Undergraduate Level Courses
From South America to the Indian subcontinent, Europe to East Asia, movements on the right have upended global politics in recent years. This course places current right-wing political developments in historical context. Rather than studying conservative movements, this course focuses on political movements on the more radical end of the political right. Beginning with the 1890s Dreyfus Affair in France and covering such topics as the global rise of fascism in the 1920s and 1930s, military governments in Cold War Latin America, and Apartheid South Africa, among others, course materials explore such groups as both movements and as governing powers, right-wing racial and gender politics, and transnational entanglements of activists on the right. During the course, students will be encouraged to consider the following questions: What do we mean when we talk about the “far right” and how do we differentiate that from conservatism? What drew people to right-wing politics in particular places at particular moments? Why did such movements fail to become significant forces in other contexts? Where did right-wing movements find grounds to collaborate across national borders, and where did conflict arise in transnational exchanges? To what extent were these movements “reactionary” and to what extent did they envision a radical transformation of society?
What is propaganda? How can we analyze and interpret propaganda and its role in modern history? What can propaganda as a source reveal to historians and other analysts? Starting with the revolutionary movement and the Bolshevik victory in 1917, Russia and the Soviet Union have been central in grappling with these problems. The importance of the Soviet and post-Soviet contexts to modern attempts to influence domestic and foreign public opinion continued through the late Soviet use of disinformation and today’s digital-age operations on social media. Even so, historical perspectives and methods of analysis are often ignored during heated public discussion of our own era of “fake news.” This course examines the international rise of modern propaganda in the era of mass politics leading up to WWI, then focuses on a multi-faceted examination of Russian and Soviet propaganda after 1914. It imparts skills for approaching historical scholarship on propaganda and provides hands-on practice in interpreting the forms, dissemination, content, and effects of propaganda in posters, art, the press, film, and other media. It also asks about reception and the extent to which creators believed their own propaganda, thus confronting the question of how to understand ideology in the modern world. A premise of this course is that to study any kind of propaganda one must also understand the political, social, and cultural context in which it is made and received, as well as the informational ecosystem surrounding it. This course therefore provides an introduction to Russian and Soviet history primarily in the first half of the twentieth century, an era of wars and revolution that led to a novel phenomenon: the rise of the Soviet “propaganda state.”
Washington’s antebellum landscape was pockmarked with prisons. In the antebellum period, the existence of slavery, the slave trade, and the kidnapping of free Black Americans created boisterous, and constant, points of contention between the North and South in the lead up to the Civil War. This class will examine the legal policies, historical agents, events, and sites which combined to create a carceral landscape in the antebellum city. We will use the city as both a historical source, and take advantage of its resources, through visits to local sites. The discussions, readings, and assignments of this course are intended to foster the research, critical thinking, and writing skills which are foundational for history, as well as many other fields of inquiry. Over the semester, students will walk away not only with these practical skills, but also with a historical context useful for better understanding America’s issues of race and policing which painfully linger to this day.
History is not simply the study of the past, but a specific way of thinking about and studying the past: history, like all disciplines within a liberal arts curriculum, pursues particular ways of formulating questions, identifying relevant evidence and contexts, analyzing and interpreting evidence, drawing conclusions, and constructing answers. In this course, we will focus on a specific topic—the Italian Renaissance—and use our study of it as a way to approach and understand at an introductory level various elements of historical work and analysis: what are primary sources, and how we can identify them, locate them, examine them, and employ them in our analysis; what other types of evidence historians use (visual sources, artifacts of all kinds, etc.) and how; how we construct an argument based on our evidence; how historians formulate the questions that guide their research and analysis; how to approach and understand the work of other historians in developing our own questions and analysis; how to present and employ historical evidence in our own writing; and so on. Throughout, we will seek to be always mindful of a fundamental question for all effective evidence-based analysis: how do we know what we know.
