Todd Little-Siebold

Todd Little-Siebold
207-801-5726 | tlittle-siebold@coa.edu

Todd Little-SieboldTodd Little-Siebold is professor of history and Latin American studies and has been at the College since 1997. His undergraduate work in anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (B.A., 1985) provided his initial exposure to Latin America. Returning to school after a stint as a political organizer and carpenter Todd pursued graduate work in history at U. Mass. (M.A., 1990) and then Tulane University (Ph.D., 1995) focused on the history of Guatemala in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His doctoral work under the direction of Ralph Lee Woodward was supported by a Fulbright Doctoral Research Grant and examined the regional dimensions of state formation in Guatemala from 1871 to 1945. Several pieces from this research have been published in English and Spanish, and he has co-edited a book with Jean Piel of the Université de Paris, VII, Entre Comunidad y Nación, inspired by collaborations while in Guatemala. His second major area of research focuses on the politics of identity in Guatemala during the colonial era. This on-going research project focuses on the ways in which local identity politics co-existed alongside complex imperial socio-racial policies and legislation. The tension between local practice and imperial ideologies with regards to identity is the major emphasis of the work. Numerous of his conference papers and an article have explored the topic.

Todd's teaching is centered around the idea of providing a historical grounding for an education in Human Ecology with a wide range of courses intended to historicize questions for students. In collaboration with other faculty he teaches classes in European intellectual history and early U.S. history as well as courses on fisheries and agricultural history. Many of Todd's classes explore how power works in society. By looking at varied forms of power in diverse historical and geographical settings these courses seek to sensitize students to the processes and mechanisms behind the exercise of power and communities' responses to power. Todd also routinely teaches in the College's Yucatan Program with a focus on the politics of identity in the Yucatan Peninsula. He ran the College's Guatemala Program in 2005-2006 with an emphasis on community-based research in post-conflict situations.

When he is not teaching Todd is an obsessive fly fisherman and an avid woodworker. He and his wife are currently undertaking the never-ending renovation of a 1770 house in Ellsworth.

B.A. University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1985
M.A. University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1990
Ph.D. Latin American History, Tulane University, 1995

Courses Taught

HS526Corn and Coffee

This course explores the rich history of Guatemala through the lens of two vital products, corn and coffee. The crops provide insight into the global and local dimensions of both historical and contemporary reality there. The course will cover the history of Guatemala from pre-contact native society through the myriad changes wrought by colonialism, decolonization, the rise of the modern nation state, and the transformations associated with the rise of coffee as a major export crop. Corn and coffee provide a convenient vantage point from which to examine the social, economic, and cultural dynamics of native society on the one hand and the globally- connected production of coffee on the other. The course moves from a broad macro perspective on each crop to an intensive exploration of how both are produced in Guatemala. In this way, class participants will be able to look at how global historical trends in consumption have played themselves out in local communities. The class will simultaneously be able to look at the processes at work in pueblos throughout Guatemala that root the corn economy into rich cultural and social dynamics that are at the core of communal life. Using these two crops as a starting point, the class will allow students to develop a holistic and synthetic understanding how Guatemalans live their everyday lives embedded in intensely local realities even as they experience much larger national and international processes. The course emphasizes attention to the broad global dimensions of corn and coffee's production as well as the fine-grained study of Guatemala's socio-cultural life in historical and anthropological perspective. Through discussions of the books, this seminar-style course seeks to provide students with deep insights into the history of Guatemala while maintaining a sense of the global and regional context. Intensive readings will provide students with a snapshot of trends in both history and ethnography while broader synth

HS1011Environmental History

How has human history shaped and been shaped by "the environment"?  Environmental history is one of the most exciting new fields in history.  In this course we examine world history from Mesopotamia to the present to see the role such things as resource scarcity, mythology, philosophy, imperialism, land policy, theology, plagues, scientific revolutions, the discovery of the new world, the industrial revolution, etc. on the natural, social, and built environments.

