Undergraduate Level Courses
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. A quarter of the seats have been reserved for first years.
he 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. A quarter of the seats have been reserved for first years.
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.
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.
Offerings for Spring 2020:
Rio de Janeiro – Bryan McCann
Italian Renaissance – Tommaso Astarita
World War II – Aviel Roshwald
Material Culture – Susan Pinkard
US Working Lives – Joseph McCartin
Caliphs and Emperors – Osama Abi-Mershed
Propaganda in the USSR – Michael David-Fox
Finding Tibet [on CALL Campus] – Jacob Dingman
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 transferred.
Enrollment by tutorial form and permission of Department only Majors may petition to attach a 3-credit tutorial to an outside internship during the Fall or Spring semester. Eligible internships will require at least 10 hours a week, and include substantial research and writing, in an area at least somewhat related to historical work. The petition should include a description of the internship and a statement of how the student sees the internship fit with the student’s academic progress. The internship tutorial will consist primarily of meetings with a faculty supervisor to discuss the progress of the internship research and work and to review work written for the internship, and of writing a reflection paper that, among other things, connects the internship experience with the student’s academic work.
What is a witch? This first-year seminar engages this question in a wide-ranging exploration of the phenomenon of witchcraft in Europe, Africa, and the Americas over the course of several centuries. It looks at witchcraft both as a set of practices and beliefs and as something that could be transformed into a crime by changing ideas and by cultural collisions. We will explore witchcraft within the Christian tradition in Europe and beyond, including the variety of beliefs held by Africans and Native Americans and the impact of colonization and cultural contact on the expression of those beliefs. We will read about witchcraft in iconic places, such as Salem and Germany, as well as less familiar locales, ranging from Iceland to New Mexico. Along the way students will meet “witches” as diverse as shamans and Jesuit priests, midwives and healers, children and the elderly. The seminar will introduce students to original trial records and other surviving primary sources. This class will take advantage of resources in Washington and at Georgetown. Students will have the opportunity to carry out independent research. This class is only open to First Years.
I grew up in Tempe, Arizona, and attended public schools far more economically and racially diverse than those of most of my college classmates at Princeton University. In my first semester, I signed up for a women’s history course, and I was transfixed. The next semester I took a first-year seminar on the Civil Rights Movement. Together those two courses made me a history major, and, with the mentorship of my thesis advisor, a historian. He made me realize I could study Arizona, not just the East Coast. At the US Women’s History Program at the University of Wisconsin, my adviser was a pioneer in the field of women’s history, which I now teach. I wrote the dissertation that became my first book, Borderline Americans: Racial Division in the Arizona Borderlands. More recently I wrote a book called Inventing the Immigration Problem: The DIllingham Commission and its Legacy, which examines the largest study of immigrants in American history. I’m indebted to my many mentors, and it’s that spirit I hope to honor in my Ignatius seminar. —Katherine Benton-Cohen In 1789, Georgetown University was founded by the Jesuits as a school for young men, but that’s only part of the story. This course will examine the rich and largely hidden history and legacy of women at Georgetown University. Inspired by the 50th Anniversary of women’s admission to Georgetown College in 2019, this course will allow us to study, interpret, archive and amplify women’s story here. Drawing from the Georgetown Slavery Archive, online editions of the Hoya, visits to the University Archives, oral histories, social media, and more, together we can build a story that includes not just students, but laborers both enslaved and free, nurses, faculty and administrators. As a first-year experience, this seminar will introduce you to Georgetown’s history and culture, while helping to create a more inclusive version of it. Starting with Sukey, who in 1792 became the first enslaved woman to appear in Georgetown’s ledgers, we will study those both enslaved and free who lived and worked at Georgetown, the women who were nuns and nurses in service here, and other “firsts”—first undergraduates, first graduate students, first faculty and so on. This story is one of both inclusion and exclusion. We will have guest speakers with wide ranges of experiences at Georgetown, from college alumnae, to retired staff and pioneering faculty. In the first fall of your first year at Georgetown—in remarkable times—you will have the real opportunity to make and document history in a community of scholarship and collegiality. While each of you will pursue independent research projects, we will also engage in a collective effort to make Georgetown’s women’s history public through oral history, podcasts, and an online archive. Along the way, you will learn to write better, think more deeply, and learn how to analyze historical sources with discernment, integrity, and empathy. We will learn that history is not just one thing after another, but an interpretation that depends on whose voice is heard and collected. You will also learn the nuts and bolts of library and on-line research, which will help you throughout your career at Georgetown and beyond.
