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 2022 Seminars

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

EUROPE 103B 001: "War is first of all murder, and then hard work:” Global History of the Home Front 

Instructor: Agnieszka Smelkowska 
Class #29599
Wednesday 9–11am
Dwinelle 3205

The course will examine how the mobilization of civilians around a war effort often led to societal changes throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries. The course will cover the major conflicts of the last/current century.

Instructor bio: I am a historian of Modern Europe with a regional focus on Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and Central Asia. My dissertation, Model Minority: Black Sea Germans, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union (1917-1991), focuses on a German minority from Sothern Ukraine that experienced multiple instances of forced relocations—from the Nazi occupation during WWII, evacuation to the Reich in 1943, repatriation by the victorious Red Army in 1945 and finally, a punitive exile to Soviet Central Asia. I examine the trajectory of the group to understand opportunities and challenges that diasporic communities faced in the Soviet Union as they attempted to preserve their identity and culture against the state's push for modernization and homogenization. My dissertation is a multi-linguistic project that engages with the national histories of Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, relying on research from multiple archives in each state.

My interest in migration and religion led to a secondary project that explores the religious revival among the expelled communities in Central Asia that took place in the postwar period. I am particularly interested in the dissident Protestant and Catholic groups that crystallized in the 1950s, often under the leadership of former Gulag prisoners. Exiled to Central Asia during Stalin's purges, these survivors of the anti-religion campaign provided nascent religious communities with charismatic leadership and a touch of political radicalism, challenging the regime from the Soviet periphery.

My research interests include questions of imperialism, colonialism, migration, nationalism, ethnic minorities, and religion in a comparative European-Soviet-Central Asian perspective. My work acknowledges the legacy of colonialism in Central Asia while emphasizing the region as a space of cultural and political encounters, which highlights the agency of its inhabitants.

My teaching experience includes courses in Soviet and international history as well as writing seminars. I am eager to work with undergraduate students to cultivate their interest in history and explore the role that the discipline can play in their academic and professional trajectory.


Europe 103B 002: Medieval topic Revolts, Rebellions and Revolutions

Instructor: Robert Iafolla 
Class #29600
Monday 1–3pm
Dwinelle 3205

The late Middle Ages are often cast as a time of crisis, in which outbreaks of social, political and religious unrest swept through European societies. However, many of these upheavals were not just instances of disorder, but also demands for a new order. This course considers the origins, nature, and consequences of popular revolts in the late medieval era. To begin, it deals with important precedents, including the basis of social and political order in western Europe, and also important religious and political ideals about a just society. It then moves on to the so-called “crisis of the fourteenth century,” and how it helped set the stage for significant disruptions. After that, it considers major peasant revolts of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the distinct problem of urban unrest, and disturbances arising from heightened religious enthusiasm or inter-group tension. In each category, the revolts studied involved participants who articulated fairly concrete economic, political or religious aims. Others, however, professed more utopian goals, whose origins and influence will be considered. Next, the course’s focus turns to the responses of “the authorities” to these revolts, and also to what they reveal about ideas regarding social hierarchies and status. Finally, the course ends with a consideration of the enduring legacy of these uprisings, and the ideals behind them.

Instructor bio: Robert Iafolla is a historian of the politics and political culture of late medieval Europe, focusing on the Kingdom of Castile and the Iberian Peninsula. In his recently completed dissertation, Castile serves as a case study for examining how political power possessed, or wielded, by rulers, nobles and other actors was defined amid disputes in the consolidating, yet contested, monarchies of late medieval Europe. While completing my graduate studies at UCLA, I enjoyed sharing the appreciation for the Middle Ages which underlies my research with students in the classroom. I designed and taught a course on heresy and inquisition during the Middle Ages, and prepared several others to offer in the future.

