Seminar

Seminar in Post-1700 European History

History of Human Rights
HIEU
4502
Undergraduate
Spring
2018

In 2006 the president of the American Historical Association proclaimed, “We are all historians of human rights.” Exaggerated or not, this remark testifies to the fact that human rights have recently achieved new prominence as a focus of historical inquiry. Yet the boundaries and contents of this field remain remarkably ambiguous. What, exactly, does the history of human rights consist of? The history of an international political movement? Of international law? Of a philosophical tradition? Are human rights a radical twentieth-century invention in response to global war and genocide? Or an ancient idea that gradually developed in Western political thought? These are large questions with which contemporary historians have only recently begun to grapple. As a result, human rights history not only represents a new topic for historical study; it also illuminates the larger field of contemporary historical scholarship.

 

This seminar is designed to offer students a chance to survey the recent historical literature about the development of international human rights. The goal is to maintain an equal focus on the intellectual genealogy of present-day human rights discourse and the varieties of historical methodology employed in its study. We will proceed roughly chronologically from the eighteenth century to the present. Each week will also concentrate on a thematic case study involving a key subject or historiographical question. For purposes of focus and cohesion, we will center our reading on the growth of human rights as intellectual discourse and political practice in the Euro-American context, with selected references to international events and global history at times. At the same time, we will consistently refer to non-Western religious and culturalist perspectives on the rise of human rights and the question of moral universalisms as contingent projects. Students are encouraged to bring their own research specializations and linguistic skills to bear on the materials, particularly in terms of formulating their own essay topics.

 

We will special attention to topics such as the debates on the ties between modern ideas of human rights and international law, political revolution, and religious internationalism; the intertwined genealogies of human rights and humanitarianism; the rise of the human rights biography; and the place of the non-governmental organization in the history of human rights.

 

Two special features attend this course. First, the course will focus much of its work around a major international multidisciplinary conference to be held at the University of Virginia in the spring semester on the future of human rights scholarship. Second, the course is structured as a hybrid 4000-level and 5000-level seminar, with an enrollment divided between advanced history department majors and graduate students. There will be different requirements for these two cohorts as specified below.

 

The course will be conducted seminar-style, with students expected to come prepared to analyze assigned readings in depth, make classroom presentations of the readings, and prepare a final paper. Graduate students will prepare a 25-page, double-spaced essay. Undergraduate students will prepare a 20-25-page double-spaced essay.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
8
Course Type: 

Seminar in United States History

King George III's American Revolution
HIUS
4501
Undergraduate
Spring
2018

King George III’s American Revolution

In 1783, the Treaty of Paris ended George III’s reign as America’s final king. He presided over the expansion of British America beginning with his ascension to the throne in 1760, only to see it divided through imperial civil war and secession two decades later.

This research seminar course uses George III and a new digital archive of Georgian Papers based in Windsor Castle and King’s College London to explore the king’s critical role in shaping the politics and culture of the American Revolutionary era. We will use him to examine several important aspects of the American Revolution and Early Republic, including the rise and fall of royal authority and culture in the American colonies, the cartographic challenge of mapping British America in the 1760s and 1770s, the art of portraiture in the British Atlantic world, the experiences of people living on the fringes of empire during and after the War for Independence, and enslaved Americans’ pursuit of freedom during the American Revolution and the War of 1812.

During the term, we will read and write as much about George III as we will people living in North America, Great Britain, and the spaces between. We will read on average about 250 pages each week, including books or articles by historians as well as primary sources written or created by contemporary authors like Catharine Macaulay, George III, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine. The majority of the reading will occur early on in the semester so that we can establish a foundation for our research papers. We will also listen to several podcasts featuring historians discussing their craft as we think about how to identify promising research topics, how to ask good questions of our primary sources, and how to form our ideas into persuasive written arguments.

Students will conduct one primary source analysis, write a short book review, make small (but very important) contributions to a digital documentary editing project, and write a 15-20 page final essay on a course topic of interest to them. Along the way we’ll visit a physical archive at UVA to examine rare historical materials and work with the new Georgian Papers digital archive, featuring documents few people have seen since the eighteenth century.

This course fulfills the second writing requirement.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
15
Course Type: 

Introductory Seminar in Post-1700 European History

Life in Dictatorships
HIEU
1502
Undergraduate
Spring
2018

What is it like to live in a dictatorship? Can people feel like they are leading “normal” lives? How does political oppression affect their desires, their practices, and even their thoughts?This course examines three authoritarian regimes in 20th and 21st century Europe: Nazi Germany, Communist Eastern Europe, and Putin’s Russia. Rather than studying their leaders, we’ll focus on ordinary people, and ask how they experienced daily life in repressive states. We’ll consider the extent and limits of state power; the impact of public affairs on private lives; and the possibility of nonconformity or resistance. This is a discussion-based seminar; be prepared to read up to 150 pages per week. You’ll also have to write several short papers, including a source analysis, an imagined autobiography, an exhibition catalog, and an op-ed. This course is intended for first- and second- year students; no prior experience with History courses expected.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
15
Course Type: 

