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SPRING 2015 Courses for Graduate Students
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Syllabi Library
Current and past syllabi, arranged by course number, can be found at History Syllabi Library


Crusades and Visual Culture

Although military aspects of crusades tend to receive the most attention, crusading was not just about victory or defeat on the battlefield. More importantly, crusading also dramatically altered intellectual and cultural landscape of the Latin West. It popularized the notion of “holy war” and valorized knightly profession. With Jerusalem in Latin Christian hands, it led to an increased interest in and a re-evaluation of various holy sites and, consequently, to changes in religious practices and piety. It resulted, at the same time, in closer contacts with Muslims and Christians of the Middle East and in a radical worsening of relations between Latin Christianity and other religious groups, both within Europe and beyond its frontiers. This seminar will examine some of the changes brought about by crusading through the prism of visual sources produced both in Crusader States and in Western Europe. It will focus primarily on the twelfth and thirteenth century, but it will trace some of the developments into the modern period. It will examine the historiography that deals with a wide variety of visual sources, including, among others, manuscript illuminations, sculpture, stained glass windows, mural paintings, maps, architecture and even film. Using these sources, scholars analyze a number of issues, whose import stretches well beyond crusader studies or even medieval studies: pilgrimage and virtual pilgrimage; memory and commemoration; propaganda; sacralisation of war; emergence of chivalry; the formation of the image of the non-Christian Other; Jerusalem, its holy sites and their imitations; visions of the world, its center and periphery; uses of the Bible and of various mythical pasts (such as the legends of Roland); apocalyptic expectations; and the place of crusades in the fashioning of one’s identity, be it individual, familial or institutional.

F   11:00 AM to 12:55 PM | instructor: Elizabeth Lapina


Modern German History

This seminar examines recent trends in the historiography of Germanophone Europe from the perspective of periodical literature. As such, the course focuses on current debates over a variety of themes that raise the question of what it is to study modern German histories in the twenty-first century.

M  11:00 AM to 11:55 AM | instructor: Rudy Koshar


Modern Chinese History

Chinese history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with emphasis on intellectual history and the history of Chinese Communism.

T   3:30 PM to 5:25 PM | instructor: Judd Kinzley


Historiography of Modern Japan

This course is designed to help students develop bibliographic and historiographic command of modern Japanese history as a teaching and research field. The class is divided into two parts. We open with a series of discussions about the ways American academic institutions and scholarship has constituted Japan as a field of studies from the 1950s to the present. This section of the class will include two sessions on Japanese language historiography for those with advanced language skills, though alternative assignments will be offered for students who cannot read Japanese. The remainder of the course takes up key categories around which historical debate has organized itself. We will consider how these categories have been conceptualized and historicized, exploring what has been written into and what has been left out of the master narratives of Japanese modernity. The choice of particular books will depend on student areas of interest, but will select books within the following themes: Japan in the world/the world in Japan; configurations of capitalism; social history old and new; culture and knowledge after the cultural turn; state/polity/governmentality. Japanese language ability is not required, though special assignments may be made for students with advanced reading ability and interest in exploring Japanese language historiography.

F   3:30 PM to 5:25 PM | instructor: Louise Young


Empires of the East

Recent events in South Asia – from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 to the development of global jihadism or “terrorism” and the rise of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban – have taken almost everyone by surprise. They have also sparked a new and intense interest in the historical evolution of a region that until recently most Americans were quite unfamiliar with and regarded as of little relevance for themselves. In the daily press, in foreign policy journals, and in academic books on the subject, what is now often called the “new great game” for empire became a hotly debated subject. Parallels have been drawn between the Cold War engagements of recent decades and the nineteenth-century contest between Russia and Great Britain for power and influence in the same region. As the above quotation from Lord George Nathaniel Curzon [1859-1925; Viceroy of India, 1899-1905] illustrates, the struggle for empire in South Asia has been depicted as something that was historically inevitable and of all ages – proof, if any were needed, of the old adage that “geography is destiny.” But where does this inevitability come from? And what does it bode for the future of the region? Will America, now that it has been drawn into it, be just another, the latest, empire to become “the arbiter of the East”? In this seminar we will explore these, and related issues, in five parts.
I. Geography and history
II. The Turko-Mongol empires
III. The Indian Ocean and global trade
IV. Modern imperialism and the Great Game
V. The Rise of Asian Superpowers: Turkey, Iran, India, and China in the 21st Century

W   1:20 PM to 3:15 PM | instructor: André Wink


Material Culture, Magic and the Senses in Equatorial Africa

Reflecting a broader change in African studies, exciting new work is looking at the rise of new moral and sensual imaginations in Equatorial Africa. In countries were poverty, ethnic strife and lack of prospects remain a challenge for most, people invest in creating opportunities for addressing the risks and hardships of everyday life, and for imagining a better future. They strive for maximizing social networks, economic prospects and spiritual protection. Part of these strategies borrows from long-standing ideas and practices. Most engage with modern settings and resources: the media (TV, videos, music), diasporic networks, church life (Pentecostalism) and new technologies of the self (cosmetics and fashion).

