Graduate Courses

Spring 2023

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History 703: History and Theory

In academia, the adjectives critique and critical are ubiquitous.  However, we rarely scrutinize what these terms mean.  This course will examine attempts to explain what it means to be critical, with a special emphasis on what this adjective implies when applied to social theory.  The course will begin by examining Kant and Hegel’s respective attempts to be critical with respect to philosophy.  Through these texts, we gain a perspective on what it means to subject categories to “critique.   These categories can in turn become the basis for a critique of society.  Without this initial step, our critique of society risks being uncritical because there is no justification of our foundational categories, such as freedom.

We will then turn to Marx’s Capital, which has the subtitle: “critique of political economy  and ask how Marx’s conception of critique relates to his idealist predecessors.   In this manner, we will see how the concept of critique can be applied to a specific social form such as capitalism.  Frankfurt School theorist, such as Adorno and Horkheimer combine the insights of Kant, Hegel and Marx to construct a social theory, which they explicitly contend is critical.  This course deals with how they explain critical theory and also how they put such theory in to practice, in classic texts such as the Dialectic of Enlightenment.  More recently, the so-called second and third generation Frankfurt School philosophers have returned to Kant and Hegel to rethink the normative foundations of social critique.  However, in the past few decades, scholars have raised the question of whether the later generation Frankfurt School scholars uncritically accept some assumptions of the capitalist system.

If we look beyond Europe, much Western critical theory has been charged with being Eurocentric and consequently uncritical.  We will read attempts by non-Western intellectuals to supplement critical theory by addressing issues related to race, gender and imperialism.  From this perspective, we will read key texts of postcolonial and decolonial theory.  The course will end by looking at attempts by attempts by Asian intellectuals, such as Karatani Kojin and Wang Hui, to rethink universality by explicitly drawing on Western critical theory.

M 3:30PM – 5:25PM | 5257 Mosse Humanities | Instructor: Viren Murthy

For more information, visit History and Theory

History 710: Professional Development Seminar - Designing Courses

This is a workshop in designing lecture courses – both thematic and chronological.

W 3:30PM – 5:25PM | 5245 Mosse Humanities | Instructor: Daniel Ussishkin

For more information, visit Designing Courses

History 710: Professional Development Seminar - Writing Funding 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. 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 14-week hands-on, workshop-style seminar with the aim of writing and refining a grant proposal tailored to applications relevant to your field of study.

T 3:30PM – 5:25PM | 5245 Mosse Humanities| Instructor: Louise Young

For more information, visit Writing Funding Proposals

History 755: Proseminar in Southeast Asian History

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 |5255 Mosse Humanities | Instructor: Alfred McCoy

For more information, visit Southeast Asian History

History 861: Seminar – History of Africa

This course will explore histories and theories of African decolonization, with particular emphasis on West Africa.

M 1:20PM – 3:15PM | 5245 Mosse Humanities | Instructor: Emily Callaci

For more information, visit African Decolonization

History 901: Studies in American History

[Description TBA]

M 8:50AM – 10:45AM |5245 Mosse Humanities | Instructor: Cindy I-Fen Cheng

For more information, visit Transnationality and Historical Inquiry

History 901: Studies in American History

In the late-19th century, Jews in Europe initiated a movement for the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Turkish Empire.   Known as Zionism, this movement eventually led to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.  There were multiple forms of Zionism that pursued various strategies and goals.  Zionism also generated fierce criticism from various quarters within and outside the Jewish community.  Much was at stake in the debates among Zionists and between Zionists and their critics:  the fate of Jews in increasingly perilous countries and empires, the prospects of Arab nationalism in Palestine and the larger region, and other critical issues.  This seminar explores Zionism’s history in multiple locations from multiple perspectives.  Framed most broadly, the seminar explores the interplay between nationalism, socialism, and liberalism through the case of the Jews as they became entangled with nation-states, empires, and revolutions from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century.

T 1:20PM – 3:15PM | 5257 Mosse Humanities | Instructor: Tony Michels

For more information, visit Zionism and Its Critics

History 936: The History of Women and Gender in the U.S., to 1870

This seminar will explore the history and historiography of women and gender in colonial North America and the early United States. Graduate students in the US/NA Ph.D. program may take this course to satisfy either the course requirement for 17th/18th-century history or for 19th-century history. It also counts toward the Program in Gender and Women’s History minor for students within and beyond the history department.

