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. 

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 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.

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

tel: (434) 924-7147; fax: (434) 924-7891
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