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.
This course provides an introduction to key theoretical works that animate historical research and practice, as well as connect historical scholarship with debates and problematics in other disciplines. We will read classic texts of social theory such as Foucault, Marx, Spivak, Chakrabarty, Butler, Braudel, Fanon, and Trouillot in conjunction with problems and methods explored by historians, past and present. Selected themes pertinent to the historian’s craft—temporality and archives, scale, translation—and to the philosophy of history—universalism and alterity, modernity and capitalism--will be taken up to prepare students to craft their research trajectory and projects.
This course examines and expands on Foucault’s concept of “biopolitics,” which identified the historical emergence of methods for governing living-being. The course combines close readings of pivotal historical texts by such authors as Malthus, Marx and Darwin with current interdisciplinary scholarship that reevaluates biopolitics in relation to race, capital formations, colonialism, sex, technoscience, economy, and ecology.
History from below,” encompassing various approaches of writing a radical “popular” or “people’s history,” has had an extraordinary influence on recent historiography. Yet from its inception, 'history from below' has had to grapple with the problematic relationship between power, politics and the production of historical narratives. This graduate seminar will seek to assess the powerful appeal, contributions and the contradictions of this diverse school of historiography. We will attempt to achieve our aim by focusing on scholarly and political projects from the colonised and decolonising world endeavouring both to retrieve the histories of “marginal” groups and to write history from the perspective of “the South” (South Asia, South East Asia and Latin America). In this regard, the course will first introduce a number of foundational approaches on the subject, including peasant studies, the British Marxist history, cultural studies, and the “new” cultural history. We will then analyze how scholars from South Asia, South East Asia and Latin America, including the Subaltern Studies Collective, have critically engaged with these paradigms. The course also will draw attention to some of the more recent methodologies and strategies proffered by scholars still grappling with the dilemmas, possibilities and limitations of writing “history from the bottom up,” in regions deeply marked by imperialism, nationalism and globalization. Students working on regions outside those formally covered by the course are welcome.
This course draws on theoretical, historical, and creative texts to explore an annual theme relevant to the study of technoscience. The theme this year is temporality and futures. The course examines questions of time, chronicity, pasts, remainders, futures, speculation, anticipation, cycles, forecasts, aftermaths, apocalypse, development, genealogy other figurations of time, particularly as they relate to histories of technoscience, life, ecology, colonialism, and capitalism. The course takes up these questions with an emphasis on the recent past and the contemporary and through readings from interdisciplinary and theoretical scholarship with an emphasis on feminist, postcolonial, critical-race, queer, political economic orientations.
This course is designed as a practicum – we quickly will move out of the seminar room and into the archives where students will apply a number of techniques and methods used by research historians writing about the nineteenth and twentieth century city. Although the spatial and temporal focus will be on Toronto in the “long” twentieth century, the methods taught will be applicable to other geographic and national contexts. The aim is to prepare students for the research that will underlie their Masters papers or PhD dissertations. There will be a strong emphasis on the design of research projects and how they can be structured from start to finish in collaborative fashion using a range of digital humanities tools such as Slack, Zotero, Omeka, and Neatline.
The course will begin with readings that cover exemplary recent works in community history and then move on to a section on theory and method. Visits to the City of Toronto Archives, Metropolitan Reference Library, Ryerson Image Centre, and the Thomas Fisher Library will orient students to available source materials, finding aids, and staff support. They then will be divided in small teams that will model projects, conduct sample research, and develop digital presentation tools.
Each student will be assessed upon 1) a review of a monograph on local/community history; 2) a methodological essay that reflects on both the practice of local history and working collaboratively; and 3) a final digital research project. In addition there will be regular “hands on” assignment using archival and documentary materials that will be submitted but not formally assessed, but will be considered part of participation.
This course delves into techniques and technologies of modern governance, seen especially through the lens of British colonial liberalism, in two broad ways: first, as a central project in the global history of the present, and more particularly, as a key story in the genealogy of contemporary neoliberal mappings of society, subjects, and agency. The seminar will introduce students to foundational literature on the concept of governmentality, historicizing the term by reading it alongside key primary texts on political economy and sovereignty, and postcolonial approaches to political theory. In particular, it poses British India as a site through which to open investigations on the key features and contradictions of liberal governing more broadly, most especially, the relationship between economy as the dominant idiom of governance and the politicization of culture/identity politics.
