Course Descriptions Spring 2017

History Department, Course Descriptions for all Undergraduate Courses, Spring 2017.

Below please find course descriptions (also available in Explore) for all our undergraduate courses for Spring 2017.  Please contact the Department for any questions.

SPRING 2017:

HIST 007 Intro Early History: World I or Europe I

For College students, all sections of HIST 007 or HIST 008 fulfill the core requirement in History for a broad introductory survey; these students complete the requirement by taking HIST 099.

Please note that if you receive AP/IB placement or credit, you cannot take HIST 007 (or 008 or 099) for credit.

The various sections of HIST 007 have different focuses, for which see below; moreover, each instructor may develop or stress particular themes within her/his focus.  Students are urged to consult syllabi available on line or at the History Department.

The World I sections examine the history of the human experience from a global perspective.  The bulk of the semester concerns societies and states from the time of ancient civilizations to about 1500 AD.  The course pays particular attention to political, economic, and social changes, but also considers cultural, technological, and ecological history.  The evolving relationship between human identities and their social and material environments forms one of the major points of analytical focus for this course.  The overarching goal is to provide a general framework for the history of the world to help students understand the big picture, and to help them to contextualize what they will later study about history, politics, religion--in short, about the human experience.

The Europe I sections offer an analysis of the major political, social, economic, diplomatic, religious, intellectual, and scientific developments in European Civilization to 1789.

HIST 008 Intro Late History: Europe II or World II

For College students, all sections of HIST 007 or HIST 008 fulfill the core requirement in History for a broad introductory survey; these students complete the requirement by taking HIST 099.

Please note that if you receive AP/IB placement or credit, you cannot take HIST 007 (or 008 or 099) for credit.

The various sections of HIST 008 have different focuses, for which see below; moreover, each instructor may develop or stress particular themes within her/his focus.  Students are urged to consult syllabi available on line or at the History Department.

The World II sections consider human history since about 1500 AD, focusing on the dynamics of global interaction. The class seeks to familiarize students with, and help them contextualize, historical processes and phenomena such as colonialism and imperialism, industrialization, modern population growth, nationalism and the rise of the nation-state, great power politics, and the emergence of modern science. Its goal is to explain how the world got to be the way it is, with a particular focus on how social and ethno-cultural identities have been shaped--and have in turn shaped--political, economic, and physical environments.

The Europe II sections offer an analysis of the significant political, social, economic, diplomatic, religious, intellectual, and scientific developments in European Civilization since the eruption of the French Revolution. Special attention is also paid to issues of class, gender, marginality and the relationship of Europe to non-Western cultures.

HIST 099 Hist Focus [various topics]

HIST 099 is one of the required core classes in History.  All sections of HIST 099 fulfill the same role, though each instructor will develop a specific topic.  Students are urged to consult syllabi available on line or at the History Department.

Please note that if you receive AP/IB placement or credit, you cannot take HIST 099 (or 007 or 008) for credit.

Please note that HIST 099 must be taken at GU and cannot be transfered.

The general aim of HIST 099 is to introduce students to various elements of historical work and thinking, within the context of looking at a particular historical period, event, or theme in some depth.  Though lectures and discussion will focus on particular topics, there will also be class exercises, assignments, and readings that will allow instructors and students to explore how historians identify, define, and employ primary sources of all types, how historians analyze those sources, how they formulate questions, how they engage with the work of prior historians, and how they aim to reconstruct various elements of the human experience in particular times and places.

HIST 107 Pacific World

For College students all sections of HIST 107 fulfill the core requirement in History for a broad introductory survey; these students complete the requirement by taking HIST 099.

Please note that until Spring 2015 HIST 107 used to be one of the options within HIST 008; if you took HIST 008 Intro Late Hist: Pacific World, you should NOT take HIST 107.

Pacific World focuses on the Pacific Ocean world, which has historically been regarded as a vast and prohibitive void rather than an avenue for integration. Yet over the last five centuries motions of people, commodities, and capital have created important relationships between the diverse societies situated on the "Pacific Rim." This course examines the history of trans-Pacific interactions from 1500 to the present. It takes the ocean itself as the principal framework of analysis in order to bring into focus large-scale processes--migration, imperial expansion, cross-cultural trade, transfers of technology, cultural and religious exchange, and warfare and diplomacy. This "oceans connect" approach to world history brings these processes into sharp relief while also allowing for attention to the extraordinary diversity of cultures located within and around the Pacific.

HIST 108 Central Eurasia

Through lectures, primary and secondary readings, class discussion and audio-visual material, this course surveys the ecological, cultural, social and political dynamics of the peoples of Central and Inner Asia (Central Eurasia) from the origins of the steppe-pastoral economy up to
the present. Our geographic scope will take in those regions which  today comprise Mongolia, Xinjiang (Eastern Turkestan), Tibet, Afghanistan and the former Soviet Central Asian Republics, and will  venture at times into neighboring zones, including Turkey, Russia, Siberia, Iran, India, and China. Needless to say, both the time-frame and geographic area under consideration are very great, but this is justified--indeed, required, by the larger purpose of this course: to highlight ways in which Central Eurasia and its peoples have been central to world history. Linking our examination of particular eras and peoples will be an overarching concern with the dynamics of the relationship between the peoples of the steppes and deserts at the core of the Eurasian continent and the sedentary societies around the rim.  We will likewise pay close attention to ways in which political, commercial and cultural linkages across the Eurasian steppe connected Europe, Persia, Mesopotamia and China from times well before the opening of direct maritime communications between Europe and Asia launched the current wave of "globalization."

