History 103 Seminars

What is History 103?

The History 103 course is a proseminar on historiography involving close reading and critical discussion. Every history major is required to take at least one History 103, though taking more than one is highly recommended. Multiple 103s are offered each fall and spring term, and the topics are almost never repeated.

Taking more than one 103 in the same semester is not highly recommended, but it is possible. Priority enrollment can only assign one seat, however. Transfer students in their first semester should certainly try out a 103 if the topic is of particular interest. Students at all levels are welcome, but some lower division experience in history is expected.

History 103 is likely to include some research work which can be used later toward a 101 topic, or not.

All students, including non-majors, are welcome and encouraged to complete the priority enrollment sign-up form or to enroll in History 103 on a space-available basis when the courses open at the beginning of Phase II. History 103 seminars are firmly limited to fifteen (15) students per section.

Fall 2017 History 103 Enrollment Procedures:

Priority Enrollment

If you completed the seminar preference form before July 5th, you will receive an email by July 10th with a permission number which will hold your seat in the 103 to which you have been assigned. You may then register for your 103 on or following your Phase II appointment. You must use your permission number to add the course by Tuesday, August 15th (day 2 of the Adjustment Period) or you will lose your reserved seat.

Even if you are enrolled in the class, you must attend the first class meeting or you may be dropped from the class. (Or you may not, so please remember to be responsible for your class schedule.)

Enrollment after priority enrollment permission numbers have been assigned:

After the initial distribution of individual permission numbers, most History 103 sections will have seats open. Enrollment restrictions will be lifted for each section at the beginning of Phase II (July 10th) at which point students may register for any available course.

Students must appear at the first class meeting, or risk losing their seat. If a section you want is full, and/or you are on the wait list, please attend the first day to see if others do not. It is often impossible to add History 103 after the first class meeting.

Please note that the seats held by permission numbers will be invisible (an unfortunate side effect of our new system) so students must try to add the course in order to view how many seats are actually left in it.

103 Courses

United States
103D.004: E Pluribus Barnum: Popular Entertainment in the United States

This course will explore how ordinary Americans gathered together in museums, fairgrounds, theatres, and stadiums to entertain themselves before the twenty-first century. Since 1786, when Charles Wilson Peale opened his museum in Philadelphia as a place for audiences to encounter art, lectures, scientific specimens, and natural history objects, Americans have sought out popular entertainment for both amusement and education. In this class, we will consider how the kinds of entertainment Americans engaged in has changed over time, but also how the justifications for attending events and performances have shifted, too. What did Americans hope to gain from watching a blackface minstrelsy performance in 1843, buying a ticket to a world's fair in 1915, or attending a music festival in 1969? How did popular entertainment reflect, reinforce, or challenge ideas about race, gender, class, science, and national identity? Throughout this semester, we will take seriously what may seem to be trivial, as we consider how historians can use popular entertainment as a lens to examine major themes of American life.This seminar is also designed to prepare students to write a 101 in the spring. The major writing assignment will be a proposal for a 101 thesis: framing a topic, locating a primary source base, and thinking about how to locate your topic in the context of key secondary literature. I will be teaching a 101 on the same subject in the spring, and students are strongly encouraged to consider this 103 and that 101 as a sequence.

Sarah Gold McBride
3104 Dwinelle
M 10-12
Class #: 44828
103D.002: US Cities

This course will focus on the history of American cities and metropolitan areas. Major topics include race and ethnicity, immigration, housing, politics, culture and economic change, from the late-19th to the late-20th century. Urban history is not only fascinating in itself, but has traditionally been a useful lens to focus in on other themes of interest — because the “case study” method of organizing historical research can help to promote depth, specificity, and new insights.

This seminar is also designed to prepare students to write a 101 in the spring. The major writing assignment will be a proposal for a 101 thesis: framing a topic, locating a primary source base, and thinking about how to locate your topic in the context of key secondary literature. I will be teaching a 101 on the same subject in the spring, and students are strongly encouraged to consider this 103 and that 101 as a sequence.

Robin L. Einhorn
3104 Dwinelle
W 12-2
Class #: 44826
103D.005: 20th Century Latina/o Immigrant Experiences in the United States

This course introduces students to the immigration experiences of major Latina/o populations in the 20th century United States. Although the term Latina/o encompasses a wide variety of peoples in the Western Hemisphere, we will focus specifically on people descending/originating from Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. For many of these groups, migration has played a key role their experiences. Central themes include migration, gender, pan ethnicity, and political mobilization. Along the way, we will consider questions such as: How has the crossing of different borders changed over time? What is the difference between immigration and transnational migration? What similarities have US Latinas/os shared? What issues have divided them? How have certain inequalities (e.g. economic, immigration status, etc.) compounded others (race, gender, etc.)? How has US immigration law been used as a tool for both exclusion and inclusion? Students will learn how to write a prospectus for an original research project, such as the History 101 senior thesis. Throughout the semester, we will tackle practical issues such as how to ask critical questions, identify historiographical problems, develop (and redevelop) research questions, and locate and access primary sources.

