Nichols, PhD '08, awarded Society for Historians Service Award

Fall 2015

HIEU 9022

History of Ideas-Intellectual History: Modern Europe

Allan Megill

This tutorial focuses on European-sourced conceptions and theories, with an emphasis on modernity in the broades senses. Characteristically, students will negotiate with the instructor a set of themes and texts to consider, e.g., notions of knowledge, interpretation, labor,  identity, civil society, revolution.. These should be related to the student's projected dissertation area.

Fall 2015

HIEU 9021

Philosophy and Theory of History

Allan Megill

In the last 25 years the philosophy and theory of history has been revitalized, with three vibrant international journals now publishing and thought-provoking books and articles appearing every year. This tutorial will quickly cover the classic literature and issues in the field and, more intensively, the recent literature. Emphasis will be on those segments of the literature most relevant to envisaged dissertation themes.

Davison on NPR - History of Thousand Island Dressing

Fall 2015

HIUS 3031

The Era of the American Revolution

Nicholas Wood

This course examines the era of the American Revolution beginning with the conclusion of the French and Indian War in 1763 through the ratification of the US Constitution in 1789.  Prior knowledge of the period is not required, but the class is ideal for students who have taken courses on colonial American history, the early republic, or a broad survey of American history and who would like to learn more about this formative period in the nation's history.  The course will involve two lectures and one discussion section each week.  Expect to read 100 to 200 pages per week, including both primary and secondary sources.

Major assignments will include midterm and final exams, one long paper of 8-10 pages, along with a number of shorter writing assignments.

Fall 2015

HIUS 4501 (1)

Seminar in United States History

"Black Freedom in the Age of Slavery"

Nicholas Wood

This course examines the experiences of free people of color in North America from the colonial era through the Civil War, a time during which most African Americans were enslaved.  These people include Africans and African Americans who freed themselves from slavery, were freed by slaveholders or abolition laws, or were never enslaved.  This is a research seminar and students will write a paper of approximately 25 pages, based largely on original research in primary sources, by the end of the semester.  During the first six weeks, we will read articles and chapter excerpts on a variety of themes relating to free people of color, such as the development of black culture, opposition to slavery and prejudice, and black political involvement.  These secondary sources are intended to provide background knowledge for the student's own research as well as models to follow, and we will discuss the authors' arguments, source base, and methodology.  During the middle of the course, students will research an approved topic and meet individually with the professor.  In the final weeks of the course, students will workshop their essay drafts in small groups and then present their finding to their classmates.


Date: 03/24/2015 - 5:00pm

Location: Clark 108

Lecture to be given 3/24 by MIT Professor Lerna Ekmekcioglu

Fall 2015

HIEU 5559 (1)

New Course in European History

"Reframing the Viking Age (750-1000)"

Paul Kershaw

  • Tola had this stone raised for his son Harald, Yngvar's brother.
  • Like men they journeyed for distant gold
  • And in the East they fed the eagle
  • In the south they died, in Serkland.

                                                              Viking runic epitaph from Gripsholm, Södermanland, Sweden 


Scholars working across a range of fields and disciplines have transformed the ways in which we understand the so-called ‘Viking Age’, the period c. CE 750 to 1000 during which ‘the silver seekers from the North’, travelled, traded, raided and transformed the world around them. This course explores these developments and the current state of Viking studies. It is intended to introduce upper-level undergraduates with the relevant background of prior study and preparation and pre-ABD graduate students in History  - and other related disciplines - to these developments and to the current state of Viking studies.

It is not intended as a general introduction to the period and it is not suitable for students lacking demonstrable experience of studying the history of the period. [HIEU 2061 is an introductory class covering this period.] Prerequisite class experience for undergraduates may include, but is not limited to: HIEU 3131; HIEU 3141, HIME 4511 (‘Medieval Sicily’).

Entry is by instructor permission only.

This course has a strong interdisciplinary approach. Class members will engage with archaeological, anthropological and epigraphic approaches to the Viking world, as well as reading primary sources and substantial secondary scholarship. Focus will fall upon questions of methodology, source analysis and the processes of historical modelling and interpretation. Connectivity will be a central issue of the class as we explore a Viking world that stretches from the Atlantic seaboard to Central Asia through complex networks of land, sea and river routes. In addition to exploring Scandinavian and north-western European societies (the British Isles, the Frankish world, the Saami)  the class will look at less frequently studied groups: Frisians, Khazars, Samanids and others involved in the complex and transformative processes of movement and exchange. Reframing the Viking Age demands engagement on a range of scales from micro-studies  - of individual texts, the archaeology of particular sites - to the exploration of the economic systems of early medieval western Eurasia that linked Khorasan to the Baltic and the North Sea.

In addition to participating in ongoing class discussion and providing critical leadership on specific works or issues through pre-circulated questions and textual commentaries students are required to post weekly commentary on the course WORDPRESS blog  and  write a 7000 word research paper a subject arising from the class. 

Reading will average around 175-275 pages per week, rarely less, occasionally more.

This class cannot be taken for C/NC.

Assigned books for Fall 2015 may include:

  • Anders Winroth, The Conversion of Scandinavia: Vikings, Merchants, and Missionaries in the Remaking of Northern Europe (Yale, 2014).
  • Ibn Fadlan and the Land of Darkness: Arab Travellers in the Far North, Paul Lunde and Caroline Stone, translators (Penguin, 2012).
  • Stefan Brink and Neil Price, The Viking World (Routledge, 2011).

Fall 2015

HIAF 2001

Early African History through the Era of the Slave Trade


This course will be taught by Professor Christina Mobley, who will be joining us in the fall.

HIAF 2001 is an introductory course to the history of Africa from roughly the dawn of history until the era of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Over sixteen weeks we will proceed chronologically by region, learning about the great diversity of peoples, cultures, and climates that characterize the African continent. In this course, we will learn that Africa was never the “dark continent” that it is often supposed to be. A major focus of the course will be Africa’s engagement with the outside world, including the trans-Saharan trade, Swahili city-states and the Indian Ocean, and Trans-Atlantic trade. We will see how Africans have always been influential historical actors in world history, exploring how they interacted with their neighbors in ways that made sense to them and their communities.

     Course material will be presented through interactive lectures and in-class discussion as well as in depth examination of primary and secondary historical courses, art and material culture. Evaluation will be based on class participation and a series of take-home writing assignments geared towards helping students develop their critical thinking, reading, and writing skills. No prior knowledge of African history is required.

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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