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.


Fall 2021 Seminars

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


103A.001 All That Glitters: Money in the Greco-Roman World

Instuctor: John Daukas
Friday 10am-noon
Class #: 26692
Dwinelle 3104

Bacon, bucks, cheddar, wad, dosh, stash, cold hard cash - no matter what you call it, we are obsessed with money. We spend our lives not only earning, saving, and investing it, but also singing and even dreaming about it. But what exactly is money, and where and when was it first coined? This course will look at the many uses of money in the Greco-Roman World, focusing primarily on the traditional field of Numismatics, the study of coins. Students will learn the skills and techniques necessary to access the wealth of financial, social, cultural, political, and even religious information encoded into ancient forms of currency. Topics such as the origins and development of currency as a technology, the use of money in death rituals, money as a medium for propaganda, money’s role in trade, and iconography as markers of identity will be examined.

No knowledge of ancient languages, economics, or Numismatics is expected.

Instructor bio: John Daukas is a PhD candidate in the History Department currently working on his dissertation, exploring aspects of wealth allocation, colonization, and class conflict within the confines of Greek Imperialism.

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


103B.001 Men and Women Writers of the Middle Ages

Instuctor: Geoffrey Koziol
Thursday 9am-11am
Class #: 24001
Dwinelle 3205

There were more women writers in the middle ages than you probably think. And how they wrote is fascinating, with a sophisticated ability to subvert ideologies while appearing to reaffirm them, to assert authority while claiming they had none. They achieved this literary jujitsu by writing in a kind of code. To understand the code and to understand how women authors turned the code against itself, one needs to closely compare their writings with those of male counterparts who wrote about the same topics at the same moments within similar genres. That is the technique we will apply here. We will read the letters Abelard and Heloise wrote to each other; the songs of 12th-century male and female troubadours; Clare of Assisi’s letters to both Francis of Assisi and female correspondents alongside Francis’ letters and admonitions to Clare; and the Lais of Marie de France, paired with Chrétien de Troyes’ Erec and Enide. We will end with Christine de Pizan’s Book of the City of Ladies—the first clear condemnation of patriarchal misogyny I know of from the middle ages—and one of the books she may have written against, the anonymous “Goodman of Paris.” There are no prerequisites for the course. However, some background in medieval history or medieval literature will be helpful, since most of our reading presumes a certain familiarity with medieval Christianity or the conventions of medieval aristocratic literature. Without that background, the readings may be somewhat opaque, though they will still be manageable and provocative. Requirements will consist of short, straightforward weekly reader-responses; one paper on one of the pairings we have read; and one longer paper (~15 pp.) on a female author of your choice whom we have not read.


103B.002 Youth Cultures and Youth Movements in 20th Century Germany

Instuctor: Isabel Richter
Monday 1pm-3pm
Class #: 24001
Dwinelle 2303

This seminar is an introduction to youth cultures in 20th century Germany, from around 1900 to the Berlin Republic. It explores German youth organizations, their practices, styles, and central actors, as entangled histories and transnational phenomena in contemporary cultural history. The seminar will start with a presentation of some pioneers of the study of the history of childhood and youth and a discussion of age as an analytical category. After an exploration of the organized youth movements before World War I and during the Weimar Republic, the seminar will focus on the Hitler Youth as well as on the minority of nonconformist teenagers in the “Third Reich” (Pirates, Swing Kids). We will end with a discussion of postwar youth cultures as sub- and countercultures, as consumer cultures and as popular culture, using secondary and primary sources such as sounds, films, leaflets, posters, fiction, photos and texts.

All readings and other materials for this seminar will be available via bCourses or as as e-books through the Berkeley Library.


103B.003 European Cities and the Urban Imaginary: A Long Term, Comparative and Postcolonial View on European Urbanization

Instuctor: Bert De Munck
Tuesday 9am-11pm
Class #: 32409
Dwinelle 3205

This seminar sets out to reveal the role of cities in history as well as the way in which broader historical processes have shaped the urban. A focus on the complexity and irreversibility of history and on the interaction between urban theory and historical reality can help to better understand today’s urban condition in general, and the struggles related to the right to the city more specifically. We'll look first at how current views often remain indebted to nineteenth and twentieth-century narratives of modernity, and to a persistent tradition of conceptual and empirical approaches emanating from the study of a limited number of so-called representative Western cities (Athens, Rome, Paris, London, New York, etc.). We will then confront these views through a focus on the historical processes of urbanization in the Low Countries, in which large cities such as these did not exist. This will be followed by an historical analysis of the way in which the ideal city was conceived and imagined. Subsequently, thematically organized classes will zero in on how cities and the urban were shaped, defined and imagined by different social groups in a context of ever changing material and technical realities, showing that this was typically connected to the interests and self-image of specific social groups and the ways they perceived, understood and justified their own right to the city. Thematic classes on the urban economy and ecology, inequality and segregation, politics and power, etcetera, will clarify how the creation of cities was influenced by networks on levels ranging from city-hinterland relations to regional relations all the way up to the global, how specific ideologies and rationalities of government literally materialized in the city, how processes of territorialisation took shape, and how urban subjects were created in this process.

