Department of History

Department of History
Department of History

Upper Level Seminars are for third and fourth year History Majors and Medials.

If you are not an upper year history major or medial, please review our 200 Level Lectures.

(Please note, F and W in the course code is used to indicate whether the course is offered in the Fall or Winter term. F courses start in September. W courses start in January. FW courses are full year courses from September to April. Pay careful attention to these when planning for course enrollment!) If a course has two numbers (such as HIST 430/828) the course is a combined graduate and undergraduate course. Enroll in the class using the 400 level course code.
Upper Year Seminars - Fall Courses (F)

HIST 337 F Contested Legacies of the Ottoman Empire
Instructor: Dr. Ariel Salzmann

In the late thirteenth century, a small Muslim emirate emerged in the city of Bursa (in today’s Turkey). Over the course of the next three centuries, the kingdom founded by Osman (c. 1299-1324) and his sons became a tri-continental empire. At its height, the Ottoman sultans ruled from North Africa to southeastern Europe, from the Crimea, and parts of Poland to Yemen and the Horn of Africa. Until WWI, the empire included the Middle East up to and, at times including, large areas of the Caucasus and Iran. The course seeks to understand the contested legacies of an ethnically and religiously diverse state, the role of nationalism and Great Power intervention in the splintering of empire over the nineteenth century, the reasons for the empire’s entry into WWI and the 1915 genocide of the Armenians.

4.5 units

HIST 344 F Plural Visions: New World Jews & the Invention of Multiculturalism
Instructor: Dr. Gordon Dueck

This course studies the historical role of Jews as migrants—as strangers in a strange land—and their eventual transformation from "Outsiders" to "Insiders", as a way of understanding their current place in North American society. For the sake of context, readings will include comparisons with the experiences of other minority groups.

4.5 units

HIST 349 F Early Modern European Intellectual History
Instructor:  Dr. Jeff Collins

An examination of early modern European intellectual history from the early 16th century through the mid 18th century, with a particular focus on political thought. Topics will include the Scientific Revolution, the intellectual effect of the wars of religion, religious skepticism and pluralism, and the growth of the modern state. Primary readings will include selections from Bacon, Montaigne, Pascal, Hobbes, Montesquieu, Locke, and Mandeville. The aims of the course are to introduce: first, some major texts and themes of early modern intellectual history; and second, various methodologies employed by leading intellectual historians.

4.5 units

HIST 365 F History Outside the Book
Instructor:  Dr. Martina Hardwick

The course's emphasis is on teaching students how non-textual sources can be used as a source of historical information. To this end, we examine television, landscapes, architecture, photographs, graffiti, popular culture, advertising, oral history interviews, and household objects, among other things. Students submit a photographic analysis of a landscape or street scene, a museum review, and a final research paper.

This course is designed to introduce upper-year students to the use of historical research materials that go beyond the usual printed sources. Nevertheless, since printed materials remain the historian's primary tool, these unconventional materials should be used to supplement the printed record, not supplant it. This has particular applicability when studying groups for whom textual sources may be scanty, fragmentary, or non-existent, as is often the case in social history. Since one of the aims of social history is to allow the voiceless to have a voice, the use of non-textual sources is invaluable in the field.

During the term, we will be looking at and working with material culture, for the most part, namely the objects and items produced by a society that reflect its development and processes. The objects, in turn, can tell us about the people within a society. We will also be looking at the way in which historians use these sources, as well as the uses and pitfalls of oral history, the way in which the physical environment can act as a historical record, and finally, how printed sources can be re-examined.

4.5 units

HIST 400-001 F Plague and Medieval Medicine
Instructor: Dr. Abigail Agresta

This seminar will examine health and illness in medieval Europe. Although this period is sometimes assumed to have been a disease-ridden Dark Age, in fact medieval people developed sophisticated concepts of health and hygiene. The course will begin with an examination of these concepts, and will go on to discuss the roles of charity, religion, and the marketplace in the medieval health system. It will conclude with an examination of the character and social impact of specific diseases, including the Black Death and subsequent waves of bubonic plague.

