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Department of History and Classical Studies

Welcome to History and Classical Studies!

The teaching of history at McGill began in 1855, although the department itself was only formally founded at the turn of the twentieth century by Charles William Colby in association with Stephen Leacock and C.E. Fryer. In 1997 the Department of Classics was merged into the Department of History, and in 2010 the name was formally changed to the Department of History and Classical Studies.

Today the department is composed of 44 full-time faculty members, as well as a strong complement of visiting professors, faculty lecturers, and post-doctoral fellows. This array of dedicated teachers and scholars supports high quality instruction and research across the periods of history and regions of the globe. The department is also home to programs in Classical Studies, which offer training in Greek and Latin languages and literature as well as a stimulating array of courses in ancient history. A minor concentration in Neo-Hellenic Studies has recently been added to the programs administered by the department.


Department News

The Department of History and Classical Studies, the Indigenous Studies Program, McGill's Faculty of Law, the First Peoples' House, and the Social Equity and Diversity Education Office (SEDE), is sponsoring a free screening of "The Pass System" on 19 September at 6:00 p.m. in Leacock 26. Beginning in 1885 and for more than 60 years, the Canadian Government denied many Indigenous peoples of the prairies the right to leave their reserves. This investigative documentary features Cree, Saulteaux, Dene, Ojibwe and Blackfoot Elders and their stories of living under and resisting this system, revealing a little known picture of life under segregation in Canada. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion including the director Alex Williams, History professor Allan Downey, History MA student Sandra-Lynn Kahsennano:ron Leclair, Winona Wheeler, Katsi'tsakwas Ellen Gabriel and Orenda Boucher-Curotte. For more information, visit www.thepasssystem.ca or email allan [dot] downey [at] mcgill [dot] ca.

The Department is pleased to welcome Prof. Stuart McCook of Guelf University as a visiting research affiliate for the academic year 2016-2017. Prof. McCook's interests include global history, commodity history, the history of science, technology, and medicine, the history of natural disasters, and Latin American history. His  current project studies the economic and environmental connections between the world's coffee zones, especially since the mid-nineteenth century by following a catastrophic crop epidemic —the coffee rust (Hemileia vastatrix) as it spread through the Indian Ocean Basin, Africa, and the Americas. The course of the epidemic in each place was shaped by many factors, including the patterns of coffee cultivation, scientific knowledge about rust and its control, and transportation linkages (steamships, railroads, air travel). While at McGill, he will be finishing a book on the coffee rust project, and starting research for a more general global environmental history of coffee. For more on Prof. McCook, visit his home page at https://www.uoguelph.ca/history/history-stuart-mccook

Yusuf Karabiçak, PhD3, conducted research in Athens during the month of May 2016 thanks to a  scholarship funded by the French School at Athens. He was also the recipient of a fellowship allowing him to participate in the Hellenic College Holy Cross 8-week long Asia Minor travel seminar entitled "Greek Orthodox Christians of Ottoman Cappadocia." His seminar research paper dealt with the refugees of the city of … through transcribed interviews and biographical accounts of first-generation refugees kept at the Center for Asia Minor Studies archives

Congratulations to Prof. Lorenz Lüthi, who has been awarded a four-year SSHRH Insight Grant for his projected History of the Cold War without the Superpowers: Asia, the Middle East, Europe, an ambitious re-interpretation of the 1945-1990 period from the perspective of the three regional experiences.  By focusing on smaller powers, Lüthi aims to show how their interactions changed the structure of the global Cold War, and to challenge many conventional assumptions – for example, that the Cold War started in 1945 and ended in 1989, that Europe was the critical theatre, and that events in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe were separate and independent from each other. The project explores how regional Cold Wars were connected, and how they brought about structural changes that enabled the superpowers to overcome their enmity.

Prof. Laila Parsons' new book is the definitive biography of a charismatic and controversial figure in modern Middle East history. Fawzi al-Qawuqji and the Fight for Arab Independence 1914-1948 traces the remarkable life of a man who fought the British in the Ottoman Army during World War I, the French is Syria in the 1920s, and the British in Iraq. In 1936 he re-appeared in Palestine where he helped direct the Arab revolt of 1936.  Exiled during World War II, he returned to command the Arab Liberation Army in the Arab-Israeli war of 1948. Charles Tripp of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, praises Prof. Parsons' "impressive scholarship"; "In a well-paced and lucid account, she succeeds admirably in bringing to life the hopes, struggles, and disappointments not only of al-Qawuqji but of many of his contemporaries." For further information, click here: http://us.macmillan.com/thecommander/lailaparsons

 Prof. Allan Greer has been re-appointed as Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Colonial North America for a period of seven years. Prof. Greer is a distinguished historian of early Canada. Winner of the Sir John A. Macdonald Prize of the Canadian Historical Association and both the Prix Lionel-Groulx and the Prix Maxime-Reymond of the Institut d'histoire de l'Amérique française, he has published books on such diverse subjects as St Catherine Tekakwitha, the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837, and the social history of rural Quebec from 1740 to 1840. His new research projects focus on property formation, and on slave ownership in the French Atlantic world.