History 936 proceeds from the premise that gender hierarchies have historically intersected with and co-constituted those of race, class, religion, sexuality, region and nation. We will pursue such historical questions as: what did gender mean to diverse peoples in colonial North America? How did those meanings change through processes of settler colonialism, war, enslavement/slaveholding, state formation, and the emergence of capitalism? How did gendered practices and discourses animate those processes? We will also consider historiographical issues, such as: to what extent has the scholarship on women and gender altered “mainstream histories of the United States? Have we simply added women to established narratives, or are we changing the periodization and guiding concepts that characterize the field of U.S. history? Why are “women and gender” clustered together in the discipline? Should we distinguish histories of women from histories of gender? If so, how? Which areas of women’s and gender history merit deeper scrutiny by emerging scholars?

We will inform our discussion of these issues by reading significant primary texts, secondary works that have now become classics in the field, and recent examples of cutting-edge scholarship.

T 11:00AM – 12:55PM |5245 Mosse Humanities | Instructor: April Haynes

For more information, visit The History of Women and Gender in the U.S., to 1870

History 938: History of Sexuality

Over the last five decades, historians have broken intellectual ground by introducing sexuality, sex, and gender as categories of and for historical analysis, often in transnational perspective. Employing interdisciplinary methods and theoretical approaches, historians have produced a vibrant literature on sex/gender generating new questions in historiographic method and theory. Such scholarship has opened critical vantage points for understanding the place of sex/gender in all aspects of the past.

From the groundwork of some foundations in the history of sexuality, this seminar will emphasize the interdisciplinary historiographic, methodological and theoretical insights offered by queer, feminist, trans, BIPOC and decolonial critique. Readings analyze sex and gender heuristically and simultaneously shed light on their emergence within historical processes of urbanization, nationalism, citizenship, imperialism, white supremacy, settler colonialism, racialization, disability, class distinction, incarceration and law. Our examination of critical methodological and theoretical foundations of the field will take up the meaning of archive, evidence, memory, narration, history, and epistemology.

T 1:20PM – 3:15PM | 5255 Mosse Humanities | Instructor: Finn Enke

For more information, visit Queer History, Queer Theory

History of Science 903/911: Seminar: Translation in Early Modern Science

The seminar topic is Translation in Early Modern Science. This seminar meets with Hist Sci 911 (Eighteenth-Century Science) in Special Collections on the 9th floor of Memorial Library.

Drawing on the rich resources of rare books and manuscripts held in UW–Madison’s Special Collections, this seminar explores the movement of scientific concepts and practices between languages, cultures, social contexts (lay/elite, classroom/marketplace), and modes of communication (tacit/explicit, text/image) in the course of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. Secondary source readings will represent a range of disciplinary perspectives. The writing requirement for this seminar will be tailored to students’ particular needs in their respective programs of study.

By taking this course, students will gain familiarity with current scholarly trends in history of science, print culture, material culture, and archives; expand their analytical and interpretive skills; strengthen their oral and written communication skills; and gain experience working with a variety of print and manuscript materials held in Special Collections.

W 1:20PM – 3:15PM | 976 Memorial Library | Instructor: Florence Hsia / Robin Rider

For more information, visit Hist Sci 903 Seminar-Medieval, Renaissance, and 17th-Century Science or Hist Sci 911 Seminar-18th-Century Science.

History of Science 907: Seminar – History of Technology

How do technological systems mesh or clash with political values? What sort of power do scientific experts and technocrats hold, and can this power be squared with democratic principles? Bridging critical theory, American political development, science and technology studies (STS), and political economy, this course interrogates the political dimensions of technology and technocracy. Each week we alternate between discussions of A) theoretical conceptualizations of technology and expertise from social scientific fields and B) history and historiography of technology and expertise, focusing primarily on cases from the United States. Students interested in analysis of technology, science, professions, or expertise in other national or transnational historical contexts, or in contemporaneous developments are encouraged to join. Students will be expected to present readings and introduce discussions, and produce a seminar paper drawing on their own research interests.

R 5:40PM – 7:35PM | 5257 Mosse Humanities | Instructor: Devin Kennedy

For more information, visit Technology, Power, & Democracy.

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.)