Confino interviewed on Here and Now

Faculty: Alon Confino

Nau Center for Civil War History Opens

Hartford Courant op-ed utilizing Kahrl's research

Faculty: Andrew W. Kahrl

Black Power

21 Oct 2015

Spring 2016

HIUS 4501 (5)

Black Power

Claudrena N. Harold

Over the course of the semester, students will examine the dynamic ways African Americans have struggled for cultural, economic, and political empowerment during the Civil Rights and Black Power eras. Much of the class will focus on the 1960s and the 1970s; however, previous and subsequent periods will also be analyzed.  Students should leave this class with not only a broader knowledge of  “Black Power” as a cultural, political, and ideological movement, but also with a more nuanced understanding of the research methods and interpretive frameworks utilized by historians, as well as other social scientists, interested in Black Power in particular and the Black freedom struggle in general.   Students will have the opportunity to further develop their research skills and techniques through a series of assignments designed to assist them in identifying research topics and questions, interpreting primary and secondary texts, and substantiating arguments with “sound” evidence.

It should be noted that this course will also focus on the local dimension of Black Power by engaging student activism on UVA’s campus between 1968 and 1984. Significant attention will be given to students’ fight for a Black Studies department at UVA, their massive demonstrations against racial apartheid in South Africa, and their general struggle to make the University a more egalitarian place.

The South Since 1900

16 Oct 2015

Spring 2016

HIUS 7232

The South Since 1900

Grace Hale


This readings course focuses on the history of the US South from 1890 to the present and includes a mix of cutting edge scholarship and essential works. Topics of emphasis include the transnational US South, the new southern studies, the intersection of African American history and Southern history, the new southern labor history, and religion and southern history.

Spring 2016

HIUS 7652

Constitutional History I

Constitutional History to 1861- Taught by Jessica Lowe


In 1776, John Adams famously commented that he was living in an era "when the greatest lawgivers of antiquity would have wished to have lived."  This course examines this exciting era in American history, from the colonial era through the mid-eighteenth century, and can also serve as a general introduction to studying law in American history.  Topics include colonial constitutionalism, ratification, slavery and anti-slavery agitation, and the constitutional crisis. 

Late Archaic Greece

15 Oct 2015

Spring 2016

HIEU 5011

Late Archaic Greece

J. E. Lendon

This course examines the history of Greece in the late archaic age down to the end of the Persian wars (c. 650-479 BC).  The course will begin with consideration of Herodotus, our main source for this period, proceed through a set of topics on political, constitutional, social, cultural, and economic history, and end up with systematic reading and discussion of Herodotus’ account of the Persian Wars.  Neglected for the most part are religion, art and archaeology, and literature qua literature.  
This is an advanced course; it assumes familiarity with the general outlines of Greek History and institutions. 
Reading will average 250 pages/week.  Requirements will be onerous and include participation in discussion, oral reports, papers on scholarly controversies, and a final exam.  Not for CR/NC. 

Spring 2016

HIEU 3702

Russia as a Multi-Ethnic Empire

Robert P. Geraci

The Russian/Soviet empire – or “Eurasia” as it has often been called -- at the height of its extent occupied one-sixth of the world’s land mass and contained a stunning variety of ethnic, religious, and linguistic groups.  This survey of the multicultural complexion of Russia from the 16th century to the present day will provide students with an understanding of the many peoples of Eurasia and the history of relations among these peoples.  We will begin with Russian imperial conquests and the development of the Russian Slavs as an ethno-national entity, and then proceed by regions and peoples, describing the experiences and consciousness of each in the tsarist period.  When we get to the 20th century we will shift to a chronological approach to discuss changes in official approaches to empire, the role of ethnic diversity in the dissolution of the USSR, and emergent identity issues within the present-day Russian Federation and other countries of the former USSR. 


The course is interdisciplinary, reflecting recent scholarship not only of historians but also of literary scholars, anthropologists, political scientists, journalists, and others.  Readings will include selections on Russian orientalism and policies toward Islam; native peoples of Siberia; anti-Semitism, the Pale of Jewish Settlement, and pogroms; the question of Ukrainian distinctiveness; the role of Germans in Russia and the backlash against them during World War I; the Soviet “civilizing mission” in Central Asia; Soviet “affirmative action” policies; the emergent ethnic Russian diaspora in the “near abroad” since 1992; and war in the Caucasus (Chechnya) in both the 19th century and the 1990s-2000s.  An array of primary sources -- memoirs, government documents, poetry, stories, films, and ethnographies – will give students access to the voices and experiences of minority groups in Russia. 


The class meets in two 75-minute sessions per week, with most sessions divided between lecturing and discussion of readings.  Graded assignments are a take-home midterm, two short papers, and a comprehensive final.  Basic knowledge of European, Russian, or Asian history is helpful, but there is no prerequisite. 

Scandals in History

14 Oct 2015

Spring 2016

HIST 4501

Scandals in History

Robert P. Geraci

What makes some scandals historically significant, and others little more than contemporary diversions?  Why do some "stick" for centuries in collective memory while others fade away rather quickly?  This research seminar for history majors will explore incidents of public wrongdoing and mass outrage both as shapers and catalysts of historical events and as windows through which we can view past societies and eras.   


During the first few weeks we will read some theoretical and methodological material on the subject, followed by some monographic case studies (and sections thereof) by prominent historians on events such as the Salem witchcraft trials, the South Sea Bubble (financial corruption in the early 18th century), the Dreyfus Affair (anti-semitism in 1890s France), the Azef affair (mutual infiltration of police and terrorist cells in tsarist Russia), Watergate, and Enron. 


The bulk of the semester will be spent on guiding students through the production of a research paper of 25 pages or so on a relevant topic of their choice from virtually any place or time in history up to the 1980s.  The instructor will guide students through various stages of the work:  framing a research question; compiling a bibliography; reviewing and summarizing secondary literature; interpreting a key primary source; drafting the paper.  Work will be graded at several stages to ensure that students distribute their efforts evenly through the semester.  Students are expected to engage in constructive critique of other students' papers-in-progress, and will be graded on discussion participation and peer reviewing as well as on their own research. 



Spring 2016

HIST 3559

Reasoning from History

Philip Zelikow

Much of what passes for common sense involves historical reasoning – inference from experience.  Much of what passes for social science also involves historical reasoning.  Futures are projected on the basis of supposed patterns or trends in the past.


In fact, trying to state what actually happened in the past – even to you, yesterday, let alone to long ago wages and prices, social conditions, or “the balance of power” – is extraordinarily tricky business.  Some of the most intricate debates among philosophers concern questions of how to define, evaluate, compare, or explain historical facts.


This course reviews some common traps in historical reasoning and suggests ways of avoiding them.  It also deals with the reality that beliefs about history are often among the most powerful and tenacious beliefs shaping public debates – and that those beliefs are often conveyed more through pictures than through words.  The course is thus designed to strengthen ability to analyze both particulars and contexts.


Most, but by no means all, reading deal with the United States.  The conceptual issues are universal. 


Grades will be based on short papers, an exercise, class participation, and a take-home final exam.  Since a presidential election occurs during 2016, we will use post-election transitions into governance as our equivalent of a laboratory experiment.


Graduate students from any School or department may enroll in the class, taking it under a graduate-level listing and with some different requirements.


Required readings will include various book excerpts and articles; required books include Richard Neustadt & Ernest May, Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decisionmakers; and Margaret MacMillan, Dangerous Games: The Uses and Abuses of History.

Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904

tel: (434) 924-7147; fax: (434) 924-7891
office: M-F 8 am to 4:30 pm
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