The following advanced seminar courses are special topics that are not described inside the undergraduate or graduate calendars. For the regular course descriptions, please refer to the official graduate calendar.
HIST 402 — The Philosophy and Practice of History
Dr. Andy Ivaska
This seminar is reserved for BA Honours students.
This seminar examines the shifts and debates that have shaped the theory and practice of history. As such, the central axis of the course leads us through the trends and critiques prominent in modern historiography over the last several decades: from Marxism and the rise of classic social history, through the “cultural turn” inspired by poststructuralist and feminist writing, to questions raised by critics working in postcolonial theory, public history, and “new materialism.” History-writing always has a politics, and one of our central concerns will be to explore how different approaches to writing history impact and shape our understandings of the past. How does the past appear differently when viewed through the lens of varying historiographical approaches? The shifts in dominant ways of understanding and writing history have often emerged in relation to theoretical trends from other disciplines – philosophy, literary criticism, sociology, anthropology, and economics – and as such, some of the reading we wrestle with in this seminar comes with an interdisciplinary cast. Finally, in examining the shifting ways of seeing that undergird historical practice, we will probe the ways in which each of these approaches to the past have emerged in close relationship with the broader politics of their own times and places.
HIST 600 — The Nature of Historical Knowledge
Dr. Sarah Ghabrial
This seminar is reserved exclusively for MA students.
This course examines the history of the discipline and the nature of historical knowledge, as well as contemporary debates about the meaning and practice of history. The content varies from term to term depending on the instructor(s). The material covered may include the following: research tools (e.g. library resources, the archives and the Internet), major approaches to history (e.g. Marxist, Annaliste, feminist), the debate about objectivity and truth in history, public history (history in film, television, schools, museums), and the impact of postmodernism on historical practice.
HIST 437/610 — Knowledge & Power in Early Modern Europe
Dr. Ted McCormick
Early modern Europe has been defined by transformations: the birth of experimental science, the growth of capitalism, the decline of religious consensus, the emergence of a public sphere sustained by print, the formation of states and colonial empires, the articulation of new ideas about art and nature, and the pursuit of new forms of environmental and social change and exploitation. In each, a key problem was the link between knowledge and power. These could be mutually reinforcing: thus new forms of surveillance, like the census, were tools of the state. Yet new knowledge often fell short of its proponents’ promises. A flood of information created problems – of communication, trust, control, and overload – as well as possibilities. New technologies had unintended consequences and unexpected applications. Knowledge and its uses were embedded in early modern institutions, beliefs, and relationships. They became “modern” only in retrospect.
Exploring the early modern history of knowledge thus reveals how “modernity” has been defined, what it has been defined against, what it assumes, and what it obscures. It is also a way of exploring how knowledge and power came to be linked in ways that still shape our horizons today. At a time when scientific and academic expertise are political targets; when anxieties about private and state surveillance are heightened; when the reliability of public information is in doubt; and when the resolution of environmental, social, and political crises revolves around the production, application, and implications of various kinds of knowledge, few questions are more timely.
HIST 457/634 — Sex and Gender in Latin American History
Dr. Nora Jaffary
Sexuality and gender, despite scholars’ efforts to historicize them both, remain prone to essentializing conceptualizations. This class surveys the evolving history of sexuality and gender in Latin American from the colonial era through the twentieth century. In this course, we will use primary sources of various kinds, and scholarly works to understand how different populations thought about sexual relations and gender identities across Latin America’s varied history. What can we know about how people from past eras thought about sex and gender and sexual orientation and how did ideas about their connections shift over time? Topics treated will include sexuality and colonialism, sex crimes and the Catholic church, gendering the nation, hermaphroditism, transvestism, sex work, same-sex relations, and the regulation of contraception.
