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 2021 Seminars

103A Proseminar: Problems in Interpretation in the Several Fields of History: Ancient

103A/39Y: Well-Behaved Women Making History: Accessing Women’s Lives From the Ancient Sources

Instuctor: Diliana Angelova
Wednesday 10am-Noon
Class #:32834

Ancient and medieval historians paid little attention to women. When they did, it was either to praise them lavishly or disparage them irredeemably. Their impoverished view of women’s lives stands in stark contrast to the material available from other sources, both textual and artistic. In this class we shall consider the gamut of women’s experiences, such as social, religious and gender roles, economic and legal rights, faith, passions, and religious responsibilities. We will read about Greek priestesses and Christian martyrs, wives and queens, poets and benefactors. This class will be organized chronologically and will cover select topics from ancient Greece, Rome, and early Byzantium.

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

103B.001 The Renaissance, 1340-1700 

Instuctor: Thomas Dandelet
Wednesday 3-5pm
Class #:32835

This seminar will focus on the long Renaissance in Europe. The first weeks of the class will look at a few central 20th century works, while the majority of the semester will pay particular attention to historical literature that has been written in the past 25 years. We will be reading a wide selection of both articles and books that are representative of the different tasks and themes of Renaissance historians. This will allow us to map the shifting contours of the field as it has evolved over the past two generations with the goal of understanding the potential future of the Renaissance in the 21st century. Requirements include regular participation in weekly meetings, a few brief presentations in class, a book review, and a final paper.

103B.002: Thinking in Crisis: Hannah Arendt's Origins of Totalitarianism 

Instuctor: Stefan Hoffmann
Wednesday 12-2pm

Class #:32836

In this seminar we will read closely Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) and other writings by the German-Jewish émigré and political theorist Hannah Arendt. Reflecting on Arendt’s thinking about the crises of the 1930s and 40s and their historical roots in European racism and imperialism, we will consider its insights for our present moment.

103B.003: Medieval Alterities: Race & Religion, Humanization & Dehumanization in the Middle Ages 

Instuctor: Geoffrey Koziol
Monday 2-4pm
Class #:32837

In the last several years a vibrant debate has arisen among medievalists about whether the European middle ages had a concept of “race” and a set of “racist” beliefs and practices that laid the foundation for contemporary racism. Some scholars say, Absolutely, yes, without any doubt, and medieval racism, like modern, was especially directed against what we sometimes now call people of color. Others say, No, there was no concept of “race” as used today; “race” as used today was not an imaginable category, let alone a basis for discrimination and disparagement; instead, religion was the middle ages’ marker of difference and dehumanization. This seminar will explore this debate. We will begin by reading the most important recent scholarship on “race” in medieval Europe, and test that scholarship against some of the sources most frequently cited in the discussion. We will then examine sources that show how Europeans imagined the “foreign” (including Mongols and Muslims). We will also devote a fair amount of attention to the development of antisemitism in the middle ages, and from there turn to the ways in which the period tended to create fantasies of the “Other,” a reflex that consistently dichotomized the world between an ideal “us” and an imaginary “them.” We will conclude by discussing whether this tendency to oppose imaginary groups included race or established a precondition for racism.

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

103D.001: Race, Gender and Medicine in U.S. History  

Instuctor: Sandra Eder
Tuesday 10am-12pm
Class #:32839

The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has exposed structural inequities in the American health care system, the racialization of infectious disease, and the gendering of public health practices as reflected in the disproportionate number of cases and deaths among African-Americans and Latinx, the attribution of disease causation to particular ethnic groups, and the depiction of mask wearing as emasculating. These issue have a much longer history in American medicine.

This seminar explores how American medicine, its practitioners and institutions, approached race and gender from the nineteenth century to the present, as well as the response of everyday people to those unequal practices. We will study the history of scientific racism and theories of sexual difference, track the long history of medical experimentation and reproductive restrictions and reconstruct how people sought to reform medicine or revolted against it, and developed their own health practices. We will track the long history of distrust and opposition to white medical professionals and women’s activism to challenge medical definitions of their bodies. These explorations will be grounded in a broader understanding of American medical history. We will read primary and secondary sources to build an understanding of the historical relationship between medicine, race and gender. Students will do a significant amount of reading and writing, complete weekly assignments, conduct online research and engage with one another and the professor throughout the semester.

