Seminars, Spring 2016

Empires & Imperialism, M 8-10: Professor Harland-Jacobs

This seminar introduces students to definitions and theories of imperialism, surveys the historiography of empires (including, but not limited to, liberal and marxist interpretations; subaltern, postcolonial, and gender studies; and world history), and highlights some recent works in the history of empires. Common readings will explore a range of empires–definitely the Iberian, Dutch, and British, and possibly the Ottoman, Mughal, Comanche, Russian, and American empires (if you would like to take the course, please let me know your preferences!). The course will encourage students to situate their research in broader contexts, help students prepare for minor fields in world and Atlantic history, and include some discussion of methods and strategies for teaching undergraduates about the history of empires and imperialism.

Early America, T 8-10: Professor Sensbach

This course will explore political, social, and cultural developments in early America from the period of colonial contact through the American Revolution. We will examine the complex cultural interchange and contest for power among European, African and Indian peoples while paying close attention to historiographic developments in the field over the last twenty years. Among the topics the course will explore are the impact of European colonization on indigenous peoples; the creation of an “Atlantic world;” the rise of free and slave labor systems and the evolution of both racial ideology and African-American cultures; the role of religion in colonial life; gender and women’s history; the imperial struggle among competing European nations; and contested meanings of freedom during the era of Revolution.

Early America is one of the Foundation courses required of all AMH PhD students. AMH MA students should consult their advisors about whether they need to take it.

Civil Rights Movement, W 8-10: Professor Davis

Both topically and chronologically, this course ventures beyond the traditional Martin Luther King narrative of the civil rights movement. While reading scholarly monographs, memoirs, and general-reader books, we will explore white resistance as a counter-movement, the politics of federal civil-rights initiatives, different strategies of black activism, and the political as personal in a transforming America.

Applied Legal History: Case Studies, R 8-10: Professor Dale

Case studies provide a means of exploring how society and law interact with one another. Sometimes a case study shows how law responds to social forces, sometimes it reveals the ways in which law shapes society, and sometimes a close look at a single case exposes a complicated, interactive dynamic between the two. The lessons case studies teach are useful for lawyers and historians, since they help both see law in context. In this seminar, we will be looking at case studies from various moments in history, and writing our own. In the process, we will learn quite a bit about how and why legal historians study the role of law, think about ways in which lawyers can use the tools of history in their work, and consider the different ways in which we can present the fruits of our study. Each student in the seminar will pick a case on any topic and any period in US history, and then work with the rest of the class to create a history of that case over the course of the semester.

For law students, Applied Legal History  will fulfill the writing requirement. For history students, this course can count towards the Digital Humanities Certificate.

Historiography, R 10-E1: Professor Curta

“The past is a foreign country” (David Lowenthal). While there is a great desire to explore it, it is equally important to look at the maps which have been used for its exploration. This course presents a survey of the historiography in the Western tradition. Its organization shows that history writing has been an integral part of all phases through which that tradition went. In fact, it has been a fundamental part of what came to be known as the “West.” An exploration of historiography therefore implies taking into account the contexts in which views were formulated and changed on what history is and how it should be remembered and (re)presented. The basic chronological approach adopted in this course is meant to emphasize that contextual quality of historiography and to give an opportunity to demonstrate influences from one period to another. However, a purely chronological approach presents a great temptation of a mere narative that simply relates one view after the other. We will avoid that temptation by analyzing each period’s historiography in a systematic manner. The elements of that analysis reflect the continuity of concerns with certain questions prescribed by the structure of human life itself. Who were the prominent historians of any given period? What were the life circumstances that shaped their outlook (social, economic, political status)? What were the important works of the historical period? What were the dominant epistemological views (methodology, assumptions, views on objectivity). What were the foci of historical work (e.g., political, military, social history), and why were those preferred over others? What were the predominant views about the usefullness of history? What were the styles and forms of writing history, and what were the relations between history and other disciplines or fields of human activity? How did historians approach the concept of “person” and what elements of continuity with other periods may be identified? Treated in this manner, the history of history writing can avoid becoming a mere story-type account or an ahistorical collection of samples for the application of methods.

Historiography is required of all graduate students (MA and PhD) who have not yet taken Historiography.

Second-Year Seminar, W 8-10: Professor Kroen

The second year seminar is required for all PhD students in the second year, and strongly recommended for MA students in the second year. Its goal is to help students to write the second year research paper required of all second year students. Our focus will be on: defining your source base (both primary and secondary), establishing your argument within a historiographic conversation, working on your voice, using all the techniques historians have at their disposal (footnotes, rhetorical devices, etc.) Designed around the specific interests and needs of the students enrolled in the seminar, all reading, writing, and oral assignments will aid in this enterprise. ​ See the discussion of the second-year seminar, here.

The Second-Year Seminar is required of all PhD students in their second year; it is optional for MA students in their second years. 


In addition, we are offering two graduate trailers:

Religious Conversion. T 8-9; R 9: Professor Caputo

For untold centuries, religion was not a matter of personal choice. One simply inherited the gods, beliefs, and rituals of one’s ancestors, absorbing them along with one’s mother tongue. It was arguably in ancient Israel that the concept of a religious conversion first became thinkable, thanks to that event which is generally if imprecisely known as the monotheistic revolution. For as soon as there is one true God, true forms of worship, etc. – and thus also false ones – a radical shift takes place, what Foucault would refer to as a discursive break. It is against this backdrop that one can clearly discern the significance of conversion. It will be the central goal of this interdisciplinary seminar to examine the conceptualization, representation, and reception of converts and conversion in Judaism and Christianity, from the biblical period through modernity, using methodologies employed in the study of history, religion, psychology, anthropology, and literature. Students will thus acquire intellectual tools for interpreting and analyzing the discourse and experience of religious conversion, topics of continued relevance in the 21st century. In order to supplement students’ traditional classroom experience, we are organizing a workshop on conversion in late March that will bring an international group of scholars to UF, which students will be encouraged to attend.​

Hapsburg Monarchy, T 7, R 7-8: Professor Freifeld

Studies the multi-ethnic dynastic state from formation through revitalization under Maria Theresa, conservative retrenchment under Metternich, and the challenge of nationalism from its peoples, to Austro-Hungary’s collapse in WW I.