HIST 485/665 — Historical Non-Fiction
Dr. Elena Razlogova
This course will teach students how to produce rigorous history for a broader public. Participants will begin by examining books, articles, podcasts, and graphic novels that have bridged the divide between academic and popular audiences. The main part of the course will teach strategies drawn from literary non-fiction, such as narrative structure, voice, and point of view. The course will include writing and storyboarding exercises, as well as audio recording and editing tutorials. It will provide opportunities to meet with local writers and learn how to pitch your writing to general-interest publications. For a final project, each student will produce either a non-fiction essay or a podcast episode.
HIST 498/670 — History of Childhood
Dr. Barbara Lorenzkowski
In 1960, the historian Philip Ariès suggested – in a work that both inspired and infuriated subsequent historians – that childhood was a modern invention that had emerged in Europe only around 1500 A.D. In unpacking shifting notions of childhood, this course is designed to examine both social constructions of childhood and children’s own voices in historical perspective. How has childhood – as a category of social thought – served to determine the social roles and responsibilities of the youngest members of society? And how, and to which extent, have children shaped their own histories and given voice to their own thoughts and feelings?
Focusing on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this course will examine representations of childhood in the Western World as well as scholars’ attempts to uncover children’s experiences. The scope of our readings will be comparative and international, while course assignments will foreground the use of primary sources in reconstructing worlds of childhood. In three reflection papers, you are invited to examine oral histories, case records, and visual representations of childhood.
Whenever possible, we will take the study of history outside the classroom. To this end, we will spend a class period at the Canadian Jewish Archives to study the history of Jewish war orphans. I also hope to welcome filmmaker Paul Thom to our class, whose 2017 NFB documentary “Baggage” features the life stories of newly arrived teenage immigrants studying at Paul-Gérin-Lajoie-d'Outremont High School in Montréal.
HIST 498/670 — Atlantic Slavery
Dr. Anya Zilberstein
While the broad ambition of this seminar is to think historically and in comparative perspective about a variety of forms of coerced labor, our collective readings will focus on the emergence, development, critiques, and aftermaths of the Atlantic slave trade and enslavement in the Americas from the 15th century to the present. Themes include: the meanings, expressions, uses, and limits of captivity and freedom; empire and colonialism; slave law and its abolition; varieties of slavery and work regimes; anti-slavery and amelioration; resistance, rebellion, and revolution; racial ideology; the histories and cultures of social, economic, and political inequality. Students will have the option to write either a) a review essay comparing how historians have debated divergent approaches to a major problem in Atlantic slavery; b) a review essay of secondary literature informed by a proposal for an original research paper about a major problem in the history of slavery (in any time or place); or, c) a research paper based on primary sources and in dialogue with relevant scholarship.
HIST 498/670 — Recent Trends in Global History
Dr. Wilson Jacob
What is Global History? Is it the same as World History; if not, how is it different? When did we begin to discuss the global versus the universal, the international, or the world? What are the stakes involved in these different approaches to human history? In particular, what are the stakes for us today in thinking in terms that are global rather than regional, national, or local—and does it have to be “rather than”? What are the pitfalls or advantages in pursuing a global history? These are some of the questions this seminar will pose. They are perhaps ever the more pressing in the context of growing population movements in the form of forced migrations, which are met by demands for militarized borders, high-tech separation walls, and the proliferation of camps and other such exceptional spatial formations that map onto historically formed binaries of us and them. The historical imagination, its simultaneous capacity for highly detailed and very broad analysis, is challenged in this day when the local is again a site of chauvinism.
Is the global then an antidote or the very force producing new forms of provincialism and new planetary crises that can only ever be experienced at the local? Given the political and existential urgency of this question (as the special UN sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has recently highlighted), multiple disciplinary approaches to the global will be explored. Thus, you will be exposed to some of the latest thinking on the global in history, anthropology, sociology, political science, religious studies, literary criticism, and philosophy. As a history seminar, we will also supplement our inquiry with varied past reflections on humankind’s universality or particularity.
HIST 403 — Methodology and History
Dr. Theresa Ventura
This seminar is reserved for BA Honours students.