Instructor bio: Bert De Munck is Professor at the History Department at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, teaching "Early Modern History," "Theory of Historical Knowledge," and "History of Science and Society." He is a member of the Centre for Urban History, Antwerp, and the Director of the interdisciplinary Urban Studies Institute and the international Scientific Research Community "Urban Agency: The Historical Fabrication of the City as an Object of Study." His main focus is the history of labour and craftsmanship. Areas of research include: craft guilds, labour, vocational training and the circulation of technical knowledge, material culture and repertoires of evaluation, urban citizenship, and conceptual and theoretical approaches to urban history and urban studies.

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


103D.001 Foodways: An Edible History of Modern Capitalism

Instuctor: Rebecca McLennan
Wednesday 11am-1pm
Class #: 24004
Dwinelle 2303

How, if at all, did the advent of capitalism and the modern state change food, what people eat, and even the concept of food itself? In what ways have food and various communities’ relationships with the production and consumption of food changed or shaped modern capitalism? These questions animate our exploration of the rich historical scholarship on both capitalism and “foodways”—the term social scientists use to describe the interrelated networks of food production, procurement, preservation, preparation, consumption, nutrition, and culinary culture in any given society. Although focused largely on the United States, the global nature of modern foodways necessarily also takes us abroad to Europe, Africa, Mexico, Britain, and China. A reading-intensive course, averaging the better part of a book each week and occasional extra reading assignments, this 103 will equip you with a solid grounding in both the canonical (greatest hits) scholarship and more leading-edge work. Preparatory to the 101 thesis, your assignments will also include primary source work and the option of writing a thesis prospectus in the general area of foodways history. Assigned books, most of which use a single food or crop to explore larger issues, include Crosby, The Columbian Exchange; Mintz, Sweetness and Power (sugar); Carney, Black Rice (rice); Rappaport, A Thirst for Empire (tea); Norton (chocolate and tobacco); Earle, Feeding the People (potato); Specht, Red Meat Republic (beef); Soluri, Banana Cultures (banana); Smith-Howard, Pure and Modern Milk (milk); Hamilton, Supermarket USA; Freidberg, Fresh (eggs etc); Flores, Grounds for Dreaming (farm labor); Mann, The Wizard and the Prophet (contending futures).


103D.002 Ideas in American Childhood and Youth

Instuctor: Meg Gudgeirsson
Wednesday 10am-noon
Class #: 24005
Internet/Online

This course will focus on the history of childhood in the United States. The course will examine both different moments of childhood as well as how American societies defined childhood. Until the mid-late nineteenth century the concept of “priceless child” was not established, and children were seen as sources of labor as well as a continuation of a patrilineal line. Looking at the history of childhood in the United States reveals changing ideas about family, gender, schooling, and a nation’s values.

Instructor bio: Over the past decade, Dr. Meg Gudgeirsson has studied and taught courses that cover the entirety of American history but is particularly drawn to the 19th and 20th centuries. She is interested in the role of “everyday” people—how they experienced and shaped our nation. She is inspired by those who challenge the obstacles they face and seek to better understand them. Her research has focused on religion, gender, and children. Currently, her most recent project looks at former abolitionists who attempted to create an interracial school in Berea, Kentucky. The article, “‘We do not have any Prejudice… but…’: Racism in the Interracial Berea Literary Institute, 1866-1904” was included in the fall 2020 issue of Ohio Valley History. Dr. Gudgeirsson received her PhD from UC Santa Cruz.


103D.003 Women and War in American Culture

Instuctor: Bonnie Morris
Tuesday 4pm-6pm
Class #: 32410
Dwinelle 2303

This course examines the impact of war, militarization, global conflict and peace movements in women's lives. From past American wars to contemporary questions of terrorism, refugee migration, armed hate groups and female Pentagon leadership, we will examine women's historical and ongoing roles as soldiers, revolutionaries, guerrillas, pacifists, spies, sex workers and "comfort women," industrial workers and suicide bombers. Students will analyze women's active roles as participants in combat, nationalism, resistance, diplomacy, weapons manufacture and global peace movements, and also examine the literature opposing women's entry into the military and service academies.

