Welcome to the new CHA Syllabi Central

This portal will showcase the different methods used by members to teach History. We hope this resource will be of value to graduate students, new instructors, and established teachers who want to shake up their approaches in the classroom. We invite you to submit syllabi from all levels of classroom instruction, representing any geographical region or historical period, and written in either official language. All submissions should have a description of the course that will be searchable and can be up to 250 words in length.  We trust that members will use these shared resources responsibly.

Canada Health History (2014-15) Author: Elsbeth Heaman
Course Subject: Epidemics and Public Health
Posted: May 8, 2020

When cholera swept around the world in 1832, people struggled to make sense of the experience: medically, morally, and politically. A new, free, and progressive country like Canada should, in theory, have been exempt from such old-world calamities associated with backwardness, filth, poverty, and fatalism. Cholera initiated a century of urgent, practical soul-searching about how processes of human history should be scrutinized and managed. Typhus in 1847, smallpox in 1885 and influenza in 1918 were no less politically and intellectually confounding. When authorities tried to quarantine or hospitalize people, or destroy their property in an effort to clean up local environments, they found their (often very new and fragile) legitimacy tested. Tuberculosis had its own perplexities as the disease, commonly attributed to overcrowding, spread through Indigenous populations in defiance of that precept.

Epidemics and public health unraveled nineteenth-century laissez-faire government. Liberal states had minimal mandates to manage private life; they saw themselves as facilitators of market forces. But what if the market brought death? Adam Smith had made airy promises that such a thing could never be—but there it was, spectacularly on display wherever epidemics were imported. To what extent did epidemics indict market forces or the state—whether liberal or authoritarian? To what extent did they unbind people from ordinary constraints of civil behaviour? What changed first: the medical profession’s ability to give good advice or the state’s administrative abilities? How did a long term shift from epidemic to endemic disease change things? These are some of the scholarly questions we will be addressing in this seminar.

A Syllabus for History After the TRC Author: CHA
Course Subject:
Posted: August 22, 2019


What does the teaching and researching of history in Canada look like after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC)? The TRC was established in 2008 as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, an agreement between the federal government and approximately 8000 Indigenous people who had attended residential schools.    Over the next six years, the TRC took on a staggering project of both research, public engagement, and advocacy.  The TRC did extensive archival research in the papers left by Canadian governments and churches, twice going to court to compel Canada to produce promised archival records.  As historian Mary Jane Logan McCallum notes, a serious commitment to gathering and analyzing oral testimony – and the different histories it told -- differentiated the shape and mandate of the commission’s research. [1] The TRC created an oral archive based on interviews with more that 6,000 people, most of whom had themselves attended residential schools.[2] 

The TRC’s final report was published in 2015, and as a document, the report makes clear how the TRC was both a powerful work of history and an important moment in history.   The TRC was focused on the particular question of Indian Residential Schools funded by the federal government between the 1880s and the 1990s.  The church-run schools that preceded the federal system were excluded, as were the church, province, or First Nation administered schools, including many of those that Metis children attended.  For all the specificity of this focus, the TRC became a vehicle for a wider, more critical discussion of the past and the present of Canadian colonialism, and the multiple ways it has cost Indigenous people and shaped Canada. 

The TRC was in no small way a reckoning with Canadian history, and it makes sense that the work of history and historians played an important role in its work.  A quick review of the Final Report’s bibliography makes this clear:  there are historians from Arthur Ray, Winona Stevenson/Wheeler, George Stanley, Sarah Carter, Mary-Ellen Kelm, Cornelius Jaenen, James Daschuk, Jean Friesen, along with the names of historians who have written what are generally considered the standard, monograph length studies on the history of residential schools, J.R. Miller and John Milloy. 

