Research

Fulfills Research Requirement

HIST214 - RE-READING THE HOLOCAUST

Description: 
This course explores how the Holocaust has been constructed as an historical event. Beginning in the mid-1940s, with the first attempts to narrate what had transpired during the Nazi era, this seminar traces the ways that the Holocaust became codified as a distinct episode in history. Taking a chronological approach, the course follows the evolution of historical and popular ideas about the Holocaust and considers the different perspectives presented by a variety of sources. We will examine documentary films, memoirs, survivor testimonies, as well as other scholarly and popular representations of the Holocaust. Students will be introduced to unfamiliar sources and also asked to reconsider some well-known Holocaust documents and institutions.
Instructors: 
WENGER, BETH
Day and Time: 
T 0130PM-0430PM
Room: 

COLLEGE HALL 315A

Activity: 
SEM
Cross Listings: 
    Registration Notes: 
    BENJAMIN FRANKLIN SEMINARS

    HIST230 - WAR AND CONQUEST IN THE MIDDLE AGES

    Description: 
    This course will focus on wars of conquest in the medieval period. The code of chivalry demanded that knights not only display great prowess in battle, but also adhere to Christian virtue. How did these square in practice? What constitutes acceptable violence and military intervention? We will seek to understand the medieval mentality of warfare in order to think about the place of war in society, how war was justified, why war was fought, and how it was fought. War, however, cannot be separated from its goals. We will thus go beyond the battlefield to look at how conquest of territories was cemented with the establishment and enforcement of a new order. Themes will include the rise of knighthood, ideas of just war, crusade, laws of war, territorial control and colonization. The course will also include two fabulous field trips to visit Penn’s manuscript collection and the arms and armor collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
    Instructors: 
    KUSKOWSKI, ADA
    Day and Time: 
    T 0130PM-0430PM
    Room: 

    COLLEGE HALL 311F

    Activity: 
    SEM
    Cross Listings: 

      HIST230 - GERMANY FROM UNIFICATION TO REUNIFICATION, 1870-1990

      Description: 
      One of the most iconic images of the twentieth century shows recently united East and West Germans atop the Berlin Wall near the Brandenburg Gate following the demise of the German Democratic Republic in 1989. What long-term factors led to the reunification of Germany following its post-World War Two division? This course examines and follows the developments of German history and historiography beginning with Otto von Bismarck’s “revolution from above” that unified the German states in 1870 until the reunification of a divided Germany under Helmut Kohl in 1990. Through instructor lectures, assigned readings, source analysis, and class discussions, we will explore themes such as Germany’s late and rapid industrialization and empire building through World War One; the (in)famous culture, changing gender conceptions, and failed attempt at democracy of the Weimar Republic; the social dynamics of everyday life during the Third Reich, World War Two and the Holocaust; the political and cultural dimensions of the Cold War division of Germany, including consumerism and youth culture; the fall of the Berlin Wall and East Germany, and reunification of the two German states; and finally, Germany’s complicated relationship to its Nazi past and Holocaust memory. We will also consider continuities and discontinuities in German history, including the question of whether Germany has followed a Sonderweg, or special path, that is singular among European states.
      Instructors: 
      RODGERS, JENNIFER
      Day and Time: 
      M 0330PM-0630PM
      Room: 

      CLAUDIA COHEN HALL 493

      Activity: 
      SEM
      Cross Listings: 
        Registration Notes: 
        CROSS CULTURAL ANALYSIS

        HIST231 - AMERICAN CULTURE WARS: SOCIETY, MORALITY, AND POLITICS

        Description: 
        Should statues of Confederate soldiers be taken down? Is it appropriate for football players to kneel during the national anthem? How should the United States treat refugees from predominantly Muslim nations? These questions are only the latest battlefields in the “culture wars,” the long-running conversation—or, more often, shouting match—about what the United States ought to stand for and how Americans ought to live. This seminar will explore how Americans have wrestled with questions of morality and national identity since the country’s founding. Two questions will drive our discussion. First, why do certain issues become the subject of fierce cultural conflict in American life? Second, do these conflicts enrich or undermine American democracy? We will focus on four moments in the history of the culture wars: the disestablishment of churches in the early United States; opposition to immigration, particularly of Jews and Catholics, in the late nineteenth century; campaigns to prohibit alcohol, culminating in the Eighteenth Amendment; and recent clashes over the expansion of gay rights. In each case we will explore the worldviews and experiences of Americans engaged in these conflicts, drawing on primary sources that will range from presidential debates and congressional speeches to cartoons and popular songs. At the semester’s end, students will write a lecture or research paper on a “culture war” topic of their choosing. Potential subjects include juvenile delinquency, the teaching of evolution, affirmative action, or gun control. **RESEARCH REQUIREMENT OPTIONAL**
        Instructors: 
        SCHULTZ, WILLIAM
        Day and Time: 
        W 0330PM-0630PM
        Room: 

