Evan D. McCormick (Ph.D.' 15), receives Miller Center Fellowship for 2014-15

Fall 2014

HIUS 4501 (4)

Seminar in United States History

"Debating Science in Modern America"

Sarah Milov

This seminar explores how politicians, business people, activists, and everyday Americans have understood and invoked "science" in social debates.  We will focus on transfixing moments of political disagreement to ask questions about the role of experts within democracy, how social science came to be defined and used as a guide to policy, and the nature of certainty and uncertainty.  Topics include the Scopes "Monkey" Trial, eugenics, the decision to use the atomic bomb, Brown v. Board of Education, debates about overpopulation, tobacco, climate change and intelligent design.  Readings include monographs, articles and primary sources.

The course is intended to help students write an article-length (25-30 pp.) essay based on original research.  For the first six weeks of the semester, we will meet once weekly to discuss readings.  These sessions should help students formulate the question that will frame their research paper.  The remainder of the semester will focus on researching and writing on a topic of students own choosing.  Students will be assessed based on their in-class participation (15%), the production of a bibliography (15%), a rough draft essay (20%), and the final paper (50%).

This course fulfills the second writing assignment.

Fall 2014

HIUS 1501 (3)

Introductory Seminar in United States History

"Disasters in America from Cholera to Katrina"

Sarah Milov

Disasters play a powerful role in the American imagination, shaping our  understanding specific of places ( New Orleans, lower Manhattan), eras (the “atomic age,” a “post-9/11 world”), and concepts (an “act of God”). This seminar explores how Americans have experienced and understood some modern disasters in order to answer an essential question: to what extent should medical, social, economic or environmental disasters be considered natural? To answer this question, discussions will focus on the proximal and deep causes of disastrous events. Readings consist of first-hand and popular accounts of disaster, as well as scholarly writings. Topics include cholera, the San Francisco earthquake, the sinking of the Titanic, financial panics and depressions, the atomic bomb, toxic and industrial accidents, 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.

At the beginning of the course, students will select a disastrous event in American history. Over the course of the semester, each student will write three 5-page papers, each analyzing “their” disaster from a different perspective. The course culminates in a “conference” in which students will give a fifteen-minute presentation on “their” disaster based on original research. Students are responsible for 100-150pp. of reading per week.

John T.R. Terry, Ph.D.'14, wins the Dr. Frank Finger Graduate Fellowship for Teaching

Faculty: John Terry

Kasey Sease, History '14, Wins First Place Prize at the 2014 Undergraduate Research Symposium

Turek (Ph.D. '15) wins fellowship from the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics

Faculty: Lauren Turek

Prof. Alan Taylor wins the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in History

Faculty: Alan Taylor

Congratulations to our Ph.D. candidates who have recently defended their dissertations

Fall 2014

HIUS 4501 (5)

Seminar in United States History

"America and Scotland in an Age of War and Revolution"

Jim Ambuske

This course will allow students to explore the transatlantic relationship between peoples living in Scotland and in British America (and later with Americans in the newly independent United States) between 1754 and 1815. Historians have long struggled how best to characterize the direct connections between these two peoples as well as the ways in which they related to each other within the framework of British Empire and in the aftermath of the American Revolution. Commerce, emigration, military service, religion, imperial politics, and the Enlightenment all bound Scots and Americans together in one way or another over this period. Those same ties, however, created tension between Scotland and America in the second half of the eighteenth century and in the early decades of the nineteenth century. We will probe both aspects of this history during our time together.

We will spend the first five weeks of the term together discussing readings in common as well as research methods in anticipation of students crafting a 25-30 page final paper. We will then meet sporadically as a group to workshop research proposals and rough drafts. 

Students will develop a research topic and question in consultation with me that reflects their particular interests as they relate to the course. In addition to the major research paper, students will complete three other short writing assignments that will help them prepare for the task of tackling the longer essay. 


Fall 2014

HIST 7001

Approaches to Historical Thinking

Mark Thomas

This course will explore various perspectives on how historical knowledge is produced, conveyed and debated.  The focus will be on both the methods and the methodologies of historical inquiry.

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
contact page