Instructor bio: Bonnie J. Morris is the author of 19 books and has taught women's sports history for twenty-five years, first at George Washington University and Georgetown, and recently on Semester at Sea, as well as at Cal. She is also a women's history consultant to Disney Animation, the Smithsonian and the State Department.


103D.004 The History of the Computer in Society

Instuctor: Daniel Kelly
Friday 10am-noon
Class #: 32411
Dwinelle 2303

This course examines the history of computers and computer-thinking from the late 18th century to the early 21st. Students will use historical materials to see the computer not only as a prominent form of advanced technology, but also as a collective human enterprise with social and historical stakes—a site where many thousands of people have contributed their efforts to enormous effect. Together as a class, we will answer questions like “Why did the computer come into existence when it did? How did it reshape modern industry? And what impacts did it have on American society and culture?” In our readings we will examine the origins of the first computers, the development of the computer industry, the role of the military in directing technological innovation, the ethics of hacker communities, and the history of Silicon Valley. We will also consider the impact of science fiction literature, the role of race and gender in computer cultures, and the mystique of “artificial intelligence.” Covering such a wide variety of topics will let us consider the many different communities that have contributed to the making of the computer, and the hopes and controversies that surround it. Throughout the course, our goal will be to understand why this powerful, albeit limited, machine came to play such an outsized role in our society. No technical background is required.


103D.005 A Nation of Readers: Reading and Writing in the United States

Instuctor: J.T. Jamieson
Friday noon-2pm
Class #: 32712
Dwinelle 3104

How has the production and consumption of words and text—whether printed or handwritten—shaped American life? This seminar explores reading and writing in American history from roughly 1620 to 1945 by following two major threads: First, we will consider how and where written media circulated. How did personal networks, the mail, and printers and publishers create local, national, and international information flows, and in what public and private spaces did Americans consume or produce books, letters, newspapers, or diaries? Second, we will ask why Americans have attached meaning to acts of reading and writing. In what ways did reading and writing become powerful tools of national belonging, of self-realization, and of resistance and oppression? Ultimately, this seminar will traverse the politics of literacy across lines of gender, religion, citizenship, class, race and ethnicity, and freedom and slavery.

Instructor bio: J.T. Jamieson is a PhD Candidate in the History Department, broadly concerned with the history and culture of the nineteenth-century United States. His current work explores how nineteenth-century reform movements both coalesced around and were fractured by the moral, intellectual, and political consequences of migration.

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


103E.001 Natural Resources as Political and Economic Power in Latin America and the Caribbean

Instuctor: Clare Ibarra
Thursday 2pm-4pm
Class #: 25243

This seminar explores the ways in which access to natural resources has translated into political and economic power in Latin America and the Caribbean, from the colonial period to the present. We will examine how state-building projects (colonialism, capitalism, socialism) have used natural resources as a tool to assert power and legitimacy in the region and on the world stage. We will also explore how Latin American and Caribbean thinkers and activists have offered some of the earliest critiques of capitalism based on the region's environmental exploitation. How has the long history of resource extraction and resistance played out in Latin America and the Caribbean? In what ways have indigenous and local knowledge been overlooked, even as that knowledge informed scientific innovation or management techniques over time? How can environmental history reveal new perspectives on the history of colonialism, inequality, and resistance in the region? Case studies range from hurricanes in the Caribbean to the fight of the Indigenous Cofán against oil spills in Ecuador. Students will learn how to think and write like historians through participation in class discussions, regular short response papers, and creative research toward a final project.

Instructor bio: Clare Ibarra is a PhD Candidate in History at UC Berkeley. Her dissertation research examines scientific exchange between Cuba and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, in order to understand how socialism as a political ideology affected each country’s approach to development, resource extraction, and decolonization. Research interests include: revolutions, gender, transfer of knowledge, science as a social practice, decolonization, environmentalism, and science in the Global South.

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


103F.001 History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Modern East Asia

Instuctor: Stacey Van Vleet
Monday 2pm-4pm
Class #: 24629
Dwinelle 3205

This seminar introduces the history of science, medicine and technology in modern East Asia—mainly China, Japan, Korea, and their inland and maritime peripheries—between the sixteenth and twenty-first centuries. The first half of the course examines the reconfiguration in understandings of the body and the natural world, as well as the politics of medicine and technology, during the transition from the early modern to the modern period. The second half puts this East Asian reconfiguration into global perspective over the last century. A central goal will be to explore different methodological approaches including traditional history of science, social history, post-colonial studies, gender, translation studies, and material culture.

