Graduate Level Courses

Spring 2024

This is the second required course for the MA in Global, International, and Comparative History and is open only to students enrolled in this program. This is a methods and research seminar for first-year MA students. Students will explore how historians frame their research questions, analyze primary sources, and place their work into conversation with other historians. Over the course of the semester, students will identify a research project that will form the basis of their capstone paper in their second year. Course assignments include weekly reflection papers and a final prospectus.

For the first five weeks, students will read and discuss common texts. The remainder of the semester will be devoted to identifying and exploring relevant primary sources, analyzing a body of historiography around those sources, and reading and critiquing each other’s emerging work.

This colloquium examines selected issues in the history of 19th- and 20th-century European nationalism, combining theoretical readings with case studies. The approach is broadly comparative, and will discuss classic problems such as: what is the nature of the connection between modernization and nationalism? What is the relationship between civic and ethnic conceptions of nationhood? Did East European nationalism develop in a manner that contrasts clearly with West European models, or are these cultural stereotypes completely misleading? How does nationalism evolve from intellectual movement to mass movement, and what impact does this shift have on its ideological content? Although the geographical focus of most assigned readings is on modern Europe, students are encouraged to write their term papers on any region and time period they are interested in, as long as the theme is connected to nationhood and nationalism.

This graduate seminar explores a variety of historical methodologies that deal with the creation and circulation of knowledge: intellectual history, history of the book, history of science and technology, and more.

This course, offered as part of a joint project between Georgetown University and King’s College, London, will explore the history of emotions as a lens to make sense of our evolving social understanding of intelligence and of humanity itself in the age of the technological breakthroughs represented by machine learning and artificial intelligence. While our primary lens of analysis will be centered in the field of emotions history, students will also explore related bodies of historiography, including the history of the body; labor history; histories of race, gender and disability; history of technology and history of consciousness. This seminar will also feature several guest speakers over the course of the semester who will share with us their ongoing research related to these questions and will culminate in a symposium where students will share their own research. While the primary disciplinary basis of this course is history, students in related fields are welcome. Given the research orientation of the seminar, and the emphasis on research methods, it is strongly encouraged that students consider how their own research may benefit from participating in this colloquium.

The idea that liberal democracy is experiencing a severe crisis currently dominates much of the political, academic, and broader media discourses. Brexit in Great Britain, the election of Donald Trump in the United States, the success of the AfD in Germany and similar far-right parties all over Western Europe, and the rise of “populists” in Hungary, Poland, Turkey, and elsewhere – they all seem to indicate strong authoritarian leanings amongst the broader electorate in the “West” and a dangerous amount of skepticism towards the foundations of liberal democracy. What does the historical perspective contribute to a better understanding of our current predicament? We start by analyzing the diagnoses presented by politicians and journalists, political scientists as well as social and political psychologists and examine how they have interpreted the “crisis.” Next, we look at previous moments in recent history when democracy seemed, or was perceived to be, in trouble – in the period between the World Wars, for instance, and in particular after the Global Depression; or in the 1970s, when a series of economic “shocks” and powerful protest movements seemed to conspire to make democracies “ungovernable” – and reflect on the lessons that can (or should not) be drawn from this history. Finally, we explore the origins of the current “crisis,” focusing on possible longer- and medium-term causes such as the global financial / economic crisis of 2008/9, the dramatic demographic and cultural changes that most of the affected societies are undergoing, or the role of globalization.

It has been a pretty rough ride so far in the twenty-first century. What may have started with grand hopes for a glorious future as the world celebrated the advent of a new millennium on New Year’s Eve 1999 has so far, at least according to a widespread perception among people in the “West,” unfolded as a series of crises: 9/11 and the global “war on terror”; the devastating financial crisis of 2007-8; Brexit, the rise of rightwing “populism,” and the crisis of liberal democracy; the Covid-19 pandemic… Have we entered The Age of Crisis? In this course, we will explore the history of what is not history yet. We will investigate the very recent past and the ways contemporaries on either side of the Atlantic have tried to make sense of the first decades of the twenty-first century from a historical perspective. The goal is to situate the most recent developments in society, politics, and culture in a longer-term historical context and examine the central ideas and forces that shape the present – such as neoliberalism, globalization, ethno-nationalism, populism, polarization, the “culture wars” – from a historicizing perspective. More generally, we also want to reflect on the question of how the historical approach can contribute to a better understanding of the present: How does history relate to the present? How does the study of history influence our understanding of our current moment? And what, if anything, can we “learn” from history as we are navigating the crises and challenges of the twenty-first century?

The transition from Qing empire to Chinese nation-state has been obscured by an exceptionalist and Orientalist terminology by which we describe the past of the East Asian mainland differently from other places: “dynasties” (not kingdoms); “tribute system”; “Tianxia / All Under Heaven”; and, not least, the term “China” itself. And yet the Qing empire resembles other Eurasian empires, and the emergence of nationalist discourses in China was contemporaneous and comparable to those in Europe, Africa and the Americas. Like other post-imperial spaces, the People’s Republic of China today is site of contentious identity discourses through which Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hong Kongers, Taiwanese and others challenge the narrative of unitary Chinese identity and hegemonic Chinese Communist Party rule. This course, open to anyone regardless of background in Chinese history, examines interpretations of the Qing and ideologies of identity in modern China, including many Chinese writings in translation. It also considers the past and current situations of Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong and Taiwan against the backdrop of “new Qing history” understandings that have up-ended conventional narratives of modern China. This course is aimed at graduate students and advanced undergraduates interested in East Asia, nationalism, ethnicity and related themes.

