Graduate Seminar Course Descriptions

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.

Fall 2022

HIST 600/2 - AA 
Historical Theories/Methods 

Dr. Norman Ingram   J  17:45-20:30

In this seminar, we will explore "history" as a field of knowledge, a critical orientation, an instrument, a praxis, and a philosophy. Our weekly trajectory follows major issues and shifts in historiography since the mid-20th century. Topics will include: social history and the influence of Marxism; cultural and linguistic turns provoked by poststructuralist, postcolonial, feminist, queer, and race-critical theory; environmental history in the midst of ecological breakdown; as well as methods and critiques in public and oral history. This course is challenging - with a heavy reading load and strong emphasis on engagement - but also rewarding. Students will leave this course with a solid foundational understanding of the most salient theoretical and methodological questions and approaches in this discipline; they will be able to use this knowledge to assess and critique different works of historical writing and apply these approaches to their own work.


HIST 610/2 - A

Advanced Topics in European History – Soviet Women & WWII 

Dr. Alison Rowley T 11:45-14:30 

This seminar examines a pivotal moment in the lives of several generations of Soviet women – the Second World War.  Topics to be covered include the coping strategies employed by women as they dealt with changed work and family lives; the roles that women played in the armed forces and in irregular warfare; the use of forced labour during the war; the depiction of women in wartime propaganda; and the long-term effects of the conflict once the fighting ceased. Throughout the course emphasis will be placed on reading primary sources in translation so as to capture the voices of Soviet women.  No knowledge of Russian or other foreign language is required. 


HIST 665/2 - A  

Advanced Topics in Public History – Oral History Methods 

Dr. Barbara Lorenzkowski  M 11:45-14:30 

Oral history is an interdisciplinary field of inquiry that has grown up on the margins. Oral history interviewing has been undertaken for many reasons: artistic; community-building; truth and reconciliation; political action; storytelling, preservation, and research. Common to these projects is a strong commitment to uncovering marginalized voices whose histories are rarely heard or preserved in traditional state archives. This course will introduce you to the theory, methodology, and ethics of oral history. You will have the opportunity to design your own oral history project, develop an ethics application, and share your work with others. In taking advantage of our virtual classroom, we will host a series of guest speakers who will speak to their own practice as oral historians and reflect on the ways they have translated their oral history research into documentary filmmaking, artwork, digital stories, museum exhibitions, and works of advocacy.


HIST 670/2 - A 
Advanced Topics in History – New Histories of Capitalism 

Dr. Theresa Ventura  M  14:45-17:30 

In the past decade, scholars have built upon the work of historians of labor, the economy, business, and empire to forge a new field now known as the “history of capitalism.” The field, in turn, has produced a series of new series modifiers – from “predatory capitalism,” “racial capitalism,” and even “Silicon Valley capitalism” – to describe the workings and logic of the global for-profit economy. This seminar will look at new works in the history of capitalism, with an eye toward understanding arguments, methodologies, and definitions of capital. Read alongside classic works in political economy, we will how and why the study of capital has changed over time and evaluate the substantial contributions of the field.


HIST 670/2 - AA 
Advanced Topics in History – Transnational Networks 

Dr. Andrew Ivaska  W 17:45-20:30 

This seminar is rooted in dual aspects of our political and intellectual present. First, the increasing prominence of the network as a critical touchstone of scholarly interest, particularly in global history. Second, the way that the crises of 2020 – pandemic, rising authoritarianism, uprisings against police brutality, the unequal landscape of economic devastation – have brought into focus the lineaments of our global entwinement and raised questions about their historical roots. Together, these two contexts for the course highlight a key feature of political struggle in our modern age: power and resistance often take forms that are both globe-spanning and narrowly-channeled. And indeed, scholars too have increasingly honed in on this combination, with the “new global history” seeking to capture the ways political, economic, and cultural forms have traveled over great distance, without losing sight of the specific channels through which they moved.

At its most fundamental, then, this course is a tour of cutting-edge scholarship in global history that seeks to grapple with networks – as empirical phenomena, as methodological lens, or both. Much of this work traces how transnational networks have been foundational to the structures, forms, and struggles that formed the modern world and still shape our political present: capitalism, slavery, state sovereignty, the law, anti-colonial movements, revolt, and revolution.

Proceeding chronologically, we begin with several cases of trans-continental migrations of people, things, and ideas that shaped slave revolts, imperial projects, black internationalism, and anti-colonial organizing across an interconnected Atlantic world and beyond. Attuned to our present crises, we then move on to explore the networked histories behind some key fronts in contemporary political struggle, from the inequalities and violence of the global economy, to the transnational sprawl of the “war on terror” and police militarization. Finally, having developed a sense of the field through these case studies, we conclude by grappling with a selection of theoretical and methodological texts, including an introduction to Latourian “actor-network theory” and debates over the transnational turn in historiography.


HIST 670/2 -  BB 
Advanced Topics in History – Gender/Sexuality/Body in Black Atlantic History 

Dr. Bradley Craig  T 17:45-20:30 

Over the past twenty years, historians of gender and sexuality have fundamentally transformed the study of Atlantic slavery and freedom by foregrounding the embodied experiences and intellectual contributions of African and African-descended women. This seminar course focuses on the paradigm shift in Black Atlantic history generated by this scholarship, asking how it changes not only what we know about the Black Atlantic, but how we know it. Topics include racial ideology, reproduction, sexual economy, masculinity, self-fashioning, the archive, and queerness.