Atlantic World draws together the histories of four continents, Europe, Africa, North America, and South America, to investigate the new Atlantic world created as a consequence of the Columbian encounter in 1492. The class traces the creation of this world from the first European forays in the Atlantic and on the coast of Africa in the fifteenth century to the first wars for colonial independence and the abolition of slavery. Topics include the destruction and reconfiguration of indigenous societies; the crucial labor migrations of Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans; and the various strategies of accommodation, resistance, and rebellion demonstrated by the many different inhabitants of the Americas. Some seats in this class are reserved. A portion of the seats for all core surveys have been reserved for first years.
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. Some seats in this class are reserved.
From humble beginnings nearly 1500 years ago, to enormous power and prestige in the Middle Ages, to political decline and foreign occupation in the modern era, Islam has developed into a highly diverse, global tradition representing nearly one quarter of the world’s population. Yet it is most widely known through caricatures of terrorists and despots. This course examines that phenomenon. It focuses on the historical development of Muslim communities and their interactions with European and other powers. It emphasizes the impact of those interactions on Islam’s ideological and political developments. The interaction between religion and politics is a major sub-theme of the course.
Nineteenth century Africa was the site of continued and intensifying engagement with both the East and the West as well as a host of in situ changes and episodes. For example, towards the middle of that century, the Sultan of Muscat and Oman moved his capital from the Middle East to the East African coast to expand and consolidate his control over the region’s commercial activities. France, Britain, Portugal, Belgium, Italy and Spain intensified their activities on the continent which by the end of the century they had formalised at a conference in Berlin (1884 – 1885). It was also the site of internal events of great socio-political and economic repercussions. In Southern Africa, a variety of environmental and socio-political pressures combined to produce a period of upheaval whose repercussions were felt as far north as the Great Lakes region of East Central Africa, the gradual abolition of the slave trade was changing socio-economics and politics along huge swathes of the continent while in West Africa the revival of Islam in the western Sudan was accompanied by jihads. In this course, we shall delve into these events in different parts of the continent. As we do so we shall also have the opportunity to analyse critically related primary sources. Amongst other things, we shall study the authors, query their motivations and the circumstances in which they wrote
This course forms the first part of the Chinese history survey. It is taught with a somewhat different time frame on the main campus and in Doha at SFSQ. On the main campus: The course, subtitled “Origins and Imperium,” 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 fall 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 Belt and Road Initiative, 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. On the Doha campus: China I: The History of Late Imperial China Since 2013, the leading slogan of the People’s Republic of China has been the achievement of the “China Dream.” Xi Jinping has referred to this as the “Great rejuvenation of the Chinese people (Zhonghua minzu de weida fuxing 中华民族的伟大复兴).” The slogan is thoroughly modern (The phrase “Chinese people” didn’t exist until the 1890s)—yet clearly referential to the country’s past. How do we make sense of these tensions? How do people in China understand their past? Who were they? How has this past shaped the present and how might it influence the future (the “dream”)? This course is an investigation of the history of China from 1200 through the early 20th century in order to understand how the recent “rise” of China has both built upon and diverged from its imperial foundations. We will examine how Confucianism became embedded in a range of social institutions, from the bureaucracy to the family. Special attention will be paid to China’s multiple roles in the development of the economy of the early modern world and the transformation of “China” into a vast, multi-ethnic empire during the seventeenth through eighteenth centuries. We will then examine how during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, people in China grappled with the legacies of the imperial past and its intellectual traditions as they sought to build a rich and powerful state to compete with Europe, the US, and Japan.
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. Some seats have been reserved for first years.
