In this Cluster, we help one another think more critically about media and discuss how to incorporate it into our research and writing. Cluster members’ research interests range widely from maritime history of communications and encounter in the Atlantic World to the history of popular radio programs and propaganda books in 20th century Asia. We discuss mass media theories and important works on the media history such as Harold A. Innis’s The Bias of Communication, Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, and Lisa Gitelman’s Paper Knowledge: Toward a Media History of Documents and Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture. We also present our works in progress so that each other can give feedback on one another’s work. At the end of the academic year, the members who presented their works in progress will again present their works that reflect the feedback received from their presentations.
History in/and the Anthropocene
A discussion group that anticipates meeting bi-monthly to engage with new works concerned with the Anthropocene from multiple historical approaches. While interested members are currently within the History and STS departments, we also hope to engage with faculties across campus with activities that might include workshopping in progress papers and dissertation work on related themes.
Convener: Bob Brain
History of China Cluster
The China Cluster is a forum for students, faculty members, and visiting scholars to meet regularly to discuss work-in-progress and to conduct close reading of texts. The diverse community that is the China Cluster comprises members from both the Department of History and the Department of Asian Studies, but it also includes students and faculty members from other units on campus. Our goal is to foster a community of learning in which China's past is explored in all its dimensions.
Conveners: Leo Shin
Associated Extra-Departmental Faculty
Early Modern Research Cluster
The Early Modern Research Cluster is inspired by a desire for a multidisciplinary community with shared and varied interests in early modern studies. The EMRC seeks to create such a community and to foster dialogue and debate. It will serve as a forum for faculty, graduate and interested undergraduate students, and affiliates and colleagues beyond UBC and SFU. The EMRC conceives of ‘early modern’ as global and flexibly ranging from 1300-1800.
This year, the EMRC will launch a colloquium series with talks given by UBC faculty. The meetings will be casual and talks will range from works-in-progress, to pre-circulated papers and polished presentations. The aim is to expand our scholarly community by meeting a few times a year to learn about and be inspired by each other’s work, and to discuss our interest in early modern studies.
Convener: John Christopolous
Imperial Histories Cluster
It is often the unfortunate case that scholars whose work concentrates on questions of empire do not engage in an active dialogue with each other. The field has become compartmentalised, and a historian of the Chinese Empire may not be interested in engaging the problems and methodologies of a European maritime empires scholar; a researcher studying migration might not necessarily be open to issues raised by an economic historian, not to mention the ubiquitous pre-modern/modern divide. Yet all the differences notwithstanding, the imperial framework provides a useful handle with which to address various questions of historical analysis.
The proposed cluster will seek to bring together faculty and students at our department whose work touches upon subjects of imperial histories, so that we can discuss those agendas and methodologies as a group.
The expertise found within the Department is ample and diverse, and this will contribute to the cluster's intellectual appeal. While the core strength of the cluster perhaps lies in expertise in various European Empires in the 19th century, the group will address issues beyond that mandate. Geographically, the cluster will have researchers working on many different areas of the world, from Chinese to European empires. Chronologically, it will be able to address both pre-modern and modern empires. Likewise, thematically it will encompass a range of issues common for an imperial researcher, ranging from nationalism to questions of science and empire.
Convener: Dmitry Mordvinov
This cluster has been organized with a very simple purpose in mind: to read some new and perhaps canonical literature on media, media histories, and media politics, where media is imagined quite broadly as structures of communication as generated in specific places and times. Following Lisa Gitelman, we are interested in ways of doing history of, as well as with, media. (Always Already New: Media, History and the Data of Culture. MIT Press, 2008). We will also read and comment on one another’s works in progress. There are at least 14 people interested in joining this cluster, including both faculty and graduate students and covering a wide range of specializations in time and place, from medieval Europe to 20th century Asia. We meet once a month.
Convener: Alejandra Bronfman
Cultures of Leisure and Consumption Cluster
The cluster on "Cultures of Leisure and Consumption" includes 5 graduate students (Erica German, Kaitlin Russell, Baris Yorumez, Alexey Golubev, Sebastian Huebel), 4 faculty members (Anne, Leslie, Eagle, Laura), and a post-doc (Andy Denning). The group will meet approximately once a month to discuss work in progress, articles of particular comparative or methodological interest, and perhaps host one visitor in the spring.
