Department of History

Department of History
Department of History

Upper Level Seminars

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) 4.5 units

HIST 344 F   Plural Visions: New World Jews & the Invention of Multiculturalism
Instructor: 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 353 F   Revolutions and Civil Wars in Twentieth-Century Latin America
Instructor: David Parker 

This course is a workshop in historical research using primary sources.  Thematically it covers the revolutions, civil wars, and political violence in Latin America in the Twentieth Century.  We take case studies of the Mexican and Cuban revolutions, civil wars in Central America, and other Latin American insurgencies, and examine them from diverse viewpoints while paying close attention to research sources and methods.  

As a practical, hands-on introduction to research and historical analysis, students work to understand how to find, contextualize, critically interrogate, and derive useful analytical conclusions from original documents, in order to engage with the scholarship on a topic of their choice.

4.5 units

HIST 365 F   History Outside the Book
Instructor:  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   Topics in History: Thinking Inside the Box: Archives, Historians, and the Politics of the Past 
Instructor: Steven Maynard

They say you’re not a real historian until you’ve gone to the archives, requested boxes, and rifled through old documents, getting your hands dirty with archival dust in the process. It’s something of a cliché – there are other ways to do historical work, such as oral histories – yet archival research remains central to the discipline of history. But even as we read historical work based on archival sources, or do research in archives ourselves, we rarely stop to think critically about the archive. What is an archive? Is it a metaphor for any and all forms of memory work? Or, when you hear archives, do you think of brick-and-mortar institutions? If so, is the archive a neutral repository of a society’s documentary record? Who decides what gets collected, what doesn’t, and why? Do archival sources provide a more objective access to the past, or is it helpful to think about what the historian Natalie Zemon Davis has called “fiction in the archives?” What difference does the digital archive make?

These are just a few of the questions we will explore in this course. We will also want to relate the archives to issues of power and politics. What functions have archives themselves played in the histories of nationalism and colonialism? How has archival knowledge been mobilized to bolster political movements, from Indigenous rights and decolonization to greater public control over state and police archives? What is the challenge posed by the array of community-based archives that now exist to preserve once-neglected histories of race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality?

This is a seminar course, focused on the class discussion of the rich literature on archives written by historians, archivists, and others. At the same time, in keeping with our thinking about the archive as a real place, we will visit (and assignments will be based on) local archives. The goal here will be to get out of the classroom and into the archives, to experience what French historian Arlette Farge has evocatively described as “le goût de l’archive” – the taste of the archive.

The primary learning objective will be to sharpen critical approaches to archival/historical sources and to explore what it means to think archivally. The course is open to all history students who can take upper-level seminars, and it is strongly recommended for those doing archival/museum/community-based internships.

4.5 units

HIST 400-002 F    Topics in History: Twentieth Century Europe
Instructor: Tim Smith

4.5 units

HIST 400-003 F    Topics in History: German History in Documents (1871-1990) 
Instructor: Swen Steinberg

This seminar on modern German history focusses especially the period between the unification in 1871 and the reunification in 1990. At the same time, German history is contextualized as European history. The starting point for our discussions are documents: we will use primary sources to discover historical contexts in their social, cultural, political, or economic dimensions. This seminar is guided by the idea of discussing source analysis and source criticism–it is intended to introduce primary sources to jump-start work in historical perspective.

4.5 units

HIST 401-001 F   Topics in Canadian 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 438 F   The Historical Imagination 
Instructor: Nancy van Deusen

Like a good chef, a historian requires fresh ingredients to create a palatable narrative. As historians “prep” for writing, they gather together viable sources, choose chronological plotlines, frame episodes and events, distinguish truth from fiction, weigh different perspectives, and select the literary tropes of tragedy, melodrama, etc. to recount and narrate a version of the past – a past that is based on choices and which produces different outcomes. The most important ingredient, some would argue, is the historian’s imagination, which gives form, consistency and purpose to the narrative. In this course, we will focus on the individual “ingredients” that historians use to construct historical narratives and ultimately gain a deeper understanding of what constitutes “History.” Weekly discussions will be based around core readings and seminar members will give two oral presentations based on short research assignments related to the week’s theme. Students will write a “research” paper and create a viable primary document (for instance, a diary, a ledger, a criminal trial, a freedom suit), while also documenting the sources consulted and steps taken to produce the given document. There will also be a take-home final exam.

