The following courses are seminar topics for spring 2022. Topics will vary semester to semester and a course may be repeated if a topic is different.
Section 1, Professor Reed
We will explore some key political developments and concepts that informed academic and policy discourse on race and economic inequality from the failed Full Employment Bill of 1945, through the dawn of the New Millennium.
Section 2, Professor Hartman
To read and think about Karl Marx is to grapple with the modern world that capitalism has made. This includes modern America- especially modern America. Because the United States is the nation in world history most committed to capitalism, and because Marx is the world's most enduring theorist of capitalism, Marx is a veritable American alter ego. In this class, we will investigate the meaning of Americans reading and thinking about Marx from the middle of the nineteenth century, when Marx made waves across the Atlantic with his astute analysis of the U.S. Civil War, to the present, when Marx is on many American horizons yet again. Students will be given the opportunity to write research papers on a topic on their choice drawn from the larger theme of "Marx in America." Possible topics include: Marx's thoughts about the United States; the labor movement's Marxism during the Gilded Age; the Communist Party in America; various Red Scares, such as McCarthyism; how 60s radicals read Marx; the historiography of slavery and Marxism; the list goes on. Imaginative topics and approaches are encouraged.
Section 3, Professor Reda
While we are all familiar with the names Franklin, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison, their actual contributions to our nation's founding are for most Americans shrouded in myth. In this course we will examine the backgrounds of the Founders and analyze their specific accomplishments while also exploring the issues that united them as well as those that threatened to tear them - and the infant United States-apart.
topic to be announced
Section 4, Professor Topdar
Section 1, Professor Varga-Harris
This course examines the place of gender in the creation and maintenance of empires. Among the topics to be addressed are the following: imperial prescriptions for femininity, masculinity, sexuality, and family life; constructions of difference in representations of both "colonized" and "colonizing" peoples; the intersection of gender and race in the formation of imperial identities; "civilizing missions": and the role of class, alongside ender, in the preoccupation of imperial powers with (re)producing "the nation" and determining citizenship "at home." Although the empires to be discussed were centered in Europe, England, and the United States, the focus will not be limited to the impact of "the West" on "others"; rather, the course seeks to explore also the ways in which "non-western" peoples shaped, appropriated for their own gain, and resisted imperial power.
Section 1, Professor Pluymers
This course explores how people have interacted with water over time. This is a thematic course taking a global approach and exploring case studies from different places and times. Topics include: dam building, irrigation, flood response, fishing regulation, swimming, the creation of domestic water supply systems, and conservation/preservation. In addition, this course will involve a substantial, focused project examining waterways in Bloomington-Normal.
Section 1, Professor Gifford
Whereas HIS 246 is a survey covering the Coming of the War, the War, and Reconstruction, this course will take a more historiographic focus on the war years, 1861-1865. In particular, we will address different interpretations of the war and focus on how different people experienced it. While students who have taken HIS 246 are welcome to take this course, as it explores the war at a different level, students need not have taken the survey in order to be successful
Section 1, Professor Ciani
This readings seminar will explore scholarship focused on the activisms in the 20th century U.S. that women led and congregated toward. It will include efforts to secure voting rights for disenfranchised people, to establish public health initiatives, to challenge constraints on women’s reproductive freedoms, to participate in diplomatic ventures, and to create supports for survivors of partner violence and rape. Students will develop their connections to these historiographies and explore the ways that women’s history has been catalogued (or not) in libraries, archives, and museums.
Section 1, Professor Lessoff
"Public" history is the awkward but accepted term for the many jobs done by historical professionals who are not college professors or schoolteachers. The term can refer to archival, museum, historical site, or government work, preservation, community work, filmmaking, free-lance writing, or anything else you can think of. This seminar focuses especially on museums, local historical societies, preservation, historic districts, and other dimensions of public history within urban settings. Overall, this course should offer ideas, examples, and techniques that students can apply to any place they end up living and in the varied aspects of the enterprise and craft of history with which they may end up engaged.
Section 1, Professor Olsen
This seminar will focus on various dimensions of civil-military relations in Latin American countries since 1821. We will study topics such as the emergence of caudillos and death squads in the midst of the chaos and political vacuums following independence and the search for order and stability in subsequent decades, as nations such as Peru, Brazil, Argentina and Chile looked to Europe for training to "professionalize" their militaries and convert them into truly national institutions. We will also explore problems created by this reliance on European doctrine, including the shift to professional militarism. Following the overthrow of its monarchy in the late 19th century, Brazilian political elites confronted the challenges of localized rebellions and insurrections that threatened the fragile republic. The brutal suppression of dissent reveals a nation in conflict with itself, a prelude to the dictatorship of 1964-1985.
We will also study themes of constitutionalism within the armed forces; twentieth century coups d'etat; the issues posed by US intervention; Cold War variants of counter-insurgency strategies and tactics and their impacts on human rights, particularly of marginalized peoples; and the inversion of national security doctrines due to the perceptions an "enemy within". We will also look at the distortions created by non-state actors (e.g. transnational criminal organizations, including cartels). Reading and discussion intensive. Background readings and such provided for those who have not studied Latin American history previously.
Section 1, Professor Paehler
This graduate-level research seminar—situated in the growing field of Refugee & Forced Migration Studies—has a dual purpose. It introduces students to the field and guides them towards the preparation of an original research paper.