Spring 2015

HIEU 3622

Russian Intellectual History, 1800-1917

Robert P. Geraci

The tortured intellectual is one of the stereotypical figures of nineteenth-century Russia. During the last century of tsarist rule, the juxtaposition of a growing literate and educated public and an obstinately autocratic state allowing for no significant popular participation forced intellectuals and their ideas to carry an especially heavy burden of social and political significance.  This course analyzes the role and predicament of intellectuals in pre-revolutionary Russia, with significant emphasis on primary texts.  We will delve into the so-called “accursed questions” of the age: the relation of individual to society; beauty and the role of art; Russia’s identity; the nature of historical change; and the ethics of revolution.  Lectures will address the contexts, audiences, and social-political impact of such texts.  We will also be asking whether nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Russian intellectual life can/should be studied as a distinct and abstract field, or was inseparable from “cultural history” in a socially and aesthetically broader sense (including the visual arts, music, and entertainment).

Primary readings will include Alexander Pushkin’s novel in verse Eugene Onegin; absurdist short stories by Nikolai Gogol; the memoirs of the revolutionary theorist Alexander Herzen, My Past and Thoughts; Nikolai Chernyshevsky’s youth-cult novel What Is To Be Done?; Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky; Leo Tolstoy’s Confession; Andrei Bely’s symbolist novel of revolution, Petersburg; and selections from George Gibian, ed., The Penguin 19th-Century Russian Reader.   Secondary readings will be James Billington, The Icon and the Axe: An Interpretive History of Russian Culture and Andrzej Walicki, A History of Russian Thought from the Enlightenment to Marxism.

The two 75-minute classes each week will be divided between lecture and discussion. Grades will be based on a take-home midterm (20%), two interpretive-analytical papers on materials from the syllabus (20% each), a final exam (20%), and class attendance and participation (20%).

There is no prerequisite for the course, and it requires no prior knowledge of Russian history or language. 

Spring 2015

HIEU 1502 (3)

Introductory Seminar in Post-1700 European History

"Western Knowledge, its Defenders and Critics"

Allan Megill

This first-year seminar explores notions of scientific (“objective,” justified) knowledge as they arose in the West in the wake of the voyages of discovery and were developed by thinkers through to the 21st century. The course also  considers criticisms of these notions.

The term science, as used here, is intended to apply to all justified, organized knowledge, whether in the natural sciences, the social sciences, or the humanities.

In part, the course will offer, via the presentation and discussion in class of a set of well-chosen texts, a history of the interplay between skepticism concerning science on the one hand and the repeated reconstruction of the bases of science aimed at overcoming such skepticism.

But the course is also intended to give students an entry into the practices that define the present-day pursuit of justified academic knowledge, with its various conventions of evidence, argument, and communication/writing.

Among writings likely to be considered will be selections from works by Montaigne, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, Fleck, Popper, Kuhn, and other well-known authors. In addition, some selections will be more obscure pieces by contemporary academics.

During most weeks of the semester, students will be required to write a short, maximum 400-word mini-essay, which will most often be a “response” to the current reading. These will be graded intensely by the instructor and are to be cumulated into a single document at the end of the semester. In addition, at the end of the semester there will be either an in-class, end-of-semester writing assignment or a take-home writing assignment of about 1,000 words to be handed in on the last day of class (I have not yet decided which option to adopt).

As of this writing (Oct 8/2014), the only required work (to be purchased in physical form) is Kate L. Turabian et al., A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 8th edition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013), ISBN 978-0-226-81638-8. Do not buy the e-book version. (NOTE: the 2008 edition of this work would also be acceptable.)

Updated versions of the syllabus can be searched for, after December 1, on my academia.edu site.

Modern Brazil

08 Oct 2014

Spring 2015

HILA 3061

Modern Brazil

Brian P. Owensby

This course will approach Brazilian history with philosophical intent from a global perspective.  Our specific frame will be Brazilian history from independence (1822) to roughly today, but our chief concern will be to think through large ideas, such as nationhood, development, modernity, political mythologies, globalization and how particular human arrangements have taken shape.  The course will be a hybrid lecture-discussion course throughout.