The TRC’s Final Report concludes with ninety-six calls to action designed to “redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation.”[3]  Read at their most literal level, many of these concern the practice of historical scholarship and its production and application in classrooms, archives, and meetings rooms.  Read broadly, the Calls to Action that concern education (6-12) and Language and Culture (13-17) speak to the practices of working historians in Canada.  Call to Action 45 calls on Canada to jointly develop with Indigenous peoples a Royal Proclamation of Reconciliation that would build on the Royal Proclamation of 1764 and the Treaty of Niagara of 1764.   Call to Action 57 calls on federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments to educate public servants on “the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations.”  Calls to Action 62 and 63 calls on governments to create curriculum and the capacity to integrate it in classrooms. 

Calls to Action 67 through 70 concern Museums and Archives, calling on the federal government to fund a national review of museum policies (67), establish a funding program for “commemorative projects on the theme of reconciliation” (68) and that Library and Archives Canada adopt and implement the documents, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, or UNDRIP which assert Indigenous peoples’ “inalienable right to know the truth about what happened and why, with regard to human rights violations committed against them in the residential schools,”[4] ensure that its holdings related to residential schools are accessible to the public, and commit more resources to public education materials on residential schools.  Call to Action 70 calls on the federal government to fund the Canadian Association of Archivists to work with Indigenous peoples to produce a national review of archival policies and a plan to implement international mechanisms as “reconciliation framework for Canadian archives.”[5]  Calls to Action 71 through 76 address the need for more records and more cooperation to document the children who died at residential school. 

Calls to Actions 77 and 78 concern the establishment of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.  Calls to Action 79 through 83 concern Commemoration, calling on the federal government to amend the Historic Sites and Monuments Act and to revisit the National Program of Historical Commemoration with an eye to integrating “Indigenous history, heritage values, and memory practices into Canada’s national heritage and history,”[6] develop a national heritage plan for commemorating residential schooling, and to establish a statutory holiday and monuments to Residential schools in capital cities.

Four years have passed since these Calls to Action were first issued.  Historian Ian Mosby’s regular accounting makes clear that concrete action on the calls remains overwhelmingly incomplete or partial.[7] The calls to action have produced valuable institutional responses form some (though far from all) post-secondary institutions, units, and scholarly and professional organizations have engaged in a range of formal and informal responses to the TRC.  These include the Canadian Federation of Library Association/Fédération canadienne des associations de bibliothèques’s very substantial “Truth and Reconciliation Report and Recommendations,” the University of Regina’s Faculty of Arts Statement and Report on Indigenizing and the TRC’s Calls to Action.[8] 

In the summer of 2017, the Canadian Historical Association/ Societé historique du Canadas struck a TRC response working group.  Made up of Jo-Anne McCutcheon, Sarah Nickel, Adele Perry, and Alison Norman and steered by CHA/SHC Executive Director Michel Duquet, this working group has taken on a number of projects, including funding TRC related projects.[9]  Inspired by the “Indigenous Content Syllabus Materials: A Resource for Political Science Instructors in Canada” released by  Canadian Political Science Association’s Reconciliation Committee in September 2018,[10] the CHA/SHC’s TRC Response Committee decided that an appropriate next step would be to craft this document: A Syllabus for History After the TRC

The goal of this syllabus is to gather together materials on Indigenous history in and around Canada that might be useful for people teaching, researching, writing history or working in public history.   Throughout the syllabus, we seek to centre and highlight Indigenous scholarship, writing, and cultural production.  As much as historical scholarship and research played in the TRC, it is also true that as discipline and a profession, history in Canada – and elsewhere in the settler colonial world – has had an at best uneven, and at worse decidedly negative relationship to Indigenous history as a subject and to Indigenous scholars as practitioners.[11]  In recent months, important parts of this issue has been raised by historian Allan Downey, and the CHA as an organization has and will continue to respond to these conversations, which are past due. 

