New Course in European History
"The Early Medieval Mediterranean (700-1000)"
This course examines the political, social and cultural history of the Mediterranean from the age of the early Islamic conquests to the era of the German emperor Otto III (996 - 1002), the Byzantine emperor Basil II ‘the Bulgar Slayer’ (976-1025) and the fragmentation of the Abbasid caliphate. We will examine both current scholarship on the history of the Mediterranean, the movement of goods, ideas and people, as well as the political history of these centuries. The work of archaeologists will come under scrutiny as much as that of historians who primarily engage texts. While the initial phase of the class will address the Mediterranean as a notional whole, later classes will focus upon a series of historical issues and evidential clusters that eschew conventional frameworks of periodization and area study in favour of zones of connection and interaction. Early medieval Spain, the culture of Christian and Islamic Cordoba will come under examination; so, too, will the nature of diplomatic relations between the eastern and western empires and the attitudes that underpinned them, the city of Rome in the early Middle Ages, ninth-century southern Italy and the eastern Byzantine frontier zones of the tenth century. We will read the accounts of pilgrims and diplomats (Bernard the Monk, John of Gorze, Liudprand of Cremona), look at the movement of relics from north Africa to ninth-century Europe, and read accounts often overlooked by contemporary historians of the diverse and complex worlds of the medieval Mediterranean, such as the History of the Lombards of Benevento of Erchempert of Benevento (ob. ?889) and the History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church of Alexandria by Severus ibn al-Muqaffaʿ (ob. 987).
This class is intended for upper level undergraduates with the relevant background of study and pre-ABD graduate students in History and other related disciplines. It proceeds by discussion. 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 will write a 7000 word research paper on a subject arising from the class.
This class is not intended as an introduction to the period and is not suitable for students lacking demonstrable experience of studying the history of the period. Prerequisite class experience for undergraduates includes, but is not limited to: HIEU 2061, HIME 2001, HIEU 3131.
Assigned books include:
- Michael McCormick, The Origins of the European Economy: Communications and Commerce, A.D. 300-900 (Cambridge University Press, 2001).
- Paolo Squatriti, The Complete Works of Liudprand of Cremona (Catholic University of America Press, 2007).
- John Wortley, John Skylitzes. A Synopsis of Byzantine History, 811-1057 (Cambridge University Press), 2010.
The Birth of Europe
This class examines the social, political and cultural history of Western Europe from the collapse of Roman authority over the course of the fifth century to the thirteenth century, the age of the Mongols and the early Inquisition. Political, social and institutional developments will be addressed; literature, art, philosophy, and religion will also receive attention. Cross-cultural contact, in both war and peace, between various peoples, polities and cultures is a recurrent theme.
Intended as an introduction to the medieval period, no prior knowledge is expected.
Subjects to be discussed include: the reasons behind the Roman empire’s so-called ‘Fall’; the emergence of the earliest post-Roman kingdoms; the formation and fragmentation of the Carolingian empire; the rise of Islam and the reconfiguration of the Mediterranean world. The Crusades, the twelfth-century ‘renaissance’ and the emergence of the European universities, the growth and multiplication of Christian kingdoms in northern and central Europe, the deepening of papal authority, and the tenacity of the Byzantine Empire, will also all come under analysis. How did life, thought and belief change in these centuries? How have earlier generations of historians understood this period, and how do those working in 2014?
Students will read some of the most important (and interesting) sources for the Middle Ages in translation. These include first-hand accounts of meeting with Christian holy men in the Egyptian deserts of the fourth century; records of life in the chaos of a fragmented Roman empire under barbarian control; the earliest reports of Islamic expansion written by both the conquerors and the conquered; political polemics, epic poetry, and private letters.
Students will take two exams, write four short response papers, attend bi-weekly lectures and a weekly discussion section. This class cannot be taken for C/NC.
History of England to 1688
This course surveys the history of England, Britain, and the empire up to the 18th century. We shall look briefly at politics and society in the wake of the Norman Conquest in 1066 and at life in the later Middle Ages; examine the Reformation and the catastrophic civil wars of the mid-17th century; and consider the extension of England as it became Great Britain and a global empire. We will thus be concerned not only with England, but with its place in Europe and the world.
Assigned books may include:
- Susan Brigden, New Worlds, Lost Worlds: The Rule of the Tudors, 1485-1603
- Eamon Duffy, The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village
- Alison Games, The Web of Empire: English Cosmopolitans in an Age of Exploration, 1560-1660
- Mark Kishlansky, A Monarchy Transformed: England, 1603-1714
- David Lagomarsino and Charles Wood, The Trial of Charles I: A Documentary History [also available as an electronic text through Virgo, the Library’s web catalogue]
- Miri Rubin, The Hollow Crown: A History of Britain in the Late Middle Ages
- David Wootton, ed., Divine Rights and Democracy: An Anthology of Political Writing
In 1492 the two hemispheres of the planet that had not known of each others’ existence came into mutual awareness. Half a millenium later, in the late 20th century, human beings saw for the first time a photograph of the blue marble that is the planet. Stretched taut between these two moments is what we might call “global history,” a way of thinking historically that stretches forward as it stretches back. Beginning from this premise, we will explore the flows and encounters of things, organisms and ideas—from the movement of people, plants and microbes, to the circulation of money and goods, to the interpenetration and clash of theories and systems—that have shaped human experience on multiple scales, from the planetary to the very local. Nations and empires are part of this story, but global history cannot be reduced to their interactions. By approaching primary and secondary sources in the spirit of experimentation and open-ended inquiry, we will ask whether globalization is just another buzzword, nothing more than a tool for a certain kind of historical thinking—or the beginning of new a global epoch. The course will combine lecture mode, large-scale discussion and sections.
