Spring 2015

HIUS 7072

Civil War and the Constitution

Cynthia Nicoletti

This course will examine the constitutional history of the United States from 1845 to 1877, paying attention to how the U.S. Constitution shaped the Civil War, and also how the war left its mark on the Constitution. In this course, we will discuss such issues as congressional power to regulate slavery in the territories, the problem of race and slavery in constitutional law, suspension of civil liberties during wartime, congressional and presidential war powers, the respective powers of the state and federal governments, legal theories of conquest and occupation, and the meaning of the Reconstruction (13th, 14th, and 15th) Amendments.  Readings will be drawn from both primary and secondary sources and students will write several short papers reflecting on the assigned readings.  


Thomas Jefferson and the Problem of Union

The Historical Presidency Series

Date: 12/02/2014 - 3:30pm  —   12/02/2014 - 5:00pm

Location: Miller Center

Link to faculty page: Gary W. Gallagher

Spring 2015

HIEU 3131

The World of Charlemagne

Paul Kershaw

This course examines the political, social and cultural history of continental western Europe in the period c. AD 730 to 850, with its central focus on the reign of Charlemagne (AD 769-814). Moving chronologically from the rise to the dominance of the Carolingian dynasty through the formation of the Carolingian empire to Charlemagne’s imperial coronation of 800 and beyond we will explore in depth the political, religious, intellectual and economic history of the period through a mix of textual and archaeological evidence, and much current scholarship. Sources will be in English translation. The thought and works of a number of Carolingian authors, including Alcuin and Einhard, the two scholars closest to Charlemagne, will come under particular scrutiny. Over the semester we’ll seek to set the Carolingian achievement in its wider contemporary context as we examine both neighbouring polities and peoples (Christian Spain, the Saxons, Lombards) as well as the Byzantine Empire in the period of Iconoclasm under the Empress Eirene (797-802) and Emperor Nikephoros I (802-811) as well as the early Abbasid Caliphate in both its ‘Golden Age’ under Harun al-Rashid (AH 170-193/AD 786-809) and the darker years of civil war that followed. It is, however, the Carolingian world that will engage us above all.

Classes will be a hybrid of lecture and discussion. Typically, the Monday class will be predominantly lecture; the Wednesday class will place the emphasis upon the discussion of texts and the participation of class members. Readings (c. 150-220 pages per week) will be assigned for each week and for each meeting. Students will write two 2,000 word essays, make presentations (singly or in groups), contribute comments to a collective class blog that will serve at times to set the frame for class discussion, take a mid-term and a final exam.

It is strongly recommended that those who opt to take this course have some prior experience of European history in the earlier Middle Ages.

Film Screening of "Rebel" with director Maria Agui Carter

Date: 11/05/2014 - 6:00pm  —   11/05/2014 - 8:00pm

Location: Minor Hall 125

Andrew Johnson’s Impeachment and the Legacy of the Civil War

The Historical Presidency Series

Date: 10/28/2014 - 3:30pm

Location: Miller Center

Link to faculty page: Elizabeth Varon

Lecture by Marcello Carastro--"Spoken and Written Words: Comparative Thoughts on Greek Divination"

Date: 10/30/2014 - 5:00pm

Location: Cocke Hall, Gibson Room

Prof. Varon's Appomattox has won the 2014 Library of Virginia Literary Award for Nonfiction.

Faculty: Elizabeth Varon

Seminar in History

10 Oct 2014

Spring 2015

HIST 4501 (1)

Seminar in History

"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 Dreyfus Affair (anti-semitism in fin-de-siècle France), the Azef affair (mutual infiltration of police and terrorist cells in pre-revolutionary 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.  The instructor will guide students through various stages of the work:  framing a research question; compiling a bibliography; interpreting a key primary source; drafting the paper.  Students are expected to engage in constructive critique of other students' papers-in-progress, and will be graded on discussion participation as well as on their own papers. 

Spring 2015

HIEU 1502 (4)

Introductory Seminar in Post-1700 European History

"Russian History through Film"

Robert P. Geraci

In this introductory seminar, first- and second-year students will become familiar with some of the major events and eras in the history of Russia and its empire through detailed analysis of some of the most important films produced in and about Russia in the past century.  Besides being an introduction to Russian history and culture, the seminar aims to get students thinking about the fundamental problems historians grapple with as they reconstruct and represent the past.  

We will be asking two different sets of questions about the interaction between history and film in Russia.  1) First, how have films acted as secondary historical sources, i.e. to portray historical reality and disseminate it to a broad public (not only within Russia but internationally)?  What are the principal challenges of making and interpreting films about past eras and major historical events?  Is there a discernible line between the educational and propagandistic uses of historical films?  2) Second, how can films (not only “historical” films but more broadly) be used as primary sources for understanding Russia’s 20th- and 21st-century history?  What exactly can they tell us about Russian/Soviet society that other sources cannot, or not as effectively? 

The dozen or so films we focus most closely on will include several of the following, many of which are considered masterpieces of world cinema:  Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovskii, 1966); Ivan the Terrible (Sergei Eisenstein, 1944-1945); War and Peace (Sergei Bondarchuk, 1960); The Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein, 1925); Agony/Rasputin (Aleksey Petrenko, 1975); Doctor Zhivago (David Lean, 1965); Bed and Sofa (Abram Room, 1927); Circus (Grigorii Aleksandrov, 1936); The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kolotozov, 1957); Burnt by the Sun (Nikita Mikhalkov, 1994); Siberiade (Andrei Konchalovskii, 1979); Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (Vladimir Menshov, 1979); Repentance (Tengiz Abuladze, 1987); Little Vera (Vasilii Pichul, 1988); Brother (Aleksei Balabanov, 1997); and Elena (Andrei Zviagintsev, 2011).  For historical context, we will be using Gregory Freeze, ed., Russia:  A History; Birgit Beumers, A History of Russian Cinema; and articles on specialized topics.   

Students will write graded essays both on assigned films and a film of their own choice, and will be expected to engage in seminar discussion.  No exams will be given.  No previous knowledge of Russian history, culture, or language is required. 

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. 

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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