Fall 2016 Courses for Graduate Students

Graduate courses at UW-Madison are numbered 700 and above, and History graduate students typically take courses at the 700 or higher level. Subject to program restrictions and by prior arrangement with the instructor, however, students may take 300-600 level course that carry the graduate attribute for graduate credit. For details, see the Graduate Handbook – Registration - Level of Course Credits.

The Course Guide lists all courses offered at UW-Madison. It is an online, searchable catalog that provides a broad spectrum of course information and enables browsing the course sections offered each term. It is updated six times per day. You may reach the Course Guide in two ways:

For graduate students, there is no practical difference between the two points of entry. (The only difference that the My UW version enables undergraduates to use the Degree Planner tool.)

Class Search is the real-time, online listing of course sections offered each term. Students can click on course sections to add them to their enrollment shopping cart.

Current and past syllabi, arranged by course number, can be found in the History Syllabi Library.

Graduate Courses

History 701 - History in a Global Perpective

History in a Global Perspective (UW Course Guide)

This is a one-credit, one-hour, required weekly seminar for students in their first semester in the History graduate program. The course has several goals—to give you an opportunity to become better acquainted with your cohort and their diverse interests; to encourage you to think in broad, expansive terms about your own work; to introduce you to members of our faculty, whose expertise ranges around the world, and to some of the issues that currently animate discussion in the discipline; and to provide a friendly forum for asking any questions you may have about life as a graduate student.

The course requirements will be modest: do the readings assigned by visiting faculty members, reflect on them in discussion posts, and come to seminar prepared to engage in thoughtful and informed conversation. Our discussions will inevitably be suggestive and illustrative rather than comprehensive—think of the course as offering a tasting menu. Optimally the experience will instill in you a perpetual curiosity to explore the intersections of your research interests and those of historians working in widely different times and places or with radically different methodological tools.

R 12:05 to 12:55 PM | 2115 Humanities | Instructor: Colleen Dunlavy

History 707 - The Old Regime and the French Revolution

The Old Regime and the French Revolution  (UW Course Guide)


This course will focus on the social, cultural, and political history of France from the seventeenth century through the French Revolution and Napoleon. Crucial questions for the Old Regime include: how have historians interpreted the ordinary lives and aspirations of peasants, artisans, workers, and colonized peoples? How did politics and state-building function under the “absolutist monarchy” and how did attitudes toward monarchy and politics evolve in the years leading up to the Revolution? What role did the Enlightenment play in transforming the culture of Old Regime France? We will also examine France’s growing engagement in global commerce, competition, and colonization, and ask how these elements shaped both the Old Regime and the revolutionary era. The second half of the course focuses on the Revolution itself. In addition to exploring work on revolutionary politics, grassroots activism, gender, and political culture, we will look at recent attempts to situate the French Revolution within a transnational dynamic that includes the Haitian Revolution and other upheavals in Europe and the Atlantic world. Throughout the course, we will pay particular attention to historiographical debates over method and interpretation.

Students interested in taking the course should contact me by email at smdesan@wisc.edu.

T 1:20 - 3:20 PM | 5255 Humanities | Instructor: Suzanne Desan

History 710 - Writing for the Academy & Beyond

Writing for the Academy & Beyond (UW Course Guide)

This workshop-style seminar encourages students to develop ways of writing history that communicate to wider audiences. It will provide students with practical skills and with plenty of feedback so as to help them become more confident and adept in the art of writing for the academy and beyond. We will spend much of our time discussing writing outside the bounds of academia, and we will gain the insight (via Skype) of a number of graduates of History Ph.D. programs currently working in non-academic worlds. We will also practice various forms of non-academic writing ourselves. All of the writing assignments for this workshop are flexible and tailored to student needs, and appropriate for students in their first few years in the program and for those currently working on their dissertations.

W 11:00 to 12:55 PM | 224 Ingraham Hall | Instructor: Giuliana Chamedes

History 710 - On the Job Market

On the Job Market (UW Course Guide)

This class is intended to prepare students for the academic job market. In addition to working through the development of job letters, CVs, and teaching statements we will also begin the process of preparing for preliminary interviews, campus visits, and job talks. Working with myself as well as with one another, students will come out of this course with a well polished dossier as well as a support group that will help them navigate the complexities and anxieties of the academic job market. 

