The entrance to the Department of History’s office in Sidney Smith Hall

HIS 1997H-F The Practice of History


HIS1997 is the common experience of all post-Medieval History MA students. It provides the occasion for you to reflect on the discipline through an examination of theoretical and methodological writing, as well as some historical works exemplifying important currents of historiography. Emphasis in the course is on reading and discussion.

HIS 1001H -S Topics in History: Colonial Violence - Comparative Histories


Surprisingly, given the brutality inherent in the founding and expansion of colonial empires, historians have tended to downplay violence as a central theme in colonial histories. In this course we will consider a range of themes including colonial genocides, the violence of conquest and resistance, anti-colonial rebellions, everyday violence and the law, policing, settler violence, and connections between violence in the colonial and post-colonial eras. What are the implications for new thinking about some of the major issues in recent history such as the Holocaust and world wars, the crisis of postcolonial states, the Cold War, the development of international law such as the Geneva Conventions, continuing western military interventions in Africa and the Middle East, and issues of memory and forgetting? We will examine case studies from a variety of periods and places in Europe, Africa, the Americas and Asia in a comparative framework.

HIS1016H-F Historical Readings in Gender and Sexuality


This is a reading seminar that will focus on gender and sexuality in historical perspective. Students will engage with theoretical works that are framing current historical research as well as with empirical studies that explore specific historical questions. The goal of the course is to provide students with a basic framework for pursuing additional research, as well as for comprehensive field preparations in these areas. No single course, however, can hope to cover the entire range of scholarship on sexuality and gender in every place and time. Specific topics and readings may shift to reflect the research and teaching expertise of the instructor.

HIS 1031H-S Images as History: photography, historical method, and conceptualizing visuality


This seminar examines photography and photographs in three ways: historical, methodological, and conceptual. Historically, the seminar will cover the era of the photographic image, from its invention in the 1830s to the present. We will be especially concerned with examining the role that photography has played in shaping modern understandings of self, nation, and race. Historical monographs will be drawn from various national and transnational studies, with a primary but not exclusive focus on the Americas. The course, however, is designed for all students regardless of geographic area. In addition to examining relationships between photography, identity, and power, we will develop a set of conceptual and methodological tools for analyzing photographic images, carefully considering the status of photographs as primary sources for historical research.

In terms of the conceptual, we will read and discuss foundational theoretical works, including key essays by Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, and Ariella Azoulay. Here, we will consider the ethics and politics of human visual experience as such. What does it mean to see and be seen? Who has “the right to look”? How has photography been used to separate, identify, and classify? How have photographs changed the kinds of claims that people could make in their respective private and public spheres?

HIS 1142Y-Y (J) Canadian Foreign Relations (Joint undergraduate/graduate course – HIS405/HIS1142)


The course this year will concentrate on the period since 1980-2000. The course will centre around the Mulroney government’s foreign relations, including acid rain negotiations, the free trade agreement of 1988, peacekeeping, the South African question, Canada’s defence policy, and the end of the Cold War. On some topics primary research materials can be made available.

HIS 1117H-S Canada: Colonialism/Postcolonialism


This course will introduce students to key works and approaches to the study of ’empire’ and ‘race’ in Canadian history. In addition to reading some of the most influential works in postcolonial theory, we will read both classic works of Canadian historiography that deal with the question of empire, as well as more recent approaches that draw upon new imperial history, postcolonial studies, feminist and critical race theory. We will discuss the meaning of empire in everyday life, Canada’s relations with the global south, migration and diasporic politics, the impact of global decolonization, anti-colonial thought, and Aboriginal politics. Throughout, we will debate the merits of the recent ‘transnational’ turn in Canadian.

HIS 1168H-F (J) Topics in History: History of the Sex Trade in Canadian and Comparative Contexts (Joint undergraduate/graduate course – HIS417)


This course explores the historiographies and historical populations surrounding “the world’s oldest profession” in Canadian and comparative global contexts, from the 17th century onwards. Using a range of texts, students explore both the lived experiences and representations of those involved in this controversial economy, including madams, clients, police, and queer and trans communities. Throughout the course students will examine a range of sex work archives and primary sources, including memoirs, photographs, and film, to develop an original research project on a topic related to the course theme.

HIS1200H-F – Readings in European Intellectual History


The course will introduce students to the methods and practices of intellectual history with a focus on the development of ideas in Europe from the Enlightenment to the present day. The books assigned in the course will be a combination of classic and exemplary works in the field, theoretical texts in related fields, and some of the best and most representative works recently published in the field. The aim is to give students a solid foundation in the methods and practices of intellectual history, an exposure to a breadth of approaches within the field and a sense of the trends in recent scholarship while also enabling them to engage with challenging theoretical works that will allow them to create their own unique approaches to intellectual history.