Beginning with a survey of the diverse societies of the Americas before 1500, this classes focuses on the coming of Europeans, the deadly impact of the disease they brought, and the integration of the hemisphere into European empires and a new global economy during three subsequent centuries. We will emphasize how the long state-organized peoples of regions subjected to Spanish rule adapted socially and culturally to sustain silver as a key global commodity; we will explore how Africans were dragged in bondage to Atlantic America to labor in booming sugar economies ruled by every European power: Portugal, Britain, France, Spain, and more. The interactions among Europeans and the diverse peoples who produced everything focus much of the analysis—culminating in the rising resistance that challenged Europeans in regions from the Andes to Haiti in the late eighteenth century. Some seats have been reserved for first years.
Through lectures, readings, class discussion and audio-visual material, this course examines the history of the Middle East from the late sixth to the late seventeenth centuries. The lectures focus on broader topics, such as the emergence of Islam; the history of major Middle Eastern empires; changing geo-strategic and cultural conditions; and the evolution and functioning of classical and medieval Muslim institutions. Discussion sections will enable students to deepen their knowledge regarding local diversities within the unifying systems of Muslim beliefs, law, and administration; the material and intellectual exchanges and interactions between the Muslim world and non-Muslim communities and polities; and Muslim reactions to the Crusades and the Mongol invasions. Some seats have been reserved for first years. Some seats in this class are reserved.
The Slavs, Origins of Russia, Kiev, the Mongol period, Muscovy, Imperial Russia to 1825 with special attention to autocracy, serfdom, foreign policy, the Orthodox Church, Westernization, society, culture, and the birth of the revolutionary movement.
A survey of East European peoples and states from the rise of the Medieval Kingdoms to about 1800. The course will trace the influence of the multi-national Jagiellon, Habsburg, Ottoman, and Romanov empires in the region. Topics will include: the formation of ethnically and religiously diverse societies, the role of noble democracy, and the influence of the Enlightenment and Romanticism.
The growth of Latinx groups has transformed cities and communities throughout the United States, and has led to heightened debates about their political power, cultural influence, citizenship, and ethnic and racial categorization. While increasing attention to Latinx peoples may in fact feel “new,” Latina/o/x communities have played a pivotal role in U.S. history for centuries. This course explores the historical foundations and transformations of Latinxs groups across time and the range of issues that shaped their worldmaking from colonialism, immigration, race, gender, politics and culture. This course will draw on a range of historical, archival, and media materials in order to understand the histories of distinct groups, including Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Central Americans, and Dominicans – that forged communities in the U.S.
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. This is a course about the history of one of the most significant and most contentious philosophies, movements, and governing ideologies in the history of the modern world. From its visionary beginnings in the early 19th century to the collapse of the USSR near the end of the 20th century, socialism has given rise both to grand dreams of equality and freedom and to great fears – and the reality — of totalitarian tyranny. Fierce debates and battles between socialists and their adversaries did much to shape the major political changes of the past 200 years, including both world wars. Given the vast scope of the subject, a one-semester course can only offer an introduction. We will read about and discuss the key ideas, events, and transitions, and personalities in the evolution and devolution of socialism. The focus is mostly on Europe, with some attention to China, Cuba, Africa, and the United States. This class is reserved for college first years.
This class, co-taught by Professors Amy Leonard and Howard Spendelow, will compare and contrast some of the major topics of European and Asian history from the 15th through the 18th centuries, as well as look at points of contact between Western and Eastern regions. Topics include challenges to established views of Christianity, Buddhism, and Confucianism, colonization and expansion in East Asia, differing responses to Christian missionary efforts, and contrasting views of gender roles and sexual mores, both within and across cultures. The course is open to all undergraduate levels and will mix lectures with group discussions. There are no exams; assessment will be based on various writing exercises, from short primary source analyses to longer historical reviews.
Profound political, cultural and environmental transformations occurred in Europe between the fourth and the tenth centuries CE. As the Roman Empire gave way to “Dark Age” kingdoms, the ways of life of ordinary people and elites, within and beyond Rome’s former limits, forever changed. This course draws upon traditional historical sources as well as the material record (bones, buildings, soils and trees) to delve into the human and natural processes that defined the era. Diverse topics are addressed, from saints and popes, to barbarian migrations and recurrent plague, to multiculturalism and Christianization, to climate change and economic fragmentation. Although focused on Europe, the course also considers connections with Rome’s Byzantine and Muslim heirs.
