Seminar

Introductory Seminar in East Asian History

Thought & Relig Imperial China
HIEA
1501
Undergraduate
Fall
2018

This is a discussion- and writing-intensive course. Through an introduction of scholarly works and primary source materials, this course explores the most prominent figures, ideas, and forces that shaped the intellectual life and religious beliefs in Chinese history. Major topics include early Chinese worldview, the “Hundred Schools of Thought,” and popular beliefs and practices. Another goal of this class is to introduce students to the historian’s craft of research and writing. Class discussion, presentations, and a variety of written assignments all gear toward developing students’ critical thinking, reading, and writing skills. Reading assignments include Philip J. Ivanhoe and Bryan W. Van Norden, Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy (Hackett Publishing, 2005), Bryan W. Van Norden, Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy (Hackett Publishing, 2011,), and selected articles and book chapters. This course fulfills the College’s second writing and historical and non-Western perspective requirements. No previous knowledge of Chinese history is required.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
15
Course Type: 

Seminar in Post-1700 European History

Europe and the World
HIEU
4502
Undergraduate
Fall
2018

Europe’s history and culture have been defined by its encounters with the wider world. This course considers some of those encounters, including migration, colonialism, war, tourism, and trade. Rather than focusing on one country, we will examine how such forces have shaped the idea of Europe itself: what it means to be “European,” whether for individuals, cultures, or states. Topics include European imperialism and decolonization; nationalism and regionalism; the Cold War and the Iron Curtain; and the European Union and its discontents.

 

This course is taught in conjunction with the UVA Masters Program in European Studies (though masters students will receive additional assignments). It is designed to function as an introduction to the emerging field of European Studies. Our readings thus come from a variety of disciplines: besides historical scholarship, we will read works by anthropologists, literary scholars, political scientists, journalists, and others. You should expect to read roughly 150 pages a week.

 

The goal of this course is to produce an original work of scholarship related to the theme of Europe and the World. Your research paper is due at the end of the semester and should be 18-20 pages in length. All other assignments are designed to help you research and write this paper. They include in-class participation; a preliminary question; a research prospectus; and a paper draft. 

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
12
Course Type: 

Introductory Seminar in Post-1700 European History

Russian History through Film
HIEU
1502
Undergraduate
Spring
2018

In this introductory seminar, first- and second-year students will become familiar with some of the major events, eras, and personalities in the history of Russia and its empire through detailed analysis of some of the most important films produced in and about Russia in the past century.  Besides being an introduction to Russian history and culture, the seminar aims to get students thinking about the fundamental problems historians grapple with as they reconstruct and represent the past.   

We will be asking two different sets of questions about the interaction between history and film in Russia.  1) First, how can films serve as secondary historical sources, i.e. to portray historical reality and disseminate it to a broad public (not only within Russia but internationally)?  What are the principal challenges of making and interpreting films about past eras and major historical events?  Is there a discernible line between the educational and propagandistic uses of historical films?  2) Second, how can films (not only “historical” films but more broadly) be used as primary sources for understanding Russia’s 20th- and 21st-century history?  What exactly can they tell us about Russian/Soviet society that other sources cannot, or not as effectively?  

The films we focus most closely on will include several of the following titles, many of which are considered masterpieces of world cinema:  Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovskii, 1966); Ivan the Terrible (Sergei Eisenstein, 1944-1945); Enthusiasm: Symphony of the Donbass (Dziga Vertov, 1930); War and Peace (Sergei Bondarchuk, 1967); The Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein, 1925); Agony/Rasputin (Aleksey Petrenko, 1975); Bed and Sofa (Abram Room, 1927); Circus (Grigorii Aleksandrov, 1936); Chapaev (The Vasiliev Brothers, 1934); The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kolotozov, 1957); Ivan’s Childhood (Tarkovskii, 1962); Burnt by the Sun (Nikita Mikhalkov, 1994); Siberiade (Andrei Konchalovskii, 1979); Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (Vladimir Menshov, 1979); Repentance (Tengiz Abuladze, 1987); Taxi Blues  (Pavel Lungin, 1987); Brother (Aleksei Balabanov, 1997); and Leviathan (Andrei Zviagintsev, 2014); A Rider Called Death (Karen Shakhnazarov, 2008); Unfinished Piece for the Player Piano (Mikhalkov, 1977).

For historical context, we will be using Gregory L. Freeze, ed., A History of Russia (Oxford). 

The class fulfills the Second Writing Requirement.  Students will write graded essays both on assigned films and films of their own choice, and will be expected to engage in seminar discussion.  No exams will be given.  No previous knowledge of Russian history, culture, or language is required.  

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
15
Course Type: 

New Course in General History

Digital History
HIST
5559
Spring
2018

Computing technology and digital applications have changed the way that professional historians practice their craft. Thanks to digitization efforts, many archives and books are accessible to scholars and the public alike from the comfort of their homes. Tools such as MapScholar or Neatline enable us to geo-reference historic maps and use timelines to tell visual narratives of our spatial past. The relatively low cost of digital editing tools makes possible new documentary editing projects once unthinkable in the days of letterpress editions. Smartphone apps permit us to take walking tours of lost landscapes. And linked-open data enables us to created sophisticated databases that bring together historical figures and their experiences in new and compelling ways.

