Graduate Courses

Fall 2019

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History 701: History in Global Perspective

History in Global Perspective

Introduction to the ways of thinking characteristic of historical study and to the questions and methods that motivate the research fields in which department faculty work. Required of all History graduate students in their first year.

R 12:00-12:50 PM | 5233 Humanities Bldg. | Instructor: Joe Dennis

History 705: Politics of Land

Politics of Land

Malcolm X wrote in 1963 that “land is the basis of freedom, justice, and equality.” Before his time and since, struggles over land — who controls it, who works its, and what it produces — have been among the most pressing issues of political debate around the world. How do we understand the historical genesis and current stakes of these debates? This seminar will take a global view to understanding the politics of land, including property regimes, ongoing plantation economies, land tenure debates, and urban and agrarian struggle in the modern world. What is at stake in how we measure, partition, and govern land — be it through (neo)colonial fiat, private property law, or, for example, the usos y costumbres of ejido land in Mexico? From the colonial cutting of the so-called “African cake,” to populist struggles for agrarian reform in the 1970s, to 21st century land grabs for food and biofuels production, how have quests to control land changed (and not) over the past two centuries? What are the racial and class dynamics of land claims? What new (or perhaps not-so-new) valences do the politics of land take on in the context of struggles over settler colonialism, First Nations sovereignty and decolonization, and ecological reparations? How might we conceive land and its relations otherwise? To tease out these questions, we will read foundational and theoretical texts as well as historiography and ethnography.

W 1:20-3:15 PM | 202 Bradley Memorial Building | Instructor: Elizabeth Hennessy and Gregg Mitman

History 706: Marxism and the Study of Asia

Marxism and the Study of Asia

This course will operate at two levels.  We will begin by familiarizing ourselves with certain basic concepts of Marxism beginning with Marx’s early works and then proceeding to study his magnum opus, namely Das Kapital.  Through such a reading we will analyze categories, such as commodity fetishism, surplus-value, alienation and the changing composition of capital.  The second part of the course will examine attempts to use such concepts to understand elements of Asian history [China, Korea, Japan and India].  We will read texts about how to understand Asia and Asian Marxists, who have attempted to make sense of their own pasts and presents.  Marxism has always been about changing the world and consequently, the theories and analysis that we cover in this course are not merely of theoretical interest. The issues covered in the second part of the course concerns questions such as how to understand Chinese, Japanese and Indian pattern of development in relation to the global capitalist world.  For example, we will consider the thesis that Mao’s China and postwar North Korea were state-capitalist rather than socialist.  Such theses if true greatly undermine attempts by Chinese New Leftists to revive the revolutionary tradition to create a new future in the present.  We will also consider the diametrically opposed view that focusses on Marx’s late letters to the Russian populist, Vera Zasulich and contends that the peasants in India could form a base for a socialist future.  This will open the way for us to study recent attempts to bring Marxism and postcolonialism together.  We will also note such new trends in Marxism have influenced the study of famous Japanese Marxists, such as Uno Kozo.  Through all of these reading, the course poses a larger question about the relevance of Marxism for our present.

Learning Goals:
After taking this course, students will be able to understand the basic concepts in Marxism, which has been the foundation of for numerous governments. However, during the first half of the course, our goal is not merely to understand Marxist ideology as it was implemented, but as theory embedded in the primary texts of Karl Marx.  For this reason, we will pay close attention to certain key chapters of Marx’s Capital Volume One.  A key premise of this first half of the course is that in Marx’s work, theory describes a historical dynamic.  In the second part of the course, our goal is to understand ways we can grasp such a historical dynamic as it is mediated by the concrete conditions of Asian historical trajectories.  We will also ask to what extent various experiences in Asia should cause us to rethink or reinterpret basic concepts in Marxism.

M 3:30-5:25 PM | 5245 Humanities Bldg. | Instructor: Viren Murthy

History 710: On the Job Market

On the Job Market

This seminar introduces tools to search for academic positions as historians. We will explore the contours of the contemporary job market, create the components of a sample application dossier, and experiment with strategies for successful interviews. Guests with recent experience on both sides of the search process will be invited to share advice.

M 1:20-3:15 PM | 5255 Humanities Bldg. | Instructor: Shelly Chan

History 713: History of Higher Education in Europe and America

History of Higher Education in Europe and America

This course traces the development of higher education—both inside and outside universities—from the late Middle Ages to the present. The course stresses the intellectual and cultural history of higher education, dealing especially with the evolution of the curriculum; the pursuit of humanistic as well as scientific knowledge; the professionalization of scholarly work; the inclusion and exclusion of diverse populations of students; the relationship between the university and the state; the idea of students and professors as members of a particular social “class”; the changing nature of student protest(s); and the various political, economic, and religious functions of colleges and universities in both Europe and the United States.

