Graduate Courses

Fall 2022

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History 701: History in a Global Perspective

History in a Global Perspective

An introduction to history as a graduate and professional discipline. Comprises practical and intellectual discussions of historical study and research, including questions of how to be a graduate student in the department, how to “do” history, and how to become a professional in the field. Includes talks from department faculty, staff, and outside lecturers. Required for all History graduate students in their first year.

W 3:30PM – 4:20PM | Curti Lounge | Instructor: Daniel Ussishkin

History 710-001: Professional Development Seminar: Dissertation Chapter Writing

Dissertation Chapter Writing

History 710 functions as a writing workshop for dissertators. Participants can be at any stage in the dissertation-writing process, but must commit to presenting at least one chapter for peer review at some point during the semester. The course will focus on practical writing issues, including questions of style, structure, narrative, and argument.  We will examine how to structure a chapter effectively; how to compose efficient and powerful introductions and conclusions; and how to fashion narrative that marshals evidence and analysis in an approachable and convincing way. If enough participants are just beginning to write their dissertations, we will also discuss how to conceptualize and construct a book-length piece of writing.  We will read some practical advice on style, method, and motivation and explore some inspiring examples of powerful historical writing. However, this reading will be minimal.  Participants’ main task will be to compose their own prose. Students will also read and critique each other’s chapters. In sum, the course aims to provide a structured and useful environment for transforming research into writing.

W 11:00AM – 12:55PM | 5245 Humanities | Instructor: Suzanne Desan

History 710-002: Professional Development Seminar: Preliminary Exams: Strategies & Support

Preliminary Exams: Strategies & Support

T 3:30PM – 5:25PM | 5245 Humanities | Instructor: TBD

History 755: Proseminar in Southeast Asian History: Empire & Revolution

Proseminar in Southeast Asian History

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 a history of intense colonization, Southeast Asia is the ideal region for a close, comparative study of imperialism. The course concludes by applying insights gained from exploring the end of European empires to the ongoing decline of U.S. global power.

T 11:00AM – 12:55PM |5257 Humanities | Instructor: Alfred McCoy

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.

R 1:20PM – 3:15PM |5257 Humanities | Instructor: Karl Shoemaker

History 804: Interdisciplinary Western European Area Studies Seminar: Teaching and Writing about Nazi Germany

Interdisciplinary Western European Area Studies Seminar

With the recent upsurge of Holocaust denial, the newly passed law in Wisconsin to require Holocaust education in public schools, and the threats of reemerging autocracy, we are challenged to rethink how we communicate to our students and to the public the complexities of understanding the Nazi phenomenon.  More than other chapters in our history, this episode has been subjected to distortion and exploitation across the political spectrum, especially in the increasing tendency to compare one’s adversaries to “the Nazis.”  This course will approach these challenges by focusing on how we can write about and teach the history of the Third Reich more effectively and accurately, focusing not so much on the experiences of the Holocaust but on the lives of ordinary Germans, with a goal toward sharpening skills in recognizing similar patterns in today’s world.  For the writing part of the course, we will use the book Art of Suppression: Confronting the Nazi Past in Histories of the Visual and Performing Arts as a basis for analyzing the historiography of Nazi Germany (with a particular focus on culture and the arts), examining how misconceptions about the rigidity of Nazi cultural life hinder an understanding of the choices and opportunities available to the many willing to work with the system.  For the teaching part of the course, we will examine pedagogical methods, syllabi, texts, and media resources available to instruct about the lives, attitudes, behaviors, and choices of Germans, including German Jews, living in Hitler’s Germany.  All required readings will be in English, with the possibility of optional readings in other languages.  Students will be required to present on and submit a final project, which can take the form of a research paper or a course design/syllabus.

M 4:45PM – 7:15PM | 387 Van Hise | Instructor: Pamela Potter

History 845: Seminar-Central European History: Empire and Nation in Modern Central Europe

Seminar-Central European History

This graduate-level seminar takes stock of the impact of transnational and global approaches to Central European history, which have transformed the field over the past two decades, while asking what role studies of nationalism and the nation (should) continue to play. The course defines “Central Europe” broadly to encompass German-speaking Europe as well as the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its successor states. The course will also address the region’s interactions with the world beyond Europe, through commerce, imperialism, colonialism, and migration. We will focus on the period since 1850. However, graduate students specializing in other regions and periods, including students in adjacent departments, are welcome to enroll. There is wide flexibility in selecting a topic and format for the final paper. The seminar will be enriched by bringing together participants with diverse areas of expertise and methodological approaches.