The Early American Republic, 1783-1830
This seminar will introduce graduate students to the historiography of the early American republic, from the consolidation of the revolution to the Jacksonian era. In addition to exploring the politics of the republic, we will examine social, economic, and cultural aspects to reveal the role of gender, class, and race in American life. The class will require two short précis papers (1-2 pages each) and two longer review essays (5-6 pages each). The weekly readings will usually feature two monographs or one monograph and several essays. Details of the reading list will become available later.
American History, 1600-1865
Open to all undergraduates, this introductory survey requires no previous coursework or expertise in American history. This survey will explore social, economic, religious, and political change as British America became the early United States, culminating in the crisis posed by the Civil War. The course will feature two 75-minute lectures and a mandatory weekly discussion section. The secondary texts will include Taylor, Colonial America: A Very Short Introduction and the online resources of Globalyceum, both supplemented by primary source documents. Readings will average 100 pages per week. Grades will derive from participation in discussion; a midterm exam; two document evaluations (1-2 pages each); a longer paper (6-7 pages); and a final examination.
George Washington’s Library at Mt. Vernon selects 3 fellows from UVA's graduate program in history
HIEU 2559 (1)
New Course in Pre-1700 European History
"The Supernatural in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800: Witches, Werewolves, and the Walking Dead"
Today, witchcraft and vampires are the stuff of hit movies and bestselling novels. Five centuries ago, however, few Europeans questioned that magic was real. This course reconstructs that enchanted world. Throughout the semester, we will ask why early modern Europeans believed in the supernatural, and what caused these beliefs to change and ultimately recede over time. For example, how did religious beliefs make demonic activity a logical explanation for disaster? What do spells and shape-shifting reveal about Europeans’ conceptions of the natural world? Each lecture will explore the ideas that undergirded a particular manifestation of the supernatural. As we ask why Europeans hunted witches, for example, we will also examine their judicial systems and their views on women. Through ghost stories, we will explore the ways in which the Reformation altered the relationship between the living and the dead. Broadly, this course thus explores transformations in European society, religion, and ideas between 1500 and 1800.
Most of our course readings will be primary sources: firsthand accounts of demonic possession, or the records of witchcraft trials, for example. These will be the basis for discussion sections each week. Written work will include short papers (in response to assigned prompts) and two exams (midterm and final).
HIEU 4501 (1)
Seminar in Pre-1700 European History
"The Body in Early Modern Europe"
From saints’ relics to public executions to stories of cannibalism in the Americas, the body was constantly the subject of debate and display in early modern Europe. In this seminar, we shall follow changing understandings of the human body in Europe from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries. Historians of science, religion, gender, and culture have demonstrated that we can learn much about the past by exploring the ways in which views of the human body differed over time and from one culture to another. Debates about whether women were defective men, for example, help us to understand some of early modern Europeans’ most basic assumptions about social order, and their horror at the prospect of dissection speaks to their deepest fears. Throughout the semester, we explore several approaches to the historical study of the body. First, we will ask how medical practitioners understood the body, and how the conception of a body governed by four humors gave way to new theories of its structure and function. Second, we shall also explore the significance of the body to religious culture, focusing in particular on relics, the Eucharist, and mysticism. Third, we ask how Europeans’ understanding of the body shaped their views on differences, including gender, race, and disability. We will also pay attention to how those concepts were transformed as Europeans entered a wider world.
Weekly discussions draw upon readings in primary sources and scholarly literature, as well as the analysis of images. Throughout the semester, we will focus on developing the skills of the historian, especially the analysis of primary sources and the evaluation of scholarly arguments. Each student will apply these skills in the development of a major research paper based on primary sources; topics will be devised in consultation with the instructor and reflect each student’s interests.
The Emergence of Modern America, c. 1877- c.1920
The United States changed drastically from a society attached to local forms of life to a society dominated by national institutions, big business, and big government in the period covered in this course. Throughout the course, we will investigate the ways in which Americans have attempted to keep their modern mass society democratic while negotiating the conflicts of region, faith, class, race, and gender. Among the topics studied in some detail are the rise of corporate America, the simultaneous creation of the regulatory state, the organization of modern knowledge, the creation of the first military-industrial complex of World War I, and the requirements of a consumer culture. We will focus also on the landscape of large urban and industrial hinterlands in the making of modern America.