Graduate Level Courses

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.

This course explores the subject of monuments as sites of political, historical, cultural, and ceremonial significance. Focusing on a collection of iconic structures worldwide, the course examines how and why monuments are made; what forces transform them into symbols of national identity, cultural otherness, and/or world heritage; and the impact of tourism, heritage management, and nationalism in recent years. Roughly half of the case studies will be located in Asia, supplemented by student research that gives the course a global dimension. Bi-weekly reports, one major research paper.

Once regarded as something of an intellectual backwater, or at least the refuge of the amateur enthusiast, the field of Civil War history is currently in ferment, fostering new journals, new professional societies, and new questions, and influencing fields outside Civil War history in important new ways. Many reasons account for the resurgence, but one of the most important is wider recognition (both inside and outside the field) of Civil War history’s inextricability from the world histories of slavery and emancipation. We will focus on identifying the present state of key historiographical conversations: what do the driving questions seem to be right now, how did those questions grow from prior work and how do the answers change what we thought we knew about slavery, the Civil War and emancipation? Students will work toward the goal of gaining command over the current state of the field, which is to say gaining fluency in the central questions and themes occupying the field right now, and identifying important questions and directions that cry out for further investigation.

This course explores the environmental history of “the great divergence” by focusing on the global periphery—primarily Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The externalization of industrial capitalism’s resource demands through colonial and neo-colonial regimes of extraction lies at the heart of the field of global environmental history; this class also will examine alternative approaches to the field. It will interrogate the usefulness of the term Global South and ask whether there are environmental histories of the “Global South” to be found within “Global Norths.” Finally, the class will consider some perennial problems in environmental history—declensionist narratives, source limitations, and the western centrism of both scientific frameworks and the human/non-human binary. This course will be useful to students of environmental history, of colonialism and empire, of Africa, Latin America, Middle East/North Africa, and Asia – as well as those focusing on inequality in the context of Europe and the United States. Readings will cover a diverse range of topics and geographical areas, and students are encouraged to tailor the writing assignments to their specific interests.

This experimental class is intended to acquaint graduate students with sources and methods other than texts. The process of historical research is undergoing a revolution in which increasing amounts of evidence concerning the human past come from fields usually unfamiliar to historians, such as genetics, linguistics, archeology and archaeometry, and the paleo-environmental sciences. The class will be taught in conjunction with an undergraduate HIST 099 class and as a result will be taught, in effect, by four professors: de Luna, Degroot, McNeill, and Newfield. Moreover, workshops led by scientists and archaeologists invited from across North America will introduce their techniques, methods, and sources. We will all be learning together, undergraduates, graduate students, and professors.

The transition from Qing empire to Chinese nation-state has been obscured by an exceptionalist and Orientalist terminology by which we describe the past of the East Asian mainland differently from other places: “dynasties” (not kingdoms); “tribute system”; “Tianxia / All Under Heaven”; and, not least, the term “China” itself. And yet the Qing empire resembles other Eurasian empires, and the emergence of nationalist discourses in China was contemporaneous and comparable to those in Europe, Africa and the Americas. Like other post-imperial spaces, the People’s Republic of China today is site of contentious identity discourses through which Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hong Kongers, Taiwanese and others challenge the narrative of unitary Chinese identity and hegemonic Chinese Communist Party rule. This course, open to anyone regardless of background in Chinese history, examines interpretations of the Qing and ideologies of identity in modern China, including many Chinese writings in translation. It also considers the past and current situations of Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong and Taiwan against the backdrop of “new Qing history” understandings that have up-ended conventional narratives of modern China. This course is aimed at graduate students and advanced undergraduates interested in East Asia, nationalism, ethnicity and related themes.