This course will look at the history of the Crusading movement from its ideological beginnings, through the fervor of the First Crusade and through the many waves of crusades that followed (some of them numbered and some not!). While tracing the rise and fall of the movement, the course focuses on the role of the western church, the colonizing activities of Franks in the Holy Land, the crusading orders, and the popular crusading responses and legends and then growing disillusionment with crusades. The purpose of this course will be to tie together the western European experience with that of the eastern Mediterranean (Byzantines, other eastern Christians, Muslims, and “Franks” who settled in the East). We will be looking particularly at the spiritual, ecclesiastical and popular culture of the crusades, contextualized within the currents of east and west. There will be some reading in primary sources and a concern to examine the motivations for crusading, the impact of the crusades on western culture and society, and the cultural clashes and accommodations between the Latin West and the Islamic East. Since the memory of the medieval crusades remains a touchstone for the modern discourse regarding the Middle East, we will also look at modern understanding of the crusades. This course will help you to understand the importance of this historically defining movement, which, in the minds of some, is still an ongoing concern.
From the 1600s to the 1950s, France – as both a monarchy and a republic – governed many colonial and European empires, embracing (at different times) territories as diverse as Haiti, Algeria, Vietnam, India, and Canada. This course will trace the French Empire’s extraordinary rises and falls from its seventeenth-century origins to the era of decolonization in the mid twentieth-century. How did the French Empire come into being? Who ran it and how? How did French rule affect its colonial subjects overseas? And how did the French at home respond to imperial challenges and opportunities? Although the Age of Empires has gone, we will trace its political and cultural legacies as they are stamped across our world today.
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. The course begins with the Declaration of Independence and ends with World War II. In particular, we will discuss how the U.S. became a global power through topics such as the U.S. acquisition of the Philippines, the World Wars, U.S. business intervention in Latin America, and missionary involvement in Asia. We will also consider the different ways historians have sought to explain U.S. foreign relations.
Black History and Culture The study of African American culture and its interaction with American and world society as a whole will be the mission of this class. We will look at the syncopated rhythms of the African people transferred to American shores by enslaved Africans, starting with the “Negro Spirituals. Political debates between W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington, between DuBois and Marcus Garvey and between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Brother Malcolm X will also be demonstrated how history and politics affected the culture of Black people. We will look at white America’s perception of African Americans and analyze how these ideas were formed and why they continue to exist and why they persist. We will look at the major intellectual, cultural, and performance arts during the Harlem Renaissance (performers such as Paul Robeson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Marian Anderson, and Bessie Smith). We will watch films and film clips of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis and Thelonius Monk. We will also listen to the music of people who have been influenced by major Black artists. The role of artists and painters like Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence, and stage and theater performers like Lena Horne will also be reviewed. The roles and images of Blacks in films will be analyzed. We will also review poetry, literature, and the sports. Finally, we will take a look at the social and political meanings of Black culture, from the Negro Spirituals to Marvin Gaye, from Nina Simone to Tupac Shakur, from Jack Johnson to Muhammad Ali, from Dick Gregory to Chris Rock, and from Motown to Mos Def.
This course seeks to understand key themes and events in one of the more turbulent periods in modern American history. Topics will include (but not be limited to) the decline of industrial cities, the rise of the black freedom movement (both North and South), military intervention in Indochina and the movement opposing it, the significance of rock and roll and soul music, the New Left, the beginnings of movements for feminism and gay rights and environmental protection, the emergency of a powerful New Right, and the international context in which the American “60s” occurred.
From raging medieval European kings and falling in love in medieval Japan to tasting God and smelling race and “feeling cool” in twentieth century America, this seminar explores scholarship on the senses and emotions from a range of world regions and time periods in order to explore basic questions about the relationship between the mind and the body, the individual and society, biology and culture. This seminar is intended for history majors. However, students in psychology, cognitive science, anthropology, sociology, economics, and political science will have something to learn from how historians study the relationship between the experience and standards of feeling in particular historical contexts and the motives and actions inspiring historical transformations in experiences of the body.