Genocide

HIST
5621
Spring
2018

One of the defining features of the twentieth century was the repeated use of genocide and other forms of one-sided mass violence by states against internal and external civilian populations.  In this seminar, we will explore these phenomena from a theoretical and historical point of view, with particular attention to the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, the democides that have taken place under Communist regimes (e.g., Stalin’s USSR, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia), and more recent experiences of one-sided mass killing in Africa.  While the experience of victims will be of central concern, we will also examine the experience and motivations of perpetrators, the explicit and implicit goals of the terrorizing/genocidal state, the response -- or lack of response -- by members of the international community, and the ethical dilemmas posed by one-sided mass violence.  Requirements include readings of 200 to 300 pages per week, active participation in class discussions, two five-page book reviews, and a fifteen-page historiographical essay.  This course meets the Second Writing Requirement.

 

Likely readings for the course include portions of the following books:  Ben Kiernan, Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination; Eric Weitz, A Century of Genocide: Utopias of Race and Nation; Benjamin Valentino, Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the Twentieth Century; Christian Gerlach, Extremely Violent Societies: Mass Violence in the Twentieth Century; Taner Akcam, The Young Turks Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire; Doris Bergen, War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust (2nd ed.); Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin; Norman Naimark, Stalin's Genocides; Frank Dikotter, Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe; Alexander Hinton, Why Did They Kill?  Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide; Scott Straus, The Order of Genocide: Race, Power, and War in Rwanda; James Waller, Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing (2nd ed.); Kristen Renwick Monroe, Ethics in an Age of Terror and Genocide.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
15
Course Type: 

Distinguished Majors Program-Special Seminar

HIST
4991
Undergraduate
Spring
2018

HIST 4991, is the distinguished majors seminar for fourth year DMPs completing their theses.  It is a three credit course that meets on Mondays from 6:00 – 8:30.  During the term DMPs draft and revise their honors thesis.  They share and critique draft portions of the thesis and meet regularly with the professor.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
15
Course Type: 

Introductory Seminar in South Asia

Post-Mughal Hyderabad
HISA
1501
Undergraduate
Spring
2018

Description: Hyderabad was the largest, wealthiest, longest-lived, and most complex of all Mughal successor states.  After the death in 1748 of its founder, Nizam ul-Mulk, however, as post-Mughal political and economic behaviors became more prominent, a half-century ensued which historians generally have avoided, seemingly unable to bring themselves to undertake close examination of the strategies and rationales which its elites and regimes adopted and proposed.  This is because post-Mughal political and economic behaviors involved the indigenous reactions to European dominance, intrusion, manipulation, and exploitation that marked the beginnings of the British Indian Empire.  Conventional history has regarded this era as a Dark Century, full of rulers with alleged personal failings, and elites who were self-absorbed, dejected, and indecisive. 

                This course examines Hyderabad’s history in the round, including not only its political and economic, but its cultural, intellectual, environmental, gender, and religious aspects.   Comprehensively treating the context of Mughal fragmentation, European competition for commercial and political dominance, and military threats from surrounding regional powers, we attempt not only to locate beginnings of modernity and their effects, but also reasons for its survival as a viable political entity until 1948, the year after Indian independence.  There is a vast literature on Hyderabad, not only in English but in French, Urdu, Persian, Marathi, and Telugu, but enrollees are not required to learn a new language to join the class.

                First-year seminars were originally designed around current faculty’s research projects under way, but very few have been as immediately connected as this, which is the topic of my next monograph.

 

                Requirements:    No exams.  Evaluation will rest on class discussion (40%),  plus three closely-edited and polished essays of two, three, and six typed pages, at intervals (60%).  No late or handwritten papers will be accepted without a truly superb excuse, such as a life-changing emergency.  I will edit and comment intensely, and you will resubmit revised versions of papers two and three. This course satisfies the second writing requirement.

 

                Readings average 75 pp/week.  Besides a photocopy packet, our texts will be chosen from among these:

 

                Karen Leonard, Hyderabad and Hyderabadis (New Delhi: Manohar, 2014)

                Harriet Ronkin Lynton and Mohini Rajan, The Days of the Beloved (Berkeley: U.C. Press, 1974)

                Omar Khalidi, The British Residency in Hyderabad: an Outpost of the Raj (London: PACSA, 2005)

                Narendra Luther, Hyderabad: a Biography (OUP India, 2005)

                Alison Mackenzie Shah, “Constructing a Capital on the Edge of Empire: Urban Patronage and Politics in the                                               Nizams’ Hyderabad, 1750-1950”  unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, U. of Pennsylvania, 2005

                Benjamin Cohen, Kingship and Colonialism in India’s Deccan 1850–1948 (New York: Palgrave, 2007)       

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
15
Course Type: 

Colloquium in East Asia

China's Borderlands
HIEA
4511
Undergraduate
Spring
2018

“Frontier China” is a perpetual and perplexing phenomenon.  Ethnopolitical upheavals in China’s borderlands in the 20th century were just acts of Frontier China during the “national” era.  In China’s ancient imperial age, those territorially mobile dynasties often treated their frontiers as “leaves and branches” while seeing China proper as the “trunk and root” of state affairs. In contrast, entering the national era, China’s ethnic peripheries occupied the central stage of the nation’s political life and became key factors in forming the “Chinese nation.”  Yet, standard historical narratives about 20th-century China tend to overlook such continuous frontier character of China; China’s ethnic borderlands have either been ignored or considered marginal to the “mainstream” sociopolitical developments in the eastern half of China.

