400 Level Course Descriptions


400 Level Courses (2024-2025)

Course Designators

Below are descriptions of courses with the following designators (the 3 letter code in front of the course number):

Course Prefix Department
HIS Department of History
JIH Joint History and Indigenous Studies
(administered by the Department of History)

Course Nomenclature

  • H1-F = "First Term"; the first term of the Fall/Winter Session (September - December)
  • H1-S = "Second Term"; the second term of the Fall/Winter Session (January - April)
  • Y1-Y = full session (September - April)
  • Students should note that courses designated as "...Y1F" or "...Y1S" in the Timetable are particulary demanding.

400-level HIS courses are two-hour seminars that deal with very specialized subjects ad are often closely connected to a professor’s research. Most have specific course pre-requisites and require extensive reading, research, writing, and seminar discussion, and in most you will have the opportunity to do a major research paper. All 400-level HIS courses have enrolment restrictions during the FIRST ROUND (must have completed 14 or more full courses, be enrolled in a HIS Major, Specialist or Joint Specialist program and have the appropriate Prerequisites). During the SECOND ROUND of enrolment, access to 400-level seminars is open to all 3rd and 4th year students with the appropriate Prerequisites.

IMPORTANT: Due to significant enrolment pressure on 4th year seminars, during the first round of enrolment, the Department of History reserves the right to REMOVE STUDENTS who enrol in more than the required number for program completion (Specialists – 2; Majors, Joint Specialists – 1) without consultation.

Students in 400-level seminars MUST ATTEND THE FIRST CLASS, or contact the professor to explain their absence. Failure to do so may result in the Department withdrawing the student from the seminar in order to “free up” space for other interested students. Additional 400-level seminars for the 2024-2025 Fall/Winter Session may be added at a later date. To fulfill History program requirements, students may also use 400- level courses offered by other Departments at the U of T that are designated as ‘Equivalent Courses’.

The Department also offers a few joint undergraduate-graduate seminars. These are indicated in the course description. Undergraduate enrolment in joint seminars is restricted, and the expected level of performance is high.

HIS400H1 - The American War in Vietnam

This course examines the French and American Wars (1945-75) in Vietnam and its effects on the population of Vietnam and Southeast Asia. It begins with a brief overview of pre-colonial Vietnamese history and moves into a study of the impact and legacies of colonial rule and centres on the impact of the Wars on the cultures, economies, and societies of Southeast Asia.

Prerequisite: HIS379H1 and 14.0 credits or permission of the instructor.
Exclusion: HIS315H1
Breadth Requirements: Society and its Institutions (3)

Geographic Area: b

HIS401H1 - The Cold War through its Archives
(Joint undergraduate/graduate course - HIS401H1/HIS1289H)

The course reviews the history of the Cold War in light of formerly secret archival documents. Examples include the US White House Tapes and Venona decrypts; massive declassification of records in the ex-Soviet bloc; and parallel developments in China, Cuba, and other Communist states. Archival discoveries have cast new light, not just on individual episodes (e.g., Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979) but on the origins, strategies, and driving forces of this 45-year conflict. The focus will be mainly on the superpowers and their alliance systems.

Prerequisite: HIS311Y1/HIS344H1/HIS344Y1/HIS377H1
Exclusion: HIS401Y1, HIS306H5
Breadth Requirements: Society and its Institutions (3)

HIS402H1 - Sephardim: The Jews of Spain and their Diasporas

This course follows the journey of Sephardic Jews from their beginnings in Iberia to their diasporas in the Ottoman Empire and the New World. We begin by studying Jewish life and culture in Iberia itself. We then study the expulsion from Spain and Portugal and how Sephardic Jews managed to reconstruct their communities and maintain their identity in new lands until the Nineteenth Century. Themes discussed include mysticism and messianism, conversos and heresy, and trade and exploration. We will conclude by looking at how Sephardic Jews shaped ideas of modernity that were distinct from those of their Ashkenazi coreligionists.