This course introduces students to the historical study of the world economy by tracing the emergence of a global capitalist economy from early modern times to the present day. It looks at how capitalism first emerged, how it expanded globally, and how it has been transformed over the last millennium. It does so by looking at the history of international trade, finance and banking, labor and slavery, industrialization, agriculture, and the environment. It also considers how global capitalism developed in response to transformations in the global balance of power between rival empires and nations and in response to large-scale technological change. The course will conclude by looking at how the future of global capitalism may develop in the wake of the intertwined economic, public health, and political crises of 2020. This course does not require any prior study of economics.
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 (for a more thorough survey of Central Eurasian history take HIST 108), 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 examines the relationship between religious tolerance and minority/refugee groups from Post-Reformation Europe (c. 1550) to the present. We begin with how Europeans coped with unprecedented religious divisions and conflicts caused by the enormous schism within Christianity. This issue—how to control religious intolerance and violence—quickly became connected to a very practical problem concerning religious minorities: How do we respond to religious minorities or refugees within our society? Are they persecuted? To what extent do we punish them—imprisonment, confiscation, banishment, or death penalty? If we need to tolerate them, how far do we set the level? Can they build their temples in the city center? Can non-Catholics open their stores during Catholic holidays? Are they eligible for public office or our guilds and clubs? All these problems were involved in Europeans’ daily life, and their responses to the problems were intertwined with political and social change. Through primary and secondary sources, class discussion, and written assignments, this course will explore how European people have grappled with this serious challenge. This course particularly encourages students to think the early modern roots of the contemporary political/religious issue of coexistence with religious minorities/refugees. In early modern Europe tolerance was not based on the modern notion of the recognition of difference. It had a negative connotation of “distaste for those who are tolerated.” Even if they were hostile to “different religions,” early modern Europeans made gradually made a way to live with “people of different religions.” Modern Europe also was never free from religious conflict: As ethno-nationalism emerged, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim sentiments/crimes became more explosive from nineteenth- to twentieth-century Europe. Even now, religious coexistence remains a troubled issue in much of today’s world, and has come back to the fore in Europe, where many people thought that the demons of religious intolerance has been banished. Exploring the interconnected history of religious tolerance and minorities/refugees in specific critical moments from the sixteenth century to the present, students will understand that this history played a key role in shaping today’s Europe. This course is divided into three sections: Part I explores how each early modern European state dealt with minorities/refugees in terms of religious tolerance and violence; Part II delves into other religious minorities/refugees beyond the boundary of Catholics and Protestants; Part III focuses anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in France from the late eighteenth century to the present, the two most prominent modern/contemporary forms of religious intolerance.
This course explores how water has shaped cities over time, and how urbanization has shaped humanity’s relationship to water. While a variety of scholars and practitioners have contributed to our knowledge of the urban waterscape, we will seek to understand this type of built environment as historians. In addition to exploring the ways modern urban waterscapes have emerged, we will ask: how do historians study water and the ways that it flows through and makes cities? What methods and evidence can we use to trace the changing past relationships between cities and water? And how can we use that knowledge to understand and act in our present moment? The growth of megacities, the rise of globalization and its accompanying inequalities, and the specter of climate crisis make the study of urban water history more urgent. We will explore a variety of examples drawn from cities around the world, and students will have the opportunity to develop a research topic of their own drawing on these insights.
10 seats reserved for BSBGA students. This course will explore economic growth and development in Latin America from pre-Columbian times to the late twentieth century. The seminar provides basic theoretical concepts from economic and social theory to students from different disciplines. Previous exposure to courses in economics and sociology is not a prerequisite. The course is divided into four sections. First, it provides a bird’s eye view of the main economic and social trends of the region and explores the theoretical frameworks that the literature have employed to understand long-term economic growth. Then, the course studies the way in which the economies of pre-Columbian societies interacted with the structures of colonial rule that the Iberian empires deployed in the continent from 1500 to 1800. The third section explores how independence and national policies shaped the insertion of the region in the changing conditions of the global economy before the World War I. Finally, the course explores the challenges of industrialization and urbanization as old issues such as environmental change and inequality acquired new significance during the twentieth century.