For decades, oral history has been a preferred methodology in documenting social movements and the life experiences of marginalized populations. Recently, LGBTQ history, intersectional feminist politics, and queer theory have given rise to new oral history projects, new identities, and new methods. This seminar will be a workshop in doing LGBTQ oral history, with a focus on queer and trans lives. Students will follow the full life-cycle of the interview and learn how to: develop a theoretically informed research plan; grapple with ethical considerations; write a questionnaire and consent form; find narrators; use audio and visual technology to record interviews; write up fieldnotes; transcribe interviews; analyze and write from the material; and contribute to a digital exhibition using Omeka. We will read work in oral history theory in practice, including work by Boyd; Portelli; Abrams; High; Ramirez; Murphy; and others. The course will undergo ethics review before the first class, but students will learn about IRB procedures as part of the course content.
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.
“Translation, Time, and History” is an introduction to the philosophy and practice of history and it is conceived as a bridge or means of conversing across areas and temporal periods. Readings on the debates about historicism spanning a wide range of intellectual traditions such as dialectical thought, postcolonial theory, hermeneutics, and Marxism will be paired with texts pertaining to theories of translation and periodization. The seminar will reconsider questions of historical method and practice through a discussion of contemporary dilemmas of writing historical narratives that engage with the conundrums of globalization.
This seminar presents a postcolonial approach to the history of ideas and to the idea of history. It tracks three major themes in the history of the idea of modernity from the late 18th through the 20th centuries: political freedom, citizenship and the nation-state; capitalism and its critique; and the relationship of history, memory, and identity. The course will at once engage in close analysis of canonical primary texts on these themes and introduce students to practices of critical questioning that have emerged from postcolonial historiography. Drawing largely but not exclusively from South Asian historiography, as well as from the fields of colonial/postcolonial cultural studies, the seminar addresses influential historiographical problems, such as the question of "alternative" modernities; the question of the derivative nature of anti-colonial nationalism; and the problem of writing the history of regions which have been deemed static and without history.
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?
This seminar examines the concept of “modernity” and its expression in visual form and cultural practice. We will focus on developments in visual culture beginning in the second half of the nineteenth century in order to explore a range of transformations in subjective and social experience and economic and cultural practice that scholars from across the humanities and social sciences have described within the rubric of modernity and modernism. By studying both the primary theoretical texts underpinning this concept – including Baudelaire, Marx, Freud, and Benjamin – and key secondary literature, we will attempt to define modernity and capture the nuances of its many competing definitions. We will ground this pursuit in the history of Western visual culture. Key topics will include: technological change (from photography and film to color and printing); the centrality of urban space; theories of vision; ideas about temporality, history, and the archive; emergent practices of collecting and display; travel and colonialism; and consumerism and the mass press. In what ways, we will ask, have changes in visual culture been central to the concept, experience, and origins of modernity? And how does focusing on the visual aspects of modernity help us better understand its broader social, political, economic, scientific, and technological developments?
A recent historiographical shift has opened up the study of mapping, particularly in its imperial functions, not only as an antiquarian fascination but now also as a source of political, social and intellectual history. This graduate course will examine maps as sites of the construction of identities, of the exercising of power and of performances of violence.
We will look at mapping as an encounter, and as an intrinsically ideological and imaginative process. Each week will focus on a specific set of maps, reading the maps themselves as historical texts and looking at the constructions of space, power, identity, and conflict they engendered. Although taking a global perspective, we will look at four case studies from North America, Africa, India and South East Asia from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, through which we will explore themes of imperialism, nationalism, expressions of sovereignty, territoriality, cartographic literacy, non-cartographic mapping practices, gender and space, counter-mapping, conceptions of self, and wider issues related to geographic imaginations.
A comparative examination of race and gender in colonial New England, New France and the British North American colonies. Initial sessions discuss theories of gender and race 1600-1850. The course proceeds to case studies of groups such as the Salem “witches.” It examines debates on women in New France and literature on masculinity in the fur trade. The course then turns to the Loyalists at the time of the American Revolution, with particular attention to Iroquois and black minorities among the exiles. Occupational groups such as midwives and seamen are analysed. The course closes with examination of two mid-nineteenth century racialized groups, the blacks of Upper Canada and the mixed-bloods of Red River.
This course examines North and South America, as well as the Caribbean and Meso-America, during the centuries of European conquest and colonization. A range of topics will be considered, including war, slavery, Christian missions, and the establishment of settler societies, but the main focus will be on the interaction of indigenous peoples and newcomers. The working hypothesis is that the American empires of Spain, Portugal, France and Britain were the joint creation of natives and Europeans.