Course Objectives: The seminar will help students to read about Equatorial Africa from the 19th to the 21st centuries. Combining history and anthropology, it will also encourage them to acquire basic tools for approaching religion, material culture, subjectivity love, intimacy and the senses in Africa. Because some of the most exciting work on visual culture, media studies, history of the body, moral imaginations and technologies of the self has been conducted outside of Equatorial Africa, we will use a few readings from other regions of Africa. Students will have the opportunity to write a research paper on a topic of their choice.

R   1:20 PM to 3:15 PM | Instructor: Florence Bernault


Seminar in Modern French History

This reading seminar will focus on key issues in the political, social and cultural history of France from Napoleon's seizure of power (1799) to the twenty first century. The readings will mix classic studies with more recent historiographical interpretations. Among the questions we may consider: was Napoleon an "enlightened dictator" and did he give rise to Bonapartism? Are the 19th century French revolutions linked to 1789 or do they represent something different? Was colonialism a foundational characteristic of French republicanism? Does patriotism explain why French soldiers fought in the Great War or were they compelled to do so? Did the French collaborate with the Germans during the Second World War or did they accommodate themselves to German rule? Was there a French fascism in the 1930s and is today's National Front its successor? Has the European Union fundamentally changed how we think about French history?

All students will lead at least one class discussion (in tandem with another student), write 2 short review essays, and a longer paper due at the end of the semester.

F   1:20 PM to 3:15 PM | instructor: Laird Boswell


People on the Move: Migrants, Refugees, and Border-Crossers in Modern Europe

This class explores the transnational histories of migration, diaspora, and refugees from the mid-19th century to the present day, with a particular focus on movements to, from, and within Europe. We will discuss theoretical approaches and a range of case studies about diverse groups around the globe—including Italians, Germans, Russians, Poles, British, French, Jews, and Armenians—while at the same time questioning these national and ethnic categories. The course is divided into three parts. Part I focuses on mass migrations from the mid-19th century to World War I. How did states promote or discourage population movement and how did ordinary people develop networks to deal with the challenges of migration? In Part II, we’ll look at the period between 1914 and 1948 when millions of people were forced from their homelands into new environments. What did it mean to be a refugee and how did narratives of diaspora emerge in the United States and elsewhere? Part III takes us from World War II to the present day. How did the Cold War, decolonization, and today’s (alleged) “borderless” world affect people’s experiences and perceptions of global mobility? The class encourages students to explore multiple perspectives and disciplines with a particular focus on how migration intersected with international politics and perceptions of gender, race, ethnicity, and social class. By the end of the course, students should have a firm grounding in this literature, more fully developed writing and oral presentation skills, and a clear sense of how they might use the class materials to inform their own research, regardless of geographical focus. Interested students should feel free to contact me with questions at ciancia@wisc.edu.

R   1:20 PM to 3:15 PM | instructor: Kathryn Ciancia


State and Non-State Actors in European International History

Are you for the state or against it? Not so long ago, the study of high politics and state-to-state relations dominated the historical profession and the study of ‘international history.’ Today, the field of ‘international history’ is preoccupied with the study of non-state actors and actresses. What is at stake in this shift? Does bringing attention to non-state actors and actresses alter our understanding of Modern European and International History? How might interest in non-state actors occlude certain historical questions and problems, as it illuminates others? In the search for answers, this course pairs foundational texts in the history of European international history with exciting new scholarship that pushes us to rethink long-standing theoretical commitments. Our aim, throughout, will be to arrive at an understanding of the history of international history — where it has been, where it is going, and what sorts of practical techniques and theoretical innovations it is developing along the way. The course is open to graduate students specializing in all eras and geographic regions. There are no pre-requisites.

