Course syllabus

The full course syllabus is available for download here


French trench dogs 1918.jpg

French soldiers and their trench dogs, 1918


HISTORY 706A/B: Topics in European Cultural History

SEMESTER 1 and 2, 2018

30 points (A/B must be taken together over two semesters)

Course Convenor: 

Joseph Zizek

Room 735, Humanities Building (formerly known as Arts 1)


Phone: (09) 923-8852 or ext 88852 (on campus)

Office Hours (Semester 2): Wed 1-2, Thu 1-3


Associate Professor Lisa Bailey (Seminars 5 & 6)

Phone: 373-7599 x88907

Office: 8th floor, Humanities Building


Office Hours: TBA


Class Times

History 706 is a postgraduate seminar course, which meets once per week as indicated in the seminar schedule. There are no lectures.  Please confirm the room and location via SSO prior to the first meeting and between semesters 1 and 2


Course Description              

Is there such a thing as ‘cultural history’ today?  Decades of highly interdisciplinary scholarship have transformed the study and practice of European history.  Initially, such disciplinary cross-pollination began by turning historians away from the ‘hard’ social sciences (quantitative sociology, economics, demography, econometrics) towards interpretive fields (cultural anthropology, art history, material culture studies, literary theory). More recently, however, historians have begun to return to fields that engage human activity in biological and environmental aspects and on broader temporal scales (‘deep’ history).

This course is designed to provide students with an overview of the many ways it is now possible to practise cultural history, and also introduce some of the most fruitful (and provocative) avenues of current research. Topics will include bodily histories, material culture, history of emotions, religious cultures, and environmental and global history. The chronological scope of the course extends from Late Antiquity to late modern Europe, so it will be appropriate for students who are interested in working in any area of European history.


Course objectives and outcomes

In common with other postgraduate courses, History 706 seeks to deepen your engagement with the study of history, make you more self-aware about preconceptions towards the past, and develop both practical skills and humanistic understanding. The specific aims of the course include:

  • introducing you to significant recent debates in the theory and practice of cultural history (and history more generally!)
  • training you to evaluate and specifically engage with work that may be theoretical, creative, and interdisciplinary, and to open your sense of possibilities in the study of the past and present.
  • encouraging you to be constructively self-critical about the creation and communication of historical knowledge.
  • fostering information literacy by enabling you to locate, critically evaluate, and use a wide range of materials (from print to digital, from text to visual).
  • refining your ability to offer coherent oral and written arguments in a wide array of assessment formats


Coursework and Assessment

History 706 is assessed entirely by coursework. Marks are distributed as follows:

  • 10% = Seminar participation for the year
  • 10% = Short essay (book review or alternative assignment), 1,500 words, due 4pm, Monday, 7 May
  • 5% = Short assignment, 500 words, choice of due dates in either semester 1 or semester 2
  • 25% = Semester 1 essay, 3,000 words, due 4 pm, Friday, 8 June
  • 50% = Semester 2 essay, 5,000 words, due by 11:59pm on Friday, 12 October [this is a revised due date, changed from the hardcopy syllabus]

Like other History postgraduate courses, History 706 is marked internally but also assessed externally.  Coursework final marks are thus provisional pending external assessment, which is carried out in mid-November each year.


Seminar Schedule (provisional)

Semester 1

No Seminar during Postgraduate Orientation week (26 February-2 March)

Seminar 1 (9 March)—Introduction  

Seminar 2 (16 March)—Classic influences (1): Symbols/Semiotics  

Seminar 3 (23 March)—Classic influences (2): Language/Discourse  

Easter and mid-semester break, 30 March-15 April  

Seminar 4 (20 April)—Classic influences (3): Sex/Gender

Seminar 5 (27 April)—Religion (1): Rethinking Belief [A/P Lisa Bailey]

Seminar 6 (4 May)—Religion (2): Believing Communities [LB]

Seminar 7 (11 May)—Religion (3): Ruptures in Belief

Seminar 8 (18 May)—Ideas (1): Patterns of Thought

Seminar 9 (25 May)—Ideas (2): Ways of Reading

Seminar 10 (1 June)—Ideas (3): Cultures of Science

Inter-Semester Break: 26 June-15 July

Semester 2

20 July—no class

Seminar 11(27 July)--Things (1): Material Culture as History

Seminar 12 (3 August)—Things (2): Meanings of Fashion

Seminar 13 (10 August)—Things (3): Geopolitics of Consumption

Seminar 14 (17 August)—Selves (1): Nature's Boundaries

Seminar 15 (24 August)—Selves (2): Emotions

Mid-Semester Break: 25 August-9 September

Seminar 16 (14 September)—Selves (3): Subjectivities

Seminar 17 (21 September)—Future Histories? [merged class, approx 80 mins devoted to Final Essay Proposal Workshop]

Seminar 18 (28 September)—Final Essay Proposal Workshop


Required or recommended texts

There is no textbook for History 706A/B. All required seminar readings will be available online via Talis in early 2018 (click 'Reading List' on the left-hand menu for access). If students request it, we can also collate these readings and make them available in a hardcopy coursepacket, which will be available for purchase at the bookstore.


Workload and deadlines for submission of coursework:            

The University of Auckland's expectation is that students spend 10 hours per week on a 15-point course, including time in class and personal study. Students should manage their academic workload and other commitments accordingly. Deadlines for coursework are set by course convenors and will be advertised in course material. You should submit your work on time. In extreme circumstances, such as illness, you may seek an extension but you may be required to provide supporting information before the assignment is due. Late assignments without a pre-approved extension may be penalised by loss of marks as indicated in the course syllabus.


Course summary:

Date Details Due