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Spring 2015 Graduate Course Descriptions

 

510:502 Historian's Craft: II (Intro Course)
Professor Alastair Bellany

Introduction to the professional study of history, to the diverse methodological approaches of current historiography, and to the place of historical scholarship in both academic and non-academic spheres.  First year graduate students only.

510:503 African World History
Professor Carolyn Brown

Prospective students who wish to discuss any aspects of the course should contact Professor Carolyn Brown at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

510:509  Teaching of History
Professor Sukee Lee

Prospective students who wish to discuss any aspects of the course should contact Professor Sukee Lee at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

510:519 Colloquium in Intellectual History: Theory in Women's & Gender History
Professor Judith Surkis

For theorists and historians of gender and sexuality, the idea of the “cultural construction” of identity categories is axiomatic. In her pioneering account in Gender Trouble (1989), Judith Butler argued that the binary conceptions of natural sex must themselves be understood as cultural effects rather than as pre-discursive givens. Seen from this vantage, writing the history of culture is a critical practice that denaturalizes and unsettles identities. But what do we mean by “culture”? What is at stake when we appeal to it as an explanatory framework? If culture is understood as a symbolic or discursive system, how can we attend to that which appears to exceed or contest these frameworks, including materialities, practices, affects, global processes? What are the potential pitfalls of reifying culture? How might ideas of cultural difference have their own essentializing effects, either in discourses of civilizational clash or multicultural “recognition”?

Rather than assuming “culture” as a stable concept or historical given, this class critically reorients our understanding of its place in recent theory and historiography. We will approach culture not as a master explanatory key, but as itself a contested site and object of critique. Before turning to recent works of theory and historiography, we will review classic formulations and critiques of culture as a concept in anthropology, social theory, and cultural studies. Subsequent weeks will be structured thematically, drawing on a selection of interdisciplinary, feminist, and global approaches to these questions. Themes will include: Sex, Sovereignty, and Exclusion; Recognition and Multiculturalism; Liberalism, Privacy, Domesticity; Gender, Desire, and the Commodity Form; Family Law Exceptionalism; Migration and the Global Family; Religion, Secularism, and Embodiment; Technology, Intimacy, and Bioethics; Affect, Human Rights, and Humanitarianism.

510:535  Colloquium in the History of Technology: Early Modern Atlantic & Global Exchanges
Professor James Delbourgo

This colloquium is specially designed to serve the needs of graduate students with several different ranges of interest: early modern history; Atlantic and colonial Americas history; global and diasporic history; and history of science, technology, environment and medicine. It asks what kinds of histories can now be written that recast our understanding of the entanglements of natural and cultural actors in the age of the ‘Columbian Exchange’ and the ‘First Globalization’ of the early modern era. We will not privilege scientific knowledge but see it as bound up with a range of material encounters in natural environments that involve humans from different societies, non-human animal life-forms, and artificial entities. We will address classic imperial themes like European colonial botany, bio-prospecting, collecting and natural history, but also shift our approach to consider a variety of perspectives not centered on European actors that link human experience and knowledge with plants, non-human animals and other entities. One general question thus concerns how it is now possible to write the history of knowledge of and intervention in the natural world using some notion of entangled histories, both human and not. More specifically, we will examine how recent scholars have wrestled with questions of material practice and writing about non-human actors’ histories, without losing sight of the inevitably mediated character of all human knowledge of such actions. Likely topics include the relation between global commerce and capital, natural history, medicine, and object and visual knowledges; the production of proto-anthropological bodily and racial surveys of human societies; the question of long-distance networks, how they operate, and who or what operates through them; the role played by technologies and instruments in mediating cultural encounters between different peoples; environmental histories that integrate non-human and human animals, ranging from livestock to mosquitoes to microbes; the relationship between the Atlantic slave trade, the circulation of African botanical knowledge, healing prowess and associated spiritual practices; the distinctive politics of Creole knowledges in Spanish and British American settler societies; the careers of go-betweens and cultural intermediaries who provide access to natural knowledge and resources across radically different cultural settings; and early modern histories of energy, environment and infrastructure. We will engage with a selection of theoretical readings in conjunction with a range of empirical case histories, while keeping our focus on the practical intellectual utility of what we read for students’ own future research projects.

510:550 Seminar in the History of Women II 
Professor Temma Kaplan  

Continuation of year long course; no new participants.

510:553  Readings in African American History 
Professor Walter Rucker

Prospective students who wish to discuss any aspects of the course should contact Professor Walter Rucker at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

510:560  Readings in Women's & Gender History
Professor Johanna Schoen

The purpose of this class is to introduce students to some of the key topics, questions, and debates that have animated the field of women’s and gender history. In keeping with the comparative and global scope of our department’s research interests, we will be reading works about different time periods and geographic regions.

510:561  Colloquium in American History: Philanthropy/NGOs US
Professor Allison Bernstein

Prospective students who wish to discuss any aspects of the course should contact Professor Allison Bernstein at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

510:573  US, African American Seminar
Professor Deborah White

This course will focus on historical writing and research. We will start with Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life as a way to introduce the subject and strategies of writing, and as a way to understand some of the unconscious issues involved in the process. We will unpack the issue of writer’s block; study how to balance research and writing; explore different note-taking and organization techniques. We will deconstruct published articles and Heather William’s Help Me to Find My People, as a way to explore the variety of writing styles used by historians. Finally, students will learn by doing as they research and write their own original article, historiographic essay, or dissertation proposal that will be lovingly critiqued in class and presented at an historical conference.

510:599 Readings in Modern European History  
Professor Jochen Hellbeck

Prospective students who wish to discuss any aspects of the course should contact Professor Jochen Hellbeck at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

510:601 Colloquim in European History: Early Modern France 
Professor Jennifer Jones

Prospective students who wish to discuss any aspects of the course should contact Professor Jennifer Jones at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

510:615  Seminar in European History  
Professor Samantha Kelly

This two-semester seminar provides an opportunity to pursue an original research project on a subject of your choice:  a chance to try out a dissertation topic and to see where it takes you. By the end of this first semester, you will have completed such research as is possible in this country, and will write up a preliminary draft of an article-length piece based on analysis of that research.  During the summer, you will have the opportunity to pursue further research on-site.  Then, next fall, you will work on a final draft of the paper.  The bulk of the work for this course will be identifying and researching sources, analyzing them, and writing up your conclusions in a carefully crafted form.  You will also be responsible for offering serious commentary to your colleagues in class on their ongoing projects, just as you will benefit from the same.  Finally, we will have some common class readings and visiting presenters to discuss issues of source material, methodology, argument, and audience.  Common readings will be downloadable at the class Sakai site, via https://sakai.rutgers.edu/portal.  

510:631  Colloquium in Latin American History: Readings in Latin American History, 1750-2014
Professor Mark Wasserman

Tentative Topics: The Transition from Colonial Rule to Independence (Bourbon reforms, rebellions, independence); The Struggle for Stability (caudillos, civil wars, war and gender, export economies); Turn of the [20th]Century Upheavals (Populism, revolution, urbanization, industrialization, immigration, labor, modern women); Left and Right Alternatives (Populism- the sequel, democratization, the great terror, democratization -the sequel); poverty and progress; issues in economic development.

 

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