4.5 units 

HIST 449 / 802 F   Topics in Medieval Mediterranean History: Messiahs, Mystics, and Martyrs in Muslim and Jewish Religious Culture
Instructors: Adnan Husain & Howard Adelman 

This course explores the interplay or “symbiosis” between Jews and Muslims, Judaism and Islam, to understand the religious identities and cultures of both and their mutual development rom the time of Muhammad to the mysterious messiah and convert to Islam Sabbatai Zvi in the 17th century Ottoman empire.  Among the key topics discussed are religious dissent, sectarianism, conversion, polemics, politics, power, the treatment of religious minorities, and apocalyptic or messianic movements across the Medieval and Early Modern Mediterranean world. The course explores shared intellectual movements in philosophy, theology, and mysticism while investigating the tensions between traditional and text based authority and popular rebellious movements based on charismatic leaders.

4.5 units 

HIST 456 F   Islam and Muslims in World History
Instructor: Sanober Umar

Foregrounding gender and feminist histories in diverse Muslim societies, this course will discuss what Islam has come to connote historically, culturally and politically for its diverse followers in multiple locations, particularly under colonialism and post-colonialism. Utilizing a global and intersectional history approach, the course will also broadly cover key themes that have for centuries impacted the Islamic World such as hermeneutical politics, orientalism, imperialism, nationalism, geopolitics, neoliberalism, rise of Islamists, and Islamophobia. In the process, it will flesh out the very meaning of “modernity,” including its relationship with secularism for the pluralistic Muslim community across different civilizations.

Please note that this is not a theology course on Islam but on what “Islam” has come to signify and re-signify over time for diverse Muslims and non-Muslims, often controversially contested over Muslim women’s bodies through homogenizing racialized and gendered tropes with little agency assigned to Muslim women’s diverse voices, different historical trajectories, cosmologies, and practices of liberation.

4.5 units

HIST 463 / 888 F   Liberalism, Authoritarianism and Citizenship in Latin America 
Instructor: David Parker 

Gaining their independence only a few decades after the United States, the nations of Latin America can be counted among the oldest constitutional republics in the world.  In this they differ greatly from postcolonial nation-states in places like Africa and Asia. Yet paradoxically, scholars often characterize Latin America as prisoner of its colonial past, with fragile democratic norms and institutions and a tendency toward corruption and abuse of power.  This course examines this purported tension between liberal ideals and authoritarian tendencies, to spark debate about major issues, events, and turning points in Latin America’s 19th and 20th Century political history. 

4.5 units

HIST 474 F   History of Gender and Technology 
Instructor: Jenna Healey 

Do technologies have a gender? While this might seem like a strange question, there is no doubt that the technologies that suffuse our daily lives – from cars and washing machines to phones and computers – carry gendered associations that have implications for their design and use. Bringing together the history of technology with feminist theory, this class will examine how gender (along with race, class, and nationality) has shaped the design, production, and consumption of technology. We will also consider how technology itself has been used to police or alter the gendered body. Lastly, we’ll think critically about the ways in which the contributions of women in the history of technology have been obscured, and the implications of this erasure for contemporary debates about representation in STEM.

Class readings include theoretical, primary, and secondary sources, and will address topics ranging from refrigeration to reproductive technology, bombs to “big data.” In addition to participation in weekly discussions, students will be expected to contribute to a class blog, where they will be tasked with drawing connections between theory, history, and gender politics in creative and interactive ways. Assessment will include a final research paper and in-class presentation

4.5 units

HIST 481 F   History vs. Pseudohistory 
Instructor: Caroline-Isabelle Caron 

In this 12-week senior seminar, students will explore the prevalence of pseudo-history and pseudo-archeology in Canadian popular media (books, television, web). The course aims to provide students with critical tools to identify and debunk these attractive and pervasive modern myths. Popular media, especially television, is filled with wild claims of secret origins, hidden discoveries and forgotten ancestors. From ancient aliens to destroyed civilizations, we are used to being told we have been either lied to by governments or that scientists wilfully blind themselves to the “truth”. Why does history and archeology so easily inspire endless theories about aliens, lost civilizations, dark conspiracies, apocalyptic predictions, and mysterious technologies? How do we tell the truth from the bunk?

