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, although taking more than one is highly recommended. Multiple 103s are offered each fall and spring term, and the topics are almost never repeated.

  • Students in all majors are welcome to enroll in History 103. Students at all levels are welcome, but some lower division experience in history is expected.
  • Taking more than one 103 in the same semester is not highly recommended, but it is possible. Note that only one seat can be assigned in priority enrollment.
  • Transfer students in their first semester should certainly try a 103 if the topic is of particular interest. Please also have a backup lecture.
  • History 103 is likely to include some research work which can be used later toward a 101 topic.

Spring 2020 Seminars

103B Proseminar: Problems in Interpretation in the Several Fields of History: Europe

103B.001 Civilizing the Vikings

Instructor: Geoffrey Koziol
Day: M
Time: 1-4pm
Room:  Dwinelle 3104
Class #: 19955

The Vikings are back! In video games, movies, cosplay, and white neo-nationalist movements. Since we’re in the throes of another Viking craze, we might as well offer a course on their history. After several weeks discussing Viking attacks on England and the Continent, we will turn to Viking mythology, the colonization of the North Atlantic, and feuding. A fair amount of attention will be devoted to recent archaeological excavations. We will do a little work with Norse mythologies, as well as the ways the history of early Scandinavian kings was grafted into those mythologies. We will end with the beginnings of real monarchies in 12th- and 13th-century Scandinavian kingdoms. Readings are both primary and secondary sources.


103B.002 Fall of the Soviet Union

Instructor: Joseph Kellner
Day: W
Time: 10am-12pm
Room: Dwinelle 3205
Class #: #32791

In 1985, virtually no observer predicted the Soviet Union’s demise, and by most metrics, the country was near the height of its power. Six years later, it would no longer exist. The sudden death of Soviet-style communism shocked the world, and left analysts puzzling over its cause. In this course, we will attempt to understand what they could not. Why could the Soviet Union not survive more than a single human lifetime? What does it mean for a major world empire to vanish overnight, both politically and for the hundreds of millions of people it governed? And finally, what would follow? The course will begin after World War Two, and follow this history through to the early Putin era. This is a reading seminar, which will examine the Soviet collapse in academic literature from multiple disciplines, in fiction, and in film. It will take a broad view of the region - that is, a focus on the non-Russian republics as well as Russia itself - and students and their interests will steer the course wherever possible. Assignments will include weekly readings, leading in-class discussions, and writing analytical papers.


103B.003 The Rise of Global Empires and Imperial Culture in Early Modern Europe, 1400-1800

Instructor: Thomas Dandelet
Day: M
Time: 3-5pm
Room:  Dwinelle 2303
Class #: 32792

This course will focus on the history of the first global empires that arose in early modern Europe. Spain, Portugal, France and Britain all strove with varying measures of success to build global empires in this period that marked the beginnings of imperial contest that has shaped the modern world. Among our themes will be the Renaissance ideas at the roots of this imperialism, the political practices and institutions of empire, and the art and architecture that comprised the cultural foundations of European empire. Requirements include weekly participation in the seminar, some short written assignments and a final paper of roughly 15-20 pages.

103D Proseminar: Problems in Interpretation in the Several Fields of History: United States

103D.001 POWER TO THE PEOPLE: Historicizing the Black Freedom Movement, Native American Movement, Asian American Movement, and the Chicano Movement, 1940-1980

Instructor: Waldo Martin
Day: W
Time: 2-4pm
Room: Dwinelle 2303
Class #: 19958

We will analyze historically and critically the modern liberation movements of African Americans, Indigenous Peoples (Native Americans), Asian Americans, and Chicanos (Chicanxs]. First, we will consider the historical contexts — local, regional, national, and global — within which these movements happened. Second, we will analyze each movement in the context of its own history. Third, and finally, we will compare and contrast these movements as social movements among domestic peoples of color, communities of color, “nations” of color, or “internal colonies” of color. Possible texts: Ronald Takaki, DOUBLE VICTORY: A Multicultural History of America in World War II; Paul Chaat Smith and Robert Allen Warrior, Like A Hurricane: The Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee; Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin, Jr., Black Against Empire: the History and Politics of the Black Panther Party; Carlos Munoz, Youth, Identity, and Power: The Chicano Movement; Daryl Joji Maeda, Rethinking the Asian American Movement.


