This team-taught seminar explores the 20th century in global comparative perspective, through the reading, contextualization, and analysis of mainly primary source texts and documents. In any given year the seminar will focus on one of two themes: the post-war world (ca.1945-1989), or the inter-war world (1919-1939). It takes up themes of broad political, economic and social transformations; scientific and technological innovations; and the cultural shifts that occurred throughout these decades preceding and following the Second World War. The seminar sections will meet jointly once a week for lectures or films, and separately once a week for discussion of primary-source readings. In addition to the rich historical material that the course addresses, students will begin to learn the basic skills of the historian: asking questions, finding and analyzing relevant documents or primary sources, and identifying different kinds of interpretations of those sources. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major. Open only to first-year students.
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to United States history from the 12th century to the mid-19th century. Students will gain a more developed understanding of American history by examining the interactions among diverse cultures and people; the formation and use of power structures and institutions throughout the colonial, Revolutionary and antebellum eras; and the processes behind the "Americanization" of the North American continent. Central to this course is a comparison between two interpretations of American history; a Whiggish, or great American history, and the more conflict-centered Progressive interpretation. Not only will students gain a general knowledge of this time period, but they also will understand the ways in which the past can be contextualized. Students are expected to understand both the factual basis of American history as well as the general interpretive frameworks underlying historical arguments. This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major and minor. This course is the same as AMST 101D. This course must be taken as HIST 101D to count towards the social science requirement. No prerequisite.
This course is a thematic survey of the United States from the end of the Civil War to the present. Students will examine the transformation of the United States from a rural, largely Protestant society into a powerful and culturally diverse urban/industrial nation. Topics will include constitutional developments, the formation of a national economy, urbanization and immigration. The course also will discuss political changes, the secularization of public culture, the formation of the welfare state, World War I, World War II, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War as well as suburbanization, the civil rights movement, women's and gay rights, and the late 20th-century conservative politics movement and religious revival. This course is the same as AMST 102D. This must be taken as HIST 102D to count towards the social science requirement. This counts towards the modern requirement for the major and minor. No prerequisite.
An introduction to the history of Latin America's colonial period, this course begins with an overview of the century before the first encounters between European and indigenous peoples in the New World, and traces major political and economic developments in the Americas and the Atlantic world that contributed to the shaping of specific social formations in South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean Basin from the 16th through the 18th centuries. The course will consider not only the establishment and evolution of dominant institutions such as the colonial state and church, but also racial and gender relations that characterized the colonial societies of Brazil and Spanish America. This counts toward the premodern and colonial/imperial requirement for the major and the premodern requirement for the minor. No prerequisite. Offered every other year.
This course, through lectures and discussions, will begin by examining the long process of the breakdown of Iberian colonial authority (contrasting Brazil's evolution to that of the Spanish-American republics). It will then shift to studying Latin America's further economic integration into the Atlantic world economy in the late 19th century, and the ensuing political, cultural, and social changes that occurred throughout the 20th century, as regional economies continued to evolve. Social and economic inequality, political authoritarianism, and revolutionary and cultural change will be discussed from a historical perspective. This counts toward the modern and colonial/imperial requirements for the major and the modern requirement for the minor. No prerequisite. Offered every year.
This course surveys the history of the early Middle Ages. Relying mainly on primary sources, it traces the broad contours of 800 years of European and Mediterranean history. The course covers the gradual merging of Roman and Germanic cultures, the persistence of Roman ideas during the Middle Ages, the slow Christianization of Europe, monasticism, the rise of Islam, and Norse society. Readings include Augustine's "Confessions," a scandalous account of the reign of the Emperor Justinian, the "Rule of St. Benedict," a translation of the Qur'an and Bede's "Ecclesiastical History." This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major and minor. Offered every year.
This course surveys the history of the later Middle Ages in Europe and the Mediterranean. Relying mainly on primary sources, the course covers the renaissance of the 12th century, mendicant and monastic spiritualities, scholasticism, the rise of universities and the devastation of the Black Death. Readings include Christian, Jewish and Muslim accounts of several crusades; a saga about a hard-drinking, poetry-loving Norseman; and letters written by two ill-fated 12th-century lovers. This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major and minor. Offered every year.
Through lectures and discussions, this course will introduce the student to early modern Europe, with special attention to Austria, Britain, France, Prussia and Russia. It will treat such topics as the Reformation, the emergence of the French challenge to the European equilibrium, Britain's eccentric constitutional course, the pattern of European contacts with the non-European world, the character of daily life in premodern Europe, the Enlightenment, the appearance of Russia on the European scene, and the origins of German dualism, as well as the impact of the French Revolution on Europe. This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major and minor. No prerequisite. Offered every year.
The European continent is incredibly diverse: geographically, culturally, economically, ethnically and politically (to name only the most obvious factors). Throughout the semester we will explore this diversity of experiences since the end of the 18th century. We will look at issues of race, class and gender, as well as violence, poverty, faith, nationalism, technology and art. We will read novels and memoirs, watch films and listen to music as we hone our historical knowledge and sensibilities regarding modern Europe, its peoples and its governments. We will examine the fates of a variety of nations, using examples from across the continent. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor.
This course is a survey of major events and social changes that occurred on the continent of Africa before 1800, with an emphasis on those that took place after 500. As the continent encompasses hundreds of different societies, each with its own history, this survey is necessarily far from comprehensive, instead focusing on select cases in various regions that illustrate larger trends and issues. Among the main topics are smaller-scale societies, kingdoms that arose in different parts of Africa, the spread of Islam, the arrival of European traders and the impact of the transatlantic slave trade. Recurring themes in the course will include state formation, religion, geographic diversity, cultural exchange, and the roles of archaeology, linguistics and oral histories in the reconstruction of Africa's early history. This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major and minor. Generally offered every year.
This course examines the history of Africa from 1800 to the present. It employs a range of books, articles, novels and videos to explore 19th-century transformations in Africa, European conquest of the continent, the impact of colonialism, the coming of independence, and recent challenges and achievements in Africa. The influence of Europe on Africa is a dominant theme, but the course emphasizes African perspectives and actions in that troubled relationship. Throughout, we will consider issues of resistance, identity and cultural change, paying particular attention to the recent roots of current situations in Africa, such as the democratization of some nations and endemic violence in others. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor. Generally offered every spring.
This course surveys the history of India from the rise of the Mughal Empire in 1526 to the recent past. The course places the history of India in a regional and global context and explores art, film and fiction as mediums for making sense of the past, alongside analysis of traditional documentary sources. Topics include: ecology of the Indian subcontinent; Muslim rule; European trade; British colonialism; anticolonial, Hindu and Muslim nationalism; decolonization and the Partition of India and Pakistan; the creation of Bangladesh; communalism and separatism; gender, religion and caste; and democracy and economic development in the context of the Cold War and its aftermath. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor. No prerequisite.
The arrival of the Portuguese ships off the coasts of China and Japan in the 16th century, followed by other European merchants, turned East Asia into a major theater of events shaping the emerging modern age. This course examines the sources and dynamics of change -- social, economic, geopolitical, and cultural -- in the local and intramural arenas of East Asia as its economies and peoples became entangled in the rise and expansion of Euro-American imperial enterprises. The changes were violent and transformative, leaving deep impressions. Local understandings of past events continue to animate domestic politics and regional relations in the global competition for survival today. Focusing on China, Korea and Japan (acknowledging that the Philippines was the first real European colony in East Asia, and Vietnam the second), the class explores the processes of becoming modern for individuals, state and the region, and the diverse interpretations of those processes. This counts toward the modern and colonial/imperial requirement for the major and the modern requirement for the minor. Offered every or every other year.
This course focuses on China, Korea and Japan before the rise of European maritime dominance (from the 16th century on), and the region's role in the early globalization of world exchange. East Asia emerged as a coherent cultural area in the first millennium CE, with the introduction and spread of Buddhism, a religion whose faith and associated practices profoundly stamped the physical and human landscape of the region. Significant shifts in the 12th to 18th centuries CE highlight the Confucianization of family, gender, politics and kingship during these later centuries. The Mongol and Manchu conquests of the 13th and 17th centuries mark key transition points in this process, as well as in shaping regional and global relationships of exchange. This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major and minor. No prerequisite. Offered every other year.