This course examines selected topics in Canadian social history from the early eighteenth century to the late twentieth century. Students will have an opportunity to study various significant topics where there is a strong secondary literature. The topics are organized chronologically, and an effort will be made to appreciate the significance of social transformations over time. We will focus on the changing approaches and methodologies of historians during the past 30 years. Ultimately, students should gain a better understanding of both Canada's social history and the writing of social history by Canadianists. Likely topics include: the rise of institutions, aboriginal peoples and acculturation in the prairie west; industrialization and the family; working-class cultures; spectacles and the new cultural history; gender and the reform movements; the rise of the welfare state; immigration; consumerism.
This seminar offers an overview of the principal historical movements and historiographical debates relating to the role of religion in Canadian social and cultural development. Seminar discussions will focus on such issues as native spirituality, the role of religion in the Canadian state, social Christianity, “national” and ethnic Churches, the emergence of Judaism and Islam as religious presences in Canadian society, religion and multiculturalism, secularization, and the relationship between religion and education. Emphasis will also be placed on using primary sources for scholarly research. Students will be encouraged to write original microstudies of local religious groups based upon archival research.
This seminar will introduce some of the key topics and classic readings in Canadian history. It is mainly intended to allow PhD students to begin preparation for the Canadian field exam, but it will also provide a general view of work in Canadian history for graduate students. A key aim of the course is to draw students out of their area of thematic or temporal specialization within Canadian history.
This seminar course is interdisciplinary, studies past environmental change in North America and reviews major works and themes in environmental history. Topics include theory and historiography, the pre-European environment and contact period, the environmental impact of resource development, of settlement, industrialization and urbanization, ideas about nature in religion, literature and Canadian and American culture, the conservation movements in Canada and the United States and the modern environmental movement. The works of American historians such as Donald Worster, William Cronon and Carolyn Merchant, and Canadian historians such as Ramsay Cook, Gerald Killan and George Wareeki are considered. Students will have the option of writing several analytical book reviews or of writing one research paper to fulfill the written requirements in the course.
This graduate seminar on Canadian history within comparative contexts will focus on three major areas of study - gender history (including sexuality, memory history, food); labour and working-class history (including recent feminist works on race and gender identities); and migration and immigration (including “transplanted” and more recent transnational approaches). The focus will be on the Canadian past, particularly the 19th and 20th centuries, and on Canadian studies but these will be studied within comparative North American and broadly international contexts (The latter will require reading some of the key US, European and other international works). The goal of the course is to provide students who are interested in pursuing graduate work in Canadian history, or social, labour, gender and migration history more broadly, with an opportunity to become more fully immersed in the literatures dealing with three major areas of current research and debate. They will also be encouraged to undertake comparative and international approaches to their own research. Students will read theoretical works (including those informed by Marxist, post-modern, critical race, feminist, and cultural studies approaches) and discuss methodology (for example, writing social history with case files) but the emphasis will be on empirical studies. In dealing with each of the three major themes of the course, the readings will highlight such topics as migrant, immigrant and racialized workers; male and female subjects; female activism vs male activism; gendering migration and workers’ internationalism; working-class sexualities and juvenile delinquency; moral regulation and state repression.
Students will be strongly encouraged to undertake a major research paper using some primary Canadian sources. Alternatively, they may choose to write their major essay on the historiography of a major topic, such as Asian workers in the Americas.
This seminar examines selected topics in the political history of North America, drawing on both Canadian and American literature (and, where appropriate, theoretical or analytic works from international scholars) to think about politics in a broad and comparative way. Students will be encouraged to think about similarities and differences in political cultures across the 49th parallel, and about the development of political vocabularies, institutions, and practices that transcend national, regional, and local boundaries but are simultaneously shaped by them. The course is intended to appeal to students interested in political, social, economic or cultural history, but also to break down the distinctions between such categories. Possible themes and topics include: varieties of liberalism; imperalism and republicanism; the emergence of “modern” state institutions; social movements and radical politics; regional influences on politics; citizenship and nationalism; the public sphere; changing ideas of and struggles over political participation; race and gender in politics.
This course introduces students to the historical debates on religion and society in the eleven states that now constitute “Southeast Asia.” Readings will address how religious practices in the region—animism, Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism and Christianity—have served as forces for social and political change in the modern period. Particular emphasis will be placed on the role of “religion” in the region’s political transitions in the twentieth century, including the ways in which Southeast Asia’s approach toward “modernity” directly relies upon religious authority.
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.
