Undergraduate Level Courses
In this course, we will explore one of the greatest of climate changes: the global cooling that lingered from the thirteenth through the nineteenth centuries, and is today called the “Little Ice Age.” We will discuss how volcanic eruptions and fluctuations in solar activity lowered Earth’s average temperature, and how scholars have reconstructed these changes through time. We will investigate the human consequences of the Little Ice Age, and find lessons for our warmer future. In the process, we will learn about the discipline of environmental history, which draws from both the sciences and the humanities to explore how humanity has altered, and been altered by, the nonhuman world. 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.
The various sections of HIST 008 (Europe or World) have different themes, where 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 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.
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.
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 2021:
Louis XIV and Versailles – James Collins
Facing GU’s History – Adam Rothman
Early Modern Women – Amy Leonard
Westernizing Russia – Gregory Afinogenov
Global History of WWI – Jamie Martin
Nature’s Past and Present – Douglas McRae and Jackson Perry
Coping with Disease – Tim Newfield
US-Mexican Borderlands [on CALL Campus] – Hillar Schwertner
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.
For College students all sections of HIST 106 fulfill the core requirement in History for a broad introductory survey; these students complete the requirement by taking HIST 099. 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.
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. For College students, HIST 107 fulfills the core requirement in History for a broad introductory survey; these students complete the requirement by taking HIST 099.
This course offers an introduction to the history of Central Eurasia from prehistoric times to the present, focusing on its key role in phenomena ranging from the rise of Islam to the Mongol Empire and Soviet socialism.
This course is a general survey and explores the rich history of people living in Africa from very early times through the 19th century. We will focus our attention on several regional case studies, including the early urbanism and medieval states of the West African Sahel, equatorial societies and kingdoms of the southern savannas, the Swahili coast and its hinterland in eastern and central Africa, and the Kongo Kingdom and Atlantic slave trade. We seek to understand transformations common to early human histories, such as the emergence of food production or the rise of centralized states, as well as the situational and contingent nature of ethnicity, slavery, gender, and wealth and poverty in the African context. We will also consider social achievements particular to Africans’ history, such as the multiple inventions of heterarchical forms of governance. We will study how persistent ideas from western cultures shaped what outsiders thought they knew about Africans and their histories at the same time that we try to understand what Africans themselves thought about their own actions and those of their ancestors. We will access these histories by analyzing a range of primary historical sources: archaeological artifacts and site reports, travelers’ accounts, art, oral traditions, photographs, the reconstructed vocabulary of dead languages, and many others.
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 introductory course continues from the first part of the Chinese history survey. The organization of the course is basically chronological, but within that framework we will be approaching China from a wide range of viewpoints, taking up political, economic, social, religious, philosophical, and artistic developments. In the fall semester, we covered the formation of China’s social, political, and philosophical culture(s), going as far as the consolidation of imperial autocracy in the Ming dynasty (14th-16th centuries). This term we will cover roughly 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. Some seats have been reserved for first years.
The history of modern Japan, from the 1850s to the present. The course is built around thematic readings in a wide range of topics, with emphasis on political and economic as well as social history. We will explore the universal and particular aspects of Japanese nation-state formation, imperialism, industrialization, and postwar democratization.
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 course is conceived as an historical and anthropological survey of the main events and issues that characterized Early Modern Italy. This period, which starts with the Black Death (1348) and goes until the Enlightenment (ca. 1700), will be considered as a consistent and unitary section of history in which the merging of classical heritage and religious creed produced many of the elements which shaped European Civilization. Attention will be broadly focused on culture, politics, and religion in order to grasp the elements of specificity of the Old Regime. Special emphasis will be put on the princely court, and on ideas, manners, and art forms that were codified by this aristocratic environment, as one of the most relevant contribution of Renaissance and Baroque Italy to Western behavioral and cultural codes. Attention will also be put on the analysis of the lower ranks of Italian society, studying how the lower sectors of the Italian population (servants, prostitutes, and the desperately poor) were excluded from political power. In this regard, the course will examine Italian mentality in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and how minorities were commonly persecuted in trial in which judges and courts were commonly legitimized by biased political forces.