R 1:20 to 3:15 PM | 5257 Humanities | Instructor: Judd Kinzley

History 755 - Proseminar in Southeast Asian History

Proseminar in Southeast Asian History (UW Course Guide)

Course Description: The course explores the nature of “empire” in an age of America’s global dominion, starting with the rise of European empires during the “high colonialism” in the late 19th century and ending with U.S. global hegemony in the early 21st century. After reviewing the literature on the rise of modern empires, the course will explore both the expansion of European colonialism into Southeast Asia and the region’s response. With the world’s most diverse array of imperial powers and its history of intense colonization, Southeast Asia is the ideal region for a close, comparative study of imperialism.

In this survey of European empires, the seminar will focus closely on U.S. colonial rule in the Philippines from 1898-1946, an important but forgotten chapter in American history. Indeed, in two centuries of American history, the U.S. conquest and colonization of the Philippines is the only experience comparable to our current involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. By exploring this juxtaposition of past and present in the history of America’s foreign adventures, the seminar will, in its opening and closing sessions, explore the way the past bears upon the present.

More broadly, the course will explore issues central to the character of global empires—including, the causes of imperial expansion, the drive for military security, the psychology of colonial dominion, ecological and economic transformations, the rise of nationalist resistance, and the dynamics of imperial decline.

Instead of transferring a fund of facts about European empires and anti-colonial revolutions, the seminar seeks to understand the dynamics of global dominion. Hopefully, students will emerge from the course with a better understanding of the nature of empire, the lasting legacy of colonialism, and the future of U.S. global power.

Class Meetings: The seminar is scheduled to meet on Tuesdays, 11:00 a.m. to 12:55 p.m. in a seminar room in the Humanities Building.

Learning Outcomes: Students should emerge from the course with (a.) improved writings skills; (b.) practice in formal oral presentations; (c.) a strategy for making a clear, convincing arguments; and (d.) ability to conduct research.

Application: Student interested in taking the seminar should send a short email with their (a.) campus ID (for registration); (b.) student status (senior/junior); (c.) major; (d.) GPA; and (e.) reasons for their interest in the class to awmccoy@wisc.edu

Grading: Students shall be marked on their weekly participation, writing assignments, and oral presentations.

Class Presentations: Each student shall serve as the lead “discussant” twice during the semester by presenting a 15-minute summary of the readings. Students are also responsible for reviewing and discussing the readings assigned each week, usually totaling about 100 pages.

Final Paper: In the last weeks of the semester, students shall submit a 15-page paper on one of the topics they presented during the semester. About three weeks before the paper is due, students shall meet with the instructor during office hours to discuss their progress.

T 5:00 to 6:55 PM | 2251 Humanities | Instructor: Alfred McCoy

History 800 - Research Seminar in History

Research Seminar in History (UW Course guide)

This class has two main goals: for you to substantially complete an MA thesis, dissertation chapter, or article, and for you to learn processes for writing easily and efficiently. Life happens in time. Writing successfully within the constraints of a time-bound existence requires learning how to focus a naturally unruly creative process into manageable concrete steps. We will explore methods and strategies for 1) making the basics of writing simple and automatic, 2) managing large-scale research & writing projects, 3) self-regulation and self-assessment. Simultaneously we will support each other in our immediate work of producing our theses and chapters.

W 3:30-5:25 PM | 5255 Humanities | Instructor: Leonora Neville

History 805 - Medieval History

Medieval History (UW Course Guide)

This course will focus on the growth and development of law in medieval Europe by situating medieval law within its social, religious, and political contexts. We will examine the so-called “leges barbarorum” traditions in Carolingian Europe and Anglo-Saxon England, the growth of centralized royal law under the Anglo-Norman and Angevin crowns in post-Conquest England and France, and the emergence of the Roman-canonical legal tradition in continental Europe. Because historians have become increasingly aware of the value of deploying primary legal sources in writing social history, and because legal sources make up such a large portion of surviving primary sources, will give attention to methodological issues that are raised when working with legal sources. This course will be of interest to medievalists working in social history, cultural history, and literature. Reading knowledge of Latin, French, and German will be very helpful in this course. Some experience with Latin paleography will also be helpful.

