Graduate Level Courses

Fall 2021

HIST 501 is required for and restricted to first-year doctoral students in the History Department. The course is an introduction to the theory and practice of history as an academic discipline. The major goals of the course are (1) to acquaint the incoming cohort of doctoral students with major historiographical approaches; (2) to encourage careful reading, thoughtful discussion, and cogent written analysis of historical scholarship; and (3) to provide some common intellectual denominators for the incoming cohort and to foster habits of collegial engagement.

Explores key historical developments across the world since about 1500 through comparative perspectives. Emphases include the rise and fall of empires, revolutions, industrialization, state making, and nationalism.

In this course we will explore the relationship between human practices and the natural world in African history. The course inquires into the ways that people and plants, animals and microbes, and ideologies and physical landscapes have shaped the African environment. Our objective for the course is to understand the complicated histories behind contemporary environmental issues impacting Africa and the globe. We will begin with deep histories of the African environment. We will look at how historians have drawn on sources from the natural world—waterways, rainforests, plants, and pests—as a window into the local and global dimensions of the continent’s distant past. In the second unit of the course we will examine environmental conquests. We will consider how ecological traumas of colonization shaped European and Africans ideas and interactions with the environment. Next we analyze contemporary African environmental issues in historical perspective, including battles between poachers and rangers in wildlife preserves, agricultural development and degradation, and conflicts over natural resources. The course concludes with a session on the future of African environments and lglobal climate change. Our readings and discussions will center on several key questions: How do we understand the relationship between humans and the natural world? How might we take apart the category of “nature”? How have local environments been shaped by regional and global encounters? What can local histories tell us about global environmental change? How does colonialism shape contemporary debates about preservation, degradation, and overpopulation in Africa?

This course is also listed as LASP 501-02. This course is designed to introduce students to the study of the History in the Latin American Studies Master’s Program and for students in the Ph.D. program in the History Department. It is designed to be interdisciplinary and provide students a good overview of recent production on historical topics on Latin America. The theme of the course is on the making of the nation-states in Latin America. This topic is especially important not just because this is the theme that has warranted a great deal of attention over the past decade or so. It also incorporates new perspectives such as Gramscian and postmodern analysis, resistance studies, and the old modernization paradigm. Arguably, this topic remains on the cutting edge of the field and is the subject of many of the newest and most innovative works in Latin American History broadly defined. Since it is impossible to cover Latin American History as a whole, students will receive an intensive preparation on a topic that should be of interest to those who will work in other disciplines as well. In addition to gaining a profound understanding of nation-state formation in Latin America and subaltern participation in this formation, the course is designed to expose students to historical thinking in ways that can be used in other disciplines as well. The course emphasizes the construction of arguments, the use of evidence, and evaluating the types and validity of evidence used for arguments.

The course examines recent trends in social and cultural histories of the modern Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Its first aim is to introduce and discuss the central questions, concepts, and methods in social and cultural studies, especially as they pertain to notions of function, structure, and ideology. Its second purpose is to assess the application and use of these methodological tools in empirical and interdisciplinary studies of the modern MENA. To this end, the second half of the semester will be dedicated to critical readings of recent works in MENA history with a focus on leading relevant themes such as class and mobility; social movements and change; social life and identity; gender, family, and kinship; representation, ideology, and mentality; textuality and orality; new media and communication.

This colloquium is intended to acquaint students with recent literature in global-scale history. It is intended especially for students curious about global connections and larger canvases, and students who might one day teach world history.

This colloquium examines selected issues in the history of 19th- and 20th-century European nationalism, combining theoretical readings with case studies. The approach is broadly comparative, and will discuss classic problems such as: what is the nature of the connection between modernization and nationalism? What is the relationship between civic and ethnic conceptions of nationhood? Did East European nationalism develop in a manner that contrasts clearly with West European models, or are these cultural stereotypes completely misleading? How does nationalism evolve from intellectual movement to mass movement, and what impact does this shift have on its ideological content? Although the geographical focus of most assigned readings is on modern Europe, students are encouraged to write their term papers on any region and time period they are interested in, as long as the theme is connected to nationhood and nationalism. The course can thus be counted towards any regional field, depending on the paper topic and subject to the approval of the student’s advisor.

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 graduate seminar will take a global thematic approach to the history of modern cities. The course is designed to accommodate students in all regional and subdisciplinary fields interested in cities and urban modernity. We will read selections from major works in urban history and theory as well as exploring themes that have only begun to receive attention relatively recently, including cities and waste cycles, urban branding and tourism, and urban bombing as an aspect of modern warfare. Participants will write short state-of-the-field reviews and a research paper on the city or urban issue of their choice. The reviews will be added to the website “Approaches to the Modern City.”

How different will Russian and Soviet history, so long interpreted through narratives of exceptionalism, look when debated in light of transnational and global history? To address this major question for the field and the discipline, this course critically engages key issues and noteworthy works in Russian/Soviet transnational, entangled, international, regional, and world history. Its chronological scope is broad, encompassing the modern period roughly from the Russian empire’s rise as a great power in Europe in the 18th c. to the USSR’s global engagement as a superpower during the Cold War. Geographically, there will be a special emphasis on three key areas where scholarship is particularly important and developed: Russia and Europe, Russia and the Ottoman world, and Russia and China. At the same time, however, the class also includes incursions into treatments of global history from the 19th c. to the global Cold War and targets broadly comparative and global thematic areas such as empire, revolution, modernization/modernity, and political violence.

“Thinking about archives” examines how the artifacts that constitute the historical record come to be; how they are gathered, housed, and organized; and how historians relate to these things in our research and writing. We will read about the theory, history, and practice of historical archives from the ancient to the digital, paying special attention to issues of power and material culture. This class will meet in the Barbara Ellis Jones Inquiry Classroom in the Booth Family Center for Special Collections, and will make extensive use of Georgetown’s own archives and other archives in the D.C. area.