4.5 units

Upper Year Seminars Winter Courses (W) 4.5 units

HIST 337 W   Contested Legacies of the Ottoman Empire
Instructor: Ariel Salzmann

In the late thirteenth century, an emir named Osman (Uthman) founded a small principality in western Anatolia (today's Turkey). Over the next three centuries, his descendents and their allies would expand this small state into a tri-continental empire. The sultans ruled North Africa, with the exception of Morocco, southeastern Europe, including Hungary, the horn of Africa and Yemen, as well as the Middle East from Egypt and Syria to Iraq and Western Iran. Although it is possible to measure the scale of this territorial endeavor, almost every other facet of the Ottoman past remains subject to scholarly debate. Over the course of the semester students will examine some of the important questions that animate discussions among contemporary historians: Who was Osman and how did he and his allies practice Islam? How did the Ottoman state treat its non-Muslim subjects? Why was the Ottoman army so successful in its campaigns against Western Christian states? How did Ottoman royal women exert power in the palace and in society? Did the empire decline because of poor policies or because of climate change?

4.5 units

HIST 339 W   Jews without Judaism
Instructor: 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: 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 400-002 / 818 W   Topics in History: Global Environmental History 
Instructor: Emily Hill 

This new upper-level seminar places climate change in the contemporary era in historical and global perspective. As a central question, it examines action and inaction by economically developed and developing societies in response to awareness of the global warming caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gasses. During the 1980s, scientific experts who reported the warming trend were confident that the public and policy-makers would act to avert catastrophe. Why did their optimism turn out to be naïve?

Format: Short introductory lectures, seminar discussion, and oral reports.
Assignments: One short paper, quizzes, oral reports and seminar leadership, and a research project conducted in stages over the term. 

4.5 units 

HIST 400-003 W   Topics in History: Russian Jewish Encounter in Imperial Russia 
Instructor: Vassili Schedrin

The course provides a window on the exciting field of Russian Jewish history. In this seminar we will seek to answer the following principal questions: how and why the encounter between Russians and Jews re-shaped both nations and changed their histories? Russian and Jews first encountered one another on considerable scale in the late eighteenth century. By the end of the nineteenth century Russia became a home to 5.2 million Jews, becoming the world's largest Jewish community. Through discussion of primary historical sources and scholarship we will see how, during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Jews increasingly perceived Russia their home and Russians—their countrymen. We will see how Russians increasingly perceived Jews an essential part of Russia's political, economic, and cultural landscape. We will also see how unique modern identity of a "Russian Jew" developed.

4.5 units

HIST 400-004 W   Topics in History: Public History
Instructor:  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 400 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 400-005 W   Topics in History: Holiness, Faith and Religious Dissidence in Byzantium 
Instructor: Julian Yang

Medieval Byzantium, or the medieval Christian Roman Empire in the eastern Mediterranean world, was actually quite a skeptical society. The boundary between the concept of holy and unholy was very fluid, and one’s spiritual and religious identity was often rather determined by a wide spectrum of different secular interests.

As such, its inhabitants and especially those who worked on writing religious literature (i.e. hagiographers) were necessitated to bolster the persuasiveness of their narrative by using various literary techniques for a successful fashioning of their protagonists as saints. Failure to do so often resulted in dire consequences.

The main objective of this course is to examine important historical issues around the topic of religion in medieval Byzantium. After an introduction to the history of the Greco-Roman Mediterranean world and its historical relation to the Byzantine Empire, the class will work with scholarly publications in English and some selected primary sources in translation to establish and develop their understanding of key aspects of the religious history of medieval Byzantium. The related topics of Byzantine social issues and foreign relations will also be considered throughout the course.

4.5 units

HIST 416 W   Material History in Canada
Instructor: Caroline-Isabelle Caron 

Canadian Material History: This senior seminar will introduce students to the basics of material history methodology while exploring the many meanings of the «stuff life is made of», i.e. the artefacts among which Canadians have lived since 1900, those things that have shaped Canadian identities and cultures to this day. This course will look at how artefacts can inform and enrich historical enquiry. Because historians have traditionally and primarily relied on texts, they have often overlooked artefacts, therefore ignoring the methodological frameworks found in archeology, anthropology, art history, folklore, etc., where objects are at the centre of analysis. Consequently, they have missed out on large portions of the lived experience in the past.