F 3:30 to 5:25 PM | 2611 Humanities | Instructor: Karl Shoemaker

History 829 - Research Seminar in Latin American History

Research Seminar in Latin American History (UW Course Guide)

This seminar focuses on research in Latin American history, with complementary attention to professional development and transnational scholarly trends. The seminar enables you to focus on your own customized research projects, which may include thesis chapters, while building a community of conversation about how we investigate, create, and teach historical knowledge, and how we build a compelling trajectory of professional development.

Readings are light and concentrated in the first few weeks, so that you have ample time for your research and the professional development workshops. The focus of the readings this year will be transnational history of the Americas across the U.S./Latin America divide.

A unique feature of the course is that the students “own” the professional development workshops. They will, in collaboration with the instructor, decide on the topics, according to their specific needs and interests. Topics that students in History 829 have chosen in the past include, among others, lectures and teaching in the internet age; the art of writing compelling grant proposals; how to move from manuscript to publication; field research strategies; the problem of ethics and the IRB approval bureaucracy; and job market strategies.

F 3:30 to 5:25 PM | 2611 Humanities | Instructor: Steve Stern

History 861 - The Global African City

The Global African City (UW Course Guide)

The global city in Africa has emerged as a spatial and social form that drives profound human, cultural, economic and political changes on the continent. As a nexus of crisis and renewal, it is a site of immense importance for the future of Africa. The seminar will put this phenomenon in multi-layered historical perspective, questioning the origin and development of large cities in Africa, the development of various metropolitan forms and processes, and their connections with global networks and infrastructures. We will look at cities as built-spaces (laboratories for urban planning and architectural experiments) and as social milieus where people live, work and grapple with urban resources and constraints. We will explore the rapid transformation of urban landscapes in Africa by showing how neoliberal policies are, in many ways, continuations of colonial practices wherein cities were designed to meet the needs of political and economic domination. Moving from compounds, streets, markets and power institutions to stories of more intimate, gendered and individual experiences of the urban, we will develop sets of analytical tools for raising future research questions on the history of cities in Africa.

To reach new levels of analytical reflection and academic intervention, the seminar will be built around an innovative assignment: you will work in a team that will study a city of your choice. In addition to short review papers, each team-member will contribute to the planning, research, writing and assembling of an extensive dossier on the chosen metropole, together with a digital website/forum. This task will familiarize you with the rewards and dynamics of semi-collective scholarly work, and of using digital tools for history. At the end of the semester, we will organize a mini-conference.

Sample readings:

  • Bigon, Liora. Between Local and Colonial Perceptions: the History of Slum Clearances in Lagos (Nigeria), 1924-1960.
  • African and Asian Studies 7 (2008)
  • Bisi, Silva and Kerstin Pinther. Afropolis: City, Media, Art: Kairo, Lagos, Nairobi, Kinshasa, Johannnesburg (2010)
  • Chopra, Preeti. The Poetics and Politics of Space: Art, Memory, and Change in the Indian City, Verge (2009)
  • De Boeck, Filip, and Marie France Plissart. Kinshasa, Tales of the Invisible City (2004)
  • Falola, Toyin. African Urban Space in Historical Perspective (2009)
  • Simone, Abdoumaliq. For the City Yet to Come: Changing African Life in Four Cities (2004)
  • Under Siege, Four African Cities, Freetown, Johannesburg, Kinshasa, Lagos: Documenta 11, Platform 4 (2002)
  • Whitehouse, Bruce. Migrants and Strangers in an African City: Exile, Dignity, Belonging (2012)

Enrollment details
Wed. 3:30 pm-5:25 pm- Humanities 5245
4 credits for graduates. No prerequisite needed. Graduates in all fields welcome.

About the Instructor: Professor Florence Bernault came to UW-Madison in 1996 after being trained in African history at the University of Paris 7 and earning her Ph. D. under the mentorship of Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch, a pioneer in the history of African cities and modern urbanites. Bernault works on the history of contemporary Equatorial Africa and has published on urban, youth and political cultures in Brazzaville (Congo) and Libreville (Gabon). She is finishing a book on histories of power and spiritual agency in colonial Gabon (to be published by Duke University Press).