HIST 400-002 / 812 F Topics in History: Radicalism, Revolution, and Religion in Russian History and Literature
Instructor: Dr. Ana Siljak

In nineteenth-century Russia, religion, politics, and literature were inextricably intertwined. This course will look at how Turgenev, Dostoyevsky, and other Russian writers grappled with religious questions, revolutionary activism, and the role of the writer in society. In turn, the course will examine how literature influenced wider society, from radical political movements to artistic and poetic cultural organizations.

4.5 units

HIST 400-003 F Topics in History: The History of Consumerism
Instructor: Dr. Ariel Salzmann

Middle class Millennials may find it difficult to imagine their lives without iPhones, Starbucks coffee shops, burger chains, and suburban shopping malls. However, consumerism is a very recent phenomenon: for most of human history resources found locally in the natural world, household production and highly skilled craftspeople determined what could be consumed or sold to others. After a discussion of multidisciplinary approaches to the “world of goods”, the course traces the impact of medieval and early modern trade on global geopolitics, economies, mass migration, and cultural identities. Classes on the modern period and individual student research projects will explore the connections between “commodity chains” and the “cheapening” of goods on racialization, war, gender relations, finance, non-human species, and the environment.

4.5 units

HIST 400-004 F Jewish Life Under Communism 

Instructor: Dr. Vassili Schedrin

The course is a thematic exploration of Jewish history in the Revolutionary Russia and Soviet Union. We will examine how, in 1917-1991, communist ideology, state policies, and everyday life in USSR (such as sweeping emancipation of the Jews and anti-Judaism of the Soviet state, government support of secular Jewish culture and Soviet leaders’ antisemitism) together with global developments and phenomena (such as Jewish assimilation and popular antisemitism, Holocaust and emergence of the Jewish state) shaped an unique Jewish identity, social and cultural profile of the Soviet Jews. With the help of primary sources, scholarship, literature and movies we’ll see how Soviet Jews developed and maintained their identity in the Soviet Union and spread their culture throughout the world when most of them emigrated after the fall of USSR.

​4.5 units​

HIST 404 F Themes in Diaspora History
Instructor: Heena Mistry

This course offers an introduction to the historiography and methods of studying diaspora. Readings will focus on South Asian, African, and Italian diasporas, among others, in Europe and North America, Africa, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia. Students will participate in weekly thematic discussions centered on weekly readings. Weekly themes for the readings will tackle themes of empire, race, asylum seekers and displacement, gender and sexuality, citizenship, and nationalism. Students will be encouraged to think about the relationship between diaspora and indigenous groups, the relationship between different diasporic communities, and the archives of diaspora. Course readings will be chosen from scholarly historical works in the field, diasporic fiction, and film. In addition to participation in weekly discussions, students will lead a seminar, write a review of a book or a film and a final research paper.

4.5 units

HIST 439 F Schooling Canadians
Instructor: Dr. Jeff McNairn

Who goes to school, what they are taught, who teaches them, and who pays have been contentious questions in every period of Canadian history in every region of the country. The answers have varied a great deal too. It is not surprising, then, that the history of education is one of the most developed fields of Canadian historical scholarship.

This senior seminar will introduce students to some of ways these questions have been answered over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and to various approaches to the study of schooling. Emphasis will be on the discussion of common seminar readings each week and students will have the opportunity to work with primary source documents in class and in two major written assignments. Considering the recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the compelling scholarship on the topic, a major section of the course will be devoted to the history of Native residential schooling: its impact on students; the aims and methods of various Christian denominations, officials, and teachers; federal policies; and legacies. Other topics will include the creation of modern state-systems of ‘common’ schooling; changes in textbooks and pedagogy; the feminization and professionalization of teaching; and how schooling was enlisted to promote particular conceptions of citizenship and the social and moral regulation of students.

4.5 units

HIST 442 F New World Societies
Instructor:  Dr. Nancy Van Deusen

This third and fourth-year seminar will consider topics relevant to the colonial (16th-18th c.), indigenous Andean world (modern day Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador). The course is geared toward students who do not have a specialization in Latin American history, but who are interested in broadening their understanding of the history of the Andes and the participation of indigenous Andeans in the construction of their own history. The book by Kenneth Andrien, Andean Worlds, provides background knowledge and is required reading for all students. Throughout the term we will read and analyze both primary and secondary sources, and consider Inca notions of sovereignty, indigenous responses to the Spanish invasion, material culture, forms of religious expression, female labour, and rebellions. This course is meant to enhance the students’ understanding of the complexities of colonial Andean social, political, and cultural history as well as enhance written and verbal skills. Students will have written assignments and a take-home final.

