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History 199 Descriptions: Fall 2021

History 199     Elements of Historical Thinking. The purpose of this course is not to cover a certain amount of ground, but to introduce students to the nature of historical interpretation. To do that, individual instructors will chose a topic that will show students the various ways historians interpret their evidence and allow them to practice interpretation on their own. Whatever the topic, the central aim is for students to come away from the course with a better understanding of the nature and limits of historical evidence, the various legitimate ways of approaching it, and the art of making persuasive claims about it.

The individual course titles for Fall Semester 2021 are: 

  • Changing South Africa. Professor Summers.  An examination of the activism from all sides that constructed South Africa's system of apartheid, undermined and ended it, and then struggled with building something new and non-racial. How did South Africa's white minority develop one of the most systematically segregated societies in history?  How were segregation’s opponents, the African National Congress, able by 1994 to win an election and declare a new South Africa?  What has transpired since?

  • The Crusades. Professor Drell.  An examination of the roots of the Crusading Movement in Western Christian societies; the ways the crusades brought three world cultures (The West, Byzantium, Islam) into contact and confrontation; the vitality of the crusading idea in Western Europe; the different perspectives on the crusades found in contemporary sources; and the movement of crusade history from a very Christian-centered view to one taking into account the experiences of non-Christians encountering the crusaders.

  • History in a changing world:  Youth activists transforming Institutions.   This course examines various forms of young peoples’ initiative and resistance across time and space.  Their leadership and the movements they inspire have changed institutions and the structures that have defined society. Further, we will survey changes in higher education regarding institutional history. Significant attention will be directed to the research conducted at the University of Richmond as part of the Inclusive History initiative, illuminating the history of slavery, race and segregation.   

  • Lawrence v. Texas.  Professor Holloway.  In 2003 the Supreme Court ruled that laws prohibiting private sexual acts between same-sex adults were unconstitutional. We will examine this case in a historical context, with a particular focus on the role that historical scholarship played in the court's decision.

  • Populism in Latin America   Professor Morales Fontanilla. In this course, we delve into how historical scholarship has understood Latin American populism. Our objective is to examine relevant historiography and explore how it approaches the topic, what analytical tools it uses, and what kind of sources it explores. We will also critically engage with different social theories of populism, assessing their importance for historical interpretation from an interdisciplinary perspective. This approach will highlight some of the most fundamental intricacies of historical literature and its production. In Populism in Latin America, we will expose ourselves to primary sources (texts, images, songs, material culture) and historical literature focused on the topics pertinent to the class. 

  • Slavery and Freedom in Early America.  Professor Seeley. This course will examine the history of slavery and freedom in early North America, from the beginnings of colonization through the period of gradual emancipation in the United States. We will consider the varied kinds of evidence that historians have used to tell the story of slavery and freedom--from ships logs to slave narratives to archaeology. Throughout the course, we will pair primary and secondary sources to show how historians have located, interpreted, and written about the archive of slavery and freedom. At the center of our conversations will be the question of who gets to tell their story.

  • The Tokyo Trials.  Professor Loo. An exploration of the history and the significance of the Tokyo War Crimes Trials after World War II, examining both the proceedings of the trials themselves and the role they play in historical narratives of modern Japan.