This course will explore recent transnational readings in the emerging, new economic history, which has at different moments been termed “the economic turn,” the “history of capitalism,” or the “history of economic life.” Focusing primarily on recent books, especially on first monographs by emerging scholars in the field, this course will grapple with a variety of methodological and practical questions, such as: What is the history of capitalism? What are its origins, and where does it converge with/diverge from more traditional histories of empire, labor, and business? Is “capitalism” always a useful category of historical analysis, or is it more useful to speak in terms of “economic life” or “behavior”? What kinds of analytical, archival, and practical skills characterize projects in this field, and what are their limitations? The goal of the course is for students to think about the scope and methodologies of the “new” economic history and how/whether these skills can be applied to their own work.

This course introduces students to the changing world of early modern Christianity (1450-1800), a period that ranges from the Reformation to the Enlightenment and the transatlantic worlds of the eighteenth century. This era saw the expansion of Christianity beyond Europe to Africa, Asia, and the Americas; and the course explores the global nature of the early modern world. Students are exposed to a range of primary sources and historical methods to examine rival interpretations and perspectives. The colloquium is inspired by AHA surveys that show that “religious history” has doubled as a primary specialization among professional historians in the last four decades and that “religious history” is claimed as a specific “field of interest” more than any other, including social history, women’s history, and even cultural history. On account of the historiographical problems it covers, the colloquium may thus also be of use to graduate students not otherwise directly dealing with European cultures and religions.

Much history has been written focusing on how powerful people, institutions, and the visions they promote have “made history,” leading diverse people to adapt. This seminar turns to explore how communities of everyday interaction have worked to shape their own lives—and in the process made history in ways that impacted empires, nations, and the world. The first section will focus on comparing communities in New Spain, New England, and regions between before 1800. The second will turn to the complex interactions of communities in the same lands as they became Mexico and the United States between 1790 and 1870. The third section will explore how diverse Mexicans migrated to make new communities in the United States after 1900—remaking their own lives and both nations in important ways. The seminar will emphasize shared readings and historical comparisons, culminating in comparative analytical essays at the end of each section. Each student will choose an additional 3-4 studies (in consultation with the instructor) to build a deeper focus on one time period or a chosen region over a longer term, making one or more of the essays deeper and more complex.

Image as History: Iconography/Photography/Film: This course examines images in three ways: historical, conceptual, and methodological. To begin, we shall read recent historical work that grounds argumentation in a close analysis of images, including religious icons, paintings, prints, photographs, and films, and we shall be especially concerned with examining the role of images over time in relation to state power and in shaping modern understandings of self. In addition, we shall read scholarship written by anthropologists, sociologists, art historians, and media theorists that will help us develop a set of conceptual and methodological tools for analyzing images, carefully considering the status of different types of visual sources for historical research. Although we shall concentrate on 20th-century image-making, there is no geographic or temporal focus to this course.

From the origins of communism and fascism the midst of total war to their titanic clash on the Eastern Front in WWII, war was at the center of the relationship between Germany and Russia, the Soviet Union and the Weimar Republic, and Stalinism and Nazism. In fact, the new Soviet state was deeply affected by the formative period of “war communism” in 1918-1920 and Bolshevism itself evolved into a kind of ersatz or political warfare, while militarized masculinity and a quest for external domination were fundamental to the development of fascism. But while mature Stalinism undertook compromises yet was too entrenched to be reshaped by the existential crisis of 1941-45, Operation Barbarossa triggered a radical new phase of the Nazi revolution marked by euphoria, genocide, and racial colonization. How did the experiences and legacies of WWI and WWII shape this most consequential relationship of the “age of extremes”? To answer this question involves pursuing key questions in military history but also much more. It requires an investigation of how war and the expectation of it generated profound changes in ideology and politics, helping to reconfigure the social, cultural, and gender orders of Russia/USSR and Germany. Course readings include consideration of such topics as occupation policies and political systems; everyday life in armies and partisan movements; artists and intellectuals at war; the Gulag and the Holocaust in the context of unprecedented military and political violence; rape and sexual crimes in memoirs and diaries; and war in myth and memory politics. These examinations, taken together, provide vantage points from which to reconsider older and newer debates over totalitarianism, the Nazism-Stalinism comparison, and left-right entanglements.