In addition to introducing graduate students to major recent works of Central European historiography, many of them based on the authors’ dissertations, this course places significant emphasis on building professional skills. A portion of each meeting will be devoted to discussion of professional development and workshopping relevant documents. The assignments, including a publishable book review and a final paper related to a potential master’s thesis or dissertation topic, are designed to produce tangible benefits for students’ graduate careers.

T 3:30PM – 5:25PM | 5257 Humanities | Instructor: Brandon Bloch

History 861: Seminar – The History of Africa

The History of Africa

This course will provide an introduction to some of the principal methods, theories, and historiographic trends that characterize African history.  The principal objective of the course is to provide a critical foundation for your further research on Africa.  Throughout the course we will engage questions surrounding the use of non-traditional historical methodologies and the importance of context in the creation of historical sources.  The methods and interpretive insights that we discuss will hopefully prove useful for historians studying other parts of the world, as well as for students from other disciplines.

W 8:50AM – 10:45AM | 5255 Humanities | Instructor: Neil Kodesh

History 891: Proseminar in Modern European History

Proseminar in Modern European History

This reading seminar will introduce graduate students to the history of Postwar Europe—East and West. We will explore the imprint of the Second World War, the Holocaust, and the extension of Soviet power on the countries of Europe. We will look at European reconfigurations against the backdrop of the Cold War, focusing on “the end of empire” in Western Europe, the creation of the Soviet Bloc in Eastern Europe, and the creation of the European Union. We will also look at the transmission of ideas, culture, and people across borders, as well as at the politics of religion, immigration, reproduction, and environmentalism. We will end with an evaluation of the new political, social, and cultural transfigurations that emerged in the wake of the Revolutions of 1989.

F 1:20PM – 3:15PM | B235 Van Vleck | Instructors: Laird Boswell and Francine Hirsch


History 900: Introduction to History for U.S. Historians

Introduction to History for U.S. Historians

This seminar introduces incoming graduate students of North American/U.S. history to the ideas and practices that have shaped “Americanist” scholarship to date. We will examine the development of U.S. history as a distinct area of inquiry, analyze its contested internal traditions, and consider a few major challenges to the field itself. Faculty guests will visit the seminar to discuss their areas of specialization and offer wisdom about doing U.S. history today. The broad historiographical emphasis of the course is intended to prepare students to contextualize their own research interests and equip them to teach survey courses.

W 11:00AM – 12:55PM | 5255 Humanities | Instructor: April Haynes

History 901-001: Studies in American History: The Long Civil Rights Movement

Studies in American History

This is a graduate readings seminar that explores the history and historiography of the American Civil Rights Movement. Our primary concerns are threefold: 1) to expand our understandings of the long Black freedom struggle as it unfolded in the American twentieth century (not just in the mid-1950s to mid-1960s, often called the “heroic phase” of the movement); 2) to think about the larger mechanics and theoretics of social movements – how they form and how they work; and 3) to understand how interpretations of the freedom struggle have changed and been debated by historians in recent decades.

In pursuit of these goals, we will read a diverse set of books and articles that explore a range of questions about the chronology, geography, political aspirations, gender politics, coalitional leanings, and achievements and shortcomings of various manifestations of Black freedom activism in the twentieth century. Some are localized, grassroots studies about the meaning and mechanics of freedom movement organizing. Others are more wide-lensed and theoretical in their orientation. Some are situated primarily in the South, while others move outside the South and, indeed, outside of the United States. Some consider the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s as a distinct and unique phenomenon in the long arc of black freedom activism, while others see it as one phase of a larger and still unfinished process by which Black people get free.

T 3:30PM – 5:25PM |5255 Humanities | Instructor: Simon Balto

History 901-002: Studies in American History: The History of U.S. Political Economy

The History of U.S. Political Economy

Broadly conceived, political economy is the study of power. This class will investigate how individuals, institutions, and government bodies have shaped power dynamics in the United States since the end of the Civil War. Themes include the production of inequality and the relationships between business and the state. We will use various approaches that interrogate power relationships at different scales, from the body, home, and street all the way up to the global forces of empire. Along the way we will critically evaluate the boundaries of political economy of a lens for interpreting the past. To what extent is it a distinctive approach? What types of baggage does it carry? How can it illuminate issues surrounding the production of historical scholarship in today’s academy?

