Graduate Level Courses

HIST 501 is required for and restricted to first-year doctoral students in the History Department. The course is an introduction to the theory and practice of history as an academic discipline. The major goals of the course are (1) to acquaint the incoming cohort of doctoral students with major historiographical approaches; (2) to encourage careful reading, thoughtful discussion, and cogent written analysis of historical scholarship; and (3) to provide some common intellectual denominators for the incoming cohort and to foster habits of collegial engagement.

Global Health and Pandemic Disease in the 20th century: In the spring of 2020, public life in many regions of the world ground to a halt in an attempt to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus. While COVID-19 may lead to unprecedented political, social, and economic disruptions, pandemics are, of course, not a new phenomenon. Since the late 1990s, in particular, the world has been under threat by seemingly never-ending waves of infectious diseases rolling over the planet. Or at the very least, the spread of diseases has given rise to a heightened sense of threat, particularly in the “Western” world. SARS, avian influenza, and swine flu have garnered a lot of political and public attention – as have the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014 and the appearance of the Zika virus in the tropics in 2015/16. Such fears are in stark contrast to the belief that humanity might possess the means to eliminate infectious disease altogether – an idea that first rose to prominence in the “golden age” of bacteriology in the late 19th century and resurfaced after the Second World War, animating massive (and failed) international efforts to “eradicate” malaria and (successful) initiatives to eliminate smallpox. Since the emergence of “new infectious diseases” such as Ebola in the 1970s and, in particular, HIV/AIDS in the 80s, such ambitions have given way to recurring fears of deadly pandemics. Experts have long warned that globalization facilitates the dissemination of pathogens, and it is certainly no coincidence that outbreak scenarios and apocalyptic visions of global pandemics endangering the very survival of humanity have been a staple in popular fiction. The course explores the ways in which large-scale epidemics or pandemics have influenced the political, social, and cultural history of the 20th and early 21st centuries – from the infamous “Spanish influenza” at the end of the First World War to the corona pandemic in our very present. We focus both on individual countries and regions, especially in Europe and North America, as well as on infectious disease as a challenge for international cooperation and global governance. How have ideas and perceptions of health and disease changed over time? How have societies reacted to, perceived of, and culturally appropriated the threat of disease? What role have health experts and international organizations such as the World Health Organization played? And how can we contextualize the politics of global public health within the history of international relations and global governance regimes?

Explores key historical developments across the world since about 1500 through comparative perspectives. Emphases include the rise and fall of empires, revolutions, industrialization, state making, and nationalism.

This course is also listed as LASP 501-01. This class aims to introduce graduate students to diverse approaches to understanding the histories of Latin America’s diverse nations and peoples. We begin examining the origins of the region’s new nations around 1800, with an emphasis on conflicts over slavery and freedom. We will explore Cuba from 1860 to 1960 as its peoples fought to end slavery, become a nation, and faced a turn to revolution. We will engage Brazil’s twentieth-century struggles with race and poverty, development and urbanization. And we will conclude with an exploration of Mexico’s drive for national development, its experiences with urbanization, and the turn to globalization.

This course is also listed as LASP 501-02.

This course is designed to introduce students to the study of the History in the Latin American Studies Master’s Program and for students in the Ph.D. program in the History Department. It is designed to be interdisciplinary and provide students a good overview of recent production on historical topics on Latin America.

The theme of the course is on the making of the nation-states in Latin America. This topic is especially important not just because this is the theme that has warranted a great deal of attention over the past decade or so. It also incorporates new perspectives such as Gramscian and postmodern analysis, resistance studies, and the old modernization paradigm. Arguably, this topic remains on the cutting edge of the field and is the subject of many of the newest and most innovative works in Latin American History broadly defined. Since it is impossible to cover Latin American History as a whole, students will receive an intensive preparation on a topic that should be of interest to those who will work in other disciplines as well.
In addition to gaining a profound understanding of nation-state formation in Latin America and subaltern participation in this formation, the course is designed to expose students to historical thinking in ways that can be used in other disciplines as well. The course emphasizes the construction of arguments, the use of evidence, and evaluating the types and validity of evidence used for arguments.

The seminar will examine the development of Islamic radicalism during the 20th century with special focus on the life and works of Sayyid Qutb in the context of Egyptian political, literary and religious history. It will provide an overview of the classical texts on jihad as well as well as the modern western sources that Qutb utilized in his redefinition of political Islam. It will also focus on the appeal of his ideology in the context of the encounter with the modern west as a colonial power and as a source of challenging ideas. We will look at texts from the Muslim Brotherhood, the Iranian Revolution, Takfir wa Hijra, Hamas, Hizbullah, Jihad Islami, and al-Qaeda.

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. The course can thus be counted towards any regional field, depending on the paper topic and subject to the approval of the student’s advisor.

Studying material culture requires historians to move beyond familiar written documents as sources and to consider in addition the evidence offered by images and objects. It is an approach to the past that is necessarily interdisciplinary, drawing on art history and anthropology as well as changes within economic and cultural history. It also pushes us to ask fresh questions about the structures of everyday life, the meanings that people attached to possessions and consumption, and how these changed over time. Although the core of the syllabus for this course will focus on Europe from the Renaissance to the early twentieth century, the history of material culture is an excellent platform for developing a comparative approach to other places and times. There will be some weeks during the semester when members of the class will focus on and present materials of their own choosing. Students will be encouraged to seek out sources that speak to their own interests across geographical and temporal fields.

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.

This seminar examines the role of ethnic cleansing, forced expulsion, genocide, and population exchanges in the making of the Turkish Republic, and the international treaties, legal and constitutional structures, and political, social, and cultural experiences that defined them.

Oil has been central to power and wealth since the early 20th century, and the history of oil provides important insights into the nature and dynamics of power and influence in the international system. This course will analyze key issues in the history of oil and international relations from the early 20th century to the present.

Drawing together the four continents surrounding the Atlantic ocean as a linked unit of historical analysis, Atlantic history was one of the first fields to take a deliberately transregional approach to the study of the past. History 702 explores the history of the Atlantic world from early interactions in the fifteenth century through the era of abolition in the nineteenth century. It offers both a rough chronological survey of some of the main topics in the field and a sampling of the approaches and methodologies employed by scholars.

The first semester of a year-long research seminar. We read recent scholarship in early modern and modern Middle East history, with a focus on social and cultural history. We address particular subfields and themes, covering those topical areas that have proven to be of most interest to historians of the Arab World over the past couple of decades: the nature of modern empires, law and society, colonialism and post-colonialism, nationalism and identity, gender and family, sectarianism, political economy and the subaltern, modernities and circulations, and the environment. The fall semester can be taken as a stand-alone course with the permission of the instructor.