Bolstered by our recent personnel renouvellement we are planning a series of discussions that will require modest funding. These gatherings have two related objectives pertaining to curriculum and research development. The former will involve faculty (Michel Ducharme, Laura Ishiguro, Tina Loo, Bradley Miller, Tamara Myers, Paige Raibmon) and focus on the past, present, and future curriculum offerings in our area. These meetings will help lay the principles and groundwork for curriculum development. The latter meetings will be research focused and include graduate students. These informal gatherings are an opportunity to introduce to each other our research trajectories as well as provide space for concentrated discussion of current projects. We envision 6 meetings.
History China Cluster
The cluster includes a regular series of bi-weekly brown bag lunch meetings of the faculty and graduate students working on Chinese history in the History Department and Asian Studies. We have been meeting regularly as a cluster for several years, and these meetings have fostered a strong sense of community among our cluster members. With a large new cohort of Chinese history students this year, the group promises to be even more vibrant than before.
The thematic focus of our meetings for the year will be Chinese History in the Archive. Each meeting will be devoted to exploring a different set of primary source documents recently collected by and currently featuring in the research of a graduate student or faculty member. In addition to this major activity, we will use any remaining meetings for the presentation and discussion of a piece of work by a faculty member or graduate student, discussions with a visiting speaker, and collective reading and discussion of new books and articles.
We plan to meet 12 times over the academic year, roughly once every two weeks between October and April. We are a core group of 6 faculty (Brook, Cheek, Nappi, Peterson, Shin, Rusk ) and several PhD graduate students (Basham, Becklin, Henshaw, Ma, Primmer, Rocks, Wang), though we will encourage the participation of other departmental and Asian Studies graduate students and faculty as we have done since the inception of our cluster. In addition to the 12 regular meetings, we will continue the tradition of having a workshop gathering at the end of the year, followed by a dinner, at which students will present their MA or PhD work in progress. Finally, we will organize opportunities for the China-focused graduate students (and any interested others from the History Department) to gather for coffee discussions with scholars Yi-Li Wu and Bryna Goodman when they visit UBC this spring.
History of Science, Technology, and Medicine Cluster
The History of Science, Technology, and Medicine cluster has now enjoyed three years of uninterrupted meetings and intellectual exchange. Each month our graduate student and faculty members meet to discuss new trends in the field, receive feedback on chapter and journal article drafts, as well as conference papers and dissertation prospectuses. Each meeting offers a lively discussion on new papers and monographs that we enjoy over lunch when students and faculty have the most time available. Last year, in addition to our discussions about new directions in the field, we organized a September social to start off the new year, held a mock job talk, and funded eight graduate students’ travel to the CSHPS meeting in Victoria who were presenting as part of the annual conference.
While we are sorry to lose Neil Safier and Soma Banerjee as they move on to other prospects, we are proud that the number of graduate students in our cluster has continued to grow. This year we have two visiting doctoral students from Brazil, Alexandre Bagdonas and Paulo da Silva Neto who will be joining us. In addition, several graduate students from the new interdisciplinary Science and Technology Studies program at UBC will participate in cluster meetings. At our first gathering of the 2013-2014 academic year we discussed the direction of the cluster over the next twelve months. This year we will continue to focus our efforts on professional development and intellectual exchange within and beyond the UBC community. A large part of this will emphasize reviewing cluster members’ works in progress. Two of our graduate student members, Eric Johnson and Hank Trim, will be presenting at the HSS annual conference in Boston and will be presenting their presentations first to the cluster for feedback. As in previous years the cluster will organize a group to present papers at the Columbia History of Science Group’s annual conference at Friday Harbor in March. When works in progress are unavailable we will use our meetings to discuss recently published monographs and journal articles in the history of science, technology, and medicine.