Did women have a renaissance? A reformation? Did the pivotal events of history affect women in the same way as men? In this course we will explore the different experiences of women during the early modern period in Europe (roughly 1450-1789) and examine the gender and sexual constructs of society at large. We look at how race, gender, sexuality, and religious confession help determine gender roles. More important than the topic, however, is the methodology and format of a 1099. We will use the study of women in early modern Europe as a way to approach and understand at an introductory level various elements of historical work and analysis: what are primary sources, and how we can identify them, locate them, examine them, and employ them in our analysis; what other types of evidence historians use (visual sources, artifacts of all kinds, etc.) and how; how we construct an argument based on our evidence; how historians formulate the questions that guide their research and analysis; how to approach and understand the work of other historians in developing our own questions and analysis; how to present and employ historical evidence in our own writing; and so on. Throughout, we will seek to be always mindful of a fundamental question for all effective analysis: how do we know what we know.
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.
In this course, we will explore the history of climate change over the past two centuries. We will examine how the Earth has warmed, and the different environmental manifestations of warming from region to region. We will study how scientists discovered that Earth was warming, and how influential skeptics quickly mobilized popular and political suspicion of this “inconvenient truth.” Finally, we will investigate the already significant present-day consequences of climate change for vulnerable societies in the Middle East, Africa, the Arctic, and Oceania.
NOTE: This course is one of many courses in the yearlong Core Pathway on Climate Change, open to all students. Each semester in the pathway consists of pairing two 1.5 credit 7-week courses focused on the complex problem of Climate Change. All courses in the Core Pathway on Climate Change are offered during the same timeslot TR: 2:00-3:15PM so that students can enroll in two over the course of the semester. To learn more about the courses and Core Pathways, visit www.corepathways.georgetown.edu.
These World II sections consider human history since about 1500 CE, focusing on the dynamics of global interaction, in particular international and intersocietal conflict, human health, and environmental change. 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 help explain how the world got to be the way it is.
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.
This course examines the history of modern Africa from the 19th century to the present. We will explore major political, economic, social, religious and environmental changes on the continent, but we will also think about how historical knowledge is created and how historians assess evidence about the past.The first goal of this course is for you to acquire historical background to contemporary Africa. By looking at general patterns as well as specific places and events, we’ll examine some of the major themes in Africa’s recent history. We’ll study Africa’s role in the 19th-century global economy and the political and social impacts of this early globalization; European conquest of the continent and African resistance to European domination; the political and economic impact of colonialism; major cultural, social and religious changes of the early 20th century; and how independence from colonialism was achieved and what it meant. Then we’ll turn to the era of independent African nations and explore the historical context of some of the issues facing present-day Africa. We also will examine dynamics of age, gender, class, and ethnicity within African societies. And throughout the class, we will consider how Africans have acted to create their own history within the context of larger global and historical forces they do not control.A second goal of the class is for you to begin to think about the origins of knowledge: to ask how we know what we think we know. What do terms such as “African” and “European” mean in practice, and what do they obscure? How has “the West” created knowledge about “Africa,” and what are the implications of this?A third goal is to think and write like historians. We will ask questions and explore puzzles about the past. With Africa serving as the context, you will practice the art of historical analysis. Questions we will ask throughout this class include: Why did something happen when it happened and what were its consequences? How have unequal relations of power shaped the kinds of historical evidence we have today, and how can we interpret that evidence? To what extent can history explain the world we now share?
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 this semester, we will cover the formation of China’s social, political, and intellectual culture and its development through various dynastic regimes, up through the end of the Ming Dynasty in the late 16th century. In addition, in this semester we will explore the historical roots of several claims made by the People’s Republic of China in the 21st century, including linkages with Xinjiang, Central Asia, and Tibet; the “Silk Road” origins of the 2013 “One Belt, One Road” project, and China’s aspirations for a blue-water navy. The course has two basic goals: (1) to present a basic introduction to the traditions and legacies of the history and culture of China, including conflicting, even contradictory, interpretations of these traditions/legacies; and (2) to use the specific study of China as a means for developing more general skills in the discipline of historical analysis.
This course continues from the first part of the Chinese history survey. 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. We will cover roughly four centuries: 1580-1990. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Taught at Villa Le Balze in Fiesole, Italy. Students may enroll by application only, please visit studyabroad.georgetown.edu to apply and to get further information.
