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Seminar Topics - Fall 2022

The following courses are seminar topics for fall 2022. Topics will vary semester to semester and a course may be repeated if a topic is different. 

History 300, Senior Seminar

Women's Activism in the Twentieth Century

Section 1, Professor Ciani

This section will explore activist movements led by women in the twentieth century to learn about and research how certain actions influenced change at the personal, community, and societal level.  For their seminar research paper, students will select a topic that examines a type of or incidence of activism among women in the twentieth century.  Any area of the world is acceptable; however, primary sources need to be accessible and secondary sources need to be available in both monograph and article form. A foundation in the histories of the 20th century and women's history is helpful but not necessary.

Roman Writers

Section 2,  Professor Jasper

This course will explore the various genres and styles in Roman writing from the end of the Republic through Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages (the first century BC to the sixth century AD). We will read a range of documents, including personal correspondence, military accounts, romances, and universal history.  We will also read secondary articles addressing these sources to practice analyzing and criticizing scholarly arguments. Discussions and assignments will prepare students for writing a substantial research paper. In class we will focus on interpreting primary sources and formulating an argument based on original research.  The papers may address topics proposed in class, or any topic on an ancient or medieval subject outside the parameters of the course.

Topic to be announced

Section 3, Professor Gifford

Topic to be announced

Section 4, Professor Topdar

Everyday Empire

Section 5,  Professor Soja

The politics of the nineteenth century were dominated by the rise of European empires around the globe, but empire also reached into the social and cultural worlds of everyday people.  This seminar investigates the ways that empire shaped European's own conceptions of themselves and will cover topics such as shifting understandings of race and gender, the development of colonial and metropolitan policing, representations of empire in exhibitions and literature, and empire's influence on art, food, clothing, and more.   We will also consider different theoretical approaches to the relationships that developed between colonized and colonizing places, and cover major debates in the field of imperial history.  Students will research, develop, and write their won papers on a topic they choose related to the history of "everyday empire."

History 307, Topics in Non-Western History

Global Africa

Section 1, Professor Adedze

Africa's contribution to global history is still misunderstood by many.  This course looks into the diversity of the continent and its interaction with the rest of the world from the dawn of humanity to the present.  It challenges how people imagine Africa and highlights Africa's contributions through global connections of peoples, ideas, and resources.  Topics to be discussed will revolve around: 1) Slavery, colonialism and conquest; 2) Economic, intellectual and political power, 3) Circulation of communities, cultures and innovations; 4) Science, technology, and health; 5) Africa in the world today.

History 308, Topics in European History

Scientific and Technological Controversies in European History

Section 1, Professor Kapoor

The semester we will explore four major scientific and technological controversies in European history.  These controversies exist within times of turbulent sociopolitical change and make excellent case studies in the social construction of science.  First, we will explore the chaotic changes wrought by heliocentrism in early modern Europe.  Then we will cover the philosophical and geological debates over time and evolution.  Third, we will analyze the troubled introduction of the vaccine throughout the nineteenth century.  And finally, we will wrestle with the debates around weapons development and nationalism in the early twentieth century.

History 412, Topics in Nineteenth Century US History

History of Capitalism in the Antebellum Period

Section 1, Professor Winger

Current "revisionist" historians argue against the determinist narratives of both Marxist/progressive and consensus schools and instead stress the cultural and historical embeddedness of all economic developments.  They attempt to recover human agency, political choice, and historical contingency in the processes of economic history.  Unfortunately, this does not make their interventions politically useful to either side.

Recently the so-called New Historians of Capitalism (NHC) have argued not only that slavery was a form of "capitalism," but controversially, that capitalism always enslaves.  These new historians of capitalism laid the intellectual foundation for the later 1619 project.  the NHC acknowledge and decry the role of the state in the creation of American "capitalism."  But it remains contested whether their extremely dark view of "capitalism" is justified.  In addition, their definition of "capitalism" has appeared shaky, even slippery, to many revisionist reviewers.  Is this a politically useful narrative designed to justify policy, such as reparations?  Or should we adopt their basic view of the American economic past?

How SHOULD we think, write, and teach about the history of American economic life? Has America been oppressively capitalist?  Is capitalism a force in history that explains all that is bad or good?  Or is "capitalism" just a catch-all term of disapproval or approval, a rhetorical ghost (devil or angel) we use to explain things, but that slips through our fingers when we approach closely to analyze it historically?

History 421 - Topics in American Racial & Ethnic History

Topic to be announced

Section 1, Professor Reed


History 478 - Topics in Global History

World War I and the Middle East

Section 1, Professor Jayes

WWI transformed every aspect of life in the Middle East.  The war didn't just change the region however, the region shaped the way the war developed as European states competed to control land, waterways, trade, and the new strategic commodity of oil.  This class examines the European-Ottoman relationship in the decades before WWI, social and cultural transformations resulting from the war, the establishment of new political patterns, borders and institutions in the post war period, and the demographic remaking of the region due to state policies and refugee movements.