Graduate Courses

Spring 2024

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History 706: Topics in Transnational History – Land Tenure Center

Land Tenure Center

The University of Wisconsin’s Land Tenure Center played a key role in the debates and struggles around agrarian reform and redistribution in the 1960s and 1970s. This class will use the LTC records and files to offer grad students the opportunity to work in a history “laboratory.” We are going to use the local resources of the LTC to learn about the process of historical research and publishing. We will be working throughout the semester as if we are writing an edited volume on the LTC and land reform struggles around the world. We will consult available archival and library sources, investigate the existing historiography, conduct oral histories, and meet with a potential publisher. Students will research a country of interest, which might be the foundation for a chapter in the edited volume or part of a public exhibition. The goal here is for students to experience working on a real project by working on a real project. Students should be prepared for the course to evolve in new directions based on our experiences in the field.

W 1:20PM – 3:15PM | 2611 Mosse Humanities | Instructor: Patrick Iber


History 710-001: Professional Development Seminar – Designing Courses

Designing Courses

 This is a workshop in designing courses: thematic and chronological, lectures and seminars, for all levels of students.  Each participant will design one course of their choosing, to be taught in-person, blended, or fully online from a platform we shall be discussing.  In our weekly meetings, we begin with the changing landscape of course design itself, the need to design courses that can be changed at any point in a given semester.  We shall also be talking about conceptualizing the whole, the parts, and how one builds connections over a single term of study.  In our discussion of lecture courses, we shall consider the architecture of each lecture as it fits into the larger architecture of the course, as well as how to build into each lecture differing levels and kinds of access for a diverse student body.  In our discussion of building a seminar, we shall explore various ways of bringing students into weekly conversations – how to build into the structure of the course student engagement with the material.  For all courses, we shall be exploring ways of fostering student participation in what may well be a virtual classroom.

T 11:00AM – 12:55PM | 5255 Mosse Humanities | Instructor: Lee Wandel


History 710-002: Professional Development Seminar – Writing Proposals

Writing Proposals

Grant writing is a crucial skill for academic careers and yet it is often assumed that students simply possess this skill by virtue of being in graduate school. This seminar is focused on strategies for planning, writing and revising effective proposals for external fellowships to fund dissertation research.  Since we will break down the components of an effective dissertation project summary, the strategies you learn can be used to develop a dissertation prospectus. They will be transferable to other proposals as well, such as dissertation completion and post-doctoral fellowships. Participants will take part in a 14-week hands-on, workshop-style seminar with the aim of writing and refining a dissertation prospectus or grant proposal tailored to applications relevant to your field of study.

M 3:30PM – 5:25PM | 5257 Mosse Humanities| Instructor: Louise Young


History 753: Seminar-Comparative World History – Masculinity & War in the Pre-Modern World

Masculinity & War in the Pre-Modern World

This seminar will support students’ research into topics related to gender, warfare, and military honor in the premodern world, or ways that modern constructions of military masculinity draw on idealized pre-modern models. Discussion readings will focus on ancient/medieval Greco-Roman and premodern Japanese examples, but student research projects are not confined to these areas. We will discuss major literary texts in translation, such as Iliad and The Tales of the Heike, as well as scholarship on the changes in classical military honor and the transformation of the samurai. Individual student research projects will form the main focus of the seminar with an emphasis on group and individual feedback to help students sharpen their analysis and clarify their writing.

R 1:20PM – 3:15PM | 424 Memorial Library | Instructors: Leonora Neville and Sarah Thal


History 755: Proseminar in Southeast Asian History – CIA’s Covert Wars & U.S. Foreign Policy

CIA’s Covert Wars & U.S. Foreign Policy

Designed for undergraduates and graduate students with some background in U.S. diplomatic history or international relations, the course will probe the dynamics of CIA covert wars through case histories over the past 75 years. By focusing on world regions such as Europe, 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. These clandestine interventions often succeeded brilliantly from a U.S. perspective. But they sometimes 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 clandestine 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, overthrow of Sukarno in Indonesia, Lumumba’s murder in the Congo, and the recent covert war in Afghanistan. Reflecting the significance of Southeast Asia to CIA operations, the seminar will devote four sessions to this region, including anti-Sukarno operations in Indonesia, pacification of communist insurgency in the Philippines, 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 11:00AM – 12:55PM | 5257 Mosse Humanities | Instructor: Alfred McCoy


History 805: Seminar-Medieval History

Seminar in Medieval History

R 3:30 – 5:25 | 2611 Mosse Humanities | Instructor: Karl Shoemaker


History 855: Seminar in Japanese History – Historiography of Japan

Historiography of 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. 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.  Sessions are organized around 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.

T 3:30PM – 5:25PM | 5255 Mosse Humanities | Instructor: Louise Young


History 861: Seminar – Health, Medicine, and Healing in Africa

Health, Medicine, and Healing in Africa

Scholars have developed a complex literature on health, medicine, and healing in Africa over the past four decades or so.  Most recently, theoretical perspectives from Science and Technology Studies have become increasingly influential in this field of study.  The scholarly turn toward biopolitics and research on vernacular science has challenged the relevance of deeply embedded polarities – traditional versus modern, indigenous healing versus biomedicine, diagnosis versus therapy – that have long inspired studies of medicine and illness in Africa.  The result of these intellectual transformations is that the study of health, medicine, and healing in Africa is at a particularly vibrant and capacious moment. New frontiers of research and inquiry are developing as a result of conversations among humanists, scientists, and social scientists.