This course explores the period from independence to the present. The course is divided into three sections. First, it discusses some of the salient issues of the nineteenth century in a thematic format, such as frontier societies, the role of the peasants, and the phenomenon of caudillismo. The second section provides an overview of the national political histories of most Latin American countries, whereas the third section returns to a thematic forma, providing analysis of important topics such as the role of women, U.S.-Latin American relations, structural adjustment policies, and the drug trade. The course uses as examples the lives of ordinary and extraordinary Latin Americans to illustrate the analysis. For College students, HIST 159 fulfills the core requirement in History for a broad introductory survey; these students complete the requirement by taking HIST 099. Some seats in this class are reserved.
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). For College students, HIST 161 fulfills the core requirement in History for a broad introductory survey; these students complete the requirement by taking HIST 099. Some seats in this class are reserved.
This lecture- and discussion-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.
This survey covers from about 1800 to the Present. Topics include nineteenth-century nationalism, industralization, the euphoria of independence. Parliamentarism and democracy. Attempts at industrialization. Decline of democracy and resurgence of traditional conservatism and native fascism. The cauldron of World War II. The fate of the Jews. Sovietization. Titoism. Socialist society in Eastern Europe. The unraveling of Communism.
This course traces the past 150 or so years of American history, covering the nation’s development from the end of the Civil War through the recent past. Over the past century and a half, the United States has undergone myriad social, political, economic and cultural transformations, and has assumed a decisive role in international affairs. This semester, among other topics, we will examine the United States’ development of an industrial economy, its forays into imperialism, its embrace of reform, its experiences of economic catastrophe and war, and its career as Cold War-era superpower. We will also look at how various groups of Americans have struggled for rights and equal treatment, attempting to get the United States to live up the promise of its founding ideals. The United States has been in many ways defined by Americans’ basic disagreements over the meaning of founding American principles – liberty, equality, freedom – and in this class we will consider the ways in which Americans’ conflicting definitions of these principles have defined the nation’s history.
In 2012, following the brutal gang rape and murder of the woman who came to be known as “Nirbhaya” in New Delhi, a wave of public protests engulfed India, as women demanded their constitutional right to access and occupy public space without threat of violence. In that moment, many strands of the history of women in South Asia were shown into sharp relief: their struggles against patriarchal state and private institutions and the violence to which it routinely subjects women, but also the maturation of the feminist movement in India and its visibility in the public sphere. This course will explore women’s history in South Asia through the lens of film, one of the most important technologies in modern South Asia in creating publics. South Asia’s early enthusiasm and adoption of film as a medium, the enormous scale of production and consumption of film in the region, and the crucial role women played in film makes the medium a fascinating lens with which to trace women’s struggles in the subcontinent. Students will be introduced to a women’s history of South Asia from the colonial period to the present, basic elements of feminist and film theory and some aspects of South Asian film history. The course will require students to watch one film a week, apart from assigned readings.
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 Choson 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.
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 236 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 discusses the political and social implications of sex, race and personal relationships in U.S. political and social history. In this class, we examine how ‘emotional’ experiences such as falling in love, having sex, getting married, coming out of the closet, and other deeply personal events in a person’s life are shaped by political, legal and historical forces. This course will examine the history of marriage rights, claims to ethnic identity, multiracial identity, sex education, and debates about marriage in the 20th and 21st centuries.
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 seminar is intended to give a historical perspective of family businesses around the globe from the nineteenth century until the twenty-first century. We will explore why some dynasties have been successful in spite of the turmoil and major global changes while others did not meet these challenges successfully. The seminar will look at families from different continents to understand also how local political/economic/social factors aided or impeded their businesses.
This seminar is designed to introduce students to the history of energy and its impact on modern societies. Current and future generations will confront the challenges of climate change, which is, at its core, an energy problem. Since the industrial revolutions of the nineteenth century, humans have been burning fossil fuels, which release greenhouse gases, on an unprecedented scale. Growth in fossil fuel use escalated further after 1945, and, despite the consequences of climate change, industrial societies continue to burn enormous quantities of fossil fuels. This course offers students an overview of global energy history during the modern era. It is split into three units. Our first unit covers the nineteenth century, an era when industrial societies began burning coal, but continued to rely on biomass and the labor of humans and animals for energy. The second unit covers the period between the two world wars, when fossil fuels became even further entrenched in the industrial world. Our last unit covers the period since 1945, an era when fossil fuel use exploded, leading to both impressive gains in material well-being and dire environmental consequences. This class will explore these consequences as well as the histories of alternative energy regimes.