        COLLEGE HALL 217

        Activity: 
        SEM
        Cross Listings: 

          HIST231 - TOPICS IN US HISTORY: EARLY AMERICAN STUDIES

          Description: 
          Nowadays many Early Americanists have turned to cultural history. There have been different reasons for such a shift, which is built on solid empirical foundations laid by demographers and social historians beginning in the early 1960s. One contributing element was surely the history of early American religion, always interested in what sermons and doctrinal reform meant for clergy and laity alike. Another element came from cultural anthropology, with its interest in specific communities and the textual webs of symbolic meaning that tied families to families, and individuals to one another. American art and material culture offered its concern with social aesthetics and questions of exchange value. Still another set of connections came as the walls between early American literature and early American history--disciplinary fences, as it were-- started to crumble. But no matter the perspective taken, these approaches intersect in reconstructing the systems of meaning that held colonial societies together and, on occasion, signaled their transformation. This semester we will be examining key moments in the emergence of the field, works that explore interdisciplinary methods and theoretical approaches as well as offering new models for historical narrative itself. And while most of our readings and discussion will explore changes in early American culture between 1600 and 1785-- or roughly from the period of imperial exploration and initial settlement to the Revolutionary settlement, and native reactions to settlement colonialism-- some aspects of early national and antebellum culture will fall within consideration.
          Instructors: 
          ST.GEORGE, ROBERT
          Day and Time: 
          R 0130PM-0430PM
          Room: 

          COLLEGE HALL 311A

          Activity: 
          SEM
          Cross Listings: 

            HIST231 - JAPANESE-AMERICAN INTERNMENT

            Description: 
            This research seminar will consist of a review of representative studies on the Japanese American internment, and a discussion of how social scientists and historians have attempted to explain its complex backgrounds and causes. Through the careful reading of academic works, primary source materials, and visualized narratives (film productions), students will learn the basic historiography of internment studies, research methodologies, and the politics of interpretation pertaining to this particular historical subject. Students will also examine how Japanese Americans and others have attempted to reclaim a history of the wartime internment from the realm of “detached” academia in the interest of their lives in the “real” world, and for a goal of “social justice” in general. The class will critically probe the political use of history and memories of selected pasts in both Asian American community and contemporary American society through the controversial issue of the Japanese American internment.
            Instructors: 
            AZUMA, EIICHIRO
            Day and Time: 
            T 0130PM-0430PM
            Room: 
            COLLEGE HALL 217
            Activity: 
            SEM
            Cross Listings: 
              Registration Notes: 
              CULTURAL DIVERSITY IN US

              HIST233 - FEMINISM IN THE AMERICAS

              Description: 
              Students in this seminar will choose their own research topic in the history of feminism. With guidance and support each person will produce a twenty-page paper based on intensive work with primary sources. Our shared readings will focus on the sometimes overlapping and sometimes divergent feminist histories that can be traced in the writings and cultural products of people in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States. We’ll take a long view, beginning in the sixteenth century, and use an expansive frame. Our purpose will not be to decide who was or wasn’t ‘a feminist’ but instead to try to understand the social life of ideas that included aspects of what more recent activists mean by the term, while also being attentive to the reasons why actions and concepts from past worlds can’t be imported very easily into our own.
              Instructors: 
              FARNSWORTH-ALVEAR, ANN
              Day and Time: 
              M 0200PM-0500PM
              Room: 
              COLLEGE HALL 318
              Activity: 
              SEM
              Cross Listings: 

