Seminar

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: 

Seminar in United States History

Exploring American Democracy with Alexis de Tocqueville as Guide
HIUS
4501
Undergraduate
Spring
2018

Alexis de Tocqueville, who visited the United States in 1831-32, wrote the famous two-volume Democracy in America (1835, 1840) still avidly read today.  With this book, Tocqueville contributed to the idea of America with such brilliance that he helped Americans define themselves.  The young French aristocrat was the most influential theorist of the United States as a society built on voluntary associations.  We will engage the American context in which Tocqueville's thoughts evolved and explore Tocqueville's critical reflections on civil society, liberty, equality, and their relevance for our own lives. His seminal book will be our starting point to write seminar papers on American democracy.   

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
12
Course Type: 

Voices of the Civil War

HIUS
4260
Undergraduate
Spring
2018

This course explores major themes relating to the American Civil War through the words of individuals who experienced it. Using wartime and postwar writings, fiction and nonfiction, as well as photography and film, students will focus on why the war came; how it evolved from a struggle for Union to one for Union and freedom; how the conflict affected civilians; why soldiers fought; and how participants on each side chose to remember the conflict. The “voices” in the course will include men and women, white and black, military and nonmilitary, and Union and Confederate. Among the writers the syllabus is likely to include are Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Ambrose Bierce, Kate Stone, Robert Gould Shaw, Sam Watkins, Edward Porter Alexander, Phoebe Yates Pember, Walt Whitman, Louisa May Alcott, and African Americans engaged in the process of emancipation. The reading load is approximately 300 pages per week, and regular attendance and significant participation in class discussion are essential. Students must secure instructor’s permission to enroll.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
6
Course Type: 

Introductory Seminar in Latin American History

Migrations in Latin America
HILA
1501
Undergraduate
Fall
2017

This seminar introduces the history of Latin America as a history formed by the movement and exchange of peoples. Intended for first and second year students, this reading and writing intensive course will teach students the basics of historical inquiry while exploring the formation of Latin American nations in the context of global, regional, and local movements of peoples. Students can expect to complete a research project over the semester.

Taught by Elena McGrath

Maximum Enrollment: 
12
Course Type: 

Seminar in United States History

19th Cent American Capitalism
HIUS
4501
Undergraduate
Fall
2017

This course will explore how Americans developed and employed slavery, wage labor, technology, state power and culture to achieve this transformation in the years between 1819 and 1914.  Students can expect readings on select topics, class discussions, and independent research culminating in a 20-30 page paper on a topic chosen in consultation with the instructor. 

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
12
Course Type: 

Introductory Seminar in History

Corruption & Fraud
HIST
1501
Undergraduate
Fall
2017

Corruption and fraud may be hard to see, but we’d like to think they are easy to identify. To organizations like the World Bank, corruption is “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain,” and it “thrives where temptation meets permissiveness.” But those definitions are recent inventions. They depend on our drawing clear distinctions between public and private, state and individual. They also rest on culturally specific assumptions about the “temptations” that can seduce a human being.

 

Drawing on history, social science, literature, and film, we will consider how ideas of corruption and fraud have changed throughout modern history. Why do different societies define certain behaviors as corrupt? Where does corruption happen? Who can be corrupted, how are they identified, and what happens to them? We’ll also inquire about corruption’s relationship to bureaucracy, to technologies of record-keeping and communication, and to forms of measurement. If we try to measure fraudulent activity, does that just invite new forms to slip through the cracks? Throughout the course, we’ll ask how we—as historians and social scientists—can we use accusations of corruption and fraud as tools to better understand institutions, individuals, societies, and cultures.

 

Selected readings:

  • James Astill, The Great Tamasha: Cricket, Corruption, and the Spectacular Rise of Modern India (2013).
  • Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, All the President’s Men (1974).
  • Mark Duggan and Steven Levitt, “Winning Isn’t Everything: Corruption in Sumo Wrestling” (The American Economic Review, 2002).
  • Matthew Hull, Government of Paper: The Materiality of Bureaucracy in Urban Pakistan (2012).
  • Suketu Mehta, Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found (2004).
  • Eugene Soltes, Why They Do It: Inside the Mind of the White-Collar Criminal (2016).

 

Selected films:

  • Roman Polanski, “Chinatown” (1974).
  • Charles H. Ferguson, “Inside Job” (2010).
  • J.C. Chandor, “Margin Call” (2011).
  • Costa-Gavras, “Z” (1969).
Maximum Enrollment: 
15
Course Type: 

Legal History and the Scholarly Process I

HIST
9275
Graduate
Fall
2017

This course is designed to introduce students to a variety of new work in legal history.  Students are required to attend the legal history workshop and the legal history writing group and to write a number of short reaction papers in response to the work presented by legal historians over the course of the year.  There is no final exam.  Through the class, students will engage with a variety of legal history scholars.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
8
Course Type: 

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

  

Contact:
(434) 924-7147
(434) 924-7891
M-F 8am to 4:30pm
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