Seminar

Introductory Seminar in African History

Africa and Virginia
HIAF
1501
Undergraduate
Instructor: 
James D. La Fleur
Fall
2017

This seminar explores relationships between Africa and Virginia in the very long run, from earliest arrivals of Angolans near Jamestown in 1619, through Jefferson’s view of the continent and its people, to mass emigration to Liberia after 1820, through dialogues and commerce during colonial overrule in Africa and after independence, and finally to the resurgence in trans-Atlantic families and experiences in the 21st century.

 

No prior experience studying Africa is expected nor is previous college-level study of History required.

 

As a first-year and new-student seminar, the course uses a broad topic to provide opportunities to learn and improve skills – in research, analysis, and written and oral communication – broadly applicable towards success at the University and beyond.  As a course in History, it introduces learners to how people (and not just scholars) interested in the past think, and how academic historians do their work with never-straightforward sources (or “evidence”).  To that end, seminar participants will learn through doing, and this may include meetings at the University’s “Special Collections Library,” where we can handle and engage primary sources (e.g., old books and private letters).  Depending on student interest and practicalities, it may also include some site visits to places of significance on Grounds and nearby, as well as interaction (or “fieldwork”) with fellow UVa students whose life experiences transcend any notion of separation between “Africa” and “Virginia.”

 

This seminar fulfills the College’s second writing requirement through the composition (including drafting and revision) of papers written to address the major epochs in the course – altogether four essays of about five pages each, and ultimately presented at the end of the course as a polished portfolio.  This course also satisfies the College’s requirements in “historical studies” and “non-Western perspectives.”

Maximum Enrollment: 
15
Course Type: 

Colloquium in Middle East History

Captive Mediterranean: Human Trafficking and Holy War
HIME
4511
Undergraduate
Fall
2017

This course explores the practice of slave-raiding and human trafficking throughout the Mediterranean between roughly 1450 and 1815, the religious justifications and economic motivations that underpinned it, and its social and political consequences. It focuses on the  experience of the captives, the pirates and corsairs who took them, the city-states in Europe and North Africa that housed them, and the middlemen who grew rich arranging their ransom or sale. Readings consist of primary sources in translation (including captivity narratives, memoirs, and diplomatic accounts) and scholarly books and articles.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
12
Course Type: 

Major Seminar

Scandals in History
HIST
4501
Undergraduate
Fall
2017

What is it that makes us regard certain public events and revelations as "scandals"?  What makes some scandals historically significant, and others little more than contemporary diversions? Why do some "stick" for centuries in collective memory while others fade away rather quickly? This research seminar for history majors explores incidents of public wrongdoing and mass outrage both as shapers and catalysts of history and as windows through which we can view past societies and eras.

For the first few weeks we will read conceptual material on scandals, as well as some books and book excerpts on events such as the Salem witchcraft trials, the South Sea Bubble, the Dreyfus Affair, the Tuskegee experiments, and/or Watergate. We will watch and discuss at least one historical film about a scandal.  Using these sources we'll develop a list of questions, issues, and methodological approaches for studying scandals that will guide you as you produce your own original research paper of 25 pages or more on a topic of your choice (from any place and any period up to the 1980s).

The instructor will guide students through various stages of the work:  framing a research question; compiling a bibliography; surveying available secondary literature; interpreting a key primary source; drafting the paper.  You will be expected to engage in constructive critique of your classmates' papers-in-progress. Your grade will take into account not only the quality of your final product but  your progress at various intermediate stages, as well as discussion participation.

Because writing an original research paper in History is not a small or simple task,

you will be strongly encouraged to spend some time during the summer identifying a topic area and beginning exploratory research so that you'll get a running start when the semester begins.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
12
Course Type: 

Introductory Seminar in East Asian History

Question of "China"
HIEA
1501
Undergraduate
Fall
2017

In this class the students read and discuss a series of major scholarships about China, exploring the question of “China” as a historical process, a civilization, a territorial area, a “nation,” a sociopolitical system, and a member of the international community.  Evaluation of the student’s performance in the class is based on biweekly book reports and participation in class discussions.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
15
Course Type: 

1948: A Global History

HIST
5559
Fall
2017

It so happened that in and around 1948 several significant events took place that have shaped the world we live in since 1945. “1948: A Global History” explores how these events have made the world as we know it today. They include the UN genocide and human rights conventions, the Cold War, the beginning of Apartheid in South Africa, the partitions of India/Pakistan and Palestine/Israel, and several events that made the world one, or “global,” as we call it today, such as the foundation of the World Health Organization and of UNESCO. The class starts in 1948 and ends in the present, tracing the meaning and developments of these events since 1948. The course is open to undergraduate (with instruction permission) and graduate students.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
15
Course Type: 

New Course in European History

Law & Empire in Mod Europe
HIEU
5559
Graduate
Fall
2017

Do empires foment violence or prevent it? In recent years, historians have presented two radically different images of empire in modern European history. On the one hand, scholars of modern genocide, totalitarianism, and colonialism have increasingly pointed to European imperialism—alongside modern racism and nationalism—as the driving force in the rise of new kinds of total war, mass violence, and brutal conflict within Europe and between Europe and the world. On the other hand, social and legal historians have focused much attention on the positive features of modern European empires, including their capacity to manage multinational and multireligious populations through decentralized rule, imperial citizenship, and dynastic authority.

Common to both approaches is a new focus on law and the role of European empires in birthing modern international law. Here again we find a considerable debate between those historians who see the rise of international law as a legitimation of empire and humanitarianism and human rights as a pretext for colonialism and others who see a new kind of legal internationalism emerging in response to the realities of the first stage of European globalization and new ideas of liberalism and democracy.

