New Graduate Courses

Spring 2017: Law & Society (HI 792) with Julia Rudolph

This is an intensive reading seminar designed to introduce students to selected topics in the study of law and society. Students will have an opportunity to think broadly about the place of law in society as we debate the varied theoretical approaches scholars employ when they investigate the role of law in social, political, economic and cultural life. Our focus will be on legal historical methods, but we will also consider the benefits of an interdisciplinary approach and the value of methodological insights derived from fields such as sociology, anthropology, literature or economics. Students will also be encouraged to consider the ways in which they might use legal materials as part of their own historical research. Finally, course materials will be wide-ranging, including readings that focus not only on the Anglo-American common law tradition but also on religious law, indigenous law and imperial law, as well as civil law and Roman law traditions, from ancient to modern times. 

Spring 2017: US Cultural History Since 1865 (HI 792) with Tammy Gordon

This class examines United States cultural history from the end of the Civil War to the present, with particular emphasis on the historical theories and methods used in cultural history, interpretive differences in the scholarship, US culture in comparative perspective, and the role that culture played in politics, economics, and international relations. We will explore major cultural movements, the relationship between technology and culture, the growth of mass culture, and cultural responses to major processes and events in US history.

Fall 2017: American Gender and Sexuality (HI 792) with Craig Friend

An intensive reading seminar designed to introduce students to selected topics and interpretations in the history of American gender and sexuality. Our focus will be on the rise of gender as an analytical category, its expansion into women's studies and then into studies of masculinity and sexuality, and the major historiographical themes in gender and sexuality that historians have layered on the study of America through the late nineteenth century. Course materials will be wide-ranging, including readings that raise issues of the body, colonialism, intersectionality, and post-structuralism.

Fall 2017: The Making of the Modern State (HI 792) with Brent Sirota

The sovereign state has become the nearly universal form of political organization in the modern world. The pre-modern world was divided into a bewildering array of empires, kingdoms, fiefs, city-states, merchant leagues and ecclesiastical territories. But this extraordinary political variety slowly gave way—first in Europe, then throughout the world—to the dominance of a single political form: the sovereign, territorial state. This seminar will examine the emergence of the sovereign state in early modern Europe, its persistence in the West and its eventual export throughout the world. We will begin by examining the multiple “origin stories” of the modern state provided by historians and social scientists. Was the state the result of the administrative centralization of the Renaissance monarchs of western Europe? The political response to the breakdown of Christendom in the Protestant Reformation? A byproduct of the collapse of feudalism? Or the result of imperial encounters, as European polities attempted to exercise their power over territories and populations in the New World and Asia? We will consider the ways in which war, diplomacy and imperialism consolidated the state and laid the foundations of modern international relations. And we will look at the ways in which the sovereign state was given a popular basis with the emergence of national identities in the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century age of democratic revolutions. Finally, we will consider the classical and contemporary theorists of the state from Hobbes to Locke to Carl Schmitt and Michel Foucault. As predictions of the demise of the sovereign, territorial state become ever more strident in an age of globalization, this course will provide an opportunity to assess both its past and its future.