skip navigation


State University of New York at Buffalo
Spring 2017

HIS 503: American Core 2 
Course # 11961
Mon, 4:00-6:40pm
545 Park

The graduate core is a survey of U.S. historiography in the long 20th century (i.e., since the Civil War).  We will read books and articles that introduce us to some of the major topics and fields, themes and issues, and research and analytical methods from this time period. The goal is not primarily to increase your factual knowledge of U.S. history, but to get a sense of the relationship between history and historians.  What kinds of questions do historians ask of the past?  How do they go about answering them?  What kinds of evidence do they look at, how do they choose, and how do they interpret it?  How do historians build on and/or challenge each other’s work and interpretations?  If history only happened once, why does history as written by historians change over time?  What are some of the most active and exciting subjects and approaches in 20th century U.S. history today?  These kinds of questions are central to critical reading and thinking, i.e., figuring out how to take apart and (hopefully) put back together again the kinds of narrative–stories–that we are all familiar with as the stuff of “history.”

HIS 505: Modern European Core
Course # 12123
Tues, 7:00 pm-9:40pm
545 Park

This course introduces the participants to some major issues in the field of modern European history.  It covers the period from the French Revolution to the end of the Cold War, as well as different geographical areas.  The course wants

(1) To provide an understanding of the history and diversity of Europe.  We will discuss whether “European History,” in fact, constitutes an entity, and what role nation-state and regions, non-state actors and “the people,” gender and international relations, among other factors, play in this story;

(2) To identify—through a close reading of scholarly literature—some trends in the recent historiography of modern Europe and understand in what ways and to what ends historians have defined their topics, formulated their questions, and chosen their sources;

(3) To train the participants in analyzing historical sources and dealing with visual materials, ranging from a novel and an autobiographical account to films.

HIS 506: North and South Atlantic Core
Course # 24012
Tues,4:00-6:40 pm
532 Park

This course will introduce students to the rapidly maturing field of Atlantic world historiography. It focuses on the fluxive, hybrid and contested acculturation, which defined creolization and economic and ideological exchanges between the heterogeneous peoples of Europe, Africa and America around the Atlantic rim from the era of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and New World slavery, through the age of revolutions, to the modern period. Students will understand how the field has been defined, how it has changed over time, and how it might evolve in the future. This course is required for those history Ph.D. students who wish to offer the “North and South Atlantic” for the major field of their oral examinations. It is recommended for those who wish to offer a minor oral examination field in the Atlantic world, and for anyone who wishes to employ transnational or comparative perspectives to understand the past

HIS 545: History of the Body
Course # 24013
Mon, 7:00-9:40 pm
532 Park

Why is there a history to the body? If we generally assume that our biological bodies have remained largely unchanged since antiquity, what account for the diverse perceptions of the body throughout history? This seminar explores the rich history of the body by examining medical, religious, and literary sources, and putting them in conversation with the theoretical discussion of the body in historical and anthropological writings. Closely connected to the study of the body are issues of the mind/body relation, personhood and agency, the body politic, and gender and sexuality, all of which will be scrutinized in this course. Moreover, the course seeks to compare different ideas and practices of the body between Asia and Europe/America, as a way to illuminate the understanding of our own bodies today.

HIS 549: History in Film
Course # 20438
4:00-6:40 pm
532 Park

This research-oriented seminar will gauge the value of fiction film as an historical source.  After viewing and discussing several films and writings on film in common, students will pick a movie and create a portfolio that will include the making of the film, the reception of the film, its historical context and accuracy, and pedagogical potential.  They will present this to the class and then produce a final summary.

