Seminar

Major Colloquium

Human Rights History
HIST
4511
Undergraduate
Spring
2017

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. Is it a political movement? A subset of international law? Or a philosophical discourse? To answer these questions, this course will survey the recent historiography of human rights with an equal focus on issues of intellectual genealogy and historical methodology. Readings will likely include such recent works as Samuel Moyn’s The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History, Marco Duranti’s The Conservative Human Rights Revolution, Barbara Keys’s Reclaiming American Virtue. The Human Rights Revolution of the 1970s, Sarah Snyder’s Human Rights Activism and the End of the Cold War: A Transnational History of the Helsinki Network, Amalia Ribi Forclaz’s Humanitarian Imperialism. The Politics of Anti-Slavery Activism, 1880-1940, and Roland Burke’s Decolonization and the Evolution of International Human Rights, as well as key primary sources in this field.

 

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. Writing requirements will vary depending on the student’s level, but both will include the preparation of a major seminar paper.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
6
Course Type: 

Seminar in Pre-1700 European History

Utopias
HIEU
4501
Undergraduate
Spring
2017

As the popularity of The Hunger Games and The Walking Dead suggests, contemporary American readers and viewers are fascinated by the imagination of other worlds. While these recent bestsellers feature dystopian narratives of worlds falling apart, readers five centuries ago were similarly captivated by the idea of utopia, a non-existent perfect world. In this seminar, we will explore the worlds they imagined—worlds that, while unreal, reflected and often critiqued the society in which readers and writers actually lived. We begin by reading Thomas More’s Utopia (1516), the text that introduced the utopian ideal to early modern European readers. In the wake of the initial European voyages to the New World, More’s rendering of a perfect island society that was yet to be discovered captured the imaginations of his readers and provided a model for other writers’ own utopian imaginings. Against the background of More’s text, we will discuss other early modern examples of utopian literature, and through them, we will consider how these texts reflected questions and problems in society at the time.

 

Throughout the semester, we will focus on developing the skills of the historian, especially the analysis of primary sources. Students will have a choice of two options for the final project, in which these skills will be put into practice: a traditional research paper based on primary sources, or a critical edition of a fictional utopian narrative that reflects or critiques a real aspect of early modern society.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
12
Course Type: 

Colloquium in African History

Africa and the Global South
HIAF
4511
Undergraduate
Spring
2017

This colloquium will offer an introduction to the themes, regions, and debates surrounding Africa and the Global South. Topics include the idea of Africa, the place of the African diaspora, and challenges facing post-colonial African states, the causes of economic underdevelopment and political violence, and discourses of "Africa Rising" and Afro-pessimism. This course is interdisciplinary and will be taught in the Global South Humanities Laboratory. The seminar is discussion based, focusing on weekly readings. Students will produce a final paper or project. This course satisfies the undergraduate major Capstone seminar requirement.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
6
Course Type: 

Seminar in United States History

Capitalism and Slavery
HIUS
4501
Undergraduate
Spring
2017

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: 
12
Course Type: 

Slavery in the Middle East and Ottoman Empire

HIME
5053
Graduate
Spring
2017

This course explores the practice of slavery in its various forms in the Middle East and North Africa, from pre-Islamic times through the abolition of the slave trade in the late nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire, and considers its impact on the political, military, social, and economic histories of the wider region. Topics include: the sources of slaves and the slave trade; the social and economic functions of slavery; law and slavery; manumission practices; the slave-soldier phenomenon; captivity and ransom; questions of religion, gender and race; imperialism and the movement towards abolition.

This discussion-based class is open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates who have taken at least one HIME course previously. Weekly readings—mostly scholarly books and articles—will average 150-200 pages. Evaluation is based on participation, weekly response papers, and a final research paper.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
10
Course Type: 

Colloquium in Latin American History

Latin American Environmental History
HILA
4511
Undergraduate
Spring
2017

This colloquium introduces students to the growing literature in both environmental history and the environmental history of Latin America.  Topics that include: the environments of the pre-Columbian Americas; the ecological impact of the European conquest of the Americas; the “Columbian exchange” of European diseases for Latin American goods (chocolate, tomatoes, corn, potatoes etc.); sugar, coffee, and slavery in Brazil and the Caribbean; the ecology and culture of bananas and banana plantations; forests and deforestation from the Amazon to Chile’s temperate rain forests; the ecology of oil and mining (and “extractive” economies more generally); conservation and national parks; and, the emergence of modern environmentalism.  Our goal throughout will be to analyze different approaches to writing environmental history and to answer a series of basic questions: What is the environment?  What is the historical relationship between human societies and nature?  What role has nature played in human history?  What is nature?  How do we write its history?  What sources do environmental historians use?  Students will read approximately one historical monograph or an equivalent group of articles each week and  four 5-7 page essays during the course of the semester.  

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
12
Course Type: 

Late Imperial Chinese Law

HIEA
5559
Graduate
Fall
2016

Law and judicial practice in Late Imperial China, particularly during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Inquiry will consider statutory law from two angles; as an instrument of state authority designed to enforce a particular social and political order, and as a field of social interaction within which ordinary people utilized the legal system to seek justice and redress for personal grievances.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
5
Course Type: 

Introductory Seminar in South Asia

The British Conquest of India
HISA
1501
Undergraduate
Fall
2016

In the eighteenth century, simultaneous with the American crisis that led to the American War of Independence, the British Empire was dramatically changing half-way around the world in Eastern India. Through a selection of primary and secondary courses, this course examines the transformation of the British Empire as a force in world history, one that resulted from decisions made to embark upon a new form of imperialism in the East. 

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Atlantic World

HIST
4511
Undergraduate
Fall
2016

This course introduces undergraduate students in all fields to the history of the Atlantic world from roughly the fifteenth through the nineteenth century. The course will explore questions of historical interpretation as well as method and theory. It is designed to challenge students’ assumptions about the traditional construction of the Atlantic world and undermine teleological and top-down narratives about nation states and empires.

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Course Type: 

Approaches to Historical Study

HIST
7001
Graduate
Fall
2016

This course is designed as an introductory seminar for graduate students in all fields and periods of history. It is required of all first-year doctoral students in the History Department. Our primary goal is to develop critical perspectives on the art and science of historical writing. We will pursue this objective through close reading of a number of carefully chosen monographs, all of which represent first books written by a wide range of professional historians. In the process, we will discuss various disciplinary methods, theoretical issues, narrative techniques, empirical questions, and thematic topoi. In our class discussions, we will explore these books as models of historical inquiry, professional scholarship, and nonfiction writing. Our conversations will open outwards into larger reflections on the process of choosing research topics and structuring long-form historical writing.

Course Instructor: 
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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