Please note that courses with a gray background are not being offered this year.

HIST 104(S) SEM Race and a Global War: Africa during World War II

This course highlights African experiences of World War II. Although most histories have excluded Africa's role in the war, the continent and its people were at the center of major developments during in this global conflict. In fact, many Africans remember the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 as the start of the war. African servicemen fought alongside the Allied and Axis forces on major warfronts in Europe, Africa and Asia. African communities and individuals also established war charity campaigns to collect funds, which they sent to war ravaged societies in Europe. Indeed, African economies, despite their colonial statuses, kept European imperial nations afloat in their most hour of need. At the same time, African colonial subjects faced severe food shortages, the loss of working-age men to labor and military recruiters, and dramatically increased taxes. We will examine the impact of these and other wartime pressures on different African communities. How did African societies meet such challenges and how did they view the war? In this course we will examine the roles that women played during the war, and the various other ways that African communities met wartime demands. Other topics we will explore include the role of African women; colonial propaganda; political protest against the war; race and racial thought in the wartime era; war crimes; African American support for the liberation of Ethiopia; and the war's impact on decolonization across the continent. We will further study how Africans and outsiders have differently conceptualized the continent's role in the war by analyzing a variety of sources, including scholarly writings, archival materials, films, former soldiers' biographies, and propaganda posters. [ more ]

HIST 109 TUT The Iranian Revolution

Last offered Spring 2021

The Iranian Revolution was a major turning point in world history that resulted in the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This tutorial will evaluate the causes and impact of the revolution and how this seminal event continues to have widespread repercussions around the globe. The first weeks will explore the history of pre-revolutionary Iran with special attention to religious and intellectual trends such as the ideas of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Jalal al-e Ahmad, and Ali Shariati. We will then evaluate the revolution itself including the US hostage crisis, the downfall of the Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi Shah, and how Khomeini´s vision of society became paramount. Finally, we will explore the aftermath of the revolution including Iran´s geopolitics, the nature of the theocratic system in Iran as well as how the revolution impacted every day lives of Iranians in Iran and abroad particularly how they reflect on the revolution in memoirs, films, and literature. [ more ]

HIST 110 TUT The Veil: History and Interpretations

Last offered Spring 2020

This tutorial will consider the history and the changing meanings of the veil (hijab) and its many manifestations (e.g. burqa, chador, niqab), starting with the earliest religious traditions and the status of women in Islamic law. We will then proceed to examine imperialist and orientalist representations of gender in the Middle East, the rise of Islamic feminism and finally consider the emergence and return of the veil in recent years in the Middle East, North America, Asia and Europe. [ more ]

HIST 111 SEM Movers and Shakers in the Middle East

Last offered Fall 2017

This course examines the careers, ideas, and impact of leading politicians, religious leaders, intellectuals, and artists in the Middle East in the twentieth century. Utilizing biographical studies and the general literature on the political and cultural history of the period, this course will analyze how these individuals achieved prominence in Middle Eastern society and how they addressed the pertinent problems of their day, such as war and peace, relations with Western powers, the role of religion in society, and the status of women. A range of significant individuals will be studied, including Gamal Abd al-Nasser, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Ayatollah Khomeini, Muhammad Mussadiq, Umm Khulthum, Sayyid Qutb, Anwar Sadat, Naghuib Mahfouz, and Huda Shaarawi. [ more ]

HIST 115 SEM The World of the Mongol Empire

Last offered Fall 2019

By the middle of the thirteenth century, Mongol armies led by Genghis Khan had conquered an enormous swath of territory, extending from China westward to Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Further expanded by Genghis's descendants, the Mongol Empire incorporated a vast range of different peoples and cultures, enhancing communications, trade, and exchange among them. In this course we will examine the "world order" of the Mongol Empire from its origins on the Asian steppe through its expansion, consolidation,and disintegration, as well as its legacies. From a wide range of primary and secondary sources, including literature, chronicles, and traveler's accounts, we will investigate the diverse experiences of the Mongol world in places such as China, Russia, Persia, and Central Asia. [ more ]

