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Faculty

David Sabean


Distinguished Professor of History & Henry J. Bruman Endowed Chair in German History


Contact Information

Email    DSABEAN@HISTORY.UCLA.EDU
Office  5337 Bunche Hall
Phone  310-825-3173

Class Syllabi

David Sabean graduated from Houghton College and studied cultural and intellectual history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison under George Mosse during the early 60s, interpellating a year at Brandeis University in the History of Ideas program. During those years, discussions among his generation of graduate students turned his interests to the new field of social history. He went off to Tübingen in 1995-6 to write a dissertation on the German Peasant War of 1525, eventually published as Landbesitz und Gesellschaft am Vorabend des Bauernkriegs (Stuttgart, 1972). From 1966 to 1970, he was a Lecturer at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, England. There, while rewriting his dissertation, he entered into discussions with social anthropologists and read widely in Anglo-Marxist historiography and Annales school history. From 1970 to 1976, Sabean taught at the University of Pittsburgh, where a remarkable group of young social historians had gathered. He joined the editorial board of the newly founded Historical Methods Newsletter (later Historical Methods) and founded and edited the journal Peasant Studies Newsletter (later Peasant Studies). During that period, he developed a large data base based on the records from a single South German village and spent a year as a post-doctoral student at Cambridge, studying social anthropology, with a concentration on kinship studies, with Jack Goody. From 1976 to 1983, Sabean joined a research group of social historians at the Max-Planck-Institut für Geschichte in Göttingen, who were studying the process of protoindustrialization. With Hans Medick, Alf Lüdtke, Robert Berdahl and others, he founded an interdisciplinary group of historians and anthropologists, which met in a series of round tables in Göttingen, Paris, Bad Homburg, and Bellagio. Several volumes of papers were published from those meetings, among which were Klassen und Kultur and Interest and Emotion. During that period, he began to explore the territory of popular culture and wrote Power in the Blood: Popular Culture and Village Discourse in Early Modern Germany (Cambridge, 1984; Ger: .Das zweischneidige Schwert (Berlin, 1986; Frankfurt, 1990)). Sabean returned to the United States in 1983 as a professor at UCLA, where he finished the first volume of his village study: Property, Production and Family in Neckarhausen, 1700-1870 (Cambridge, 1990). Tired of freeway driving, he left for Cornell University after five years, but nostalgia and a lively graduate program drove him back again five years later. He now holds the Henry J. Bruman Endowed Chair in German History. He published the second volume of his village study, Kinship in Neckarhausen, 1700-1870 (Cambridge, 1998), which attempts to rethink the categories of an earlier generation of social historians through more recent notions from cultural studies. He argues for the analytical usefulness of "kinship" and "class" for European history and suggests that rethinking both in terms of gender refits them for fresh ways of seeing historical issues. Sabean is now currently working on three projects: a study of narrativity in bureaucratic writing, collective research into the long-term history of kinship in Europe, and a comparative analysis of incest discourse in Europe since the sixteenth century. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin, the recipient of a research prize from the Alexander J. Humboldt Foundation and the Berlin Prize from the American Academy in Berlin. He has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

While in England from 1965-70, Sabean created a number of courses in social history (European peasantry, Aristocracy and Bureaucracy) and made them a central part of the curriculum. He also worked together with a group of sociologists and anthropologists in interdisciplinary courses on the history of the family. At Pittsburgh, he was part of an interdisciplinary group working on the comparative studies of peasantry. There he also worked together with anthropologists on the history of the family and taught lecture courses and seminars on historical demography. During the years in Göttingen, Sabean participated in a series of workshops on the history of the family and in interdisciplinary round tables (in anthropology and history) on work, kinship, Herrschaft, and memory. During the first years at UCLA (1983-88), he began to explore issues that have to do with the historicity of the self in his graduate research seminars--on the History of Individualism and the History of the Body. He also taught graduate courses on anthropology and history. Gradually his interests became more centered on the nineteenth century, although he continued to teach and still teaches and does research on problems from the sixteenth century onwards. He believes that graduate students should be trained broadly in European history and in comparative and multi-disciplinary approaches. At Cornell University (1988-93), Sabean continued to explore issues of selfhood but also became interested in new approaches to the social and cultural history of law. Back at UCLA, Sabean has alternated his graduate courses between German and comparative history. He has held seminars on the cultural history of German law and religion and on “identity and subjectivity,” “ego-documents,” “on reading Oedipus,” “production of the self in the West,” “conversion in European history and beyond,” “the history of emotions,” and “spaces of the self.” Recently his research seminar dealt with “international families.” His undergraduate lectures explore German history from the Baroque to World War I. An undergraduate seminar on "master/slave narratives" considered texts by Hegel, Frederick Douglass, Toni Morrison, W.E.B. Dubois, Frantz Fanon, and Simone de Beauvoir. Another on “popular culture in European history” examined historical approaches to the subject by Carlo Ginzburg and Natalie Davis.