 Dr Marie-Claude Felton, Research Affiliate in the Department of History and Classical Studies, has been awarded an SSHRC Insight Development Grant for her new project on self-publishing in Paris and London in the 17th and 18th centuries. Dr Felton received her BA with first-class Honours from our Department, and went on to obtain her doctorat from UQAM and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris. She held a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University, and recently was Banting Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at McGill. Her monograph Maîtres de leurs ouvrages: L'édition à compte d'auteur à Paris au XVIIIe sièce was published by the Voltaire Foundation, Oxford, in 2014.

Faith Wallis, professor of Western Medieval History, and University of Minnesota Emeritus Professor Calvin Kendall, announce the publication of their translation of, and commentary on Isidore of Seville's On the Nature of Things. For medieval people, bishop Isidore of Seville (560?-636) was one of the most influential authorities for understanding the natural world. On the Nature of Things is the first work on natural science by a Christian author that is not a commentary on the creation story in Genesis. Instead, Isidore adopted a classical model to describe the structure of the physical cosmos, and discuss the principles of astronomy, physics, geography, meteorology and time-reckoning. That On the Nature of Things presents an essentially Greco-Roman picture of the universe, but amplified with Christian reflections and allegories, played a crucial role in the assimilation of ancient science into the emerging culture of the Middle Ages. For more information, see http://liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/products/73647

A Short History of the State in Canada is the newest book by Professor Elsbeth Heaman. Prof. Heaman examines the development of the state in both principle and practice, examining Indigenous forms of government before European contact; the interplay of French and British colonial institutions before and after the Conquest of New France; the creation of the nineteenth-century liberal state; and, finally, the rise and reconstitution of the modern social welfare state. For more information, see http://www.utppublishing.com/A-Short-History-of-the-State-in-Canada.html

Prof. Tassos Anastassiadis, in collaboration with colleagues from York University, Simon Fraser University and the University of Patras (Greece), has received a major grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation to develop a Centre for the Study of Greek Immigration and Diaspora at McGill. The scope of the project is global, but Canada will be the focus of the pilot studies. The size and diversity of Montreal's Hellenic community will allow the team to map patterns of settlement, gather oral histories, and study the impact of the Canadian milieu on the Greek language and culture.  A major goal of the Centre is a Virtual Museum for Greek Immigration.

Sarah Ghabrial, a student of Prof. Malek Abisaab, has won the prestigious John Bullen Prize of the Canadian Historical Association for her doctoral dissertation “Le Fiqh Francisé? Modernizing Personal Status Law in French Algeria, 1870-1930.” The John Bullen Prize honours the outstanding PhD thesis on a historical topic submitted in a Canadian university by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. See more here.

Prof. Bill Gladhill, newly appointed Director of the Classics program, has just published Rethinking Roman Alliance: a Study in Poetics and Society with Cambridge University Press. Foedus is the Latin term for the ritual event that cements an alliance, but its cultural resonance extends beyond  law and politics to encompass private life, friendship, the relation of humans to the gods, and even the coherence of the material cosmos. Foedus is about poetic imagination as much as social ideology, and serves as a unique lens for understanding Roman culture. For more on Rethinking Roman Alliance, click here.

Subho Basu, professor of South Asian history, was interviewed on CCTV about the recent threats to Bangladeshi bloggers. You can see the interview here.

Gavin Walker, professor of Japanese history, launched his new book  The Sublime Perversion of Capital: Marxist Theory and the Politics of History in Modern Japan (Duke University Press, 2016): https://www.dukeupress.edu/the-sublime-perversion-of-capital.

In The Sublime Perversion of Capital, Gavin Walker examines the Japanese debate about capitalism between the 1920s and 1950s, using it as a "prehistory" to consider current discussions of uneven development and contemporary topics in Marxist theory and historiography. Walker locates the debate's culmination in the work of Uno Kozo, whose investigations into the development of capitalism and the commodification of labor power are essential for rethinking the national question in Marxist theory. Walker's analysis of Uno and the Japanese debate strips Marxist historiography of its Eurocentric focus, showing how Marxist thought was globalized from the start. In analyzing the little-heralded tradition of Japanese Marxist theory alongside Marx himself, Walker not only offers new insights into the transition to capitalism, the rise of globalization, and the relation between capital and the formation of the nation-state; he provides new ways to break Marxist theory's impasse with postcolonial studies and critical theory.

Prof. Walker also received the IPLAI (Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas) Faculty Fellowship, which he will hold from 2016-2018.

James Krapfl, professor of Eastern European history, is the recipient of two awards honouring his book Revolution with a Human Face: Politics, Culture and Community in Czechoslovakia, 1989-1992 (Cornell University Press, 2013). The most significant award is the George Blazyca Prize for best work in East European Studies, awarded by the British Association for Slavonic & East European Studies.  Additionally, the book won the Czechoslovak Studies Association Book Prize. For more on Revolution with a Human Face visit here.

Max Hamon, a doctoral student, working with Professors Elsbeth Heaman and Elizabeth Elbourne, has published an article in the March 2016 issue of Canadian Historical Review entitled "Contesting Civilization: Louis Riel's Defense of Culture at the Collège de Montréal." McGill friends of Max can access the article through the Library here (use the Project Muse archive). If you are not at McGill, click here.

Luke Ryder, a doctoral student working with Professor James Krapfl, is a visiting fellow at the United States Holocaust Museum and Memorial. See his profile page here.

 

 

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