In the second decade of the 21st century, China boasts the world's fastest growing economy and has abandoned its revolutionary communist moorings, though not its authoritarian political structures. Some writers claim that China is the last of the early modern empires. Many Chinese are intent on recovering the pride and prestige that their civilization commanded in Asia and Europe until the 19th century. Many others wonder about China's likely future direction. Any reasonable assessment must begin with the past, with the last great imperial government. This course explores the nature of state and society under the Qing dynasty (1644-1912), and the collision between two empires, the Manchu Qing and the British, which ultimately transformed Asia. It addresses the legacies of both Manchu, Western and Japanese imperialism, and the transformation of Chinese society through the turbulent 20th century to the present. Sources used include memoirs, political documents, fiction, visual art and film. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor. No prerequisite. Offered every two or three years.
This course surveys the history of the Islamic(ate) world from the rise of Islam in the sixth century to the rise of post-Mongol-Muslim empires -- the Ottomans, the Safavids, the Mughals -- in the 16th century. The course will especially focus on the formation and expansion of Islam as a global civilization and the historical development of the social, cultural, religious, and commercial networks and institutions that connected the Islamicate world during these centuries. Among the topics to be covered are the life and career of the Prophet Muhammad and the emergence of Islam, the expansion of the Islamicate world through conquests, conversions and commercial networks, the formation of various Islamic polities and empires, such as the Abbasids, the Fatimids, the Seljuks and the Mamluks, and the issues of authority, power and legitimacy that confronted these polities. It also will examine the historical development of Islamic institutions such as Sufism and religious law. This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major and minor. Offered every year.
In August 1619, "twenty and odd negars" were traded for food by the crew of a Dutch sailing vessel. That commercial transaction represented the first recorded incident of a permanent African presence in America. Over the next 146 years, this population of Africans would grow to create an African American population of over four million. The overwhelming majority of this population was enslaved. This course will be an examination of those enslaved millions and their free black fellows -- who they were, how they lived, and how the nation was transformed by their presence and experience. Particular attention will be paid to the varieties of African-American experience and how slavery and the presence of peoples of African descent shaped American social, political, intellectual and economic systems. Students will be presented with a variety of primary and secondary source materials; timely and careful reading of these sources will prepare students for class discussions. Students will be confronted with conflicting bodies of evidence and challenged to analyze these issues and arrive at conclusions for themselves. This counts toward the pre-modern and America/Europe requirement for the major and minor. Generally offered every year.
This is an introductory lecture and discussion course in the history of African Americans in the United States. Beginning with Emancipation, the course traces the evolution of black culture and identity and the continuing struggle for freedom and equality. Topics will include the tragedies and triumphs of Reconstruction, interracial violence, the Harlem Renaissance, Jazz, Blues and the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. Students will be presented with a variety of primary and secondary sources materials; timely and careful reading of these sources will prepare students for class discussions. Students will be confronted with conflicting bodies of evidence and challenged to analyze these issues and arrive at conclusions for themselves. Music and film will supplement classroom lectures and discussions. This counts toward the modern and Americas/Europe requirement for the major and minor. Generally offered every year.
The stock market crash of 1929 is remembered as the beginning of the longest and most severe economic crisis in the history of the United States. With the near collapse of the banking and financial systems, widespread unemployment and crushing poverty, what had started as a crisis morphed into what is known as the Great Depression. The Depression was the result of several historical processes that may be traced as far back as the Gilded Age. The Depression destroyed Herbert Hoover’s political career and gave rise to the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his New Deal. In the process, F.D.R redefined the relationship between government and the people, revolutionized the role of government and ushered in a new era in U.S. politics with the emergence of modern Liberalism. Farmers, city people, agrarian conservatives, labor, the unemployed, politicians, demagogues, free market versus national planning, progressive ethos versus conservative ideology, men and women, white, black, Hispanic and Native Americans, are some of the themes this course will focus on. Additionally, the course will assess the social, cultural and intellectual currents of the Great Depression era. This counts towards the modern requirement for the major and minor. No prerequisite. Offered every other year.
Until the 1960s, historians of the United States’ past largely ignored the experiences and the roles of women and of other minorities. Gerda Lerner was among the first historians to use gender as a tool of historical analysis and to challenge a narrative that relegated women to the margins. This course will trace how from settlement in the 17th century to the present day, American women have shaped the historical process of the nation and beyond. We will examine broad themes including the legal definitions of womanhood, women’s economic status, their work, consumption, sex, sexuality, reproduction and marriage as well as the social and political aspects of clothing. Religion and spirituality as well as women’s role in politics will be among the other themes this course will focus on. We will also analyze the ways in which notions of gender have changed over time and how a wide variety of women have created and responded to changing domestic and global economic, political and social environments. No prerequisite. Offered every other year.
This course surveys American Indian experience in North America from pre-Columbian America to the contemporary moment by "facing east from Indian country" in order to situate Indians’ experience within their own worlds, perspectives and values. American Indians were agents of change far more than simply victims of circumstance and oppression. By looking at American Indians as actors, settlers and thinkers, students will gain a more nuanced understanding of colonialism, expansion, ethnic diversity, hegemony and violence throughout North America. Topics include cultural diversity in pre-Columbian North America; pre- and postcolonial change; cosmology and creation; language; New World identities; slavery and violence; empires; political and spiritual dimensions of accommodation and resistance; borderlands and frontiers; race and removal; the Plains wars; assimilation; Red Power; self-determination; hunting and fishing rights and gaming. This course will highlight the fact that American Indians are intimately intertwined with the histories of various European colonial empires, African peoples and the United States, but also that American Indian peoples have distinct histories of their own that remain vibrant and whole to this day. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor.
From “Birth of A Nation” to “Spartacus,” “Milk,” “Seabiscuit” or “Ali,” films that are “based on actual events” or “based on a true story” attract scores of audiences to the theater. Both art and products of mass consumption, films exert a tremendous influence in shaping popular culture, both in the US and abroad. Films do not just entertain us; their stories shape how we think of ourselves as individuals and vehicle powerful ideas about race, gender, class, sexuality and nationhood. Films, TV series and documentaries are perhaps the most influential medium through which Americans learn about the past, especially the American past. While this course will analyze the birth of cinematography and the rise of the film industry, the goal will be to understand the relationship between history, historians and films that represent the past. Our inquiry into this complicated and sometimes conflictual relationship will be guided by questions that include: What are historical films? How are historical films made and why? Are historical films a valid way to learn about the past? Are historical films a valid historical source? What do historical films tell us about ourselves? What is the relationship between history, film and propaganda? How do history, film and power intersect? No prerequisite.
In this course we shall address the formation and evolution of Mexico from approximately 1800 to the near present, noting aspects of its history as a Spanish colony and an independent republic. The course will cover issues associated with Mexico's changing, complex identity and how the inhabitants of the region have expressed different sentiments and perceptions about their communities, state and nation. We shall thus explore questions raised by relations between indigenous peoples and various, predominantly Hispanic, ruling groups, as well as questions about class and gender, and political and economic organization. The class will alternate or mix lectures with discussions. This counts toward the modern and colonial/imperial requirement for the major and the modern requirement for the minor. No prerequisite. Offered every other year.
How and why did an island nation rise to political and economic predominance over much of the modern world? This course examines the expansion, development and contraction of the British Empire across the globe. We will focus on the circulations of people, power and knowledge that defined the Empire, as well as the interconnections between culture, socio-economics and politics of Britain and the world. Students will explore central themes in the history of British colonial rule: the politics of labor, war and imperial economies, the relationship between British liberalism and the violence and coercion of imperialism, the spread of “popular imperialism” in metropolitan British culture, the diasporas wrought out of British colonialism, and the postcolonial legacies of multiculturalism and imperial nostalgia in contemporary Britain. This counts toward the modern, Europe, and Colonial/Imperial requirement for the major. No prerequisite. Offered every year.
From its beginnings as a state, Britain has been constituted from an amalgamation of different peoples and identities. This course traces the history of Britain from its reconstitution under the Tudor dynasty to its present incarnation as the United Kingdom. We will follow a series of important, yet seemingly contradictory, questions: how did a state controlled by powerful monarchs generate a strong and lasting parliamentary government? How did centuries of religious conflict and persecution produce a legacy of tolerance? How did the development of liberalism spur both mass enfranchisement and education, at the same time as it endorsed colonial conquest and fostered deep-seated inequities in the modern state? Throughout, we will pay particular attention to the ways in which race, class, and gender figured into the lived experience of Britons – questioning the ever-shifting boundaries of ‘Britishness’ itself. This counts toward the modern and Europe requirement for the major. No prerequisite. Offered every year.
This course will explore the history of one of the more fascinating and misunderstood places in the world. Standing between Europe and Asia, the Russian Empire was a conglomeration of religiously diverse and multi-ethnic populations that came to be ruled by one of the strongest authoritarian governments in history. Topics will include the nature of empire and the process of state formation, and it will also engage students in understanding the unique aspects of Russian culture. This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major. No prerequisite. Offered every two or three years.