Prerequisite: 9.0 credits including 1.0 HIS/ JHA/ JHM/ JHN/ JIH/ JSH credit
Breadth Requirements: Society and its Institutions (3)

Geographic Area: a
Temporal Requirement: 0.5 credit

HIS 406H1-S, L0101 Advanced Topics in Gender History: Trends in Women and Gender History in the Global South
(Joint undergraduate/graduate course – HIS406H1/HIS1705H)

This seminar is intended as an introduction to key issues, debates, and themes in the historiography of women and gender in the global south. The course focuses on the intersections of gender, sexuality, nationalism and transnationalism in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean within the context of colonialism, decolonization and globalization from the late 19th century to the early 21st century. Case studies range from gender and tradition in colonial and nationalist discourses; nationalist leaders and women’s emancipation; body politics; sexuality, the state and citizenship to feminism, nationalism and transnationalism.
The seminar asks not only questions of gendered and sexual inclusive and exclusive discourses and practices; it also considers questions of what history is and how it is constructed.
The seminar will be a space for intellectual exploration and learning, for the forming and sharpening of ideas, and for discovery about some of the ways women and gender historians have been making histories, working in a variety of fields and archives, defining and theorizing problems and using evidence-based research.

Breadth Requirements: Society and its Institutions (3)

HIS413H1 - Slave Emancipation in the Atlantic World
(Joint undergraduate/graduate course – HIS413H1/HIS1710H)

This course explores the long process of the ‘unfinished revolution’ of abolition in the Atlantic World from the 18th-late 19th century Atlantic World. It will take a comparative and transnational approach, with materials that include primary printed sources, classic texts, current historiography, literature, explorations of the history of emancipation through digital and visual culture. We will examine scholarship and historical debates about abolition in the Caribbean, North and South America, West Europe, and Africa.

Prerequisite: 0.5 credit from: HIS221H1, HIS230H1, HIS231H1, HIS244H1, HIS245H1, HIS265Y1, HIS271Y1, HIS291H1, HIS295Y1, HIS357Y1, HIS373H1
Breadth Requirements: Society and its Institutions (3)

HIS419H1 - Canada By Treaty: Alliances, Title Transfers and Land Claims
(Joint undergraduate/graduate course – HIS419H1/HIS1118H)

A detailed study of the treaty process between indigenous peoples and newcomers in Canadian history, with examination of the shift between alliance treaties to land surrender agreements from the colonial period through to the signing of recent treaties including the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and the Nisga’a Final Agreement.

Prerequisite: HIS263Y1/ HIS264H1
Breadth Requirements: Society and its Institutions (3)

Geographic Area: b

HIS426H1 - Early Medieval Italy, 300-1000 CE

This seminar examines major developments in Italy 300-1000, including the Christianization of Italy, the collapse of Roman rule, the establishment of several barbarian successor kingdoms, and changes in architecture, art and literature in a period known as Italy's Dark Ages.

Breadth Requirements: Society and its Institutions (3)

Geographic Area: c
Temporal Requirement: 0.5 credit

HIS428H1 - Medieval Institutes of Perfection
(Joint undergraduate/graduate course – HIS428H1/HIS1213H)

The first goal of this seminar is to help students read the sources with a more critical eye, especially narrative sources (Lives of Saints) and normative sources (rules and customaries). The second goal is to study the evolution of the monastic ideal from its origin to the 12th century. (Joint undergraduate-graduate)

Prerequisite: A course specifically on the Middle Ages such as HIS220Y1
Breadth Requirements: Society and its Institutions (3)

Geographic Area: c
Temporal Requirements: 0.5 credit

HIS431H1 - Historical Memory and Transitional Justice in Latin America

Transitional justice encompasses a broad range of experiences, including amnesties, peace agreements, memorial building, and criminal prosecutions, as well as truth and reconciliation commissions. Enthusiasm for transitional justice is understandable, and critical reflection on the politics of memory is imperative. In what ways has memory in Latin America been mobilized by various groups to confront serious violations of human rights? We will address the connections between memory, accountability and social reconstruction, and each student will be asked to write a research paper on a case study or topic of their choice.