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 often paid to issues of class, gender, marginality and the relationship of Europe to non-Western cultures.
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 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).
This lecture-based course is a survey of Russian and Eurasian history from the post-Napoleonic era to the present, covering the Russian Revolution, Stalinism, the Cold War, and the collapse of communism. It emphasizes the global connections of Imperial Russian history as well as the role of women, sexuality, and national minorities
In the nineteenth century, Italian imperialism stretched from Somalia to China to Australia. This course considers Italy’s imperial project through a variety of vantage points, including race, gender, class, nationalism, and international relations. Students explore how and why Italy devised a colonial empire, and how the people under Italian colonial rule confronted and resisted such subjugation. The course pays particular attention to Italy’s Muslim subjects in North and East Africa, and it probes the legacies and aftermath of Italy’s Muslim Empire in Italian politics and society today. Course materials draw on film, fiction, and primary sources.
Section offered at Villa Le Balze in Florence, Italy. Students may enroll by application only. For more information and to apply, please visit studyabroad.georgetown.edu.
This course explores the rich history and culture of medieval Iberia. It will examine the interaction of Christians, Muslims and Jews in medieval Spain and Portugal, focusing on points of cooperation and conflict between the three communities. Class sessions will consist of close readings of a wide variety of literary, legal, and religious sources, and an analysis of medieval art and architecture.
In the period between 1000 and 1450, Europe was transformed from a provincial backwater into one of the most dynamic regions of the world. This course will explore how this transformation took place. It will provide a survey of the second half of the Middle Ages, concentrating on the political, economic, social, ecclesiastical, artistic and intellectual developments of the period. We will examine how some of the most important institutions of western civilization—representative assemblies, universities, and the nation-state, to cite a few examples—developed in this period. Classes will contain a mixture of lecture, discussion, and structured exercises (such as debates and re-creations of historical events), with a focus on analyzing primary sources in their historical context.
History 2414 explores Europe in the era of the two world wars, from 1914 to 1945. Rather than highlighting military history in the narrow sense of the term, the course focuses on the relationship between war and society. Why did European civilization virtually self-destruct during this period? Were the calamities of these years an outgrowth of fundamental structural problems or of highly contingent events? How did this era’s convulsive violence transform societies, cultures, values, and institutions? How did societies respond to the ordeal of military occupation, to the illusions of victory, and to the traumas of defeat? In what ways was the continent’s crisis related to broader global trends and how did it transform Europe’s role in the world? These are among the core issues that we will explore through a blend of lectures and discussions.
This course will study major issues and developments in Christian life and thought during the Reformation era. It will begin by examining problems of Church and theology on the eve of the Reformation, and will trace the development of the Reformation in the theology and actions of the major Protestant reformers. Similarly, it will examine the currents leading up to the Council of Trent and its reforming impact on Catholic religious life. Finally, it will deal with the consequences of the Reformation on Christian life in general, including its effects on popular culture, women, gender, and sexuality. Readings include a mix of primary and secondary sources, covering the history, theology, politics, and culture of the sixteenth century.
Modern Ireland: cultural Americana, Britannica, or Europeana? This course surveys the comparative transnational influences on the cultural development of modern Ireland, from the American Revolution to the European Union. It charts the social developments of ‘greater Ireland’ through an exploration of ‘island’ and ‘migrant’ cultures; examines Ireland’s relationship with political violence from enlistment in nineteenth-century British colonial campaigns in Egypt to the late twentieth-century IRA’s anti-colonial alliance with Libya; and evaluates the economic impacts of constitutional and cultural (dis)integration with America, Britain, and Europe, from the Act of Union to Brexit.
The subject of this course is the European Renaissance, with particular emphasis on the Italian Renaissance. We will study the political, economic, religious and social conditions of the Italian world in the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries, and how they affected and responded to the cultural, intellectual, and artistic developments that are usually understood to form what we call the Renaissance. We will also examine how Italian developments were transmitted to other parts of Europe in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. One of our main themes will be how cultural and intellectual developments interacted with other elements of a society’s life.