W 2:25-5:25 PM | L151 Education Building | Instructor: Adam Nelson

History 734: Introduction to Archives and Records Management

Introduction to Archives and Records Management

An introduction to the archives profession and basic theory and practice of archives and records administration, including the uses of primary sources in research, appraisal, access, and preservation.

T 5:30-8:00 PM | 4191F White | Instructor: TBD

History 752: Transnational Gender History: Sexuality

Transnational Gender History: Sexuality

This graduate seminar examines the history of sexuality using both a comparative and transnational approach.  On the one hand, our task will be to compare case studies drawn from West Africa, the Americas, East and South Asia, and Western Europe.  On the other hand, we will analyze sex as a form of power that shapes transnational relations such as colonialism, occupation, migration, labor relations and commodity markets, and the circulation of scientific and medical knowledge.  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. Gendered bodies and sexual practices have figured prominently in these exchanges.

Several analytical queries guide the seminar. Comparative histories raise historiographical and methodological questions. What can be learned by comparing gender systems, identities, metaphors, practices and ideologies? To what extent do the links between sex and gender have transnational coherence? What can broad understandings of these links offer to local and regional studies? Why do the body and sexual relations play such crucial roles in these encounters? Transnational histories present opportunities for synthesis. What is “sexuality,” and where did it come from? Why have sexual relations played such crucial roles in histories of colonialism, racialized gender, and migration? How have rape, reproductive coercion, and sexual policing shaped relations of power between nations? How have ideas about normativity, deviance, and identity been made and remade in their travels through diverse regional cultures?

R 3:30-5:25 PM | 5245 Humanities Bldg. | Instructor: Mary Lou Roberts & April Haynes

History 755: CIA Covert Wars & U.S. Foreign Policy

CIA Covert Wars and U.S. Foreign Policy

This course will probe the dynamics of CIA covert wars through comparative case histories over the past 70 years. By focusing on world regions such as Latin America, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia, the seminar will explore the central role these covert wars played in international history during the Cold War and its aftermath. Sometimes these clandestine interventions succeeded brilliantly from a U.S. perspective. But sometimes they left behind ruined battlegrounds and ravaged societies that became veritable black holes of international instability.

After several sessions reviewing the origins of the CIA and its distinctive patterns of its covert warfare, the seminar will apply a case-study approach to covert wars in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America–including, the anti-Mossadeq coup in Iran, Sukarno’s overthrow in Indonesia, Lumumba’s murder in the Congo, and the ongoing covert war in Afghanistan. Reflecting the significance of Southeast Asia to CIA operations, the seminar will devote four sessions to this region, including overthrowing the Sukarno regime in Indonesia, counter-guerilla operations in South Vietnam, and the secret war in Laos—arguing that the latter two operations are central to understanding contemporary conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq.

Through the sum of such content, students should finish the seminar with knowledge about a key facet of U.S. foreign policy and a lifelong capacity to analyze future international developments. Beyond such data, the course will give students sharpened analytical abilities, refined research tactics, improved oral presentations, and better writing skills.

T 11:00-12:55 PM | 5255 Humanities Bldg. | Instructor: Alfred McCoy

History 764: Dimensions of Material Culture

Dimensions of Material Culture

This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of material culture studies. It is intended for any student interested in critical thinking about the material world of artifacts, buildings, or spaces.  It serves as a basic understanding for any professional endeavor related to material culture, including careers in museums, galleries, historical societies, historic preservation organizations, design and marketing firms, or academic institutions. Graduate students attend lectures and work with the professor through in-depth readings and larger research topics.

TR 1:00-2:15 PM | L150 Elvehjem Building| Instructor: Ann Martin

History 800: Research Seminar in History

Research Seminar in History

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.

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

History 804: Exiles, Migrants, and Refugees: Texts and Contexts

Exiles, Migrants, and Refugees: Texts and Contexts

In 2018, the UHCR reported 68.5 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide, of which 40 million are internally displaced people, 25 million refugees, and 3 million asylum seekers. The waves of willful and forced migrations caused due to religious conflicts, wars, and climate change among others, and the widely different reactions of the widely different reaction of the international community on the so-called “refugee crisis” since 2015 are manifestations of tumultuous events of twenty-first century. The worldwide resurgence of populism and nationalism, the rhetoric of walls and barbed wires on national borders are manifestations of a much longer history of divisive and discriminatory rhetoric, with roots in European colonialism, ideological divisions of the Cold War, and connected with international power politics, a slow, incessant pressure on natural resources which has led to acknowledgment of the current climate crisis.

From the current vantage point, in this seminar we will try to understand the historical contexts that led to the creation of exiles, migrants, and refugees. The aim of the seminar is threefold. First, by engaging with conceptual histories of the terms “exiles,” “migrants,” and “refugees,” we will develop a differentiated understanding of “willful” and “forced” migrations. Second, by refracting German/European examples with those from Asia, Africa, and Latin America, we will try to cultivate a global framework of literary and historical comparison. And third, by locating migrants, refugees, and exiles at the intersection of “world literature” and “global history”—two terms that have gained traction in the twenty-first century scholarship—we will foster a wider and deeper understanding of fault lines of race, ethnicity, sexuality, language, and religion.