HIST 117(S) SEM Bombay/Mumbai: Making of a Modern Metropolis

Bombay or Mumbai is India's foremost urban center and is well known today as a truly global city. It is the heart of India's commercial life comparable in vibrancy and multiculturalism with the world's emerging cities like Shanghai, Hong Kong and Sao Paulo. What are the historical elements that contributed to the making of India's most modern and global metropolis? What are the antecedents of the modernity, the vibrant culture, dark underbelly and economic diversity that characterize Bombay today? What does the history of Bombay tell us about modernity in India and the emerging countries of the third world in general? This seminar will help students to answer these questions through historical materials on Bombay as well a wide range of multimedia sources including cinema, photography and literature. With a focus on the 19th and 20th centuries, we will explore themes like the commercial culture of a colonial port city, the modern public sphere, theatre and film, labor migration, public health and prostitution to understand what went into the making of this modern metropolis. The primary objective of this course is to introduce students to a wide range of historical sources and ways of interpreting them. The other objective is facilitating their understanding of the history of colonial and modern India through the history of its most important city. [ more ]

HIST 121 TUT The Two Koreas

Last offered Fall 2018

The two Koreas--North and South--were born in the aftermath of World War II, when the United States and the Soviet Union arbitrarily divided the peninsula into two zones of occupation at the 38th parallel. Today, over six decades later, the split endures as what has been called "the Cold War's last divide." This tutorial examines the history of the two Koreas from their creation in 1945 to the present. We will explore the historical and ideological origins of the division; how tensions between North and South led to the outbreak of the Korean War; why the paths of the two Koreas have differed so markedly; how each country has been shaped by its political leaders and their ideologies; and what recent developments in North Korea, including its nuclear program, have meant for relations on the peninsula and beyond. Course material will include primary and secondary sources of various kinds, including political documents, intellectual treatises, films, and short stories. [ more ]

HIST 130 SEM Rioting in British History

Last offered Spring 2021

Since scholars in the twentieth century turned from the bird's to the worm's-eye view of the past, scholarship on rioting and crowd actions has grown. Exploring rioting in the history of modern Britain allowed researchers a chance to learn about the values, priorities, and tactics of people not previously centered in the historical record. It also created space to raise questions about what makes something a riot and how visions of public order shape military or police responses to those riots. In this course, we will examine the causes, strategies, and consequences of riots from the 1780s to the 1980s, from bread riots to the Brixton riots. We will also develop our own definitions of what qualifies as a riot, interrogating why our present definitions may differ from those in the past. While this course is rooted in the "classic" studies of British riots, to give students a strong sense of disciplinary practices and traditions, it also allows space to see how cutting-edge scholarship has expanded the discipline. "Rioting in British History" is a remote, synchronous online history seminar designed for first- and second-year students, particularly those interested in the discipline of history. In addition to exploring the theme of rioting in great depth, this course will also provide students the chance to grow as researchers and writers. By the end of this course, students will have developed the ability to analyze and evaluate works of history, identify the kinds of primary sources necessary to answer their historical questions, and write history papers that show their ability to identify and analyze relevant scholarly works and primary source materials. Since this is a writing-intensive course, students should expect to conduct peer evaluations of their writing assignments and will get consistent feedback on their writing assignments from the instructor. [ more ]

HIST 134 TUT The Great War

Last offered Fall 2020

In November 2018, world leaders gathered in France to commemorate the centennial of the end of the First World War. Yet the armistice that brought hostilities on the Western front to a close on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, did not have the same significance for Eastern Europe and the Middle East, where revolutions and civil wars continued to be fought well into 1923. Ultimately, the Great War toppled four empires (German, Habsburg, Russian, and Ottoman) and forcibly displaced and killed millions of civilians (including Armenians and Jews), creating new countries and colonies throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. This tutorial will explore the global history of the First World War, a history that is indispensable for understanding the world of today. We will consider a broad range of topics and sources in our examination of the political, social, cultural, economic, and military histories of the Great War and its aftermath. [ more ]

