undergrad: 20th Century America

In this course, students will learn about the history of the United States after 1877: the year when Federal troops withdrew from the South in the wake of the Civil War (1861-1865). What were some of the major political, social, and economic transformations in US society between 1877 and the present? How have historical actors differed in their interpretation of the meaning of equality in the U.S. past? We’ll cover topics such as the rise of the Jim Crow South; immigration and urbanization; Populism and the Progressivism; WWI; the rise of consumer culture; the Great Depression; WWII and the Cold War; post-45 social movements; the rise of neoliberalism and the New Right; 9/11 and after.

In a survey course, it’s impossible to cover all historical developments. I’ve tried to strike a balance between following what is well-established narrative of U.S. history at the introductory level, and providing some materials that will allow you to answer questions relating to a specific theme. The theme for the course this year will be: social justice and equality. How have various social groups, activists, and reformers used the state, the legal system, and the streets to shape their understandings of justice and equality? What assumptions about race, gender, sexuality, faith, class, and morality have shaped these efforts? In what ways have they been successful, or not, in how the United States has changed over time?

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undergrad/grad: queer and trans oral history

For decades, oral history has been a preferred methodology in documenting social movements and the life experiences of marginalized populations. Recently, LGBTQ history, intersectional feminist politics, and queer theory have given rise to new oral history projects, new identities, and new methods. This seminar will be a workshop in doing LGBTQ oral history, with a focus on queer and trans lives. Students will follow the full life-cycle of the interview and learn how to: develop a theoretically informed research plan; grapple with ethical considerations; write a consent form and interview guide; find narrators; use audio and/or visual technology to record interviews; write up field notes; transcribe interviews; analyze and write from the material; and create a short podcast drawn from the interviews. We will read work in oral history theory and practice, and some sources concerning Toronto’s LGBTQ past. 

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grad: The Cultural History of Capitalism

What is ‘cultural history’? How has theory informed and transformed the questions posed by historians, as well as their methods? This course will explore the ‘cultural turn’ in historical studies through thematic sections that tie theoretical works to empirical studies. The course will begin with readings in the various ‘schools’ that have informed the field (e.g., Annales, Frankfurt, Birmingham). The remainder of the course will explore the works of specific thinkers (Foucault, Butler, Benjamin, Stoler as just some examples) in relationship to historical studies. We will endeavor to think through these pairings in relationship to thematic threads on, for example, markets, intimacy, and affect; food and power; commodity chains and empire; history of the senses; sexuality, gender, and capitalism. Historical examples will be drawn from various national and transnational studies, with a likely (though not exclusive) focus on North America. The course is designed, however, for all students interested in cultural history, regardless of geographical area.