Readings for the seminar include texts by thinkers such as Hannah Arendt, Urvashi Butalia, Seyla Benhabib and Edward Said; historians such as Rita Chin, Ayesha Jalal, Mark Mazower, Sebastian Conrad; literary theorists such Debjani Ganguly, Aamir Mufti, Lital Levy; and authors such as Arif Anwar, Jenny Erpenbeck, Sayed Kashua, and Viet Thanh Ngyuen. By reading historical and theoretical texts along with a variety of literary texts: memoirs, poetry, plays, and the novel, we will explore how authors and artists engage with historical events, and subvert, resist, or challenge dominant official narratives by providing alternative, “unauthorized” accounts.

T 3:30-6:00 PM | 378 Van Hise Hall | Instructor: B. Venkat Mani

History 891: Modern European Transnational History

Modern European Transnational History

This class invites students to engage with the most innovative recent scholarship on modern European transnational history and to debate the opportunities and limitations of the so-called “transnational turn.” Co-taught by two faculty members, the class explores a vast range of topics, including international institution-building, ideological transfers, migration, diaspora, and citizenship. While the class focuses primarily on preparing students to reflect on and use the methodologies of transnational history in academic contexts, we also aim to foster debates about the relevance of transnationalism in non-academic venues, like blogs and the news media.

M 3:30-5:25 PM | 5255 Humanities Bldg. | Instructor: Giuliana Chamedes & Kathryn Ciancia

History 901: Food and Power from Farm to Table

Food and Power from Farm to Table

This seminar examines the history of how food has been produced, packaged, marketed and consumed in the past 200 years of US history in a transnational context. We will read the newest work in the growing field of food history, with particular attention on issues of race, gender, labor, capitalism, imperialism,, food justice, and sustainability.

T 1:20-3:15 PM | 5255 Humanities Bldg. | Instructor: Nan Enstad

History 903: History of Education of Multicultural America

History of Education of Multicultural America

Violent public debates over the meaning of the American past and membership in the American body politic provide daily reminders that historical narratives matter. But even among those who seek more complex and inclusive understandings of US history, there is little consensus about how to construct that history, what its goals should be, or how to present it. This seminar explores these historiographical questions through the educational experiences of African American, Latinx, Native American, Asian American, and European American communities, among others. In doing so, it also explores a narrower but no less important set of questions. These include: to what extent has education historically promoted advancement for groups and individuals within the US? How have educational opportunities, experiences, and approaches varied across time and by region, religion, race, class, ethnicity, gender, and immigration status? Additionally, to what extent have schools and universities challenged or reinforced social, political, economic, and cultural hierarchies?

M 2:25-5:25 PM | L151 Education Building | Instructor: Walter Stern

History 982: Interdepartmental Seminar in the Latin-American Area

Interdepartmental Seminar in the Latin-American Area

Interdisciplinary inquiry in Latin American society and culture.

W 2:00-4:00 PM | Room: TBA | Instructor: Alberto Vargas-Prieto


History 983: Interdepartmental Seminar in African Studies

Interdepartmental Seminar in African Studies

This graduate seminar provides a setting for participants to consider Africa – as an idea, a field of study, a place in the world, a subject for teaching – from a multi-disciplinary perspective.  It is available to graduate students as African Cultural Studies 983, Anthropology 983, Economics 983, Geography 983, History 983, or Political Science 983. The course will explore a variety of themes and topics in order to consider not just what to think about the history, cultures, and politics of Africa but also how to think and teach about this part of the world.  We will consider the benefits and drawbacks of an area studies orientation in scholarship and teaching, the multiple meanings and varying expectations associated with working as an “Africanist” in academia, and the ways in which these meanings and expectations might differ according to discipline and the location of institutions of higher education. In other words, we will both focus on the state of scholarship on Africa in various disciplines and also consider how to approach teaching about Africa – course design, the development of syllabi, the use of digital technologies, etc. –  from a multidisciplinary perspective.

R 1:20-3:15 PM | 5245 Humanities Bldg. | Instructor: Neil Kodesh

History of Science 720: Historiography and Methods

Historiography and Methods

This course provides an introduction for graduate students to the history of science, medicine, and technology (HSMT). It gives a brief overview of the field’s major themes and issues, both historical and current, as well as introducing you to a range of approaches scholars have used to address their questions. To help serve as an introduction to HSMT at Wisconsin, it includes something by each faculty member in the program. As an intensive reading course, assessment is divided among class participation, ten analytical reading responses, and a final historiographic paper.

W 8:50-11:50 AM | 7121 Helen C. White Hall | Instructor: Lynn Nyhart

Syllabi Library

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

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Course Guide

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 Program 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:

  • Public version of the Course Guide
  • Version for UW students available through My UW (requires UW NetID login)

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.)