University of Wisconsin–Madison

Graduate Courses

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:

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.)

Graduate Courses

  • History 701 - History in a Global Perspective

    History in a Global Perspective (UW Course Guide)

    This course is a one-credit, one-hour, required weekly seminar for students in their first semester in the Ph.D. program in History. The course has multiple goals:

    • To acquaint you with your cohort and their diverse geographical, thematic, and methodological interests;
    • To encourage you to think in broad, expansive terms about the discipline and profession of history;
    • To introduce you to members of our faculty and their research and professional interests; and
    • To provide a friendly forum in which to ask any questions you may have, quotidian or otherwise, about life as a graduate student.

    Our discussions will necessarily be suggestive and illustrative rather than comprehensive. Optimally this seminar will instill in you a perpetual curiosity to explore the intersections of your research interests and those of historians working in widely different times and places or with radically different methodological tools. Course requirements are minimal: faithful attendance, a bit of required readings (usually an article assigned by visiting faculty), and engaged participation (including a weekly discussion post).

    R 9:45-10:45 AM | 5233 Humanities Bldg. | Instructor: Colleen Dunlavy

  • History 705/HistSci 919 - Commodities and Disease in Global History

    Commodities and Disease in Global History (UW Course Guide)

    This seminar seeks to put historical scholarship on the global flows of capital, commodities, and disease in conversation with one another. Our temporal reach is expansive, from the shifting patterns of yellow fever accompanying the Atlantic slave trade to the global threat of avian influenza arising from factory farms and changing diets worldwide. We will consider a range of commodities—from cotton and coal to latex and blood—to name just a few, to ask what commodities, and associated diseases that accompanied them, can reveal about changing economic, material, political, and social relationships on the global stage. At the same time, we will interrogate the ways that changing ecological regimes of capital have altered and redistributed life—both human and non-human—and created new disease pathways. We will also attend to the different questions, methods, and forms of evidence that economic, environmental, and medical history bring to a consideration of such questions. This is a historiographic based seminar focused on readings and discussion. A sample of likely books include Sven Beckert’s Empire of Cotton (2014); Mike Davis’s The Monster at Our Door (2006); Gabrielle Hecht’s Being Nuclear (2014); Nancy Rose Hunt’s A Nervous State (2016); Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner’s Lead Wars (2013); Sidney Mintz’s Sweetness and Power (1986); John Soluri’s Banana Cultures (2006); and Brett Walker’s Toxic Archipelago (2009) among many other reading selections

    T 1:00-3:30 PM | 5255 Humanities Bldg. | Instructor: Gregg Mitman

  • History 710 - On the Job Market

    On the Job Market (UW Course Guide)

    This class will help students develop their dossiers, primarily but not exclusively for the academic job market. Students will draft and polish job letters for a range of kinds of position, CVs in the plural, teaching and research statements, writing samples, as well as other sorts of documents, depending on other possible careers. It will also help students prepare for phone, Skype, AHA and on campus interviews. We shall explore other possible careers and the ways in which a History Ph.D. can be translated. Each member of the class will leave it with a support group, a polished dossier, and knowledge how better to navigate the current job markets.

    W 3:30-5:25 PM | 5257 Humanities Bldg. | Instructor: Shelly Chan

  • History 710 - Dissertation Chapter Writing Seminar

    Dissertation Chapter Writing Seminar (UW Course Guide)

    This is a workshop open to all stages of dissertation writing, from organizing research into chapters to polishing the final draft of the Introduction and Conclusion.

    T 1:20-3:15 PM | 5257 Humanities Bldg. | Instructor: Lee Wandel

  • History 734 - Introduction to Archives and Records Management

    Introduction to Archives and Records Management (UW Course Guide)

    This course will serve as an introduction to the field of archives, providing students with an overview of their history and purpose, as well as an introduction to the concepts integral to archival work. Through a combination of reading, discussion, writing, and project work, students will be introduced to the concepts of appraisal, arrangement & description, reference, outreach, preservation, ethics, technology, project management, and advocacy in relation to all formats of archival materials (manuscript, digital, photographic, audiovisual, and object-based records) in many types of archival institutions. The course offers an introduction and is appropriate for all students, but will provide an important framework for students planning to pursue archival careers or intensive research.