During the past several years, Sabean has worked with a number of scholars engaged in rethinking the history of kinship in Europe from the Middle Ages to the present. With Simon Teuscher and Jon Mathieu, he edited a volume, Kinship in Europe: Approaches to the Long-Term Development (1300-1900) (New York and Oxford, 2007). At the International Congress of Historians in Oslo and at the past four meetings of the European Social Science History Conference, he helped develop sessions on sibling relations, international families, and kinship and blood and is co-editing collections of papers on each of these subjects. During the academic year 2007-8, he has organized five conferences with Malina Stefanovska on “places of the self” and will co-edit a volume of selected papers from the conferences. Since 2003, Sabean has been active organizing sessions for the German Studies Association annual meetings: “modernity and the Baroque,” “the radical Enlightenment in Germany,” “the Holy Roman Empire” (with a volume of edited papers in production), and “conversions in German history.”

Previous Courses by Term

2016 Winter Quarter

Capstone Seminar: History -- Europe

2015 Fall Quarter

Introduction to Historical Practice: Variable Topics in European History

Baroque and Enlightenment Germany

2015 Winter Quarter

History of Modern Europe: Baroque Culture and Absolutist Politics, 1600 to 1715

Seminar: Modern European History

2014 Fall Quarter

Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars

History of Modern Europe: Renaissance and Reformation, 1450 to 1660

Seminar: Modern European History

2014 Winter Quarter

Nationalism and Modernization in 19th-Century Germany

Capstone Seminar: History -- Europe

2013 Fall Quarter

Introduction to Historical Practice: Variable Topics in European History

Baroque and Enlightenment Germany

2013 Winter Quarter

History of Modern Europe: Baroque Culture and Absolutist Politics, 1600 to 1715

Seminar: Modern European History

2012 Fall Quarter

History of Modern Europe: Renaissance and Reformation, 1450 to 1660

Seminar: Modern European History

2012 Winter Quarter

Introduction to Historical Practice: Variable Topics in European History

Nationalism and Modernization in 19th-Century Germany

2011 Fall Quarter

Baroque and Enlightenment Germany

Colloquium: European History

2010 Spring Quarter

Seminar: Modern European History

2010 Winter Quarter

Nationalism and Modernization in 19th-Century Germany

Seminar: Modern European History

2009 Fall Quarter

Baroque and Enlightenment Germany

Colloquium: European History

2008 Spring Quarter

Colloquium: European History

2008 Winter Quarter

Seminar: Modern European History

Colloquium: European History

2007 Fall Quarter

Baroque and Enlightenment Germany

Seminar: Modern European History

Colloquium: European History

2007 Winter Quarter

Introduction to Historical Practice: Variable Topics in European History

History of Modern Europe: Baroque Culture and Absolutist Politics, 1600 to 1715

2006 Fall Quarter

History of Modern Europe: Renaissance and Reformation, 1450 to 1660

Colloquium for Entering Graduate Students in Modern European History

2006 Winter Quarter

Nationalism and Modernization in 19th-Century Germany

2005 Fall Quarter

Baroque and Enlightenment Germany

Seminar: Modern European History

2005 Winter Quarter

Introduction to Historical Practice: Variable Topics in European History

History of Modern Europe: Baroque Culture and Absolutist Politics, 1600 to 1715

2004 Fall Quarter

