Graduate Courses

Spring 2021

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History 706: Topics in Transnational History - Zionism and Its Critics

In the late-nineteenth century, Jews in Europe initiated a movement for the creation of a Jewish homeland of some kind in Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire. Known eventually as Zionism, this movement led to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.  Zionists ranged across the political spectrum from left to right.   There were multiple forms of Zionism, sometimes mutually antagonistic, that pursued various strategies and goals.  Throughout its history, Zionism generated criticism from many quarters within and outside the Jewish community.   Much was at stake in debates between Zionists and their critics, and among Zionists themselves:  the fate of Jews in increasingly perilous countries; the future of empires in the Middle East; the prospects of Arab nationalism in Palestine; and other critical issues.

This seminar explores the history of the Zionist movement—its ideas and politics—in relation to its critics from multiple perspectives.   In its broadest frame, the seminar is about the interplay between nationalism, socialism, and liberalism through the case of the Jews as they became entangled with nation-states, empires, and revolutions during the modern era.

W 1:20PM – 3:15PM | Pending Room | Instructor: Tony Michels

History 710-001: Professional Development Seminar - Writing Grant Proposals

Grant writing is a crucial skill for academic careers and yet it is often assumed that you simply possess this skill by virtue of being in graduate school. This seminar is focused on strategies for writing effective proposals for external fellowships to fund dissertation research. The strategies you learn will be transferrable to other proposals as well, such as dissertation completion and post-doctoral fellowships. Participants will take part in a 15 week hands-on, workshop-style seminar with the aim of writing and refining a SSRC IDRF proposal and one other short (2-3 page) proposal of the participant’s choice.

This will be an online synchronous seminar that will include some virtual group writing (which can be very helpful, even virtually). Enrollment is limited to 8 and requires active involvement, so please take the seminar only if you will be able to set aside time for grant writing this semester even if you do not plan to submit proposals until later.

Learning objectives/

This seminar will help you learn how to:

  • research and plan the external fellowship competitions appropriate to your topic and discipline
  • break down grant writing into a series of manageable skills and component parts
  • understand how various external grants are ranked and awarded
  • produce a coherent and fundable description of your dissertation project in two different formats: a 10-page SSRC IDRF proposal and a 2-3 page short proposal of your choice
  • produce an individualized timetable/schedule for your grant writing to share with your advisor.

T 3:30PM – 5:25PM | Pending Room | Instructor: Anne Hansen

History 710-002: Professional Development Seminar - 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.

The credit standard for this course is met by an expectation of a total of 135 hours of engagement with the course’s learning activities (at least 45 hours per credit or 9 hours per week), which include regularly scheduled meeting times (group seminar meetings of 115 minutes per week), dedicated online time, reading, writing, field trips, individual consultations with the instructor, and other student work as described in the syllabus.

By the end of the semester, students will be required to have developed—conceptualized, articulated goals, structured pedagogical steps of learning to meet those goals, determined assignments that support those goals, and established a scale for measuring student progress—one course. We shall also be developing a variety of ideas for world history courses that might be implemented in different teaching situations.

T 1:20PM – 3:15PM | Pending Room  | Instructor: Lee Palmer Wandel

History 753: Comparative World History

This course will introduce students to the seminal works in military thought from antiquity to the nuclear age and from a geographical breadth reflecting the War in Society and Culture Program’s core areas of emphasis. Students will also receive an introduction to the most current and important scholarship on “cultures of war.”  Chronologically, the readings span classical antiquity in China and the Mediterranean, as well as the “West” since early modern times. The readings include such theorists s Sun-Tze, Julius Caesar, Hugo Grotius, Macchiavellli, Clausewitz, Mahan and others. In addition to weekly discussion meetings, the course also includes an extended written assignment–whether research-driven or more synthetic–on topics agreed upon by the student and one of the instructors.

R 1:20PM – 3:15PM |Pending Room | Instructor: David McDonald

History 755: Proseminar in Southeast Asian History - CIA 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 comparative 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 ongoing 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 | Humanities 5233 | Instructor: Alfred McCoy

History 804: Interdisciplinary Western European Area Studies Seminar

T 4:00PM – 6:30PM | Pending Room | Instructor: Sonja Klocke

History 854: Seminar in Modern Chinese History

F 3:30PM – 5:25PM |Pending Room | Instructor: Judd Kinzley

History 861: 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 science, medicine and related topics in other parts of the world.

R 1:20PM – 3:15PM | Pending Room| Instructor: Neil Kodesh

History 903: History of Education in Multicultural America

Violent public debates over the meaning of the American past and membership in the American body politic highlight the importance of crafting a more complex, truthful, and inclusive understanding of US history. But within and outside of academia there is little consensus about how to construct that history, what its goals should be, or how to present it. This seminar will explore these historiographical questions alongside other questions pertaining to racialization and the reproduction and disruption of inequality through an examination of the educational experiences of Black Americans, Indigenous Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinx and European Americans, among others.

T 2:25PM – 5:25PM |Online | Instructor: Walter Stern

History 910: 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 subject matter over time, in terms of both their choice of subject matter and their methodological approaches. However, we will spend most of our time working through key books that have shaped the field over the past decade or so. Taking advantage of the digital format, we will engage directly with the scholars who wrote the books we read. Guest historians will attend nearly all of our course meetings to discuss their contributions to and visions of the field.