4.5 units

Upper Year Seminars - Winter Courses (W)

HIST 339 W Jews without Judaism
Instructor: Dr. Gordon Dueck

Secular Jewish identities are the focus of this course, from the Enlightenment era onwards. Topics include Jewish engagement in the modern projects of liberalism, socialism nationalism, and modern Yiddish literature.

4.5 units

HIST 400-001 W Topics in History: The History of Human Rights and Humanitarianism
Instructor: Dr. Sandra den Otter

This seminar course in an introduction to the history of humanitarianism in the 19th and 20th centuries.  We will examine significant shifts in thinking about human suffering and welfare from the early 19th century to the Cold War.  We will follow several recurring themes (refugee and forced migration, war and disaster, social reform, and health).  Using primary and secondary sources, we will analyze the historical contexts of colonialism and decolonization, critically examining the language of development and of human rights.  We will study different actors, including states, NGOs (non-governmental organizations), international bodies and activists. While the primary focus will be on Britain and its empire, the global context will be explored.  We will also consider the emergence of humanitarian international law.  Assessment will be based on a research paper on a historical topic of the student’s choice, written and verbal responses to seminar readings, a 10 minute seminar presentation and contributions to a research roundtable on historical thinking about a present day humanitarian or human rights question.

4.5 units

HIST 400-002 W Topics in History: Public History
Instructor:  Dr. Martina Hardwick

Historians have important roles to play outside the university as well as within it. They can be involved in research or community work, be a part of museum staff, or work for a corporation; all these roles come under the heading of Public History. 

Public History, broadly defined, is historical work undertaken outside the university using historical methods and professional historians trained in these methods.

History 440 will explore not only what public historians do in the field, but how they accomplish it. Topics discussed in this seminar will look at historians in a variety of areas: Genealogy and family history research;  historical interpretation in living history museums; corporate history and ethics; digital history; dealing with difficult or unpopular topics, such as the history of the Holocaust; Heritage planning and Heritage Conservation, with particular attention to the historian’s role in community heritage; Archival work and document preservation, with some discussion of records management;  Heritage Tourism; the marketing of history.  This will be accomplished not only through in-class seminar discussion but also occasionally guest speakers and visits to local organizations, where available and appropriate.

4.5 units

HIST 400-003 W Topics in History: Foucault for Historians
Instructor:  Steven Maynard

Foucault. You’ve likely heard him mentioned in lectures or quoted in readings. Maybe you’ve even read some of his work. He is one of the most frequently cited authors in the humanities. His impact on a wide range of disciplines is profound. But who was Foucault and why should you care?

In this seminar, we will explore how Foucault intervened in many different historical fields, including madness and medicine, prison and punishment, sexuality and the self. We will also look at how historians have made use of Foucault’s ‘toolkit’ – concepts such as governmentality, biopolitics, security/territory – in their own research and writing. Our aim will be to examine how historians have adapted, elaborated, and critiqued Foucault, notably in the areas of gender, race, and colonialism. We will consider what we might learn from Foucault in terms of the politics of doing history and thinking otherwise.

In terms of format, this is a seminar course. For each historical subject or concept we take up, we will read Foucault and pair him with the work of several historians who engage Foucault on the same topic. There will be occasional mini-lectures by the instructor, but, in the spirit of Foucault, who much preferred the collective work of the seminar over the lecture, our primary mode will be intensive seminar discussion. Note: For students who prefer their history unadulterated by theory or philosophy, this may not be the course for you.

4.5 units

HIST 400-004 W Topics in History: Anthropocene and the Future of History
Instructor: Dr. Amitava Chowdhury

Anthropocene is a geological term coined to indicate recent changes in the geological record brought about by human actions. Scholars have defined the term in various ways, but, in general, they agree that heightened consumption of fossil fuels, industrial activities, and nuclear testing, have permanently altered the course of the geological record. According to this thought, we have now come out of the previous epoch, Holocene (which means “most recent”), and have now entered the realm of the Anthropocene. 