All are welcome. Requirements include active participation, short weekly assignments, and preparatory assignments for the prospectus. Final project will be a prospectus that can be used in preparation for the History 101.

Maggie Elmore
3205 Dwinelle
M 12-2
Class #: 44829
103D.003: The History of Computing in America

This course will provide a broad historical foundation for the emergence of computers as a technology and as a symbol of contemporary life. We will examine the intellectual and technical origins of the first computers, the development of the computer industry, the role of military in technical innovation, hacker cultures, and Silicon Valley as a place. We will probably also consider the emergence of the internet and Artificial Intelligence. Our goal will be to arrive at a clearer and less mystified sense of why this powerful, albeit limited machine has come to play such an outsized role in our perception of our society, ourselves, and our collective future.

Daniel Kelly
2303 Dwinelle
F 10-12
Class #: 44827
103D.001: Contesting the American Past: A survey of historical discourse from the Revolution to the present

As I write this, Confederate monuments in New Orleans are being removed by municipal workers, exciting both celebration and protest. Throughout US history, the past has never been inert. It is continuously examined, contested, manipulated, and refashioned. It is used to argue both where the nation stands and where it should go. Over time, different versions rise, conflict, and subside. This course traces the major attempts to promote and suppress versions of the national past, ranging from the American Revolution to our moment. Some of the topics addressed include debates about European colonialism in the Americas; national exceptionalism; the place of American Indians in the national story; the construction of antebellum sectional identities; the legacy of slavery and the Confederacy; the nature of the American Revolution, and the merits of the post-WWII international system. In addition to recent historiography, it draws on an array of primary sources: histories, biographies, plays, poetry, and novels, schoolbooks and films, which we will use to study the contingency and stakes of recounting the past."

Derek K. O'Leary
3205 Dwinelle
F 10-12
Class #: 44825
103D.006: Foodways in American History

This course will introduce students to the history of foodways in North America from the Columbian Exchange through late twentieth century. Through the lens of food, students will examine major themes in American environmental history, social and cultural history, and the history of globalization and capitalism. Key topics include: the environmental impact of the Columbian Exchange; the legacy of slavery on American and global foodways; the role of food in constructing American identities, including understandings of race, gender, class, and immigrant communities; the industrialization and regulation of food production; the rise of nutrition science and public health movements; and the countercultural food movement of the late twentieth century. The course will also focus on historical methods, examining how historians form research questions and use primary and secondary sources to construct historical arguments. The course will prepare students to write their 101 thesis by guiding them through the process of writing a research prospectus on any topic in the history of foodways in North America.

Kimberly Killion
3104 Dwinelle
M 12-2
Class #: 44830
Middle East
103M.001: Cosmopolitanism: questioning difference, toleration, and conflict

This reading seminar will examine the theme of cosmopolitanism in writing the history of the modern Middle East and eastern Mediterranean (c. 1750-present). A rich literature on cosmopolitanism in the Middle East focuses on some of the region's earliest and most dynamic sites of modern transformation. These transformations had dramatically uneven consequences that continue to shape the region's position in the global order to this day. While cosmopolitan ideals emphasize diversity, tolerance, and "global citizenship," the study of cosmopolitanism necessarily overlaps with many of the darkest themes of modern Middle Eastern history: the rise of nation-states and competing nationalisms, ethnic cleansing, colonialism and decolonization, and persistent and rising economic inequality. This course will consider how attention to cosmopolitan spaces, social groups, and activities (for example, port cities, the bourgeoisie, and middle class politics) has shaped historical writing on the Middle East in recent decades. This includes close attention to how the cosmopolitan lens has obscured (or denigrated) other forms of human activity and experience (the working class, rural migrants, or the role of religion, especially Islam, in modern political culture). Weekly readings and discussions will focus on the rise of port cities like Beirut, Alexandria, Izmir, and Salonica; the impact of western capitalism and colonialism in the Ottoman Empire and successor states; bourgeois society and sociability; co-existence and conflict between ethnic and religious minorities; political debates about sovereignty, subjecthood, and citizenship; and imperial and national efforts (and failures) to manage diverse populations.

