New Graduate Courses

Fall 2019: Law & Society (HI 792-002) 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. 

Fall 2019: Global Migrations (HI 792-001) with Akram Khater 

Beginning in mid-1980s the analysis of race, class and gender--heavily influenced by the “linguistic turn” toward cultural history--significantly revised histories of nation-building, pluralism, ethnicity, and ethnic and racial identities in individual countries with already well-known histories of immigration. Beginning in the 1990s, advocates and teachers of world history instead increasingly focused on mobility as a central theme and key connector of all human societies; they did so by shifting the temporal and spatial scales of analysis to the macro-regional, continental, oceanic and global. Thus, the study of human migrations is no longer limited to the creation of nation-building narratives or to discussions of race and ethnicity in a few “nations of immigrants,” such as the U.S. or Canada. Rather, today the study of human migrations is more global, more interdisciplinary, and more focused on the varied causes and consequences of movement itself. Students will be asked to tackle issues related to migration from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, to compare and to connect diverse disciplinary literatures on migration and to discuss concepts and paradigms that encourage analysis of migration at spatial scales above and below the individual national state over a variety of temporal scales. An important goal of the seminar is to allow students to develop expertise on a single migration (usually connecting at least two areas of the world), while interpreting that migration from global perspectives. 

Spring 2020: (HI 792) Spatial Approaches to History 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, migration, and gender and the body, not to mention fields such as maritime history, urban history, the history of empires and colonies, 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, political theory, and anthropology.

Spring 2020: (HI 792) Readings in Atlantic History 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?  As we address these questions, students will work towards a final project on a topic in Atlantic history that best fits their professional goals (i.e., a historiographical paper, a research paper, or a plan for a museum exhibit).