HIST 670/2 - CC 
Advanced Topics in History – Montreal Performing Arts Archives & Histories

Dr. V.K. Preston  W 11:45-14:30

This seminar activates Montreal histories of performance by engaging with artists, archives, objects, collections, practitioners, and companies. The class reflects on the impact of venues’ closure during the epidemic—as well as with the complex cultural histories of the performer and of performance. Approaches include performance historiography, oral history, and research creation. Students are invited to do original research and to share it in creative as well as critical form. 

Winter 2023

HIST 601/4 - A 
Historical Research Methods  

Dr. Michael Ferguson    T   14:45-17:30 

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, that will guide your research in subsequent semester.


HIST 634/4 - A 

Advanced Topics in Latin American and Caribbean History - Gender & Sexuality in Latin America 

Dr. Nora Jaffary T 11:45-14:30

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. We will use primary sources and scholarly treatments 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 the past thought about sex, and sexuality, gender, and sexual orientation? How did ideas about the connections between these ideas change 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 638/4 - AA
Advanced Topics in Asian History - Made in China 

Dr. Yuan Yi   We  17:45-20:30

This course examines Chinese history through the lens of objects made by its people. Ranging from porcelain and silk in the late imperial period to virtually everything in the twenty-first century, goods made in China have circulated on a global scale. Exploring their production, circulation, and consumption, the course reestablishes the skills and knowledge systems of the Chinese “makers,” many of whom were historically underrepresented groups of people such as women, artisans, peasants, and factory workers. It also considers how China’s experience complicates a conventional understanding of industrialization and economic development. Students will write a final paper on an object of their choice, ideally from the MMFA's collection of Chinese art. No knowledge of Chinese is required. 


HIST 665/4 - AA
Advanced Topics in Public History - Public Scholarship & Cultural Activism

Dr. Erica Lehrer  T 17:45-20:30

What is public scholarship?  Can academic research also be activism? Is collaboration between university researchers and non-academic communities important? Why is it often difficult? What counts as “expert knowledge” and how have academics often engaged with lay publics and marginalized communities? What scholarly histories, beliefs, practices, and modes of inquiry may be in conflict – or productive tension – with those beyond academia’s walls? How might we better connect university- and non-university-based “culture work” (and culture workers) to nurture new communities of learning and practice? Through reading, writing, discussion, and engagement in individual or group projects, students in this seminar will: 
-       explore the above questions; 
-       assess how the personal and professional skills you possess and are acquiring shape your ability to engage in public forums and activist projects; 
-       consider how you might configure your own research projects and plans to maximize their public significance; 
-       envision careers that bring scholarship and public cultural work together across multiple sites inside and outside the university.


HIST 670/4 - B
Advanced Topics in History - Law and Emotion in History 

Dr. Eric Reiter  J  14:45-17:30 

Law often seems like a realm of reason and rationality, but emotions run through law, legal institutions, and legal processes in various ways. This seminar will explore some of the intersections between legal history and the history of emotions to consider the ways in which emotions shape the law, in Canada and beyond, and from the nineteenth century to the present. Topics will include (among others): the courtroom as emotional space; violence and emotion; accidents, families, and grief; love, betrayal, and law; punishment and remorse. 


HIST 670/4 - C       
Advanced Topics in History: Children, Youth, and War

Dr. Barbara Lorenzkowski                  M 11:45-14:30                

War disrupts normative understandings about the meanings of childhood and youth.  When just over a hundred years ago, the Swedish feminist and educator Ellen Key published The Century of the Child, an internationally best-selling book that struck a chord with adults across the globe, she captured contemporary Western ideals of childhood.  In envisioning a peaceful and harmonious future for humankind, Key evoked a century in which modern societies would expand formal education and medical care, look after children’s welfare, and legislate against child labour.  

Instead, the twentieth century ushered in a period during which the scale of global conflicts soared.  Children and youth grew up amidst the armed conflict of the First and Second World Wars, came of age under the threat of nuclear warfare during the Cold War, and lived through the social upheaval of the over thirty-five other wars that raged over the course of the twentieth century.   In countries suffering through civil war, traditional warfare combined with acts of terrorism and guerilla fighting to draw children into armed conflict in new ways.

In this seminar we will examine how the lives of young people have been shaped by conflict in an enormously diverse range of ways between the First World War and the early twenty-first century.  Topics under consideration will include, among others, the wartime correspondence between children and their fathers fighting on the front; the history of children in Nazi-occupied Europe (including children in ghettoes and concentration camps); the history of child soldiers; the life stories of children born of wartime rape; the mobilization of children in the peace movement; and the stories of refugee children displaced by war, violence, and armed conflict. 

HIST 600/4 - D
Advanced Topics in History - War and Memory

Dr. Matthew Penney  M  17:45-20:30

This seminar explores historiographical and broader academic engagement with memory - individual, collective, and national. We will approach memories of 20th century wars by looking at a wide range of modes of representation of the past across media including novels, films, video games and genres from World War I poetry to science fiction.  Like all seminars, it has a major presentation, discussion, and class participation component. Students can write a major research paper on memories and representation of nearly any theme intersecting with war and mass violence from the late 19th century to present.

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