Class Notes:
This seminar will be taught synchronously, via remote instruction. It will meet regularly during the scheduled class times, and students will need to attend those meetings to succeed in the class.

103D.002: POWER TO THE PEOPLE! — From Civil-Rights-Black Power to Black Lives Matter and Beyond 

Instuctor: Waldo Martin
Wednesday 2-4pm
Class #:32840

The African American Liberation Struggle, broadly conceived, is the enduring, multi-faceted, and complex freedom struggle waged by Africans in the Americas from the period of enslavement down to the present. Our focus will be a narrow and specific location and time within that broad and centuries-long liberation/freedom struggle: the US from 1940 to 1980. Commonly referred to as the Civil Rights (1940-1966) and Black Power (1966-1980) Eras, the modern African American Freedom Struggle has yielded a rich and stimulating body of work.

We will critically examine some of the best of that work in an effort to better understand the origins, development, meanings, and consequences of the modern African American Liberation Struggle, especially the Civil Rights-Black Power Movement. We will also give special attention to “The Music”: the connection between African American music and the African American Freedom Struggle.

To conclude, we will critically examine a few works on the more “recent” period in an effort to better understand key continuities and discontinuities between the Civil Rights-Black Power Movement, on one hand, and the “Post”-Civil Rights— “Post”-Black Power Movement of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, on the other.

103D.003: Saving Capitalism from Itself: The Great Depression and New Deal  

Instuctor: Rebecca McLennan
Wedneseday 3-5pm
Class #:32841

In the 1930s, the single worst economic depression of modern times coincided with one of the U.S.’s most devastating humanmade environmental disasters—the Dust Bowl, which all but destroyed the Southern Plains and turned 2.5 million people into climate refugees. These twin disasters caused not only poverty and suffering, but widespread fear and sparked a profound crisis of confidence in American liberal-democratic institutions. This seminar explores the myriad ways in which political leaders and various communities of Americans responded to, survived, and adapted American institutions to the challenges and profound uncertainties of the 1930s. After taking an eagle’s eye view of the Depression and the presidential election of 1932, we’ll take a deep dive into the politics and programs of the New Deal. Topics include job and infrastructure-building programs; the environmental New Deal; the New Deal’s racial politics and racial minorities’ experiences of the new policies; Roosevelt’s approach to leadership; and the vital role played by the arts and mass media in hard times. We’ll also look at the New Deal’s fascist rivals, at home and abroad, and the conservative Supreme Court’s failed efforts to derail reform. We’ll conclude with a comparison of the 21st century’s proposed Green New Deal and the original.

Readings are mostly primary sources, including print, archival, pictorial, and audiovisual sources (available online). There is also a textbook for the course: please buy, borrow, or otherwise procure a copy of Ira Katznelson's Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time (2014)

Course work includes online research on some of the New Deal projects in the Bay Area or your hometown; a collaborative research project and presentation on a single major New Deal project; a short final paper (options include: a review of a scholarly history of one or other aspect of the New Deal; an oral history of someone you know who either remembers the 1930s or else remembers the stories their parents or grandparents told them about that era; and a historical review of two Depression-era movies).

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

103E.001: Captivity and Escape in the History of the Caribbean 

Instuctor: Elena Schneider
Wednesday 10am-12pm
Class #:32842

The Caribbean is a crucible of modernity shaped by intensive, overlapping waves of slavery, colonialism, global capitalism, neoliberalism, and climate change. It has also produced a tradition of revolutionary politics and culture and Black radical thought that have reshaped the modern world. How have Caribbean peoples responded to historical conditions of captivity, exploitation, inequality, and racism and imagined a different future for themselves and their families? How have their visions changed over time? Is it possible to escape history, a history of captivity, and even find a form of redress? This course will provide a thematic introduction to the region’s history and culture from the time of slavery to the present day. We will read works of history, literature, and political thought and analyze elements of Afro-Caribbean religion, music, and cultural production. Topics covered include marronage, the spirit world, the Haitian and Cuban Revolutions, emancipation, decolonization, Rastifarianism, migration and diaspora, tourism, debt, “natural” disasters, and the struggle to be postcolonial in a neoliberal world order. Students will learn how to think and write like historians through active participation in class discussions, regular short response papers, and creative online research toward a final project.

