, slavery, voluntary migration) linking the Maghrib/North Africa with the great African desert and the "Sudanic" lands to its south. Along with lectures and discussions of readings we will visit an exhibit, Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Medieval Trans-Saharan Exchange, at the Block Museum of Art in Evanston.
NEHC 20502/HIST 25804 Islamic History and Society 2: The Middle Period (J. Woods) This sequence surveys the main trends in the political history of the Islamic world, with some attention to economic, social, and intellectual history. This course covers the period from ca. 1000 to 1750, including the arrival of the steppe peoples (Turks and Mongols), the Mongol successor states, and the Mamluks of Egypt and Syria. We also study the foundation of the great Islamic regional empires of the Ottomans, Safavids, and Moghuls.
NEHC 20602/HIST 25615 Islamic Thought and Literature II (A. El Shamsy) This sequence explores the thought and literature of the Islamic world from the coming of Islam in the seventh century CE through the development and spread of its civilization in the medieval period and into the modern world. Including historical framework to establish chronology and geography, the course focuses on key aspects of Islamic intellectual history: scripture, law, theology, philosophy, literature, mysticism, political thought, historical writing, and archaeology. In addition to lectures and secondary background readings, students read and discuss samples of key primary texts, with a view to exploring Islamic civilization in the direct voices of the people who participated in creating it. This course covers the period from circa 950 to 1700, surveying works of literature, theology, philosophy, sufism, politics, history, etc., written in Arabic, Persian and Turkish, as well as the art, architecture, and music of the Islamicate traditions. Through primary texts, secondary sources, and lectures, we will trace the cultural, social, religious, political, and institutional evolution through the period of the Fatimids, the Crusades, the Mongol invasions, and the "gunpowder empires" (Ottomans, Safavids, Mughals). All readings are in English translation. No prior background in the subject is required.
NEHC 20840/HIST 25901 Radical Islamic Pieties, 1200–1600 (C. Fleischer) 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; transconfessionalism, antinomianism, and the articulation of sacral sovereignties in the sixteenth century. Readings will be in English, though some acquaintance with primary languages (Arabic, French, German, Greek, Latin, Spanish, or Turkish) is desirable.
NEHC 20896/HIST 25905 The Mizrahi Discourse in Israel (M. Frenkel, visiting professor from Hebrew University of Jerusalem) The course concerns the many ways Oriental Jews are represented in Israeli academic writings, in history curricula, Israeli novels and films, ethnic museums, and political discourse. It will also discuss Mizrahi self-identities as manifested in protest movements, civil organizations, and political parties. The course will take a chronological path and will follow the changes that occurred in the discourse about ethnicity from the state's early years until recent days.
HIST 21006 The Present Past in Greece since 1769 (J. Hall) This discussion-based course will explore how conceptions of the ancient past have been mobilized and imagined in the political, social, and cultural discourses of modern Greece from the lead up to the War of Independence through to the present day. Among the themes that will be addressed are ethnicity and nationalism, theories of history, the production of archæological knowledge, and the politics of display.
KNOW 21415/HIST 25316 Evolution Before Darwin (J. Pegg) This course will explore the emergence and development of evolutionary thought prior to Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species (1859). We will pay particular attention to the way in which transformism was a feature of nineteenth-century thought more generally, connecting natural history to astronomy, theology, and the study of humanity. Natural philosophers and later scientists who wished to make arguments concerning nature's deep past and hidden or obscured processes (such as the long-term transformations of stars, strata, and organic species) faced an essential problem: the power of observation and experiment was limited. Our class will interrogate this problem, and examine the way in which the development of evolutionary thought prior to Darwin was intimately connected to contentious debates regarding speculation and scientific method. We will conclude by contemplating the ways in which the ideas and challenges raised by transformism and evolution influenced the reception of Darwin's work, and the way in which these ideas and challenges remain embedded within seemingly disparate fields of study today.