Note: HIST 108 is a regional survey for purposes of the SFS Gen Ed requirement.

HIST 111 Africa I

For College students, HIST 111 fulfills the core requirement in History for a broad introductory survey; these students complete the requirement by taking HIST 099.

This course is a general survey and explores the rich history of people living in Africa from very early times through the 19th century. We will focus our attention on several regional case studies, including the early urbanism and medieval states of the West African Sahel, equatorial societies and kingdoms of the southern savannas, the Swahili coast and its hinterland in eastern and central Africa, and the Kongo Kingdom and Atlantic slave trade. We seek to understand transformations common to early human histories, such as the emergence of food production or the rise of centralized states, as well as the situational and contingent nature of ethnicity, slavery, gender, and wealth and poverty in the African context. We will also consider social achievements particular to Africans’ history, such as the multiple inventions of heterarchical forms of governance. We will study how persistent ideas from western cultures shaped what outsiders thought they knew about Africans and their histories at the same time that we try to understand what Africans themselves thought about their own actions and those of their ancestors. We will access these histories by analyzing a range of primary historical sources: archaeological artifacts and site reports, travelers’ accounts, art, oral traditions, photographs, the reconstructed vocabulary of dead languages, and many others. NOTE: A section of this class has been reserved for freshmen and sophomores in Spring 2017.

HIST 120 Confucian world to 1800

This course examines the interconnected history of East Asia (China, Japan, and Korea) from the dawn of human habitation through the end of the 18th century.  It explores three main themes: intellectual and material exchange, differing modes of economic production, and political stability, both domestically and regionally.

Since the "Confucian" model of ethics, politics, and social organization is often taken as a defining characteristic of societies in East Asia, we will start by tracing the development of this system in China and its export to, and transformation by, Japan and Korea.  In addition, we will learn how people in each country responded to the introduction of Buddhism and Christianity, within the context of indigenous religious traditions.

Also, we will investigate the shifting balances between those who make their living in the steppe, forest, or ocean, and those who cultivate fields or paddies.

While each of these states experienced frequent domestic upheavals, relations among them remained remarkably tranquil (if not close).  Only for a few decades in the seventh century, the Mongol invasion of the late thirteenth century, and in 1592-1598 were all three involved in mutual combat.  We will look at the factors which promoted this stability, as well as those that occasionally overturned it.

Lectures and readings will present a chronological framework of the development of these three cultures, while much of our work in class will focus on a close reading of primary texts.  There are no prerequisites, in terms of either background or language.

HIST 123 Modern China

This course continues a general history of China from the earliest records of Chinese civilization through the first three decades of the People's Republic.  The course is introductory, has no prerequisites, and assumes no prior knowledge of China or its language.  The organization of the course is basically chronological, but within that framework we will be approaching China from a wide range of viewpoints, taking up political, economic, social, religious, philosophical, and artistic developments.  In the fall semester, we covered the formation of China's social, political, and philosophical culture(s), going as far as the consolidation of imperial autocracy in the Ming dynasty (14th-16th centuries).

This term we will cover roughly six centuries: 1380-1980.  We start with both the resilience and weaknesses of China's imperial system during its final quarter-millennium, including the tensions between a "Middle Kingdom" vision of China as a unitary, advanced, and self-sufficient civilization and the realities of the Manchu Qing state as a multi-ethnic empire in growing competition with others.  We then take up the challenge to China's traditions and stability posed by internal developments as well as external economic and cultural penetration by a number of "outsiders" in the 19th century.  We conclude with China's 20th century experiments in forms of government and search for new directions in social and cultural development, so as to survive, and later thrive, in an increasingly interconnected global environment. 

HIST 125 Modern Japan

The history of modern Japan, from the 1850s to the present.  The course is built around thematic readings in a wide range of topics, with emphasis on political and economic as well as social history.  We will explore the universal and particular aspects of Japanese nation-state formation, imperialism, industrialization, and postwar democratization.

HIST 127 South East Asia II

This course is the second part of a two-semester survey of Southeast Asian history from early times to the present. This second part will cover the period from 1500 to the present. It will study the major historical developments in the region. The course will trace the collaboration of Chinese migrants with Europeans in creating colonial societies in port cities such as Malacca, Manila and Batavia in the 1500s-1700s. It will also look at the growth of mainland Southeast Asian states, competition between maritime polities in the 1700s-1800s and the British introduction of free trade in Singapore in the 1800s. The course will then look at mass labor migrations, the growth of nationalism, decolonization measures, nationalist uprisings, independence movements, attempts at self-government, ethnic and regional tensions, leadership problems, religious fundamentalism, the cold war, efforts at regionalism, and accelerated economic growth. 