This intensive joint graduate/undergraduate research seminar provides opportunity for detailed study of the treaty processes between Indigenous peoples and newcomers in Canadian history, examining the shift from alliance treaties to land surrender agreements during the colonial period through to the signing of recent treaties including the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and the Nisga’a Final Agreement. We will consider the history of Canada as a negotiated place, mapping the changing contexts of these agreements over more than four centuries through readings and seminar discussions. The first six weeks will be devoted to an intensive study of more than four centuries of negotiated agreements between Indigenous peoples and newcomers to the lands that would become the Dominion of Canada. There will be a day long field trip Friday September 28th to the Woodland Cultural Centre and the Mohawk Institute Residential school and a class trip to the Royal Ontario Museum. For the major assignment, students will select a treaty of personal relevance to them and conduct detailed research (guided by the professor), contributing their findings to a web resource on Canada's treaties. Students in this year's Canada By Treaty will have the opportunity to learn about digital curation and website design. Primary source analysis, seminar participation, digital content, research essay.
This course explores how the “transnational turn” has influenced the writing of Canadian history over the past two decades. Students will be introduced to the major debates in the international literature, as well as a range of works in Canadian history that adopt a transnational approach. In weekly readings, seminar discussions, and in the preparation of a major historiographical paper on a topic of their choosing, students will reflect on the challenges and merits of interpreting, researching, and writing Canada’s history through a transnational lens.
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 1168H (J) Topics in History: History of the Sex Trade in Canadian and Comparative Contexts (Joint HIS417HI)
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.
This course explores the enduring power and changing forms of “race” in Canada and in the United States from historical and theoretical perspectives. We will examine how “race” has affected society and inequalities within both nations. We will also see how “race” has impacted both nations’ engagements with the world. To make our comparison concrete, we will consider connections as well as divergences. To that end, our examination of “race” will focus on tracing interactions among law, society, and policy from the late 19th century to the early 21st century. We will examine these interactions as they affected white, black, indigenous, Asian, Latino, Muslim and mixed race residents. We also will probe related impacts on transnational and international relations. This is both a reading and research course.
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.
Jus commune: the rise and development of learned jurisprudence in the High Middle Ages. Jurisprudence is one of the foundational disciplines in the rise of the Universities and the one in which the newly defined figure of the academic most directly became engaged in the rule and development all sorts of high medieval institutions and practices. This course will examine the texts and practices relate to medieval jurisprudence.
Our medieval history students and those in the Centre, whatever their topics of interest, can all profit from some familiarity with the history of ecclesiastical institutions in the high Middle Ages (papacy, episcopate, parish structures, clerical education etc.). The proposed course would provide the opportunity to acquire such familiarity while varying the topics covered in accordance with the research interests of the students.
Seminar on the sixth-century as seen through the historical and hagiographical works of Gregory, bishop of Tours (573-94). Gregory was the most prolific western historical writer of his age, authoring a large history in ten books, most of which deal with contemporary events, and eight books documenting the miracles, past and present, of the saints. Gregory is the major source for early Merovingian politics and institutions (secular and ecclesiastical) and for the cult of the saints in Frankish Gaul. In the last decade and a half his work has been the subject of major revisionist studies exploring the premises of his writing and has stimulated a rich secondary literature contextualizing the social, political, and religious life depicted in its pages. Gregory’s writings will be supplemented by selected works of contemporary western and Byzantine authors.
In order to understand a society, it is necessary to study its ideals. Monastic life was perceived in Western Europe as the most perfect form of existence up until the twelfth century; this seminar will try to understand why such was the case, as well as how the monastic ideal evolved from its origin to the twelfth century. We will explore some of the most important monastic primary sources with a critical eye, especially narrative sources (Lives of saints) and so-called “normative” sources (rules and customaries). The daily life, internal structures and relationships with the outside world of the most significant monastic communities of the Middle Ages will be studied. This is an introductory course for graduate students desirous to acquire sound bases in the history of medieval monasticism.
Narrative and institutional history of Gaul in late antiquity and the early middle ages, culminating in the Frankish kingdom of the Merovingians.
A research seminar devoted to the study of social and economic change from the accession of Henry II to the passage of the Statute of Mortmain under Edward I. Subjects of inquiry will depend upon the interests of the class, which among other things may include: 1) social status and responsibility; 2) the means available to obtain, hold and transfer land; 3) the distribution of wealth and the value of property; 4) trade, industry and markets in town and country; 5) the feudal and manorial “familia”; 6) employment opportunities; 7) food production and transportation; 8) record keeping and literacy; 9) technology; 10) family ties; 11) crime and justice. Knowledge of Latin and modern European languages is highly desirable.
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.
This course will consider the use of ritual as a means of understanding the evolving structures of European domestic, religious, and political life in the period of 1400 through 1700. Particular attention will be paid to ritual calendars and rites of passage, the inter-penetration of political and religious concerns, the reaction against ritual in the Protestant Reformation, and the expanding use of ritual to substantiate claims of political authority both in Europe and overseas.