The course will explore the Renaissance and Reformation eras in continental Europe from the beginning of the 14th century to the end of the Thirty Years War in 1648. This revolutionary period provides important insights into the development of modern Western society. It was a period of dramatic developments in the intellectual, political, economic and social structures of a civilization. The medieval intellectual and political traditions were fired in the crucible of economic, religious and social upheaval. The emergence of clearly defined territorial states, modern capitalism, royal absolutism, humanist scholarship and the rediscovery of ancient sources, the invention of printing, the encounter with the New World, economic and ethnic social stratification, and Christian confessionalism became a fixed part of the landscape of Western culture. The course will cover the late medieval intellectual traditions urban and rural conflicts, the Italian and the Northern Renaissance, the traditionally understood Protestant reformation and Catholic reformation, the struggle of empire and kingdoms, religious conflicts and confrontation, capitalism's role in social and political revolution, and the emergence of a new social order. This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major. No prerequisite. Offered every two or three years.
As a political entity, the aggregation of central European lands ruled from Vienna for almost four centuries constitutes the strangest major power on the European scene in the past 500 years. Alone among the great states of Europe, the Habsburg realm accepted cultural heterogeneity and actively sought to avoid war. This course will assess the Habsburg experiment in political and cultural multiculturalism, seeking finally to account for the empire's inability to survive the tensions of the 20th century. Among the subjects to be considered are: Vienna as the cultural capital of Europe, the role of language in politics, the creative rivalry between Prague and Vienna, the emergence and character of nationalism, the postwar successor states, and the concept of Central Europe. The course will involve lectures and discussions. This counts toward the premodern and colonial/imperial requirements for the major and the premodern requirement for the minor. No knowledge of German is required. No prerequisite.
Through lectures and discussions, we will cover European women's history from the Reformation and Enlightenment up through the late 20th century and the questions raised by the end of the Soviet system. We will look at women’s participation in the work force and in revolutionary movements, their fight for political emancipation and equality, and their relationship to war and racism, as well as study the changing ideas of womanhood, gender and family throughout modern European history. This counts toward the modern and women and gender requirements for the major and the modern requirement for the minor.
This survey of the history of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union in the modern era will introduce students to the region, familiarize them with the major periods of modern Russian history and help them to understand some of the important historical issues and debates. Students should develop an appreciation for the ethnic, social and cultural diversity of both the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union as well as for the ways in which political events shaped the personal lives of the country's population. Though focusing on 20th-century history, this course will begin with an introduction to the social structures, ethnic composition and political problems of the late Russian Empire. We will cover the Russian Revolution and early Soviet history, then turn our attention to Stalinism, collectivization, terror and the Second World War. In the postwar era, we will examine the failure of the Khrushchev reforms and the period of stagnation under Brezhnev, before turning to Gorbachev and the reforms of perestroika. At the end of the semester, we will approach the end of the Soviet Union and its legacy for the many successor states (not only Russia). Although organized along the lines of political periodization, the class will emphasize the perspectives of social and ethnic diversity as well as culture and gender. We will look at art, literature and music, and we will attend film screenings outside of class. Historical background in modern European history is recommended. Russian and other regional language skills are welcomed. This counts toward the modern and colonial/imperial requirement for the major and the modern requirement for the minor.
This course will present a survey of French history from the 17th century to the present, emphasizing the political/cultural life of France, particularly attempts to secure an elusive stability within a long trajectory of revolutionary and counterrevolutionary tumult. The Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the cultural ferment of the fin-de-siècle, and the French experience of the crisis years 1914-1945 will receive special attention. The course also will explore the various ways (manifest through art, politics and social life) in which France conceived of itself as an exemplary nation, or as a practitioner of an exemplary modernity to the rest of the world. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor. No prerequisite.
Modern German history is often seen as a tension between the land of the "poets and thinkers" (Dichter und Denker) and the "land of the murderers and executioners" (Mörder und Henker). In this class, we will use the perspectives of gender, race and class to explore and illuminate the main themes and topics in modern German history, beginning with the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, up to reunification and European Union membership in the present. German language is not required. One unit of history, English or modern languages is recommended. This counts toward the modern and women and gender requirements for the major and the modern requirement for minor. No prerequisite. Offered every two or three years.
This course will explore a period of unprecedented changes in European intellectual culture. Shaken by the encounter with the New World, by a new cosmological perspective, and by the rediscovery of previously unknown ancient sources, European learned society attempted to rethink the very foundations on which its knowledge of the surrounding world rested. The course will begin by looking at the medieval universities and the nascent challenges to Aristotelian philosophy that emerged from the rediscovery of ancient schools of thought. We will explore debates about the proper sources of knowledge in cosmology and natural philosophy that led to a decoupling of religion and science, giving rise to new types of explanations about the structure and origin of the universe. We will see how the transformations in the perception of the natural world impacted political thought and led to the birth of new rationally based political ideologies. In addition to the intellectual transformations, this course will explore the changes in sociability and the transition from the Republic of Letters to the growing importance of the public sphere and of public opinion. Finally, we will interrogate the very scholarly categories that are so commonly used to define the 17th and 18th centuries. This counts towards the premodern requirement for the major an minor. No prerequisite. Offered every other year.
This class examines various ways that people and ideas from the United States have influenced Africa during the past two centuries and how Africans have responded to that involvement. Although much interaction has been at the level of governments and organizations, we will focus primarily on the history of U.S.-African relations at the social personal and local level within Africa, studying specific examples of transatlantic cultural, economic and political influence that changed over time and varied between different parts of Africa. Among the cases to be considered will be several involving African Americans, such as the founding of Liberia and the development of Pan-Africanism. Other topics will include Christian missionaries, explorers, the Cold War, and recent U.S. political, economic and humanitarian interest in Africa. This counts toward the modern and colonial/imperial requirements for the major and the modern requirement for the minor. No prerequisite. Offered every two or three years.
This course explores the role that towns and cities have played in African history, tracing the development of urban areas from early times up to the present. In regarding urban areas as integral features of African societies, the course questions stereotypes of Africa as essentially rural and traditional, examining instead African capacities for cultural synthesis, adaptation and innovation. Among the general themes studied are urban-rural relations, trade, political centralization, industrialization and globalization. Given the immensity of the continent, the course focuses on a select assortment of urban areas as case studies, utilizing a range of sources such as archaeology, memoirs, government documents and literature to understand their histories and current situations. This counts toward the modern and colonial/imperial requirements for the major and the modern requirement for the minor. No prerequisite. Offered every two or three years.
The displacement and economic consequences of climate change and the fact that global economic inequality is dramatically increasing are interrelated problems. Furthermore, we thought the spread of democracy would help solve these things. It turns out we have been led astray by policymakers, as well as some of the scientists and social scientists who informed them. This course tackles not only the biggest issues confronting our world today, but also the history of how governments, scientists and policymakers have tried to tackle them. In this class we will study different disciplinary approaches to climate change and global economic inequality and how successful they have been in crafting solutions over the past 70 years. The sources for this course include media coverage, economic analysis, scientific studies, novels, films and government reports. Borrowing from the experiences of people across the world, we will seek new ideas for approaches to common problems. This counts toward the Asia/Africa and modern requirements for the major. No prerequisite. Offered every two or three years.
This course introduces the history of one of the great empires of the premodern period. Founded in the late 13th century and lasting until the 1920s, the Ottoman Empire was one of the longest-lasting and most successful polities in history. Although founded and ruled by Muslim Turks, the Ottoman Empire was in reality a multiethnic, multicultural religious entity, which at its height contained territories in the Balkans, "the Middle East," and North Africa. It left a significant political and cultural legacy, which continues up to our time. In this course we will examine the entire span of Ottoman history, from the formation of the empire until its dissolution in the aftermath of World War I. Topics to be covered will include: the rise of the Ottoman state in the 13th century and how it became an empire; the role of Islam in Ottoman cultural and political life; the problems of governing a religiously and ethnically pluralist empire; the changing nature of Ottoman politics and administration; some aspects of Ottoman cultural and social life; women and gender in the Ottoman empire; Ottoman relations with Europe; Ottoman responses to modernity; the rise of nationalism; and the events leading up to the eventual creation of the modern Turkish republic in the Ottoman heartland. This counts toward the premodern and colonial/imperial requirements for the major and the premodern requirement for the minor. No prerequisite.