Level: Introductory.  Prerequisites: None.  Class limit: 20.  Lab fee: none.  Meets the following degree requirements: HS HY

HS854Farms, Orchards and Cider: Agricultural History in England

This course will be an intensive field-based exploration in England of the history of English agriculture through the lens of the production, consumption and marketing of apples. Students will travel to England during winter break to learn about the changes in social, cultural and economic aspects of farming in England from Roman times to the present with an emphasis on the evolution of rural farms and landscapes. We will discuss land tenure, land use, labor practices, farming practices, and much more at sites throughout England as we think through what historical insights can tell us about the past, present and future of farming and the rural economy. Students will do exercises on landscape history, visit museums, farms, cider producers and research stations as well as meeting leading experts. The course will continue with a seminar during the winter term on campus in which students will pursue projects inspired by their experiences and learning in England. Student evaluation will be based on the participation in the field-based components of the class in England and the project-based learning back on campus. The course will include an English language immersion component. Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Prerequisites: Permission of instructor. Program Fee: $1,200. Class limit: 12. *HS* *HY*

HS896Fieldworking in Guatemala: Seminar in Community-Based Research

This twelve-week course will focus on the research phase of student projects in the communities of Tecpan, Patzicia, and Comalapa in the Guatemalan department of Chimaltenango.  Particular emphasis will be placed on helping students to work through the concrete process of research in complex communities.  Drawing on years of research experience in Guatemala the faculty will support students through all phases of research from conceptual issues to the detailed pragmatics of everyday research tasks.  Building on previous background students will undertake intensive ethnographic research, oral history work, and interviewing.  The course will emphasize the most effective fieldwork techniques for individual projects, but it will also help them learn to recognize the limitations of such techniques. The course will include a language intensive component in Spanish or Kaqchikel Maya as preparation for the fieldwork phase.

The course will support independent student projects in Maya communities.  Students will be in these communities for two months undertaking research projects they will have developed over the previous months in their pre-requisite course.  This course will highlight the contextual knowledge and skills needed for students to situate the information they will amass through their community-based research.  Skills emphasized will be archival research, collection of appropriate primary resources, and the ability to identify necessary contextual resources.  Building on community-based research models the faculty and students will work directly with an advisory board from the four communities made up of local academic experts.  These advisors will serve a primary audience for student research.  At appropriate intervals students will come together to do collective problem-solving and share insights.  Students well be evaluated and will evaluate themselves on both the process of their research and their final research presentation.  Students will present their research in Spanish in the communities where they have worked as well as to an academic audience.  As a final product students will compile a portfolio which includes their field notes, documents they have collected, and a photographic archive associated with their research.

Level: Advanced.  Prerequisite: Successful completion of Seminar in Guatemalan History & Culture, permission of instructor. Limited to students participating in the College's Guatemala Program.  Class limit: 12.  Program Fee $1,500. *HS* *HY*

HS1013From Native Empires to Nation States

This course is a history of Latin America from Native American contact cultures through the contemporary period covering socio-political processes.  An emphasis is placed on the fusion of pre-contact societies into a new socio-cultural formation in the colonial period, and then the shared yet divergent history of the region after the collapse of colonial rule.  In the second half the class emphasizes the rise of the nation state in Latin America with particular emphasis on dictatorship and rebellions.  The course uses traditional texts, novels, and film to explore this huge geographical and chronological expanse.