This course offers graduate and undergraduate students in the humanities and computer sciences the opportunity to produce scholarship using digital technology. We will spend as much time thinking about why and how we should use technology to advance our knowledge of the past as we will be using digital tools to do so.

The course will also expose students to professional development opportunities and career options in digital history specifically and the digital humanities more generally.

Weekly readings will include works on digital history methodology as an emergent “field.” We will also evaluate examples of digital historical scholarship, including cartography projects, documentary-editing projects, digital archives, and the tools used to create them. Along the way students will have the opportunity to develop a familiarity with a variety of tools and practices as they think about how digital technology does or can shape their own research interests.  Guest speakers will visit to discuss their own experiences with these issues.

Both undergraduate and graduate students will complete several written reflective assignments, write a professional review of a digital project, and make small (but meaningful) contributions to existing digital projects.

Undergraduate students will work closely with the instructors to create a final digital project. Graduate students will work with the instructors to pursue a final project that benefits their M.A. or Ph.D. theses. 

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
20
Course Type: 

Introductory Seminar in Post-1700 European History

History Narration Argument
HIEU
1502
Undergraduate
Spring
2018

This seminar is intended for first- and second-year students who have some interest in history. I welcome both prospective majors and people who may never take another history class. The course focuses on how we think about history. It will introduce you to an interesting set of books, and some articles that will help you explore this subject.

 

The course will focus on two aspects of how we try to grasp history. One aspect is its cognitive aspect—history’s production of true knowledge about the past. The other is its production of “feeling” or “sensibility” concerning the past. In recent decades, this latter aspect of history has become newly visible in the attempts of historians and others to deal with traumatic events or situations in the past. This aspect has also become visible in the growing interest, since the late 1970s, in “historical memory.” Earlier, concern with sensibility emerged in the work of some historians of art and culture.

 

As of October 18, 2017, the book list is not yet definitive. So far, the books include: Natalie Zemon Davis, The Return of Martin Guerre (ISBN 0674766911); Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem (multiple editions); possibly Alon Confino, Foundational Pasts: The Holocaust in Historical Understanding (ISBN 0521736323); Berber Bevernage, History, Memory, and State-Sponsored Violence: Time and Justice(ISBN 041582298X);F. Ivietzsche, Use and Disadvantage of History for Life(edition to be determined) and Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (any edition of 1970 or after).

 

The books by Davis, Arendt, and Kuhn are classics in their genres. Davis's book ought to be known to every history major, and Arendt's and Kuhn's books to every educated person.

 

I shall add one or two other books (possibilities include books by Friedrich Nietzsche, Carlo Ginzburg, John Pickstone, Friedrich Nietzsche, Hayden White, and W. G. Sebald). The addition of more than two of these books would force the omission of Confino from the above list, but you can attend Confino's classes and not Pickstone's, Nietzsche's, White's, Ginzburg's,  or Sebald's.

 

The definitive textbook list will await my rethinking, between now and June 21, of the 2017 version of this course.

 

All “textbooks” will be in Clemons Reserve. Parts of some of them will be available in COLLAB Resources. Most are available used, online, cheaply. We shall also read some articles, and you will need to print them out for attentive reading (not possible on-screen).

 

Class Procedure, Requirements, Evaluation:

 

The course combines reading, writing, and discussion. There is no final exam. Almost every week there will be a reading assignment for you to grapple with. Most weeks, you will produce a very short“response paper” dealing with some aspect of the reading (a mini-paper), to be submitted electronically before the class meeting (and most likely to be revised later). You must complete and submit these mini-essays at the required times—this is a participatory class, and participation includes submitting your work and getting feedback and correction in the following week.

 

Over the course of the semester you will produce a portfolio of writing (which normally allows this course to count as satisfying the Second Writing Requirement). The basis of the portfolio will be your mini-papers, but you will also produce two slightly longer “think papers” (which may in part be built on the basis of a mini-paper). I shall provide intensive editing of and feedback on your writing. The course thus provides an introduction to the norms of literate writing, with an emphasis on the norms governing good academic writing.

 

Periodically I shall update the information for this course on my academia.edu site: https://virginia.academia.edu/AllanMegill/Teaching-Documents.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
18
Course Type: 

Major Seminar

Water, Development and Global History, 1850-Present
HIST
4501
Undergraduate
Spring
2018

Water is our most essential resource. Without it, of course, there is no life. Depending on where in the world one lives water can be abundant or it can be scarce. But no matter where one looks there is a history of human interactions with water—world history, environmental history, legal history and more.  We will explore some of that history.  Topics for readings and papers may include, among others: indigenous water rights; the historical origins of uneven access to clean water around the world; the discovery of water borne diseases in the 19th century; the damming of rivers for irrigation and power; the emergence of the multi-billion dollar bottled water industry; climate change and water; the unequal impact of flooding on rich and poor; and health and water. We will explore many kinds of materials: primary and secondary historical texts; photographs; films; and more.