HIST 129 Modern South Asia

For College students, HIST 129 fulfills the core requirement in History for a broad introductory survey; these students complete the requirement by taking HIST 099.

This is an introductory course on the history of modern South Asia, tracing its history through the colonial nineteenth to the post-colonial twentieth century. From the Partition onwards, South Asian nations have wrestled with their identity and destiny as post-colonial nation-states in the face of various sub-nationalisms, whether ethnic, religious or linguistic. Moreover, these competing nationalisms have not only created violent conflict in the region, but have also raised difficult questions regarding the nature of liberal citizenship and democratic statehood in general. How does a democratic state justify violence against its own citizens? How does a "secular" state negotiate a religious citizenry? What constitutes the difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist insurgent? Do democratic states have certain advantages in managing difference compared to non-democratic states? This course will explore these questions through a survey of modern South Asian history, focusing particularly on India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Readings with include ethnographic and historical accounts, theoretical texts, film and literature and primary sources, including speeches and legal judgments.

HIST 146-62 Late Renaissance Italy (offered at the Villa in Fiesole, Italy)

The course is conceived as an historical and anthropological survey of the main events and issues that characterized Early Modern Italy. This period, which starts with the Black Death (1348) and goes until the Enlightenment (ca. 1700), will be considered as a consistent and unitary section of history in which the merging of classical heritage and religious creed produced many of the elements which shaped European Civilization. Attention will be broadly focused on culture, politics, and religion in order to grasp the elements of specificity of the Old Regime. Special emphasis will be put on the princely court, and on ideas, manners, and art forms that were codified by this aristocratic environment, as one of the most relevant contribution of Renaissance and Baroque Italy to Western behavioral and cultural codes. Attention will also be put on the analysis of the lower ranks of Italian society, studying how the lower sectors of the Italian population (servants, prostitutes, and the desperately poor) were excluded from political power. In this regard, the course will examine Italian mentality in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and how minorities were commonly persecuted in trial in which judges and courts were commonly legitimized by biased political forces.

HIST 159 Latin America II

For College students, HIST 111 fulfills the core requirement in History for a broad introductory survey; these students complete the requirement by taking HIST 099.

This course explores the period from independence to the present. The course is divided into three sections. First, it discusses some of the salient issues of the nineteenth century in a thematic format, such as frontier societies, the role of the peasants, and the phenomenon of caudillismo. The second section provides an overview of the national political histories of most Latin American countries, whereas the third section returns to a thematic forma, providing analysis of important topics such as the role of women, U.S.-Latin American relations, structural adjustment policies, and the drug trade. The course uses as examples the lives of ordinary and extraordinary Latin Americans to illustrate the analysis.

HIST 161 Middle East II

For College students, HIST 111 fulfills the core requirement in History for a broad introductory survey; these students complete the requirement by taking HIST 099.

The course outlines the factors that have shaped the political and social features of the modern Middle East from 1500 to the present. Its geographic scope comprises the central provinces and territories of the former Ottoman and Safavid empires: Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Arabia, and Iran. The syllabus emphasizes three analytical themes: first, the historical evolution of "Middle Eastern" polities from dynastic and religious empires in the 16th century to modern "nation-states" in the 20th; second, the impact of industrial capitalism and European imperial expansion on local societies and their modes of production; and third, the socio-cultural and ideological dimensions of these large-scale transformations, specifically the rise of mass ideologies of liberation and development (nationalism, socialism, rights movements, political Islam), and the emergence of structural and social imbalances (economic polarization, cultural/ethnic conflicts, demographic growth, urbanization).

HIST 171 Modern Russia

The Old Regime: society, industrialization, revolution, war. The Bolshevik Revolution. The Great Transformation. World communism, World War II, and the Stalinist Empire. Post-Stalinist politics and society. The Gorbachev revolution.

HIST 173 East/Central Europe II

1918-Present. The euphoria of independence. Parliamentarism and democracy. Attempts at industrialization. Decline of democracy and resurgence of traditional conservatism and native fascism. The cauldron of World War II. The fate of the Jews. Sovietization. Titoism. Socialist society in Eastern Europe. The unraveling of Communism.

HIST 181 U.S. History since 1865

This course traces the past 150 or so years of American history, covering the nation’s development from the end of the Civil War through the recent past.  Over the past century and a half, the United States has undergone myriad social, political, economic and cultural transformations, and has assumed a decisive role in international affairs.  This semester, among other topics, we will examine the United States’ development of an industrial economy, its forays into imperialism, its embrace of reform, its experiences of economic catastrophe and war, and its career as Cold War-era superpower.  We will also look at how various groups of Americans have struggled for rights and equal treatment, attempting to get the United States to live up the promise of its founding ideals.  The United States has been in many ways defined by Americans’ basic disagreements over the meaning of founding American principles – liberty, equality, freedom – and in this class we will consider the ways in which Americans’ conflicting definitions of these principles have defined the nation’s history.

