New Classes for Spring 2014!


Bombay/Mumbai: Making of a Modern Metropolis (W)
In the summer of 1661, a marriage alliance between the Portuguese and the British crowns resulted in the hand over of a set of seven small, swampy, spottily inhabited islands on the west coast of India to the latter. Through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, these islands, turned into a contiguous landmass by the British, emerged as the thriving port city of Bombay. Known today as Mumbai, it is the heart of India’s commercial life comparable in vibrancy and multiculturalism with the world’s foremost cities like New York and Shanghai. Yet, Mumbai also has its own unique character. In fact it is often said that Mumbai is not just a city but also a state of mind. Its vibrant culture and dark underbelly of poverty and violence have inspired numerous books and films. In this course we will explore the many narratives about Mumbai, from colonial to contemporary times to understand how this city of dreams has been imagined throughout its history. These narratives will be placed alongside recent research on the specific themes in order to understand the different elements that went into the making of this modern metropolis.



Fin-de-Siècle Russia: Cultural Splendor, Imperial Decay (W)
Imperial Russia on the eve of the First World War presents a complex picture of political conflict, social and economic change, and cultural ferment and innovation. Newly emergent political parties sought to enlist mass support to transform or overthrow the tsarist regime, which in turn endeavored to preserve itself through a combination of repression, reform, and the refashioning of its image. Rapid urbanization and industrialization, and the spread of education and literacy, gave rise to social conflict and dislocation, demands for social reform, and the redefinition of individual identities and beliefs. These political, social, cultural, and economic developments provided a fertile context for the burst of literary creativity and the emergence of modernist literary and artistic movements that occurred in fin-de-siècle imperial Russia. Through a variety of primary and secondary sources, this course will explore the interrelationship in late imperial Russia between political, social, and cultural change and conflict on the one hand and literary and artistic creativity on the other. Our goal will be to gain an understanding of both the pressures that contributed to the Revolutions of 1917 and the reasons why this proved to be such a culturally creative period.



Slavery in the United States (W)
Slavery and freedom rose as concomitant ideologies–simultaneously and interrelated–critical to the development of the American colonies and United States. Few areas of American social, political, and economic history have been more active and exciting in recent years than the study of this relationship. This seminar introduces students to the most important aspects of American slavery, beginning with an examination of the international slave trade and traces the development of the “peculiar institution” to its demise with the Civil War.






Politics and Prose: Invisible Man in Historical Context (D) (W)
“I am an invisible man.” So begins Ralph Ellison’s treatise on black life in the United States in the middle of the twentieth century. Ellison’s book Invisible Man appeared in 1952, won the National Book Award, and secured a prominent place in the canons of both American and African American arts and letters. Often studied for its literary crafting and for the ways it echoes the work of classic American writers, Invisible Man iterates the black past as it affects its protagonist. This course examines the novel and its themes in historical context: debates among black ideologues and leaders; links between culture and protest; and effects of black migration and urbanization. In addition to the novel the course also includes readings in black sociology, anthropology, law, literature, political science, education, folklife, and music.




Pre-Modern Middle East to 1500: From Muhammad to the Mongols
This survey course introduces some of the most fascinating figures, puzzling problems, and heated debates in Middle Eastern history. We will explore trends in the pre-Islamic Middle East; traditional and revisionist interpretations of Islamic origins; the expansion of the Islamic polity throughout the Middle East; the great Islamic caliphates based in the flourishing capitals of Baghdad and Cairo; the disruptive impact of the Crusades, Mongol conquests, and Black Death on the medieval Middle East; and the rise of the Ottoman Empire. After reading primary and secondary sources, students will be equipped to form their own interpretations of this foundational period in Middle Eastern history.





The Making of Modern South Asia: 1750-1950 CE
This course will focus on the history of South Asia with the aim of providing an overview of the political and social landscape of the region from the end of the Mughal Empire through British colonial rule and the Partition of India and Pakistan. We will explore a range of themes including the rise of colonialism, nationalism, religion, caste, gender relations, and the emergence of modern social and political institutions on the subcontinent. In addition to reading key texts and primary sources on the specific themes, the course will also involve regular screenings and discussions on important, related films.