103D.002 Beautiful, Magnificent Desolation: A History of Spaceflight in America

Instructor: Lois Rosson

Day: W
Time: 12-2pm
Room:  Dwinelle 3205
Class #: 32794

On July 20th, 1969, Buzz Aldrin described the “magnificent desolation” of the lunar surface to a room full of eager flight controllers in Houston, Texas. The landscape Aldrin reported was a barren one, but it represented roughly a decade of unprecedented government orchestration. The Apollo 11 Moon landing was a feat of engineering—but also one of civilian management. Using NASA as a primary case study, this course will examine the relationship of government to technology in the mid-twentieth century. The course will take a critical look at the historiography of the Space Race, and examine how critical moments in the history of American spaceflight have been incorporated into a national mythology.

Instructor Bio: Lois Rosson is a Ph.D Candidate in the History Department at U.C. Berkeley. She writes about the history of astronomical illustration in America, focusing especially on how the practice changed at the onset of the Space Race. She recently completed a Guggenheim Predoctoral Fellowship at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, and worked at NASA's Ames Research Center for two years before starting graduate school.



103D.003 We the People: A History of American Patriotism and National Identity from the Revolutionary War to the Present

Instructor: Russell Weber
Day: M
Time: 11am-1pm
Room:  Dwinelle 2303
Class #: 32798

It is almost impossible to scroll through Twitter, turn on the T.V., or walk down Bancroft Way without passing a discussion of what it means to be an “American.” Who is an American? What are the criteria and characteristics one must embody to be considered an American? Why are individuals prevented from becoming Americans? These questions constitute the most important political debate in the history of the United States of America – a debate which originated before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

In this course, we will study the dynamic political, social, and cultural upheavals that occurred surrounding the concept of national identity in the United States from the mid-eighteenth century to the present. We will analyze not only how the definition of citizenship transformed throughout this two-hundred fifty-year period, but also how patriotism emerged as a primary characteristic to determine who deserved the rights and privileges of an American citizen. While citizenship is often framed as a simple legal question, we will explore how socio-economic status, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and popular culture informed and framed these national identity laws. This course will also examine how marginalized communities, such as Indigenous peoples, African American slaves and freedmen, immigrants and undocumented residents, women, individuals with disabilities, and those identifying as LGBTQIA+, both struggled and still struggle to receive equal recognition and protection as American citizens. Finally, and perhaps most poignant, we will examine how impassioned propaganda, disseminated through print, aural, and visual media, as well as physical violence, served as political tools to prevent citizens of the United States from both identifying and being treated as Americans. 
By drawing on an array of primary and secondary source literature, we will develop an understanding of not only the complex process of defining and creating a national identity, but also the inherent malleability of citizenship throughout the history of the United States. The objective of this course is for you to develop the skills necessary to approach, evaluate, and answer such analytical questions from a historical perspective. We will practice these skills both through robust class discussion and writing assignments, including a cumulative, final paper, which may be used to explore potential topics for a 101 thesis.

Instructor Bio: Russell Weber is a Ph.D. candidate in the History Department, where he writes and teaches about British-American and early U.S. emotions, popular culture, and political identity, as well as the politics and culture of American comic books. Russell’s dissertation explores the relationship between emotions rhetoric, print media, and the formation of political identity in the early American republic. Russell holds both an MA and BA in History from San Francisco State University.