Level: Introductory.  Prerequisites: none.  Class limit: 20.  Lab fee: none.  Meets the following degree requirements: HY HS

HS789History of Agriculture: Apples

This course will explore the history of agriculture from the vantage point of Downeast Maine with a focus on apples. The premise of the course is that by exploring this fascinating crop in detail from the local vantage point of Downeast Maine students will be able to grasp the many historical processes at work from the introduction of the fruit in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries to the age of agricultural improvement in the eighteenth on to the rise and fall of commercial orcharding as a major component of Maine?s farm economy in the early twentieth century. Using sources ranging from secondary sources, historical Atlases, Aerial Surveys, and diaries, we will explore how the culture of apple agriculture in Maine develops over time as part of an interconnected Atlantic World where crops flow back and forth between Britain and the colonies/U.S. over hundreds of years. Course activities will include fruit exploration fieldtrips to track down and identify antique varieties as well as visits to the local farms where a new generation of apple culture is taking shape. The course will also engage students with the process of cider-making, both sweet and hard, as well as exercises in the preparation, storage, and processing of apples. Students will be evaluated on their participation in discussion, how they collaborate with others in class projects, and a final individual or collaborative project. This course is designed for students interested in history, farming and food systems, community-based research, and policy/planning issues. It is also very appropriate for students who like apples and just want to know (a lot) more. Level: Intermediate. Limit: 18. Lab Fee: $75.00. *HY* *HS*

HS2061Indigenous America

This course will provide an introduction to the history of indigenous peoples in the Americas. Using a seminar style the class will combine some overview lectures, student-led discussion of books, and project-based learning to provide an initial introduction to the diverse histories of native peoples from Canada to the Andes. The course will focus on both pre-contact societies as well as the processes of interaction between Europeans and indigenous peoples in the Americas. Using a selection of case studies the course will highlight building an understanding of indigenous worldviews as well as socio-political organization and the ways both were transformed by colonialism. A range of books will introduce students to the ethnohistorical literature on native communities from Mesoamerica, North America, and the Andes. A simultaneous component of the course will be student’s research projects on a topic of their choosing that explores a dimension of native people’s histories. Students will be evaluated on attendance, course participation, short analytical essays, and their final project.

Level: Introductory/Intermediate.  Prerequisites: none, however, student without any background in history should expect to invest extra time with the readings and writing assignments.  Class limit: 15.  Lab fee: none.  Meets the following degree requirements:  HS, HY

HS774Oceans & Fishes: Readings in Environmental History

This course will explore the rapidly expanding field of marine environmental history and historical studies that focus on fish and fisheries. Recent methodological and conceptual work as well as growing interest in the history of these topics driven by conservation and policy issues has made this an important and innovative field. Using the work of a variety of scholars from different fields the class will explore how historical accounts can be constructed with an emphasis on the types of available sources, the use of evidence, and how each author builds their argument. We will explicitly compare the methods, use of evidence and other aspects of different disciplinary approaches to the topic to highlight the strengths and limitations of each approach. This dimension of the class is particularly interesting because of the dynamic and interdisciplinary nature of scholarship right now that brings a wide range of research into dialogue. Students will learn about the history of oceans and fishes by looking at how historians and other scholars frame their works and make their arguments. Students will be evaluated on their preparation for discussion, mastery of the material, short written assignments, and a final project made up of a presentation and essay. This course is appropriate for students with interest in history, community-based research, marine studies, and environmental policy. Students who are just curious and interested in lots of things are also most welcome. Level: Intermediate. Class limit: 15 Lab Fee $75.00 *HS* *HY*

HS846Seminar in Guatemalan History and Culture

Guatemala is known as a country of dramatic contrasts and this course, which will serve as a pre-requisite for the winter term Guatemala program, seeks to familiarize students with the contextual knowledge they will need to work in this complex society. The course is designed around the question of what you need to know before undertaking research or advocacy in an international setting such as Guatemala. Readings, exercises, and discussion will provide a rigorous interdisciplinary introduction to the historical and ethnographic scholarship on Guatemala with a particular emphasis on training students to recognize and master relevant contextual knowledge and specific fieldwork techniques. Students will learn about the history of Guatemala from the conquest to the present as well as learning to examine the dominant historiographies which have shaped scholars' accounts of that history. Similarly, the class will provide an in-depth insight into Guatemalan society through a series of classic ethnographic works even as we critically examine ethnographic presumptions and practices. All students will learn how to evaluate and use maps, field notes, archival resources, and other sources in their own research. Students will be expected to read scholarly work in Spanish where possible. A final research proposal will be a primary product of the course, and it will be the basis of eight-week independent student work in Guatemala. Participation by multiple faculty in helping students develop the project proposals will be a key pedagogical component. All faculty involved will help evaluate the proposals. Evaluation will also be based on discussion, collaborative work on exercises, and a presentation of the final research proposal. Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Pre-requisites: intended for participants in the College's Guatemala Program. Class limit: 15. Lab fee: none. *HS**HY*