How does the TRC, and the questions that informed it and the ones that have been raised in the wake of its completion, prompt us to think differently about the work we do in classrooms, archives, museums, and meeting rooms?  How have historians contributed to these conversations, and what needs to be done for us to produce books, articles, and syllabi that speak in more ethical, rigorous, and engaged ways to the questions raised by the TRC and by Indigenous Studies scholarship. As we complete this stage of the syllabus, the National Inquiry on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women/ l’Enquête nationale sur les femmes et les filles autochtones disparues et assassinées issued its final report, and how does this change our readings of Canada and its histories?

[1] Mary Jane Logan McCallum, “Forward,” John S. Milloy, A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School, 2nd edition (Winnipeg, University of Manitoba Press, 2017)
[2] See Krista McCracken, “The Role of Canada’s Museums and Archives in Reconciliation,” Active History, 15 June 2015.
[3] Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Calls to Action (Winnipeg, TRC, 2015) 2.
[4] TRC, Calls to Action, 8.
[5] TRC, Calls to Action, 8.
[6] TRC, Calls to Action, 9.
[7] See “Curious about how many of the TRC’s calls to actions have been completed?? Check Ian Mosby’s Twitter,” 20 October 2017, https://www.cbc.ca/radio/unreserved/how-are-you-putting-reconciliation-into-action-1.4362219/curious-about-how-many-of-the-trc-s-calls-to-actions-have-been-completed-check-ian-mosby-s-twitter-1.4364330, accessed 18 December 2018.
[8] Camille Callison, “Truth and Reconciliation Report and Recommendations,” (Ottawa, CFLA-FCAB, 2016); University of Regina’s Faculty of Arts “Statement and Report on Indigenizing and the TRC’s Calls to Action,” June 2018, found at https://www.uregina.ca/arts/assets/docs/pdf/Arts_Indigenization_Report-Final%202018.pdf 
[9] For more, see Sarah Nickel and Jo McCutcheon, “The TRC and the CHA,” Intersections, 1:1 (2018) 20-22.
[10] https://www.cpsa-acsp.ca/documents/committees/Indigenous%20Content%20Syllabus%20Materials%20Sept%2024%202018[27].pdf 
[11] See, for a discussion and response, the special issue on “Indigenous Historical Perspectives,” with an introduction by Dimitry Anastakis, Mary-Ellen Kelm, and Suzanne Morton, and essays by Brenda Macdougall, Leanne Leddy, Mary Jane Logan McCallum, and John Borrows, Canadian Historical Review, 98:1 (March 2017), 60-135.  Also see Adele Perry, Adele Perry, « “Word from the President: Reading the Royal Historical Society’s 2018 Report,” Intersections, July 2019 1-4.


History of Canada Since 1867 Author: Shawn W. Brackett
Course Subject: History of Post-Confederation Canada
Posted: July 18, 2019

Canada has changed tremendously in the past 150 years. Families moved in large numbers from the country to cities; the economy and military became more integrated and entangled with global trends; immigrants changed the social and cultural makeup of communities; and ordinary people staked more radical claims for equality and opportunity. In short, the lives of our forebears would be hardly recognizable—or would they? We will learn what life was like for the powerful and the poor, how individuals and communities faced, resisted, and harnessed global forces, and try to understand the people of Canada’s past. Throughout this course, we will explore how Canada has changed and how it has remained surprisingly similar. Above all, we will consider the meaning and progress of equality for Canadians of many walks of life.

Consumption Author: Danielle Kinsey
Course Subject: HIST 5211
Posted: November 18, 2018

This is an MA-level course on the history of consumption in modern Europe. Much European historiography considers the production side of the economy by discussing the Industrial Revolution and explaining its rise, stages, consequences, and apparent lack in certain contexts. It is only in the last thirty years or so that historians have begun to take seriously the consumption side of the economy, some going as far as to argue that the development of consumer culture was the true engine of modernity (concepts to be unpacked, for sure). In this course, students will identify and analyze key debates, priorities, and methodologies that have been at work in writing about consumption in European history. We may contend with concepts of the domestic sphere, consumer revolution, emulation theory, modern advertising, mass distribution, consumer agency, addiction theory, thing theory, habitus, performativity, the history of the senses, the digital revolution, and the history of everyday life. Students will begin by considering how consumption is conceived of in theoretical texts. We will then analyze examples of how the history of consumption has been written. Students will end the course by identifying current trends in the field and considering how the frameworks and concepts they have learned can be applied to their graduate projects. 