                HIST234 - CAPITALISM AND HUMANITARIANISM

                Description: 
                Reviewing David Brion Davis’ Problem of Slavery in Western Culture for the New York Review of Books in 1967, the great ancient historian Moses Finley concluded that Davis’s book was “one of the most important to have been published on the subject of slavery in modern times.” Yet he found the book inconclusive on the “decisive question” of why slavery was finally abolished in the West. “Nothing is more difficult perhaps than to explain how and why, or why not, a new moral perception becomes effective in action,” Finley wrote. Almost 50 years after this statement was made, the complicated processes that are being played out at the heart of capitalism, mobilizing both ethical issues and the pursuit of profit are still imperfectly understood, yet more fascinating than ever. This course’s working hypothesis is that, from a better understanding of the entanglements of capitalism and humanitarianism a better understanding of the nature of the “material civilization” can be achieved. For this purpose, the course does provide a multi-pronged approach including sessions discussing analytical arguments about the reasons for the entanglements of capitalism and humanitarianism, sessions devoted to historical turning points and sessions devoted to case studies and the exploration of specific mechanisms whereby capitalism and humanitarianism connect with one another. I wish in particular to try and make students aware of the problem of “quality” and its social construction, which is found at the heart of both capitalism and humanitarianism. By awakening them to this question, I also hope to provide an engaging way to understand the importance of economics in cultural history. Last, while the course will make verbal references to work on more recent periods, the focus is on a time frame that ends with World War I. This seems warranted given that the purpose is to unpack the entanglements of finance and humanitarianism “as they got intertwined.” Nota Bene, some a few non-mandatory readings in French.
                Instructors: 
                FLANDREAU, MARC
                Day and Time: 
                R 0130PM-0430PM
                Room: 
                MCNEIL CENTER FOR EARLY AMERI 105
                Activity: 
                SEM
                Cross Listings: 

                  HIST238 - SPANISH CIVIL WAR & POSTWAR

                  Description: 
                  This RESEARCH SEMINAR is divided into three parts. Part I centers on the Spanish CIVIL WAR, 1930-1939. The beginnings of the conflict, the main causes and motivations, the debates in the international arena, the main events and ideologies, some of the main characters, personal experiences (men and women) during the war, violence and repression, and also the development of the “national question” during the Second Republic Part II focuses on the consequences of the Civil War (1939-1960), both from internal and international perspectives - the constitution of the Francoist regime and its internal politics; the repression of political dissidence; the situation of the Francoist regime during WWII and during the Cold War, how political and cultural dissidence started under Franco’s regime, the social history of Spain. Part III consists of researching and writing a research paper. Requirements: class attendance and active participation; final research paper (20 pages) Throughout the course we will work with two types of materials. Primary Sources - the vast range of contemporary evidence. Primary sources will constitute the core of the required readings. Secondary Sources: interpretative essays (or chapters from books) by historians. In addition, we will read methodological essays to learn how historians from various fields (social history, cultural history, political history, et cetera) analyze primary sources.
                  Instructors: 
                  FEROS, ANTONIO
                  Day and Time: 
                  M 0200PM-0500PM
                  Room: 
                  COLLEGE HALL 315A
                  Activity: 
                  SEM
                  Cross Listings: 

                    HIST236 - GENDER, VIOLENCE AND WWII: EUROPE 1933-1950

                    Description: 
                    This seminar explores World War II-era Europe through the lens of evolving gender norms and relations. This turbulent period in European history magnified the so-called “gender troubles” that emerged in the wake of the First World War. From the question of equality between the sexes to the liberalization of sexual mores and divergence from the proscribed roles of men and women, gender had a profound impact on the prewar, wartime, and immediate postwar European landscape. Drawing on primary and secondary sources, we will consider the following questions: How did gender and violence shape the course of World War II and the immediate postwar from Britain to the Soviet Union? How can gender and sexuality help us to understand militarization, violence, and war? How did war and occupation impact relations between and among men and women on the home- and war fronts? We will complicate these questions by probing topics such as women’s support for war, masculinity in combat, everyday racial discrimination, eugenics, sexual violence and genocide and the ways in which they infiltrated the every aspect of Europeans’ public and private lives. Finally, we will discuss scholarly debates and historiographies on gender during World War II that have emerged since the early-1970s. **The instructor, Dr. Jennifer Rodgers, received her PhD in History from Penn in 2014 with a dissertation that investigates humanitarianism in post-World War II Europe. Since 1997, Dr. Rodgers has worked with government agencies and non-governmental organizations on issues related to World War II including the Department of Justice Office of Special Investigations, the Presidential Commission on Holocaust Assets, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Department of State, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. She is currently finishing a monograph titled The Archives of Humanity: The International Tracing Service, The Holocaust, and Postwar Order. Dr. Rodgers has taught classes on German history, the Holocaust, WWII, and historical methods at the University of South Florida as well as Penn.**
                    Instructors: 

                    RODGERS, JENNIFER

                    Day and Time: 
                    R 0300PM-0600PM
                    Room: 

                    COLLEGE HALL 315A

                    Activity: 
                    SEM
                    Cross Listings: 
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