This course covers the history of the Islamic world from the rise of the Mongols in the 13th century to the beginning of the modern era. During this period major Islamic empires such as the Timurids, the Safavids, the Ottomans, the Timurid-Mughals and the Shibanid-Uzbeks were founded by Turko-Mongol Muslims. The period saw the rise of diverse new political institutions, profound transformations of religious thought and practice, and the creation of remarkable literary, artistic and technological achievements. Among the themes we will cover are the role of Turko-Mongol nomads in the formation of these empires, the interaction between Islam and local cultural traditions and practices, the nature of economic and social relations, the construction of gender relations and identity, and the varieties of cultural and literary expression associated with the medieval Muslim world. A central focus of the course will be an examination of cultural, religious and artistic connections and exchange among different regions of Islamic world. This course will help students acquire an understanding of the diverse and cosmopolitan nature of premodern Islamicate society. This counts toward the premodern and colonial/imperial requirements for the major and the premodern requirement for the minor. No prerequisite.
Why and how did Mongolian and Turkic nomads join together to conquer much of the Eurasian world in the early 13th century? What impact did those conquests have on the civilizations they encountered and ruled, from southern Russia and Anatolia to Persia, central Asia, and China? Why do they remain a fertile source for contemporary pop culture? The first part of this course introduces anthropological and historical perspectives on what it meant to be a nomad (focusing on nomads of Eurasia), how sedentary writers (such as Herodotus and Sima Qian) wrote about nomadic neighbors, and how (and why) nomadic societies organized states and interacted with agrarian peoples. Next the course will examine in depth the career of Chinggis Khan (Genghis Khan) and the empires founded by his descendants, with attention to how Mongol imperial priorities and political culture drove new patterns of trade and consumption, religious patronage, and administrative practices, which fostered new paradigms of political and cultural expression in areas under Mongol control. Students will read and discuss arguments made by modern scholars (from the 18th century forward), and dip into the vast body of primary sources generated by the conquests, both textual and visual: chronicles, folklore, travelers’ accounts, inscriptions, art and archaeological findings, etc. This counts toward the premodern and colonial/imperial requirements for the major and the premodern requirement for the minor. No prerequisite. Offered every two or three years.
This course traces the important socioeconomic, political and cultural developments that gave birth to a state and climaxed centuries later in the unification of the Japanese islands under the Tokugawa shoguns in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The Tokugawa "Peace" (ca 1615-1868) laid the stage for Japan's remarkable transformation in the modern era. We will read and discuss a variety of primary and secondary sources, watch some films, and become familiar with early Japanese views of their society and with modern interpretations of its development. This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major and minor. Offered every two or three years.
This course surveys Chinese society from the origins of empire at the turn of the first millennium to the 18th century, focusing on the later centuries (11th to 18th). We will explore; 1) the gradual Confucianization of Chinese society and the tensions between ethical ideals and social realities; 2) the economic, technological and demographic expansion which brought China increasingly into global exchange networks and challenged visions of the proper world order; and 3) how those changes shaped relationships between or among individuals, communities and the state. Along with core institutions of the imperial state (throne and bureaucracy), the agrarian economy and the family-centered ancestral lineage, we examine other social and cultural forms that flourished, often in tension or opposition to societal or state-defined ideals. This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major and minor. No prerequisite.
This course will examine the social, economic and political transformation people have experienced in the Middle East, with a focus on the 19th and 20th centuries. Topics will include the impact of the changing world economy and European imperialism, the emergence of nation-states, gender relations and the role of religion in political and cultural life. The geographical focuses of the course will include Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and the central Arab lands. This counts towards the modern and colonial/imperial requirements for the major and the modern requirement for the minor. No prerequisite. Offered every one or two years.
This course will examine the circumstances and factors leading to World War II and to the U.S. entry into the war. The course will focus on the disruption of the world order through the rise of German, Japanese and Italian imperialism. The course will analyze the effect of the worldwide economic depression of the 1930s. Other topics include the military strategies and conduct of the war, its impact on the home front, and its long-term effects on U.S. foreign policy.
This course is a historical examination of the 20th-century migration of African Americans out of the rural South into American cities, especially cities outside the South. The seminar will look at the historical causes of migration, how the migration changed through time, and the importance of the route taken. The class will read the seminal scholarship and works written or created by the migrants. Students will engage in their own research. Previous enrollment in a college-level 20th-century United States history course is recommended. No prerequisite. Offered every two or three years.
The Civil War is perhaps the defining moment in the history of the United States. When the war ended, slavery had been abolished, 4 million African Americans had been freed, the South had been laid waste and the power of the federal government had been significantly expanded. The war set in motion forces that would change the nature of citizenship and alter the nature of American society, politics and culture forever. This course will focus on the causes of the war, its military campaigns, and its social, political and cultural consequences for black and white northerners and southerners. The course concludes with an examination of the war's continuing hold on the national imagination. This counts toward the modern and Americas/Europe requirement for the major and minor. No prerequisite. Offered every three years.
We will examine how successive waves of immigrants, from the eve of the Civil War to the present, have shaped cities, markets, suburbs and rural areas, while altering education, labor, politics and foreign policy. The course will address such questions as: Why do people leave their homelands? Where do they settle in America and why? What kinds of economic activities do they engage in? How do the children adapt? How does assimilation work? What are the effects of immigration on those born in America? This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor. No prerequisite.
One historian has described the years between 1880 and 1920 as the "nadir of black life." During this period, African Americans were politically disenfranchised, forced into debt peonage, excluded from social life through Jim Crow segregation, and subjected to historically unprecedented levels of extralegal violence. This course will examine how African America was affected by these efforts at racial subjugation and how the community responded socially, politically, economically, intellectually and culturally. Topics will include the rise of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois as political leaders, the founding of the NAACP, the birth of jazz and the blues, the impact of the Great Migration, racial ideologies, lynching, and class, gender and political relations within the African American community. This counts toward the modern and Americas/Europe requirement for the major and minor. Offered every three or four years.
This course will examine the emergence of black intellectual life in the United States from the early 19th century to the present. The course will focus on the changing role of black intellectuals as individual figures and political and social leaders. The course also will focus on how slavery, racism and gender discrimination have affected black thought. Works of fiction and films will be used extensively. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor.
This course shall focus on the major trends of U.S. foreign policy from the Spanish-American War to the present. This seminar will examine the actors who have shaped U.S. foreign policy, as well as how such policies are connected to the larger historical forces both at home and abroad. The course will emphasize, in particular, the origins of U.S. foreign policy and its evolution through various time periods and administrations. The course will explore themes such as: What is foreign policy? Does the U.S. need a foreign policy? What is the relationship between race and foreign policy? How do conceptions of manhood and of womanhood affect foreign policy? What are the economic and cultural aspects of foreign policy and their effects? This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor. Offered every two to three years.
At the end of the Gilded Age, Pastor Lyman Abbott of Plymouth Church, Brooklyn lamented, “What shall we do with our great cities? What will our great cities do with us? These are the two problems which confront every thoughtful American today.” Yet, in “The Great Gatsby,” looking over New York, Nick Carraway remarked that the most unique possibility the city offered was for reinvention, saying that, “‘Anything can happen now that we’ve slid over this bridge.’ I thought; ‘anything at all… Even Gatsby could happen, without any particular wonder.’” These words highlight the centrality of the city in American life and culture from the turn of the 19th century to this day and the tensions between proponents of the metropolis who celebrate its economic dynamism, cultural prominence and diversity, while its detractors decry the same. This course will trace the history of how New York City became the archetype of the modern American city from its rise as a global economic, cultural and political center to its fall during the desegregation era and its renewal in the last decade of the 20th century. Race, gender and class will provide the frameworks of analysis to explore such themes as economic transformation in the industrial age and beyond, urban planning and technological advances, the concept of public space, utilities and welfare policies, as well as immigration, cosmopolitanism, community and identity. This counts toward the modern and Americas/Europe and modern requirement for the major and minor.
This course examines the North American West from the early 1800s to the early 20th century. In doing so, it tackles the social, economic and political histories of the American, Canadian and Pacific Wests, as well as the role that the more romanticized American West has played in popular imagination. This course will examine traditional historical processes tied to the history of the American West such as the Western in literature and film, the Indian wars, the rise of the cowboy and national parks. This course will also take a transnational approach that examines the history of railroads in North America, policing of the West via the formation of the Canadian Mounties and the Texas Rangers; whaling and cattle ranching in the Pacific West (California and Hawaii), and the environmental histories throughout. No prerequisite.
