Course Outlines

History 5001 3.0 F  Doing History: An Introduction

Open to all entering MA students, this course reads and discusses some great books in social history about a wide range of times and places. It is an opportunity to think big and to compare unfamiliar histories with more familiar ones. We will debate such questions as 'who gets a history?' and 'how do concepts like imperialism or marginalization clarify and obscure the past?' The course also provides a chance to step back from a focus on specialized "information" and to look at how historians put their works together.
Oral work and written assignments aim to cultivate skills useful for graduate studies in history. These include historiographical synopses (how to get a handle on a big book quickly?) and setting-up for primary source analysis. The course culminates in developing and presenting a proto-proposal for the required Major Research Paper (MRP).
Reading list includes: B. Bradbury, Working Families (19th c Canada); N. Z. Davis, a sampler of essays (early modern Europe, Surinam); C. Ginzburg, Cheese and the Worms (16th c Italy); G. Hershatter, Gender of Memory (20th c China); C. Howell, Northern Sandlots (20th c. Canada); J. Keagan, The Face of Battle (14th, 19th, 20th c Europe, compared); S. Lauderdale Graham, Caetana Says No (19th c. Brazil); B. Moore and M. Johnson, Neither Led Nor Driven (19th-20th c Jamaica); L. T. Ulrich, A Midwife's Tale (18th c. US).

HIST 5033 3.0 W  Slavery in Ancient Greece & Rome

This course explores the phenomenon of slavery in Greek and Roman antiquity. Three main areas are covered: ancient attitudes to and theories of slavery from Aristotle to Augustine, the role of slaves in the ancient economy, and the position of slaves in Greek and Roman society. Throughout the course we examine both the continuities within the Greco-Roman world and the ways in which beliefs and practices varied from place to place and over time.

*All students, including modern historians, are very welcome to take the course, which may appeal particularly to those who are interested in or have studied slavery in other periods of history.

History 5051 3.0 W Cultural History of Europe: Microhistory

Microhistory, as an approach and strategy, first appeared in Italy in the early 1970s among the early-modernists (Carlo Ginzburg, Giovanni Levi). It spread across the Atlantic (Natalie Zemon Davis, Thomas Robisheaux) and jumped to other fields and epochs, and then, among historians, simmered for several decades. It is now enjoying a lively revival, in complex intersection with global history, as scholars devise ways of combining close reading and dense story-telling with their depiction of wide webs and globe-spanning trends, clashes, and structures. So microhistory is not some mere fossil of the Seventies, but a living organism, interesting to study and a delight to practice.

Microhistory is a view of reality, as dense, entangled, and well draped in shaded meanings (imagine a rain-forest of facts and causes). It is also a habit of vision, painstaking and almost obsessive about details. Meanwhile, it is also a technique of dissecting, sorting, arranging, and tracking what it finds, attentive to both what we historians know and what escapes us. Finally, it is a mode of writing, often very artful, and a stance toward readers, whom, far more than usual, it invites into a dialogue both with the elusive past and with responses to it -- theirs and, also, ours as writers. Microhistory, often, is epistemologically alert, self-conscious, artful, playful, edgy, subversive, and self-skeptical. And, always, it is great fun.

The only way to get to the bottom of all of this is to go do it, and that we shall, in teams, using raw stuff the prof provides. We will indeed read from assorted masters of the craft, and from its critics and detractors, but in dialogue with our own struggles. The prof works on Renaissance Italy, but no expertise there is at all needed; microhistory can go anywhere, on any continent in any epoch, wherever and whenever the details and the puzzles lie thick on the ground, so all students are welcome to come try their hand.

HIST 5175 3.0 F Citizens, Historians, and the State: Comparative Histories of the Welfare State, 1900-1950

This seminar examines the research and writing of welfare state history. The course considers central themes in the historiography, including international and comparative studies, with a particular focus on the history of the welfare/managerial state in Canada. Students will examine the multiple ways in which the powers of state have been exercised through economic and social policies and practices of regulation, with particular emphasis on the inter-war, depression, WW2 and post-WW2 eras.

This course traces how power is mobilized through public policy and administrative practice as an exercise of governance and examines how relations of gender, race/ethnicity, class and sexuality shape and are shaped by state institutions, public policies and political practices. We consider how ‘social problems’ have been defined and administered as matters of state policy, in order to more closely consider the effects of such approaches in normalising specified populations as legitimate and therefore deserving of citizenship rights, while delegitimising other populations as undeserving.