HIST 21903 Medieval Christian Mythology (R. Fulton Brown) Heaven and hell, angels and demons, the Virgin Mary and the devil battling over the state of human souls, the world on the edge of apocalypse awaiting the coming of the Judge and the resurrection of the dead, the transubstantiation of bread and wine into body and blood, the great adventures of the saints. As Rudolf Bultmann put it in his summary of the "world picture" of the New Testament, "all of this is mythological talk," arguably unnecessary for Christian theology. And yet, without its mythology, much of Christianity become incomprehensible as a religious or symbolic system. This course is intended as an introduction to the stories that medieval Christians told about God, his Mother, the angels, and the saints, along with the place of the sacraments and miracles in the world picture of the medieval church. Sources will range from Hugh of St. Victor's summa on the sacraments to Hildegard of Bingen's visionary Scivias, the Pseudo-Bonaventuran Meditations on the Life of Christ, and Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend, along with handbooks on summoning angels and cycles of mystery plays.
GEOG 22101/HIST 27506 Changing America in the Last One Hundred Years (M. Conzen) This course explores the regional organization of US society and its economy during the pivotal twentieth century, emphasizing the shifting dynamics that explain the spatial distribution of people, resources, economic activity, human settlement patterns, and mobility. We put special focus on the regional restructuring of industry and services, transportation, city growth, and cultural consumption.
HIST 22203 The Holy Roman Empire, 800–1500 (J. Lyon) During the first seven centuries of its existence the Holy Roman Empire emerged as one of the most politically and culturally heterogeneous states in all of Europe. A vast expanse of central Europe that is today divided among more than a dozen nations was ruled, at least in theory, by the emperors during the central and late Middle Ages. The purpose of this course is to trace some of the major developments in imperial history between 800 (Charlemagne's coronation as emperor) and the early sixteenth century. Topics will include the changing nature of imperial authority from the Carolingians to the Habsburgs, the Church's and the nobility's establishment of quasi-independent lordships inside imperial territory, papal-imperial relations, and the eastward expansion of the empire.
HIST 23306 Europe, 1914–Present (T. Zahra) This lecture course will provide an introductory survey to European history in the twentieth century. It aims to provide a critical overview of political, economic, social, and cultural developments. Topics covered will include the rise of mass politics and the conflict between Bolshevism and fascism; the causes, experiences, and effects of the First and Second World Wars in Western and Eastern Europe; the transformation of Eastern Europe's multinational empires into nationalizing states; interwar democratization and economic crisis; ethnic cleansing and population displacement; decolonization and the Cold War; the challenges of postcolonial migration; transformations in society and economy, including changes in class and gender relations; new social and protest movements in the 1960s and 1970s; mass culture and consumption; the collapse of Communism; and European integration at the end of the twentieth century.
ENST 23640/HIST 27208 Fruited Plains and Scarred Mountains: The Environmental History of Work in the United States (T. Kahle) Ask most people to name an ecosystem and they will probably talk about mountains, beaches, plains, or forests. But most of us spend nearly a third of our adult lives in another ecosystem that we often overlook: our workplace. In fact, one of the most common ways humans interact with the environment in our modern world is by working—from farming and mining to housekeeping and coding. This course will examine the environmental history of work in the United States from the colonial era to the present. We will cover a range of topics including racialized and gendered labors, the work of empire, energy workplaces, industrialization, agriculture, the information revolution, and climate adaptation. By engaging this history we will also consider broader interdisciplinary questions: how should environmental concerns shape labor policy and organizing? What workplace considerations must be incorporated into the development of climate-adaptation strategies and just transition programs? Why do the stories that we tell ourselves about the meaning of work matter for climate justice? What is the future of work in a climate-changed world?