Define we must, but in this course we are less concerned about geology or stratigraphy or the science of climate change. Neither is this an environmental history course, broadly defined. Rather, we are interested in the curious conundrum unleashed on the meaning, practice, and the future of history and historiography as a result of climate change and the idea of the Anthropocene. Here we examine some unbridgeable chasms and rifts in historiography and historical methodology and imagine possible pathways for the future of the humanities. The idea of the Anthropocene forces us to reexamine (and sometimes discard) received wisdom on organization schemes, units of analysis, and the concept of human agency. This, therefore, is a course on historical methodology framed as a critique of historicism. 

The course explores the ideas of human exceptionalism, the ontological turn, environmental humanities, ideas of deep time, non-human agency, neurohistory, and posthumanism. 

4.5 units

HIST 401-001 W Topics in History: Canada and the Great War
Instructor:  Matthew Barrett

Between 1914 and 1918, Canada found itself engaged in a transformative, worldwide conflict, the memory and meaning of which continues to be debated today. For some, it was a war that united the country in an honourable struggle to defend the British Empire and set the stage for eventual independent nationhood. Yet to others it was a war that threatened to tear the nation apart over conscription and exposed the brutal and destructive reality of modern warfare. This seminar course explores the military, social and cultural history of Canada’s participation in the First World War. In addition to providing an overview of the grander strategies and policies pursued by generals and politicians, the course will assess how the war impacted the wider Canadian society by examining the experiences of soldiers, nursing sisters, veterans and civilians. Students will study a wide range of topics including soldier culture, leadership, race, gender, combat stress, military justice and commemoration. The central learning outcomes for this course will be for students to understand the methods of historical inquiry, to critically assess primary and secondary sources and to apply the tools and skills used by historians in research and writing.

4.5 units

HIST 401-002 W Topics in Canadian History: Forging Freedoms: Black Canadas
Instructor: Dr. Barrington Walker

This course is an examination of Black Canadian's struggle for full citizenship during the eras of slavery and its afterlife. In particular, the course will explore the journey from propertied status to personhood and the dissonance of a post slavery landscape that was characterized by "rights on paper" v.s the stark reality of state supported pervasive forms of social and cultural marginalization. The course will ground these conceptual concerns in a number of historical case studies that will include but will not be limited to: slavery in the Maritimes, the Underground Railroad, turn of the century Black migration, the Sir George Williams Affair, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

4.5 units

HIST 401-003 W Topics in Canadian History: The Northwest Fur Trade: Imperial Rivalries, Indigenous Peoples, and the Rise of the Métis Nation in the Hudson Bay Watershed, 1660-1821
Instructor: Scott Berthelette

This course examines the history of French and English/British colonialism and the fur trade in the Hudson Bay Watershed from the first explorers and traders to the merging of the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company in 1821. Weekly readings and seminar discussions explore a variety of historical themes designed to critically evaluate the fur trade and analyze the character of French and English/British empires in the Northwest. Such themes include Native-Newcomer relations, empire and conquest, mercantilism and commerce,métissage, religion and missionization, slavery and indentured-servitude, women and gender, and exploration and cartography. The Hudson Bay Watershed fur trade had a profound influence on Western Canada. This class puts Britain and France’s fur trade empires into context, and sets a foundation for understanding the settlement of the prairies, the Numbered Treaties, the rise of the Métis Nation in Western Canada.