W 3:00 - 5:25 PM | 5245 Humanities Building | Instructor: Florence Bernault

History 891 - Proseminar in Modern European History

Proseminar in Modern European History (UW Course Guide)

This graduate seminar examines the history of sexuality as it operates across national borders. It looks at how sex as a form of power shapes transnational relations in a variety of historical contexts, including colonialism, war, occupation and migration. The course is premised upon the recognition that we live in a world profoundly shaped by cross-cultural encounters and that those encounters are, in turn, dramatically fashioned by sexual relations. Far from remaining fixed within national borders, our most important political, cultural and social structures are the product of multiple transnational encounters over time. Women’s and men’s sexed bodies have figured prominently in these exchanges. Anxieties about hypersexualized indigenous men, rape and miscegenation have justified the segregation and persecution of colonized peoples. European constructions of the ‘modern,’ particularly in relationship to the colonized world, have revolved around sexual and reproductive practices. In the twentieth century, territorial conquest has been measured by sexual possession of a woman’s body. Interracial rape has been interpreted as a symbol of national humiliation. Finally, the control of immigration across national borders has been debated in the sexualized terms of reproduction as the future of the ‘race.’ Why do the body and sexual relations play such crucial roles in these encounters? How does the sexed body shape relations of power between nations? Why do territorial and sexual conquest go hand-in-hand? Why is the traffic in people understood primarily in reproductive terms?

T 3:30 to 5:25 PM | 5245 Humanities | Instructor: Mary Lou Roberts

History 900 - Intro to History for U.S. Historians

Intro to History for U.S. Historians (UW Course Guide)

This graduate seminar is designed for incoming U.S. history graduate students in the Department of History. Its purpose is to introduce the study of history, in general, and of U.S. history, in particular, to future professional historians who anticipate careers in colleges and universities or in institutions such as historical societies or research libraries or museums. Participants in the seminar may also include graduate students from other departments who plan to work in the field of U.S. history broadly defined. Historically and historiographically, we’ll consider the United States as an entity newly created out of the many places people have called home in North America, as well as the ways in which these North American places and peoples have been connected to other places and peoples around the globe. Among our concerns will be:

  • the ingredients of a satisfying and successful graduate career in history at UW-Madison
  • the peculiar relationship each of us have to this thing called “history”
  • the evolution of the field of U.S. history since the late nineteenth century
  • the day-to-day life of working historians
  • the relationship between history and memory
  • the history of history as an academic discipline
  • the practice of history both inside and outside the academy
  • the means by which professional historians produce and distribute historical knowledge
  • the art of historical writing
  • the craft of historical research
  • the practice of history in a digital age
  • the challenge of talking about history to non-specialists
  • the teaching of U.S. history at the college level
  • the major periods, topics, and approaches in the field of U.S. history
  • the organizations and meetings that bring historians together
  • the pleasures and pitfalls of working collectively with other historians
  • the ethics and etiquette of being a historian

Toward these ends, we’ll spend half of most class periods in animated discussion among ourselves, mulling over readings, considering writing assignments, and learning from group and individual projects. Most weeks we’ll spend the other half of the class listening to and then conversing with departmental faculty members who will visit in order to impart their particular wisdom about working in the field of U.S. history.

R 1:20 to 3:15 PM | 5245 Humanities | Instructor: Susan Johnson

History 901 - Intellectual Practices/Social Change: Theory & History

Intellectual Practices/Social Change: Theory & History (UW Course Guide)

This course examines the relationship—both in theory and in history--between intellectual practices and social and political change. Drawing on a range of (primarily) modern American and European thinkers, it will examine what kinds of mental activities they recommended not only for remaking the self, but also as a necessary precondition for remaking the world. How should we understand the forms of intellectual inquiry that may foster resistance to established relations of power and those which are indifferent or cede authority to them? Is there any way for historians to demonstrate connections between what Pierre Hadot referred to as “spiritual exercises” and Michel Foucault called “technologies of the self” and large-scale efforts towards social justice? Our readings will include a variety of theoretical, philosophical, and religious texts, as well as historical scholarship on civil disobedience, social reform, and intellectual history more broadly.