CRES 24001/HIST 18301 Colonizations 2 This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. This three-quarter sequence approaches the concept of civilization from an emphasis on cross-cultural and societal connection and exchange. We explore the dynamics of conquest, slavery, and colonialism and their reciprocal relationships with concepts such as resistance, freedom, and independence, with an eye toward understanding their interlocking role in the making of the modern world. The theme of the second section considers modern European and Japanese colonialism in Asia and the Pacific.
CRES 24002/HIST 18302 Colonizations 2 (K. Pomeranz) This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. This three-quarter sequence approaches the concept of civilization from an emphasis on cross-cultural and societal connection and exchange. We explore the dynamics of conquest, slavery, and colonialism and their reciprocal relationships with concepts such as resistance, freedom, and independence, with an eye toward understanding their interlocking role in the making of the modern world. The theme of the second section considers modern European and Japanese colonialism in Asia and the Pacific.
HIST 24500 Reading Qing Documents (G. Alitto) This course introduces documentary Chinese of the Qing (1644–1912) and the Republican ((1912–1949) periods, with an emphasis upon critical use of these documents and the related historiography. Students read a wide variety of genres, including imperial edicts, secret memorials, local gazetteers, newspapers, funeral essays, as well as selections from the Qing "Veritable Records" (Qing Shilu) and the Draft History of the Qing Dynasty (Qing Shigao). We first translate the documents into English and then analyze them.
EALC 24512/HIST 24511 Social and Economic Institutions of Chinese Socialism (J. Eyferth) The socialist period (for our purposes here, circa 1949–1990) fundamentally transformed the institutions of Chinese social and economic life. Marriage and family were redefined; rural communities were reorganized on a collective basis; private property in land and other means of production were 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 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.
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. This year, in particular, we will examine the major exhibition of Floating World (Ukiyo) paintings held at the Art Institute. We will make several study trips to the Smart Museum, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Art Institute of Chicago during class time.
HIST 25115 Francis Bacon's Philosophy of Nature (J. Niermeier-Dohoney, Teaching Fellow in the Social Sciences) Historians of science have traditionally regarded Francis Bacon (1561–1626) as one of the most prominent seventeenth-century champions of induction, empiricism, and experimental methodology. While these are perhaps his most important contributions to natural philosophy, Bacon and his adherents also exerted a profound influence on Western notions of power over nature and of the possibilities of alteration, manipulation, and exploitation of the natural world. This course will examine some of Bacon's principal works (The New Organon, The Advancement of Learning, The New Atlantis, and The Great Instauration) in order to first develop an understanding of Bacon's philosophical positions and the changing landscape of natural philosophy in the seventeenth century. Then, we will examine the implications of Bacon's philosophy from his lifetime to the present, focusing particularly on the rise of artisanal and craft knowledge; the emergence of civil institutions for cooperative knowledge making; utopian and cornucopian conceptions of the natural economy; science as the manipulation of nature; the competing and complementary notions of dominion over nature versus environmental stewardship; the practical uses of natural materials during European imperial expansion; the origins of industrialization and technological development; and his influence on modern science, politics, economics, and environmentalism.
LACS 25120/HIST 26221 Territorial Identities, State Formation, and the Experience of Modernity in the Modern World (J. Portillo Valdés, 2018–19 Tinker Fellow) During the last twenty years scholars interested in the history of the crisis of the Spanish monarchy focused on the development of the idea of nation and nationhood in the Spanish and Portuguese Atlantic. Criticizing the idea of the birth of postcolonial Latin American republics as the triumph of a national sentiment, historians reconceptualized the nation as a result of the imperial crisis. However, considerably less attention has been paid to the parallel process of state building in the Iberian world. This course will offer an introductory overview of the process that led from imperial monarchy to national republics from the point of view of statehood formation. It will focus on the complexity of the process of emancipation as a transition from monarchical tutorship to the birth of modern "Administración," while also addressing territorial identities as forms of nonnational self-recognition that transited from colonial monarchy to postcolonial state.
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.