As a historical “cradle of conflict” between a variety of competing ethnicities, empires, and nationalities, Manchuria is an important key to understanding the construction of the modern nation-state in East Asia from the 17th to 21st centuries. From the ethnically Manchu Qing Dynasty to imperial Russia, from the Japanese puppet-state of Manchukuo to the Republic of China to the People’s Republic of China, this course will chart how rulers and intellectuals from a variety of ethnic and national contexts conceptualized “Manchuria” to further their own imperial and national aspirations.

In 1914 Europe and the world were dominated by empires. From imperial Russia and Japan to republican France and the United States all the great powers that participated in World War I were either empires in name or in fact. From the eve of the Balkan wars in 1911 to the establishment of the Turkish republic in 1923, this course will use empire as its leitmotif to examine not only why and how the war began and changed Europe, but what its impact was on the non-Western peoples who either voluntarily or involuntarily participated in it. Accordingly, the course will involve several members of the Department of History whose expertise will complement the trans-regional character of the course. Like World War I itself, this course is not just a European affair.

Europeans brought smallpox to Mesoamerica in 1520, starting waves of epidemics that destroyed 90 percent of the population, breaking states, communities, and cultures, opening lands for uncertain newcomers and desperate survivors. From the 1550s, Chinese demand for silver stimulated a new economy that drove mining, commercial cultivation, and global trades—grounded in Spanish-sanctioned self-governing landed communities forging Christian cultures. Economically dynamic while sparsely populated, New Spain became the richest society in the Americas: capitalist while ethnically diverse, stratified while stabilized by judicial mediations. Around 1800, silver soared as population grew during imperial wars. Deepening social predations amid regime crisis drove insurgencies proclaiming devotion Guadalupe—breaking silver capitalism after 1810. Armed forces defended Spanish power, property, and the Church for a decade more, then proclaimed Mexico independent in 1821. Decades of economic collapse, political conflict, and foreign invasions followed—while communities and their cultures held strong on the land. After 1870, political consolidation, commercial revival, and new population growth came with assaults on community lands and religious cultures, fueling revolution from 1910. In the 1920s, a new regime promised land, attacked the Church, and provoked new risings in deeply Christian communities. Depression-era reforms delivered land and secular education. Post-war times saw population explosion, urbanization, deepening inequities, cultural conflicts, and a globalization that profited a few and marginalized many. New Spain began in a disease-driven demographic collapse that framed centuries of power and community autonomies. Mexico’s history has culminated in demographic explosion, urban dependencies, global immersions, and pandemic inequities.

This course aims to introduce graduate students to Ottoman studies. The first part of the course is devoted to studying Ottoman historiography. It will acquaint students with bibliographies, handbooks, surveys, and monographs in multiple languages, as well as various scholarly debates. The list of actual themes and sub-fields is compiled in consultation with the students and takes into consideration their specific interests and research projects. The second part of the course deals with archival and published sources. Here, too, the actual list of archives, manuscript collections, source publications, and types of source material we consider reflects the students’ interests and expertise and varies accordingly from course to course.

This course examines the history of political dissent and popular resistance in Eastern Europe. Beginning in the early 19th century with the movements of national liberation, it explores the ideas, values, emotions, and aims that fueled revolutionary action and tracks their evolution over two centuries of history. We shall also consider the different strategies of resistance adopted by political non-conformists—everything from armed revolt to strike action, civil disobedience, and forms of nonviolent resistance, including literary and symbolic protest, foot-dragging, and other so-called “weapons of the weak.” Finally, we shall investigate moments of revolutionary outburst when ideology, strategy, and history intersected to radically shift the path of historical development of Eastern Europe peoples, moments such as the Spring of Nations, the January Uprising, the Hungarian Revolution, the Solidarity movement, the events of 1989, and the color revolutions in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan.

This graduate seminar explores the frontiers of historical research on US foreign relations (“the US in the World”), with a focus on the watershed events that have defined American experience from the Revolution to 9/11. Some of the major topics to cover in the course include: isolationism, internationalism, and unilateralism; settler colonialism, extraterritoriality, and globalization; state-building, regionalism, and national identity formation; capitalism, modernity, and development; the imperial formation of class, race, and gender in American society; and liberalism, militarism, and the securitization of the American way of life. The objective of the seminar is to critically examine US history in its international, transnational, and global contexts.

Why were certain books about US history once considered pathbreaking and essential? Do they still deserve that status today? As a way of studying the history of our discipline, this seminar will discuss major works by such scholars as Frederick Jackson Turner, Charles Beard, W.E.B. DuBois, Richard Hofstadter, Gerda Lerner, and Patricia Limerick as well as past and recent critiques of their work and divergent interpretations of the same subjects.

This seminar introduces graduate students to recent books that offer new conceptualizations on the making of race and inequality in modern America, roughly focusing on the long 20th century. Discussions and assignments will consider the expansion of this field of study through multiple vectors of race and racialization, immigration, histories of capitalism, political history, urban history, carceral studies, technology and the environment.