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

U.S. 103D 001: The Archive in the Atlantic World

Instructor: Nicole Viglini (GSI) 
Class #29602
Friday Noon–2pm
Dwinelle 2303

How do historians recover or reimagine voices “lost to history?” With a focus on both methods and historiography, this course covers various aspects concerning historians’ approaches to archival research in an Atlantic world context, from roughly 1400 to 1900. Topics include the ethics of archival research; power, violence, and absence within the archives; methods of recovery and decolonization; digital methods; material cultures; linguistics; and oral histories. Students will have the opportunity to craft a final project that historicizes and compares approaches to the archive; to dig deeper into an issue raised in terms of the Atlantic history we will cover; or to conceptualize an exhibit or digital project grounded in a historiographic claim. With its focus on the Atlantic world, this course would be of particular interest to students who study histories of Africa; Latin America and the Caribbean; and North America.

Instructor bio: Nicole Viglini is a Ph.D. candidate in the History Department at University of California, Berkeley. She studies the nineteenth-century United States, with a focus on gender, capitalism, slavery, and legal-cultural histories, and she works with court records, interviews, memoirs, letters, material objects, and more. Before studying history at the graduate level, she worked in art preservation and museum installation in New York and the Bay Area.



103D 002: The Sound of Women’s History

Instructor: Bonnie Morris
Class #32678
Tuesday 4–6pm
Dwinelle 2303

Is there a soundtrack to women’s history? How have historic efforts to suppress women’s voices (or disbelieve them) resulted in alternative means of sharing information and stories? This course introduces students to the women’s music movement in the United States, starting with a history of women’s social movements, sex roles and cultural production with a focus on the oral archives of speech, song, and broadcast propaganda. We’ll examine advocacy for the education and political inclusion of women, as well as differences among women—ethnicity, race, class, sexuality, religion, gender expression—which prevented broader unity at critical turning points. The main approach will be studying the arc of recorded music bearing witness to resistance, from Harlem Renaissance blueswomen to coal mining women and, eventually, the women’s music and production of the late 1960s through the 1990s and well into the 21st century. The readings also draw attention to the backlash against feminism and the social conditions which still define and divide women today. Films, recordings and guest artists will enhance thoughtful written work on issues of gender in the arts and oral traditions, preparing students for critical engagement with social and policy issues of gender, sex roles and the body, through the historical framework of sound legacies.

Some course readings will be available online and through bCourses, others provided by the instructor. These include Jamie Anderson, An Army of Lovers, Ginny Berson, Olivia on the Record, Candie Carawan, Sing For Freedom, Angela Davis, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism, Caroline Mitchell, Women and Radio: Airing Differences, Lucy O’Brien, She-Bop: The Definitive History of Women in Popular Music, Linda Ronstadt, Simple Dreams, and Jennifer Lynn Stoever, The Sonic Color Line.

There will be one short paper, one midterm paper and one final paper. The class will be conducted weekly, in-person, and includes one off-campus field trip into San Francisco and one performance event (TBA).

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.


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


103F 001: Late Imperial and Modern China: Research Seminar in Historical Documents

Instructors: Puck Engman & Wen-hsin Yeh
Class #29606
Monday 4–6pm
Dwinelle 2303

This seminar introduces graduate and advanced undergraduate students to selected types of historical documents foundational to research projects in imperial and modern Chinese history. It pays attention to those institutions that produced and archived these materials and asks: How does information circulate in the various systems of communication? What are the salient features of the mutual constitution of knowledge and institutions? What are the transformative moments in the articulation of information needs? The emphasis of the seminar will be on critical readings of primary documents including palace memorials, county archives, local gazetteers, court cases, biographies, and officials’ handbooks. Students will also familiarize themselves with reference works, digital resources, and database collections. Class assignments will include translations exercises and bibliographical essays.

This seminar is designed to lay the ground for a research paper by graduate students on a topic concerning late imperial and/or twentieth-century Chinese history, i.e. a topic concerning either the Qing, the Republic, or the People's Republic. It is open, with a reduced load of assignments, to advanced undergraduates who plan to write a senior thesis. Proficiency in modern Chinese and familiarity with classical Chinese is required for participation in this seminar.