This seminar will investigate the central place of humanism in the development of the European Renaissance. Beginning with the emergence of humanism in fourteenth century Italy, the class will investigate the influence of humanist ideas on various aspects of the political, social and cultural worlds of Renaissance Europe, north and south of the Alps.
This course explores ideas about masculinity, femininity, and sexuality, as well as patterns in the relationships of the sexes in the early modern western world. The course gives an opportunity to discuss concepts and methods used by historians currently working on sex and gender, through a literature review and exposure to some of the key source material. We will meet weekly for discussion on such topics as: ideas about sexual difference, reproduction and legitimate sexual practices, motives for marriage, parenting, regulation of behaviour, sexual politics, and the role of religion in forming ideas about manhood and womanhood.
The course aims at giving a plural and vivid image of the challenges facing the governants (i.e. political power and administrative élites) of a modern State such as France during the second half of the 20th century.
The course will examine colonialism from the rise of the “New Imperialism”, to the advent of decolonialization. Although all European colonialisms will be considered, special attention will be paid to the two largest European empires, France and Britain’s. The course will further analyze a set of important themes, ranging from power and social control, to race and gender, colonial culture, colonial ideologies, and mechanisms of colonial rules. Chronologically, this course will cover a number of crucial watersheds, from conquest and resistance to the construction of new identities, and the breaks and continuities provided by the two world wars.
Modern European powers tend to inscribe their power onto the urban fabric of its colonies and protectorates. In the process, colonial cities often became ‘laboratories of modernity.’ This course analyses how – from Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798 to decolonization in the 1950s – colonial urbanism affected the modern Mediterranean world. It does so by focussing on French, British and Italian urban designs and politics in cities of the Levant and North Africa. We will pursue comparatively the cultural and material, economic and architectural policies of three major European imperial powers and contrast them to late Ottoman urban culture.
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).
This seminar addresses the emergence and recent transformation of the early modern Mediterranean as an historical object. It will offer an overview of the historiography of the early modern Mediterranean from Braudel to his most recent critics, and situate this historiography within the broader field of contemporary scholarship and politics. In particular, it will explore the methodological and epistemological implications of post-colonial critiques of Orientalism and Occidentalism on the one hand and of the ongoing conversations between historians and anthropologists of the Mediterranean on the other. Among topics covered will be the emergence of Europe, borderlands and frontiers, varieties of colonial and territorial states, early modern ethnography and travel writing, kinship, merchant "nations" and diasporas, and cultural interaction between the Ottoman Empire and its neighbours. Students will be expected to write weekly response papers, a book review, an annotated bibliography, and a final paper.
This seminar will examine recent trends in French colonial history, covering the period from the conquest of Algeria (1830) to the wars of decolonization. Readings will span a wide geographical range, encompassing French colonies in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, and ending chronologically with postcolonial legacies and the question of Francafrique.
This graduate course explores themes and episodes in French history since the Paris Commune. Students will be introduced to the historiography of the Commune, the Dreyfus Affair, French colonialism, immigration, the two world wars, the Vichy regime, decolonization, and May 1968. Memory, identity, citizenship, immigration and empire are some of the recurring themes in this course. Readings will include a range of cultural, political, gender, and social approaches. In some cases we will read classics, and in others we will consider very recent studies.
This course introduces graduate students to major issues in the study of the Holocaust and World War II. The focus is on connections between these interrelated events. Readings include classic as well as recent works from a range of disciplines and methodological approaches. Special attention will be paid to different national, political, and historiographical contexts in which the Holocaust and the war have been examined by scholars, beginning in the 1940s and up to the present. We will also investigate the postwar confrontation with the Third Reich, comparing social, cultural and judicial responses to Nazism in West and East Germany. This course will therefore provide an overview of Nazi Germany between 1933-45, an in-depth examination of the genesis of the Holocaust, and reflections on Nazism's lingering presence in the two Germanys. Readings will include, among others, works by Hannah Arendt, Saul Friedlander, Gerhard Weinberg, Istvan Deac, Jan Gross, Omer Bartov, Christopher Browning, Zygmunt Bauman, Mark Roseman and Goetz Aly. Oral presentations and the long paper (which may be either a study based on research in primary sources or an historiographical survey) will give students an opportunity to explore areas of particular interest to them.
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.
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.
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?