The course aims thus to help us examine a complex period of history; to lead us to reflect on the varied links between different elements of a highly dynamic society; and to allow students to further their understanding of historical thinking and analysis. The latter goal will especially be the focus of both our readings and of the writing assignments. The readings will consist of primary sources, works of many genres and origins, and we will examine how different types of sources shed light on various elements of the past. Writing assignments will push students to develop their critical reading, writing, and analytical skills. While lectures will constitute a significant part of class time, there will also be regular discussions, and a final examination.
Section offered at Villa Le Balze in Florence, Italy. Students may enroll by application only. For more information and to apply, please visit studyabroad.georgetown.edu.
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.
This course will use baseball as a lens through which to examine developments in American society and culture in the 19th and 20th centuries. In particular, the class will consider baseball as the creation of the United States’ transformation from an agrarian republic to an urbanized, industrial nation. The class will begin with the development of the game in the 19th century, and trace the game’s rise to prominence as the “national pastime” in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The course will conclude with examination of the relationship between baseball and major cultural shifts of the 20th century. The course will not focus on individual players or teams, and is not a sports course, but rather a history course about the relationship between baseball as a social and cultural phenomenon, and historical change.
This class takes a comparative and interdisciplinary approach to the history of empires of the ancient and early modern worlds, with a special focus on empires and their cultural expressions. Topics include cultures of conquest and occupation, provincialism, slavery, resistance, critiques and celebrations, and legacies, as we explore how empires were created, challenged, sustained, and dismantled in the past. The class is discussion-based and incorporates excursions in Washington, including a visit to Dumbarton Oaks and a walking tour. This class is cross-listed by the Classics and History Departments.
Processes of historical change have become increasingly global during recent centuries. This seminar explores diverse approaches to historical globalization: political, diplomatic, economic, ecological, cultural. In addition, it examines the relations between globalizing processes and history as it is experienced, discussed, and debated in nations and communities. It asks why historical understandings have focused on national developments, while the forces of change have operated on ever larger scales.
This course and summer lab will explore the history of relations between Japan and Korea from the perspective of social and cultural interactions, in order to understand historical memory issues in context. The Spring seminar will focus on topics ranging from early-modern diplomacy and trade to colonial rule, wartime mobilization, decolonization, and contemporary connections, including youth culture, J-pop and K-pop. We will also explore social issues related to tourism, and particularly the issue of “dark tourism,” which will be one focus of the summer lab. The main objective of the course will be to co-author a guidebook to sites that connect the two countries.
After the end of the semester in May, participants will embark for two weeks of fieldwork in South Korea and Japan. In addition to visiting historical sites and museums, we will meet with Korean and Japanese faculty and students to discuss historical memory and share experiences. Based on fieldwork during the trip, we will flesh out the guidebook for online publication.
Most students know a few things—from songs, films, internet memes, television shows, memoirs, popular accounts— bout the conflict known in America as the Vietnam War and in Vietnam as the American War. This upper-level seminar seeks to contextualize the narrow period from 1955 to 1975 by significantly expanding both our temporal and geographical scope. We examine French Indochina in its entirety—not just Vietnam, but also Cambodia, Laos, and, very briefly, Kouang Tcheou Wan—from the turn of the 19th century to the present. Moving both chronologically and thematically, the course is organized around four modules: Empire-Building, Nation-Building, Total Wars, and Region-Building.