This course examines Islamic warfare from the earliest Muslim conquests through WWI. After discussing classical Islamic conceptions of war and peace, the course examines the early Muslim conquests, the Crusades, the Mongol invasion of the Islamic world, and the wars of the Mamluk, Ottoman, and Safavid Empires. In the second part of the course we consider topics such as land, naval, and siege warfare, military manpower and military slavery in Islam, war financing, military technology, weapons and tactics, logistics and provisioning, fortresses and border defense, and the impact of war upon societies. The last phase of the course studies military modernization attempts of the Ottoman Empire and Egypt in the nineteenth century, and the ultimate defeat of modernized Muslim armies by the combined forces of ethnic nationalism and Great Power imperialism. In this section we also consider the increased destructiveness of modern warfare for non-combatants and the displacement of civilian populations.
One of the most significant events of the 20th century was the second Russian revolution of 1917, which brought to power the first Marxist government in history. Within little more than a generation, the socialist governments of Lenin and Stalin had transformed a largely agrarian country into one of the great industrialized world powers. In this class, we will look at the Soviet relationship with the wider world: its goals and aspirations; the methods with which it pursued these; and the outcomes it faced. Combining aspects of political and cultural history, the class will address these issues beginning shortly after the Revolution through to perestroika and the war in Afghanistan, moments of weakness and imperial overreach that exposed fatal flaws in the Soviet system.
Soviet History and Cinema: Art, Propaganda, and Politics Lenin famously declared cinema the “most important of all arts,” and under the Bolsheviks, the medium developed into an effective tool of propaganda and a popular form of mass entertainment. This course uses film as a historical source to examine how cinema shaped the public image of the Soviet Union. Students will analyze films in terms of Communist ideology, the “woman question,” collectivization, socialist realism, the Stalin cult, Soviet nationalities policy, and the Holocaust.
Modern terrorism—the use of violence by small groups of ideologically-committed radicals to shape public opinion through the media and provoke reactions from state authorities—was born in Imperial Russia in the 1860s. In The Russian Roots of Terrorism, we will read historical sources as well as literary works like Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Demons and Andrei Bely’s Petersburg to explore what drove students, workers, and intellectuals as they planned bombings and assassinations in the hope of overthrowing the Romanov monarchy.
From Cradle to College: Growing Up in the United States This course examines the history of young people in the United States. We will investigate how young people experienced historical phenomena and events throughout American history, and we will explore how race, gender, class, and geography have impacted definitions of childhood and created inequalities among children and youth. We will interrogate how the idea of a “protected childhood” arose, as well as the conceptual understanding of adolescence as a distinct life stage. We will analyze how adults and institutions attempted to assert control over children and youth, and conversely, how young people leveraged their status as minors to demand rights and reforms from the society they would soon inherit. A key component of this course is learning how historians study childhood and youth, and then applying these research and analytical skills ourselves. In each class, we will work with both primary sources and secondary scholarship, noting how historians attempt to reconstruct the past lives of young people whose voices are often absent in the archives. How do we grapple with the fact that the vast majority of sources regarding childhoods are not crafted by children themselves, but by adults writing about young people, or by grown people remembering their past decades later? We will work with traditional written sources like diaries, letters, political manifestos and legal documents, but we will also study how young people create, consume, and are represented in film, art, literature, and material culture.
This 1-credit workshop course is required for all senior History majors who are not pursuing the Honors program (and thus are not enrolled in HIST 408). It is offered in the Fall of senior year. The purposes of this course are to provide a common capstone experience to senior majors; to help them reflect on and highlight what they have learned in the course of their studies; to help them develop and present the skills they have gained; to assist them as they prepare either for further studies or for entering the work force; and to give them a chance to gain essential experiences in the presentation of their own work and accomplishments. Students will not need to prepare much new work for this course, but they will present work they have already done, offer reflections on it, and learn to present it in different ways. Registration in this class requires instructor/departmental approval.