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

103F: China: Capitalist Present and Socialist Past  

Instuctor: Puck Engman
Monday 9-11am
Class #:32843

Today, historians tend to speak of Chinese socialism in the past tense. The country's incorporation into the global economy, the privatization of state property, and high levels of inequality are just some of the indicators that help drive home the message that twenty-first century China is capitalist. But if China was once socialist and has now become capitalist we should ask ourselves, when did the transition take place? What was socialist about the economy in the days of Mao Zedong? And what species of capitalism has taken its place in the decades after his death? This course is divided into two parts. In the first part, we will consider China's transition to socialism. Guided by social and economic historians, we will visit factories and department stores, asking how socialism changed everyday realities of production and consumption, before turning to the economic strategies born out of the Cold War. The second part will deal with China's transition away from socialism. We will discuss the intellectual origins of China's economic reforms, the dismantling of rural collectives in relation to a broader shift toward market economy, and the economic conflict between China and the United States.

Instructor bio: Puck Engman is a historian of China in the postwar era, with a particular emphasis on the history of socialism. His research covers the socialist reorganization of state and society in the early People's Republic as well as the transition from socialism to capitalism towards the end of the twentieth century. Engman is a co-editor of Victims, Perpetrators, and the Role of Law in Maoist China: A Case-Study Approach (De Gruyter, 2018) and member of the team behind the Maoist Legacy digital archive, which collects, curates, and translates documents on historical justice from the People’s Republic of China.

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

103M: Histories of Modern Turkey in the Middle East

Instuctor: Hakeem Naim
Wednesday 2-4pm

Class #:32844

This seminar focuses on the history of modern Turkey. It covers the history of Turkey from its imperial past to its present, including such subjects as the Tanzimat and its legacy in modern Turkey, demise of the Ottoman Empire, the Young Turks intellectual and political continuity into the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal’s reforms, Turkish nationalism, secularism, Islam,
women rights, and Music. This course will also provide students a historiographical understanding of the modern Middle East by examining the history of Turkey as a political and geographical successor of the Ottoman Empire. It focuses on Orientalist and post-Orientalist historiographies as well as geographical and intellectual fragmentations in studying modern Middle East history, highlighting Turkey as an important case study.

Proseminar: Problems in Interpretation in the Several Fields of History: Comparative History

103U: Comparative Genocides  

Instuctor: Stephen Astourian
Wednesday 11am-1pm
Class #:32849

This seminar is an introduction to the field of genocide studies from an interdisciplinary, comparative, and thematic perspective. Its main characteristics are the following. First, this seminar will not focus on any single genocide; instead, it will try to provide a good understanding of the extreme diversity of this form of mass killing. Second, even though it will emphasize twentieth-century cases, it will also cover earlier occurrences. Third, it will touch upon the contributions of various disciplines: anthropology, international law, political science, social psychology, and sociology. Fourth, a number of relevant thematic issues will be discussed: "genocide and gender"; "memory, forgetting, and denial"; "justice and truth"; and "intervention and prevention."

The seminar will start with a broad narrative survey of genocides in world history. We will continue with readings on the concept of genocide and the discontents this concept generates. We will then focus on case-studies summing up the current state of the historiography. Thereafter, disciplinary approaches and thematic issues will be treated. Finally, we will conclude the seminar with two acclaimed advanced readings, which require prior knowledge of genocides.

These are some of the case-studies we will discuss: genocide in the Americas, the destruction of the Herero in German South West Africa (1904-08), the Armenian genocide, the mass killings resulting from Stalin's regime, the Holocaust and its historiography, the death of millions of Chinese under Mao, the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia, mass murders in Bosnia and Kosovo, and the Rwandan genocide.

The readings are made up of six books and a few articles.

Grading will be based on two six-page papers (25 percent each), one ten-page paper (40 percent), and participation (10 percent).

Instructor bio: Stephan Astourian’s research interests include late Ottoman Armenian history, the Armenian Genocide, the Caucasus from the turn of the nineteenth century onwards, and diasporas.