Seminar

Seminar in United States History

American Historical Fiction
HIUS
4501
Undergraduate
Fall
2018

HIUS 4501: HISTORICAL FICTION (Alan Taylor)

This course will examine three novels about, and three clusters of historical documents from, the era of the early American Republic, 1776-1840.  We will see how novelists have imagined a plausible past by combining imagination with the limited documentary record. 

Most of the reading will consist of three novels:

James Fenimore Cooper, The Pioneers  (1823);  William Styron, The Confessions of Nat Turner (1966); Gore Vidal, Burr: A Novel (1973)

We will supplement the novels with historical documents which served as sources for the novelists.  These sources will enable you to evaluate the authors’ success in interpreting the past.

We will see how writers of different generations have differed in their deployment of historical sources and imagination to speak to people of the (then) present.   In sum, this course is bifocal, revealing as much about the times when these authors wrote as about the period that they engaged with. 

This course means to challenge and develop your abilities both to reason critically from evidence and to use your imagination to create scenes, characters, and plots set in the past.

PAPERS: There will be 1 short paper and 1 long paper for the course.  The short paper must consist of no more than 6 pages in two-parts: (1) 2-3 pages devoted to a scene with dialogue employing the characters from the novel discussed during the preceding three weeks. You must deploy the characters in some way distinct from that used by the author of the novel. In particular, you should seek to create a scene that you regard as a better match for the primary documents.  (2) You must also, in 2-3 additional pages, offer an explanation of the theme of your scene and of the choices you made to interpret particular primary source documents.

The major paper should be about 18-24 pages with (1) 10-16 pages devoted to a short story with dialogue followed by (2) 6 pages of analysis of original documents relevant to your short story.  In this analysis you must explain your interpretation of those documents and how they inform the choices made in your story. Your goal is to convey some larger truth that you believe the documents hint at. You should set your story at the University of Virginia or at Monticello during the period 1820-1840.  You must base your story on readings in the original sources.  I suggest that you draw on the web-site “Jefferson’s University: The Early Life (JUEL)” and from The Jefferson Family Letters available through the Monticello Web-Site and “Rotunda” (UVA Library).

ORAL PRESENTATIONS:  Each student will also have to make one presentation to the class, of about 8-10 minutes.  You will employ either Powerpoint or handouts to support your discussion of at least one primary source document and appropriate visual images.  Your goal is to identify the setting and at least one character for the short story you plan to develop.  You will then field questions and suggestions from the class.  These presentations will fall during the last six weeks of the course and your slot will be determined by either volunteering or a lottery.

THERE IS NO FINAL EXAM

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
12
Course Type: 

Introductory Seminar in South Asia

Free Speech and Blasphemy
HISA
1501
Undergraduate
Fall
2018

 

This course will engage with changing notions of free speech and blasphemy in South Asian history. Major topics include debates on a free press, legislation to curb hate speech in colonial India, the transition to postcolonialism, and the renewed vigor of laws restricting free speech in the subcontinent today. We will read a range of court judgments, selections from famous trials, memoirs, works of fiction and non-fiction.

 

Course requirements include attendance and active participation in discussions (40%); weekly one-page position papers (20%); and two short essays of 10 pages (40%). This course fulfills the second writing and non-Western and historical perspective requirements.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
12
Course Type: 

Seminar in United States History

Capitalism and Slavery
HIUS
4501
Undergraduate
Fall
2018

In recent years, scholars have debated the following question: What was the relationship between the proliferation of slavery and the rise of capitalist economic development in the United States, specifically, and the Atlantic World more broadly?  This course will offer students the opportunity to interrogate and answer this question.  In this course, students will learn about early American economic history through the lens of slavery, beginning with Native American contact with European colonists, continuing through the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and ending in America’s post-Reconstruction era.  Students will be expected to read one book-length manuscript per week and complete an article-length (25 pages) research paper by semester’s end.  Readings will include: John Thornton’s Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800, Eric Williams’ Capitalism & Slavery, Edward Baptist’s The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Slavery, Walter Johnson’s The River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom, and Sven Beckert’s Empire of Cotton: A Global History

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
15
Course Type: 

Introductory Seminar in History

Global Financial Crisis 2008
HIST
1501
Undergraduate
Fall
2018

The global financial crisis exploded in September 2008, and ten years later the world is still digging itself out of the crater left behind. In this seminar, we’ll take two parallel approaches to understanding this epochal event. First, as contemporary historians, we’ll try to piece together the crisis’s causes and effects. Second, we’ll try to recreate the experience of crisis itself. Week by week, what was it like to live through the anxiety, fear, and instability in the fall of 2008—when it seemed possible that the whole system of global capitalism might come crashing down?