Victorian London Author: Danielle Kinsey
Course Subject: First Year Seminar on "Turning Points in History"
Posted: November 18, 2018

This is a full year course taught to a small group of 25 incoming first-years of any major. Course Description: From Sherlock Holmes to Ripper Street, Dracula to Queen Victoria, we continue to be fascinated by nineteenth-century London as the “city of dreadful delight.”  This course will examine the causes and consequences of the city’s "modernization" between the 1830s and early 1900s as it was shaped by new technologies, the politics of reform, mass migration, industrialization, environmental crises, cholera, the threat of rebellion, hunger, population pressure, and crime.  We will look at topics such as the Thames river, sewage, and clean water infrastructure; the East End versus the West End; overlapping administrative jurisdictions; the rise of department stores and shopping culture; museums, cemeteries and parks as places of leisure; London as a port-city-center of a vast empire; immigration and racism; the flâneur and the flâneuse, so-called urban wanderers; class and fashion; the Great Exhibition; Chartism and Anglo-African activist William Cuffay; ideas about crime and criminality; the politics of housing, public transport, and mobility; newspapers and print culture; photography and the city; and ideas about gender and sexuality.  In addition to exploring the history of Victorian London, this course will also be an introduction to the methodologies of historical research, writing, and thinking.

Hist 3120O: The History of the Body Author: Danielle Kinsey
Course Subject: the body; women's, gender, and sexuality histories; disability studies; European history
Posted: November 18, 2018

Course Description: In this course we will examine the History of the Body in two interrelated ways: as a topic and as a methodology. As a topic, we will talk about how ideas about physical attributes, body parts, and bodies in general have developed over time, space, and cultural context. What does hair or scars or height or skin colour say about us, to whom, and how does this change from context to context? How have people worked within or resisted these ideas? Who has had the power to make pronouncements about the body and how have these pronouncements shaped the world we live in?  Thinking about the histories of bodies and body parts will lead us to examine health, science, religion, and ideas about sex, gender, sexuality, race, class, and many more “categories of difference” that some argue are biologically “true” and others contend are cultural assumptions. Who decides “the Truth” about bodies, now or in the past?  Modules within the course will be based on the histories of certain body parts or bodily processes: bones, eyes, stomachs, penises, legs, and so on. As a methodology,we can think of the body as a perspective from which we can analyze any historical topic, not just ones that are pointedly about bodies. We will study how ideas about the abled versus the disabled body changed over time and how they offer us unparalleled insight into power structures of the past. We will also study how people worked within and fought against various kinds of ableism.
tl;dr This course is about three things: 1) how ideas about bodies and body parts have changed over time; 2) how we can better understand all historical contexts by thinking about them from the perspective of the body; and 3) how ableism and the concepts of the abled versus disabled body have been fundamental to societies in the past and present.   Most – but not all -- case studies we will look at will be from European history.

HIST 1001: The Making of Europe Author: Danielle Kinsey
Course Subject: European history
Posted: November 18, 2018

This is the winter half of a first-year survey course on "The Making of Europe."  Course description:  This course surveys the origins, development and continuities of the dominant European societies from Antiquity through to the present day.  The Fall term of the course explored the development of the physical, cultural, and political space that would become known as Europe from Antiquity to the Renaissance.  The Winter term will follow these themes from the seventeenth century to the present, considering the rise of new social and intellectual communities, the development of nation-states and modern empires, and how European culture both shaped and was shaped by substantial interaction with the wider world.  This course provides a general overview of European history by focusing on key themes:
 ·       forms and uses of power
·       the creation and control of religious belief and worship
·       social and cultural exchange
·       transformation of communication structures and forms of cultural representation
·       gender/sex/sexuality/class/race
 In addition to providing an overview of the history of Europe, this course teaches students the basic tools of academic historical inquiry.  Lectures will offer an outline of major historical currents and ask the student to engage with many different ways of doing history.  In discussion groups, students will read, analyze, and discuss primary sources under the direction of a Teaching Assistant. Students will be asked to adopt a critical attitude towards the past and to understand what sorts of questions can be answered by different types of sources.