HIS 1221H-S Early Modern Europe: Topics in Social History


From the fifteenth century, new social, religious, and political tensions brought European Christians, Jews, and Muslims into closer contact with each other and led them to frame identity in more exclusive and oppositional terms (ethnic, racial, and religious).  This course will consider how communities and identities were imagined, formed and contested in the early modern period.  Concerns about purity, contagion, protection, and purgation came to shape intellectual frameworks, social expectations, and political actions, often driven by the intellectual movements that we associate with the Renaissance and Reformation.  Religion was likely the greatest force for both inclusion and exclusion, incorporation and purgation, and the period saw religious refugees emerge as a mass phenomenon. We will look at how Europeans defined, accommodated, repelled, or integrated Others –  whether Turks, Jews, radicals, the poor, heretics – and at how boundaries of various kinds were created and crossed.  

HIS 1234H-F Readings in Early Modern French History


This course is designed to introduce students to fundamental questions in the history of early modern France, as well as help prepare students for examination fields in early modern European history. Students will examine a series of key themes and important primary and secondary texts as an avenue into critical reflection on the political, religious and social history of France in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Of particular interest will be the institutions of the Renaissance monarchy, the causes and consequences of the Wars of Religion, historiographical debates surrounding the development of the absolutist state, the social history of war, and the intersection of social change, political history and religious life. All assigned course reading will be in English. Students will write one short book review and a longer essay analyzing a substantial primary text (or series of documents).

HIS 1269H-F(J) The Social History of Medicine in the 19th and 20th Centuries (Joint undergraduate/graduate course – HIS423H1/1269H)


The seminar, designed to inform students about developments in this new emerging scholarly field, will include topics such as the evolution of the doctor-patient relationship, the impact of medical care upon health, the evolution of such medical specialties as internal medicine, neurology and psychiatry, the relationship between culture and the presentation of illness, and the history of medical therapeutics.

HIS 1270H-F(J) History of Psychiatry and Psychiatric Illness (Joint undergraduate/graduate course HIS489H1/1270H)


This course introduces students to some of the main issues in the history of psychiatry and some of the major developments in this unique medical specialty. Classroom discussion will cover such topics as changes in the nature of psychotic illness, the psychoneuroses, disorders of the mind/body relationship, psychiatric diagnosis and the “presentation” of illness.

HIS 1272H-S Topics in Twentieth-Century European History: World Wars

D. Bergen

In this graduate seminar we explore some of the major military conflicts that have shaped Europe and its place in the world over the past century and a half. The goal is to deepen our understanding of the nature of modern warfare and to explore the tools and methodologies that historians and others have used to analyze wars and their repercussions. What is the relationship between war and politics, war and diplomacy, society, culture, religion, gender, and sexuality? What are the differences between world wars, civil wars, genocidal wars, extremely violent societies, cold wars, and the many other varieties of conflict between and among states and people, and how useful are such distinctions in understanding the past?

HIS1278H-S Topics in 20th C German History: The Two Germanies in the Postwar Period


This course is designed to introduce MA students to the main themes of the field of modern German history and to aid Ph.D. students in the preparation of examination fields. It will introduce students to significant texts in the study of modern German history as well as analyzing a central problematic: the question of Germany’s twentieth-century modernity.  The course investigates this question by exploring in particular the “two Germanies” of the period 1949—1990 and their after-effects today.  In other words, in this course we will be analyzing the field’s new literature on postwar West- and East Germany. An interdisciplinary variety of texts will be studied, covering topics from art and sexuality to politics and geopolitics.

HIS1282H-F – Comparative Totalitarian Culture


The purpose of the course is to historicize the concept of totalitarian culture by examining the relation between propaganda, entertainment, and mass culture, in the context of how both Germany and Soviet Russia related to Hollywood. Primary materials to be considered are German and Soviet films of the 1930s and 1940s.

HIS 1283H-F(J) Crusades, Conversion and Colonization in the Medieval Baltic (Joint undergraduate/graduate course HIS412H/1283H)


This seminar will explore the impact of crusades, religious conversion and colonization on medieval Baltic history. The focus of the course will be on close reading and analysis of the Chronicle of Henry of Livonia in English translation. Our readings and discussions will include topics such as crusades and violent conversion, medieval colonialism, Europeanization as well as German expansion eastwards, the role of the Teutonic Knights and the strategies of survival of the native Baltic people after conquest and Christianization.