HIS 550: Frontiers and Borderlands
Course # 20998
Wed, 7:00-9:40 pm

As Europeans and enslaved Africans pushed beyond Atlantic coastlines in increasing numbers after 1492, histories of cultural encounter, cooperation, and conflict unfolded throughout the inland expanses of North, Central, and South America.  Colonial intrusions notwithstanding, most of the hemisphere’s territory remained the domain of independent indigenous peoples well into the nineteenth century.  Culturally diverse, inhabiting distinct ecological zones, these peoples shaped the histories of vast regions largely beyond settler, imperial, and state control.  They also struggled to respond to a momentous process of territorial dispossession.  Frontiers, borderlands, contact zones: the terminology varies but the scholars who study the places transformed by this process share a fascination for their characteristic multiethnic interactions, ranging from destructive confrontation to creative negotiation.

This seminar explores the comparative history of frontiers, borderlands, and their indigenous inhabitants throughout the Americas, ranging from the sixteenth to the twentieth century.  Drawing on insights from anthropology, literary studies, and other disciplines, we will consider how Europeans, Africans, and their descendants encountered Amerindians, interacted, collaborated, and competed for land, labor, and resources.  Topics include the relationship of frontiers and borderlands to empires, nation-states, and statelessness; the importance of race, gender, religion, and the environment in histories of territorial loss and appropriation; and the implications of cultural encounters for the emergence of reimagined native and settler identities.

Students may choose to pursue either historiographical or original research projects in this seminar.  Frontiers and borderlands have inspired a global literature.  While shared readings will focus on the Americas, students are welcome to write their final essays on relevant areas of Africa, Asia, or Oceania.  Students interested in the Americas, the Atlantic world, colonialism and imperialism, race and gender relations, and resistance and subaltern studies will find this course valuable.


This course is intended to provide the graduate student with the opportunity to develop, with a faculty member, an intensive reading program in a specialized subject.  Courses may be taken more than once; be mindful that it is not in your best interest to more than 25% of your total credits in independent study—see the director of Graduate Studies for guidance.  Variable credit to be recommended by instructor 

HIS 556: American Environmental History
Course # 21893
Wed, 4:00-6:40 pm
545 Park

“If we had our way,” the environmental historian William Cronon wrote in 1990, “historians would be no more willing to ignore questions about ecological context – about nature – than they would questions about gender or class or race.”  This seminar is an introduction to the field of environmental history, which has grown explosively in the last two generations.  In addition to opening up new areas of inquiry, environmental history provides a new way of seeing the terrain we already know well.  It enables scholars to reconsider both the causes and consequences of important historical changes.  It also provides historical perspective on contemporary environmental problems.  This seminar will explore the basic questions and insights of American environmental history.  Many of the books we’ll read have won major prizes.

HIS 577: Disability History I
Course # 24014
Thu, 2:00-4:30 pm
532 Park

This course is an introduction to the field of disability history. It is a chronological survey of disability history from antiquity to the present and as such offers students a broad overview of relevant texts in the field. It places disability and impairment in historical context, exploring changes and continuities in the ways in which people in different times and locations have thought about both concepts in law and policy, in scientific, medical, political and social discourse, and in popular and high culture. A critical analysis of the lived experience of those individuals perceived to be disabled/impaired, as well as the intersection of disability with race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, age, class, gender, and sexuality are central to this course.

HIS 580: Radical Religion
Course # 24015
Tue, 4:00-6:40 pm
545 Park

This course examines individuals and groups at the margins of religious practice in the early modern Anglo-Atlantic world.  Starting with the Protestant Reformation and continuing through the Second Great Awakening of the early nineteenth century, religion became an even more highly charged arena of contestation than it had been before.  Out of this religious ferment, some people embraced beliefs considered problematic or bizarre by the orthodox mainstream.  This includes well-known groups such as Quakers and Spiritualists, along with less familiar groups such as Swedenborgians and Immoralists.  This course seeks to understand these individuals on their own terms, as well as to understand the reactions—alternately mocking and violent—against them.  This course will pay special attention to the role of women in pushing the boundaries of acceptable religious expression.  And it will focus on how the desire to communicate with the dead underlay a wide variety of radical religious practices.