By permission of Department only. 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.
This seminar examines how people in colonial and postcolonial Africa have challenged the power and authority of those who govern them. Popular images of Africa today often portray the continent’s citizens as passive in the face of political corruption and authoritarian leaders. This class explores how people have responded to and challenged institutions they perceive as oppressive or overreaching. Among other things, we will consider examples of armed insurrection, religious movements, and women’s resistance. We’ll also explore continuities and discontinuities in how people have related to colonial and postcolonial regimes. The class content will focus primarily on Nigeria, Kenya, and Zimbabwe, but students will explore other countries of interest in their written work and in class presentations. Our readings will include primary sources such as memoirs, court testimony, newspaper accounts, NGO reports and novels, as well as secondary, scholarly analyses. The study of resistance and rebellion is inseparable from the study of human action and initiative, so the course will inevitably address broad questions: How do people understand their lives and circumstances? What motivates them to act? How do culture, religion, and social norms influence political action? How do relations of inequality shape people’s options and perspectives? Can we reconstruct and understand the consciousness of people who lived lives very different from our own? What do their challenges to authority tell us about the political sphere that we didn’t already know? The first goal of this class is to begin answering some of these fundamental questions about human agency and motives. A second goal is to learn to assess the possibilities and limitations of historical sources to understand the past. Scholars of Africa have long focused on resistance to colonial rule in part because it is precisely when colonized subjects made “trouble” that they show up in the written record. In this class, we will examine both historians’ writing and the sources that historians use to create their narratives. These primary sources include colonial reports, novels, oral traditions, court testimony, photographs, and other sources that bring us closer to the lives of non-elites. Because of its emphasis on primary sources, this class focuses on Anglophone Africa. Students with an interest in another region and fluency in the appropriate language are encouraged to explore it through written assignments and class presentations. A third goal of this class is to teach you to find historical data for yourself. Several times over the course of the semester, you will be asked to locate secondary and primary historical materials and bring them to class to contribute to our discussions and class projects. Your final assignment, too, will require you to locate good, relevant historical material with the guidance of the professor and appropriate librarian.
The French Revolution has been a favorite subject of filmmakers, beginning with the inventors of film, the aptly named Lumière brothers, who made L’Assassinat de Marat in 1897 [38 seconds], continuing on to D.W. Griffith’s Orphans of the Storm (1921) through Jean Renoir’s La Marseillaise (1938), and on to Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette (2006). Watching a selection of these films, we will look at the relationship between the actual events of the Revolution, as related by eyewitnesses and analyzed by historians, and the memory of it constructed through films. One of our points of comparison will be the contrast between French films about the Revolution and English-language films about it.
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.
After the United States and Haiti, Spanish and Portuguese America achieved political independence from European powers. In an age where monarchy was the dominant political formation of “civilized” countries, the new nations, with the exception of Brazil, chose a republican form of government. How to organize a country and create a nation from a colony? Who counted as a citizen? Who wanted to count as a citizen and how did they perceive their own roles within the new state? What territories could be included in the new state? All those questions and more were asked in the nineteenth century in Latin America as the different countries emerged from their colonial condition. Many of these issues, especially regarding the full integration of people as citizens into the nation-state persist into the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries. This course will explore many of these questions, based on some of the new exciting research that has been published in the past decade. The course examines these issues through theoretical perspectives, biography, intellectual history, and the new cultural/political history.
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.
This course will examine the long durée of Latinx social movements with an emphasis on the 20th century and into the present. The late 1960s ushered in a new period of mobilizations to organize around race, ethnicity, citizenship, class, gender, and sexuality. In this course we will look at how various Latinx communities throughout the US articulated their struggles, protest, and change in this broader context. We will take a comparative and relational approach to the study of this history. Topics will include immigrant mobilizations, transnational organizing, agrarian and farmworker movements, political representation, feminisms and reproductive rights, environmental justice, labor, cultural and social transformation truck, education, and urban social movements. Great attention will be paid to the broader legacies of the struggles and what they mean for contemporary social movements and organizing.