4.5 units 

HIST 441/827 W Medieval Greece
Instructor:  Dr. Richard Greenfield

Whether ‘Greece’ conjures up Classical glory, recent economic disaster, or simply holiday sunshine, this course will make you think again! The seminar considers the history, society and culture of a very different Greece, that of the Middle Ages. Geographically it looks at the region we associate today with the country, along with its peripheries in the Aegean and the Balkans, and it covers the period from the emergence of the East Roman (Byzantine) empire in the early 4th century CE down to the start of Ottoman domination in the later 15th century CE. The course will outline the often kaleidoscopic patterns of political control in the region as well as the complex interaction between the different ethnic and religious groups who occupied these areas or impinged on them. Classes will cover patterns of administration and government as well as urban and rural settlement, economic activity, daily life, religious practice and belief, literature, art, and architecture. The historiography of the period will be discussed as well as the part it plays in later imagination of the ‘orient’ and the construction of a Modern Greek national identity. Stress will also be placed on the use of original source material (in translation) and the development of research, analytical, writing, and communication skills for students in the upper years of a History concentration. The course will be of primary interest to students of the Middle Ages, Byzantium, and the Mediterranean, but it will also be useful for those wishing to know what happened to the Ancient world, to explore the roots of the Early Modern period in this region, and to investigate the intersection of Islam with the indigenous Christianity of the eastern Mediterranean.

4.5 units

HIST 461/866 W Race and Ethnicity in Latin America 1492 to the Present
Instructor: Dr. David Parker

This seminar examines changing understandings of race and ethnicity in Latin America from the colonial era to recent years, with primary focus on the 19th and 20th Centuries. The course looks at the indigenous and African contribution to the making of complex multiethnic nations in Spanish America and Brazil, while raising conceptual questions about the meaning and function of “race” in a part of the world that challenges standard North American racial concepts and preconceptions. We explore race-making as a complex interplay between economic and political structures and ordinary people’s actively evolving negotiation of culture, status, and identity.

Marking for undergraduates will be based on a combination of class discussion (15%), a 1200-word position paper that will be presented in one of two in-class debates (20%), a 1200-word discussion paper on a single week’s readings (20%), and a final take-home exam or optional research essay (45%). Weekly readings are entertaining but substantial; that is why the default for undergrads is a take-home exam that requires no additional reading.

M.A. students enrolled in the course as HIST 866 have additional weekly readings and are required to write a major historiographical essay (worth 50%) instead of a take-home exam.

4.5 units

HIST 499/819 W China Since 1949
Instructor: Dr. Emily Hill

The course is an upper-level seminar, organized thematically. Participants will become familiar with the varied experiences of the people of China since 1949. Common readings and class discussions examine the governance and institutions shaping daily life after the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

The course has no pre-requisites. Therefore, assignments during the first six weeks are designed to help participants lacking previous knowledge of modern China become familiar with the subject.