Prerequisite: 14.0 credits including 2.0 HIS/ JHA/ JHM/ JHN/ JIH/ JSH credits
Breadth Requirements: Society and its Institutions (3)

Geographic Area: b

HIS430H1 - The Two Germanies and the Cold War, 1949-1989
(Joint undergraduate/graduate course – HIS430H1/HIS1278H)

This course explores central themes of the field of postwar German and Cold War history from national, European, and global history perspectives. It familiarizes students with significant events, texts, dates, and actors in its analysis of the histories of the two postwar German states and explores German history as a microcosm of Cold War relations. In analyzing the two Germanies after 1949 an interdisciplinary variety of texts will be studied, covering topics from diplomacy and economy, to gender, memory, politics, and geopolitics.

Prerequisites: 14.0 credits including 2.0 HIS credits
Exclusions: HIS496H1 (offered as "The Two Germanies and the Cold War, 1949-1990") taken in Winter 2019, (offered as "The Two Germanies and the Cold War") taken in Fall 2020.
Recommended Preparation: HIS241H1, HIS242H1, HIS330H1, HIS317H1
Breadth Requirements: Society and its Institutions (3)

Geographic Area: c

HIS439H1 - Russia's Empire

The collapse of the Soviet Union along national lines brought about a renewed interest in the non- Russian parts of the Imperial Russian state. This so-called “imperial turn” has altered the ways that we think about Tsarist Russian rule. In this course we address different approaches to the study of Empire as reflected in the Russian case from its origins in the sixteenth century until the collapse of the Tsarist state — but not precisely of its empire — in 1917.

Prerequisite: HIS325H1, HIS351H1. Students who do not meet the prerequisites are encouraged to contact the Department.
Breadth Requirements: Society and its Institutions (3)

Geographic Area: c

HIS457H1 - The French Revolution and the Napoleonic Empire

Explores the central themes in the history of the French Revolution: the causes of the Revolution; the contested varied efforts to build a new regime; the invention of a novel republican political culture; counterrevolution and Terror; the Haitian Revolution; Napoleon and the Empire; the Revolution as a global phenomenon; the Restoration; the Revolution's legacy today.

Prerequisite: HIS243H1/ HIS244H1/ HIS319H1/ HIS341Y1/ HIS387H1
Exclusion: HISC26H3
Breadth Requirements: Society and its Institutions (3)

Geographic Area: c
Temporal Requirement: 0.5 credit

HIS465H1 - Gender and International Relations

This seminar explores the use of gender as a category of analysis in the study of international relations. Topics include gendered imagery and language in foreign policymaking; beliefs about women’s relationship to war and peace; issues of gender, sexuality, and the military; gender and global governance; gender and the global economy; sexual violence; and contributions of feminist theory to international relations theory.

Recommended Preparation: 0.5 credit at the 300-level in HIS/POL/WGS
Breadth Requirements: Thought, Belief and Behaviour (2)

Geographic Area: c
Temporal Requirement: 0.5 credit

HIS466H1 - Senior Seminar in Canadian History: Canada and the Global South

This course will investigate Canada’s relationship with the global South from 1945 to the present. Taking a case study approach, we will explore the evolution of Canadian responses to decolonization and the emergence of a postcolonial world. Topics will include the Indonesian Revolution, the Korean War, the Suez Crisis, Algeria’s War of Independence, the Congo Crisis, Cuba, Vietnam, Indigenous resistance, South African apartheid, East Timor, and the Arab Spring. Rather than only examining how Canada tried to shape developments on the ground in the global South, we will view these events as a two-way street in which Canadian attitudes and policy were as influenced by others.

Prerequisite: HIS263Y1/ HIS264H1 or permission of the instructor
Breadth Requirements: Society and its Institutions (3)

HIS470H - History, Rights and Difference in South Asia

This seminar addresses modern South Asian history to think critically about ideas of rights since 1750. Examining themes in the political, economic, and legal history of South Asia (most especially India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) 1750-present, the course highlights the central place of colonial and postcolonial histories, and the questions of difference they pose, within the intellectual history of rights. The course will survey major debates on rights: citizenship and its relationship with custom and tradition; rights, the rule of law, and the question of cultural and gender difference; and rights and ideas of contract in the context of market exchange, colonial capitalism, and postcolonial development. Readings include primary historical sources from South Asia, legal and political theory on rights, and postcolonial historiography.
Tentative Course Requirements: two short analytical papers, one longer paper on a major theme, class attendance and participation.