This seminar introduces students to the subject of the Mexican Revolution which defies easy description. The course will examine the major social and political struggles of the revolution, their origins, and their implications as the country emerged from civil war in the 1920s and then underwent substantial reform in the 1930s. Further, the seminar will consider the meaning(s) of the revolution and how it has been conceived and reimagined in cultural and ideological terms. The seminar will examine primary sources in class, but the assignments and reading will focus on the historiography concerning the revolution and on the interpretation of its political, social and cultural significance. Students should have some historical knowledge of the late 19th and 20th centuries and be prepared to gain quickly an overview of the main events of modern Mexican history. This counts toward the modern, colonial and imperial requirements for the major and the modern requirement for the minor. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered occasionally.
This seminar will examine how human rights have been articulated in distinct historical contexts in Latin America. We shall first review early notions of human rights and natural law as expressed during the Spanish conquest of the Caribbean and the Americas. Second, the seminar will identify the main tenets of human rights law and discourse, as comprehended in general terms since the establishment of the United Nations. Then we shall study how major concepts of human rights have been asserted in recent years in different countries across Latin America. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered occasionally.
This seminar examines how Native Americans, Spaniards, Mexicans, Americans and Mexican Americans have contributed to the shaping of the region encompassing the present border between the U.S. and Mexico. The course will consider demographic, economic, social, political and cultural aspects of the peoples who have inhabited and interacted in this area since the 16th century to approximately the present (ca 2010). Transnational themes that we shall consider include the following: Spanish and American colonization, the Mexican-American War, the 1910 Mexican Revolution, the evolution of frontier societies on each side of the border since the Treaty of Guadalupe (1848) and post-World War II developments. The class will thus address historical processes relating to migration, economic change and state formation, as discourses concerned with individual and group identities are reviewed. Students should have some knowledge of 19th and 20th century American or Mexican history. This counts toward the modern and colonial/imperial requirements for the major and the modern requirement for the minor. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every other year.
This seminar examines the evolution of capitalism in North America from a historical and comparative perspective. It covers the period from about 1700 to 2010, centers on the U.S., and is especially concerned about economic development across the continent. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and the minor. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every other year.
In the late 11th century, Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade by calling on European knights to reconquer the city of Jerusalem. The objectives of the first crusaders may have been fairly circumscribed, but for the next four centuries the crusading movement had complex and varied consequences for the inhabitants of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. In this course, we will examine: (1) the confluence of religious, political and economic motivations that inspired crusaders (2) the extension of the notion of crusade to Islamic Spain and parts of northern Europe and (3) the manifold interreligious and cross-cultural exchanges (peaceful and violent) that resulted from the crusades. This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major and minor. Offered every other year.
In 1325, 21-year-old Ibn Battuta left Tangiers for a pilgrimage to Mecca. This pilgrimage became 28 years of ceaseless travel through sub-Saharan Africa, China and India. A careful observer, Battuta left a valuable record of his travels, his disappointments, his enthusiasms and his perplexity at the things he witnessed. This course looks at medieval people who, like Ibn Battuta, undertook ambitious journeys and recorded their experiences. It asks about the motivations (religious, military, economic, scholarly) for such costly and dangerous travel and pays particular attention to how medieval travelers perceived the cultures they encountered. Understanding their experiences is not a simple task, since their reports, like those of all travelers, are admixtures of astute observation, fallible memory and fantastic embellishment. In addition to texts on Ibn Battuta's travels, we will read the letters of spice merchants in India; the observations of a cultivated 12th-century Jew as he traveled from Spain throughout the Mediterranean; Marco Polo's descriptions of the courts of China, India and Japan; and the report of a 10th-century ambassador to Constantinople, where he met the Byzantine emperor: "a monstrosity of a man, a dwarf, fatheaded and with tiny mole's eyes." This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major and minor. Offered every three or four years.
One hundred years ago, the European powers went to war over dynastic honor after the heir to the Habsburg throne was assassinated in Sarajevo. Four years later, all the European empires had fallen to revolution and defeat and Europe was transformed. The war inspired not only socialist revolutions but also revolutions in technology, art and daily life. We will look at the experience of soldiers fighting and new technologies of warfare; civilian suffering, hunger and political radicalization; modernist art and music, and postwar experiments in urban architecture; women's emancipation; and political violence and ethnic cleansing. This upper-level seminar will examine the war, its causes, course and consequences, with a special emphasis on historiography, the way the war was interpreted at the time and over the century since. Students will work with a variety of primary sources and conduct their own research project over the course of the semester. The course is intended for advanced history students, but students from other disciplines with an interest in the time period are welcome. Students without a Modern Europe or an equivalent history course should contact the professor about their preparedness. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor. Offered every three years.
This course will examine the explosion of creativity and radicalism in late Habsburg society, focusing on the capital city Vienna. In the years before and after 1900, Vienna was a vibrant city, home to many of the most important creators of early 20th-century modern culture, among them not only Freud but also such figures as Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Otto Wagner, Karl Kraus, Arthur Schnitzler, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Robert Musil, Theodor Herzl, Otto Bauer, Karl Lueger, Gustav Mahler and Arnold Schoenberg, to name only a few. Taking the multilingual, multireligious, multiethnic Habsburg monarchy as our base, we will follow developments in the fields of psychology, medicine, literature, architecture, art and music, putting them into the context of important political and social movements like socialism, nationalism, anti-Semitism and liberalism. This seminar is designed for junior and senior history majors with a background in European history. However, non-majors with knowledge of or interest in music, art history or German literature are strongly encouraged to join. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor.
This seminar introduces students to the German National Socialist regime, to major historical debates in the field, and to methods of historical research and writing. We begin with the rise of the NS party and the problems of the Weimar Republic in the late 1920s and end with the defeat of Germany and its military occupation after May 1945, looking at major questions including anti-Semitism, Nazi party support, collaboration, terror, and the role of gender, class and sexuality. The course uses the perspective of daily life to look at the history of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust through sources from below, and the work of historians who use these sources. Students will become familiar with the major events of the period and will explore many historical debates in depth in the seminar. They will also explore a topic of their own choosing through progressive assignments, developing their skills in research and analysis. Prior coursework in European history is strongly recommended. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor. No prerequisite.
Major figures in the history of political thought, John Locke, Edmund Burke, and J.S. Mill were also deeply engaged with the turbulent political events of their time. The political crisis that gave rise to the Glorious Revolution of 1688-89 is fundamental to understanding the composition and publication of Locke's "Two Treatises of Government." Burke, a member of Parliament and leading Whig politician, responded vigorously and memorably to the coming of both the American and French revolutions. Mill, mid-Victorian England's most influential political theorist, was also an active member of Parliament during a time when issues central to the emergence of mass politics pressed hard upon the existing order. This seminar will closely examine the intersections of text and context, thought and action, in the political undertakings of these three distinguished thinkers. This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major and minor. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or permission of instructor. Offered every three years.
This course will look at the history of the Soviet Union and the post-1945 German and Eastern European socialist states with a concentration on films made in these countries, as well as films made elsewhere or later about life under state socialism. We will focus on a few key eras and topics, such as World War II films, Stalinism/socialist realism, the Thaw, the position of women in socialist society and generational conflict. Students will be required to attend a weekly film screening as well as participate in class discussion. During the semester, each student may pick a topic for an in-depth research project. Previous coursework in European history recommended. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor. No prerequisite.
Europe's modern intellectual and political culture has often been associated with revolutionary attempts to break free from the hold of tradition. Over the last 500 years, these revolutions have taken place in a number of arenas. In philosophy, Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes challenged all traditional learning and defined new principles that were central to the so-called "Revolution of the Mind." In matters of religion, Enlightenment thinkers not only advocated the toleration of different faiths but also questioned the veracity of Christianity and of all theistic worldviews. In politics, the French Revolution redefined the very concept of a political revolution and set the stage for modern conceptions of sovereignty. Socialist thinkers of the 19th century, in turn, reshaped the ways their contemporaries thought about socio-economic arrangements during the turbulent period known as the Industrial Revolution. Finally, 20th-century existentialists have attempted to rethink the very purpose of human existence. In this course, we will explore these and other seminal revolutionary moments that not only transformed European society but that also had implications for European and, indeed, global culture. We will explore the political, social, economic and intellectual dimensions of Europe's several revolutionary moments and investigate the various meanings that the term revolution assumed at different historical moments. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor. No prerequisite. Offered every other year.
This course introduces students to the rich tradition of historical theories and methods from classical antiquity to the late 18th century. Students will encounter a variety of historical narrative and reflections on historical writing, and they will examine how some of the most renowned historians have attempted to approach the complex study of the past. We will focus on the ways in which ancient and more recent historians have addressed issues that continue to preoccupy contemporary scholars: the nature of causal explanations of change, the role of the individual in history, the effects of political, religious, social and economic structures on historical development, the variability and constancy of human nature, and the role of fate, destiny and the supernatural. This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major and minor. No prerequisite.
