2017-2018 Seminar Schedule

Spring Semester 2018

Teaching World and African History from a Very Small Place

Friday, February 2, 2018, 9am-2:30pm
Allen Howard, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, Rutgers

Using small places in West Africa (Kroo Bay, Freetown, Sierra Leone) as starting points, this workshop explores ways to teach key issues in World and African History. The idea is to work out from individuals (youth, women, and men) and from local places to broad themes: kingdoms and states, the slave trade, war, cities, imperialism/colonialism/nationalism, and epidemic disease. The workshop will focus on discussion of documents (provided by the instructor), visuals, and various teaching situations and tools in the framework of a power point presentation illustrating people, places, and themes.

Slavery and History: The Material of Black Lives and How We Interpret the Past

Friday, February 16, 2018, 9am-2:30pm
Marisa Fuentes, Associate Professor, Department of History, Rutgers

This seminar discusses historical methods for piecing together the history of slavery in the Atlantic world from the late-17th to mid-19th centuries. It will focus particular attention to British Caribbean slavery, its origins and growth, and look closely at how historians negotiate and work with an archive in which enslaved people are found in fragments. Using examples from my recent work on enslaved women in urban Barbados, we will explore how to read, interpret, and make narratives from records and documents in which enslaved people are listed as property, criminals, and commodities, and think about an ethical historical practice that pushes back on the power of colonial language and ideas. Along with providing a solid historical overview of the major themes in Atlantic slavery, this seminar will consider gender and the enslaved experience and feature “hands-on” work with documents relating to this topic and we will discuss our historical practices related to such materials.

Fighting for Justice in the Age of the Atom

Friday, March 2, 2018, 9am-2:30pm
Shaun Illingworth, Director, Rutgers Oral History Archives

In the last half of the 20th century, millions of Americans joined their voices together in social justice movements that challenged the norms of mainstream American society and aimed to secure civil rights for minorities and women, antiwar principles and policies, environmental welfare, LGBTQ+ equality and more. What motivated these men and women? What challenges did they face? How did their efforts intersect with other aspects of American history? What, ultimately, did they accomplish? Through oral history interviews, these eyewitnesses offer today's students insight into how people engaged with these movements, their goals and their ideals in both organized, public ways and through private, personal means. This workshop will offer teachers an in-depth look into interviews on social justice activism collected by the Rutgers Oral History Archives and other programs around the country, primary resources that students can analyze using a variety of learning strategies.

Science, Technology, and Capitalism in the Long Gilded Age

Friday, March 23, 2018, 9am-2:30pm
Jamie Pietruska, Assistant Professor, Department of History

The decades after the American Civil War and Reconstruction are often understood as a “search for order” in which the rise of corporate capitalism, new transportation and communication networks, scientific discovery and technical innovation, and new forms of expertise and management created an underlying order, system, and rationality that enabled the United States to become an economic superpower by the turn of the twentieth century. This seminar will draw upon new research by historians of science and technology and historians of capitalism to reconsider the Long Gilded Age (1880-1920) as a period in which technological infrastructures and scientific knowledge often had the unintended consequence of creating volatility, uncertainty, and disorder in the economy. Specific topics will include controversies over new kinds of weather, crop, and business forecasts that were used as tools for risk management but often perpetuated the uncertainty they were designed to conquer; the rise of commodity futures trading and the ensuing legal battles over the differences between speculation and gambling; and, scandals over fraud in the contexts of dinosaur fossil hunting, sugar manufacturing, and patent medicine advertising.

Inventing America: Thomas Edison and the History of Technology and Industry

Monday, April 9, 2018, 9am-2:30pm
Paul Israel, Research Professor, Department of History, Rutgers
Director and General Editor, Thomas A. Edison Papers Project, Rutgers

The Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers is documenting the career of the famous inventor and of his many technological innovations. These are not only of national and international importance, but they also have special significance for New Jersey history. Edison worked in the state from 1870 until his death in 1931 and his major inventive activities took place here. Even more significantly, he helped to invent industrial research at his laboratories in Newark, Menlo Park, and West Orange, and to make corporate America aware of the value of developing such a research capability. In addition, Edison's inventions laid the foundation for many industries, most notably electric light and power, sound recording, and motion pictures, but also contributed to many others including telecommunication, electric batteries and cars, and cement manufacturing, among others. This seminar will examine Edison's historical significance and introduce participants to ways of incorporating the resources of the Edison Papers and the history of technology and industry into the teaching of history and social science. The seminar will be held at Edison's last laboratory in West Orange, N.J., which is part of the Thomas Edison National Historical Park.

The Great War and America’s Rise to Global Power (WAIT LIST ONLY)

Friday, April 27, 2018, 9am-2:30pm
Michael Adas, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, Rutgers

1918 was not only the last year of World War I, but also the year when military interventions of the United States began to contribute in significant ways to the victory of the allied powers (by then effectively reduced to Great Britain and France). The workshop will focus on ways of integrating America’s impact on the war into courses on both U.S. and global history. Participants will consider the major role America played in the years before it actively entered the war, the controversies relating to questions as to why and if it should have gotten involved, the often overstated impact of its plunge into trench warfare, and its outsized (and often misguided) role in fashioning the ill-fated Settlement at Versailles.

Mexico since World War II: Miracle or Mess?

Friday, May 11, 2018, 9am-2:30pm
Mark Wasserman, Professor, Department of History, Rutgers

From 1940 through 1968 Mexico experienced a prolonged period of spectacular economic growth. But beneath the surface, the benefits of the good times were unequally distributed. As other countries in Latin America underwent serial regime changes, Mexico had the same ruling political party that peacefully transferred power for seventy years. But below there was repression and violence. The boom times ended in the early 1980s and many economic ups and downs followed, with crises rendered by the rise and fall of petroleum prices and production and the burden of enormous public debt. The long rule of the Party of the Institutionalized Revolution (PRI) ceased in2000. Politics since has seemed to slowly disintegrate. From the 1980s Mexico embarked on a “war on drugs,” which has induced calamitous violence. How then should we consider Mexico? Has Mexico prospect for economic growth and employment? Will Mexico remain politically stable? As our close neighbor and close economic partner these are crucial questions for people in the United States.

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