This course will examine the historical and anthropological literature on health, medicine, and healing in Africa.  We will explore the creative and shifting ways in which Africans have sought to compose healthy communities through the expansion of therapeutic repertoires, the adaptation of deeply rooted ideas and practices, and the adoption and transformation of new technologies.  We will also examine the ways in which different historical perspectives inform and transform our understanding of more contemporary developments, such as the emergence of medical humanitarianism and the flourishing of health-related non-governmental organizations in the Global South.  Finally, we will consider the possibilities and potential pitfalls of deeper engagement by scholars working in Africa with those working on medicine, science, and related topics in other parts of the world.

R 1:20PM – 3:15PM | 5245 Mosse Humanities | Instructor: Neil Kodesh


History 901-001: Studies in American History – Biography in U.S. Women’s History

Biography in U.S. Women’s History

This course is an opportunity to study the craft and evolution of biography in U.S. women’s history from the 1970s through the present. We will begin by reading biographies that show who the early and popular female subjects of biographies were. We will see how the field has expanded to incorporate women of color, queer women, performers, and others. Among our many themes will be conservatism, respectability, and rebellion, and we will be open to the possibility that all three of those words can be applied to one woman—and indeed to many of the women on our reading list. With lives, careers, and legacies that span the nineteenth century through the 2000s, our historical actors are reformers, first ladies, activists, athletes, cultural producers, and politicians.

This seminar is ideal for a variety of students. Those whose academic interests include women’s and gender studies will be fascinated. Students who are considering producing either a biography or another type of life study for their master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation will find the course an all-important guide for getting started, pondering directions, and creating a roadmap—no matter the gender of their research subject. Students who simply enjoy biography as a genre of history and like analyzing both how history is done and how lives are lived will be fulfilled. In our classroom community, we will read, co-facilitate, and share, guided by the goal of having lively and engaging discussions about place, performance, politics, power, origins, sources, and, most of all, history.

R 1:20PM – 3:15PM | 5255 Mosse Humanities | Instructor: Ashley Brown


History 901-002: Studies in American History – Readings in American Indian and Indigenous History

Readings in American Indian and Indigenous History

This graduate seminar introduces students to the significant questions, topics, and methods in the field of American Indian and Indigenous history through a survey of major scholarly works, including monographs, articles, and essays which draw upon historical methods and Indigenous epistemologies to advance our knowledge of an Indigenous past, present, and future.

Readings have been selected to offer a representative survey of some key developments in the historiography of Native American and Indigenous Studies. Readings privilege newer scholarship while attending to many of the older set pieces in the field and recent questions. At the same time, readings provide models for students useful in reading lists, qualifying examinations, or dissertation writing.

The structure of this seminar offers students an opportunity to practice fundamental skills to graduate studies in American Indian and Indigenous Studies, such as respectful, constructive, and substantial dialogue, critique, and presentation. Throughout the term, students will pose questions, lead discussions, and present their historiographic work to their peers and the instructor in class.

T 2:25PM – 5:25PM |478 Van Hise | Instructor: Matt Villenueve


History 910: History of Colonial North America

History of Colonial North America

Historians once understood the history of “Colonial North America” as the history of the thirteen British colonies that united in the American Revolution. But a generation of historical scholarship has enormously expanded the scope and our understanding of colonial America. Many scholars posit that early North American history must include what historians have come to call “Vast Early America,” encompassing the “Atlantic World” and even a broader global approach. In this course, we will grapple with the debate over what properly constitutes early America, and, while we will keep North America as our point of reference, we will continually situate the British North American colonies in their broader context.

This course is historiographical in nature; that is, it is intended to help you understand how historians have wrestled with this material over time, both in their choice of subject matter and in their methodological approaches. By the end of the semester, you should be conversant with major debates in early American history and with the ways in which the field has developed. Together we will consider an array of topics, including maritime exploration, imperial expansion, migration, race and power, slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade, religion and belief, women and gender, the development of the American colonies, the emergence of an Atlantic economy, and the struggles of many for independence during the Age of Revolutions.

M 1:20PM – 3:15PM | 5245 Mosse Humanities | Instructor: Gloria Whiting


History 952: Seminar in Comparative History – Citizens, Subjects, and Others in the Modern World

Citizens, Subjects, and Others in the Modern World

 How have modern states created categories of political belonging, and how have these processes developed hand-in-hand with exclusionary practices? How have states fashioned tools–such as passportization, denaturalization, and banishment–to manage and control populations, both within and beyond their physical borders? And how do these questions continue to reverberate in our own times of persistent systemic inequality at home and abroad, in ways as varied as the resurgence of ethnonationalist movements and the rise of the so-called “golden passport” (citizenship as pay-to-play)? Highlighting cutting-edge scholarship on North America and Europe, both imagined expansively to include their internal and global empires, this course will foster a series of exciting comparative discussions, putting literatures that are often explored separately in conversation with one another. We will focus in particular on “test case” populations, as modernizing states sought to define the gendered, religious, and racialized characteristics of the “civilized” citizen: from the Jews and Muslims of French Algeria and the “almost citizens” of Puerto Rico to the Native peoples of North America, the Roma of Eastern Europe, and the Bedouins of Israel/Palestine.

*Note that the course can be used to fulfill either the 19th- or 20th-century requirement for the History Department US/North American graduate program.

W 1:20PM – 3:15PM | 5257 Mosse Humanities | Instructors: Kathryn Ciancia and Stephen Kantrowitz


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.)