HIST 184 First-year seminar: American work

This seminar course is designed for first-year students with advanced placement in history who have an interest in pursuing the study of history at the upper level.  The course will explore the ways in which Americans dealt with work and the "labor problem" from the era of slavery and artisan production, through industrialization and post-industrialism, to the recent emergence of a "gig economy" enabled by new technologies.  It will examine the changing relationship between the organization of work and the direction of the nation's politics over time.  The course consists of readings, writing assignments, and class discussions; there are no exams in this course.

HIST 209 The atomic age

The Atomic Age refers to the era of human history that began with the detonation of the first atomic bomb weapon in 1945 and is still with us today. Early on the era shaped a generation trained in the art of civil defense, spawned a culture now regarded as kitsch, and reconfigured the globe according to who possessed nuclear weapons, nuclear know-how, nuclear materials, nuclear energy, and nuclear radiation. The course will begin with the Manhattan Project and the detonation of the first atomic weapons over Japan.  It will then turn to the multifarious dimensions of the culture of the Atomic Age.

HIST 226 Korea in North-East Asia

The aim of this course is to introduce Korean history to those students with little or no exposure to Korea and to challenge commonly held assumptions by those who do.  The course will explore the cultural, political, and social impact of Korea’s internationalization from early modern times to the contemporary period.  The first part of the course will explore the turbulent interplay between Chos?n Korea, dynastic overthrow in China, civil war in Japan, and the threat of Western imperialism.  The second part of the course will focus on twentieth century Korea – the colonial experience, division, war, and relations between the two Koreas, Japan, China, Russia, and the United States.

HIST 234 The Vikings

The ravages of the Northmen throughout Europe and beyond have been an area of fascination and of historical interest for centuries.  Yet few students understand or are aware of the actual history of the people that had such a tremendous influence.  This course will attempt to remedy that gap while at the same time offer a deeper understanding of the Vikings themselves.  Throughout the semester we will follow a multi-disciplinary approach to the history of the Vikings in the “Heroic Age.”  We will survey the history of Scandinavia and examine the history of the Northmen within both the European and world context.  As such we will look at Norse activity in continental Scandinavia, in Western and Eastern Europe, the North Atlantic and beyond examining the many ways in which the Vikings interacted with foreign peoples - as merchants, conquerors, pilgrims, colonists, mercenaries, and as pirates.

The course will move thematically and chronologically from c. 600 CE to c. 1200 CE examining a range of topics.  We will discuss the legendary history of early Scandinavia and the consolidation of the Scandinavian kingdoms.  We will attempt to recreate the early Norse world view including the creation of the world and other aspects of the Viking religious experience.  Students will be introduced to a wide variety of Norse Gods and heroes and understand how the mythological and cosmological lore of the region helped shape an ethos of the North.  The course will also examine the great period of the Viking expansion which in many ways shaped the history of Europe.  We will look at, among other things,   the Danish invasion of England, the settlement of the Normans in Northern France, the Rus and the origins of Russia as well as the discovery of America around the year 1000. While the course does move chronologically during this period, we will also look at a wide variety of historical themes including the development of Europe’s first parliamentary government (the Thing); the arrival of Christianity in the North; the legal status of feuding; and the role of women in Viking society. 

Within this historical framework, a good deal of attention is devoted to Viking art and archaeology, to the pagan religion of early medieval Scandinavia, and to its system of writing (the celebrated runes) and its literature (including the mythological and heroic poetry of the Edda, the court poems of the skalds, and the Icelandic sagas).

Finally, the course will address the modern ramifications of the Viking Age as well as the depiction of the Vikings in modern art, music and film.

HIST 249 Central Europe

What is Central Europe, an idea or a real place? Should it, despite its name, be divided into western and eastern halves? If it is a real place, what countries besides Germany and Austria are part of it? The premise of this course is that these questions and their implications can best be answered through the history of what Central Europe has meant and means in the present. To that end the course will look at the politics, society, and culture that define the concept and reality of Central Europe.

HIST 256 Popular music in Brazil and Cuba

This course analyzes the formation and evolution of traditions of national popular music in Brazil and Cuba from the late nineteenth century through the early twenty-first century. The parallels are striking: in both Brazil and Cuba, abolition of slavery in the 1880s was followed shortly thereafter by a transition from monarchy to republican national government, a transition coinciding with patterns of urbanization and early industrialization. In both nations, popular music became a privileged arena for debates about the content and meaning of national identity and its racial composition. In both nations, urban popular musical styles combining African influence with European harmonic structures predominated by the first decades of the twentieth century, laying foundations for subsequent patterns of innovation within traditions.
By the mid-twentieth century, Brazil and Cuba had each nurtured several distinct but inter-related popular musical styles, with each style conveying its own possibilities for the musical negotiation of the challenges of modernization in Latin America. Several of these styles in turn became major export products, helping shape understandings of Pan-American latinidad and profoundly influencing global popular music. Over the past fifty years, Cubans and Brazilians have remained at the forefront of global musical transitions while continuing to play within traditions. This course explores these parallel histories in depth.
There are no prerequisites, and no prior musical knowledge is expected.