All readings will be available via bCourses or as a Course Reader at University Copy Service (2425 Channing Way).


103F.002 Bullets, Sedition and Surveillance in the British Empire: Radical Politics and the Decolonization of South Asia

Instuctor: Shaivya Mishra
Friday noon-2pm
Class #: 32501
Dwinelle 2303

The 20th century witnessed the rise of various anti-colonial movements in South Asia—from mass nationalism, revolutionary anti-colonialism to incipient communism. While the history of key events as they unfolded in India and the significance of political actors like Gandhi is well known, the fight against British colonialism was also waged by Indian diasporic communities across various cities of the world. This seminar explores this story and takes us on an extraordinary journey through the global networks of South Asian anti- colonialists. We begin in 20th century London where Madan Lal Dhingra, a young student, murdered a British official, sending shockwaves throughout the Empire. From London we travel to the radical intellectual circles of 20th century European, Asian and African cities, before arriving in California where the Ghadar Party of San Francisco was fighting a dedicated battle against British colonialism. We examine the political lives of the young actors, their various ideologies and aspirations, and the methods and tactics employed by them to bring down the colonial state in India. We place this history against the backdrop of an expanding colonial governmentality, and emergent systems of surveillance and control. In so doing, we will be driven by a single objective: to examine the history of radical anti-colonial thought as it emerged in the 20th century, and to trace how the expatriate community contributed to the decolonization of South Asia and to the making of our modern world.

Instructor bio: Shaivya Mishra is an PhD Candidate in the Department of History at UC Berkeley who works on the history of violent anti-colonialism and the rise of modern state surveillance in British India. Her dissertation, "The Bomb, the Bullet and the Gandhi Cap: Violent Nationalism and Political Surveillance in Colonial India, 1906-1945," is a cultural history of revolutionary secret societies which sprang up in 20th century India and the affective lives of young nationalists who embraced political violence and martyrdom. Her broader interests include the comparative history of empires, history of science and technology, religious history and the history of law, violence and policing in 19th and 20th century South Asia.


103F.004 Living the Socialist Modern: the Post-Maoist Impressions as the Chinese Communist Party Marks its Centennial

Instuctor: Wen-hsin Yeh
Wednesday 9am - noon
Class #: 33429
Dwinelle 2231

2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). What did it mean to “live with the Specter”, to experience what one might call the making of the “Socialist Modern” that found a first point of culmination with the foundation of the CCP in 1921?


In this seminar, which takes advantage of a digital lecture series organized by the Center for Asian and Transcultural Studies in Heidelberg (CATS), we unpack the impact of this event on lives on the ground in a long century of Chinese and global history. Designed to offer alternative “histories” of the Chinese Communist Party, the lectures offer interdisciplinary views and experiences of the “Socialist Modern” and its many variants in a century now past, but also in the present and in the future, probing into different positions (that range from Political Science and Party History to studies of Everyday History, Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Literary Studies, Sociology, and Art History). Each lecture, delivered by a leading scholar on the topic, has a focus on a specific time slot, marked by ten-year steps in the century of history that we are looking back to. Lectures begin on a particular date (such as 1981, 1991, 2001, and so forth) and branch out, back and forth, to the decades before and after so as to provide a long-term view of the situation at hand. The final lecture offers an overall view of the Chinese Communist Party over a century (1921-2021).

The on-line segments of this seminar will capture the post-1979 part of the lecture series, delivered from October to December, that focuses on the post-Maoist experiences. Topics for discussion, broadly defined, include the following: The Chinese Communist Party and the Search for Historical Justice; Private Life in post-Mao China; Democracy: A Fifth Modernization? Communist Reforms—Capitalist Socialism? Technocracy and the Developmental State; Xi Jinping and The Maoist Legacy.

The second half of this seminar will incorporate joint discussions with Master’s students in Asian and Transcultural Studies at the University of Heidelberg. Berkeley students for this course will meet, in person, during the first six weeks for discussions, based on readings and occasional lectures, about the Chinese Communist Party before 1979. Starting the 7th week (October 13th) students will meet online and join Master’s students of Heidelberg for lectures and post-lecture discussions. Those who are unable to attend the online lectures as delivered can read the written lectures instead.  Post-lecture discussion sessions are required.  Office Hours will be in person and by appointment. This seminar is intended to expand student exposure to cutting-edge scholarly research on socialist China while preparing for a 101 research paper that will be completed in a future semester.

