Graduate Level Courses

Global Health and Pandemic Disease in the 20th century: In the spring of 2020, public life in many regions of the world ground to a halt in an attempt to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus. While COVID-19 may lead to unprecedented political, social, and economic disruptions, pandemics are, of course, not a new phenomenon. Since the late 1990s, in particular, the world has been under threat by seemingly never-ending waves of infectious diseases rolling over the planet. Or at the very least, the spread of diseases has given rise to a heightened sense of threat, particularly in the “Western” world. SARS, avian influenza, and swine flu have garnered a lot of political and public attention – as have the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014 and the appearance of the Zika virus in the tropics in 2015/16. Such fears are in stark contrast to the belief that humanity might possess the means to eliminate infectious disease altogether – an idea that first rose to prominence in the “golden age” of bacteriology in the late 19th century and resurfaced after the Second World War, animating massive (and failed) international efforts to “eradicate” malaria and (successful) initiatives to eliminate smallpox. Since the emergence of “new infectious diseases” such as Ebola in the 1970s and, in particular, HIV/AIDS in the 80s, such ambitions have given way to recurring fears of deadly pandemics. Experts have long warned that globalization facilitates the dissemination of pathogens, and it is certainly no coincidence that outbreak scenarios and apocalyptic visions of global pandemics endangering the very survival of humanity have been a staple in popular fiction. The course explores the ways in which large-scale epidemics or pandemics have influenced the political, social, and cultural history of the 20th and early 21st centuries – from the infamous “Spanish influenza” at the end of the First World War to the corona pandemic in our very present. We focus both on individual countries and regions, especially in Europe and North America, as well as on infectious disease as a challenge for international cooperation and global governance. How have ideas and perceptions of health and disease changed over time? How have societies reacted to, perceived of, and culturally appropriated the threat of disease? What role have health experts and international organizations such as the World Health Organization played? And how can we contextualize the politics of global public health within the history of international relations and global governance regimes?

This is the second required course in for the MA in Global, International, and Comparative History and is open only to students enrolled in this program. This is a methods and research seminar for first-year MA students. Students will explore how historians frame their research questions, analyze primary sources, and place their work into conversation with other historians. Over the course of the semester, students will identify a research project that will form the basis of their capstone paper in their second year. Course assignments include weekly reflection papers and a final prospectus. For the first five weeks, students will read and discuss common texts. The remainder of the semester will be devoted to identifying and exploring relevant primary sources, analyzing a body of historiography around those sources, and reading and critiquing each other’s emerging work.

From Berkeley to Mexico City, from Paris to Prague, and from Trento to Copenhagen, the years around 1968 witnessed a moment of political and cultural upheaval that challenged the authority of governments, institutions, and ways of thought. The events associated with the ‘long 1960s’ transcended the realm of conventional politics: long hair, colorful and exotic clothing, and ostentatiously casual behavior became distinctive marks of a ‘restless youth’. Contemporary observers already acknowledged that this was a global phenomenon, and in recent years historians have begun to study ‘the sixties’ predominantly through a transnational lens. The ‘transnational turn’ in history writing is itself closely intertwined with some of the legacies of the 1960s, a by-product of the rising ‘global consciousness’ that emerged in the decade’s wake. This graduate seminar, co-taught by Prof. Kazin and Prof. von der Goltz, will engage with the most recent literature on the 1960s to study the entanglements between movements in different countries (the New Left, the counter-culture, and conservatism amongst them) and to trace how ideas travelled from one country or continent to another. Students will gain a strong grasp of how the 1960s played out in different national contexts and an in-depth conceptual and methodological understanding of transnational history.