This course examines the tumultuous age of the Tudors and Stuarts. It investigates the Henrician Reformation, the reign of Elizabeth I, the struggles between court and country associated with the early Stuarts, and upheavals of the English Civil War and Interregnum, and the events leading to the so-called Glorious Revolution. Although a large measure of coverage is given to political developments, some attention is also paid to social, economic and cultural issues. This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major and minor. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or permission of instructor. Offered every other year.
This course will explore social changes that have taken place in Africa during the past century as portrayed in novels and films by and about African women. A variety of works from throughout the continent will be considered, but the general focus will be on the impact of colonization, urbanization, and other recent social changes. Among the topics addressed will be polygyny, motherhood, education, religion, employment, political activism and the recent AIDS epidemic. In each case, the emphasis will not be on victimization or cultural decline, but rather, as expressed in their works of art, the resilience and adaptability of African women. This counts toward the modern and Africa/Asia requirements for the major and minor. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every two or three years.
Is disease a great leveler? Or does it exacerbate social, gendered and raced inequalities? This course takes a global approach to the modern history of public health: its emergence as a profession, its expanding knowledge and the growth of policy around it. Spanning the 16th to 21st century, we will investigate changing knowledge and treatments of disease. We will critique how the medical and legal frameworks organized around disease shape our experience of it. The course moves through time chronologically, questioning the relationship between humans and the environment, the role of medical technologies and developments, and shifting interpretations of disease causation, ranging from urbanization and industrialization to immigration and globalization. We will explore these questions by examining a wide range of subjects, from biomedicine to racial hygiene, population politics to colonial medicine, vaccination and resistance to treatment, quarantine and detention and the global response to epidemics. By the end of the course, students will be able to examine policy, analyze epidemiological data, and think critically about the social and political consequences illness and the state’s response to it. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major. Offered every two or three years.
Long before Columbus crossed the Atlantic Ocean, peoples residing along the shores of the Indian Ocean had already established an extensive maritime network that linked the civilizations of India, China, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and East Africa. For centuries, the volume and wealth of Indian Ocean trade exceeded that of any other region, and it was in hopes of gaining access to this commercial zone that Europeans embarked on their voyages of "discovery." This seminar course treats the Indian Ocean region as a site of premodern globalization and explores the wide-ranging cultural and economic exchanges that occurred across it during successive eras of regional, Muslim, and European dominance from the 17th to the 19th centuries, before its decline. Towards the end of the course, we will explore recent historical scholarship, that focuses on modern networks of labor, pilgrimage, kinship, and ideas across the Indian Ocean, and questions whether this zone of exchange and interconnection did indeed decline in the era of 19th-century European dominance. Recommended for sophomores and above. This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major and minor. No prerequisite. Offered every two or three years.
This course focuses on the diverse ways that historians have understood a period of dramatic political, social and cultural change: the 12th century. We begin by looking at how historians have described the 12th century in the broader context of European history. In the early 20th century, Charles Homer Haskins famously proposed that we should see the 12th century as a renaissance. Over the course of several weeks, we examine different varieties of evidence: law codes, theological tracts, chronicles, letters and poems. We turn from these various types of evidence to explore a set of broadly synthetic questions about the social, political, cultural and economic history of the period. In other words, we move from granular analysis of particular pieces of evidence to thinking about models for understanding change and continuity. In the final weeks of the semester, students will share the fruits of individual research projects with the seminar. This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major. Offered every other year.
Novels and films are powerful tools of historical projection in modern societies, and Africa is no exception. The sub-Saharan African novel is a recent phenomenon, dating back, for the most part, to the early 20th century. The African film is of even more recent vintage and to a large extent remains a marginal form of expression for most of sub-Saharan Africa. However small a group they remain, sub-Saharan novelists and filmmakers have had a considerable impact on the societies that produced them. We will examine the influence of African novelists and filmmakers on the political and social realms of their societies and attempt to determine the relationship between novels, films and the historical reality of sub-Saharan Africa from the 1940s to the present. We also shall focus on how novels and films have in turn been shaped by the historical forces they have attempted to transcend. Finally, we will analyze the vision Africans have of their past and their judgment of that vision. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor.
This course will explore major social and political changes that took place in South Africa during the 20th century. From the time of British colonization, through the rise and fall of the apartheid state, a variety of competing groups emerged that eventually combined to form the nation of South Africa. That process was accompanied by recurring conflict, but with the end of enforced racial segregation in the 1990s and the introduction of democracy, South Africans have been re-examining their past in search of new narratives that might transcend the legacy of historic divisions. Through study of scholarly works, primary documents, literature and film, this seminar will explore the roots of modern South African society and the varying perceptions of that history. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every two or three years.
What is a family and how has it changed? This course examines the evolution of family and kinship in East Asia; its impact on gender norms and the lives of men, women, and children; and why these things mattered to political authorities (the state). It focuses on the striking variations of family and household structures and dynamics over the last millennium in China, Japan, and Korea, mainly. A society’s economic and political underpinnings, religious traditions, and legal norms shape and are shaped by practices of sex, marriage, child-rearing and inheritance. Students will explore these universal concerns through a rich body of materials, including written texts, art, architecture, artifacts of visual and material culture, along with abundant current scholarship that encourages an evaluation of East Asian experience in a global framework. No previous knowledge of East Asia assumed or required. This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major and minor. Offered every two or three years.
Vietnam is a region, a country, a nation, a society and a war, or a series of wars. This seminar explores the place and its people during the 20th century, with special attention to the era from 1945 to 1975. The French and American wars will be situated in the context of the Vietnamese experience of colonialism and nationalism. Through fiction, field studies, memoirs, reportage, official documents, critical essays and films we will consider the issues of memory, race and ideology in the construction of history. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor. Offered every two or three years.
People make sense of their past by telling stories about it. This course focuses on the rich and exciting traditions of literature in India as a way of studying its past, and as a way of studying history itself. Some Indian writers, such as Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy and Anita Desai, have, in fact, brought India's history to the world through their fiction. But what different visions of India do they choose to portray? This course will examine their work, but also the work of lesser-known Indian writers and filmmakers, as a way of seeing how Indian intellectuals themselves have defined and described India, on the one hand, and "history," on the other. How have these images changed over time? Among the recent films we may see are "Earth," "Train to Pakistan," "East Is East," and "Hyderabad Blues." Each challenges viewers’ notions of the past as its characters confront it. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor. Permission of instructor required.
This course evaluates the ways in which North American peoples (Natives and not) have evolved through corn in terms of population growth and cultural values from pre-Columbian America to the rise of large agribusinesses such as Cargill. Although corn was one of many plants that Mesoamericans initially domesticated, its hardy nature, nutritional bounty and adaptability to many environments helped it spread throughout North and South America. As Native peoples domesticated corn, they often abandoned nomadic lifestyles for sedentary ones to cultivate their crops and feed their growing communities. Such changes ushered in profound transformations among Native communities as social hierarchies developed, new religious practices and cosmologies evolved, and large urban centers such as Tenochtitlan and Cahokia appeared. Corn's centrality in the lives of North Americans continued even after Europeans, Africans and Asians arrived during the colonial period. In fact, without corn, efforts by Europeans to colonize North America may have taken an entirely different course or failed altogether. Yet Native peoples helped European colonists grow corn as part of reciprocal trade relationships, military alliances, or simply to win the loyalty of a convenient ally when European diseases ravaged their communities. Non-natives quickly relied as much as Native peoples on the crop, which began to transform Europe and Africa, too. The slave trade quickly grew to incorporate corn as an important foodstuff from the west coast of Africa to plantations in the American South. Ohio Valley frontiersmen rebelled against the nascent American republic in the 1790s to protect their corn whiskey that was increasingly threatened by oppressive taxes. Settlers who moved west during the 19th century grew corn from Ohio to Colorado and created a market for foodstuffs, machines, and "corn-on-the-hoof" (cattle and swine) that fueled the development of key urban centers such as Chicago and Kansas City. By the turn of the 20th century, Americans were not only dependent on corn as a foodstuff, but as a key component of their capitalist, agrarian, and racial identities. Although scholars traditionally speak of Native peoples as tying their genesis to corn, they often neglect to engage the ways in which non-natives did the same. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major. No prerequisite.