HS750Seminar in Yucatec History and Culture

Yucatan is the region of Mexico with a large Yucatec Maya population and a complex history shaped by conquest, colonialism, separatism, and revolutionary upheaval. This course, which will serve as a pre-requisite for the winter term Yucatan program, seeks to familiarize students with the contextual knowledge they will need to work in rural communities of the Peninsula?s Zona Maya, or Maya zone. The course is designed around the question of what you need to know before undertaking research or advocacy in an international setting such as Yucatan as well as preparing students to work in other people?s communities. Readings, exercises, and discussion will provide a rigorous interdisciplinary introduction to the historical and ethnographic scholarship on Yucatan with a particular emphasis on helping students to recognize and master relevant contextual knowledge and specific fieldwork techniques. Students will learn about the history of the region from the conquest to the present as well as learning to examine the dominant historiographies which have shaped scholars? accounts of that history. Similarly, the class will provide an in-depth insight into Yucatec society through a series of classic ethnographic works even as we critically examine ethnographic presumptions and practices. A final research proposal will be a primary product of the course, and it will be the basis of eight-week independent student work in Yucatan. Students will also be evaluated on participation in discussion, discussion leadership, and short essays. Course is limited to students accepted to the Yucatan program. Level: Intermediate/Advanced. *HS* *HY*

HS182The Age of Reason and the Enlightenment

This course represents a contextual approach to the study of the history of philosophy and combines the critical evaluation of philosophical theories with an examination of the cultural conditions which either influence or are conditioned by them. The course examines the crucial role played by the philosophies and institutions of 17th and 18th century Europe in forming the nature of the modern world and focuses in particular on those aspects of the culture that are of special concern to contemporary critics of modern culture. The work of Bacon, Hobbes, Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant are examined in the context of the development of the scientific, industrial, and democratic revolutions. Level: Introductory/Intermediate. Class limit: 20. *HS* *HY*

HS1037The Middle Ages: Power, Religiosity and Everyday Life

The Middle Ages, affectionately known as the "Dark Ages" by people who did not live in them, was a crucial period in the social, political, and cultural development of what we now call Europe.  The course will provide an overview of the major trends in the Mediterranean World and Northern Europe from the fall of Rome to the fifteenth century.  We will focus on religiosity and the changes in popular forms of religious belief as well as the everyday workings of the political, economic and social order.  The course will be a survey class that includes project-based learning that seeks to cover the period in a synthetic way.  A major theme will be the way that in the Middle Ages religion was the arbiter of truth in ways almost incomprehensible in the modern secular world.  The main thematic thrust of the course is to explore the fragments of classical philosophical problems and new streams of religious orthodoxy as they collide in a series of intellectual and pragmatic struggles in the period. By using heretics and saints as emblems of the contours of the debate about truth and knowledge, this class explores the early tremors of the clash between faith and reason that would rock the western world, and shape it, between roughly 1000 AD and the beginnings of the Renaissance in the fourteenth century.  Students will read primary and secondary literature covering various aspects of the period.  There will be a mid-term take home exam and a final project paper dealing with an institution, a person, a religious or philosophical school or movement or an idea.  