This research seminar will focus on recent controversies concerning social, cultural, and political change in the time of Bismarck and Wilhelm II. Among the topics to be considered are state- and nation-building after 1866, regional identities, antisemitism, gender and sexuality, religion, radical nationalism, popular culture, workers’ protest, electoral chicanery, murder in a small town, and everyday life on the home front in 1914-18. A combination of secondary literature and primary documents (all in translation and many online) will be discussed each week, beginning with a short student presentation. In the second term, students will concentrate on their research papers. Among the required texts will be James Retallack (ed.), Imperial Germany 1871-1918. The Short Oxford History of Germany (2008). The course will conclude with a viewing of the 1951 East German film adapted from Heinrich Mann’s biting satire, The Loyal Subject (1918).
This course is designed to further the preparation of students for examination fields in twentieth-century German and European history. We will read major (new) works on the century’s central period and events — the two world wars, the Holocaust, the rise of fascism, the Cold War and the reconstruction of Europe, colonialism and decolonisation — as well as exploring the larger processes of transformation that span the century as a whole. These include the development of the modern social welfare state and the growth of a mass consumer society, the legacies of war and violence, ethnic nationalism and its discontents, and the strength and weaknesses of democratic political culture (with an emphasis on histories of gender and sexuality). Particular attention will be paid to Germany within Europe. We will also examine works which attempt to connect the two halves of the century – the histories of war and violence with those emphasizing democracy and reconstruction. These works seek to establish an overarching paradigm for the twentieth century, whether it be territoriality and the rise and fall of the nation state or the creation and destruction of political community.
World War II was much more destructive and traumatic in East Central Europe than in Western Europe. The difference was caused by many reasons, among which the Nazi and Soviet plans and policies were the most important. Yet, there were also numerous East Central European phenomena that contributed to the cruelty of World War II in the East. This seminar will explore the external and internal factors that defined the war in the discussed region. Students will analyze the military, political, economic, and cultural activities of Germany, the Soviet Union, and their allies and enemies. Following sessions will concentrate on the fall of the Versailles systems, diplomatic and military activities throughout the war, on occupational policies of the invaders, economic exploration of the invaded, on collaboration, accommodation, resistance, genocide, the “liberation” and sovietization of East Central Europe after 1944. All the secondary and primary sources used in class are English.
This research seminar will examine a number of texts and films produced during and after the socialist era. Writings from the former period include memoirs, diaries, fiction, and film produced during the 1960s and 1970s in the Soviet Union and other countries of the “socialist camp,” including Yuri Trifonov’s novel, House on the Embankment (1976); Natalya Baranskaya’s novella “A Week Like Any Other” (1979) and the films The Joke, by Jaromil Jires (1969) and Man of Marble by Andrzej Wajda (1976). Works produced after 1991 include Andrzej Stasiuk’s novel On the Road to Babadag (2004), and the films Goodbye Lenin! byWolfgang Becker (2003) and 24 City by Jia Zhangke (2008). Additional readings are critical works dealing with the concept of “real (existing) socialism," its legacy and issues of nostalgia.
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.
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.
The first all-Russian (which was really the first all-imperial) census of 1897 categorized the population of the Russian Empire by gender, by social status, by profession, by religion, and in a way, by nationality. In this course, we will examine the ways that those categories developed over the preceding centuries. We will examine how social estates developed, and how alternate forms of social stratification did or did not develop to challenge those estates. We will look at the role religion played in categorizing Russian society, and the ways that the Russian state viewed religion synonymously with nationalism. And we will investigate the ways that ethnic and national differences became more recognized as important sources of social division, too, related to, and yet separate from these other forms.
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.
The course reviews the history of the Cold War in light of formerly-secret archival documents. Examples include the US White House Tapes and Venona decrypts; massive declassification of records in the ex-Soviet bloc; and parallel developments in China, Cuba, and other Communist states. Archival discoveries have cast new light, not just on individual episodes (e.g., Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979) but on the origins, strategies, and driving forces of this 45-year conflict. The focus will be mainly on the superpowers and their alliance systems.
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.
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.
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.
Consideration of some of the major themes in Victorian social and cultural history, with emphasis on the most recent secondary literature. Among the topics considered are popular culture, gender and social class.
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.
This one-semester seminar explores the historical evolution of American and Canadian thinking about diversity -- ethnic, religious, and regional -- from early modern defenses of religious toleration and the “two nations” concept to early twentieth-century “cultural pluralism” and today’s multiculturalism. Participants will consider the development of pluralist ideologies as articulated by intellectuals and in more everyday, vernacular forms, such as political campaigns, historical commemorations, and other cultural productions. They will examine pluralist thought in the context of competing ideologies, such as nativism. And they will explore the problems and promise of comparing pluralist ideologies and other responses to diversity in Canada and the United States. The seminar combines intensive reading in primary and secondary sources -- including an emerging literature by Americanists and Canadianists on the early roots of multiculturalism -- with discussion, in-class presentations, three short response papers, and the preparation of a detailed prospectus (25 pages) for a research project in this developing field.