HIS 1287H-S(J) Polish Jews Since the Partitions of Poland(Joint undergraduate/graduate course HIS433H1/1287H)


The history of the Polish Jews and of Polish-Jewish relations are among the most interesting and controversial subjects in the history of Poland. The Jewish experience in Poland can contribute to an understanding of the Holocaust and of the non-Jewish minorities in Central and Eastern Europe. The course will explore the history of Polish Jews from the Partitions of Poland to the present time, concentrating on the late 19th and first half of the 20th centuries: the situation of Polish Jews in Galicia, the Congress Kingdom of Poland, and Prussian-occupied Poland before 1914; during World War I; in the first years of reborn Poland; in the 1930s; during WW II; and in post-war Poland. The course will examine the state policies of Austria, Prussia, Russia, and Poland towards Jews; the rise of Jewish political movements; the life of Jewish shtetls in Christian neighbourhoods; changes in the economic position and cultural development of Jewish communities in Poland, and the impact of communism on Jewish life. Materials for the course are in English. Sessions will focus on an analysis of primary sources, translated from Polish, German, Russian, Yiddish, and Hebrew, as well as on secondary sources, representing diverse interpretations and points of views.

HIS 1296H-F Stalinism


A historiographical survey of the political, cultural and social history of the Soviet Union during Stalin’s years in power. Major emphasis of the course is on historiography, interpretation, and an introduction to sources. Key topics covered include collectivization, the Great Terror, the gulag, WWII, the Holocaust and postwar Stalinism. This course serves as basic preparation for a minor field in Twentieth-Century Russian history.

HIS 1301H-F History of Food and Drink


Course Description: The field of food studies has emerged in the past few decades as a rich source of interdisciplinary research that also speaks to a broad audience beyond the academy. This class will introduce students to a wide range of approaches to the field from history and allied disciplines. Readings will cover all chronological periods from prehistory to the present and geographical areas from around the world. Because many scholars also teach classes on food, even if they research in other fields, we will also discuss teaching methods. Writing assignments will include weekly reviews and a historiographical term paper. Students should consider this class an opportunity to practice the art of writing clear, compelling prose, even if they adopt different styles in other venues. A part of each seminar will be devoted to “workshopping” student essays and practicing editing skills.

HIS 1419H-S Science and Society in Britain 1600-1800 (Joint undergraduate/graduate course HIS452H1/1419H)


British social and cultural history meets the history of ideas. Covers topics from astrology and alchemy to medicine and physics. Deals with how society more broadly perceived natural philosophy rather than the history of science per se. Students from interdisciplinary backgrounds welcome.

HIS 1440H-F(J) Irish Nationalism in Canada, 1858-1870 (Joint with SMC416H1)


An examination of Irish Canadian nationalism in the context of transatlantic migration patterns, revolutionary and reformist movements in Ireland, annexationism and Irish radicalism in the United States, and ethno-religious tensions in Canada.

HIS 1531H-F American Political History Since 1877


This course is a one-semester seminar designed to introduce students to major themes and problems in the political history of the modern United States. We will examine a range of topics under the heading of politics broadly defined, including the ways ordinary Americans of various backgrounds practiced politics; reform movements such as Populism and Progressivism; American nationalism; the emergence of the federal administrative state; the rise and fall of the New Deal political order; and the resurgence of conservatism since the 1960s. The seminar seeks to provide an introduction to American political historiography that would prove useful to, among others, students preparing for comprehensive examinations.

HIS1552H-F Historical Perspectives on Gender and Migration


Gendered analyses conducted within varied theoretical and methodological contexts have arguably transformed the historical study on immigration, and feminist and gender approaches have gained a critical standing in analyses of international migration. More recently, critical gender interventions are being made within the field of mobility studies, with its focus on regional, continental, oceanic, and global migrations. This seminar explores the relation of gender and migration within national and comparative contexts, including for North America, and through a focus on mobility on a larger scale. It considers the major international migrations that have shaped the modern world as well as the making of refugee, labour, marriage, and family migrants. The features of migration as a gendered phenomenon—historically, migrations have been sometimes male-predominant, sometimes female-predominant, and sometimes gender balanced—will be highlighted. The course will consider the methodological problems posed by gender analysis of migration as well as methodological approaches that have proved important to the field, such as oral history (for the modern era). Other topics considered include pluralisms in different national contexts, and Indigenous/immigrant encounters.

HIS 1664H-S (J)Religion and Society in Southeast Asia (joint HIS496)


HIS1675H-S – Imperial Circulation and Diasporic Flows in the British Empire


Over the last few years, the task of rethinking the British Empire has involved reconnecting issues of race, class, gender, nation, and empire. This new imperial history is greatly strengthened by recent historical works which explore a range of issues including mixed-race liaisons, lascar seamen, the English language, conversion, and chain migration. This history connects the local and the global. This course offers a thematic approach focused on modern South Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Rim, and the British Empire. Through exemplary studies, it challenges conventional, uni-directional dichotomies of empire-periphery & homeland-diaspora. It discusses how multi- directional modes of imperial circulation and diasporic flows transform both our understanding of the British Empire, and of imperial and trans-national history writing.