Their reputation is complex. Lionized by some, vilified by others, the Jesuits have been involved in virtually every facet of early modern and modern culture in all corners of the globe for half of a millennium. This seminar is about the what, why, and how of Jesuit thought and action, and the strong reactions they inspired. Theology has been central to them, but they have also engaged in philosophy, the arts, and the sciences from their 16th-century founding by Ignatius Loyola to the present day, as a Jesuit reigns as pope. Jesuits, individually and corporately, have grappled with politics and political thought from Reformation de-bates over regicide to modern debates over social justice. Jesu-its can be found on all sides of the Galileo Affair, and Jesuits run the Vatican observatory today. Jesuits were among the first Europeans to enter the Forbidden Palace in the 17th century and were expelled from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the 20th. Jesuits developed havens for indigenous people in 17th century New Spain and simultaneously engaged in the transatlantic slave trade. Jesuits produced anti-semitic tracts in 1920s Vienna, but participated in the plot to overthrow Hitler in the 1940s. In the last century they ran elite high schools in Mexico, but were executed for advocating radical social and economic reform in Central America. Theologians, polemicists, political theorists, astronomers, dramatists, pharmacists, architects, engineers, governors of Amerindian settlements, cartographers, musicians, and, above all, missionaries and schoolmasters, Jesuits were active in virtu-ally every country of Europe and Latin America, in many countries of Asia, and even in a few in Africa. They are thus an ideal subject for a seminar because participants have a wide range of areas of research to choose from.
In this seminar course we will consider how the arts in all their forms have been used to express and strengthen power, in the political, religious, and social spheres of European states from the late Middle Ages to the revolutionary era of the late eighteenth century. We will primarily consider and examine works of painting, sculpture, and architecture, but we will also give some attention to urban planning, practices of collecting, the decorative arts, public rituals and festivals, music, theater, dance, garden design, and other forms of creative expression (including in a few cases literary texts). We will start by examining the historical, intellectual, moral, and theoretical bases for the connection between art and power, and by connecting these ideas and practices with the revival of the study of antiquity. We will then consider several case studies of how these connections were deployed in specific places and times. Many of our materials and case studies will come from Italy, where some of the main elements and language for these ideas were formed in the Renaissance, but we will also look at how these practices spread and were adapted in other parts of Europe and in later centuries. Because the dominant form of political power in Europe in these centuries was monarchical, most of our materials will pertain to the activities and pursuits of monarchs, aristocrats, and Church leaders, though we will also consider, especially at the start and end of the class, examples from different political systems. We will consider evidence both textual (descriptions, theories, biographical sources, etc.), and visual, and we will read the works of modern scholars about these issues and examples. This course is a seminar, and thus most of our class time will be devoted to group discussions of relevant sources (primary and secondary). The writing assignments will give students a chance to practice various forms of academic writing.
We may be on the verge of a new era in humanity’s expansion into outer space. Space agencies in the United States, China, and Russia have all committed themselves to establishments settlements on or near the Moon, and are building enormous rockets to make that possible. A growing number of space agencies have now dispatched satellites or rovers to the worlds near Earth: the Moon, Mars, Venus, and nearby asteroids. These machines have revealed cosmic environments to be more dynamic places – with more dynamic histories – than scientists previously imagined. Companies led by ambitious tycoons are introducing revolutionary technologies that will allow them to reach, and perhaps even colonize, the Moon, Mars, and possibly Venus. This course will guide you through the long and often surprising history that has led us to this new era. You will discover, among other topics, how what happens in space has helped shape life on Earth; how early astronomers mapped and often misinterpreted environments on the Moon, Mars, and Venus; and how sudden environmental changes on Earth and on Mars provoked sightings of canals – and fears of alien invasion – across the western world. You will learn about the twin “space races” that led humans to the Moon and robots further afield; the plans to establish military bases on the Moon; the Martian dust storm that inspired the idea of nuclear winter on Earth; the shocking greenhouse effect on Venus that strengthened theories of global warming on Earth; and the history of a radical ambition to turn Mars into a world like Earth. You will also study the history of the quest for life on Mars, the Moon, and Venus, and the schemes to mine the rich resources of Near Earth Asteroids to save our world from environmental catastrophe.