103E Proseminar: Problems in Interpretation in the Several Fields of History: Latin America

103E.001 Americans in Mexico and Mexicans in the US from the early 19th century to the present

Instructor: Margaret Chowning

Day: Tu
Time: 10am-12pm
Room:  Dwinelle 2303
Class #: 19959

This course has the broad goal of giving students insight into how historians use primary sources. First, we will read/watch North American travel writing, art, film, and photography about Mexico, and we will pair that with academic work from both North American scholars and Mexican scholars that utilizes that work. For example, we will read John Kenneth Turner’s exposé of labor conditions in early 20th-century Mexico, Barbarous Mexico, alongside the parts of Claudio Lomnitz’s The Return of Comrade Ricardo Flores Magón that rely on that work. Second, we will read in the scholarly literature about Mexicans in the US (exiles, immigrants, travelers) as well as some of the sources on which that literature relies. For example, we might sample Paul Taylor’s 1930s interviews with Mexican migrants to the U.S. and read Devra Weber’s Dark Sweat, White Gold: California Farm Workers, Cotton, and the New Deal. Ability to read in Spanish not required.

 103F Proseminar: Problems in Interpretation in the Several Fields of History: Asia

103F.001 The Vietnam War through Film, Fiction and Memoir

Instructor: Peter Zinoman

Day: W
Time: 10am-12pm
Room:  Dwinelle 3303
Class #: 32224

This seminar looks at how the Vietnam War has been represented on screen, in novels and in first-person non-fictional narratives. Early sessions will introduce three dominant interpretive approaches to the history of the Vietnam War: the left-leaning Orthodox School, the right-leaning Revisionist School and the relatively new Vietnam-Centric School. Weekly readings and film screenings will be interpreted in relation to these three distinct scholarly approaches to the War. In addition, a major goal of the class is to compare patterns of representation produced by Americans and by Vietnamese aligned with the communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam (aka North Vietnam) and the non-communist Republic of Vietnam (aka South Vietnam). Attention will also be paid to the way that the war was experienced and represented by combatants and civilians, men and women and intellectuals and people of modest education.



103F Japan, A Baker's Dozen

Instructor: Andrew Barshay
Day: W
Time:  9am-11am
Room: Dwinelle 3104
Class #: 32800

Once upon a time, there was a book called Twelve Doors to Japan. Each door represented a scholarly discipline or approach to Japan, and if taken together (so it was hoped) they would yield an integrated, even total understanding of Japan, past and present. The aim of this course is more modest (or idiosyncratic): to read a baker's dozen of influential or revelatory books about Japan written in the last 150 years. They will include historical and other scholarly studies, novels and poetry, reportage, religious and philosophical writings--maybe some films. Most of the authors will be Japanese, with some significant exceptions. No prior coursework on Japan is necessary, just a willingness to read many different kinds of writing and write thoughtfully about them. Details concerning works to be read forthcoming.



103F Third World Problems: Contemporary South Asia in Historic Perspective

Instructor: Abhishek Kaicker
Day: Tu
Time: 1-3pm
Room: Dwinelle 3205
Class #: 32801

A paradox lies at the heart of our visions of present-day South Asia: on the one hand, the region has witnessed explosive economic growth, leading some to speak of the next hundred years as an ‘Asian Century’. On the other hand, the countries of the region remain beset by enormous challenges, from the shadow of terrorism, the threat of nuclear war, the increasingly rapid slide into authoritarianism, the growth of religious violence and fundamentalism, resource scarcity and the looming environmental catastrophe – to name only a few. How did this situation come to be? In what ways did the new countries of the subcontinent deal with the aftermath of decolonization in 1947, and how did their governments respond to the manifold challenges which faced them? How have writers and thinkers from the subcontinent understood the history of the last seventy-odd years, and how are we to understand the challenges and opportunities which stand before the region today in a historical perspective? We will explore these and other questions by reading works of reportage, fiction and contemporary history from across the Indian subcontinent today.


103U Proseminar: Problems in Interpretation in the Several Fields of History: Middle East

103U America in the Middle East

Instructor: Ussama Makdisi
Day: Tu
Time: 4-6pm
Room:  Dwinelle 2303
Class #: 32803

This course is an advanced undergraduate seminar examining the history of the American encounter with the societies of the Middle East since the nineteenth century. It addresses topics including missionaries, anti-colonialism, Zionism, petroleum, development, Islamism, secular nationalism, cultural relations, anti-communism, and the “war on terror.” Students will read a range of primary and secondary sources in this subfield in order to prepare them to make their own, original contributions in the form of a substantial research paper.