Readings include classics such as Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down:  Radical Ideas During the English Revolution and more recent works such as Susan Juster, Doomsayers:  Anglo-American Prophecy in the Age of Revolution.  The final assignment is a twelve-page research or historiographical paper on the radical group or individual of the student’s choice.


A department requirement is the completion of a special project by each person wishing to complete the MA program.  This requirement consists of a written essay of graduate-level quality, representing the equivalent of the work of a one-semester course (3 credits).  This essay may be a project based on primary source materials.  The project affords the student an opportunity to read and write extensively on a narrowed topic of special interest to him/her.  The essay will be written under the supervision and with the approval of an advisor appointed by the Director of Graduate studies.  This project may be carried out in a 600-level seminar, with the consent of the instructor, but often it will be done independently under the number 598 or 612, with the guidance of the assigned advisor. Register with Graduate Program Assistant – Park 543.


Course #17546
*Please see Director of Graduate Studies for information.



This course is intended to prepare graduate students to take their Ph.D. qualifying/general exams.  This is an intensive reading program in a specialized subject with a faculty member.  Variable credit to be recommended by instructor; may be taken more than once.

**NOTE:  HIS 600 CAN ONLY BE TAKEN BY Ph.D. students who have completed all course work and are preparing for qualifying/general exams—this replaces the use of HIS 552 only in this instance.

This course is designed for history MA students in the public history concentration and interdisciplinary disability studies graduate students interested in gaining practical experience in the field of public history. Both groups will gain professional experience in specially designed fieldwork projects. Projects are developed by students with the assistance of the history MA program and the interdisciplinary program in disability studies, and must be approved by the course instructor and the participating history or advocacy organization. The course may be repeated for credit with the approval of program advisers.



This course is designed to allow a graduate student to receive training in advanced research in history under the tutelage of a member of the History Department.  See the Director of Graduate Studies for guidance.  Variable credit to be recommended by instructor.

HIS 622: Research in American History
Course # 24016
Thu, 4:00-6:40 pm
545 Park
This seminar requires the student to complete an article-length essay (about 25 pages) based on original, primary-source research in American history. Doctoral students should consider this course as an opportunity either to produce a work suitable for presentation or publication and/or to explore the viability of a potential doctoral dissertation topic. Others may choose to begin their master’s theses in this seminar.
This is a how-to course. Class sessions will focus on research methodology, conceptualization of the topic, and written presentation of arguments and evidence. Seminar participants will present their work at several stages throughout the semester for peer review. Drafts of the final paper must be prepared well before the end of the semester to allow for the peer review process and subsequent revision.

To insure that the peer review process is workable—and that papers are finished at the end of the semester–I urge students to have defined a research project before the beginning of the semester so that you are ready to proceed immediately with research and writing. As much as possible, be prepared to express more than an interest in some event or phenomenon or area of history, and to come with a topic that has been conceived of as a research paper. Please come see me or email at the end of fall semester if you would like to talk over potential research topics. Remember that your topic must be original, feasible (do sources exist? available to me?), and of significance to an audience of professional historians.

HIS 635: Approaches to World History
Course # 24017
Thu, 4:00-6:40 pm
109 Baldy

Each participant in this seminar will carry out a research project and write a substantial research paper on a historical topic of interest to them, paying attention to how the chosen topic intersects with the broad field of world history. Critical examination of the state of research in and teaching of “world history,” undertaken early in the semester, will allow students to make use of perspectives and approaches developed by world historians and to situate their own arguments in the context of this field. Students will read and discuss their classmates’ research proposals and draft papers. The goal is to develop a solid understanding of the field of world history and to produce a research paper that engages with work in that field as appropriate and that approaches publishable quality.

Writing and submission of dissertation chapters under the supervision of your major professor/committee chairperson.  Variable credit.  YOU MUST BE A.B.D. TO REGISTER.  PERMISSION OF INSTRUCTION REQUIRED.