    W 1:30-4:00 PM | 4207 Helen C. White Hall | Instructor: Amy Sloper

  • History 753 - War and Society in Modern Europe

    War and Society in Modern Europe (UW Course Guide)

    This seminar will explore classic works of the “new military history” concerning the two world wars in the twentieth century. Its geographical focus is the United States and Europe, including Britain, France, Germany and Russia. Some questions we will address are: how was the First World War a social and political turning point for both the U.S. and Europe? How do such factors as race, gender and religion shape the experience of total war? What was the infantryman’s experience of war, and how did it differ from that of his officers and the upper echelons of various armies? Why and how is war a transnational experience? How can we put the “world” back into “world war,” as Carol Gluck has advised?

    T 3:30-5:25 PM | 5245 Humanities Bldg. | Instructor: Mary Lou Roberts

  • History 800-001 - Research Seminar in History

    Research Seminar in History (UW Course Guide)

    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. History 800 is a required course for MA students. 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-regulating and self-assessing our progress, 4) Supporting each other in producing your theses and chapters. Exercises will ask you to write a project description and an outline of your thesis (or chapter). I will also help you to frame and hierarchize your argument(s), and systematically work on topic sentences, transitions, introductions and conclusions.

    T 11:00 – 12:55 PM | 5255 Humanities Bldg. | Instructors: Florence Bernault

  • History 800-002 - Research Seminar in History

    M.A. Writing Seminar (UW Course Guide)

    History 800 is a required seminar, intended for those who are working on their MA thesis. Themes that will be addressed include the mechanics of research and writing; communicating research effectively to diverse audience; engaging with the field and the questions that animate it; and discussing methodological choices or commitments in a cross-field setting. The seminar is also intended as a “writers workshop.” The final product is either a partial 20-page draft (first-semester students) or a full MA thesis (second-semester students).

    M 3:30-5:25 PM | 5255 Humanities Bldg. | Instructors: Daniel Ussishkin

  • History 855 - Modern Japan as Chronotype

    Modern Japan as Chronotype (UW Course Guide)

    Research seminar in Japanese history. Focus varies each year. Required for M.A. and Ph.D. candidates in Japanese history, but open to students with no Japanese language background.

    M 2:00-4:00 PM | 5245 Humanities Bldg. | Instructor: Louise Young

  • History 861 - The History of Africa

    The History of Africa (UW Course Guide)

    This course will provide an introduction to some of the principal methods, theories, and historiographic trends that characterize African history and the study of Africa more broadly. After an initial discussion of the challenges professional historians confront in thinking and writing about Africa, we will focus on several broad themes, including: the deep past in African historical narratives; globalization and Africa’s place in world histories; Christianity and Islam in Africa; decolonization and the politics of independence; and the place of “Africa” in the contemporary world. Throughout the course we will engage questions surrounding the use of unconventional historical methodologies and the importance of context in the creation of historical sources. This awareness of the problems of source assessment will hopefully provide a critical foundation for your further research on Africa.

    R 1:20-3:15 PM | 5255 Humanities Bldg. | Instructor: Neil Kodesh

  • History 867 - Political and Social Ideas in Early Modern Europe

    Political and Social Ideas in Early Modern Europe (UW Course Guide)

    This course aims principally to introduce students to the most important and influential theories about the nature, purposes, and objectives of the state and society which circulated in early modern Europe, and which have shaped how the Western World has thought about these questions ever since; and it aims to improve students’ skills in analyzing and criticizing political arguments and theories, both in discussion and on paper.

    Students will attend classes and contribute to discussion (this will count for 30% of the grade); write two papers of 10-15 pages (inclusive of bibliography and notes; due 26 October and 7 December; each will count for 25% of the grade); give a classroom presentation (lasting for 30 minutes at the very most) to introduce the week’s discussion (this will count for 20% of the grade). N.B. the presentation must be not be on the same topic as the papers.