The title “Medieval Cooking in America” might seem to be oxymoronic since everyone knows that the Americas were settled by Europeans long after the end of the Middle Ages. However, it conveys an important point about the transfer of cultural knowledge in the early modern world. The foodways that Old World people brought to the New remained embedded in ideas and practices that were already established African and European cultures centuries before 1492. When New World crops such as maize, chilies, tomatoes, beans, and sweet potatoes arrived in the Old World they created some new options for cooks, but they were used in traditional ways. Transformative change came only when African and European foodways came into direct contact with each other and with the culinary traditions of Native Americans. In time, distinctive approaches to cooking, eating, and drinking emerged from these interactions which involved the exchange of agricultural methods, technologies, and tools as well as cooking equipment, culinary techniques, and, of course, recipes. In this class we will investigate this complex development of American cuisine through the study of material culture and also of ideas and social practices that influenced what, how, and with whom Americans cooked and ate. The focus will be on Anglophone North America from the early seventeenth century to the middle of the nineteenth century, when new technologies for processing, preserving, and cooking food disrupted older patterns. There will also be forays into the early modern food cultures of Francophone North America and perhaps Mexico and the Caribbean too.
To the casual observer, few conflicts seem more clear-cut than the epic nationalist struggle that dominated the history of 20th century Ulster. At first glance, the players in this tragic conflict seem to divide quite neatly into two opposing camps: on one side—the devout Irish Catholic nationalist committed to the vision of a united Ireland freed forever from British rule; on the other—the unyielding British Protestant unionist clinging desperately to the last vestiges of colonial privilege and power. For those who subscribe to such a view, the solution to the crisis appears to be quite simple: Britain must withdraw completely and immediately from Ulster, and Ireland must unite. Closer scrutiny of the conflict in Ireland uncovers a complicated nexus of political, religious and economic factors that defy facile generalization and easy resolution. Rooted in over 800 years of acrimonious interaction between the Irish and the British, Northern Ireland’s bloody 20th century is anything but clear-cut. Through an analysis of music, popular films, and literature, this class will explore the cultural construction of the “Troubles” in 20th century Ulster and examine the historical, ethnic, psychological and social realities from which this culture of conflict ensues.
The goal of this course is to introduce students to the development of Marian beliefs, devotions, practices, and representations within Christianity, as well as in Judaism and Islam from Late Antiquity to the present day. Through examining Marian doctrines, Marian devotions, Mary in art and liturgy, Marian feasts, and principal Marian literary works, students will understand the historical development of this familiar and global figure. By examining the central influence of the Virgin Mary, students will gain a broader historical understanding of the cultures of world Christianities, Judaism and Islam. No previous history knowledge is required, though a cursory familiarity with European and religious history will be helpful.
Between 2013 and 2019, Brazil suffered four large-scale disasters: the Kiss Nightclub Fire of 2013, the Mariana dam collapse of 2014, the Museu Nacional Fire of 2018, and the Brumadinho dam collapse of 2019. What do these tragedies of flood and fire reveal about system collapse and regulatory capture in recent Brazil? Who was most vulnerable and why? What are the environmental, social and political legacies?
When we think of the First World War we think of muddy trenches, soldiers charging across no man’s land, and diplomats negotiating in the smoke-filled salons of Versailles Palace. Recent films and videos have only reinforced these perceptions of the Great War. This seminar examines the war by turning its focus to the Middle East and Europe and exploring the relationship between war and society. The Middle East, and more specifically the Ottoman Empire, bore witness to horrific scenes of upheaval during the war years, as ethnic cleansing, population expulsions, and revolutions tore at the political and social fabric and led to the destruction of a centuries-long imperial order. After years of prolonged global conflict, how did ordinary men and women respond to and make sense of the devastation? How does the war in the Middle East fit within our more traditional European framing of the conflict? The seminar culminates with the reading of the memoirs of Soghomon Tehlirian, a frontline soldier whose family was killed during the 1915 Armenian Genocide and who, in its aftermath, tracked down and assassinated the genocide’s main architect. Tehlirian’s remarkable life as recounted in his memoirs holds up a mirror to the global politics and society during his age and will ask us to reevaluate some of our most established beliefs on the values of human rights, justice and the rules-based order.