Africa, 1945 to the Present
This course provides a close examination of Africa’s recent history. In 2010, seventeen African countries commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of their accession to independence in 1960. We will begin the class by examining how Africans have debated and remembered this important historical moment. The reading of primary sources and recent scholarship will help us to historicize the trajectory of African political independence since 1945. Our themes of focus will be: the postwar labor question, the emergence of African nationalism, debates about postcolonial political orientations, and the current challenges of authoritarianism, economic domination, and demographic growth. We will question both the historical roots and specificity of these challenges.




A wide variety of human cultures have accepted the existence of the supernatural, the reality of magic, and the possibility of magical transgression. Among the most common supernatural crimes is witchcraft, which societies can invoke to explain natural disasters and disease, and to blame these occurrences on specific individuals, often social outcasts. Witchcraft became a particular focus of fear and fascination in Early Modern Europe, when inquisitors, theologians and many ordinary people came to believe that Western Christendom was threatened by a vast, covert conspiracy of witches in league with the devil. Countless “witches”–most of them women–were accordingly tried, tortured and sometimes even executed. Our course will examine these bizarre events and consider what religious, cultural and intellectual factors might help explain them. We will begin by investigating the medieval legal and theological developments that enabled and encouraged the persecution of witches, and go on to study some of the most important and sensational witch trials of the later medieval and early modern periods. Throughout, we will encounter many strange and intriguing documents produced by the inquisitors who persecuted witches, the scholars who imagined their activities, and the laws that defined their crimes. No prior experience with European history is required for this seminar, which will emphasize thoughtful writing and discussion.



Postwar Britain: Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Change, 1945-1990
A major theme in British historiography is the enormous social change that has taken place in Britain since the end of the Second World War. In the 1950s, sociologists argued about the extent to which postwar affluence was leading to the “embourgeoisement” of the working class; in the 1960s, the advent of the so-called “Permissive Society” witnessed the flourishing of a new culture of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll; in the 1970s, the feminist and gay movements challenged gender roles that earlier had seemed so secure; in the 1980s, Thatcherism sought to halt the nation’s apparent terminal decline, repudiating much of the progressive legislation of earlier decades; finally, throughout this period successive ways of immigration challenged the cultural homogeneity of white Britain. This course will explore these themes, addressing the question of what it meant to be “postwar” in Britain, charting the gradual emergence of a new politics of class, gender, race, and sexuality in Britain that the made the nation in 1990, at the end of the postwar period, a radically different place from what it had been in 1945. In attempting to make sense of these complex changes, we will consider a variety of documents and works by recent historians, along with a dozen films, which students will be required to view outside of class.



Global 1968
“The year that shaped a generation,” “the year that rocked the world,” “the year that changed everything”: 1968 remains in contemporary history as a year of change and excitement, superlatives and excesses. More than just the year, 1968 represents the sequence of youth protests that ran, throughout the world, from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. This course explores the history of 1968 in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa. We will question the communalities and connections between different histories of protest throughout the world. Class materials will include films, photographs, speeches, memoirs, and recent scholarship.






Researching Early America (W)
This research seminar will survey the rich history of early America (1607-1850) by focusing on the most momentous events and consequential individuals from the era. The course will also explore some of the most pressing historiographical questions and some of the research methods historians of the era deploy. Students will then select a topic that interests them and produce a substantive research paper. The course will also serve as a capstone course for Leadership Studies concentrators.







Love and Revolution in Africa (W)
This tutorial interrogates how Africans fought to gain control over their individual and collective destinies in the face of oppressive colonial regimes, apartheid, and difficult postcolonial conditions. The violence, but also the new possibilities that defined the 20th century, thoroughly transformed Africans’ understandings of themselves and views of the world. Students will analyze how historians of Africa have historicized feelings, political passions, intimacies, and their relationships with politics. Students will also read fiction and use films and written primary sources to develop their own reflections on the connections between the categories of love and revolution in Africa.