Zoe Griffith
2231 Dwinelle
Th 10-12
Class #: 44835
103F.001: Religion, Superstition, and Secularism in Modern China

Narratives of modern Chinese history have often consigned the practice of religion to a fading pre-Communist past. However, the remarkable religious revival in recent decades since the end of the Cultural Revolution has inspired historians to reconsider the fate of religion and its place in the making of modern China. How did modern secularism inform the transition from cosmic empire to nation-state? Why were attempts to reform Chinese society using Western concepts of religion and superstition so problematic? How did Buddhists and Daoists engage with such concepts and other features of modernity? Did Christian missions provide a model, and were they able to overcome their foreign origins to become indigenous movements? How did religious difference in the borderlands of Tibet and Xinjiang shape the ethnic and territorial formation of the Chinese nation? Was the Communist revolution, and its devotion to Mao, influenced by the very religious traditions it targeted for destruction? We will explore these questions and more through close reading and critical discussion of recent scholarship on the history of religion in China with a focus on the twentieth century. In addition, we will also examine representative examples of missionary records, religious periodicals, memoirs, and other relevant primary sources available in English.

J. Brooks Jessup is a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of History. His book manuscript examines the rise of Shanghai as a national center of Buddhist activism in twentieth-century China. Current research interests include urban history, public religion, Buddhist modernism, human-animal relations, and environmental history.

Brooks Jessup
2231 Dwinelle
T 12-2
Class #: 44832
103F.002: Personal Testimony as Historical Evidence: Voices from Modern Japan

What happens when a personal document becomes public?

This seminar will explore the use of personal testimony, or voices, as historical evidence. The arena is modern Japan: roughly the century and a half from the Meiji Restoration of 1868 until today. Drawing on a range of personal documents—diaries, letters, journals, memoirs, and poems (plus paintings, drawings and so on)—we will consider the different ways in which self-disclosure can become a historically significant act. As far as possible, reading and discussion will be organized around translated sources, supplemented by pertinent scholarship. Working from these materials we will try to understand better the possibilities and pitfalls that come with privileging the personal voice as historical testimony.

The course requires no prior knowledge of Japanese history. Active participation in weekly discussion will be expected. Regular oral reports on reading, a number of short response papers, and a longer thematic term paper will be required. Details concerning specific assignments will be discussed in class.

Andrew E. Barshay
2231 Dwinelle
W 12-2
Class #: 46936
103F.003: Hindu/Muslim: Religion, Politics, and Violence in South Asia during the past Millennium
  • This course has been cancelled.

This course is concerned broadly with the relationship between the categories of "religion" and "politics" and the practices of violence which lie at their intersection, and in particular with rethinking the terms we use to imagine religious violence in the past and the present. As a case, we will focus on the longue dur̩e history of the Indian subcontinent, and the relationship between Hinduism and Islam as it has manifested over the last millennium. Through reading a mix of postcolonial historical scholarship and precolonial primary sources, we will critically investigate the Islamic conquest of India; the historic evolution of the concept of "Hindu" and "Muslim"; and the politics of memory of this relationship in the twentieth century. No prior experience with the history of India is required for this class. Students will be responsible for regular response papers and will craft an essay on the themes of the class over the course of the semester.

Abhishek Kaicker
2303 Dwinelle
Th 10-12
Class #: 66994
103U.001: Transgressions and repressions; crimes and punishments in Atlantic Society, 1500-1800

Our course concentrates on the occurrence, nature, and causes of secular and religious transgressions and the institutions of control designed to punish transgressors in early modern Atlantic societies. We will explore the everyday lives and actions of (ex)ordinary people caught up in the mechanisms of the control of crime and religious transgression. Our course will analyze specific examples, questions, and problems in the historiography of early modern Atlantic Inquisitions, secular and ecclesiastical courts, and other institutions of social control in western Europe, Latin America, and the Colonial America. Topical readings for critical discussion and writing include works from the Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions in Europe and the New World; crime and punishment in 17th and 18th century London; gender and crime; and the Salem witch trials among others. Students will have the opportunity to work on a prospectus for further research and writing for a 101 writing seminar.

