New Graduate Courses

Fall 2018: Readings in 20th Century U.S. History (HI 792) with Katherine Mellen Charron

This readings and discussion seminar offers a one-semester introduction to twentieth century U.S. history that will familiarize students with the historiography of its major periods. Students will also examine certain issues in depth as they follow one of four sub-fields throughout the semester: the U.S. & the World; Economics & Labor; Race & Ethnicity; and Gender & Culture. Additionally, students will explore one period in more depth by identifying the relevant historiographical literature, making a presentation on it for the class, and leading discussion. Overall, this course intends to assist students in mastering a body of scholarly works that will enable them: to write a MA thesis, to supplement their Public History work in other classes, to teach a class in twentieth century U.S. history, and to help Ph.D. students prepare for preliminary exams.

Fall 2018: Rivers in History (HI 792) with David Gilmartin

Rivers have had a huge impact on human history.  And humans have had a huge impact on rivers.  This course will explore the historiography of rivers across time periods and across regions of the world.  In doing so, we will use the stories of rivers to explore the intersections between different approaches to river history, from social and environmental history, to the history of politics and nation-building, to the history of agriculture and irrigation, to the history of cities, to the history of technology, to the history of ideas about nature.  We will also use rivers to think about the way history has constructed time, a process in which river metaphors have figured prominently.

The course will be based on readings and discussions. Students will be expected to make oral presentations, lead occasional class discussions, write short essays on the readings, and submit an end-of-course term paper based on some aspect of river history linked to each student’s own research interests and drawing on approaches to rivers and their histories discussed in class.

Spring 2018: Spatial Approaches to History (HI 792) with David Ambaras

History is regularly described as the study of change over time, but how do historians deal with space? In recent decades, scholars in a range of disciplines have criticized older notions of space as an abstract, empty field for human action ("an expanse we travel across"), treating it instead as both produced by social forces and as fundamentally shaping social experience. New approaches to space (and its often paired term, place) have led to a rethinking of key concepts such as nation, region, territory, border/borderland, and gender and the body, not to mention fields such as maritime history, urban history, the history of empires and colonies, migration history, and the history of cartography. Attention to questions of space and place, and of scale, has also provoked reflections on the nature of historical narrative itself, as well as calls to "rethink historical interpretation as a form of mapping." In this seminar, we will reflect on these topics by engaging with studies that have taken space and place as their focus and as their methodological starting point. Readings will range widely across space (and time), and will cross the boundaries between history and disciplines such as geography and anthropology.

Spring 2018: Readings in Atlantic History (HI 792) with Megan Cherry

This course will examine readings in the field of early modern Atlantic history – the study of the interactions of people, plants, pathogens, practices, ideas, etc. both on the Atlantic Ocean and in the four continents it borders from roughly 1450-1800.

As one historian has aptly noted, “Atlantic history has proven a fruitfully effective model and a frustratingly elusive notion.” This course will consider the strengths and weaknesses offered by the field. We will tackle questions such as: When does an Atlantic approach work best? Is there a recognizable ‘Atlantic’ methodology? When does an Atlantic approach become too circumscribed? Is Atlantic history more than a more palatable version of the history of European imperialism? Is Atlantic history merely a ‘slice’ of global history?