This course takes a global, long-term approach to studying the history and nature of globalization. It shows that some long-term forces of globalization have been at play for centuries or millennia, and it questions how and why new, stronger forces of globalization were unleashed with the industrial revolution and the rise of modern finance. By adopting a very broad definition of economics, this course treats globalization largely as an economic phenomenon, without neglecting its social and cultural implications. No previous training in economics is required. This is a seminar course, which means that instruction is mainly discussion-based. The course also consists of many historical workshops – class periods in which students have the opportunity to engage with historical material hands-on, to discover and debate the meaning of the traces of the past. While the course is a broad overview in the style of a world history, it does not attempt to tell history as a single story, and it certainly does not attempt history only from a Western perspective.
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 analyzes the complex, and frequently hostile, relationship between China and Russia from the early 17th to the end of the 20th centuries. We begin with the establishment of connections between the newly-founded Qing and Romanov empires, move into the tense confrontations of the 19th century as Russia became an expanding imperialist power at China’s expense, then take up the early 20th centuries efforts in both areas to replace an autocratic monarchy with a more participatory form of government, and end with a study of how each area’s experiments with communism influenced their interactions from the 1920s on.
Two of the most memorable biblical women, the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene, are often cast in stark opposition to one another: one as the “spotless” Mother of Jesus, the other often labeled as a prostitute and repentant sinner. Despite these broad labels, each woman has played complex and distinct roles in shaping Christian religious culture. The goal of this course is to understand the historical development of these familiar and global figures through an examination of scripture and Church doctrine, non-canonical texts, devotional practices, and their appearances in art and liturgy through three periods: the early Church, (to c. 1000), the Middle Ages (c. 1000–1500), and the modern era (c. 1500–Present). Beyond these two women, this class will also explore how concerns over virginity and sexuality had both religious and socio-cultural implications. No previous history knowledge is required, though a cursory familiarity with European and religious history will be helpful.
This course will investigate the complicated relationship of industrialization to the foodways of Europe and North America since the middle of the nineteenth century. Not so long ago, all food was organic. That is to say, crops were grown without artificial fertilizers or pesticides and animals were raised on pasture eating diets they had evolved to digest. Most foodstuffs were consumed in the locale where they were produced and they were often prepared according to traditional methods that had evolved over time and carried rich cultural meanings. The industrial economy, changes in transportation, increasing urbanization, and even modern scientific techniques have come to be widely seen as undermining this culinary Eden. As early as the 1930s, George Orwell criticized a world in which more and more people (including well-to-do members of the middle class) actually preferred processed edibles to real food. Working class people had little choice in the matter: processed foods were what they could afford. But there was also a crisis of taste. People had become habituated to what Orwell called “the modern industrial technique which provides you with cheap substitutes for everything.” Taste buds, which had served humans as a reliable guide since the early phases of the evolutionary process, had atrophied, with results that had yet to be reckoned: “We may find in the long run that tinned food is a deadlier weapon than the machine gun,” he wrote.
Many of Orwell’s suspicions about industrial food were prescient, as subsequent developments have made clear. Meanwhile other critics have raised important concerns about such things as the environmental effects of industrialized food production, the cruelty to animals that it involves, and the cost to human health entailed in the heavy use of antibiotics, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers. We will explore these themes during the semester. We will also probe the degree to which the culinary Eden that preceded the rise of industrial production was reality or myth. Arguably it was the half century after 1890—the very period in which the industrial food paradigm became established—that saw the biggest gains in the richness and diversity of popular diets and the emergence of national cuisines that involved ordinary people as well as elites.