Shining Bonds: Agalmata in Archaic Greece

Date: 10/09/2014 - 5:00pm

Location: Cocke Hall, Gibson Room


07 Oct 2014

Spring 2015

HIEU 3812


Allan Megill

MARXISM IS ALL BUT DEAD, one of the casualties of the twentieth century. However, from both a historical and a philosophical point of view Marx remains extremely interesting. He is one of a small group of modern philosophers whose work repays sustained and detailed attention, although he is almost never studied in philosophy departments. He is also, arguably, the most rigorous and consistent social thinker who ever lived. It is worth devoting an entire semester to his thought. Finally, in some respects he was right about capitalism (and, in other respects, wrong).

This course carefully surveys Marx's social and economic thought, with special attention to its philosophical underpinnings. Accordingly, we shall devote a bit more than half the semester to his highly interesting early writings, those he wrote up to late 1844 (the year he turned 26). In the final third of the semester we look selectively at Capital, vol. 1.

The main emphasis is on seeing what Marx’s theory was and on how and why he arrived at it. Marx denied that he was a Marxist, and students in the class will be surprised to find how far so-called “Marxism” is from Marx’s own thinking. By the end of the semester you will be able to say that you actually know what Marx’s theory was. Many people who claim to know what Marx held actually don’t. This includes many academics.

The course presupposes no prior knowledge of the subject, but it does require the ability to read and think carefully, as well as commitment to keeping up with the reading. There is no specific prerequisite, although it may help to have already taken a basic course in political theory or philosophy.

Requirements: do the reading ON TIME; 9-10 short "think questions," to be done ON TIME; midterm test; synthesizing term paper (based on the course reading only, to be handed in ON TIME); final exam.

Books: Marx, Early Writings (Penguin or Vintage [introduction by Lucio Colletti]); Marx and Engels, Marx-Engels Reader, 2nd ed. (Norton); Marx, Capital, vol. 1 (Penguin or Vintage [introduction by Ernest Mandel]); Megill, Karl Marx: The Burden of Reason (Rowman & Littlefield). These specific books are required. Often they can be obtained on-line, second-hand, at lower cost. Do not try to substitute other books for these, and do not rely on Kindle or other non-paper editions.

There is a small amount of in-copyright material to be downloaded from COLLAB and printed off by students for their individual use.

I am writing a short, 60,000-word biography of Marx, and I may circulate parts of the draft of this work to the class. However, that the focus of the course is on Marx’s thought rather than on his life. I should also note that Marx remains relevant to issues of modernization and modernity.

Spring 2015

HIEU 3462 / GETR 3462

Neighbors and Enemies

Manuela Achilles

A biblical injunction, first articulated in Leviticus and then elaborated in the Christian teachings, stipulates that one should love one’s neighbor as oneself. This course explores the friend/enemy nexus in German history, literature and culture. Of particular interest is the figure of the neighbor as both an imagined extension of the self, and as an object of fear or even hatred. We will examine the vulnerability and anxiety generated by Germany’s unstable and shifting territorial borders, as well as the role that fantasies of foreign infiltration played in defining German national identity. We will also investigate the racial and sexual politics manifested in Germany’s real or imagined encounters with various foreign “others.” Most importantly, this course will study the tensions in German history and culture between a chauvinist belief in German racial or cultural superiority and moments of genuine openness to strangers. In the concluding part of this course, we will cons  ider the changing meanings of friendship and hospitality in a globalizing world. Requirements include regular attendance, active participation, one in-class presentation, and three short essays. No mid-term or final examinations.

Spring 2015

HIEU 1502 (1)

Introductory Seminar in Post-1700 European History

"History and Fiction"

Manuela Achilles

Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson has written that “[h]istory is the fiction we invent to persuade ourselves that events are knowable and that life has order and direction.” This course explores the various forms or modes and purposes of historical re-presentation. Is the writing of history a science or an art? Are storywriters or film makers better equipped than the historian to find the human truths behind the mask of facts? How can we ever hope to give an accurate or authentic account of a past that by definition must always remain “before” the present moment of speaking, re-enacting, reading or writing? Course materials range from scholarly articles to historical novels, museum exhibits, feature films, photography, cartoons, and poems.