The twentieth century opened with revolutionary conflicts that shook Mexico from 1910 to 1930. El Salvador and Guatemala faced deep societal conflicts in the 1930s and 1950s, culminating in devastating confrontations in the 1980s. Then the 1990s brought a rising in Chiapas that proved explosive yet limited. Throughout, revolutionary conflicts challenged power and demanded justice; they rattled the US economic and military-diplomatic power that backed local regimes; in time the mix of political conflicts, social risings, and transnational repressions set off waves of migration that transformed life across North America. This seminar will engage key studies of revolution and resistance in three nations that became primary exporters of people to the United States. The goal is to understand the exploitations that set off revolutions, the repressions that limited their outcomes, and the transnational globalization that followed—generating societies of enduring, often deepening inequities and pervasive marginalities in times of population explosion. We will engage diverse texts analyzing these questions in three adjacent yet different societies—with the US taking distinct roles in each. Based on common readings, participants will write independent historical analyses probing the origins, courses, and outcomes of revolutions that sought societal transformations yet ended in population expulsions.

Covering the four centuries from the reign of Ivan IV to the Stalin era, this graduate seminar will introduce students to the historiographical study of Russia and the Soviet Union as imperial structures. We will discuss the multiethnic peripheries of the Russian Empire and the USSR through thematic lenses like religion, trade, and scientific discourse, as represented in both recent and classic scholarship. Students in non-Russian fields are especially welcome, as the course will have a strong comparative and transnational component; among our central points of discussion will be the relationship between Russian imperialism and other forms of imperial rule, and the extent to which this changed over time.

HIST 805 is a research seminar in environmental history designed for graduate students. In S21 it will be online only, via zoom. It serves students contemplating dissertations or MA theses in the area of environmental history–of any place or time. It is also intended for students contemplating offering a minor field in environmental history. And for students who just think they might be interested. Some students will complete research projects; some will prepare for larger research projects; some will, with the permission of the instructor, do something else. The syllabus will be constructed in consultation with enrolled students, around subjects of their choosing, in the first week of class.

HIST 809 serves as the second semester of the doctoral program’s required Research Seminar. The seminar is itself field non-specific and is foreseen as the complement to a field-specific seminar that any enrolled student has already taken in the immediately preceding Fall Semester. The goal of the seminar is for enrolled students to bring to completion a research project that they have begun in that fall-semester field-specific seminar. Students should consult with their mentors and with the instructor before the first seminar meeting of the semester. Other students interested in enrolling must receive the permission of the instructor.

This course will introduce students to landmark works of theoretical and historiographical import conceived in and written from the “Global South”- areas of the world colonized by Europe, whose postcolonial histories continue to bear the imprint of colonial marginalization and exploitation. We will read in a contrapuntal way, juxtaposing works from different areas and even eras, in order to better understand both theoretical production from (post)colonial spaces and to examine whether the term “Global South” has analytical meaning and may be defined coherently. Readings will be organized along the following topics: plantations and cities in the new world; the structure of colonial power; violence and rebellion; (post)colonial culture; the nation after colonialism; identity, alterity and subalternity; other feminisms. Although readings are not yet finalized, theorists we will read may include: B.R. Ambedkar, Shahid Amin, Kwame Appiah, Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Bama, Homi Bhabha, Gautam Bhadra, Euclides da Cunha, Ochy Curiel, Ganesh Devy, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Frantz Fanon, Florestan Fernandes, Angela Figuereido, Gilberto Freyre, Luis González y González, Gopal Guru, Ranajit Guha, K Lalitha, Maria Lugones, Albert Memmi, Rigoberta Menchú, Fernando Ortiz, Urmila Pawar, Aníbal Quijano, Angel Rama, Sharmila Rege, Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Rani Sivasankara Sarma, Edward Said, Lamin Sanneh, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Susie Tharu, among others. Readings will be provided in translation. However, readers who have access to the texts in the original language are strongly encouraged to read them in the original. This course is open to doctoral students; MA students may apply with a short explanation of their interest in the course and a brief intellectual biography in order to enroll.

A research seminar on the social history of the Middle East, with particular emphasis on the Arab World in the early modern and modern periods. In the fall semester, we read exemplary recent work in the field, with attention to issues of theoretical approach, method and sources. In the spring semester, students undertake individual research projects. Participants may take the fall semester only, but only those who have taken the fall semester may enroll in the spring semester segment.