Prerequisite: A mark of 73% or higher in HIS282Y1 or instructor’s permission.
Recommended Preparation: Background in political and social theory and some background in South Asia.

Geographic Area: a

HIS475H1 - Senior Research Seminar

In this seminar, students will learn the historical methodology skills required to undertake their major independent research project for future professional use or graduate studies, including the development of a topic, formal literature reviews, and the writing of research and grant proposals. History Specialists & Majors only (priority enrollment for Specialists). Not eligible for CR/NCR option. See department website for prerequisite details and registration instructions. Students may count HIS475H1 towards the Specialty methodology pathway or carry on to HIS476H1: Senior Thesis.

Prerequisite: Consent of supervisor and department
Exclusion: HIS476Y1, HIS491Y1, HIS498H1, HIS499Y1
Breadth Requirements: Society and its Institutions (3)

HIS476H1 - Senior Thesis Seminar

Students research and write a primary-sourced based thesis of approximately 7,000 words, building on the prospectus and literature review developed in HIS475H1. Students attend seminar meetings to discuss the hypotheses they have formulated, present their work in progress and engage in constructive critique of other students’ work. History Specialists & Majors only (priority enrollment for Specialists). Students must find topics and thesis supervisors. Not eligible for CR/NCR option. See department website for prerequisite details and registration instructions.

Prerequisites: HIS475H1 and consent of supervisor and department
Exclusions: HIS476Y1, HIS498H1, HIS499Y1, HIS491Y1
Breadth Requirements: Society and its Institutions (3)

HIS483H1 - Space and Power in Modern Africa
(Joint undergraduate/graduate course HIS483H1/HIS1708H)

This course examines the production, experience, and politics of space in modern Africa from a historical perspective. How is space - local, national, and imperial - produced? In what ways does power inscribe these spaces? This course will explore these questions through a variety of readings examining historical examples and cases from across the continent.

Prerequisite: A course in African History such as HIS319H1, AFR290H1, AFR370H1
Breadth Requirements: Society and its Institutions (3)

Geographic Area: a

HIS484H1 - The Car in North American History

This seminar examines the history of the car in North America from the perspective of technology, business, landscape and popular culture. Particular attention is paid to issues of production, consumption, geography, and daily life, and to the importance of class race, gender, region, and age in shaping the meaning and experience of car culture.

Prerequisite: HIS263Y1/ HIS264H1/ HIS271Y1
Breadth Requirements: Society and its Institutions (3)

Geographic Area: b

HIS485H1 - Topics in Chinese History: The Mongol Century

This course traces the emergence, expansion, consolidation, and fragmentation of the medieval empire of the Mongols through translated primary sources produced by those conquered by and in contact with the empire (Chinese, Islamic, European) and the conquerors (Mongolian). Topics include the life of Chinggis (Genghis) Khan, medieval Eurasian geopolitics and society, Mongol administration of China and Persia, military strategies and technology, the role of religion in imperial administration, cross-cultural encounter and exchange, and the legacy of the Mongols in the world.

Prerequisites: EAS102Y1/HIS280Y1/JMC201Y1
Exclusion: HIS485Y1
Breadth Requirements: Society and its Institutions (3)

Geographic Area: a

HIS492H1 - Empire & Colonization in the French Atlantic World

The first French empire (1604-1791) is typically considered a failed empire. Beginning with the first French exploratory expeditions in the South Atlantic in the mid-16th century, this course examines the social, economic, and political history of French imperial expansion during the Ancien régime in order to consider the meaning of success, as applied to empire during this period. The focus is on the development of the two colonial centres of the French New World: New France and the French Caribbean.