HIS 1680H-F Gender, Culture, and the Political in Modern China


This course considers the question of the relationship between women and the making of different cultural and political communities in China. We start with interpretations of women and the cultural past by self-consciously modernist reformers in the early 20th century and end with another period of deep re-evaluation of the relationship between women, culture and political community in the 1980s and 1990s. We will look at how pre-modern dynastic loyalism, confrontations with western imperialism and internal social strife, twentieth-century nationalism, modern revolution, and the post-socialist market age have converged with other forces re-shaping gendered spheres to create spaces for the construction of gendered identities. We will consider the ways in which political and cultural modes of identification interact, interrogate, and are interrogated by, shifting modes of gender identification. How have women as cultural and political actors staked out positions in these spheres as women or questioned prevalent gender ideologies?

HIS 1707H-F Topics in African History:Themes, Methods, and Sources in African History


This course will introduce students to the principal sources of empirical evidence and methodological approaches in African history. We will explore the connections between particular historical contexts and the constitution of particular sources and how this informs different trends in historical production. Each week will focus on a different type of source and the debates around their collection and use, including traditions of oral history, colonial and missionary archives and new, less conventional, sources. We will also explore the political implications of historical work and the struggles over knowledge, power and the production of history. This course will highlight the importance of context and contingency in the creation of historical sources, in their use by guild historians and in the politics of power embedded in any given history.

HIS 1810H-FIndigenous Economies and Imperialism


This course will explore relationships between Indigenous peoples, empire, and capitalism since the late fifteenth century. It will focus on questions of the embeddedness of economies in a wide variety of both Indigenous and imperial societies and cultures while paying particular attention to critiques of both empire and economic systems, whether feudalism, gift or other indigenous economies, or capitalism. The course will also explore the imperialism of the discipline of economics, its scientific discourse of universal laws, and the ways in which these have driven the expansion of the market system, influenced recipes for “improving” Indigenous society, and continue to profoundly shape historical analysis.

HIS1820H-F Law, Space and History


An introduction to historical studies of law and space, this course will cover themes such as legal histories of colonization and the corporation, emergency, legal geographies of national spaces, frontiers and urbanism, the constitution of public and private property, and bodily space. In addition, the class will consider methodological reflections on jurisdictions, temporality, scale and place-making for historians. Readings will be cross regional and comparative but focus on colonization in Asia, Africa and North America. Open to students of anthropology, geography, and law.

HIS 1830H-S Critical Approaches to Historical Anthropology


‘Historical anthropology’ as a distinct, appealing and influential mode of enquiry seeking to combine historical and anthropological approaches to analyse social and cultural processes through time, emerged from important dialogues and engagements between historians and anthropologists over the past three decades. Through a critical examination of the propositions of ‘historical anthropology’, the course will probe how its practitioners have grappled with the constitutive, if problematic relationships between ‘culture’, power and history and ethnography and the ‘archive’. Equally, it will assess the extent to which historical anthropology has elaborated new research methodologies, shaped historiography and facilitated conversations and encounters between disciplines. In this regard, course readings will draw attention to recent strategies proffered by scholars grappling with the possibilities and dilemmas of historical anthropology in spaces deeply marked by colonialism, nationalism and globalisation like South Asia. Course materials will draw upon, but will not be limited to readings from South Asia

HIS 1840H-F Empires in World War II


This seminar explores the fate of colonial empires during the pivotal period of the Second World War, globally defined (1937-1945). It spans much of the planet, from Canada to India, Manchuria and Indochina, as well as encompassing both Anglophone and Francophone Africa, and the colonial metropoles of Britain, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Japan. Thematically, it considers the conflict from multiple perspectives, including the power inversions inherent in colonies liberating or coming in aid to their motherlands. The readings encompass cultural, political, military, gender and memorial themes. The seminar will focus for instance on Italian colonial cinema, on forms of Japanese power in Manchuria, on the war effort undertaken by African civilian populations, on the battle for natural resources, and on the tensions generated by the World War in Canada. The course will feature several non-mandatory films: showings will be arranged at Robarts Library.

HIS1860H-F Global Rights: A Critical History


This course will look at the history of human rights globally in the twentieth century. Students will focus on a range of rights debates across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. The goal of this course is to engage with key moments in human rights history, with a focus on the emergence of major human rights movements and institutions, and their interactions with liberalism, colonialism, capitalism, and social justice. The readings for this course will be mainly within the field of history, but will also include law, anthropology and political science. This course invites students to read human rights history from the perspectives of activists as well as lawmakers. As such we will read a variety of secondary and primary sources.

HIS1880H-F Digital History


This course will introduce graduate students in history to the conceptual, epistemological challenges of the rise of digital communication, research tools, and archives; to the emerging historiography written by historians using digital tools and archives or developing historical interpretation sin digital formats; and to the range of digital tools that allow them to contribute to this emerging historiography.