This seminar will explore this historiographical debate through surveying the recent literature and examining various key European empires, chiefly the British, Austrian, French, German, Russian, and Soviet empires in the years between 1800 and 2000. We will track the interaction between law, violence, and imperialism through examination of key historical episodes, including diplomatic turning points such as the Congress of Vienna in 1814-1815 and the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, the rise of Jewish, Polish, and Muslim Questions in international European discourse, and the debates about nationalism and socialism. We will move from the nineteenth century through World War I into the interwar period, with a focus on the Soviet and German Empires’ competition and culminating with the question of the Soviet Bloc.

This colloquium is designed to offer students a chance to survey the recent overlapping historical literatures about European empire, international law, and political violence. We will special attention to topics such as human rights and humanitarianism, religious internationalism, the laws of war, and European nationalism. But most of all, we will use the case studies to examine the basic narrative of international legal history across the last two centuries.

This course is structured as a hybrid 4000-level and 5000-level seminar, with an enrollment divided between 2/3 advanced history department majors and 1/3 graduate students.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
5
Course Type: 

Colloquium in Post-1700 European History

Law & Empire in Mod Europe
HIEU
4512
Undergraduate
Fall
2017

Do empires foment violence or prevent it? In recent years, historians have presented two radically different images of empire in modern European history. On the one hand, scholars of modern genocide, totalitarianism, and colonialism have increasingly pointed to European imperialism—alongside modern racism and nationalism—as the driving force in the rise of new kinds of total war, mass violence, and brutal conflict within Europe and between Europe and the world. On the other hand, social and legal historians have focused much attention on the positive features of modern European empires, including their capacity to manage multinational and multireligious populations through decentralized rule, imperial citizenship, and dynastic authority.

Common to both approaches is a new focus on law and the role of European empires in birthing modern international law. Here again we find a considerable debate between those historians who see the rise of international law as a legitimation of empire and humanitarianism and human rights as a pretext for colonialism and others who see a new kind of legal internationalism emerging in response to the realities of the first stage of European globalization and new ideas of liberalism and democracy.

This seminar will explore this historiographical debate through surveying the recent literature and examining various key European empires, chiefly the British, Austrian, French, German, Russian, and Soviet empires in the years between 1800 and 2000. We will track the interaction between law, violence, and imperialism through examination of key historical episodes, including diplomatic turning points such as the Congress of Vienna in 1814-1815 and the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, the rise of Jewish, Polish, and Muslim Questions in international European discourse, and the debates about nationalism and socialism. We will move from the nineteenth century through World War I into the interwar period, with a focus on the Soviet and German Empires’ competition and culminating with the question of the Soviet Bloc.

This colloquium is designed to offer students a chance to survey the recent overlapping historical literatures about European empire, international law, and political violence. We will special attention to topics such as human rights and humanitarianism, religious internationalism, the laws of war, and European nationalism. But most of all, we will use the case studies to examine the basic narrative of international legal history across the last two centuries.

This course is structured as a hybrid 4000-level and 5000-level seminar, with an enrollment divided between 2/3 advanced history department majors and 1/3 graduate students.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
10
Course Type: 

Seminar in African History

Seeing Africa in the 20th C
HIAF
4501
Undergraduate
Fall
2017

Seeing Africa in the American Century is an undergraduate research seminar that blends African and American history and the history of photography to explore the ways in which images in popular media shaped the ways that Americans understood Africa during the Cold War.

 

Two powerful historical dynamics defined this era:  the emergence of the United States as the dominant global superpower and the fight for freedom in Europe's African and Asian colonies.  The dramatic story of the coming of independence to Africa captured the imaginations of Americans, from policy makers to private citizens.  They struggled to understand what was happening in what many of them mistakenly thought of as "the Dark Continent."

 

Photography in popular magazines, such as, National Geographic, Time, and Life, played an important role in introducing Americans to African issues and in defining their attitudes toward the continent.  Magazines mirrored Americans' conflicted thinking, which ranged from support for independence to a strong suspicion that Africans weren't ready for freedom.

 

In this course, students may choose to develop research projects on a variety of topics.  They many decide to look at the way that photography in popular media affected public policy toward Africa, the work of non-profits and activist groups, the ideas of private citizens, and even the creations of the entertainment industry.  Alternatively, students may opt to examine ways in which photography by Africans -- for instance, images of the anti-apartheid in South Africa -- offered Americans a very different perspective on the continent.

 

Students in the course will first read about the histories of Africa, American foreign policy, and photography.  They will then develop research projects, with the assistance of the instructor, and produce a seminar paper that showcases their own original research.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
15
Course Type: 

Seminar in United States History

Black Power
HIUS
4501
Undergraduate
Fall
2017

Over the course of the semester, students will examine the dynamic ways people of African descent in the United States have struggled for cultural, economic, and political empowerment during the Civil Rights and Black Power eras. Much of the class will focus on the 1960s and the 1970s; however, previous and subsequent periods will also be analyzed.  Students should leave this class with not only a broader knowledge of  “Black Power” as a cultural, political, and ideological movement, but also with a more nuanced understanding of the research methods and interpretive frameworks utilized by historians, as well as other social scientists, interested in Black Power in particular and the Black freedom struggle in general.   Students will have the opportunity to further develop their research skills and techniques through a series of assignments designed to assist them in identifying research topics and questions, interpreting primary and secondary texts, and substantiating arguments with “sound” evidence.

It should be noted that this course will also focus on the local dimension of Black Power by engaging student activism on UVA’s campus between 1968 and 1984. Significant attention will be given to students’ fight for a Black Studies department at UVA, their massive demonstrations against racial apartheid in South Africa, and their general struggle to make the University a more egalitarian place.     

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

  

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