This course examines Russia’s multi-ethnic, multi-confessional empire in the 19th and 20th centuries. In this seminar, we shall focus on the multifaceted relationship between imperial and Soviet Russia’s center and its Eastern European, Caucasian, and Central Asian periphery. Beyond territorial boundaries, we will explore divisions along the lines of class, religion, and gender. Using a wide variety of literary, visual, and academic sources, we will consider how shifting physical and conceptual borders shape local and national identity, from the shtetl to the steppe, to the Gulag, to the radioactive Zone, and even into outer space.
This course considers the global history of Yersinia pestis, the zoonotic bacterium (a microorganism causing disease in people and other animals) 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.
What are the origins and manifestations of fascism? Why did fascist ideology entice so many Europeans from different social backgrounds between World Wars I and II? Is fascism something that belongs to the history of the 20th Century, or are there parallels with what some call fascism today? In this course students will find responses to these and related questions, learning about the nature of fascism as an ideology and as a set of practices. The course will explore the birth and first flourishing of fascism in interwar Italy, Germany, Romania, Hungary, and other regions, before turning to its legacy for today’s far-right populism and debates about fascism’s resurgence.
In this interdisciplinary course, students will pursue a semester-long project in the medical humanities. The course provides a brief introduction to the medical humanities and its subfields, from medical history to the philosophy of medicine to medicine in literature to medical anthropology, before diving into the process of designing, researching and preparing a major medical humanities project.
The silk road (or silk roads) is a term used to describe routes used by travelers, merchants, monks and others across the Eurasian continent, or by sea between Asia and the Mediterranean basin. More broadly, however, the notion of “silk road” encompasses the longterm trans-Eurasian exchange of goods, crops, art, ideas, religion and other things, starting from when humans first fanned out across the old world. The question at the center of this course, then, will be “what has been the nature of trans-Eurasian exchanges, and what has been their historical impact?” In investigating this question, we will learn something about the basic dynamics and highpoints of Central Asian history, and tune in at various points to the history of China, India, the Islamic world, Russia and Mediterranean Europe. The course will be mainly discussion format, and students will develop and present research projects focused on one of the things exchanged cross the silk roads, for example, a disease, a precious material, a religion, or a technology.
This course is aimed at establishing literacy in the Pacific Islands, their storied histories and their complex presents. It will take students through the Indigenous human geographies in the Pacific, the coming of Europeans and the establishment of spheres of influence through various economies and imperial activities. It will pay close attention to the causes and consequences of power shifts, the imposition of imperial powers and resistance to it as well as the movement of Asian people into the island Pacific as indentured plantation laborers from the mid-C19th. It will investigate the building of tensions that led to World War Two and what happened in its aftermath. From here the course looks at the reasons the Pacific Islands have returned to western focus as the frontline of climate change and more urgently still, driven by massive and recent Chinese attention as an extension of its Belt and Road Initiative. As well as paying close attention to perspectives from Washington, Canberra, Wellington, Paris and Beijing, this course will be Pacific focused, giving much attention to Pacific island actors, voices and perspectives, and framed around the urgent situation of the present.
This course examines beliefs about and the lived realities of women in Europe between 800-1600. The course traces the power and authority of women rulers, warriors, religious leaders and authors alongside the role of women within family networks and among the dispossessed, servants, and the sexually exploited. It examines theological opinions, legal codes and practices and literary representations, among other sources, in order to address questions regarding the status of women, their power, authority and opportunities or lack thereof. Along the way, the course will examine case studies of particular women and selected texts written by women.
This course will look at the origins, practice, and nature of Fascism as it developed in Europe between the world wars. To that end, readings by Fascist theorists such as Mussolini and Hitler, as well as by historians who analyze and describe the phenomenon will be used. Films from and about the era will also be part of the material for the course. In addition to discussing historical Fascism, the course will also take a look at what, if anything, connects the meaning of Fascism as it existed in the past and how that term is used today.