W 8:50AM – 10:45AM | Online | Instructor: Paige Glotzer

History 952: Seminar in Comparative History: Empire and Decolonization

Seminar in Comparative History

Traditionally, historians often treated decolonization as a discrete moment in historical time–a series of decades in the mid-twentieth century in which empires unraveled across the globe, and independent nations emerged in their place. In these narratives, decolonization marked the endpoint of an age of great power imperialism and a brief transitional process by which colonies became sovereign states. But recent work in the field has challenged these characterizations to instead interrogate the ways in which fantasies of empire were always incomplete, and colonial power relations did not vanish when the ink dried on treaties that came to be warehoused in dusty archives.

Studying both empire and decolonization poses a challenge to two frameworks that are fundamental for the historian: scale and temporality.  In this course, we explore how different scholars have approached these key challenges in terms of conceptualizing modern projects of empire and decolonization.  More directly, we will explicitly move away from thinking about decolonization as a primarily mid-twentieth century phenomenon by considering projects of modern empire and efforts toward decolonization from the 18th century to the present.

This team-taught course aims to introduce both foundational and cutting-edge scholarship that examines the relationship between empire and decolonization.  In particular, we will grapple with the challenges that confront us when we attempt to discern the contemporaneous projects of empire-building and decolonization within the same frame.  We will be working across fields and even disciplines in order to see different paradigm shifts in empire and decolonization studies: transnational/international history, ethnic and postcolonial studies, legal and institutional history, and political economy and infrastructure studies.

T 1:20PM – 3:15PM | 5255 Humanities | Instructors: Monica Kim and Allison Powers Useche

History 958: Seminar – American Military History

American Military History

War figures prominently in the self-affirming narratives of most societies, but this is perhaps especially true of the United States—a nation paradoxically conceived in opposition to military “tyranny” yet birthed in war and self-defined largely by its subsequent martial ventures.  Fred Anderson and Andrew Cayton have likened the metanarrative of American history to a suspension bridge, anchored at one end by Plymouth and Jamestown and rising to three peaks—the Revolution, the Civil War, and World War II—before descending through the Cold War to the present day.  This course will critically examine this arc and its important omissions, beginning with pre-contact Native American military practices.  In keeping with the “new” military history, this course will study the ways in which North American societies organized and applied external violence to serve their collective ends.  This includes the “traditional” study of armed conflicts but places them in a broader social and cultural context.  Weekly readings will follow a familiar chronology yet reflect a range of approaches to military history privileging seminal and worthy new interpretations.   Many of these will reflect the field’s ongoing fascination with cultures or “ways of war.”  The course meets weekly for two-hour seminar discussions on the assigned readings.

W 1:20PM – 3:15PM | Humanities 5245 | Instructor: John Hall

History of Science 720: Proseminar: Historiography and Methods

Historiography and Methods

This course provides a graduate-level introduction 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 the range of approaches scholars have used to address their questions. To help serve as an introduction to HSMT at Wisconsin, it incorporates writings by faculty members in the program. Major themes in recent years:  Landmark moments in the history of the history of science and relations with neighboring disciplines; agents of change in STM; systems of power/knowledge in STM; globalization of HSTM; analyses of popular and indigenous knowledge of nature in STM historiography.

W 8:50AM – 11:50AM | 5257 Humanities| Instructor: Lynn Nyhart

History of Science 921: Seminar – Science from the South

Science from the South: Global Approaches to the History of Science and Technology

This course is designed to introduce graduate students from a variety of disciplines to global, postcolonial, and non-Western histories of modern science and technology. Though born out of distinct intellectual and political traditions, these approaches share a preoccupation with the “others” that haunt histories of science and technology. We will engage with a series of subfields that have emerged during the past three decades along with their antecedents: Postcolonial Science Studies, histories of technology in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, studies of race and imperial science. What precisely is “postcolonial” about Postcolonial Science Studies? How does an emphasis on forms of knowledge that originated outside of Euro-American contexts shift what the “history of science” is? What new methods might these projects enable or necessitate?  This course aims to explore these questions while giving students a space to develop their writing, analytic, and presentation skills.

T 2:25PM – 5:25PM | 151 Education Bldg | Instructor: Daniel Williford

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.)