ITAL 26500/HIST 22110 Renaissance Demonology (A. Maggi) In this course we analyze the complex concept of demonology in early modern European culture from a theological, historical, philosophical, and literary point of view. The term "demon" in the Renaissance encompasses a vast variety of meanings. Demons are hybrids. They are both the Christian devils, but also synonyms for classical deities and Neoplatonic spiritual beings. As far as Christian theology is concerned, we read selections from Augustine's and Thomas Aquinas's treatises, some complex exorcisms written in Italy, and a new recent translation of the infamous Malleus maleficarum, the most important treatise on witch hunting. We pay close attention to the historical evolution of the so-called witch craze in Europe through a selection of the best secondary literature on this subject, with special emphasis on Michel de Certeau's The Possession at Loudun. We also study how major Italian and Spanish women mystics, such as Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi and Teresa of Avila, approach the issue of demonic temptation and possession. As far as Renaissance Neoplatonic philosophy is concerned, we read selections from Marsilio Ficino's Platonic Theology and Girolamo Cardano's mesmerizing autobiography. We also investigate the connection between demonology and melancholy through a close reading of the initial section of Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy and Cervantes's short story, The Glass Graduate (El licenciado Vidriera). The course is taught in English.
HIST 26515 Political and Cultural History of Modern Mexico (M. Tenorio) This course is not a survey of Mexican history but a discussion of the recent contributions to the cultural and political historiography of modern Mexico. It will blend lectures and discussion of such topics as the new meanings of citizenship, peace, war, national culture, violence, avant-garde art, and cinema.
HIST 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."
CRES 27524/HIST 29417 The Colonial Construction of Race (Z. Leonard) By placing Victorian constructions of race in the context of political and economic debates in Jamaica, New Zealand, and India, this course will explore how the British encounter with colonial difference could both validate and subvert the project of empire building. The conceptualization of race in this period was always a multisited affair. There was not always a clear correlation between the "scientific" thought put forth by scholarly bodies and the actions of policymakers, missionaries, and settlers. We will therefore ascertain how an array of parties among both the colonizers and colonized instrumentally invoked race to accomplish specific objectives. In doing so, we will deconstruct the narrative of a unitary, overarching "civilizing mission." A host of primary sources, including anthropological treatises, missionary accounts, public speeches, and fictional works, will aid us in assessing the myriad ways in which race-talk structured systems of power relations.
CRES 27526/HIST 29104 Race and Gender in the Making of the Modern Atlantic World(s), c. 1700–1990s (D. Lyons) This colloquium proposes that the development of race, racial ideologies, and gender in the Atlantic is central to understanding the formation of the modern world. We will mobilize race and gender as analytic categories that shaped encounters with and relations between colonized and colonizer. By adopting this approach, we will explore how race and gender shaped various historical experiences: such the circulation of peoples and goods in transatlantic contexts; the formation and establishment of slavery, the slave trade, and the plantation complex; anti-slavery, abolitionism, and emancipation; immigration and post-slavery labor; citizenship and nationhood; reproduction; postcolonial LGBTQ rights and twentieth-century racial politics. We will also problematize race and gender as flexible categories that historical actors formulated and implemented to establish, maintain, and contest hierarchies of political, economic, and social power. We will use a combination of primary texts, novels, and secondary sources to explore the comparative and intersecting historical experiences of African, Amerindian, Chinese, Creole, European, and Indian experiences in the Atlantic world from early encounters and exploration to twentieth-century decolonization and postcolonialism—thereby challenging traditional racial binaries that have previously informed our understanding of transatlantic empires.
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.