 

Students will write a 20-30 page paper based on primary sources. 

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
15
Course Type: 

Seminar in United States History

War of 1812: Past & Present
HIUS
4501
Undergraduate
Spring
2018

Between 2012 and 2015 Americans will witness, in varying ways and to differing degrees, celebrations marking the bicentennial of the War of 1812.  These celebrations, however, will consist of no more than a very limited number of selected historical memories from the war-time years in the history of the early republic.  They will not enable us to fit the War of 1812 into any coherent understanding of its proper place in the nation's past.  This class will help students to understand how this state of selective historical memory-or amnesia-came into being while, at the same time, permit them to see the conflict as the culminating moment of several major themes that shaped the development of the early American nation.  Requirements for the class will include the writing of a research paper (20-30 pp.) based on primary and secondary sources.  Students will be expected to work through more than one draft of this paper.  These requirements will fulfill the second writing requirement for those who need it.  A list of books to be read will be available later.    

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
15
Course Type: 

Introductory Seminar in East Asian History

Shanghai in Modern China
HIEA
1501
Undergraduate
Spring
2018

In 1840, before it was forcibly opened to foreign trade as a result of the Opium War, the walled city of Shanghai was not far different from many other urban centers in China. By the turn of the century, however, the old walled city had been engulfed by extensive International and French Settlements governed by non-Chinese. By 1937, on the eve of WWII, the population of Shanghai had increased by over ten-fold from that of 1840 and, in the meantime, this once unremarkable city had become not only East Asia's economic center of gravity but also one of the most vital, colorful, and important cities in the world. Shanghai, alternately praised as the symbol of a new and modernizing China and condemned as a sink of corruption, crime, and social degeneracy, had come to represent both the best and worst aspects of foreign influence, economic growth, political development, and social transformation. After the Revolution of 1949, Shanghai’s storied past played a vital role in how the central government utilized it, first, as an example of socialist development and, later, as a showcase of modern economic growth and cosmopolitanism.

HIEA 1501 is a challenging seminar designed for, and limited to first and second year students. In addition to covering the topic through weekly readings and discussion, it is also introduces students to the concerns, methods, and practices of historical inquiry. Emphasis is placed on developing the skills of critical reading, clear writing, and cogent discussion. Grades will be based on the completion of weekly reading assignments (20%), quality of participation in weekly discussions (40%), and a historiographic essay of between ten to twelve pages. The course neither assumes nor requires any previous study of Chinese history.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
15
Course Type: 

Introductory Seminar in History

Law's Empire:Crime Brit Empire
HIEU
1501
Undergraduate
Spring
2018

What is a crime? Who gets to define and punish crimes? How have answers to these questions fluctuated across time and across the globe as English law went to new places—to North America, South Asia, Australia, and beyond? How did criminal law define relations between Britons and indigenous peoples around the world?

We will think about these questions by focusing largely on the period 1600 to 1850 or so. Doing so will help us think about problems we face today: mass incarceration, capital punishment, the origins and function of prisons, connections between the crime and slavery, changing procedures in criminal law, and challenges in ensuring criminal prosecutions produce just results. We will begin by looking closely at crime and law in England, especially in London, then look outward.

We will read the works of selected historians. But we will concentrate our efforts on sources that shed light on past ideas and practices: case reports, newspapers, court records, maps and building plans, legal treatises, and paintings and engravings. As a seminar, students are expected to be active participants by producing short writing in response to our readings and by engaging in lively discussion of the assigned materials during our meetings. Students may be asked to produce and present small research projects.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
15
Course Type: 

Colloquium in Latin American History

How to Tell Global Stories
HILA
4511
Undergraduate
Spring
2018

How can historians tell meaningful stories about cultures other than their own? How can the stories we tell be respectful to local contexts and at the same time speak to global audiences? How can historians use media like podcasts and websites to make history matter in the present? In this colloquium, we will explore questions of historical method and storytelling from the perspective of Latin America.

 

This course will be divided into two units, Theory and Practice. In the theory unit, we will read examples of creative global storytelling from Latin America and other parts of the world. These will include historical monographs, ethnographies, and testimonial literature that actively engage with ethical and theoretical concerns about storytelling, accountability, memory, and power. Some of these works will be about people, and some will tell stories of communities, places, objects, and even animals.

 

In our unit on practice, students will help contribute by suggesting storytelling media, songs, poems, readings, or blog posts that interest them. We will pair these curated storytelling media with workshops on conducting research and writing as students work on their own individual story projects.

 

Assignments for this class will include reading journals for the first unit (30% of grade), active participation in weekly seminars (30%), organizing and leading one discussion section with a group of students (10%) and a final project that combines historical research with storytelling (30%). The final project will have two components: a 10 page academic research paper, and a creative media version of the same story in either audio, visual, or written form.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
12
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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