US History - Nineteenth Century United States History
HIST-H650 with Professor Amrita Chakrabarti Myers
This colloquium offers an overview of the history and historiography of the United States in the so-called “long nineteenth century,” ranging roughly from the early years of the New Republic to the start of the Progressive Era. While it does not cover every possible issue or subfield (an impossible task in a single semester), the goal is to familiarize students with both the important subject matters that influenced the course of nineteenth-century US history and the ways in which those topics and that era have been studied and explained.
This course will require students to read both intensively and broadly by focusing on a wide range of matters, from slavery and abolition to women’s rights and Civil War, as well as a variety of scholarly approaches. Readings will include traditional academic monographs and articles as well as books intended to appeal to broader audiences, and discussions will focus on analyzing these readings and situating them within larger historiographical contexts and scholarly debates. We will also examine issues such as method, organization, style, audience, scale, and scope. Finally, we will consider which overarching themes best capture the time and place under study.
This course is intended to help students prepare for qualifying examinations, teaching, and the intellectual tasks common in academic careers, such as writing book reviews and grant proposals, as well as researching and writing historiographical overviews (or literature reviews).
Comparative History - History & the Photographic Archive
HIST-H699 with Professor Danny James
Since its inception as a visual technology in the early 19th Century photography has had multiple uses - artistic, scientific, social, cultural and commercial. As such it has been an intricate – if often unacknowledged part of historical inquiry. Indeed its emergence and development paralleled that of history as a professional academic discipline. The rapid expansion of the mass technology of producing and disseminating images in the last hundred and twenty years has profoundly changed the nature of the historical archive and historical methodology itself. Yet it remains the case that visual records and the visual artifacts that produce them have only very partially registered as part of critical historiographical analysis. Photographs still tend to appear as complimentary additions to written historical narrative rather than as subjects of historical analysis in their own right.
The colloquium is constructed with no assumptions of prior detailed study of photography or visual culture. Nor does it primarily focus on technical aspects of image construction. It starts from the position that I myself started when first confronted by the growing number of images in my historical research archive and had to ask myself: what the hell do I do with these? how do you read a photograph? how do photographs function as desirable consumer objects and cultural artifacts? what status do photographs have as documents?
Comparative History - Urban History
HIST-H699 with Professor Michael Dodson
This course introduces the topic of urban history and, to a lesser extent, architectural history, to graduate students. It goes without saying that the modern city has been of topic of interest to historians and theorists for a century or more. But what constitutes a history of the urban – a history of physical form or materials? A history of design, planning, and speculation? Or if urban history is more like a history of people, then how it is different from, say, cultural or social history? Is there something special about life in the city that warrants a distinctive historiography? And while we’re at it, we might ask how is the rise of urban history in recent year tied to our increasing recognition that cities are the future of humanity on earth? We’ll engage with these questions throughout the course – and others – by reading some key texts in the development of contemporary urban history and theory. We’ll read some of the classics like Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Rem Koolhas’ Delirious New York, and Henri LeFebvre’s The Urban Revolution as well as more recent histories on topics as diverse as world cities, urban improvisation, colonialism and urbanism, segregation, ruination, and the material history of concrete.