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
15
Course Type: 

Seminar in East Asian History

Cultural Rev in China
HIEA
4501
Undergraduate
Fall
2018

In 1966, Mao Zedong launched his last great mass campaign by calling upon the youth of China to “practice revolution” and rebel against established authority. The tumultuous response to Mao’s summons opened a ten year period in which political and social order were nearly destroyed, over a million people were persecuted, and countless lives were ruined. With the death of Mao in 1976, a movement that had begun as an effort to keep China firmly on the path to socialism thus ended amid fear, apathy and doubt as to the legitimacy of the Communist Party and the revolution which it had led. Today, fifty years after it began, the Cultural Revolution remains one of the most traumatic yet least understood periods of Modern Chinese History.

 

This seminar attempts to get at the meaning and significance of the Cultural Revolution by examining it as a multi-faceted period that cannot be adequately understood through any single analytic framework. Through the reading and discussion of secondary literature and translated primary sources, we will consider a number of issues: the movement’s political and ideological roots, the role and culpability of Mao, the significance of the Cultural Revolution as a youth movement, the causes of social violence, the impact of the movement on rural areas, and the influence that this “decade of violence” has had on Chinese government, society, and culture since the death of Mao.

 

For the first ten weeks, seminar participants will read and discuss an average of between 200 to 250 pages of primary and secondary material. The remainder of the semester will be devoted to the completion of a substantial research paper of 20-25 pages. Evaluation will be based on the quality of both the seminar paper (50%) and attendance/participation in weekly discussions (50%). Although there are no prerequisites for this seminar, all students who have not taken a course on Modern China are expected to have read Mao’s China and After, by Maurice Meisner prior to the beginning of the course.  This course satisfies the Second Writing Requirement and may be used as a capstone course for East Asian Studies majors.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
15
Course Type: 

Seminar in United States History

Eugenics
HIUS
4501
Undergraduate
Fall
2018

This course examines the history of eugenics in the United States. Eugenics was a scientific and political movement prominent in the first four decades of the twentieth century. It sought to perfect humanity by applying the insights of biology to the social world. Eugenic ideas led to the forced sterilization of tens of thousands of Americans (particularly disabled people, poor Americans and people of color), immigration restriction in the US, and Nazi genocide in pursuit of national biological purity.  

 

This course will consider a range of questions: how did science shape the moral and political imaginations of Progressive-era Americans? What did the Nazis learn from the United States—and how should contemporary Americans judge that history? What was the fate of eugenics after the movement became discredited?  How should contemporary society reckon with our eugenic past? Students will conduct independent research at the Small Special Collections library culminating in a 20-30-page paper. 

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
12
Course Type: 

Introductory Seminar in History

Red Scare and Nukes: The 1950s
HIST
1501
Undergraduate
Fall
2018

This class introduces students to the practice of history by focusing on a tumultuous decade in American life--the 1950s. We'll look at in some depth at three big themes: McCarthyism and the Red Scare, global nuclear fears and anxieties; and the emerging civil rights conflict in the USA in the 1950s. The class meets in seminar format and emphasis is on discussion and reading of primary sources.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
12
Course Type: 

Distinguished Majors Program-Special Seminar

HIST
4990
Undergraduate
Fall
2018

In this seminar DMP students research and write their theses. Students enroll in three credits in the fall semester and three in the spring. The class meets as a workshop to provide support for the research and writing process. Assignments in the fall semester will focus on refining the research topic and exploring the key primary and secondary sources. In December, students will submit a formal prospectus for the thesis.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
15
Course Type: 

Distinguished Majors Program-Special Colloquium

HIST
4890
Undergraduate
Fall
2018

This course is open only to third-year students who have been admitted to the Distinguished Majors Program in History (see http://history.virginia.edu/undergraduate/dmp). Through intensive reading, writing, and discussion, students will become familiar with the theoretical and methodological approaches that historians use to study the past. They will also develop their analytical and writing skills. Reading is typically one book per week, with a two-page response to readings due before class. To begin the process of developing an original research project, each student will also write a historiographic essay and prepare a draft of a proposal for research funding.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
15
Course Type: 

History and Fiction, Topics

Hitler
HIEU
3505
Undergraduate
Fall
2018

Who was Adolf Hitler and how can we understand the Hitler phenomenon? Was his rise to power an aberrant historical accident or a logical outcome of German history? What was more decisive in shaping the catastrophic course of events under Hitler’s regime: his personality or deep structural historical factors? Would history have turned out better (or worse) if Hitler had been accepted into art school or died in infancy? Do melodramatic depictions of his last days normalize or even trivialize the Holocaust? Is it acceptable to laugh about or even empathize with Hitler today?

This course investigates Hitler’s life and afterlife on the basis of a broad variety of sources. Course materials range from scholarly articles to Nazi propaganda, films, novels, counterfactual histories and Hitler representations on the internet. Throughout this course, we will combine an interest in the personal dimensions of Hitler’s rule with the study of power structures, social interests, aesthetic forms, generational shifts, and national frames. We will pay particular attention to the affective logics and representational regimes that shape our understanding of the past (and present). Requirements include regular attendance, active participation, one oral presentation, and short written assignments. There will be no midterm or final examinations.  

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
15
Course Type: 

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Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904

  

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(434) 924-7147
(434) 924-7891
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