    R 11:00-12:55 PM | 5257 Humanities Bldg. | Instructor: Johann Sommerville

  • History 891 - People, Ideas, and Institutions on the Move: Transnational Histories of Modern Europe

    People, Ideas, and Institutions on the Move: Transnational Histories of Modern Europe (UW Course Guide)

    This seminar traces how Europeans transcended state borders during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Over the course of the semester, we will focus on three interrelated ways in which transnational interactions have occurred: through the movement of people, the circulation of ideas, and the role of global institutions. Focusing on a range of subjects—including, but not limited to, mass migration from Eastern Europe to “the West,” informal and formal areas of European imperialism, the attitude of the Catholic Church toward Communism, and the role of the League of Nations and the United Nations in policing global norms—will allow us to build up a picture of globalized Europe. In addition to reading the best books that engage with these subjects, students will also confront broader conceptual questions about how we might write transnational histories ourselves. What are the benefits—and potential pitfalls? How is transnational history different from comparative, global, and international history? What kinds of methodological tools, categories of analysis, and language can we use to tell stories within such a framework? Over the course of the semester, students will also work on developing core verbal, written, and reading skills. Assessment will be based on participation in the seminar discussions, written and oral reviews of the readings, and a final piece of work in which students will apply class materials to their own specific field of research.

    M 1:20-3:15 PM | 5245 Humanities | Instructor: Kathryn Ciancia

  • History 900 - Introduction to History for U.S. Historians

    Introduction to History for U.S. Historians (UW Course Guide)

    This seminar introduces incoming graduate students of North American/U.S. history to the ideas, practices, and professional cultures that shape “Americanist” scholarship. We will examine the development of U.S. history as a distinct area of inquiry during the nineteenth century, then analyze continuing traditions and challenges to the field. The class does not merely train students to operate within the historical discipline in its current form; it helps emerging scholars envision the kind of history they want to produce and offers tools to achieve their goals. To that end, seminar members will practice using the means of historical production: research, writing, and peer evaluation. We will discuss the archives, publication processes, teaching commitments, career arcs, politics, and issues of public memory that necessarily influence the intellectual contributions of both academic and public historians. Many of these discussions will also introduce students to members of the faculty who will offer their wisdom about doing U.S. history today.

    W 11:00-12:55 PM | 5245 Humanities Bldg. | Instructor: April Haynes

  • History 901-001 - Cultural History and the New Materialism

    Cultural History and the New Materialism (UW Course Guide)

    This seminar proposes that cultural history is a necessary rubric or toolkit for scholars who wish to join “history from below” (the study of race, gender, sexuality or class in daily life) with studies of large institutions or indices of economic power, such as corporations, global capitalism, global race, and empire. The seminar accordingly examines cultural history and cultural studies methods that might be grouped loosely under the term “new materialism.” These approaches allow us to explore registers close to the visceral and sensing body, which is never universal or free of markers of power, as a means of apprehending economic processes and the very category of “economy.” A premise of this course is that what we call “economy” is itself produced historically and within culture. Furthermore, in recent US culture, “economy” is often shrouded in exclusionary language designed to repel critique. “Cultural History and the New Materialism,” then, explores how we might create critical, human and humane histories of material life.

    Approaches that, for the purposes of this seminar, may be categorized as part of “new materialism” include material culture studies; thing theory; affect theory; environmental history’s focus on non-human actors; commodity circulation; branding; production of space; visual culture studies; history of the senses; etc. While we will read some theoretical articles, most of our readings will be historical applications. Students will be asked to write in response to the readings (though not every week) as well as to complete a final paper that is either historiographic or based on primary sources, depending on personal interest and need.

    R 3:30-5:25 PM | 5257 Humanities | Instructor: Nan Enstad

  • History 901-002 - Citizenship and Belonging in the 19th Century

    Citizenship and Belonging in the 19th Century (UW Course Guide)

    Who belonged in the 19th-century United States? What was citizenship, and how did people experience it? Where were the borders between inclusion and exclusion, and between the citizen and his antitheses—savage, slave, dependent, and alien? This course explores these questions through the experiences of African Americans, Native Americans, and many others, and through the lenses of the law, politics, culture, religion, immigration, and labor.