Both film and fiction have played significant roles in the so-called "Modern Middle East" as means of interpreting the past as well as constructing present realities and issues. This seminar will use novels and film as lenses to explore major historical dynamics and trends in the history of this region in the 20th century. We will examine works created by artists from a number of different countries, including Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Palestine, Afghanistan and Algeria, as well as examples of Western imaginings of the region. Themes to be explored will include "Orientalism" and representations of the "Middle East," colonialism, nationalism and resistance, responses to development and globalization, understandings of ethnicity and identity, images of gender relations and the changing roles of religion. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
This seminar will examine women's history and the cultural constructions of gender in the so-called Middle East in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Examining a rich variety of historical sources -- religious texts, literary writings, women's personal writings, films and images -- we will explore women's lives in a variety of cultural and historical contexts. The course addresses a variety of topics, including the role of religion in the construction of discourse concerning women, the impact of colonialism and nationalism on gender politics, and the nature of women’s movements. This course also will discuss the rise and impact of transnational feminism, particularly in the context of current conflicts in the region. This counts toward the modern and women and gender requirement for the major and the modern requirement for the minor.
This course will discuss black women of the Atlantic world, from Africa to the United States, the Caribbean and South America, from the 17th century to the present. We will pay particular attention to commonalities among black women of the Atlantic world. The course will examine the impact on black women of the Atlantic slave trade, enslavement and colonialism. The course also will examine the status of black women cross-culturally, as well as social organization, race, class and culture. Lastly, the course will analyze the role of black women both in the struggle for freedom and in the women's movement. Works of fiction and films will be used extensively. This counts toward the women and gender or colonial/imperial requirements for the major.
As a field of study, the Atlantic World transcends national borders. The Atlantic World is a very large geographical area that encompasses four continents, North and South America, Western Europe and Western Africa. Atlantic World Studies compares how these regions developed intricate and closely linked economic, cultural and political systems on the eve of the 16th century. This course will examine the history of the Atlantic World from its beginnings to the present by emphasizing economic, cultural and intellectual exchanges between these four geographical regions and their peoples. Particular attention will be paid to European colonization in the Americas and in Western Africa, on the rise of slavery and of the plantation economy, on religious exchanges and on migrations throughout the Atlantic littoral. This counts toward the colonial/imperial requirement for the major. No prerequisite.
This course is a study of American Indian activism from the late 19th century to the present in order to understand the broader historical context of Red Power. It is designed to look beyond the myth that American Indian activism rode in on the coattails of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and show that Native and non-Native activists had been fighting and campaigning on behalf of the Indian peoples throughout the entire century. The course will highlight the varying methods, intentions, successes and failures of the many American Indian activists and organizations that fought for Indian sovereignty. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major.
Novels and movies have had a powerful effect on history, both as media for the transmission of historical information to modern audiences and as reflections of the values and concerns of their creators and audiences over time. This seminar will examine a variety of 20th century films and novels to understand African-American history from the antebellum period to the present. The goal of this examination will be to discern how writers and filmmakers have understood and presented the history and images of African Americans to contemporary audiences, and how these representations have reflected and changed understandings of African-American history and notions of race. This counts toward the modern and Americas/Europe requirement for the major and minor. Prerequisite: junior standing. Offered every three or four years.
This course focuses on the conceptual frameworks used by historians and on debates within the profession about the nature of the past and the best way to write about it. The seminar prepares students of history to be productive researchers, insightful readers and effective writers. The seminar is required for history majors and should be completed before the senior year. Open only to sophomores and juniors. This counts toward the practice and theory requirement for the major. Prerequisite: history or international studies major or permission of instructor.
This seminar explores the rich and dynamic history of modern Iran from the late 19th century to the present. Paying close attention to broader regional and global contexts, we will focus on revolutionary moments and major transformations in Iranian politics, culture and society, such as the Constitutional Revolution of 1908, the 1953 Anglo-American Coup, the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the Green Revolution in 2009. The course will involve a close reading and critical analysis of a range of primary sources (such as memoirs, novels and films) produced mostly by Iranian artists, intellectuals and activists. We will examine a variety of themes including the construction of Iranian national identity, meanings and experiences of modernity, revolutions, the discourse surrounding gender roles and sexuality, and the role of Islam in politics and culture. We will specifically focus on the Iranian revolution of 1978, one of the seminal events of the 20th century, and Iran’s post-revolutionary experience as an Islamic Republic. Finally, we will examine critical dimensions of Iranian political and cultural engagement with the rest of the world. Through this course, students will gain a better appreciation for and understanding of the complex and dynamic history of Iran. Along the way, we will hone our skills in critical historical thinking and writing. This counts toward Asia/Africa and modern requirements for History major and minor, the Asian and Middle East Studies joint major and Islamic Civilization and Cultures Concentration. No prerequisite. Offered every three years.
This seminar will look at the formation of the American republic. It will look at the prerevolutionary causes of the conflict, the revolution itself, the establishment of a new nation and the writing and ratification of the federal Constitution. The course will focus on political and constitutional issues but also will address social change, Native Americans, women and slavery. This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major and minor. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
This upper-level seminar focuses on manhood in U.S. historical perspective. Although history is often taught and studied from the perspective of men or through a close examination of male actors, only recently have historians begun to analyze the ways in which men express and experience manliness and masculinity. Like women, men also live social lives shaped by gender. Using gender as a category of historical analysis, we will explore how maleness has been defined and how those definitions have been protected, challenged, and transformed over time. Students will critically examine what it means for gender to operate as a socially constructed, rather than natural, category. Specific areas of focus may include historical constructions of gender binaries, power, imperialism, race/gender intersections, sexuality, sports, and fraternal organizations. This course counts toward the Americas and modern requirements for the major and minor. An intro-level history course is recommended. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
The years between 1954 and 1975 have been variously described by historians as a Second Reconstruction and the "fulfillment of the promise of the American Revolution." These years, which constitute the civil rights era, witnessed African Americans and their allies transforming the nation by overturning Jim Crow segregation, challenging racism, and expanding the idea and reality of freedom in America. While this period was one in which most African Americans fought for greater inclusion in American society, it also was one which saw the rise of militant nationalist organizations like the Nation of Islam and the Black Panther Party that sought to separate themselves from an America they saw as hopelessly depraved and racist. This seminar will be an intense exploration of this revolutionary period and its personalities through close examination of a variety of primary and secondary sources, documentaries and motion pictures. This counts towards the modern and Americas/Europe requirements for the major and minor. Offered every two or three years.
This course will examine the impact of race on politics, political parties and public policy in the United States from the 1930s to the present. Race has been a defining feature of American political culture from the country's founding and has had a profound impact on society and culture over the past seven decades. Government action has contributed significantly to the development of the post-World War II middle class, the rise of the suburbs and American economic prosperity, but it also has created the modern ghetto, maintained and increased segregation, hindered black wealth creation and led to the ascendancy of political conservatism, all while putatively pursuing an agenda of racial and social justice. This course will explore the evolution of these social, political and economic developments. Topics will include federal housing policy, urban renewal, the construction of the highway system, the civil rights and Black Power movements, the rise of the Republican Party, busing, affirmative action, congressional redistricting and the War on Drugs. This counts toward the modern and Americas/Europe requirement for the major and minor. Offered every two or three years.
This course will examine the history of Blacks in America's criminal justice system from the colonial period to the present. It will begin with the creation of separate criminal laws and punishments for Blacks during the colonial and antebellum periods, with particular emphasis on how slavery shaped the system. Students will explore how the criminal justice system changed after the end of slavery, during the Reconstruction era; topics will include convict leasing and lynching. We will discuss criminal justice issues through the mid 20th century with a special focus on disparities in America's implementation of the death penalty. The final section of the course will be devoted to the War on Drugs, the homicide epidemic among Blacks, urban policing strategies and police shootings of unarmed black victims. The subject matter of the course will be covered through historical monographs and articles, documentaries and memoirs. Prerequisite: junior standing.
This course will examine the contest among various cultural groups for control of the Great Lakes region of North America from the days of Jacques Cartier’s first voyage in 1534 to the War of 1812 between Great Britain and the United States of America. Native peoples, French and British settlers, and even African slaves played important roles in creating commercial, Native, imperial and national borderlands within the geographic boundaries of the Great Lakes. From the storied voyageurs who explored vast stretches of the Iroquoian and Algonquian worlds to the British and American warships vying for supremacy on Lake Erie, the cultural and political boundaries of the Great Lakes were in continual flux and under constant negotiation. In order to understand this Great Lakes borderland, we will look at the power differentials among the various groups, the patterns of cooperation or noncooperation they adopted, the sources of various cultural misunderstandings, and the strategies for coping that they adopted. This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major and minor.