HIST 5190 3.0 F Indigenous History in North America Before 1900

Indigenous peoples have remembered, studied, and honoured their history since time immemorial, but outsider (usually non-Indigenous) scholars working in academia have developed a field of Indigenous history largely without consulting Indigenous peoples or incorporating their own understandings of their history.
Although scholars have been writing about North American Indigenous peoples since the time of their contact with Europeans, the field of Indigenous history only started to mature in the 1970s, paralleling the development of the Red Power movement and the explosion of other fields of “ordinary peoples’ everyday lives,” such as
women, African Americans, and the working classes. The field has employed many of the same techniques from social history and cultural history, but it has also been enriched by the practice of ethnohistory, a combination of
historical and anthropological practices. In recent years, the field of Indigenous history has begun to transform
as university-based scholars have reached out to Indigenous communities and started taking Indigenous
intellectual traditions seriously, and as more and more Indigenous peoples become academic scholars and have
been decolonizing the field from within universities. As a result, Indigenous history has started to become a
leader in innovative historical practices.
Some of the most innovative developments in the field of Indigenous history have been the use of
different types of primary sources for historical evidence, the pairing of diverse types of sources, and asking
new questions about well-used and familiar sources. This course critically analyses primary source materials
used for understanding North America’s Indigenous peoples before 1900. Each week we will examine a
different type of primary source, including oral traditions, interviews, memories, documentary sources, images,
archeological sources, collected artefacts, environments, languages, and most recently DNA and isotopes. Each
week students will be able to choose materials from different parts of the North American continent and think
about how to produce histories of diverse Indigenous cultures.

HIST 5360 3.0 F  European Encounters.  Empires, Colonialism and Global History
Before the 16th century, Europe was a relatively poor and isolated part of the world as connections between Europeans and wealthy and sophisticated societies of the east were quite limited. By the end of the 15th century Islamic influences arrived with the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, and Portuguese discoveries along the west coast of Africa led to Europe’s entrance into the Indian Ocean Trade. In 1492, European ships arrived for the first time in the Americas. By the 19th century, the world was transformed, with peoples in the Americas, Asia and Africa now living under European control; it would take the extreme violence of the twentieth century to loosen European hegemony and even then that process was partial and uneven. The course explores the reciprocal encounters and interactions between Europeans and the peoples of Asia, the Islamic world, Africa, and Latin America, from the 16th century to the present with a focus on the nineteenth century. Key subjects include migration, colonialism, empire, religion, environment, industrialization, state-building, war, social movements, dictatorship, nationalism, and the history of ideas.

HISY 5542 3.0 F Nature and society in the pre-industrial world: Global environmental history from the 1400s to the 1800s

This course examines the relationships between people and their environments from the 1400s to the increase in industrialization in the nineteenth century. Beginning with a survey of environment relations in the period before European expansion overseas, the course then explores the ecological implications of the post-Columbian period. New plants, animals and pathogens crossed oceans as a result of increased trading networks, leading to new economic and social arrangements in many corners of the globe. The course is organized thematically, with each week focusing on a major issue within environmental history.

HIST 5561 3.0 W Issues in Comparative Women’s and Gender History  Late Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

The course focuses on women’s and gender histories between the late eighteenth and the end of the nineteenth centuries, a period marked by significant European economic and imperial expansion, industrial and democratic revolutions as well as enslavement, abolitionism and indentureship. With the dawn of the ‘modern’ era, males from socially, economically, politically and racially dominant groups in some western societies achieved citizenship rights not enjoyed by women, including those who emerged from relatively powerful groups. While all persons who were poor struggled with the consequences of classism, and those who were non-white negotiated with the debilitations of racism, those who were women confronted the proscriptions of gender. Among those whose daily lives involved, among other things, the effects of European colonial rule, exploitation, enslavement, prejudice, classism, racism and sexism, the period was, at once, tumultuous, hopeful, inspiring and disillusioning.

HIST 5562 3.0 F  Women's & Gender History Part 2, The 20th Century

This course is intended to introduce graduate students to some of the ways that historians have investigated changing gender ideologies and changes in women’s embodied experiences around the world during the twentieth century. This year, the course will    concentrate on comparing historical studies of ideas and experiences in the Americas, but students also will have the option to look at the historiographies of western Europe, East Asia, South Asia or sub-Saharan Africa in some weeks of the course. We will examine the connections and comparisons among the historiographies of these distinct regions, looking at how historians have seen differences and similarities in gendered experiences of colonialism and decolonization, technological and economic modernization, revolution and warfare, mass media and popular culture, state formation and reformation, and transnational movements of ideas, images, commodities, and people.