History of Modern Europe: Renaissance and Reformation, 1450 to 1660

Colloquium for Entering Graduate Students in Modern European History

2004 Winter Quarter

Nationalism and Modernization in 19th-Century Germany

Seminar: Modern European History

2003 Fall Quarter

Baroque and Enlightenment Germany

Seminar: Modern European History

2003 Winter Quarter

History of Modern Europe: Baroque Culture and Absolutist Politics, 1600 to 1715

Topics in History: Modern Europe

2002 Fall Quarter

Introduction to Historical Practice

History of Modern Europe: Renaissance and Reformation, 1450 to 1660

2001 Spring Quarter

Seminar: Modern European History

2001 Winter Quarter

History of Modern Europe: Baroque Culture and Absolutist Politics, 1600 to 1715

Seminar: Modern European History

2000 Fall Quarter

History of Modern Europe: Renaissance and Reformation, 1450 to 1660

2000 Winter Quarter

Nationalism and Modernization in 19th-Century Germany

Seminar: Modern European History

Colloquium: European History

1999 Winter Quarter

Undergraduate Seminar

Colloquium: European History

1998 Fall Quarter

History of Modern Europe: Baroque Culture and Absolutist Politics, 1600 to 1715

1998 Spring Quarter
1998 Winter Quarter

Previous Courses by Course

HIST 191C
Capstone Seminar: History -- Europe

2016 Winter Quarter

2014 Winter Quarter

HIST 125B
Nationalism and Modernization in 19th-Century Germany

2016 Winter Quarter

2014 Winter Quarter

2012 Winter Quarter

2010 Winter Quarter

2006 Winter Quarter

HIST 125A
Baroque and Enlightenment Germany

2015 Fall Quarter

2013 Fall Quarter

2011 Fall Quarter

2009 Fall Quarter

2007 Fall Quarter

2005 Fall Quarter

HIST 97C
Introduction to Historical Practice: Variable Topics in European History

2015 Fall Quarter

2013 Fall Quarter

2012 Winter Quarter

2007 Winter Quarter

2005 Winter Quarter

HIST 121B
History of Modern Europe: Baroque Culture and Absolutist Politics, 1600 to 1715

2015 Winter Quarter

2013 Winter Quarter

2007 Winter Quarter

2005 Winter Quarter

HIST M230B
Seminar: Modern European History

2015 Winter Quarter

2013 Winter Quarter

2010 Spring Quarter

2008 Winter Quarter

2004 Winter Quarter

2001 Spring Quarter

HIST M230A
Seminar: Modern European History

2014 Fall Quarter

2012 Fall Quarter

2010 Winter Quarter

2007 Fall Quarter

2005 Fall Quarter

2003 Fall Quarter

2001 Winter Quarter

2000 Winter Quarter

HIST 121A
History of Modern Europe: Renaissance and Reformation, 1450 to 1660

2014 Fall Quarter

2012 Fall Quarter

2006 Fall Quarter

2004 Fall Quarter

HIST 242
Colloquium: European History

2011 Fall Quarter

2009 Fall Quarter

2008 Spring Quarter

2008 Winter Quarter

2007 Fall Quarter

2000 Winter Quarter

1999 Winter Quarter

HIST 225
Colloquium for Entering Graduate Students in Modern European History

2006 Fall Quarter

2004 Fall Quarter

HIST 129B
Nationalism and Modernization in 19th-Century Germany

2004 Winter Quarter

2000 Winter Quarter

HIST 129A
Baroque and Enlightenment Germany

2003 Fall Quarter

HIST 125B
History of Modern Europe: Baroque Culture and Absolutist Politics, 1600 to 1715

2003 Winter Quarter

2001 Winter Quarter

1998 Fall Quarter

HIST 201E
Topics in History: Modern Europe

2003 Winter Quarter

HIST 99
Introduction to Historical Practice

2002 Fall Quarter

HIST 125A
History of Modern Europe: Renaissance and Reformation, 1450 to 1660

2002 Fall Quarter

2000 Fall Quarter

HIST 197G
Undergraduate Seminar

1999 Winter Quarter

HIST M230A

1998 Spring Quarter

HIST 197P

1998 Winter Quarter