PG History Seminars

Dear History PG students and supervisors,
Once again, this coming semester the department of History is pleased to run a number of fortnightly advanced postgraduate seminars for your benefit. Chin Jou and Julie Smith have also kindly offered to open up their Honours Seminars to any postgraduate students wishing to audit them. We recommend and strongly encourage all PG students to attend at least one of the other seminars on offer. You might want to consult with your supervisor about the best choice for you. In addition to these seminars, students are also welcome and encouraged to attend the American Cultures Workshop at the USSC. Details for this is listed below.
NOTE: First year students should attend Chris Hilliard¹s weekly seminar, and not the other seminars (you will have already been contacted about this).
We are also opening up the “Finishing the Thesis” workshop to interested students. Places are limited though, so please do contact me if you are interested.
Once you have chosen a seminar, please contact the coordinator, who will shortly send further details, including the room in which to meet and the full schedule of meetings (if not already listed below). Please take careful note of the start dates listed below and get in touch with the relevant coordinator ahead of time ­ especially the seminars that start next week.
Any questions about all of this, please let me know.
Mike McDonnell
PG Coordinator
Reading Evidence in a ‘Post-Truth” Age
Associate Professor Julia Horne
Wednesdays, 3-5 pm
Start Date: March 15
Christopher Hitchens wrote of George Orwell’s determination to seek “elusive but verifiable truth”. But how do historians approach truth, and how do they verify the elusive? This postgraduate seminar explores the use of evidence in history, the idea of historical truth, and the theoretical, ethical and methodological hurdles along the way. Key readings include those by Timothy Garton Ash, Northrop Frye and Joan Scott along with others on critical evaluation, the socially constructed archive and the history of the footnote.
Seminars will be held 3-5pm fortnightly on Wednesdays from 15 March.e
Modern International History
Dr. Jamie Martin
Tuesdays, 2-4 pm
Start Date: March 14
This seminar offers a grounding in new approaches to the study of international history. It has two major aims: first, to introduce students to international history as a historiographical field, one that has focused largely on Europe and its relationship with the wider world since the early nineteenth century; and second, to consider international history as an approach to historical scholarship that has applications in many different geographical and thematic sub-fields. It will look, in particular, at new works in international history — both European and non-European — and at methodological debates about writing the history of international institutions, empire, and global capitalism. It also will look at the relationship between international history as it’s now practiced and the methods of diplomatic and military history that once dominated the writing of European history.
Historical and Anthropological Approaches to Food and Eating
Dr. Chin Jou
Mondays, 2-4, Bosch 192
Start Date: March 6
Food has been central to lived experience. It has shaped history through events and phenomena such as famines, uprisings, imperialism in search of commodities and markets, and population surges though more efficient methods of agricultural production. It has informed the development of structures of labour along lines of race, gender, and class; it has, of course, also been an essential part of daily life. In this seminar, we will consider examples of how historians and anthropologists have written about food and eating in order to illuminate broader historical developments, social relations, and identity. Readings will cover a variety of chronological and geographic contexts, although a disproportionate share of readings will focus on the United States since the early-twentieth century.
NB: If any PG students are interested in auditing the seminar, please advise them to email me ASAP, because there are required readings for the first week (i.e. this coming Monday). Although one of those readings can be accessed online, there is a reading that I would need to email them.
Reading Travel Writing
Dr. Julie Smith
According to Mary Carruthers [The Witness and the Other World], “The travel book is a kind of witness”. However, witnessing and ways of seeing are culturally and historically inflected. For centuries, travellers (whether explorers, pilgrims, ambassadors, merchants, missionaries, tourists) have related their experiences for a variety of audiences, and have claimed authority as eyewitnesses, “I have seen”. Thus travel writing cannot be satisfactorily understood unless it is historicised against contemporary understandings of visuality, of ways of seeing. If travel writers from other places and times were seeing for others, how should this inform our reading of their works? The seminar readings and discussions will take into account matters such as author-audience relations, geographical knowledge, gender, faith, cross-cultural contacts. Individual projects will offer opportunities for students to study travel writings and eye-witnessing from their particular research field and period.
American Cultures Workshop
Dr Alix Beeston, Research Fellow, United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney
Dr Lucas Thompson, Research Fellow, United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney
Contact Email:
Wednesdays, 5:30-7:00 pm
Start Date: March 15
Becoming a Historian: First-Year Introductory Postgraduate Seminar
Professor Chris Hilliard
Mondays, 2-4pm
SOPHI Common Room
Start Date: Monday, March 6
Finishing the Thesis
Associate Professor Michael McDonnell
Wednesdays, 3-5pm
Start Date: Wednesday, March 22
Please note: this seminar is open to PhD and MPhil students who are within a year of submission. Places are limited so please contact Mike if you¹d like to join.