During the winter term of 2014 we plan to organize another symposium at which we will host students and faculty of the Science Studies Program at the University of Washington, Seattle. In 2011 cluster members travelled to UW to participate in a one-day symposium where we recognized our mutual research interests. This meeting was an outstanding success. We had hoped to organize this symposium in 2012-2013, but UW’s Simon Werrett moved to UCL and we lost our main point of contact. However, we are committed to hosting the group at UBC this year and plan to utilize the majority of our funding in order to make this a reality. We would provide meals, including a semi-formal dinner, and a keynote speaker coinciding with UBC’s STS colloquium. We will work with faculty at UW and the STS program at UBC to make sure this symposium is a success.
Convener: Eric Johnson
Associated Extra-Departmental Faculty
Central Europe Working Group 2012-13
The Central Europe cluster brings together faculty and graduate students for discussions that tie Central European history to broader geographic and thematic historiographies. This cluster will gather in mixed discussions of work in progress and seminars around shared readings and topics. We expect to meet this year once every 6 weeks. Our first meeting, on October 2, was a discussion of readings on nostalgia. We will also have one interdisciplinary gathering to bring together Central Europeanists around the university (CENES, Geography, Landscape Architecture, Music, History).
The cluster includes 4 faculty members (Chris Friendrichs, Bob Brain, Kyle Frackman of CENES, and Eagle Glassheim) and 6 graduate students (Dmitry Mordvinov, Stefanie Ickert, David Meola, Ken Corbett, Sebastian Huebel, Jurek Elzanowski). There are also 4 graduate students in absentia and a few other occasional members.
History of Political Languages, Rhetoric and Concepts Working Group 2012-13
Purpose of the Working Group
This project aims to organize a group of faculty and graduate students to discuss most important approaches to the history of political languages and concepts, which is an important field of intellectual history associated with such names as John Pocock and Quentin Skinner (Cambridge), Ernesto Laclau (Essex), Reinhart Koselleck (Bielefeld) and others. We plan to hold monthly discussions built around a certain core text (see the list below), to which working group participants will bring additional theoretical perspectives from related methodological works they’ve read individually and, more importantly, their empirical material. The idea is to look at the ways in which political languages, rhetorical strategies and concepts shaped and organized political, social, cultural and economic reality in the past and how knowledge of this can contribute to better and more nuanced historical research.
In addition, it is not uncommon that concepts, metaphors and patterns of argumentation which originate in political discourses that we study often find their way to historical writing, replacing, in an invisible manner, research categories and influencing in unpredictable ways the logic of analysis. Our working group aims to make its participants more sensitive to their own writing, in order to help them avoid using blindly concepts, patterns of argumentation and rhetorical constructions borrowed from their sources.
The purpose of the working group is to provide additional theoretical perspectives on those primary sources which its participants, especially graduate students, use in their research. Therefore, we tentatively plan to finish our program with a one- or two-day graduate workshop as a testing ground for working group participants and other graduate students to discuss in an informal environment how approaches related to analysis of political languages, rhetorics and concepts can be applied in their individual cases.
Participating faculty members: Michel Ducharme, Courtney Booker; Participating graduate students: Alexey Golubev, Patrick Slaney, Henry John, Adam Coombs, Baris Yorumez, Dmitry Mordvinov; Tadeo Lima (CENES)
Steinmetz, Willibald, “New Perspectives on the Study of Language and Power in the Short Twentieth Century,” in Steinmetz, Willibald (ed.), Political Languages in the Age of Extremes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. P. 3-51.
UBC Library link
Schmitt, Carl. The Concept of the Political. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2007. 126 p. (much of the book is occupied by a commentary, the text itself is rather short).
UBC Library link - available online for logged in users
Koselleck, Reinhart, “The Historical-Political Semantics of Asymmetric Counterconcepts,” in Koselleck, Reinhart, Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985, 159–197.
UBC Library link - available online for logged in users
Excerpts from Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations.
UBC Library link
Charles Taylor, “To Follow a Rule,” in Philosophical Arguments (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995), 165–180.
UBC Library link
Excerpts from Quentin Skinner’s Visions of Politics: Regarding Method.
UBC Library link - available online for logged in users
Laclau, Ernesto. “The Politics of Rhetoric,” in: Material Events: Paul De Man and the Afterlife of Theory, edited by Tom Cohen, J. Hillis Miller and Barbara Cohen. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1999. P. 229–53.
