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Upcoming History, Genealogy, and Social Science Seminars

This list is of upcoming seminars only. Since most seminars meet more than once in a term, if a class has already met at least once, it will no longer show up on this list. To find a seminar that has already started or has finished, use the calendar and set the date range to include the seminar's starting date.

Starting: Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Tuesdays, February 17 - April 21
Legacies of the Great War
Led by Frank Biletz

Seminar Description

Note: There are two sessions of this class to accommodate demand. They will both cover the same content.

The political, social, and cultural consequences of the First World War continue to shape the world today. Political boundaries drawn in the war’s aftermath set the stage for future conflict in central and eastern Europe....


Starting: Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Wednesday, February 18 – April 22
Medieval Britain 1307-1485 through Historical Fiction
Led by Matthew Bird

Seminar Description

Explore the Hundred Years War, the Black Death, the Age of Wycliffe, the Peasants’ Revolt, the Wars of the Roses, and other highlights of medieval British history. Rigorously-researched historical novels by P.C. Doherty, Sharon Penman, Candace Robb, Josephine Tey, and others provide an engaging introduction to the period. With the readings as...


Starting: Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Tuesdays, February 17 - March 24
Telling History with Maps and Corresponding Satellite Images
Led by David Buisseret

Seminar Description

This seminar will use maps and satellite images to make sense of modern spaces in urban and rural areas on both sides of the Atlantic. Participants will view maps from the Newberry’s world-class cartography collections showing historical elements—towns, field-systems, fortifications, roads—alongside current satellite images of the same area....


Starting: Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Wednesdays, February 18-April 22
Dazzled by the Truth: the World and Work of Franz Kafka, a Modern Jewish Storyteller
Led By Dagmar Herrmann

Seminar Description

W.H. Auden wrote, “Had one to name the author who comes nearest to bearing the same kind of relation to our age as Dante, Shakespeare and Goethe bore to theirs, Kafka is the first one would think of.” Through a close reading of Kafka’s short stories, and through examination of his life and of early-twentieth-century Prague, we shall...


Starting: Thursday, February 19, 2015
Thursdays, February 19 - March 26
Colonial Rivalries: The West and the World, 1870-1918
Led by Joseph Harrington

Seminar Description

What motivated Western powers and Japan to assert political control over distant territories in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries? How can we expose as narrowly ideological the explanations provided by both imperialists and their critics? In this seminar, participants will delve into the motivating factors and dynamics of the...


Starting: Thursday, February 19, 2015
Thursdays, February 19 - March 5
Ellis Island: the Immigrant's Experience
Led by William Cellini

Seminar Description

Sixty percent of Americans descended from immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island, and multitudes of Chicagoans can claim Ellis as their ancestor’s entry point into the United States. This seminar explores the iconic status of this island and details the procedures of immigration, including how arrivals were processed between 1892 and 1954....


Saturday, February 21, 2015
Fundamentals of Genealogy: Basics for Everyone
Led by Marsha Peterson-Maass

Seminar Description

Whether you’re new to genealogy or simply looking for formal fundamentals training, try these seminars, tailored to meet your research needs. Take all six or just those that interests you most.
Six-session rate: $210. Individual prices marked below.

Research Methodology

Saturday, February 21, 10 am – 1 pm...


Starting: Saturday, February 21, 2015
Saturdays, February 21 - April 11 (class will not meet on April 4)
Native Cultures, Manifest Destiny, and the Rise of American Anthropology
Led by Lee Minnerly

Seminar Description

This seminar explores two intersecting themes: the impact of westward expansion on American Indian cultures during the second half of the nineteenth century, and the parallel development of anthropological research. This research, primarily undertaken by the Smithsonian Institution, aimed at better understanding American Indians and what many...


Starting: Saturday, February 21, 2015
Saturdays, February 21 – May 2 (class will not meet on April 4)
The Anatomy of Confederate Defeat: Why the South Lost and the North Won the Civil War
Led by John Drodow

Seminar Description

As we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, this seminar will consider the litany of explanations for why the South lost and the North won the Civil War. Reading the works of many different historians, we will explore economic, political, social, and military factors in the war’s outcome. We will pay...


Starting: Saturday, February 21, 2015
Saturdays, February 21 - May 2 (class will not meet on April 4)
The Windsors: The British Monarchy, 1910-2015
Led by Frank Biletz

Seminar Description

Despite being dismissed by some as an anachronism since its loss of effective political power, the British monarchy has adapted during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries to assume a symbolic and ceremonial role as the embodiment of British identity. Topics of this seminar will include the abdication of Edward VIII; the royal family’s...


Saturday, March 7, 2015
An Introduction to DNA for Kinship
Led by Marsha Peterson-Maass

Seminar Description

Whether you have taken any DNA tests or not, this seminar will give you the information and tools to understand mtDNA, Y-DNA, and atDNA test results including haplogroups and ethnicity and cousin matches. We will also discuss options for kinship results and networking beyond the offerings of the three leading testing companies.

...


Starting: Monday, March 9, 2015
Thursdays, March 19 - April 23
1865 - 1914: Remaking America, Birthing an Empire
Led by Brooke Heagerty

Seminar Description

The Civil War ended the old order in a violent conflagration. How was America to be remade? We will examine this remaking—a turbulent, violent struggle over vision, power, and the meaning of America. Topics include the growth of the new industrial order, the struggle to reshape America along more democratic lines, the creation of a new...


Saturday, March 14, 2015
With Firmness in the Right: The Moral History of the Civil War
Led by Joseph Harrington

Seminar Description

The American Civil War was as much a clash of moral visions as a fight over political doctrines or economic systems. In this seminar, participants will discuss how Northerners and Southerners saw the moral stakes of the conflict, and whether the ends, both as perceived and actually achieved by the combatants, justified the often ruthless...


Starting: Saturday, March 28, 2015
Saturdays, March 28 – May 2 (class will not meet April 4)
An Introduction to Western European Surnames
Led by Jack Shreve

Seminar Description

What mysteries of the past can be unlocked by your family’s last names? This seminar provides an introduction to the surnames of Western Europe, which derive from family lineage, occupations, nicknames, and placenames. In addition to a primary focus on English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish, we will touch on Jewish surnames, as well as...


Starting: Saturday, March 28, 2015
Saturdays, March 28 - May 23 (class will not meet April 4 or May 2)
Best Addresses: Notable Residential Streets in Chicago
Led by Diane Dillon

Seminar Description

Through a series of walking tours, this seminar will explore some of Chicago’s “best addresses” —residential streets known for significant domestic architecture, notable residents, or historical events. Examples will be drawn from a variety of neighborhoods, including Prairie Avenue, the Gold Coast, Streeterville, Lake Shore...


Starting: Saturday, April 11, 2015
Saturdays, April 11 - May 2
Genetic Genealogy
Led by Karen Stanbary

Seminar Description

The use of DNA testing is exploding in the genealogy field. All genealogists know the frustration of being stymied when the paper trail ends or there is not enough evidence from existing documents to prove relationships. An analysis of DNA results, combined with traditional documentary research methods, can extend the reconstruction of your...