W 8:50 to 10:45 AM | 5257 Humanities | Instructor: Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen

History 936 - History of Women & Gender in the US to 1870

Proseminar in Modern European History (UW Course Guide)

This seminar will explore the history and historiography of women and gender in colonial North America and the early United States. Graduate students may take this course to satisfy either the course requirement for 17th/18th-century history or for 19th-century history. The course proceeds from the premise that gender hierarchies have historically intersected with and co-constituted those of race, class, religion, sexuality, region and nation. We will pursue such historical questions as: what did gender mean to diverse peoples in colonial North America? How did those meanings change through processes of settler colonialism, war, enslavement/slaveholding, state formation, and the emergence of capitalism? How did gendered practices and discourses animate those processes? We will also consider historiographical issues, such as: to what extent has the scholarship on women and gender altered “mainstream” histories of the United States? Have we simply added women to established narratives, or are we changing the periodization and guiding concepts that characterize the field of U.S. history? Why are “women and gender” clustered together in the discipline? Should we distinguish histories of women from histories of gender? If so, how? Which areas of women’s and gender history merit deeper scrutiny by emerging scholars? We will inform our discussion of these issues by reading significant primary texts, secondary works that have now become classics in the field, and recent examples of cutting-edge scholarship.

T 11:00 to 12:55 PM | 5257 Humanities | Instructor: April Haynes

History 941 - Indians and Empires

Indians & Empires (UW Course Guide)

"Indians and Empires" examines the various ways in which the Native inhabitants of North America contended with European colonialism between contact and the mid-nineteenth century (principally in eastern North America). Organized chronologically, thematically, and geographically around common readings, the course examines both the international relations between various Indian polities and European powers and the internal social changes effected by this interaction. Students will receive an introduction to ethnohistorical methodology but should be familiar early American historiography.

W 1:20 to 3:15 PM | 2631 Humanities | Instructor: John Hall

History 982 - Interdepartmental Seminar in the Latin-American Area

Interdepartmental Seminar in the Latin-American Area  (UW Course Guide)

This inter-disciplinary seminar will examine the region of the Amazon in mythical, literacy and cinematic imaginary. The working languages of the course are English, Portuguese and Spanish. A reading knowledge of Portuguese and/or Spanish is required.

M 3:30 to 5:30 PM | 2261 Humanities | Instructor: Kathryn Sanchez

History 983 - Mapping Hot Spots: ‘One Health’ and the History of Infectious Disease Research in Africa

Mapping Hot Spots: ‘One Health’ and the History of Infectious Disease Research in Africa (UW Course Guide)

This seminar is part of a project developed by Neil Kodesh (History), Tony Goldberg (Pathobiological Sciences), and Josh Garoon (Community and Environmental Sociology) and funded by an Institute for Regional and International Studies Incubator Grant.

The seminar has two interrelated aims. First, we hope to bring together a multidisciplinary cohort of graduate students (from epidemiology, disease ecology, history, geography, sociology, anthropology, etc.) to discuss how concepts of health, disease and ecology intersect in Sub-Saharan Africa (and elsewhere). In particular, we are interested in examining some seemingly basic, yet ultimately complex, questions about the constitution and mapping of disease “hot spots.” What are the ways in which humanitarian, biosecurity, and conservation goals have reinforced particular regions as “hot spots” over the last century? What are the local and global forces that have shaped epidemiological research in such hotspots? How do historical and ethnographic perspectives of zoonotic research in “hot spots” compel us to problematize and rethink global health in new ways? The seminar will focus on ways in which questions and approaches from different disciplines overlap and diverge, and the ways that both commonalities and frictions might be used productively in interdisciplinary research.

Second, during this seminar we will guide the students through the process of creating a Uganda-based research protocol (with appropriate epidemiological, historical, and ethnographic aims); acquiring human subjects research approval from the Institutional Review Board; and making the logistical arrangements to begin fieldwork in Uganda. This work will be finalized in spring 2017, and a group of faculty members and graduate students from the seminar will then conduct fieldwork in western Uganda based on the protocol during summer 2017.

F 11:00 - 12:55 PM | 2125 Humanities | Instructor: Neil Kodesh