Mark Emerson
3104 Dwinelle
W 10-12
Class #: 44837
103B.002: Violence and Feud in the Middle Ages

The Middle Ages has the reputation of being a period of unusual violence tamed only by the legal institutions of the developing state, but the reputation is undeserved, at least if one thinks of violence as the unrestrained use of physical force by individuals. Violence was common in the middle ages, but it was not unrestrained. It was limited, calculated, and essential to maintaining social order. For that very reason, it is all the more interesting. Examining test cases from the entire span of the middle ages, this seminar will explore a number of arenas of habitual, even normalized violence, including feuds, urban riots, and private war. It will also ask why — again in contrast to common beliefs — the developing "state" never managed to eradicate such violence but on the contrary, seemed to require and even promote them.

Geoffrey Koziol
2303 Dwinelle
M 2-4
Class #: 44821
103U: Antisemitism and Jewish Responses

Hatred of Jews and Judaism is an enduring prejudice, stretching from antiquity to the present. Its seeming chronological limitlessness is matched by its apparent lack of geographical boundaries. So tenacious an ideology is it that even countries where there have never been Jews have nonetheless had antisemites. Beginning with the ancient world, we will examine the history of this hatred by reading both primary and secondary-source material. We will also seriously consider the variety of Jewish responses to it.

John M. Efron
3104 Dwinelle
T 10-12
Class #: 51991
103B.003: History of Economic Crisis, 1720-2008

The year 1720 witnessed the world's first international financial crisis, in the form of the South Sea Bubble in Britain and the Mississippi Bubble in France. Since then the core of "developed" countries in Europe and America has experienced a major economic crisis about once per decade, with the most recent Great Recession still ongoing. How can we understand these crises? Is each one unique, or is there an underlying pattern? What determines their frequency and severity? Are crises an inevitable and natural feature of the modern economy? Is it possible to learn lessons from a previous crisis in order to avoid the next one? This course introduces students to a wide variety of influential attempts to answer these questions. It focuses particularly on historical accounts of eighteenth and nineteenth century financial crises under the classical gold standard system, the economic history of the Great Depression, and contemporary economic and policy explanations for debt and currency crises since the 1970s which culminated in the crisis of 2008. The main focus will be on the developed Atlantic economies, but since the Great Depression and the post-1970s crises have been global events, the perspective will necessarily broaden as the course proceeds. Although the course does involve reading economists and economic historians, it assumes no prior economics training, and indeed aims to familiarize students from many scholarly backgrounds with the techniques for reading, understanding, and interpreting quantitative social science research.

Trevor Jackson
2303 Dwinelle
T 10-12
Class #: 44822
103B.001: The Historical Novel and European History

Art has long served as a way of personalizing the past: turning something distant and abstract into a tangible experience. What is historical fiction and how does it relate to the professional practice of history? What are the different advantages and challenges faced by writers and historians in their attempts to represent or investigate the past? How have representations of history changed by place and over time? Rather than using literature merely as a supplement to a historical topic, we will foreground the history of the historical novel. By examining the development of historical fiction during the 19th and 20th centuries, we will consider the influence of historical events on both historiography and artistic representations of the past. Readings will include historical novels from France, Russia/the Soviet Union, Norway, and the former Yugoslavia, as well as works of literary criticism and historiography.

Jason R Morton
2303 Dwinelle
M 12-2
Class #: 44820
103C.001: The Making (and Breaking?) of Britain

Britain now seems poised on a precipice: will the geo-political entity that has been the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland survive far into the twenty-first century or will it dissolve among its multiple states? The answer to that question belongs to the future. What this class can ask is: what is "Britain" anyway? How did it come to be? What are its fault lines? This seminar will move quickly through the early history of Roman and Celtic Britain before focusing on the Kingdoms of England, Ireland, and Scotland; the Union of the Two Crowns under James VI and I in 1603; Scotland's eventual (and, to some, dubious) union with England; the long history of violence in Ireland; and some of the intricate complications of empire. The structure of this course is about kingdoms, nations, and nationalism. However, in order to give that structure meaningful content, the course will emphasize studies of identity, religion, self-determination, and the messy cultures that have created these arbitrary (but somehow real) geo-political categorizations that affect the lives and livelihoods of millions of people today.

Jason Rozumalski
2231 Dwinelle
M 12-2
Class #: 44838
Latin America
103E.001: Race, Gender, and Power: Borderlands in the Americas during the 19th century

The study of borderlands—areas of contested sovereignty where no single social group has political, cultural or economic control—provides insights into a host of topics: national allegiances; racial and ethnic identity; cultural and economic change; the creation and re-creation of class and gender norms; and, above all, insights into power—how it is perceived, deployed and maintained.