HIST 267 Modern North Africa

The course offers an introduction to the history of modern North Africa (Maghrib) from the establishment of the Ottoman Regency of Algiers in the early sixteenth century until national independence and the post-colonial period. Topics of study will include: the Ottoman?European contest in the Western Mediterranean; its impact on North African societies, states, and economies; the emergence of the French North African empire; the social, economic, and political dimensions of colonial rule and administration; the rise of Maghribi anti-colonialism and nationalism; and the different paths taken by Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia towards independence.

HIST 283 U.S. Diplomatic History II

What factors have influenced the U.S. government’s and Americans’ interactions with the rest of world?  Who has shaped these encounters? What has the relationship been between these relations and U.S. domestic affairs? How have foreigners responded to U.S. actors and influence?  We will analyze U.S. foreign relations, a broader category than simply foreign policy by examining the political, military, economic, religious, and cultural influence of the U.S. 

In particular, we will discuss the U.S. as a global power following World War II through topics such as the Cold War, the Vietnam Wars, human rights, and globalization. We will also consider the different ways historians have sought to explain U.S. foreign relations. This course focuses on trends and ideas, focusing on critical thinking and events rather than attempting a comprehensive account of U.S. foreign relations.

HIST 285 African-American women’s history

This advanced undergraduate course examines African-American women in the U.S., with an emphasis on social activism, politics, and cultural production. This course will use first-hand narratives as well as monographs to provide an overview of African-American women’s lives from slavery to the contemporary period. Through writing assignments, students will have an opportunity to strengthen their expository writing, as well as their primary and secondary research skills.

HIST 286 Slavery in North America

This course traces the origins, development, and demise of chattel slavery in North America. Topics will include the connections between North America and the Atlantic slave trade, the diverse slave societies that emerged in the colonies, the consequences of the American Revolution for slaves and slaveowners, the expansion of slavery in the southern United States, the rise of an organized antislavery movement, the destruction of slavery during the Civil War, and the efforts of freed people to give meaning to their "new birth of freedom" after slavery.

HIST 296 Civil War and Reconstruction

In the midst of the Civil War, Lucy Buck of Virginia said "We shall never any of us be the same as we have been." The Civil War changed the United States so fundamentally that some have understood it as the culmination of the American Revolution, answering questions that the Founders left ambiguous. To others, the Civil War set whole new revolutions in motion, some of which remain incomplete. In either interpretation, the war overturned institutions, political habits, and the role of government for everyone in the nation. For those who lived in the southern half of the nation, the war abruptly eliminated the basic social structure that defined and ordered every aspect of life, and turned the single greatest source of wealth in the entire nation, slaves, into free men and women. The aftermath of the war presented the problem and the opportunity of doing nothing less than remaking society, and at war’s close some Americans hoped that the Federal government would dedicate itself to doing just that. In the end, Reconstruction left as many unanswered questions as the Founders did in the eighteenth century, and Americans then and since still struggle with the legacies of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

HIST 306 Researching geopolitics of oil

Oil has been central to geopolitics since the early 20th century. This class will introduce students to the students to the process of choosing, conceptualizing, organizing, and executing a research project and to the primary and secondary sources needed for conducting research into the geopolitics of oil. The focus of the class will be preparation of a research paper utilizing the best available sources.

HIST 315 Environmental history of Africa

This seminar examines the dynamic relationship between humans and their environment in Africa over the past 200 years.  We will consider the causes and consequences of environmental change and ask how rights to land and natural resources have been contested over time.  We will also explore how Africans and outsiders have understood and represented the natural world.  How have people’s ideas affected decisions to exploit, develop, or conserve the environment? What historical sources allow us to assess environmental change over time?

HIST 323 Language literature and power in South Asia

South Asia is historically one of the richest linguistic ecologies in the world, characterized by widespread multilingualism and contact and rich histories of literary and oral traditions spanning millennia. However, language, as a vehicle for community-building, self-expression and rule, is also deeply enmeshed in the history of power in the subcontinent. This course will explore the long history of language in South Asia, from the ancient to the present day. Topics will include the establishment of Sanskrit in classical India; the rise of vernacular literatures in medieval India; the role of Persian in court cultures; the question of language in the anti-colonial and nationalist movements and the creation of Hindi and Urdu after 1947; federal language policy and identity in postcolonial South Asia; subaltern oral cultures, particularly among tribal populations and language death; and the rise of English in modern South Asia. Students will also be introduced to a variety of the poetic and literary traditions of the region in historical context.