    M 8:50-10:45 AM | 5245 Humanities | Instructor: Stephen Kantrowitz

  • History 903 - History of Education of Multicultural America

    History of Education of Multicultural America  (UW Course Guide)

    To what extent has education historically promoted advancement for marginalized groups within the United States? How have educational opportunities, experiences, and approaches varied across time and by region, religion, race, class, ethnicity, gender, and immigration status? Additionally, have schools and universities challenged or reinforced social, political, and economic hierarchies? Ranging from the revolutionary era to the present, this seminar will explore diverse educational histories of African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and European Americans, among others. Topics may include the relationship between slavery and education, education and Americanization, and education and liberation as well as the history of school segregation, desegregation, and resegregation and the advent and meaning of diversity as an educational value.

    M 2:25-5:25 PM | L177 Education Building | Instructor: Walter Stern

  • History 932 - Topics in American Environmental History

    Topics in American Environmental History (UW Course Guide)

    The seminar is a one-semester introduction to some of the most interesting recent literature of American environmental history, read principally for the theories and methodologies it can offer scholars and scientists as well as its implications for contemporary environmental politics and management. The seminar assumes no previous coursework in the field, and students with a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines are encouraged to participate. The seminar is designed to provide a general overview of the major theoretical and methodological issues of American environmental history. Emphasis will be on important themes of the historiography, including the historical migration of species; the effects of disease on human communities; the role of different land-use activities in transforming ecosystems; the effects of markets and industrialization on environmental change; changing cultural conceptions of the natural world; the relationship of environmental history to social history and other subfields; the history of conservation and environmental politics; and methodological strategies for analyzing and narrating such topics. We will decide as a group whether to concentrate our written work for the semester on historiographical review; research design; undergraduate pedagogy; or writing beyond the academy in a digital age. The seminar does not provide a systematic chronological overview of U.S. environmental history per se, and those interested in gaining such an overview may wish to consider taking or auditing History/Geography/Environmental Studies 460 or 469 either in tandem with the seminar or as a replacement for it; the courses are designed to be complementary. The seminar is open to students in any field or program, but preference will be given to those who have a continuing research interest in the subject. During the fall semester of 2017, the seminar will meet in Bradley Memorial Hall, home of UW-Madison’s Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE).

    Course Website – The application to enroll for Fall 2017 is available here (pdf), and should be returned to Bill Cronon at wcronon@wisc.edu no later than 5pm on Friday, April 14.

    T 8:50-10:45 AM | 202 Bradley Memorial Building | Instructor: Bill Cronon

  • History 963 - American Religious History to 1860

    American Religious History to 1860 (UW Course Guide)

    This course introduces graduate students to the scholarly literature on American religious history through the mid-nineteenth century. It provides extensive rather than intensive coverage so as to give those students who do not intend to continue in the field a useful survey of the subject and those who do intend to specialize a foundation for future work. Although the course necessarily pays heed to Anglo-American Protestantism, it looks at the subject from a pluralist perspective that means expanding the subject geographically—to include New France and the Spanish Borderlands— “denominationally”—to include non-Protestants and even non-Christian groups—and even chronologically (to include a few developments beyond 1860). In the process, it explores the evolution of a national religious culture that featured voluntary rather than established churches, a diversity of competing groups, a substantial if imperfect commitment to religious liberty, and a highly visible evangelical presence. Students should emerge from the course with a better understanding of how religion has saturated American history (albeit not American historiography) and realize that disdain for the subject may in their later careers come back either to haunt them (if one is supernaturalistically inclined) or simply expose them to scholarly ridicule (if one remains more epistemologically chaste). Click here or an example of the seminar’s syllabus.

    W 1:20-3:15 PM | 5255 Humanities Bldg. | Instructor: Charles Cohen

  • History/LASIC 982 - Interdepartmental Latin-American seminar

    Interdepartmental Latin-American seminar (UW Course Guide)

    In this seminar, we will introduce a series of topics and issues that are central to an interdisciplinary understanding of the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian region. We will consider a range of topics including the region’s political systems, media systems, cultural change, economic challenges, environmental challenges, security challenges and habitat challenges. We will pay particular attention to the empirical observations of emerging phenomena and their historical grounding, shedding light on social change in the context of global dynamics.