This course examines several of these topics through a particular lens: interactions between expanding nation-states in the Americas and the indigenous groups they encroached upon during the “long nineteenth century.” Borderlands underwent tremendous change in the century after American nation-states achieved independence, including struggles for rights, negotiations over belonging and exclusion; and the vast expansion of nation-states over indigenous-controlled areas. We will explore this process in several of the hemisphere’s regions, from the Pacific Northwest to the Amazon, and including the Mexican-US borderlands, with special attention paid to how structures of race, class, and gender were established, maintained and negotiated at times of uncertain change.

This seminar is designed to help students prepare for their senior thesis by offering a range of perspectives on the topic, and the region more broadly.

Javier Cikota
3205 Dwinelle
F 12-2
Class #: 44831
103E.002: From the Old- to the Alt-Right: A Comparative History of Right-Wing Politics Across the Americas

This seminar examines right-wing and conservative politics in Latin America and the United States from the early twentieth century to the present. We will explore different forms of right-wing politics and how they can intersect with religion, political parties, the armed forces, geo-politics, social movements, journalism, and gender identities. In this course, students will be encouraged to consider how the meaning of "the right" has changed over time; how the it compares in different countries; and how right-wing politics have circulated across the Americas. Our readings will include case studies from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and the United States.

David Tamayo is a PhD candidate in Latin American history, with an emphasis on modern Mexico. His dissertation studies the role that US-transnational voluntary associations, such as the Lions, Rotary, and other service clubs, had in organizing and politicizing the Mexican middle classes from the 1920s to the 1970s.

David Tamayo
3104 Dwinelle
Th 10-12
Class #: 51972
103S.001: Science, Religion, and Magic in Early Modern Europe (Proseminar in History of Science)

This seminar studies the momentous transformation of knowledge that took place between the late sixteenth and the early eighteenth century, and which is usually described as the Scientific Revolution. During this period, the criteria for assessing what can count as sound evidence changed significantly, as did those to judge whether an argument is valid, or a belief credible. We shall explore the social and cultural contexts in which Western science emerged as a distinctive kind of knowledge and set of practices. At the same time, we shall look at the continuing vitality, throughout this period, of forms of religious and magical experience. How do historians understand this entanglement of recognizably modern ways of thinking with beliefs in magic, astrology, prophecy, and witchcraft?

Massimo Mazzotti
3205 Dwinelle
Th 2-4
Class #: 44836
103H.001: Making Africa Muslim
  • This course has been cancelled.

In this course, we will ask how and why Islam was adopted by so many people in Africa (slightly less than 50% of Africans are Muslims today). Although we will pay some attention to the larger history of the spread of Islam in Africa, we will be primarily interested in issues of religious practice and identity among different strata of African populations over time. One of the principle vehicles for the extension of Muslim practice in Africa was the teachings and institutional structures embodied in Islamic mysticism (which is known by the term "Sufism"). Islamic mysticism was central to the spread of Islam in Africa, and to its particular dynamism in different parts of the continent. For many African Muslims today—s in the past—Islamic mysticism is an essential part of their practice and belief as Muslims. But conversely, Islamic mysticism has also become a primary target for criticism by many reformist Muslims. The course assumes no prior knowledge of Islam or African history. The approach that we will take will be in some ways based on the curriculum that an African Muslim student would have followed. Each week, we will read two types of texts: academic articles and chapters about different aspects of the history of Muslim Africa, and English translations of important Islamic texts written and read in Africa. By approaching the subject through some of the texts used to spread the message of Islam to different Africans over time, we will learn about the intellectual framework of Islam in Africa. The objective of the course is to provide students with both a working knowledge of Islamic history in Africa and the intellectual framework of an initiate's understanding and appreciation of the body of thought and practice of Muslim Africans.

Bruce Hall
2231 Dwinelle
Th 12-2
Class #: 44834
103A.001: Monarchy, Aristocracy and Democracy: Ancient Politics in Practice

The Ancient Mediterranean offers numerous case studies to how complex pre-modern societies structured governance. Greek political theory divided political systems into three basic categories: Monarchy, Aristocracy and Democracy. Some Greek political theorists believed that these modes ran in cycles as the corruption of one form of rule led to the rise of another. We will explore how different modes of governance operated on the ground, impacting various aspects of rule such as military command, administrative delegation, governmental accountability, resource distribution, social and economic inequality, infrastructure and development, and economic growth. Case studies will include Athens and Sparta, Achaemenid Persia, the Hellenistic kingdoms, and Rome during the Republic and Principate. Students will undertake a significant research project on a topic of their choosing related to the themes of the course.

Michael J. Taylor
3104 Dwinelle
F 10-12
Class #: 15030