2020-2021 History: Topic Courses

HIS392H5F: Topics in Global History: North Africa and Western Asia Before World War I (J. Hanssen)

This course offers a cultural history of the Mediterranean from the 1870s to First World War. This epoch, known in Europe as the fin de siècle, was marked globally by New Imperialism, nationalisms, revolutionary optimism, unprecedented mobility of ideas and people, but also cultural anxiety and social alienation. The course examines how such contestations of modernity tied the Middle East & North Africa closer to Europe and set them further apart. Students are exposed to an analytical ‘toolkit’ of modes of imposition and experience, and of the transformation of time and space.


HIS392H5F: Topics in Global History: History of Information (T. Lam)

This course uses the ongoing pandemic as an entry point to examine the political life of information and misinformation. In addition to our contemporary cases drawing from China, the US and elsewhere, we will also cover the history of information and media since the beginning of the 20th century. 


HIS395H5F: Topics in History: LGBTQ+ Oral History (E. Brown)

Like other marginalized groups, LGBQ2+ people have turned to oral history to learn about our past. In this course, students will learn how scholars and community activists have used oral history to write new, intersectional histories of being LGBTQ2+. In addition to learning about post-1945 LGBTQ+ history, students will also learn to develop an interview guide and consent form; grapple with ethical considerations; how to interview via audio and/or video; analyze and write from the material. The main research creation project for this course will be a short video drawing from oral history footage that students will create through the WeVideo platform, using a social-justice oriented Digital Storytelling methodology pioneered by The Story Center (Berkeley CA). This digital storytelling project will unfold in collaboration with another course meeting at the same time, SOC375H5F - Sociology of International Migration, taught by Prof. Anna Korteweg. The two classes will be supported by workshops in learning the digital storytelling methodology and in learning to use the (very easy) WeVideo platform. We do not expect any prior experience in using any of these technologies; newbies are welcome! Students from outside of History who are interested in learning more about the LGBTQ2+ past are welcome to enroll.


HIS420H5F: Topics in Medieval History: Microhistories of Medieval and Early Modern Europe (M. Cowan)

Microhistory considers little things but addresses big questions. It focuses on a small part of the past, as if the historian is holding a microscope rather than a telescope, and examines evidence up close to investigate the rich texture of earlier societies. In this course, we read some of the best examples of the form, including books about a Welsh rebel who was hanged in 1307 and pronounced dead, but then turned out to be alive; the religious beliefs of a miller questioned by the Roman Inquisition; and a group of peasants in sixteenth-century France who tried to determine whether someone in their village was an imposter. We will meet synchronously each week online for seminar discussions.


HIS493H5F: Advanced Topics in Global History: Historiography and Historical Method  (M. Tavakoli)

The aim of this reading-, speaking-, and writing-intensive course is to engage students in ongoing philosophical and historiographical debates concerning narrativity, temporality, experience and the historical representation of reality. We will investigate the structure of narrative and its relation to historical time. All students are required to apply the critical approaches and concepts learned in this course to a final research project on time and narrative. For instance you may choose to examine the Marxian scheme of historical periodization, to study the notion of longue dureé in the works of Annales School historians, or to examine the periodization of world, European, or American history/literature. Of publishable quality, the final paper must address a professional audience and be delivered at the end-of-the-term symposium.


HIS494H5S: Advanced Topics in the History of the Americas: Klondike Gold Rush (C. Petrakos)

The Klondike Gold Rush (1896-1900) is one of the key events in Canadian and American history. When Kate and George Washington Carmack, Skookum Jim and Dawson Charlie dug their pans into Rabbit Creek in the summer of 1896, they set in motion a stampede that rocked the world. By the next year over 100,000 would-be gold seekers took to the trail heading towards Dawson City — a city that aspiring boosters hoped would become the “San Francisco of the north.” By looking at the Klondike Gold Rush from the broader geographic and chronological perspectives of 19th-century North American state building, we will see that it was not just a flash in the pan but part of wider and much more deeply entrenched trends in Canadian and American history centering on settlement, development and dispossession. 

This course takes a multi-layered and multi-disciplinary approach to the Klondike Gold Rush. We will investigate the development and significance of American and British-Canadian colonialism in the far north as well as the creation and maintenance of national boundaries, environmental transformation and the changes wrought to indigenous societies as the result European settlement in the region.