• White Collar, and Blue Collar Gig Workers: What is the future of American Labor?

    Steven Greenhouse '73

    Long time New York Journalist and author of Beaten Down, and Worked Up:  the Past, Present, and Future of American Labor.

    Tuesday, October 29, 2019
    4:30PM
    College of Letters Library
    Boger Hall, Third Floor

    Sponsored by the College of Letters and the History Department

  • Without the Banya We Would Perish: A History of the Russian Bathhouse

    Ethan Pollock is Associate Professor of History and Russian Studies at Brown University

    For over a thousand years the banya (or Russian bathhouse) has been a crucial institution to a wide variety of people: men and women, rich and poor, straight and gay, religious and atheist. The omnipresence of the banya makes it a lens through which to view many aspects of Russia history—hygiene, intimacy, sociability, the relationship of Russia to the West. The banya is full of contradictions. It can clean bodies and spread disease. It can purify and befoul. It can create community and provide a means of excluding others. Taken together, thousands of sources ranging from archival documents and municipal regulations to idioms, films, art, cartoons, memoirs, diaries, songs, novels, poems, and plays provide the basis for this unprecedented portrait of the institution of the banya and for a whole new way of seeing the history of Russia.

    Wednesday, October 30, 2019
    4:30 pm
    PAC 001

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    Ethan Pollock is Associate Professor of History and Russian Studies at Brown University. He is the author of Stalin and the Soviet Science Wars (Princeton, 2006.) His work on the Russian banya has been funded by the National Council for East European and Eurasian Research, a Burkhardt Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Fernand Braudel Fellowship from the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. His book, Without the Banya We Would Perish: A History of the Russian Bathhouse, is coming out with Oxford University Press in September 2019.

    Sponsored by the History Department, Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, and Russian and East European Studies Program

  • The Theory and Practice of History

    The 2019-20 seminar series will meet four times across the year, usually on Thursdays, and will feature an exciting international and interdisciplinary line up of scholars.

    For further information or a copy of the papers once they become available, contact Gary Shaw at gshaw@wesleyan.edu. Here are the dates and current topics. Seminars will be in Boger Hall.

    Starting time for all sessions is 4:30.

    • November 14: Stefka Eriksen, Norwegian Institute of Cultural Heritage, “The Archaeology and Allegory of the Settlement of Iceland: Reflections on the Theory and Method of Interdisciplinary Environmental History.”  Boger Hall 115
    • February 6:  Heather Keenleyside, University of Chicago: “The Literary History of the History of Ideas,”  Boger Hall 113
    • March 5: Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen, University of Oulu, How to Get it Wrong: Historiography, Normativity and the Holocaust Debate,”  Boger Hall 113
    • March 26: Achim Landwehr, Heinrich-Heine-Universität, Dusseldorf, “Heiner – Hamlet – Hans. Chronoferences and the Power of ghosts,”  Boger Hall 113
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    Current Series–2019-20

    The Theory and Practice of History at Wesleyan University provides information about a seminar series, talks, and other local endeavors connected to the theory and philosophy of history as well as issues of historiography and its history, including the methodology, style, and form of historical research and writing. Its aim is to stimulate reflection on these subjects within the university and the region and to help to channel and accelerate wider discussion of these topics.

    First, however, it is the home of the Wesleyan Seminar on the Theory and Practice of History, supported by Wesleyan’s Center for the Humanities and the Department of History.

  • A Walk into Winter: The 1795 Dutch Embassy to Qing China

    Tonio Andrade is professor of history at Emory University. His core geographical area of expertise is China, but his research focuses on interconnections in the Early Modern Period (1500-1800) and on comparative history. He is author of The Gunpowder Age: China, Military Innovation, and the Rise of the West in World History; Lost Colony: The Untold Story of Europe's First War with China and How Taiwan became Chinese. Honors include the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and Gutenberg e-Prize.

     

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    The historiography of Sino-European relations has been dominated by a narrative of conflict. Chinese and Europeans, the narrative suggests, were unable to interface diplomatically because they had opposing views on how states should interact. The Chinese believed that China’s emperor was superior to all other monarchs, with foreign delegates considered to be supplicants. The Europeans, on the other hand, believed that states should relate to one another on the basis of de jure equality, and that the natural state of geopolitics was a sort of Westphalian “anarchic” system, with diplomats and ambassadors representing their sovereigns to negotiate treaties and alliances. The result, the story goes, was conflict, epitomized in the bitter Sino-European wars of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This narrative, however, is based on the experience of the British, whose failed embassies to China overwhelmingly dominate the literature. My project, in contrast, focuses on a key non-British embassy to China: the Dutch mission of 1794–95. Using a global microhistorical approach, it investigates the mission from the various perspectives available in the rich (and largely untapped) sources: Dutch, French, English, Spanish, Chinese, Manchu, and Korean. It shows that this Dutch mission, which occurred just a year after the most notorious of the failed British missions, was smooth and successful, with the people on each side quite easily able to understand their counterparts. British failures are certainly an important part of the story of Sino-Western interaction, but they must be placed in a deeper context.

    Thursday, October 10, 4.30pm, CEAS Seminar Room (343 Washington Terrace)

    Post-Lecture colloquium on Friday, October 11, 10.30am, CEAS Seminar Room (343 Washington Terrace)

  • The Ethical Choices of Whales: Bowheads, Hunters, and Mutual Adaptations in the Bering Strait, 1848-1968

    Bathsheba Demuth, Assistant Professor of History at Brown University

    Bowhead whales have been known by three distinct groups of hunters along the Bering Strait over the past two centuries: indigenous Yupik and Inupiaq whalers, capitalist commercial whalers, and communist industrial whalers. This talk looks at how whales became known through the labor of their killing, examining the cosmologies each of these three kinds of whaling practitioners composed around the animals they hunted. How where whales, particularly bowheads, imagined and treated, and how did this change across economic systems?  What kind of emotional relationships were possible? And what kinds of relationships were considered ethical between humans and whales? Did whales make ethical judgments of their hunters? What does including whale behavior in our analysis of human-whale interactions provoke in our historical understanding, and how should we situate non-human actions in human narratives of the past?

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    Bathsheba Demuth, Assistant Professor of History at Brown University, is a fellow at the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society and Assistant Director of HistoricalClimatology.com. Her work on the Environmental History of the Bering Straits and on whaling is a comparative history of indigenous, capitalist and communist whalers and their ethics. Her work was recently featured in The New Yorker magazine. Her book, Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait, was published in September 2019 with Norton.

    Tuesday, October 15, 2019
    4:30PM
    PAC 001

    Sponsored by the History Department, Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, and College of the Environment