HIST 5580 3.0 F  Social History Workshop:
Case Studies in Ancient Mesopotamian Social and Political History

This course undertakes to examine several dozen documents pertaining to daily life in northeastern Iraq from ca. 1450-1350 B.C. These include war and peace, political corruption, and taxes and ownership. We discuss the contents of these texts and attempt to order them chronologically and ideationally. Tentative conclusions (and conclusions are almost always tentative) are then tested against the scholarly literature pertaining to these texts and the issues illuminated by these texts. The literature, we shall discover, is limited. Therefore, in several cases, we shall be “first generation” historical interpreters of these documents.

HIST 5701 6.0 Y Modern Cultural History

This course deals with themes in cultural history from the late nineteenth century to the present, focusing on the interrelationships among cultural, ideological, political, social, and economic change. It draws on a wide range of readings in North American, British, and European history. In exploring the expression, social context, and impact of ideas and culture in particular societies and regions, it views culture not only in terms of forms of artistic expression but as any value or trait that shapes society and, hence, infuses social, political, and economic ideas and trends. Weekly readings deal with works in such areas as the cultural history of industrialism, imperialism, modernism, antimodernism, historical memory, social reform, social and behavioural science, the quantitative revolution, race, consumerism and advertising, popular culture, and postmodernism. Readings and weekly discussions also provide opportunities to consider the ways in which historians have approached the issue of culture and the forms of cultural history that have resulted.

HIST 5900 3.0 F Themes in Post-Emancipation Caribbean History

This course examines the processes of adjustment to freedom in the former slave societies of the Caribbean and the problems of post-emancipation reconstruction. Our discussions will focus on the struggles to confront the legacies of slavery and the problems facing the emancipated as they sought to define new lives for themselves. Some of the crucial questions include concerns with how societies move from their race-based class structures to ensure equality of opportunities for all; in what ways does the manner of emancipation determine the nature of the post slavery society; the role of gender in structuring citizenship; and how is freedom defined and expressed in the aftermath of slavery. This course will examine some of those concerns in the recent literature paying particular attention to the role of cultural institutions created by the emancipated to define and expand the idea of freedom.

HIST 5903 3.0 W The History of Africa

This graduate seminar examines major themes in the History of Africa over time. Particular emphasis is given to the sources underpinning each theme and the methodologies developed to milk them. The seminar thus throws light on the History of Africa through the evolution of major topics, how they have been conditioned by time, the availability (or lack thereof) of particular sources, and the development of various methods. It can be used to develop a minor or a major field in the History of Africa. All of the scholarly literature used in this particular course is in English. However, students with reading knowledge of Arabic, French, German, Portuguese, and Swahili, amongst others, are encouraged to read further in those languages.

HIST 5960 3.0 W Social History of Commodities

This seminar will explore the growing body of scholarship on the demand for sugar, cotton, tobacco, coffee, cocoa, banana, and yams (for the birth control pill) in North America and Europe, as well as the literature on the production of these commodities in Latin America (especially Brazil, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Honduras but with a comparative look at the United States, Costa Rica and other places). We will consider studies on demand, production, and chains by European and U.S. anthropologists and historians like Sidney Mintz and Steven Topik, and we will compare the communities and nations that produced and consumed commodities (and the changing nature of the studies about this production and consumption—from a focus on class, race, and gender, to increased attention to environment and globalization). You are free to choose any commodity—in the time and place of your choosing—for your research paper and presentation. We will visit the Redpath sugar museum in downtown Toronto at one point during the semester.

HIST 6030 6.0 Y Topics in the History of Canada (Ph.D. Field Course)

The course is intended to assist doctoral candidates in preparing for the comprehensive  examinations in the broader field of Canadian history and any of its subthemes, as either the Major or Minor Field. It can also serve as the third field course. Its aim is to provide anintroduction to some (but by no means all) of the major historical works, themes, and debates in Canadian history. The instructors are drawn from among the Canadian historians in the Graduate History Program (this year: TBA). The seminars will meet weekly on Tuesdays from 2:30 to 5:30, except when other faculty teaching commitments require alternative times.