History 101 Seminars

What is History 101?

The History 101 seminar is designed to guide you through the capstone experience of your undergraduate education as a history major: the researching and writing of your senior thesis. Successful completion of this challenging but rewarding endeavor requires you to do the work of a historian. Ultimately, this translates to producing a piece of scholarship—in this case a 30-50 page final paper—in which you articulate and defend a historical interpretation/argument rooted in extensive primary source research, informed by thorough secondary source reading.

101 Courses

101.003: The Making of Modern Asia

The Making of Modern Asia seminar is intended primarily for thesis writers studying Modern China, but is open to students working on any time or place, in Asia. Our approach will be methodological, rather than topical, developing historical papers through close reading and exposition of a key text. Students are strongly encouraged to meet with Dr. Van Vleet in the Fall semester to discuss their interests, and should enter the seminar having already identified a primary source (in translation, if necessary) from which to begin their investigation. The chosen text could be most any sort: political, religious, philosophical, commercial, literary; or even, through prior arrangement with the instructor, visual, musical, architectural, physical/material, etc. In any case, the “text” must originate from the historical time and place under investigation, and must be sufficiently rich in content to support our main objective: to make an argument about how some aspect of the making of modern Asia is illuminated by the text. By the end of the semester, you will produce an original, high-quality research paper of 30-50 pages on a topic of your choosing. 

Stacey Van Vleet
3104 Dwinelle
TuTh 4-6
Class #: 32767
101.001: Ancient Mediterranean

Guided research seminar for students writing a thesis on the Ancient Mediterranean, broadly defined from the Bronze Age to Late Antiquity. Class meetings will support the process of independent research and writing. Students will enjoy broad discretion on the subject of their thesis. Those interested in the course are encouraged contact me during the Fall semester.

Michael J. Taylor
2231 Dwinelle
TuTh 12-2
Class #: 32765
101.006: Britain, Europe, and Modernity

This seminar welcomes all students whose historical interests tend toward British history or, more broadly, European history (including Europe in relation to colonial empire) since 1500. Projects that are based in interdisciplinary research (law, science, art, etc.) are particularly encouraged.

Early in the semester, class meetings will focus on various ways to conduct historical research and how to translate that research into effective academic writing. We will also explore research materials available on or near campus. Then, throughout the rest of the semester, we will maintain a common schedule of research, drafting arguments, and critiquing one another’s work.

Students are welcome to research and write about any topic that interests them so long as they have a clear and pointed research question. Anyone who wishes to take the class needs to write to me before the end of the fall semester. I will be interested to know what question motivates your research, what historical materials you intend to work with, what historical literature you are engaged with, what history courses you have already taken, and if there is another faculty member that you have been working with in relation to the ideas that you have for this project.


Jason Rozumalski
3205 Dwinelle
MW 4-6
Class #: 32770
101.004: Topics in Modern European History, 1789 to the Present

This seminar will guide students through the process of completing a senior thesis in a topic in modern European history, with a geographical focus on Western Europe. Our focus will be the research and writing process, ranging from the feasibility of research topics, historiography, methodology, and analysis, but with an extra emphasis on the practicalities of writing research papers. Students should contact the professor in advance of the seminar to discuss possible topics and, if possible, research questions.

Trevor Jackson
2303 Dwinelle
TuTh 12-2
Class #: 32768
101.005: Topics in Modern European History: 1789 to the Present.

This writing seminar is open to all students planning to write their thesis on a topic related to ‘Late Modern Europe.’ While all topics are welcome, those particularly interested in the region of Russia, Eurasia, or Eastern Europe, as well as those with an emphasis on cultural history, are especially encouraged to register. We will meet during the first few weeks to discuss research and writing strategies, formulate reading lists, and identify primary source bases. Over the course of the semester, students will be expected to submit occasional progress reports and meet individually with the instructor. We will reconvene during the last several weeks to present and workshop finished papers.

Jason R Morton
2303 Dwinelle
MW 2-4
Class #: 32769
Latin America
101.008: Latin America, Borderlands, and Indigenous Peoples

This class is primarily designed for students who have made Latin America their area of concentration, while also providing support for students looking to work on borderlands topics, or who wish to study Latin America comparatively. Students will write a 30- to 50-page paper on some aspect of the social, cultural, political, or economic history and class meetings will focus on the process of research and writing, with a significant amount of time spent on the craft of writing, The seminar is open in terms of topics and country of focus. All that is required is to ask interesting questions, pursue the answers rigorously, and make the most use possible (given availability and language skills) of sources in Spanish and Portuguese. The libraries here, especially the Bancroft Library, have an extraordinary collection of material. Starting with your broad interests, you will track down primary materials to work with, examine them in light of prior scholarship, probe them with significant questions of your own, and over a series of drafts, produce a solid and compelling piece of scholarly research.

This will be hard work. But if you start strong and work steadily, it will also be a rich and rewarding experience. A key part of starting strong is narrowing your topic and identifying your source materials as soon as you can. Everyone signing up for this seminar is therefore required to meet with the instructor (or correspond, if you are not on campus) well before the beginning of spring semester, and hopefully prior to 15 November.

Javier Cikota
3104 Dwinelle
MW 10-12
Class #: 32772
101.002: Writer's Group

This section is designed for seniors with well-conceived thesis projects that do not fit within the rubrics of other 101 seminars. Members of the group will observe a common schedule in developing, drafting, and critiquing material but will not share a common subject area.