103F 002: Chinese Foreign Policy 

Instructor: Nicolas Tackett
Class #32433
Wednesday Noon–2pm
Dwinelle 2303

In this seminar, we will examine Chinese approaches to foreign policy across time (from the late Bronze Age through the twentieth century), in the context of an evolving East Asian international order. We will consider alternatives to the "modern" post-Westphalian state system, focusing on both the ideologies underpinning them and the norms of engagement that defined them. With regards to the twentieth century in particular, we will ask whether we can speak of a "Chinese" approach to foreign policy without resorting to trite, essentializing claims. We will also consider specific ways in which the past (e.g. the Zheng He missions) is politicized today. Readings will include both primary sources (in English translation) and secondary scholarship. No prior knowledge of Chinese history is required; students with other regional expertises are encouraged to enroll to offer their comparative perspective.


103H Proseminar: Problems in Interpretation in the Several Fields of History: Africa

103H 001: Africa 1960: The Year of Africa

Instructor: Peter Vale 
Class #32435
Wednesday 3–5pm
Dwinelle 3205

1960 was a year in which 17 African countries became independent with many others following shortly thereafter. What made these independence movements possible and what were the results of this rapid transition? This class takes 1960 as an anchor for thinking about the end of colonialism and the emergence of post-colonial states in Africa. We will examine why some countries experienced upheaval in the form of civil war, government turnover, and institutional instability while others cultivated new potentials with rapid economic growth, enthusiastic engagement with international institutions, and a re-imagination of the “nation-state.”

Instructor bio: Peter Vale is a PhD candidate in the History Department writing a dissertation on state formation and private companies in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo during the 20th century. He is interested in histories of nationalism, political economy, border politics, and extractive industries in Africa.


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

103U 001: Japan, Germany, and the Modern World, 1850-1950 

Instructor: Jonathan Lear
Class #29610
Thursday 4–6pm
Dwinelle 3205

Japan and Germany emerged as modern nation states at roughly the same historical moment (the latter part of the nineteenth century), with the two states quickly embarking on similar trajectories of nation-building, industrial capitalism, and imperialism. This seminar places these two nations’ encounters with modernity into a single frame and asks students to consider what can be gained by doing so. To accomplish this, we will explore the rich and problematic historiography that deals with Japan and Germany as “latecomer” or “belated” nations, and we will interrogate the stakes of using such terms to understand these nations’ histories. We will then read a series of theoretical texts dealing with the concepts of capitalism, backwardness, time, and modernity, followed by selected pieces of Japanese and German literature that speak to these topics. Finally, we will read a set of sources dealing with the two countries’ experiences with fascism, total war, defeat, and occupation. 

Instructor bio: Jonathan Andrew Lear is a PhD candidate in the Department of History. He is broadly interested in global history and the history of science, with a comparative focus on East Asia and Europe. He is writing a dissertation on the parallel histories of Japan and West Germany’s commercial atomic energy programs. He previously earned an M.A. in the social sciences at the University of Chicago."


103U 002: Work Without End? Historical Perspectives on Work and Leisure

Instructor: Christoph Hermann 
Class #32434
Wednesday 10am–Noon
Dwinelle 2303

The economist John M. Keynes expected that by the year 2030 we would work 15 hours a week. Far from that, many workers in the US put in more than 40 hours a week and work time reduction hasn’t been on the agenda for decades. This seminar looks at the history of work time and its complementary free-time. We will explore how the industrial revolution has changed the nature of work and work time and how subsequent struggles have led to the establishment of a 10-hour and 8-hour workday in the second half of the 19th and early 20th century. We will also see how the US came close to the introduction of a 30-hour week during the Great Depression and how repeated work time reductions increased free-time in the postwar decades in Europe. However, some of the free time was actually used for (unpaid) domestic work, mainly carried out by women. With the arrival of neoliberalism in the 1980s, work time reductions came to a hold in most countries and in the US work hours even started to increase. Finally, we will also have a look at possible futures of work and leisure in the 21st century.