Prerequisite: HIS244H1/ HIS294Y1/ (HIS230H1, HIS231H1)
Recommended Preparation: HIS387H1
Breadth Requirements: Society and its Institutions (3)

Temporal Requirement: 0.5 credit

HIS495H1 - Topics in History: Law and Cartography in Maritime East Asia, 16th - 20th Century

This seminar will trace the background of contemporary disputes in the East Asian seas by examining the maritime history of the region between the sixteenth and the twentieth centuries. Although the course focuses on East Asia, it also touches upon other regions when discussing classic works on oceanic histories, law, cartography, imperialism, nationalism, and sovereignty. The readings every week typically consist of 1 primary source and 2-3 secondary sources. Those with little background in East Asian history should consult a standard textbook such as Holcombe Charles, A History of East Asia: From the Origins to the Twenty-First Century, second edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017).

Prerequisite: 14.0 credits, including 2.0 HIS credits excluding HIS262H1. Recommended Preparation: Varies from year to year.

Geographic Area: a

HIS495H1 – Topics in History: The Politics of Race in Latin America

The course explores the histories of race-making in Latin America from the sixteenth to the twentieth century. Students will investigate the long-lasting impacts of slavery and colonialism in Latin America and how these processes shaped nation-building, social and economic inequalities, and popular political mobilization. It moves chronologically from the colonial period to nation-building discourses in the nineteenth century, authoritarian regimes in the twentieth century, and the multicultural turn to prepare students for theoretical discussions on race. Some of the themes explored are law, class and gender, social movements, and intellectual/academic production. Students interested in race in the North American context will find the politics of race in Latin America as a generative point of contrast and comparison.

Prerequisite: 14.0 credits, including 2.0 HIS credits excluding HIS262H1. Recommended Preparation: Varies from year to year.

Geographic Area: b

HIS496H1 - Topics in History: Blue Gold: Water, Power, and Society in a Global Perspective (XVIIth to the Present)

This course adopts an environmental history perspective to explore the relationships between water and society at the global scale. Organized thematically and chronologically around case studies, this class will examine how societies and communities developed local practice of water management to appropriate, divert, commodify, and exhaust water from rivers, water tables, lakes, oceans, etc. from the late seventeenth century to the present. During this semester, students will learn both how societies began to free themselves from the biophysical constraints of the world with new technology and policies and how this generated large-scale environmental transformations with which humanity is still grappling.

Prerequisite: 14.0 credits including 2.0 HIS credits.
Exclusion: Students may not take both L0601 ("Critical Histories of the Black Canadian Experience") and L0701 ("Race in Canada") offered in 2016-17 Fall/Winter.

HIS496H1 - Topics in History: History of Modern Terrorism

“What is terrorism?”–a seemingly simple question, but one to which there is apparently no simple answer. Few words in our language are used so often and so carelessly as the term “terrorism”. In our seminar we will examine the complex phenomenon of “modern” terrorism, its various forms, and its transnational connections from a historical perspective. 
With the help of illustrative examples and current references from Europe and Germany, we will draw a chronological arc from the emergence of “modern” terrorism in the 19th century, the terrorist violence in the age of the world wars, to the transnational terrorism of the 21st century. Groups and events we will discuss include, for example, anarchist terrorism, the Organisation Consul, the Munich Massacre (1972), the Red Army Faction, the Oktoberfest Massacre (1980), the National Socialist Underground, and the Islamic State. 
Our seminar will focus on questions concerning the radicalization process of terrorists, their self-perception, and goals, as well as similarities and differences between the different forms of terrorism and between groups of the same kind. Furthermore, we will also look at how nations and the international community reacted to the terrorist challenge, since the “anti-terrorism policies” are a key factor in the emergence and development of terrorist groups.

Prerequisite: 14.0 credits including 2.0 HIS credits
Exclusion: Students may not take both L0601 ("Critical Histories of the Black Canadian Experience") and L0701 ("Race in Canada") offered in 2016-17 Fall/Winter.

HIS 498H1-F/S/499Y1-Y Independent Studies Courses

History Majors and Specialists only. These courses result in the production of an independent research project. This may not necessarily take the form of a thesis. Students must find topics and project supervisors. Not eligible for CR/NCR option. See department website for specific registration instructions.

Prerequisites: Minimum 80% over 3.0 HIS credits at the 200-level or above