Level: Introductory.  Prerequisites: none.  Class limit: 25.  Lab fee: none.  Meets the following degree requirements: HS HY

HS580The Pueblos of Guatemala: Interdisciplinary Research Project

This course will focus on the research phase of student projects in the communities of Tecpan, Patzun, Patzicia, and Comalapa in the Guatemalan department of Chimaltenango.  Particular emphasis will be placed on helping students to work through the concrete process of research in complex communities.  Drawing on years of research experience in Guatemala the lead faculty member in collaboration with other faculty will support students through all phases of research from conceptual issues to the detailed pragmatics of everyday research tasks.  Building on previous background students will undertake intensive ethnographic research, oral history work, and interviewing.  The course will emphasize the most effective fieldwork techniques for individual projects, but it will also help them learn to recognize the limitations of such techniques.

Level:  Advanced.  Limited to students participating in the College's Guatemala Program.

HS1026The Renaissance & the Reformation

This class is an introductory exploration of the transformations in Europe from roughly 1400  to the sixteenth century wrought by the changing religious, political, and social thought.  Taking as its point of departure the transformation of European society provoked by the “new” ideas of the Renaissance, the course will focus on the phenomena of humanism and the challenges to religious orthodoxy and political hierarchies it represented.  The course will use a wide range of secondary and primary sources to examine the social, spiritual and political implications of the challenges to the Catholic Church’s preeminence in the Christian west.  We will examine the idea of the Renaissance and its various expressions in the world of ideas, art, and the emergent practice of “science.”  Student will develop an understanding of Catholic theology and the various Protestant challenges to it as well as developing a sense of the political reworking of Europe provoked by the theological debates.   We will read social histories of the period, use films to provide context, and read primary texts by thinkers such as Erasmus of Rotterdam, Jean Calvin, Martin Luther, Teresa of Avila, Galileo, and Bartolome de las Casas.  Students will be evaluated on mastery of readings, class discussions, short essays, and a final project. 

Level: Introductory.  Class limit:  None.  *HS* *HY*

HS754Tutorial: Readings in European History, 1350-1650

This tutorial will focus on the history of Europe in the early modern era through a series key readings. The tutorial will explore the intellectual, religious and political processes of change that characterized the period from rough 1350 to 1650. We will touch on themes such as renaissance humanism, the protestant challenge to church orthodoxy, the rise of the absolutist state, and the emergence of new political forms. The tutorial will use secondary and primary texts as examples from different parts of Europe, and it involves a weekly seminar focused on readings selected by the professor and students. Students will also undertake a term-long exploration of a historical theme of their own which they will present at the end of term. Students will be evaluated on a series of short essays, the quality of their contribution to weekly discussions, and their final project. This class is appropriate for students with some background in the history of Europe or other relevant academic background. Permission of instructor required. Intermediate.

HS588Writing It Up: From Fieldwork to Final Draft

This course will take students through the process of transforming fieldwork and qualitative research into a completed final product. With a particular emphasis on allowing students who have undertaken extensive research in international and intercultural settings to follow through in a guided writing process, the course seeks to support the last phase of research by highlighting synthetic and analytical approaches to writing. The course will pay particular attention to the process of synthesizing research materials into a compelling and carefully-polished written format. Students will have the opportunity to draft, redraft, and revise multiple versions of their work. The course will provide the context for workshopping drafts, discussing research problems, and processing the complex task of synthetic writing. The course is designed to ensure students who have undertaken extensive research have the opportunity to engage a community of peers facing similar intellectual issues and dedicate themselves to finishing their projects. Students will be evaluated on the progress they make towards a powerful written version of their work and the evidence of improvement in the successive drafts they craft. A goal is for each student to develop a clear sense of the writing strategies that work for them as well as how to seek constructive external feedback on their writing. Peer evaluation and self evaluation will be important tools. The course will be limited to students who have completed substantial international or intercultural research in the previous term and who are ready to write. Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Signature of instructor required.