    W 3:00-5:30 PM | 4281 Helen C. White | Instructor: Hernando Rojas

  • Hist Sci 720 - Proseminar in Historiography and Methods

    Proseminar: Historiography and Methods (UW Course Guide)

    This course provides an introduction to the scholarly field that is the history of science. It gives a brief overview of some of the major themes and issues that occupy the field, and the different approaches scholars have used to address their questions. In the first half of the course, we will read texts that were formative in the development of the history of science (such as Kuhn’s widely read book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions), as well as texts that are representative of different approaches that are paradigmatic in the field (such as the turn towards studying the practices of science instead of ideas or concepts). The second half of the course is comprised of clusters of readings that represent different subfields or areas of research interest with the history of science, and each of these weeks will be co-led by a guest instructor from the department who works in that area. This section of the course has a dual purpose: to introduce you to faculty members from the department and their research strengths, and to give you a sampling of the variety of topics and issues that are currently animating scholarship in the field. The interests of the students enrolled in the class will direct the final weeks of the course. For week thirteen we’ll discuss potential questions or research areas relating to your interests that are not well covered by the assigned readings, and I will develop a reading list tailored towards these collectively defined needs. The last class meeting will be reserved primarily for a discussion of your final paper assignments and the observations and/or issues you are encountering in your writing.

    Fall 2016 Syllabus (pdf)

    R 2:25-5:25 PM | L173 Education Bldg. | Instructor: Nicole Nelson

  • Hist Sci 909 - Nationalism, Internationalism, Transnationalism in the History of Modern Biology

    Nationalism, Internationalism, Transnationalism in the History of Modern Biology  (UW Course Guide)

    This graduate seminar has a twofold task: to examine episodes in the history of biology that reflect movements of nationalism, internationalism, and transnationalism (primarily since the French Revolution); and to reflect historiographically on how historians have worked with these concepts. Case studies will be drawn from the history of evolutionary theory, systematics, eugenics molecular biology, ecology and conservation, and biology popularization. Geographical emphasis will be on European, British, and American scientific communities, but will also make reference to how these topics intersect with colonial and postcolonial projects.

    Learning goals: In addition to learning to identify leading themes and approaches to nationalism, internationalism, and transnationalism through the lens of the history of biology, in this course you will gain practice in analytical and comparative reading, and thereby develop your critical understanding of history of science as a scholarly discipline and its relations to broader themes in history and the humanities more generally; and become comfortable with seminar-style discussions at the graduate level.

    Requirements: Reading and Discussion: This is primarily a reading seminar. We will be reading a book or 4-5 articles or book sections per week; you should come to each week’s meeting prepared to talk about them.

    Discussion-launchers and Think-pieces: Students will be assigned as discussion-launcher (or co-launcher) for one week. To facilitate this, each discussion-launcher is asked to produce a think-piece of 500 words or less, due by 7 a.m. the day of your discussion. Co-launchers will write independent think-pieces. The aim of a think-piece is to raise questions and points for analysis by the group as a whole. You may raise questions, for example, about the cogency of an author’s argument, the kinds and adequacy of evidence used, or broader issues that an author suggests but doesn’t fully address. In weeks when we have multiple readings (which are most of them), you should address broader issues that go beyond a single reading, but you aren’t required to synthesize all the readings.

    Writing: Students may choose a writing assignment of approximately 15 pages that is suited to their interests and stage of graduate career: a) a historiographic essay of a leading seminar theme, expanding the list from the common readings; b) a historiographic essay that develops your own theme, covering an equivalent number of books (including some from the core readings, some from outside); or c) a detailed proposal for a research project using primary and secondary sources related to the history of nationalism, internationalism, or transnationalism in the history of biology. Students who wish instead to write a primary-source based research paper (e.g. to fulfill a requirement) should consult me early in the course.

    W 2:25-5:25 PM | 7121 Helen C. White Hall | Instructor: Lynn Nyhart