R  3:50 PM to 5:25 PM | instructor: Giuliana Chamedes


Communism and Anti-Communism in U. S. History

Between the 1920s and the 1950s, many thousands of Americans participated in the Communist movement as party members, members of related organizations, or participants in Communist-sponsored events. Many others sympathized with the Communist Party and the Soviet Union. Communism enchanted large numbers of Americans, but it also provoked strong opposition from people across the political spectrum, from left to right. During the late 1940s and 1950s, anti-Communism became a focal point of domestic and international politics, thus heightening the significance of American Communism well beyond its internal strength. Among historians, the meaning of Communism and its legacy has caused intense, often acrimonious, debate for at least four decades. To what extent was Communism an indigenous movement or an agent of the Soviet Union? This core question has been followed by a host of others, so that the study of Communism and anti-Communism stretches far beyond the Communist Party itself. This seminar proposes to explore the wide-reaching impact of Communism and anti-Communism in American life.

W  1:20 PM to 3:15 PM | instructor: Tony Michels


History of Education

Studying children and youth in the past offers a unique and fascinating way to view historical development. For centuries, philosophers, educators, and political and religious leaders–as well as ordinary parents–have asked basic questions about the nature of young people and how to raise them. Concerning children, they have asked: “What is a child?” “How are children best prepared for adulthood?” “What determines the limits and apacity of children to learn?” “Who should make decisions about the care and rearing of children?” Every society has answered these questions differently. And children and adolescents have often confounded the efforts of adults to answer these questions and implement policies accordingly.

Since the early 1960s, scholars in numerous academic disciplines have tried to understand the nature of childhood and youth in the past. They have drawn upon many kinds of historical sources: art, literature, religious tracts, memoirs, movies, biographies, and so on. The same is true of this course. Most of the class will focus on childhood and adolescence in Western European and then American history, starting with the medieval period and ending in the recent past.

The core of the class will be discussion of common readings, plus the occasional use of images, films, music, and dramatic readings. So it is important for you to keep up with the reading to maximize informed participation.

M   2:25 PM to 5:25 PM | Instructor: William Reese


History of Sexuality

Using sexuality as a category of historical analysis, examines historiographical, methodological, and theoretical contributions to understanding all aspects of the past.

R   1:20 PM to 3:15 PM | instructor: Finn Enke


Race and Nationalisms: Comparative and Theoretical Perspectives

This seminar examines race and nationalisms as they interact in several different geographic settings over time. It aims to cultivate a nuanced understanding of how race has not only been a “factor” in national histories, but also how it has shaped the past in the societies we will study. Our readings and discussions will prompt us to probe how race and nationalisms inflect colonialism, racial orders, gender, cultural politics, and foreign relations. Our authors will be primarily historians, and through them and scholars in other fields, we will study comparative and theoretical perspectives on five broad and overlapping themes: 1) racial formation; 2) space and displacement; 3) gendered nationalism; 4) race and foreign relations; 5) cultural politics. These themes will anchor discussion and are keyed to each week’s reading. Each participant will lead a weekly discussion and write two short papers, one due at the end of the semester and another approximately two-thirds of the way through the course.

R   1:20 PM to 3:15 PM | instructor: Brenda Gayle Plummer


Teaching College History: An Introduction to Undergraduate Pedagogy

Embracing the art of teaching as one of the key skills of a good historian, and acknowledging that the desire to teach is one of the main motivations for graduate study, this new two-credit course aims to translate passion for history and humanities education into practical skills for classroom success.

F   11:00 AM to 12:55 PM | instructor: Leonora Neville


“Racial Legacies of Spanish Colonialism”
(Interdeparmental Seminar in Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies)

This interdisciplinary research seminar aims to explore the cultural and social dimensions of race in colonial Spanish America, including the Northamerican “Borderlands,” territory which today is part of the United States. We will pay special attention to the Iberian roots of racial discourse (on Jews, Muslims, and Africans) in the Americas and the creation in the Spanish colonies of new racial categories, including “Indian” and “Mestizo.” Course materials consist of original sources (images and written texts)—by Europeans and native Americans—dealing with the question of race. We will also discuss readings from a select multidisciplinary secondary bibliography.

During the first half of the semester, our attention will center on assigned course materials. After spring break, discussions will focus on evolving individual research projects. The seminar will be conducted in English, but given the unavailability in translation of a significant portion of the bibliography reading knowledge of Spanish is essential. Students interested in learning more about this seminar may contact me by email (mmzamora@wisc.edu).

R   4:00 PM to 6:00 PM | instructor: Margarita Zamora

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