4.5 units

Upper Year Seminars - Full Year Courses (FW) 
HIST 390-001 FW Topics in History: Nations and Nationalism in Global History
Instructor: Dr. Amitava Chowdhury
Since the nineteenth century, the nation form has emerged as the primary mode of political belonging. Nationalism, nationalist ideologies, and the nation-state have so pervaded our social consciousness that it is easy to mistake the nation form as eternal, primordial and immutable. And yet, like any other social institution and political ideology, the nation is historically produced. This yearlong research seminar provides an in-depth introduction to the idea of the nation: theories of its global origins, its historical development and global dispersal in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, the simultaneous emergence of anticolonial nationalism and ultranationalism, its eclipse as a dominant form of social belonging towards the end of the twentieth century, and its resurgence and revival in the post 9/11 world finding contemporary expressions in global neo-nationalisms. 
Themes and topics include debates on the origins of the nation form, the interface between nationalism and imperialism, nationalism and indigeneity, warfare and nationalism, anticolonial nationalist resistance, fascism and nazism, nationalism and gender, nationalism and creative arts, nationalism and environmentalism, nationalism and religious fundamentalism, post-nationalism, and the entwinement of nationalism and historiography. 
Evaluation is based on seminar participation, short-papers, one assignment based on non-textual sources, a creative assignment, and a comprehensive research paper.  
9.0 units
HIST 405 FW U.S. Public Policy and Society since 1945
Instructor:  Dr. Tim Smith
This course examines some of the key developments in U.S. economic, political and social history since 1945. We will read from the disciplines of history, political science, economics, policy studies, sociology, business history, urban planning and criminology. The focus is on the rise and fall of the ‘New Deal Order,’ changes in the rate of social mobility, changes in family and class structures, the impact of technological change on labor markets, de-industrialization, globalization, racial divisions, gender, education, tax policies, the rise of the New Right, the fall of the Old Left, the decline of labor unions, economic policy, housing, health, Social Security and the welfare state broadly conceived. The key themes or concerns tying all of this together are trends in inequality and opportunity. For whom has the economy worked? How has this changed over time? Who got what from welfare state in 1945? And who gets what in 2016?
9.0 units
HIST 420 FW Culture and Society in Cold War America  
Instructor: Sarah Dougherty
This course explores the relationship between the Cold War and the American home front.  We will examine how the Cold War shaped, and was shaped by, cultures and societies in the United States.  This course will particularly explore how gender, race, religion, sexuality, and class intersected with and challenged the ideology of the Cold War. We will analyze Cold War popular culture and consumer culture through both primary and secondary sources.  Our readings will look at topics including the bomb, fallout shelters, civil rights, cultural diplomacy, McCarthyism, film, and television.
9.0 units
HIST 430/828 FW The Crusades and the Latin Kingdoms
Instructors: Dr. Richard Greenfield/Dr. Adnan Husain
The crusades were among the most formative as well as dramatic episodes of the Middle Ages. While their history has been heavily romanticized or vilified over time, depending on the cultural perspective from which they are viewed, there can be no doubt that they brought people from the societies of medieval Western Europe into direct contact, often into violent conflict, but also into situations of significant cultural exchange with those, Muslim and Christian, of the Eastern Mediterranean. In doing so they forged new relationships, developed new attitudes and ideas, created new patterns of behaviour and thought. These would play a vital role in Western Europe and the Middle East during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries but would also continue to be of influence for centuries afterwards, even down to the present day. Study of the crusades has in recent years become one of the most vibrant topics in the discipline of history.
This upper year seminar will give students the opportunity to examine key topics in the history and interpretation of the medieval Crusades both in the Middle East and Western Europe from the late eleventh to the late thirteenth centuries. The society established by the crusaders in the Eastern Mediterranean and its interactions both with the different peoples of the region and with those of Western Europe will also be studied in some depth, while students will be encouraged to relate medieval crusading to relevant present day debates and issues. Stress will be placed on the use of original source material (in translation) and the development of research, analytical, writing, and communication skills of students in the upper years of a History concentration. The course will be of particular interest to students of the Middle Ages, the Middle East, Byzantium, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the history of Christianity and Islam.
9.0 units
HIST 433 FW Power, Authority and the State in Early Canada
Instructor:  David Martin
An advanced survey of how power and authority were understood, exercised, and challenged in Canada before 1896. Topics include political cultures and ideologies; tools of governance such as the law, militias, and schools; popular political participation, protest, and rebellion; nationalism; citizenship; language; and the emergence of the modern, liberal state.
9.0 units
HIST 458 FW The Social History of Modern Canada
Instructor:  Daniel Meister 
This course explores Canada’s past through readings in Canadian social history. It is chronologically ordered (from roughly the 1900s–1970s) and national in scope, while noting distinctive regional developments. The central organizing problematic of the course is the idea of “race” and specifically of “whiteness.” We will thus explore not only the social history of modern Canada but also the question of who have been considered part of “the social” in Canada and on what grounds. As this is a seminar, students will be expected to attend classes prepared to discuss the assigned readings. The final assignment will consist of a major research paper.
HIST 460 FW The British and India, 1765-1947
Instructor:  Aprajita Sarcar
The course will introduce students to the historiography on Empire in South Asia. Starting from the early presence of the East India Company as an outpost in commercial ports to the behemoth of the Crown in the twentieth century, the course will outline the evolution of British India. The course introduces a chronology of events and processes that unfolded in the centuries of colonial rule, and also the differing ways in which scholars of South Asia have understood the same. Students are firstly, expected to understand the complexities that guided the imperative of empire and secondly, the continuities in governance in the postcolonial legacies.
Every week, students are expected to read a primary text in the light of readings that are assigned for the week. The idea is to be able to locate the text, be it a pamphlet, newspaper article, diary entry or film clip in the overall arguments that are discussed in the assigned literature. Students will be graded on the one-page assessment that they submit the day after every such discussion. The course is aimed at ‘reading’ primary sources in their historical contexts, and developing one’s own insights about the same.
9.0 units