HIPS 29331/HIST 24919 History of Cryptography (J. Foley) People have used codes and ciphers to keep communications secret for thousands of years. Codebreakers, meanwhile, have been battling in parallel to break into those secrets nearly as long. From Roman generals to Arabic mathematicians to the Zimmerman telegram, cryptography has long been important to military and diplomatic history, while technological developments in the last forty years have brought cryptography to the masses, securing bank transactions, text messages, and countless other data on the Internet. This course will survey the long history of cryptology from the ancient world to today, with a focus on its uses in society. We will discuss, among other things, changing ideas of secrecy, privacy, and freedom of speech; the relationship between the state and science; and how technological developments influence and are influenced by cultural context. No technical or mathematical background is necessary for this course, although those with such background are welcome.
HIST 29418 Writing the Past: History as Creative Nonfiction (P. O'Donnell) Writing is central to the work of a historian. It is both the tangible result of our work and the way in which we communicate the importance of our work to the world. This course is focused on the writing of history. But in it we will be concerned less with historiography—the scholarly debates among historians about historical questions or problems—than with the storytelling choices of those who write history, their ideological stakes, and their rhetorical positions. We will read pathbreaking works of history on a broad range of topics, written in a variety of genres: scholarly monographs, memoir, and historically minded journalism. All are written by historians or scholars who leveraged their traditional historical training but chose to do something brave, and hard: to tell their stories in a new and different way, to write, rather than merely report, history. The goal of this course is to broaden our sense of how historical narratives might be written, and to inspire you to think carefully as you craft prose, and to take risks when you write history.
HIST 29522 Europe's Intellectual Transformations, Renaissance through Enlightenment (A. Palmer) This course will consider the foundational transformations of Western thought from the end of the Middle Ages to the threshold of modernity. It will provide an overview of the three self-conscious and interlinked intellectual revolutions which reshaped early modern Europe: the Renaissance revival of antiquity, the "new philosophy" of the seventeenth century, and the light and dark faces of the Enlightenment. It will treat scholasticism, humanism, the scientific revolution, Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Voltaire, Diderot, and Sade.
HIST 29802 BA Thesis Seminar II The seminar is a forum to discuss and critique BA theses. Ideally, students will have completed most of their research for the thesis and will use this quarter to produce a complete draft. Early weeks of the seminar will be devoted to writing strategies and discussion of the introduction. Sections of the theses will be critiqued in the middle weeks of term, while in the final weeks of the quarter full rough drafts will be read. The final deadline for submission of the BA thesis is second week of Spring Quarter.
Graduate Courses Open to Undergraduates by Consent
HIST 43002 State Formations and Types of States: Global Perspectives (S. Pincus & J. Robinson, director, Pearson Institute) Why, historically, did states emerge, and what did they do? The course begins by investigating standard narratives of European state formation, then proceeds to ask whether non-European and premodern state formations conform to the scholarly theories. Finally, we wonder whether theories of state formation fit empires or federal states. This course asks students simultaneously to take seriously social science explanations for state formation and the historical record. Upper-level undergraduates with consent of instructors.
SCTH 40122/HIST 49405 Self-Interest After Adam Smith (J. Isaac) This course examines the afterlife of Adam Smith's notorious defense of self-interest. Famously, Smith argued that under what he called the system of natural liberty the general welfare could best be served by letting individuals pursue their private interests. The precise meaning of Smith's account of the efficacy of commercial society was fiercely contested in the time he published The Wealth of Nations. During the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, the Smithian concept of self-interest was first conscripted into harsh Malthusian views of market discipline and then into neoclassical economics as an axiom of the theory of economic equilibrium. More recently, historians and political theorists have recovered a much richer picture of the place of self-interest in Smith's thought. Can the historical Smith erase the caricature to which we have become accustomed? Is the concept of self-interest now as central to political thought as it once was. These are the kinds of questions we will pose as we work our way through texts by Smith, Paine, Burke, Stigler, Hirschman, and others. Upper-level undergraduates with consent of instructor.
HIST 58602 Colloquium: Iran and Central Asia 2 (J. Woods) The second quarter will be devoted to the preparation of a major research paper. Open to upper-level undergraduate who took HIST 58601 in the autumn.