The French Revolution was a watershed moment in the history of the Western world. Many historians believe it was the beginning of modernity, as the Revolution ushered in seismic transformations in political, social, economic, cultural and intellectual life. These changes occurred not only in France, where turbulent popular upheavals precipitated the unraveling of the existing social order, the unprecedented beheading of the king, the rapid mutation of political institutions and even the abolition of the Christian calendar, but in the whole Western Hemisphere. French armies exported the ideas and the institutions of the Revolution into neighboring European countries, while political leaders fighting for independence in Haiti and in Latin America appropriated the rhetoric of the French revolutionaries for their own purposes. The Revolution's mythological legacy continued to inspire revolutionaries across the world far into the 19th century and beyond, making it an event of truly global significance. This seminar will be structured both thematically and chronologically. We will begin by looking back into the mid-18th century at the Old Regime to explore the various factors that brought about the end of the existing order. The Revolution's singular importance has turned it into a minefield of controversial debates across generations of historians, who have attempted to account for its causes and effects. We will encounter various historical explanations of the Revolution and reflect on the assumptions and methods of different historical schools that have attempted to interpret this seismic event. We will then explore the Revolution in its many stages: from its radical republicanism, to the Reign of Terror, to the eventual rise and fall of Napoleon. We will end the course by considering the Revolution's short- and long-term effects. This counts toward the Europe and premodern requirements for the major and minor. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or permission of instructor. Offered every other year.
This course introduces students to the history of Ireland, with an emphasis on the centuries after 1600. Through readings, reports and discussions, the seminar examines major topics and themes in modern Irish history. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or permission of instructor. Offered every other year.
This course explores the history of the Iberian Peninsula during the Middle Ages. The history of medieval Spain differed dramatically from the rest of Europe. For over 700 years, the peninsula was divided between Muslim and Christian rule. During different periods, many Christians lived under Islamic rule, and many Muslims under Christian rule. Most major cities also had long-established Jewish communities. As a result of multiple superimposed migrations and invasions, Spain was the most ethnically and religiously diverse part of Europe. The interactions among these different groups ranged from fruitful cooperation and tolerance on the one hand, to virulent persecution, on the other. This course explores the rich but volatile relations between different ethnic and religious groups while placing Spain's history in the context of its relations with other regions. To understand the dynamic and sometimes violent societies of medieval Spain, one must appreciate the shifting patterns of economic, political and cultural ties that linked the peninsula to Europe, North Africa, the eastern Mediterranean and the Americas. This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major and minor. Offered every other year.
For nearly two millennia, religious belief was a fundamental part of European culture that permeated nearly every aspect of daily experience. The proposition that human beings could not prove God's existence had profound implications for all realms of human experience. Doubts about the rational foundations of Christianity emerged both from the ranks of the faithful and from those who challenged the divine origins of all organized religions. This course will explore the complex transition from a largely theistic worldview to deist, materialist and atheist understandings of the universe. The seminar will begin by looking at the origins of religious unbelief in 16th- and 17th-century Europe. We will explore the growing popularity of various forms of "irreligious" doctrines in the Enlightenment. Finally, we will examine the persistence of religious belief in multiple forms during the 19th and 20th centuries. This course includes readings by Pierre Bayle, Voltaire, David Hume, Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche and Albert Camus, among others. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor. No prerequisite. Offered every other year.
Throughout Africa’s history, religion and government have been inseparably linked as fundamental elements of society. Authority and achievement, in all spheres of life, are generally based on certain assumptions about the operation of unseen forces and the submission of individuals to a higher power, whether human or divine. Allegiance, civility and justice are as much religious phenomena as they are political. This seminar examines leading cases of religiously inspired politics -- or politically motivated religion -- from different places and times in Africa, studying key aspects of the relationship between faith and power and seeking greater understanding of regional variation and historical change in that relationship. A recurring theme is the role of indigenous African beliefs and their interaction with Christian, Islamic, and modern understandings of power. The seminar will culminate with individual research papers by students on topics of particular interest to them. This counts toward the modern and colonial/imperial requirement for the major and the modern requirement for the minor. Prerequisite: HIST 145, 146 or permission of instructor. Offered every two or three years.
There are so many Tibetans in Dharamsala, India, that people call it Little Lhasa. Ramayana celebrations based on the Hindu epic in Southeast Asia reflect more ancient migrations of Indians, who carried their languages and cultures with them as they migrated. Chinese communities thrive throughout Asia where Chinese traders once settled in the course of commercial enterprise. This course will examine old and new patterns of Asian migration and the diaspora of various Asian ethnic communities. We will use cultural artifacts and products of popular culture that reflect the transit of people from one part of Asia to another. We also tackle some important theoretical questions: What is the relationship between diaspora and assimilation? What does it mean for a community to settle in a place and make it home? The converse of this question is: Who is indigenous? What effect does colonialism have on the changing meanings of migration and diaspora? The transmission of cultures and religions across Asia raises other complicated questions. For example, the "spread of Buddhism" from India eastward is usually seen through the transmission of texts and ideas. What about people? We are more apt to consider the importance of people in the spread of Islam. But surely in India, if not Malaysia too, most Muslims within a few centuries were converts, not immigrants. So how do we separate the diaspora of people from the diaspora of ideas? This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor. No prerequisite.
Nonviolent protests, sit-ins, marches, experience in jail, passive resistance and hunger strikes are all techniques attributable to civil disobedience and to its major 20th-century exponent, Mohandas Gandhi. This course examines the changing definitions of civil disobedience across different cultures and societies in the context of Gandhi’s history and philosophy. We will begin by studying Gandhi in depth and then branch out to other approaches to civil disobedience. In the process we will look at several political leaders or movements that examined and then revised, rejected or used Gandhian techniques: Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela or Malcolm X and the 1989 student movement in China. Finally, students will devise their own research projects on movements of their choice in order to understand how civil disobedience has developed, functioned or changed in different historical contexts. This counts toward the modern requirement for the major and minor. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
The course explores the cultural, economic and ecological significance of food in premodern societies. Food serves as a shuttle between the concrete (what do you need to grow an olive?) and the symbolic (what does the Eucharist mean?). Caroline Bynum's work on the religious significance of food to medieval women is one example of the sort of reading that will be included. We also will explore the ways in which the great famine of the 14th century altered European social and political structures, how the increased cultivation of legumes fueled economic and demographic expansions (European crusaders were quite literally full of beans) and how leaders used feasting as a political tool. Dietary practices also were markers of religious and ethnic identity. The earliest Christians were, for example, unsure of whether they were still bound by Jewish dietary laws. When Romans disparaged their northern neighbors, one of the most effective ways to express their contempt was to describe how barbarians used animal fat (rather than olive oil) and drank ale (rather than wine). This counts toward the premodern requirement for the major and minor. Offered every other year.
The goal of this course is to give each history major the experience of a sustained, independent research project, including formulating a historical question, considering methods, devising a research strategy, locating and critically evaluating primary and secondary sources, placing evidence in context, shaping an interpretation and presenting documented results. Research topics will be selected by students in consultation with the instructor. Classes will involve student presentations on various stages of their work and mutual critiques, as well as discussions of issues of common interest, such as methods and bibliography. Open only to senior history majors. This counts toward the senior research seminar requirement for the major. Prerequisite: HIST 387. Offered every fall.
Individual study is available to students who want to pursue a course of reading or complete a focused research project on a topic not regularly offered in the curriculum. This option is restricted to history majors and cannot normally be used to fulfill distribution requirements within the major. To qualify, a student must prepare a proposal in consultation with a member of the history faculty who has suitable expertise and is willing to work with the student over the course of a semester. The two- to three-page proposal should include a statement of the questions to be explored, a preliminary bibliography, a schedule of assignments, a schedule of meetings with the supervising faculty member and a description of grading criteria. The student also should briefly describe prior coursework that particularly qualifies him or her to pursue the project independently. The department chair must approve the proposal. The student should meet regularly with the instructor for at least the equivalent of one hour per week. At a minimum, the amount of work submitted for a grade should approximate that required, on average, in 300- or 400-level history courses. Individual projects will vary, but students should plan to read 200 pages or more a week and to write at least 30 pages over the course of the semester. Students are urged to begin discussion of their proposals with the supervising faculty member and the department chair the semester before they hope to undertake the project. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the established deadline. Proposals must be submitted by the third day of classes to department chair.
The honors candidates enrolled in this course will devote their time to the research and writing of their honors theses under the direct supervision of a history faculty member. This counts toward the senior research seminar requirement for the major. Students enrolled in this course will be automatically added to HIST 498Y for the spring semester. Permission of instructor and department chair required. Prerequisite: HIST 387 or 397.
The honors candidates enrolled in this course will devote their time to the research and writing of their honors theses under the direct supervision of a history faculty member. This counts toward the senior research seminar requirement for the major. Permission of instructor and department chair required. Prerequisite: HIST 387 or 397.