HIST 335 Food: the industrial age

This course will investigate the paradoxical relationship of industrialization to the foodways of Europe and North America since the middle of the nineteenth century. Not so long ago, all food was organic. That is to say, crops were grown without artificial fertilizers or pesticides and animals were raised on pasture eating diets they had evolved to digest. Most foodstuffs were consumed in the locale where they were produced and they were often prepared according to traditional methods that had evolved over time and carried rich cultural meanings. The industrial economy, changes in transportation, increasing urbanization, and even modern scientific techniques have come to be widely seen as undermining this culinary Eden. As early as the 1930s, George Orwell criticized a world in which more and more people (including well-to-do members of the middle class) actually preferred processed edibles to real food. Working class people had little choice in the matter: processed foods were what they could afford. But there was also a crisis of taste. People had become habituated to what Orwell called “the modern industrial technique which provides you with cheap substitutes for everything.” Taste buds, which had served humans as a reliable guide since the early phases of the evolutionary process, had atrophied, with results that had yet to be reckoned: “We may find in the long run that tinned food is a deadlier weapon than the machine gun,” he wrote.
Many of Orwell’s suspicions about industrial food were prescient, as subsequent developments have made clear. Meanwhile other critics have raised important concerns about such things as the environmental effects of industrialized food production, the cruelty to animals that it involves, and the cost to human health entailed in the heavy use of antibiotics, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers. We will explore these themes during the semester. We will also probe the degree to which the culinary Eden that preceded the rise of industrial production was reality or myth. Arguably it was the half century after 1880—the very period in which the industrial food paradigm became established—that saw the biggest gains in the richness and diversity of popular diets and the emergence of national cuisines that involved ordinary people as well as elites.

HIST 339 Eternal city: a history of Rome

This seminar class focuses on the history of the city of Rome, from its foundation in ancient times through its contemporary role as the capital of Italy.  Each week we will focus on a different period, and examine the history of the city, in terms of both the life of its population and the development of city buildings, neighborhoods, and structures.  We will discuss political, economic, social, cultural, religious, intellectual, and other changes, with a special focus on the architecture and urban structures of the physical city itself.

Though the history of the city and its people will be our main focus, we will also discuss the image of Rome, the perception of the city by outsiders, its broader role in European and western culture, and the legacy of its history as the seat of antiquity’s greatest empire, the main center of western Christianity and of global Catholicism, and the capital of a modern European nation state.  Please note however that this class will not offer an overall history of antiquity, of the papacy, or of the Christian church in general (or of modern Italy per se).

The course aims thus to allow for a close analysis of specific themes and topics and of how they developed throughout a significant span of time.  The course also has a methodological aim: to introduce students to the advanced use of primary sources and to further their understanding of historical thinking and analysis.  Both class discussion and writing assignments will push students to hone their critical reading, writing, and analytical skills.  In particular, we will try to understand how to read textual, visual, and other sources with an awareness of historical context and with attention to the specifics of genre, authorship, and audience.

The readings consist of both primary and secondary sources.  There will also be student presentations on particular buildings, sites, spaces, or builders, and a variety of writing assignments.

HIST 352 Topics in Latin American History

This number will be used for seminars devoted to specific subjects in the area of Latin American history. Students may take more than one of the courses offered under this number. Each course will be announced in the course schedule and receive its own sub-title.

In Spring 2017 the following course is offered: Topic: Drugs and development, Latin America and the U.S.: This course will examine U.S.-Latin American relations by tracing the evolution of U.S. economic and drug control policies in Latin America from the early twentieth century to the present.  We will explore the impact of U.S.-sponsored economic programs in Latin America and investigate their intersection with the emergence of the illicit drug industry.  In addition, we will examine how and why illicit drugs became a manifestation of Latin America’s underdevelopment and thus a major foreign policy concern for the United States.  

HIST 361 Pirates soldiers diplomats

The course examines violence and diplomacy between the Islamic "gunpowder" empires (Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal) and some of their adversaries (Spanish and Austrian Habsburgs, and Russian empires). It studies competing ideologies (jihad and crusade) and practices, raids (e.g. Tatar and Cossack), piracy (the Barbary corsairs and the Knights of St. John), imperial campaigns, frontier warfare, as well as wars of nationalism and imperialism. Studying the diplomatic relations between Islam and the West, special attention will be given to questions such as Islamic and Western intelligence, permanent embassies in Istanbul, and the conversion from unilateral to reciprocal diplomacy.

HIST 368 Empires and borderlands in the Middle East and Balkans

This course examines how the extension and defense of frontiers and borderlands shaped the evolution of imperial institutions and ideologies and defined inter-imperial relations in Eurasia from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries. It studies three frontier regions: the Triplex Confinium between Venice, the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire in Hungary, Croatia and Dalmatia; the Pontic steppe frontier contested by Poland-Lithuania, Muscovy/Russia, and the Crimean Tatars (with their overlords the Ottomans); and the Caucasian frontier shaped by Safavid Persia, Russia, and the Ottomans. The course considers evolving conceptions of frontiers, borders, and sovereignty, along with notions like “bastion of Christendom,” “bulwark of Islam,” and “clash of civilizations.” It examines how the respective imperial centers organized the defense and administration of their frontiers, and demonstrates the limits of imperial authority in border provinces where the imperial governments were forced to share jurisdiction and taxes with local elites and neighboring empires. The second part of the course studies topics such as cross-border and inter-imperial communication, diplomacy, espionage, commerce, cross-border raids and ransom slavery. It also considers how major population movements caused by invasion, colonization, border warfare and defense affected societies along these contested imperial borderlands, transforming their ethnic and religious makeup, with political implications for the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

