HIST 4802A: Canada and its World
Fall 2023-Winter 2024

Instructors: Professor Norman Hillmer and Professor Stephen Azzi

This is a seminar in international history, concentrating on Canada and its world from the First World War to the present.

Canada presents itself as a country of immigrants with close personal, political, and economic links to the international community and a tradition of responsible involvement in the world. Canadians set themselves apart, insisting that they are a superior people living in harmony with the United States on the North American continent, all the while criticizing the US as a flawed experiment, entirely too violent, extreme, and materialistic. After the First World War, Canadians championed the idea of a country coming into its own among the powers of the world – tolerant and democratic, peaceful and united.  In the post-Second World War years, Canada identified itself with the search for a more co-operative global order and acquired a reputation for international activism and peacekeeping. The Canadian state promoted policies of bilingualism, multiculturalism, enlightened immigration, and human rights. Canadians congratulated themselves on their unique capacity for conciliation and compassion.

The seminar will subject these smug images to critical analysis, examining the ways that Canadians have defined themselves and their world. The canvass is broad, and our project will be a shared one, which can evolve into discussions of politics and political leadership; commemoration, identity, and memory; Indigenous peoples; culture; immigration; gender; the economy; the environment; the monarchy; government and governance; law and justice; the public mood and the media; and war, the military, and defence. The shape of the Winter term will entirely be determined by seminar members according to their interests and research projects.

The course is centred on the weekly seminar, which will usually begin with a presentation or presentations by course members or guest experts, and on the preparation of a research paper on a relevant subject of the student’s choice, in consultation with Professors Hillmer and Azzi. The completion of the research paper will be preceded by the handing in of a detailed outline and then a first draft of the paper. These research assignments, taken together, will constitute fifty percent of the final course mark. The other fifty percent of the course grade will be based on seminar presentations and participation. There will be a premium placed on individual meetings with the Instructors, particularly in the second term, as the research paper is drafted, revised, and polished.

The seminar has three essay awards – the Greg Donaghy, the Ian M. Drummond, and the Gail Corbett Prizes. Each of them carries a cash award of $250. Seminar essays also qualify for the Hanson Prizes, two major History Department awards. It is not unusual for members of 4802 to be winners of the Hanson.

For further information, please contact Professor Hillmer at norman.hillmer@carleton.ca or Professor Azzi at Stephen.Azzi@carleton.ca.