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HIST 499 Sections – Fall 2016
Seminar Title: Americans and the Sea
Areas of Concentration: U.S. and World
Professor: Nancy Quam-Wickham
This seminar will investigate the encounters of Americans in and with the oceans of the world. A vibrant new research and historiographic subfield, the “new thalassology,” explores the relationships of oceans and the people who travel across them, who work on them, and who live on their shores. The “sea” here signifies not only oceans but also, as Purcell and Horden write, smaller maritime spaces: bays, seacoasts, beaches, islands, and the many spaces in between. Oceanic life and imagined maritime worlds are also included in this new area of historical inquiry. Americans have a long and complicated relationship with maritime spaces; free and unfree, alike, have crossed them to reach our shores. Americans have worked, played, and fought on the seas. Beaches are today contested spaces. And we often derive our identities in relation to these spaces: We are known, of course, as “The Beach.”
We will read new works, like Nancy Shoemaker’s Native American Whalemen and the World, David Chang’s The World and All the Things Upon It: Native Hawaiian Geographies of Exploration, as well as classics such as Marcus Rediker’s The Slave Ship: A Human History. Students with interests in environmental, labor, social, and cultural history and at least two upper-division courses in U.S. history are welcome.
Seminar Title: War, Occupation, and Culture
Areas of Concentration: Asia and the U.S.
Professor: Michiko Takeuchi
This senior seminar explores the socio-cultural impact of America’s global network of more than 700 military bases by using the U.S. occupation of Japan (1945–52) as a case study. Readings include a survey of Japan and U.S. history to provide background and a socio-cultural history of the United States in the 1940s and 1950s to show how American views on race, gender, class, and sexuality were reflected in occupation policies in Japan in the Cold War context. Students also read theoretical works that have helped shape more recent interpretations of the U.S. occupation of Japan and other parts of the world. Students will engage in discussion of specific issues such as the construction of popular memory of the war through the Tokyo Tribunal, American censorship, and the promotion of women’s rights and, by contrast, discouragement of feminist movements.
Seminar Title: Latin American Revolutions
Area(s) of Concentration: Latin America
Professor: Romina Robles Ruvalcaba
The first social revolution of the twentieth-century took place in Latin America. In this course, we will examine twentieth-century social revolutions in Latin America, focusing on the prominent cases of Mexico (1910), Cuba (1959), and Nicaragua (1961). We will explore theories and historical interpretations of causes, consequences, changes, and continuities, in comparative perspective, through the concepts of violence, resistance, state-formation, dictatorship, imperialism, ideology, memory, race, gender, emigration, and dislocation. In order to help us move through the complex interpretations of social revolution, we will also draw from analyses of guerilla movements and rebellions in Guatemala, El Salvador, Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Colombia, which offer compelling regional perspectives on the politics, processes, and possibilities of social change.
Seminar Title: American Body Culture
Area(s) of Concentration: U.S.
Professor: Sarah Schrank
In this section of History 499, students will examine the history of the body as it pertains to gender, class, and race formation and the rise of American consumer culture. The body, as our primary vessel for self-identity, is laden with meanings to which we ourselves ascribe as well as relaying meanings outside of our control. We will look specifically at the historical emergence of exercise and fitness culture, the feminist politics of African-American fashion, the gendered politics of vegetarianism and the “natural” body, the relationship between environmentalism and disability, and the class politics of obesity and “wellness.” Neoliberalism has produced troubling public surveillance of our bodies while simultaneously making health a private, corporate concern. Exploring how individual body politics and self-expression coexist with a moralizing national body politic and a consumer culture that drives anxiety about our sense of self will shape our reading and research this term.
Preference forms should be completed and submitted by midnight on Thursday, 7 April. Forms submitted by that date and time will be given priority.