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


103M.001 "Minor Feelings": Minorities in the Middle East

Instuctor: Christin Zurbach
Wednesday 9am-11am

Class #: 32783
Dwinelle 2303

This seminar will be an introduction to the history of ethnic and religious minorities in the Middle East. It will start by familiarising students with the concept of minority, how it differs in imperial and national contexts, and the ways in which different “minoritizing” identities can intersect or be complicated by time and place. Each week we will talk about a different minority, starting with their status in the Ottoman empire and going to the present day, and examining how the emergence of new national boundaries and state structures do or don’t change their status, constitution, and even self-identity. Minorities that we will address substantially include but are not limited to Kurdish, Greek, Armenian, Amazigh, Jewish, Yezidi, Alevi, Druze, Coptic Christians, and Shiite Muslim minorities, and we will do so through historiographical sources as well as memoirs, diaries, literature, film, music, newspapers and more.

Instructor bio: Christin Zurbach is a doctoral candidate in Berkeley's History Department in the field of Middle East history. In particular, she is writing her dissertation on the socio-political history of medicine in the late Ottoman empire and confessional and communal as well as scientific and professional networks. She also works on/has in the past worked on late Ottoman & Modern Greco-Turkish minorities and the press and the 1923 population exchange between Greece & Turkey. She received her undergraduate degree in Middle East, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS) from Columbia in 2014 and then spent the following year in Ioannina, Greece on a Greek Government (IKY) fellowship learning Modern Greek. Throughout her undergraduate and graduate career, she has honed Turkish, Arabic, and Ottoman Turkish language skills via coursework and U.S. government fellowships, and was a Fulbright grantee from 2019-2020 with their joint Greece-Turkey Research Award.

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


103U.001 Money Crimes: Forgers, Schemers, and Conmen

Instuctor: Vanessa Ogle
Thursday 1pm-3pm
Class #: 26360

For as long as it has existed, people spending, regulating, producing, earning, or saving money have been confronted with its potential for deception. We will look at coin clippers who shaved off small portions of money made of precious metal; debates about what was sometimes perceived as the dishonesty of speculation and speculative bubbles; money forgers who used the advent of paper money as an invitation to produce counterfeit bills; conmen who lured gullible fellow citizens into their get-rich-quick schemes; and men like Charles Ponzi, after whom the notorious pyramid investment fraud is named, among other examples. How did societies historically view those engaging in such criminal activity, and what kind of laws, safeguards, and investigative tools were put in place to protect people from financial crimes? Our history of money crimes begins in the early modern period but centers mostly on the nineteenth and twentieth century. It ends with the financial crisis of 2008 and asks whether more people should have been held responsible and sentenced to prison in its aftermath.
A note on previous exposure to Economics/economic history/history courses: I’m asking students to keep in mind that by design, the topics, questions, and problems covered in this course are starkly different from economic history as taught in Economics departments and similar settings. Students who are looking for a more Economics-like class will likely find this course will not meet their expectations. Accordingly, this class does not require any familiarity with Economics, economic history, or history courses.

Readings will be available in digital form through bCourses.


103U.001 Before the Green New Deal: The History of Environmental Thought and Activism

Instuctor: Christoph Hermann
Wednesday 2pm-4pm
Class #: 32412

With the spike in wildfires, floods and other ecological disasters, along with the continuous loss of biodiversity, the ecological question has become one of the most pressing issues in the early decades of the 21st century. Some have proposed a Green New Deal to improve environmental sustainability. This course takes the accelerating ecological crisis as starting point to explore the history of environmental thought and activism. The survey will start in the 19th century and discuss the writings of conservationists, natural scientists, economists, and philosophers. Correspondingly, we will also look at environmental movements and how their demands have changed throughout the 20th century. The course will end with an assessment of the current situation and possible future scenarios. With the spike in wildfires, floods and other ecological disasters, along with the continuous loss of biodiversity, the ecological question has become one of the most pressing issues in the early decades of the 21st century. Some have proposed a Green New Deal to improve environmental sustainability. This course takes the accelerating ecological crisis as starting point to explore the history of environmental thought and activism. The survey will start in the 19th century and discuss the writings of conservationists, natural scientists, economists, and philosophers. Correspondingly, we will also look at environmental movements and how their demands have changed throughout the 20th century. The course will end with an assessment of the current situation and possible future scenarios.