HIST 371 (In)tolerance in Eastern Europe from the Renaissance to the Holocaust

The seminar course will examine the history of religious and ethnic coexistence in Eastern Europe, with a particular focus on the region known as the Pale of Settlement. Established in 1804 as the only legal residence for the Russian Empire’s Jews (80% of the world’s Jewish population), the Pale was also home to Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants and Muslims. In World War II, the Pale would become the epicenter of the Holocaust, and the Nazis found no shortage of willing collaborators in their efforts to exterminate the Jewish population. Disputes about the culpability of Poles, Ukrainians, Lithuanians and Russians in anti-Semitic violence and ethnic cleansing continue to arouse controversy, and many people associate the region with violent nationalism and intolerance. For hundreds of years, though, inter-religious interaction was largely peaceful, and neighbors crossed confessional and ethnic boundaries on a regular basis. Drawing from memoirs, novels, and studies concerning both peaceful and violent encounters, this course will seek to discover the conditions that promote multicultural diversity and tolerance, while exploring the social, ideological and historical underpinnings of the interethnic and inter-religious violence of the twentieth century.

HIST 388 Jazz and civil rights in American society

Jazz, Civil Rights and American Society will trace social conflict and social progress through the study of Jazz music. Starting with its antecedents, the Negro spirituals of the mid and late 19th Century, and the development of Blues music at the beginning of the 20th century, we will explore how through lyrics and music, the African American people have expressed their desires for freedom and equality. From Duke Ellington’s Black Brown and Beige to Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit, to Charles Mingus’ Fables of Faubus and Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, the sweet syncopations and heartfelt realities of Jazz as a music of freedom will be explored. We will look at how the music differed in various cities and areas of the country. We will look at similarities and differences among jazz musicians, black and white. In addition to class readings, we will weekly listen to music, view audio clips of live performances and hear what the musicians themselves have to say. And most importantly, we will have fun as we learn.

HIST 397 Cold War lessons and legacies

The Cold War dominated world politics for 45 years, and its myriad legacies continue to shape the contemporary world. Moreover, scholars, students, policymakers, and politicians often look to the history of the Cold War for lessons to guide current policies. This course will examine the origins, persistence, and end of the Cold War, study its key legacies, and analyze the lessons different groups draw from its history.

HIST 404 Global history of plague

This course considers the global history of Yersinia pestis, the zoonotic bacterium that causes plague. It adopts an interdisciplinary approach to both tease out macro- and micro-histories of the three pandemics associated with the pathogen –the Justinianic Plague, Black Death, and Third Pandemic– and also to pin down transitions in plague’s past –biological, cultural, and ecological– fundamental for understanding the bacterium’s inconstant pandemicity. Students will travel considerable time and space –the sixth century to the present, Alexandria to Buenos Aires– and draw on diverse sources –like Byzantine hagiography, the New York Times, and plague-victim teeth– to engage scholarly debates, unravel plague’s complexity, and assess plague’s impact.

This course will be taught by Professor Timothy Newfield, a new faculty member starting at GU in January 2017.

HIST 409 Senior Honors seminar

HIST 408-409 form a two-semester study of History as an intellectual discipline.  Enrollment is by invitation of the Department.  Fall: Readings and discussions with departmental faculty on the various methods, concepts, and philosophies of history, and the development of a research prospectus with a faculty mentor. Spring: Research seminar under the guidance of the mentor and Seminar Director. (Enrollment only by permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies). Students must commit themselves for the full two semesters.

HIST 435 Americanization of Europe

This colloquium will be a historical inquiry into the following questions: Has Europe been Americanized? Have Europeans in the course of the 20th century been Coca-colonized or McDonaldized? Have Americans and Europeans grown increasingly alike with respect to adopting mass culture, consumer society, and market economies? If so why? What is the explanation for the seemingly irresistible power of Americanization? When did this process begin and what has America's role been in this process? Or, conversely, is Americanization an illusion? Has there been appropriation and resistance so that national identities and diversity have been sustained and even intensified? Has it provoked a search for identity in national or ethnic difference? Above all what does this transformation mean?

HIST 458 Mexico and the U.S.: The making of North America

Explores how the histories of Mexico and the US have intertwined from the 18th century, when New Spain was the dominant economy in the Americas, to the 20th century, when the US rose to continental and global hegemony. We will explore their distinct yet interacting societies, polities, cultures, and ways of war and revolution, culminating in their accelerating integration in the late 20th century—as they imagined widening separations and growing contradictions.

HIST 460 Imperialism in the Middle East before WWI

To what extent is the Modern Middle East a product of imperialism? Were the Ottoman and Iranian states targets of European imperialism in the nineteenth century? And did the Ottoman and Iranian empires practice imperialism themselves? This course focuses on the principal political, military, economic, legal, and social changes that shaped this period.

HIST 462 The Middle East after World War I

The seminar, using contemporary documents as well as secondary sources, will study the emergence of the "new" Middle East with the break-up of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I. We will look at the Ottoman Empire during the war; the rise of the Arab national movement\s before, during and after the war; the emergence of Zionism and the Palestinian Arab national movement; the shift from Ottomanism to Turkish nationalism and the Independence War against the French and Greeks that followed the world war; the ethnic cleaning\genocide against the Christian minorities during 1914-1924; and the rise of the secular Turkish Republic.