Business historians often trace the origins of modern multinational firms – from Amazon to McDonalds – to the European trading companies of the early modern world. Like modern firms, these corporations had investors, governance structures, and often tense relationships with political authorities in their home states. But these early European trading companies also commanded armies and navies, ruthlessly colonized and subdued indigenous empires, and participated in the enslavement and human traffic of millions. This course will examine the global histories of early trading companies, including the Virginia Company, the Royal Africa Company, and the British, Dutch, and French East India Companies. Who were the investors and shareholders in these ventures, and what power did they have in governing their companies? What political, military, and economic relationships did the companies forge with major, non-Western powers like the Mughal Empire and China? What kinds of financial and political controversies did they generate in Europe, and what was the ultimate human cost of their business abroad? What happens when a company acts like a “state,” and what does the early modern period teach us about business structures today? We will read new historical work on the relationship between corporations and empire, from western and non-western perspectives. We will also read key primary source documents from the histories of the British, Dutch, and French companies, including charters, legal acts, diplomatic correspondence, and works of economic and political thought by authors such as Adam Smith, Josiah Child, Hugo Grotius, Denis Diderot, and Edmund Burke.
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.
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.
The course will analyze the traditions of insurrection in the Andean countries, from the Túpac Amaru/Túpac Katari rebellions of the late eighteenth century to the modern-day indigenous movements in Ecuador and Bolivia. Other major movements, such as the role of indigenous peoples in the construction of the Peruvian nation, the 1952 Bolivian Revolution, and the Peruvian Shining Path guerrilla movements will be studied in comparative perspective. Each student will prepare a research paper on an Andean indigenous movement and present it to the class.
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.
This seminar explores the phenomenon of the “cult of personality” in the context of Imperial and Soviet Russia. In particular, we shall focus on the leadership cults of Tsar Nicholas, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Leonid Brezhnev, and Vladimir Putin, in addition to thinking about leadership cults more broadly in a cross-cultural context. What is a personality cult? How is it produced? Who orchestrates its mass production? We shall confront these questions, among others, by examining different types of primary sources, including news articles, official histories, speeches, songs and poems, objects of commemoration, paintings, posters, and feature films.
Online only. The course is remote by design and is for students who will *not* be on campus. It is predicated on them being physically located in their home town/county/district/apartment complex.
From fields, packing houses, canneries, meat processing plants, to grocery stores, this course examines the experiences of workers in the American Food System. The food system operates within varied landscapes, ecologies, and political economies. It transcends borders, drawing workers from across national boundaries. This class pays particular attention to the various links in the food system such as workers, consumers, and policies that help sustain it. Through both primary and secondary sources, we will examine how changes in our food system shape the lives of laborers and their communities. This will include studying the role of globalization, unions, immigration policy and labor laws, while also paying close attention to race and gender.
This course will introduce you to the idea of gentrification and its evolving history in the United States. Gentrification can be considered a process by which urban space is reorganized along an uneven socioeconomic and racial axis to privilege and serve the needs of the most advantageous class. Understanding this process requires the firm grasp of two important fields: (1). 20th century urban and suburban history and (2). American cultural and intellectual history. Gentrification or what some might call “back to the city” movements, has a long history since the founding of the earliest American cities. However, during the second half of the twentieth century, this term came into prominence when in the absence of industrial mass production and in the aftermath of deindustrialization, cities and neighborhoods underwent a re-branding as consumable experiences ripe with “authenticity.” The former central city districts that long sheltered communities of color and poor migrants after World War II became sites of failed federal policies during the 1950s and 1960s that further produced more, rather than less, segregation. The fiscal crisis of the 1970s generated new urban policies that effectively curtailed services to the inner city and created subsidies for gentrification and redevelopment in hopes of altering shifts in population that would bring to the city a new class of urban consumers. In this class, students will explore the long history of American gentrification, the political economy that shaped it, the voices and memories of those displaced, and the romance of authenticity that supplanted poverty. Students will also learn to interpret primary sources in this subject through written assignments and consider the historiographical debates about retelling this aspect of a seemingly recent American history.
The Cold War dominated world politics for 45 years, and its many legacies continue to shape the contemporary world. Scholars, students, policymakers, politicians, and others often look to the history of the Cold War for lessons to guide current policies. This course will examine the origins, persistence, and end of the Cold War, explore its key legacies, and analyze the lessons different groups draw from its history.
This 1-credit workshop course is a new requirement for all senior History majors who are not pursuing the Honors program (and thus are not enrolled in HIST 409). 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.
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.