4.5 units

HIST 431 W   Atlantic Canada
Instructor: Nicolas Haisell 

This course examines the development and growth of the Atlantic region from the early 17th century to the Confederation era. Weekly readings and seminar discussions will investigate the region’s social, cultural, political, economic, and intellectual history. We will discuss how the region’s geographic location, imperial entanglements, and diverse inhabitants shaped regional society and identity. 

4.5 units

HIST 435 W   Global, World, and Transnational History
Instructor: Amitava Chowdhury 

This seminar provides an advanced introduction to Global, World, and Transnational History. The course will examine global history as a methodological and spatial perspective and as a critique of methodological nationalism. Thematically, we will study the origins, defining debates, and methodological underpinnings of the field. Topics will include global microhistory, deep history, world-systems analysis, postcolonialism, nationalism, commodities, and the anthropocene. Framed as a critique of post-Enlightenment historical philosophy, the course will help us to discover and appreciate a new historiography suited for the twenty-first century.

4.5 units

HIST 462 / 867 W   Social History of Modernizing Latin America 1860 to 1960
Instructor: David Parker

This course looks at how ordinary people both experienced and shaped a century of rapid change, while introducing students to major debates in the field of social history.  

In 1860, the republics of Latin America were still predominantly rural and mostly poor. Foreign visitors described the continent and its inhabitants as "backward":  infrastructure was scarcely developed, lawlessness was a major problem, public health was deficient, and the society appeared mired in colonial tradition. Over the next 50-100 years, globalization transformed the region.  Economic development brought railroads, roads, ports, and bustling modern cities in which the majority of Latin Americans now lived. Advances in health and education increased life expectancy considerably, immigration had changed several countries' demographic makeup, well-equipped police and militaries preserved order, and social and cultural patterns were increasingly secular and “modern.” 

None of those changes came without conflict, and this course brings the questions and methods of social history to bear on issues including urban social problems, technological change, science and medicine, children and women’s rights, crime and punishment, consumption, and mass media and popular culture. 

4.5 units

HIST 466 / 812 W   Radicalism, Revolution, and Religion in Russian History and Literature
Instructor: 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 473 W   Black Women in Modern U.S. History
Instructor: Laila Haidarali 

This upper-year seminar explores the history of black women in the United States from the late nineteenth century to the contemporary era. Positioning black women at its centre, this course situates the history of black women within the broader contexts of U.S. politics, culture and society, while also recognizing the ways that this history is distinguishable within it. The class begins during the late-nineteenth century and moves chronologically to study women’s negotiations of “freedom” in the post-bellum nation. Thus course also explores the ways that raced, classed and gendered assumptions about black women remain rooted in slavery.

Black women are studied as agents in their own histories. Socio-cultural in its approach, this course highlights women’s individual, everyday, organizational, educational, creative, business-minded and militant efforts to resist the multiple discriminations they encountered as “black” women in the United States. While situating the role of women’s collective activism as vital to this history, this course further emphasizes the heterogeneous character and experience of black women in U.S. history. Indeed, the very identifier of “black woman” forms an important starting debate for study in this module that also engages with the transnational study of black women’s history. Topics to be studied include: life, love and labour in the New South; rape, violence and resistance; rural exodus and the Great Migration; urbanism and urbanizing womanhood; Afro-modernity, the New Negro movement; black nationalisms and Pan-Africanism; motherhood, marriage and non-normative sexualities; elite reformers and the “politics of respectability”; the politics and business of beauty; feminisms in “waves” and across national divides.

4.5 units

Upper Year Seminars Full Year Courses (FW) 9.0 units
HIST 390 FW Topics in History: The History of International Human Rights 
Instructor: Katelyn Arac

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948). What are human rights, how were they established, and who determines what human rights violations are brought before a court? During this course we will try to answer these questions. We will use primary and secondary sources to analyze the creation and shift in the laws of human rights, as well as case studies to demonstrate how human rights legislation is created and upheld.

The purpose of this course is to provide students with an overview of the history of human rights throughout the 20th century and the formulation of international law of human rights. We will explore the establishment of formal international law through the role of the League of Nations, the creation and expansion of the United Nations, various nation-state’s roles and responses, and the United Nations Human Rights Council to discuss how human rights legislation is created and used.

9.0 units

HIST 405 FW U.S. Public Policy and Society since 1945
Instructor:  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: Andrew Sopko
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