HIST 468 Islamic modernism

Virtually all modern Muslim thinkers focus on reform of Islamic societies, recovery from colonialism, and facing the challenges of post-colonial development. Some approaches to these issues are hostile to modernity, stressing the importance of returning to traditional norms, for example, or developing innovative but highly conservative social coping mechanisms. This course focuses on a diverse range of efforts by Muslim thinkers over the past 150 years who actually engage with modernity and try to articulate Islam’s place in it. Modernist discourse both reflects and affects sociopolitical developments; studying it helps us understand those developments. And those developments are part of a wider web of developments in world history. Therefore, as we try to understand what modernists are saying, why they are saying it, and their communities’ responses to what they are saying, we will examine the sociopolitical issues they are addressing, why they facing those issues, and how their responses affect their societies. That means we will be working at the intersection of various trends in the study of world history. Remaining aware of those trends is also a theme of the course.

HIST 471 Russia in the age of Dr. Zhivago

This course uses Boris Pasternak’s 1957 novel about the Russian Revolution, which won the Nobel prize in Literature but was banned in Khrushchev’s USSR, as a prism to explore culture and politics in twentieth-century Russia. The novel about Zhivago, a humanist physician and mystical poet who represents the Russian intelligentsia during times of total war, social revolution, civil war, and the construction of Soviet communism, provokes profound questions—about art and power, lived experience during times of social upheaval and terror, and that distinctively Russian phenomenon, the intelligentsia. The life and long career of Pasternak himself, who famously received a 2 am phone call from Stalin in 1934 and lived through the Purges to outlive the dictator, serves as a window into the evolving nature of Soviet cultural politics. Finally, the reception of the novel, smuggled out for publication in the West and subject to a campaign of vilification even in the midst of Khrushchev’s Thaw, reveals much about the cultural Cold War and the place of literary and other non-party intellectuals under communism.
All these issues and more will be explored in seminar discussions by reading the novel Dr. Zhivago in conjunction with directly related historical readings. These will analyze the historical periods and specific issues raised in the book, the career of Pasternak and Soviet culture, the furor surrounding the novel, and the oeuvre and ideas of Pasternak in the broader context of Soviet literature. In addition to the novel and a screening of the 1965 American movie, which won five Academy Awards, required readings will include Vladislav Zubok’s Zhivago’s Children: The Last Russian Intelligentsia (Harvard, 2009).

HIST 474 Russian revolutionaries: radicals and terrorists before 1917

In 2017, Russia will mark the one-hundredth anniversary of the revolutions, which brought down the tsarist regime and inaugurated the “great experiment” of Soviet communism. This seminar course will examine the historical, social, and ideological currents, which together led to the Bolshevik seizure of power in November, 1917. The Russian revolutionary tradition stretches back to the beginning of the nineteenth century, but assassinations, revolutionary violence, and terrorism increased at the turn of the twentieth century as the result of a growing cleavage between would-be reformers and tsarist officialdom. Students will approach the problem of revolutionary action by considering the theoretical underpinnings of revolutionary thought, the cultural world of the revolutionary (including the relationship between art and life), the social-political conditions of tsarist Russia, and the biographies of revolutionaries both prominent and obscure. The course will seek to address questions such as: what motivates people to commit revolutionary violence? What role do ideas play in encouraging protest and terrorism? Finally, did the mentality and behavior of revolutionaries foreshadow the tragedies of the twentieth century Soviet Union?

HIST 480 Lincoln’s America

In this course, we will study the life and times of Abraham Lincoln, one of the most significant figures in American history, in great depth.  We will consider the forces that shaped Lincoln’s life and political thought, his views on race and slavery, and his performance as president during the Civil War, the greatest threat to national existence the United States has ever faced.  We will examine a range of primary and secondary sources, including Lincoln’s own writings and speeches, to consider how Lincoln influenced the war and how the war influenced him.  Through the prism of Lincoln’s life, we will develop a better understanding of the United States that emerged from the ordeal of secession and war as well as Lincoln’s own unique place in American history.

HIST 482 Black capitalism

This upper level seminar examines African Americans and capitalism in the United States by looking at the history of African American entrepreneurship, the development of black capitalism ideology, and the ways that freedom struggles resist privatization.  The course will focus on various black-led economic projects, as well as the role of the business community in shaping black political and cultural practices.  Topics include the National Negro Business League, African American women’s success in the hair care industry, Black Power and economic development, and the commodification of the Civil Rights Movement.

HIST 488 W.E.B. DuBois seminar

In this course we will examine the intellectual, social, political, religious philosophical and political history of slavery, reconstruction, women’s liberation, race, rebellion and revolution through the works of W.E.B. DuBois. We will discuss the key debates between DuBois and Booker T. Washington, DuBois and Garvey and others. We will explore his many stages, developments, organizational affiliations and changes.  His theories of Pan-Africanism, Black Nationalism, Women’s rights, The Talented Tenth, Marxism and Communism, Decolonization and Democracy will be studied.