History, at its most basic, is the study of change over time. But determining what has changed, how primary sources document that change, and best practices for working with sources are questions of methodology. This course is a hands-on introduction to and workshop in historical methodology for advanced undergraduates. We will cover the nuts and bolts of historical research, think about the differences between quantitative and qualitative methods, and explore differing interpretive lenses. Topics include, but are not limited to: critical and effective reading of historical sources; exploration of non-written sources as historical evidence; use of quantitative methods in history; concrete problems of interpretation encountered during historical research; and the presentation of findings through different forms of writing.
History 403 is a seminar course, and thus demands that students read on a weekly basis and come to class prepared to discuss the issues arising from the readings. Attendance is compulsory. A significant proportion of the final grade will be based on contributions to the seminar discussions. Since History 403 is a course that all History Honours students are required to take, it will have no particular geographical or chronological focus. We will use examples from different areas within the historical discipline, and students will play a considerable role in shaping the course through their presentations and assignments. In addition to presentations through the term and two short written assignments, students will write and present an extended essay based on primary-source research.
HIST 601 — Historical Research Methods
Dr. Matthew Penney
This seminar is reserved exclusively for MA students.
History 601 is a seminar-workshop in which students frame and develop their MA thesis. Framing a topic, developing a bibliography, identifying a primary source base, placing your main arguments in the context of an existing body of historiography, and planning for writing and revision, will all be important themes. The end product of the course will be a thesis proposal, including an annotated bibliography, that will guide your research in subsequent semester.
HIST 610 — Violence and Disorder, 1300-1600
Dr. Shannon McSheffrey
This joint graduate-undergraduate seminar will explore the problem of violence and disorder in Europe in the period between about 1300 and 1600. How did authorities - whether king’s representatives, local men of influence, or church officials - control misbehaviour and crime in an age before police forces? Taking cues from the concerns of those medieval authorities themselves, “disorder” will be given a wide definition, ranging from serious crime to sexual misdemeanours to loose talk in the streets. Students will read in the course of the term a range of sources and current scholarship on issues of violence and disorder in late medieval societies, including late medieval Iberia, Italy, France, the Empire, and England. In addition to participation in seminar discussions on those readings, short presentations, and one or two short written assignments, students will be asked to a longer paper related to the course’s theme.
HIST 437/610 — World War I in European History
Dr. Norman Ingram
This seminar examines in some detail certain aspects of the Great War which was arguably the defining event of the last century. The twentieth century may be said really to have begun in August 1914 as the nations of the old continent lined up in two opposing blocs, pitting German Kultur against French civilisation.1917 marked the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of mutinies in the French army on the western front. March 1918 saw the 100th anniversary of the great German spring offensive, the failure of which spelled the end of the hopes for victory in Germany. Along the road to 11 November 1918, three European empires disintegrated and fell, the Bolshevik Revolution engulfed Russia, and the United States emerged as a power on the world stage.
Specifically, we shall look closely at the following topics and themes:
1. The origins of the war and the question of war guilt
2. How the war was fought and the impact at the front and behind the lines
3. The legacy of the Great War and its impact on European society
To that end, the seminar has been divided into unequal parts examining each of these themes. In a sense, though, all three general themes are linked. It is impossible to examine the legacy of the war without taking into consideration the way it was fought and the question of origins and war guilt. Likewise, it is difficult to conceive of an analysis of war guilt that ignored the legacy of that question in the years after the war.
HIST 670 — Nature of the Holocaust
Dr. Frank Chalk
Our seminar on "The Nature of the Holocaust" probes seven of the most important contemporary debates in Holocaust historiography through weekly readings and a research paper. The themes are: 1) Why the Jews?; 2) Why the Germans?; 3) Why Murder?; 4) Why This Swift and Sweeping?; 5) Why Didn't More Jews Fight Back More Often?; 6) Why Did Survival Rates Diverge?; and 7) Why Such Limited Help from Outside?
The discussion of each question is introduced by a chapter in historian Peter Hayes' 2017 book, Why? Explaining the Holocaust and supplemented with focused readings from scholarly journals and historical monographs. Each student will write an analytical research paper based on secondary and primary sources as a case study addressing one of the listed themes.