Loeffler, James

New Course in European History

History of Human Rights
HIEU
5559
Graduate
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: 
4
Course Type: 

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: 

Modern Jewish History

HIEU
2102
Undergraduate
Spring
2018

Jewish civilization is one of the oldest and most influential components of world religion and history. Yet the Jewish people never possessed a large empire and always constituted a tiny minority in numerical terms, even in ancient times. In the modern period, Jews experienced an equally dramatic fate, including two pivotal events at the epicenter of the twentieth century: the unprecedented catastrophe of the Holocaust and the improbable rise of the State of Israel. All along, Jews have repeatedly surfaced at key junctures in the political, intellectual, and cultural moments that define our world.

In this course, we will seek explanations for this unique history through surveying the basic narrative of Jewish history from the sixteenth century to the present. We will focus on the political, social, religious, and cultural transformations of Jewish life and identity around the world. Major topics to be discussed include political emancipation and the Hebrew Enlightenment, Zionism and modern Jewish politics, antisemitism and the Holocaust, the divergent paths of American and European Jewries, and post-World War II relations between global Jewry and the State of Israel. We will also examine how Jewish history relates to modern European, American, and Middle Eastern history.

This is an introductory course that assumes no prior knowledge of Judaism or Jewish history. We will read and critically analyze a variety of primary and secondary sources, including religious, political, and legal writings, artistic images and musical recordings, and scholarly studies. Our goal is to introduce you not only to the study of Jewish history, but also the related academic fields of Jewish Studies, European history, and world history. Equally importantly, we aim to provide you with a concrete sense of the methods and questions that professional historians use to engage the past.

HIEU 2102 follows HIEU 2101, Jewish History I: The Ancient and Medieval Experience, though the two may be taken independently. For history majors, HIEU 2102 satisfies the post-1700 Europe (HIEU) requirement. The course also feels a core requirement for the Jewish Studies major.

            Requirements will include active course participation, two take-home short writing assignments, one short 500-word analytical essay, a midterm exam, and a final exam.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
60
Course Type: 
Discussion Sections: 
3

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: 

Jewish History I: The Ancient and Medieval Experience

HIEU
2101
Undergraduate
Fall
2017

Jewish civilization is one of the oldest and most influential components of world religion and history. Yet unlike other world civilizations, the Jewish people never possessed a large empire or even a large population. On the contrary, Jews always and everywhere constituted a tiny minority, even in ancient times. In this course, we will seek explanations for this unique history through surveying the narrative of Jewish civilization from biblical antiquity through the ancient and medieval worlds to the edge of the modern period (ca. 1550).

Through lectures, readings, discussion sections, and writing assignments, we will examine the political and religious dimensions of pre-modern Jewish civilization. In the process, we will also explore questions about world history, religion and empire in the medieval Mediterranean and beyond, and the very idea of Western civilization. Special topics will include Israelite origins in the Ancient Near East, Jewish life under Greek and Roman imperial rule, the collapse of the independent Jewish state after 70CE, the growth of the global Jewish Diaspora, the emergence of rabbinic Judaism and Christianity, Jewish minority life under medieval Islam and Christianity, medieval Jewish philosophy and mysticism, and anti-Jewish violence in the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition.

This is an introductory course that assumes no prior knowledge of Judaism or Jewish history. We will read and critically analyze a variety of primary and secondary sources, including religious and legal writings, archeological and artistic images, and modern scholarly interpretations. Our goal is to introduce you not only to the study of Jewish history, but the related academic fields of Jewish Studies, European history, and world history. Evaluation will be based on short papers, exams, and discussion section participation.

For history majors, HIEU 2101 satisfies the pre-1700 Europe (HIEU) requirement. The course also feels a core requirement for Jewish Studies majors.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
60
Course Type: 
Discussion Sections: 
3

New Course in General History

Human Rights History
HIST
5559
Graduate
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: 

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: 

Modern Jewish History

HIEU
2102
Undergraduate
Spring
2017

This course examines modern Jewish history from the sixteenth century to the present, focusing on the political, social, religious, and cultural transformations of Jewish life and identity around the world. Major topics to be discussed will include political emancipation and the Hebrew Enlightenment, Zionism and modern Jewish political movements, antisemitism and the Holocaust, the divergent paths of American and European Jewries, and post-World War II relations between global Jewry and the State of Israel. This is an introductory course that assumes no prior knowledge of Judaism or Jewish history.

 

The main textbook for this course will likely be Howard Morley Sachar’s A History of the Jews in the Modern World. This will be supplemented with a variety of other scholarly articles and an extensive array of primary sources drawn chiefly from Paul Mendes-Flohr and Jehuda Reinharz’s source book, The Jew in the Modern World: A Documentary History. Requirements will likely include three short papers in response to primary sources; a midterm exam; a final exam; and participation in in-class discussion sections. HIEU 2102 follows HIEU 2101, Jewish History II: The Ancient and Medieval Experience, though the two may be taken independently.

Course Instructor: 
Maximum Enrollment: 
40
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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