W 2:00PM – 4:00PM | Pending Room | Instructor: Gloria Whiting

History 938: Queer History, Queer Theory

Over the last five decades, historians have broken intellectual ground by introducing sexuality, sex, and gender as categories of and for historical analysis. Often employing interdisciplinary methods and theoretical approaches, historians continually generate new questions in method and theory, opening critical vantage points for understanding the place of sex/gender in all aspects of the past, the modernist epistemological foundations of sexology, and the stakes of queer of color, feminist, trans and decolonial critiques. The seminar explores the interdisciplinary historiographic, methodological and theoretical insights offered by queer of color, feminist and transgender history and theory.

Readings analyze sex and gender heuristically and simultaneously shed light on their emergence within historical processes of urbanization, nationalism, citizenship, imperialism, settler colonialism, racialization, disability, class distinction, incarceration and law. Seminar critically examines concepts such as archive, evidence, memory, narration, history, and epistemology.

R 11:00AM – 12:55PM | Pending Room| Instructor: A. Finn Enke

History 940: Seminar – American History 1900-1945

This is an advanced seminar on American history from 1900 to 1945, a period of momentous social change and corresponding efforts at social amelioration. Understanding the history of Populism, the Progressive Era, the 1920s, and New Deal has challenged scholars for decades. We’ll read some of the most important interpretations of various aspects of reform, from Richard Hofstadter’s Age of Reform to David Kennedy’s Freedom from Fear. Reform movements appeared in various guises in the early decades of the twentieth century, variously representing conservative, liberal, and radical ideologies. From social gospeler to fundamentalist, trust buster to New Dealer, settlement house volunteer to professional altruist, diverse movements arose that promised to bring order and improvement to American life.

The required readings tend to offer sweeping arguments about their respective subjects and will provide the core of weekly seminar discussions. The quality of the course will therefore depend heavily on the quality of weekly preparation. In addition, every student will write one paper, limited to 18-20 pages, due at the end of the semester.

M 1:20PM – 3:15PM | Pending Room| Instructor: William Reese

History 943: Race & Nationalism: Comparative & Theoretical Perspectives

This seminar examines race and nationalism as they interact in several different geographic settings over time.  It aims to cultivate a nuanced understanding of how race and nationalism have not only been “factors” in national histories, but also how they have shaped the past in the societies we will study.  Our readings and discussions will prompt us to probe how race and nationalism inflect colonialism, racial orders, gender, cultural politics, and foreign relations.  Most of our authors are historians but we will also sample selected work in the humanities and social sciences to achieve an enhanced understanding of the many ways that scholars have studied the race and nationalisms nexus. There are five broad and overlapping themes in the course: 1) racial formation; 2) power; 3) diaspora; 4) gendered nationalism; 5) culture.  Through comparative study and engagement with ideas, students will leave the course with a nuanced understanding of how concepts of race and nation have influenced the development of multiple societies in the modern world.  They will augment their own specialized subfields by examining how selected historians and social scientists have addressed these subjects.

T 1:20PM – 3:15PM | Pending Room | Instructor: Brenda Plummer

History 983: Interdepartmental Seminar in African Studies - The Question of Agency

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. The course will focus on the concept of “agency” 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 in a politically-, ethically-, and theoretically-informed way. While some “Africanist” scholarship has emphasized the structural conditions that limit the choices of African people—wherever they find themselves in the world—other scholarship has emphasized the choices that people have made in spite of, or within, various structural conditions. Some scholarship claims to recover or restore the agency of Africans within academic discourse. Yet still other scholarship assumes the agency of all people and focuses on the scope and scale of their choices in various times and places.

Students in this seminar will read and discuss several key texts that have tackled the question of agency in order to refine their own understanding of the question and apply it to their own research and teaching. The semester will culminate in the composition and presentation of student research papers in which various answers to the question of agency are explored.

F 2:00PM – 4:30PM |Online | Instructor: Matthew Brown

History of Science 909: A History of Reproduction and Reproductive Rights in U. S. History

This course examines the history of reproduction and battles over reproductive control in United States history with special attention to the twentieth century.  We will be guided by several questions: How have people fought to gain control over their fertility?  How has reproductive control been withheld from women?  How have reproductive choices been differentially constrained?  How has the relationship between sexuality and reproduction changed over time?  How has the state been involved in determining reproductive choices?  How has medicine figured into the history of reproduction?  How does the history of reproduction inform the current discussion of reproductive choice and reproductive justice?

R 1:20PM – 3:15PM | Pending Room | Instructor: Judith Houck

History of Science 921: Seminar – Science and Empire

In the last twenty years, historians of science have drawn new attention to empire as a crucial context within which modern disciplines, institutions, technologies, and knowledge took shape. This seminar will probe a variety of histories of science and empire, including both landmark works and some of the most recent studies.  Three overarching questions will guide the seminar: 1) What has the focus on empire contributed to our understanding of the intersections of science with race, gender, religion, and class? 2) What are some of the major debates within science and empire studies, and why do they matter? 3) What limitations can we identify in this field, particularly those emerging from the heterogeneity of “empire” as an analytical category?

The scope of the seminar will include European empires in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, but also the Ottoman, Qing, and Habsburg contexts, from the seventeenth through early twentieth centuries. Assignments will focus on skills of historiographic analysis, including the preparation of publishable book reviews.

W 8:50AM – 11:50AM | Pending Room| Instructor: Daniel Stolz

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.)