   

This seminar is designed to expose students to major works in the field and add a frontier dimension to students’ understanding of the Chinese history in the 20th century.  In this class the students read selected titles in clusters that address respectively these issues: (1) frontiers and “historical China,” (2) “centralizing nationalism” vs. “separatist nationalism”, and (3) integration, developments, and rights.  These titles are mainly but not exclusively about three regions that have been most active ethnopolitically: Mongolia (Inner and Outer), Tibet, and Xinjiang.  Aside from grasping the historical processes and issues involved, the students also practice historians’ handicraft and critique scholarly works in the field.

 

The student’s grade for the class is based on active participation in class discussions, bi-weekly book reviews (one single-spaced page), and a historiographical essay (15 double-spaced pages).  For graduate students taking the class, there are additional requirements about research and the essay.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
12
Course Type: 

Introductory Seminar in Latin American History

The Conquest of America
HILA
1501
Undergraduate
Spring
2018

This seminar will introduce students to the history of the conquest of the Americas.  The assigned texts will cover different historical interpretations of the conquest of what is today Latin America.  In addition, the class will examine the different approaches historians take to writing history.  We will ask how historians choose and interpret evidence, explain causality, and build narratives.  We will also read some primary sources, first-hand narratives of the conquest of the Americas.  We will be concerned throughout the semester with a few basic questions: what sources are available to historians who want to write the history of the conquest?  What are the limitations and possibilities of these sources?  How can historians gain access to the experiences, voices and perspectives of people who left little trace, Africans, indigenous peoples, and women, for example?  What were the causes of the Spanish conquest?  Why did the Spanish conquer the Americas and why did Americas not conquer Spain?  When did the conquest begin?  When did it end?  Did it end?  Was the conquest a conquest? What was the impact of the conquest on indigenous society and the environment in the Americas?  Who were the Spaniards?   Who were the “Indians?”  What were their worlds like?

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
12
Course Type: 

Seminar in United States History

US and the End of the Cold War
HIUS
4501
Undergraduate
Spring
2018

In this course we will examine several key questions:  What was the Cold War?  When, how, and why did it end?  Who, if anyone, was responsible for its conclusion?  How should we assess the roles of Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, and George H. W. Bush?   Did Reagan’s military buildup win the Cold War?  Did SDI win the Cold War?   Why did Gorbachev make so many concessions?   Alternatively, was the end of the Cold War the result of exogenous developments like globalization, technological change, the communications revolution, the dynamics of free market forces, the human rights revolution, etc.?  

In our weekly meetings, much emphasis will be placed on discussion and on the vetting of one another's seminar papers.

We will look at some of the essays, articles, chapters, and books of leading scholars on the Cold War.  We will also read parts of the memoirs of key policymakers, such as Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, and George H. W. Bush.   We will examine key primary source documents that appear on a variety of websites, including those of the National Security Archive, the Woodrow Wilson International Center, and Ronald Reagan files. 

The focus of the course will be on the preparation of a major research paper based on primary sources.  Students will be expected to examine official government documents that now appear on a variety of websites, including the ones mentioned above.  Students will also be asked to examine  congressional hearings, memoirs, and contemporary newspapers.  Students will need to integrate these findings with insights gleaned from the writings of journalists and scholars.  Early in the semester students will submit a research proposal, a working bibliography, and an outline.  Later in the semester students will discuss drafts of their paper with the entire seminar.  They will then have a chance to revise their drafts and submit a final essay of about 25-30 pages, plus notes and bibliography.  Papers will be graded on the basis of content, research, style, organization, analysis, and clarity.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
12
Course Type: 

Introductory Seminar in East Asian History

Cul & Society: Imperial China
HIEA
1501
Undergraduate
Spring
2018

What was life like for the Chinese a thousand years ago? How did individuals and families distinguish themselves in society? Was there a major division between the religious life of the upper and lower classes? How did ordinary people deal with the mundane aspects of everyday life? This course answers the above questions and more through an exploration of one of the most dynamic periods in Chinese history: the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Throughout the semester, we will read works by modern scholars as well a variety of primary sources, including anecdotal writing, legal cases, and precepts for social life. The main topics of the course include philosophical and religious traditions, elite culture, gender and family relations, popular beliefs and practices, and the everyday life of ordinary people. This course fulfills the College’s second writing and historical and Western perspective requirements. No previous knowledge of Chinese history is required.

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) 924-7891
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