UBC LIbrary link - available online for logged in users
One- or two-day graduate symposium.
History of Science, Technology, and Medicine Working Group 2012-13
During 2011-2012 the history of science, technology, and medicine cluster had yet another year of productive intellectual exchange. For the last two years our monthly meetings have been a valuable resource to faculty and graduate students seeking perspectives on chapter and journal article drafts, conference papers, and dissertation prospectuses. We also discussed recently published monographs and journal articles in the field. Last year we were delighted to have Maggie Hofius, a visiting doctoral student from the University of Minnesota’s Center for the Philosophy of Science, present her research on the work of Aleksandr Chizhevskii. Over the past two years we provided lunch at our monthly gatherings. This has kept attendance high and allowed us to schedule meetings in the lunch hour when most faculty and students are available.
Our cluster has continued to grow. Lachlan Fleetwood from this year’s cohort of graduate students will join our monthly meetings in 2012-2013. In addition, several graduate students from the new interdisciplinary Science and Technology Studies program at UBC will participate in cluster meetings. At our first gathering of the 2012-2013 academic year we discussed the direction of the cluster over the next twelve months. This year we will continue to focus our efforts on professional development and intellectual exchange within and beyond the UBC community. A large part of this will emphasize reviewing cluster members’ works in progress. When works in progress are unavailable we will use our meetings to discuss recently published monographs and journal articles in the history of science, technology, and medicine. We are currently organizing a Saturday symposium of works in progress for the fall term. This will allow for a more extended discussion of participants’ works than are often possible at our monthly meetings which take place between seminars and lectures.
As in previous years the cluster will organize a group to present papers at the Columbia History of Science Group’s annual conference at Friday Harbor in March. In June 2013 the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science will hold its annual conference at the Congress of the Humanities in Victoria. We plan to send a contingent of students and faculty to each of these conferences to showcase our research to the rest of Canada and the Pacific Northwest. We aim to coordinate these efforts with students and faculty of UBC’s STS program.
During the winter term we plan to organize another symposium at which we will host students and faculty of the Science Studies Program at the University of Washington, Seattle. In 2011 cluster members travelled to UW to participate in a one-day symposium where we recognized our mutual research interests. This meeting was an outstanding success. Unfortunately with the departure of Simon Werrett from UW last year our plans to reciprocate their hospitality did not materialize. We are committed to hosting the group at UBC this year and are prepared to allocate most of our funding to make this happen. We would provide meals, including a semi-formal dinner, and a keynote speaker coinciding with UBC’s STS colloquium. We will work with faculty at UW and the STS program at UBC to make sure this symposium is a success.
History of China Working Group Cluster 2012-13
The China Cluster will hold a series of monthly (October-May) meetings among faculty members and graduate students working on Chinese history. We had great success last year (finishing with an end-of-year bonanza of presentations by graduate students on their work-in-progress), and we would like to continue our conversations on our Chinese history web site, on China in world history, and on various issues concerning professional developments among graduate students.
Each meeting will focus on an aspect of our professional lives: reviewing and revising the departmental curriculum on China and Asian history, preparing graduate students for the job market, graduate training program in terms of methods and balancing China knowledge with engaging cross-area thematic approaches, issues of working with Chinese colleagues and fellow graduate students, preparing our graduate students for field work/archival work in China, and enlarging our conversations with invitations to department members to join us to engage on a particular thematic (as in how to do environmental history research on China and how to connect China work with general environmental history, likewise with gender, indigeneity, world history approaches, etc.) We will use roundtable discussions lead by one or two of us, presentation and discussion of a piece of work by a faculty member or graduate student, or a visiting speaker, as each topic and opportunity presents itself.
We plan to meet 8 times over the academic year, roughly once a month between October and early May. Funding is to provide coffee and dessert to sweeten the proceedings. We are a core group of 5 faculty (Cheek, Brook, Shin, Peterson, and Nappi (on leave) ) and 3 Ph.D. graduate students (Henshaw, Basham, and Grass), though we expect an equal number or more of other departmental and Asian Studies graduate students and faculty.