Hist 3217: Empire and Globalization Author: Danielle Kinsey
Course Subject: European imperial histories; global histories; colonialism
Posted: November 18, 2018

This is a third year course in European imperial/colonial histories. Course description: “Globalization” and “imperialism” are both terms fraught with ambiguity and overuse.  Some, believing in visions of inevitable progress, argue that as populations have grown and technologies have become more sophisticated, the world has naturally become more “globalized” or more integrated in political, social, economic, and even cultural ways.  Others argue that this interconnectivity has come about not because of natural growth but through projects designed to exploit peoples around the world.  They read the term “globalization” as a kinder, gentler way of describing Western imperialism in its present day incarnation. By examining various empires in world history and with particular emphasis on modern European imperialism, this course will explore the relationship between empire and globalization. Four themes will be: difference; intermediaries; resistance; the global. Specific content to be discussed will include: mercantilism, the Atlantic slave trade, science and medicine, time, religion and civilizing missions, the colonial archive, racialized and gendered categories of difference, reproduction and sexuality, métissage, technology, bureaucracy, nationalism and citizenship, decolonization, Commonwealth, postcoloniality, and indigenous resistance movements.

Hist 1707: World History Author: Danielle Kinsey
Course Subject: world history
Posted: November 18, 2018

This is the 2nd half of a first-year survey on World History. This half uses Donald Wright's book The World and a Very Small Place in Africa as its main textbook.  Course description: The Winter term will continue to expose students to historically informed, critical analyses that frame contemporary discussions about globalization but we’ll do so by focusing on three interrelated lines of inquiry:
·      How have relationships between the “local” and the “global” changed over time and why is this important? Who and what are local and who and what are global?
·      What can the histories of hybridity and appropriation tell us about world history?
·      How can we study the relationship between globalization and power inequality and how it has changed over time? Why should we?
We’ll be examining historical case studies from about 1250 CE to the present.  These will include discussions about the Mongol Empire, the Indian Ocean World, the histories of various global commodity chains, European empires in the nineteenth century, the rise of fascism as an anti-globalization stance, transnationalism, transnational resistance movements, and the digital revolution.

Hist 1707: World History Author: Danielle Kinsey and Susanne Klausen
Course Subject: world history
Posted: November 18, 2018

This is a full year, first-year level survey of World History from the 4th century CE to the present. Course description:  This course examines the growth of global connections over the last sixteen hundred years, from about 400 CE to the present. We will begin by looking at how people, ideas, and things travelled over vast distances throughout the Pacific, American, Mediterranean, African and Eurasians worlds, stimulating commodity trades, religious innovation, and the intermingling of populations. This increase in traffic supported many far-flung empires, including those in Scandinavia, West Africa, the Middle East, Central America, and northern Asia. The first semester of the course will be devoted to tracing connections and analyzing the hybrid political and cultural formations that were engendered as people promoted, resisted, and negotiated their way through growing translocal networks. The second half of the course will be focused on the last three hundred years, the so-called modern era. We will discuss the systems and effects of the past few centuries of globalization in terms of mass migrations, industrialization, environmental change, global communications infrastructure, universalist ideas, the international system, multinational corporations, consumer culture, world war, and transnational activism. In addition to learning the content of global history, students will also develop the skills necessary to write history: identifying the difference between primary and secondary sources, analyzing and interpreting evidence, engaging in research, crafting historical arguments, and evaluating historical claims in today’s popular culture. 

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