Capitalism shaped the Americas and the Americas shaped capitalism from the sixteenth century when the silver economies of Spanish America mobilized indigenous peoples to drive global trades, plantations in Brazil and the Caribbean took bound people from Africa to make sugar and profits, and British North America drew communities of settlers seeking refuges of truth sustained by trades supplying plantation colonies. Nineteenth-century industrial times saw slavery expand in Brazil, Cuba, and the U.S. to sustain industrial production in Britain and the U.S. It finally ended from 1865 to 1888, leaving freed people to struggle while immigrants flooded from Europe to make new farming and working communities. The US gained hemispheric hegemony after 1870 while Latin Americans faced underdevelopment—processes driven everywhere by assaults on native communities and their lands. The 20th-century brought struggles for national development promising equities that rarely came. Then the 1980s saw globalization build on urban concentrations of power and prosperity, marginality and exclusions that spread across the Americas. How did promises of plenty, the powers that promoted them, and diverse communities pursuing their own goals through negotiations, adaptations, and resistance, engage to generate changing ways of life mixing power and plenty, survival and exclusions—ethnic, racial, and gendered—within an enduring and always changing capitalism?
The course examines the relationship between Islam and the West under three subheadings: 1) Encounters, 2) Diplomacy and Espionage, and 3) Soldiers, Pirates and Slaves. The course seeks to explore some of the big questions about the “rise of the West” and the “decline of the East,” and to challenge Eurocentric and Orientalist approaches. Our focus will be on the multi-layered encounters and relations (diplomacy, intelligence gathering, commerce, wars etc.) between the Ottoman Empire and its main European neighbors and adversaries (Venice, Habsburg Spain and Austria) in the early modern period. While discussing trans-cultural violence the course studies competing ideologies (jihad/ghaza and crusade) and practices such as raids, piracy, imperial campaigns, and frontier warfare.
The course is an introduction to the modern history of former French North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia) from the establishment of the Ottoman Regency of Algiers in the early sixteenth century until national independence and the post-colonial period. Its underlying aim is to familiarize students with recent trends in historical scholarship on modern North Africa specifically, while also engaging with the principal theoretical frameworks and schools of thought in the field of imperial and colonial studies. Selected primary and secondary documents from the colonialist and nationalist periods will serve as the basis for analytical assessments of the legacy of imperialism on North African historiography. Topics of study include: the Ottoman-European contest in the Western Mediterranean; its impact on North African societies, states, and economies; European (Portuguese, Spanish, French) imperial expansion and North African modes of resistance; the consolidation of the French North African empire; the socio-economic, political, ideological and theoretical dimensions of colonial rule and administration; the impact of colonialism on the formation of cultural/national identities and modern subjectivities; the overlapping histories and memories of colony and metropole; the historical modes of colonial interactions and representation; and finally, the role of resistance and violence in the processes of decolonization and nation-making.
The Russian Empire played a major role in global debates about the nature and purpose of political power after the French Revolution. In this seminar, we will discuss works by prominent Russian conservative, liberal, and socialist thinkers, including Dostoevsky, Herzen, and Lenin, in order to understand how Russia developed as a hotbed of ideological experimentation culminating in the revolutions of 1917. Topics will range from terrorism to religion, from economic thought to the rights of women and national minorities. We will pay particular attention to the relationship between Russia and other parts of the world, especially Europe and the United States.
Embark on a profound journey through Ukraine’s history as we delve into the haunting topic of genocide, tracing its roots from the era of Hitler to the present day under Putin’s regime. Through meticulous examination of historical events and political dynamics, students will gain a profound understanding of the tragic occurrences that have shaped Ukraine’s destiny. Engaging with primary sources and expert analyses, participants will critically evaluate the far-reaching impact of genocidal actions against Jews, Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war on the nation’s culture, identity, and its relationships with neighbors. The course will also shed light on the complex politics of memory surrounding the Holocaust in Eastern Europe and its relevance in Russia’s war against Ukraine, offering insight into how historical narratives can be manipulated for political purposes.
This course examines the evolving nature of social movements since the Civil War by learning about the history of five major ones: populism, prohibition, industrial labor, Black freedom, and right-to-life. The focus is theoretical and comparative, as well as narrative. By discussing such factors as historical context, motivation, ideology, language, strategy, resources, and relationship with the state, we’ll assess how and why these movements succeeded and/or failed.
Registration in the class requires department approval HIST 4998-4999 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.