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.
This seminar will provide an in-depth exploration of U.S. foreign policy during the so-called “Cold War Era.” Cold War historiography has exploded in recent decades: In addition to diplomacy and strategy, a history of US policy in this era requires attention to the intellectual, psychological, legal, racial, and gendered foundations of policy. Weekly discussions will consider how scholars have brought new methods to the study of the Cold War, and how consideration of the Cold War has helped propel the field of history in new directions.
This seminar explores the use of gender as a category of analysis in the study of international relations. Topics include gendered imagery and language in foreign policymaking; beliefs about women's relationship to war and peace; issues of gender, sexuality, and the military; and contributions of feminist theory to IR theory.
This seminar will survey some of the important topics and readings in U.S. history after 1877. Given the extensive scope of the historiography in the U.S. field, this particular section of HIS1538H will focus on the post-1945 period. The goals of the course are to map current debates about the period under question, and to provide snapshots of the historiography for each subfield. Topics include: the Cold War; social movement history in a global frame (including civil rights, black power, women?s movement, gay liberation, student and anti-war protest); liberalism and neoliberalism; immigration; urbanization and suburbanization, especially in the sunbelt; the rise of modern conservativism; immigration; mass and consumer culture; U.S. empire and colonialism, post-45. We will cover a range of methodological approaches and subfields, including gender history, political history, cultural history, labour history, foreign relations history, etc. The course is designed for students preparing for comprehensive fields or others seeking a basic background in 20th century US history. Course work will include book reviews; class presentation; historiographic essays.
Material evidence such as clothing, consumer and household goods, art, built form, and landscape can provide unique and exciting insights into past and present culture(s) unavailable through textual sources alone. Because of historians’ reliance on documents, we have overlooked material sources, in the process failing to develop a methodological framework for their study found in such object-centered disciplines as archaeology, anthropology, art history, and folklore. This is a historical methods/theory course where students produce a research proposal on a topic of their choice that centers on material culture. The goal is to demonstrate the importance of objects for understanding the past by exploring current interdisciplinary trends in theory and methodology. We examine how artifacts can inform historical inquiry and conversely how historical research can shape what we know about the material worlds of the past. Although much of the theoretical and applied writing in material culture is North American, we will also look at the somewhat different approaches to the subject developed in Canada and Europe. The course will give participants a better understanding of the practice of history in general and innovative ways to approach it.
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.
The course examines the relationship between gender and the experience of slavery and emancipating several Atlantic world societies from the 17th-19th centuries. Areas to be covered are the Caribbean, Brazil, the U.S. South, West and South Africa and Western Europe.
The purpose of this seminar is to introduce graduate students to the major problems, paradigms, and literature on global modernity as seen through the lens of Japan. The course will begin with reflections on area studies as it has addressed questions of modernity and modernization in Japan, while also attending to recent criticisms of this body of knowledge. Although specific topics will vary from year to year, they may include considerations of nationalism, democracy, labor, social management, science, education, biopolitics, empire, temporality, gender and sexuality, culture and ideology, warfare, social conflict, and shifting understandings of human difference. Readings selected for their theoretical or comparative utility will complement those on Japan. In the 2017-18 year the course will especially highlight the period that stretches from the 1930s to 1945.
This course introduces students to the historical debates on religion and society in the eleven states that now constitute “Southeast Asia.” Readings will address how religious practices in the region—animism, Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism and Christianity—have served as forces for social and political change in the modern period. Particular emphasis will be placed on the role of “religion” in the region’s political transitions in the twentieth century, including the ways in which Southeast Asia’s approach toward “modernity” directly relies upon religious authority.
This course examines the historiography of the Asian region from c. 1500-1800 A.D. It focuses on the works emerging in the recent two decades, particularly those that seek to move beyond political-economic concerns, European-Asian dichotomization, the confines of area studies like “East Asia”, “Southeast Asia” and “South Asia”; as well as the dissection of historical periods into “medieval”, “early modern” and “modern” eras. The topics and approaches include the exploration of “parallel histories” and “connected histories” across Asian regions and around the world, the use of historical anthropological methods in the studies of Asian localities, and the study of units of analysis of border-crossing potential such as those following the movements of commodities, people and networks.