This course examines the history of the city comparatively and thematically. Each student will research one city for the entire semester. Class time will be used to discuss common readings and to present research findings. In order to overcome the Eurocentricism of much of the urban studies scholarship in English, roughly half of the material for the class will be related to Asia. One of the goals of the course will be to rewrite the history of modern cities from the ground level and from new sites and perspectives. Tools and methods for oral history and ethnographic fieldwork will also be introduced.
Registration in the class requires department approval 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 course examines the colonial transformations of the South Asian economy between 1750 and 1950. We begin by examining the nature of capital and labour in South Asia and the wider Indian Ocean world during the eighteenth century, prior to British dominance. We examine historiographic debates about whether colonialism was built atop existing South Asian economic structures and institutions, or whether it represented a fundamental rupture. We will then move on to examine three economic communities in South Asia: the peasantry, industrial workers, and traders. The course concludes by examining the place of economic thought in the Indian and Pakistani nationalist movements.
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 colloquium will examine selected issues in the history of modern nationalism, combining theoretical readings with case-studies. The focus will be on European case studies, but we will also broaden our scope to examine the relationships among nationalism, internationalism, and decolonization during the second half of the semester. The approach will be broadly comparative, and we will be discussing classic problems such as: Is nationalism a function, or even an essential feature of, modernization? What is the relationship between politics and culture in the formation and development of nationhood? How have global forces and transnational connections shaped the development of modern nationalism (and vice versa)?
Disease Making History: The Americas 1520-2020 The history of the modern Americas began with a devastating smallpox epidemic in 1520. Multiple plagues followed, generating a radical depopulation that reshaped lives and cultures across the continent. Then, from about 1650 to 1950 the hemisphere saw a slow but steady population revival, inhibited and periodically interrupted by persistent maladies, some endemic (malaria and yellow fever in tropical lowlands), others coming in epidemic waves (recurrent smallpox, emergent cholera, the new Spanish flu of 1918). More recently, from the 1950s, antibiotics and other medical breakthroughs brought a population explosion. Old diseases seemed contained. New pandemics, however, have emerged to shake our world of globalizing urbanization. This is a readings seminar that will focus on Mexico and the United States in the Americas and the world. We will read common texts to discuss and debate how diseases have shaped histories of hemispheric involvement in changing ways of global capitalism. Participants will write two analytical essays engaging those texts to offer independent interpretations of the role of disease in the history of the Americas. In addition, students will seek and engage studies of our latest pandemic, leading to a final essay setting covid19 in historical perspective.
This course examines the society and culture in Palestine during the Ottoman period. The focus is on the 19th and 20th centuries.
The election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 not only signaled the mainstream arrival of America’s rightward turn but also the blossoming of new social and expressive movements that responded to a culture of conservatism, consumerism, and corporate governing. Although Reagan called for the reduction of government, in practice, both major parties expressed a new politics of austerity, defined by a fiscal retrenchment of the state and the moving away from a centrally governed economy. Wall street, corporations, and lobbyists exerted a greater influence on government during the late 1970s, ‘80s, and into the ‘90s, that only helped to exacerbate class and racial disparities, disproportionately affecting people in urban America. Music, art, and culture during these decades, but particularly in the long 1980s, reflected these new realities adopting technological innovations and making new meaning out of deindustrialized spaces. This upper-level seminar will focus on the United States during the long 1980s to think about the links between neoliberalism and US culture, particularly music, but also including art, sport, and entertainment. Readings will enable us to look at how neoliberalism developed and shaped cultural, political and urban space. This mix of social history, economic policy, political history, and urban studies will impel us to imagine the workings of American capitalism and the state through music, consumerism, and urban culture.
This course offers a chance to do original research on the fascinating time period in immigration history from 1880 to 1929. It was during these years that the legal restrictions that ended mass immigration to the United States until the 1950s were put into place. Using both primary and secondary sources, the course will trace the rise of immigration and restrictions placed on it, changing notions of citizenship, and the differentiation by race—or scientific racism—among immigrants of Asian, Mexican, and eastern and southern European background. Topics explored will include the relationship between race and citizenship status; the history of the idea of the “illegal alien”; and the gendered aspects of the immigration experience. Each student will have the opportunity to do original research using both published and archival primary sources. A field trip to the National Archives is part of the course. The first half of the course will focus on common readings to establish themes and background; the second half will be built around developing individual research interests.