Admission requires a written statement and the consent of the instructor. The statement should include: (1) a two-hundred word description of the proposed thesis topic; (2) a preliminary annotated bibliography (with full citations) of suitable primary sources; (3) a short bibliography of secondary sources; (4) a list of previous coursework in the proposed field of research; and (5) the name of a departmental instructor in that field who is willing to help mentor the student by providing bibliographical guidance, occasional consultation, and a critique of the first draft of the thesis. Students apply online by submitting the online preference form, and must also submit their statements directly to Leah Flanagan's mailbox in 3229 Dwinelle or via email to leahf(at)berkeley.edu by 4 p.m. on Monday, 13 November.

Although most applicants will not have had time to develop rigorous statements by the application deadline, they must demonstrate the viability of their projects and their commitment to serious preparation in advance of the course. This section is limited to students whose work clearly falls outside the scope of other 101 sections. If in doubt, please apply.

Maria Mavroudi
3205 Dwinelle
TuTh 2-4
Class #: 32766
United States
101.010: The American Century: Cultural and Political History from 1890 to 1980

In 1941, Henry Luce published the famous Life magazine editorial “The American Century.” His logic was political, cultural, and even moral and economic. In this History 101 seminar we will spend some time discussing the implications of US cultural, political, and economic hegemony, in particular what that meant in terms of national identity and changing ideas about region, nation, and the global order during the twentieth century. But mostly we will get to the business of writing your 101 theses on topics related to political and cultural history of the United States from 1890 to 1980. Our focus will be the research and writing process, beginning with the feasibility of research topics, developing a sound argument with good evidence, and continuing to work together on historiography, methodology, analysis, and writing. Students should contact the professor in advance of the seminar to discuss possible topics and, if possible, research questions. Topics could include issues of national identity, regional identity/culture/history, social or cultural/counterculture movements, the arts and the built environment, and many other topics that touch on national or transnational perspectives during this period.

Sarah Selvidge
3205 Dwinelle
MW 12-2
Class #: 32774
101.011: Urban History

This course is designed for history majors who want to write their 101 papers about some feature of U.S. urban history: topics about cities, suburbs, metro areas, or key events that happened within such places. I expect, but will not require, that students write about some aspect of this history in the S.F. Bay Area or elsewhere in California in the 20th century. Preference in admission to this course will be given to students who are currently taking my 103.

Robin L. Einhorn
3205 Dwinelle
MW 2-4
Class #: 32872
101.012: Topics in U.S. Social and Cultural History

This seminar is a thesis-writing workshop for students who will write their theses on U.S. history using the sources, research questions, and methodologies of social and/or cultural history. This class would be a great fit for students planning to conduct research using primary sources that explore the beliefs, experiences, and daily lives of ordinary people, such as newspaper articles; letters, diaries, and journals; popular literature (fiction and non-fiction); oral histories or interviews; census records; marriage, birth, or death records; administrative records from unions, clubs, or other voluntary organizations; photographs, films, advertisements, or other visual materials; and material artifacts like clothing, furniture, or household items. All research questions pertaining to the United States (or the land that later became the United States) before 1991 are welcome. Students are strongly encouraged to contact the professor before the semester begins to discuss potential research questions and primary source bases.

Sarah Gold McBride
3205 Dwinelle
MW 10-12
Class #: 32918
101.009: Race, Ethnicity, and Citizenship in the 20th Century United States

This seminar will guide students as they produce an original piece of historical scholarship (the 101 senior thesis) on a topic in US History. We will focus on the research and writing process, ranging from the feasibility of research topics, the development of research questions and a research plan, historiography, methodology, analysis, and the writing process. By the end of the semester, students will have designed a research plan, implemented research and writing strategies, engaged in intellectual dialogue with their peers, and produced an original piece of historical scholarship 30-50 pages in length.

The common readings draw upon the topics of race, ethnicity, and citizenship in the 20th century United States. Students enrolled in this course, however, need not write a paper on the 20th century US if their research projects relate to the broader themes/regions driving the seminar, including, but not limited to: immigration and migration; transnational communities; US foreign policy; the American West; labor/labor movements; social movements; inequality and inclusion; race and politics; religion and politics. Research projects that touch upon these broad topics will help to create and sustain a robust intellectual community and dialogue during our meetings throughout the semester—a critical part of the research and writing process.

Students should contact the professor in advance of the seminar to discuss possible topics and, if possible, research questions.

Maggie Elmore
3205 Dwinelle
TuTh 12-2
Class #: 32773
Related Interest
101.007: Research Topics on the History of Atlantic Societies, 1400-1900

Our research and writing seminar is for students interested in writing a 101 thesis on any topic concerning the history of the peoples in the Atlantic basin (1400-1900). Students may have interests as varied as European institutions and overseas expansion in the early modern world; transformations of the Columbian exchange and indigenous societies; colonial Americas; Africa and African Diaspora in the Americas; Atlantic revolutions; or any comparative approach (intellectual, cultural, social, economic or political) to the history of the Atlantic world. Early meetings will focus on research design and strategies (best approaches for writing history) and formulation of specific research questions for your topic. During the rest of the semester, the focus will be on supporting your research and writing with peer discussion and individual consultation.

Mark Emerson
2231 Dwinelle
MW 12-2
Class #: 32771