This is a graduate reading seminar that will introduce students to the major issues and debates in the Anglophone historiography of late imperial and modern China. It aims to provide students with a broad perspective on the field, prepare them for comprehensive examinations, help them develop their teaching portfolios, give them a chance to practice giving and receiving peer critique, and improve their public presentation skills.
Expect to cover topics including state-society relations; commercial and industrial economies; ideological orthodoxies and not-so-orthodoxies; gender, sexuality, and families; frontiers and ethnicities; technological, intellectual, and cultural patterns; and the perhaps the biggest set of questions of all: what has changed (and what has not) in the transition to "modern" China? Has that transition occurred yet? And why do so many, scholars or not, find the question so gripping? Though the focus is solidly on China c. 1600 to c. 1970, students will have many opportunities to incorporate their own interests and knowledge from other geographic areas, time periods, or disciplinary fields.
Students will produce two short book reviews, a mock undergraduate syllabus (and offer peer review on their classmates’ syllabi), and an annotated bibliography, as well as leading discussion at one point in the course.
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.
This course studies the transition from empire to nation in East Asia from the 19th to the 20th centuries in the greater global context. In addition to examining the historiography associated with this transition, which include the collapse of the Chinese Qing empire, the arrival of Western imperial powers, the rise of the Japanese empire, the emergence of nationalisms in China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, this reading seminar also draws on a broad range of theoretical literature associated with the questions of culture and civilization, historical narrative, sovereignty, governmentality, capitalist modernity, and globalization to analyze the ideologies and practices of empire and nation. As such, it seeks to use East Asian history as a case study to re-examine the complicated theoretical terrains of empire and nation.
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?
This graduate seminar is intended as an introduction to key issues, debates, and themes in the historiography of women and gender in the global south. With an emphasis on Africa, we will mostly focus on recent publications that aim to make new theoretical and empirical interventions into what has been an experimental sub-field, especially in terms of methodology. We will also, however, consider older, now more canonical texts that still underline the terms of interesting debates.
The seminar will be a space for intellectual exploration and learning, for the forming and sharpening of ideas, and for discovery about some of the ways women and gender historians (and our colleagues from related disciplines such as historical anthropologists) have been making histories, working in a variety of fields and archives, defining and theorizing problems and using evidence-based research.
The requirements are designed to give students great flexibility in developing work that will be most useful to their various personal research interests and needs.
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.
A popular saying in various parts of Latin America is that “Mexicans descended from Aztecs, Peruvians descended from Incas, and Argentines descended from boats,” which posits that some countries construct their identities in relationship to pre-Colombian indigenous histories, and others to processes of immigration. Who gets excluded from the national body in these framings? And how have those marginalized groups sought to create more inclusive conceptions of citizenship and belonging? To answer these questions - which trace their roots to Latin America’s colonial period, took on contentious implications during the independence era, and remain at the heart of contemporary discourse throughout the region – this course will guide students through an examination of historical documents, scholarly analyses, and various forms of cultural production.
How and why should historians study the repositories from which we derive our documentary evidence and interpretive authority? How might we think of archives as processes imbued with social lives and shaped by contingent practices of documentation and record-keeping, rather than as inert stashes of texts waiting to be mined? This course will explore such questions through case studies across a wide spatial and temporal arc, introducing students to a thriving, global historiographical field and a set of conceptual frameworks for further work at the intersection of the history of governmentality, materiality, and mediation.
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.
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.
This reading seminar examines how modern cities have been conceptualized in historiography and related interdisciplinary literature. The urban types and global moments that we are covering include colonial/postcolonial cities, industrial/postindustrial cities, socialist/postsocialist cities, Cold War cities, as well as science/smart cities. At stake here is to think about how to (re)write urban history when cities of the global South have increasingly become the sites for us to imagine urban futures. Special attention will also be given to the roles of war, ideology, capital, aesthetics, technology, and ecology in the making urban landscapes and infrastructures.
‘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
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.
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.
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.
Notions of value are central to a wide variety of human activities, informing spirituality, morality, economics, social relations, public policy, and our relationship with the natural and built environments. Scholars in the humanities and social sciences, though, rarely do anything more than invoke an implicit understanding of the concept. Is value innate in people, places, and things? Or is it actively defined and redefined, whether by individuals or society as a whole? This course focuses on value in a series of contexts, including the value of money, commodities, and human life as well as the values promulgated by religion and morality. In doing so, it draws on the insights of political economy, anthropology, sociology, literary theory, cultural studies, and history to both demonstrate the value of deliberate reflection with respect to the use of concepts and to deepen our understanding of this incredibly important concept in particular.