Loeffler, James

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: 

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: 

Jewish History I: The Premodern Experience

HIEU
2101
Undergraduate
Spring
2016
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, in-class and online discussions, 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, class participation, and take-home midterm and final exams.
 
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: 

Antisemitism: The Limits of History

HIEU
1501
Undergraduate
Spring
2016
Antisemitism has been called both an eternal religious hatred and an ultra-modern racial ideology. Scholars often cite its origins in the ancient teachings of the Catholic Church, yet its appearance predates Christianity by centuries. In modern times, antisemitism has thrived in Muslim societies in which no actual Jews live. These puzzles continue today: We live in a world suffused with antisemitism—yet no one can agree on a satisfactory definition of it. In this first-year seminar, we will explore this complex topic as an introduction to the contemporary study of history.
 
In the opening unit of the course, we will examine some classic theories of the history of antisemitism. Then in the second unit we will proceed to discuss key modern variations such as economic, cultural, and political antisemitism using a combination of primary and secondary sources. We will look at key thinkers (Karl Marx, Richard Wagner, Vladimir Lenin, and Adolf Hitler, among others). In the third unit, we will use a case study of post-Holocaust antisemitism in the global 1960s to pursue an experimental multidisciplinary approach to contextual mapping of the spread of antisemitism. Each student will take one country and pursue an extended research assignment with related writing assignments keyed to the history of antisemitism in that country. This research assignment will include compiling data for an online digital mapping project that we will pursue together.
 
Readings will include David Nirenberg’s Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition (2013) and Walter Laqueur’s The Changing Face of Antisemitism (2006). Requirements will include active participation in class discussions, three short reaction papers (500-750 words), a bibliography essay assignment (500-750 words), and an independent research project culminating in a written research report (1500 words). This course satisfies the second writing requirement.
Course Instructor: 

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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
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