This course is designed to introduce first and second-year students to reading and writing about history. Requirements include regular attendance, active participation in class discussions, one brief in-class presentation, and three five-page essays. There will be no mid-term or final examinations.

Spring 2015

HIST 1501 (1)

Introductory Seminar in History

"Photography in the '60s: From Civil Rights to Woodstock to Vietnam"

John Edwin Mason

"Photography in the '60s:  From Civil Rights to Woodstock to Vietnam," looks at how photography shaped the ways in which Americans reacted the decade's dynamic social movements.  Our focus will be on magazines, such as Time and Life, which employed some of the finest photographers of the era and reached millions of readers every week.  We will also consider how television news affected American's understanding of the world around them.

The Sixties were a tumultuous decade.  The Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War movements, the women's and environmental movements, and the rise of rock & roll and the counter-culture generated both enthusiastic support and fervent opposition.  Few American were directly involved in all of these social movements.  Their attitudes toward the movements were determined, to a large degree, by how they responded to the images that they saw in popular media.  Looking at the photographs and at people's responses to them will help us understand the history of the times.

"Photography in the '60s" is a small introductory seminar that is designed to promote conversations and interactions between students and the instructor.  Students will learn to analyze both primary sources -- for instance, photographs, magazines, interviews, music, and news reports from the era -- and secondary sources -- that is, books and articles that were written later.  Students will use the analytical skills that they develop throughout their years at UVA.

Because students will write short papers (1-2 pages) throughout the semester and a longer research paper (10-12 pages) on a photographic subject of their own choice, this course fulfills the second writing requirement.

No prior classes in American history or the history of photography are required.

Spring 2015

HIAF 2002

Modern African History

John Edwin Mason

Modern African History, explores the history of Africa from the decline of the Atlantic slave trade, in the early nineteenth century, to the present.  Our goal is to examine the historical roots of the continent's present condition.  We will look at the slave trade and its consequences, the growth of African states, the spread of Islam, the European conquest of most of the African continent, African responses to colonial rule, and the reestablishment of African independence.

We will concentrate on three regions: West Africa, especially Nigeria; East Africa, especially Kenya and Ethiopia; and southern Africa, with an emphasis on South Africa.  We will pay particular attention to the ways in which colonialism affected ordinary Africans and to the various strategies that Africans employed to resist, subvert, and accommodate European domination.

HIAF 2002 is an introductory course and assumes no prior knowledge of African history.  There will be two blue book exams -- a mid-term and a final -- and periodic quizzes on the readings.

Spring 2015

HIEU 2162

History of Russia Since 1917

Jeffrey Rossman

HIEU 2162 is an introductory survey of the history of Russia (broadly defined) from 1917 to the present. Our goal in the course is to explore the rise and fall of a distinct form of civilization -- a polity, society, culture and empire -- known as "Soviet Communism."  Why did that "civilization" arise in Russia, and what is "Russia" now that Soviet Communism is dead?  To answer these questions, lectures and readings will focus on the political, social and cultural history of the region.  Major topics include:  the revolutions of 1917; the Civil War; Lenin's New Economic Policy; Stalinism; the Second World War and post-war reconstruction; the origins and phases of the Cold War; de-Stalinization and the limits of reform (Khrushchev to Gorbachev); the crisis of late Communism (the Brezhnev years); the disintegration of the USSR and the rise of the Russian Federation (the Yeltsin Presidency); and the quest for stability under Putin. The course includes a comparative dimension in that it explores the varieties of communist experience globally, especially in Eurasia.

The course has no prerequisites.  Requirements include active participation in weekly discussion sections, a midterm exam, a final exam and several short papers on required course readings.  Readings (in English) of about 150 pages per week will include primary and secondary sources. Possible texts include:  Lydia Chukovskaya, Sofia Petrovna; Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto; Alexander Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich; and Ronald Suny, The Soviet Experiment.

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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