HIST 135 SEM The Coffeehouse from Arabia to the Enlightenment

Last offered Fall 2018

Invented in sixteenth-century Arabia, the coffeehouse soon made its way to Egypt and Istanbul and then to Western Europe. This institution offered a social space where men (and women) could congregate to discuss politics and ideas. Everywhere, it was an object of suspicion, yet its onward march proved unstoppable, and it even became one of the central spaces of the Enlightenment, the eighteenth-century movement that laid the foundations of modern Western secular thought. In this course, we will reconstruct the progress of the coffeehouse in order to understand what made it so special. Through its prism we will explore a crucial period in the history of Europe and the Middle East, and investigate how intercultural interactions and intellectual exchange shaped the modern world at a time of religious and political polarization. [ more ]

HIST 136 SEM Before the Deluge: Paris and Berlin in the Interwar Years

Last offered Fall 2012

Paris and Berlin were the two poles of Europe in the 1920s, rival capital cities of two historically hostile nations that had only just put an end to the carnage of World War I. Paris was the grande dame; Berlin the upstart. In the 1920s, these two pulsating metropolises became the sites of political and cultural movements that would leave a lasting imprint on European society until the present day. This course focuses on the politics, society, and culture of these two cities in their heyday in the 1920s. We will also consider their fate in the 1930s, first as depression set in, and then as the Nazis came to power. Devoting half the semester to Paris and the other half to Berlin, we will examine a range of parallel topics in both contexts, including the impact of World War I, the growing popularity of right-wing political movements and the increase in political violence, shifting gender norms and sexual mores, and new developments in the realms of art, film, theatre, cabaret, and literature. [ more ]

HIST 137(F) SEM Victorian Britain and the Anglo-Afghan Wars

Long before the US and its allies fought the recent war in Afghanistan (2001-2021), Britain fought three Afghan Wars. Now almost forgotten, dusty reminders of Britain's imperial past, they were crucial moments in the "Great Game", the rivalry between the British and Russian empires for supremacy in Central Asia and control of land routes to British India. Largely disastrous for the British, the First Afghan War (1839-1842) resulted in the tragic deaths of some 16,000 individuals, the Second (1878-1881) generated considerable domestic discord, and the Third (1919) basically ended British influence in Afghan affairs. Nevertheless, they exercised the Victorian imagination and led to numerous cultural productions that will be dissected in our class: illustrated tales of British military exploits proliferated in the press; the children's writer G.A. Henty turned the conflicts into the stuff of imperial adventure; Rudyard Kipling made the Great Game the backdrop for several works of fiction; military officers, government officials, "lady travelers", and amateur scholars all mapped the landscape and people of Afghanistan, an endless source of fascination for the Victorians. By interpreting these various forms of documentary evidence, we will not only reconstruct the history of the wars Britain fought in Afghanistan, and the reasons for them, but dissect the stories Britons told themselves about their Empire and about Afghanistan and its people. [ more ]

HIST 140 TUT Crime and Punishment in Russian History

Last offered Spring 2020

For centuries, people have used crime in Russia and the Russian state's response to crime as lenses through which to examine Russian history and the Russian experience. This tutorial will follow in this tradition, but will adopt a more critical approach to question how or if crime and deviance can speak to the nature of the Russian state and its relationship to Russian society writ large. To answer this question, we will read a combination of original historical sources and recent scholarship that cover the entirety of Russian history: from the creation of the first legal code in Medieval Muscovy to the publication of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago in 1962 and beyond. By semester's end, students will have developed an understanding of both the major historical actors and events in Russian criminal and legal history, and the intellectual debates that they sparked among contemporaries and present day scholars alike. [ more ]

HIST 143(S) SEM Soccer and History in Latin America: Making the Beautiful Game

This course examines the rise of soccer (fútbol/futebol) in modern Latin America, from a fringe game to the most popular sport in the region. Focusing especially on Brazil, Argentina, Peru, and Mexico, we will analyze the central role that soccer played as these countries faced profound questions about racial, gender, regional, and national identities. Using autobiographies, videos, and scholarly works from several disciplines, we will consider topics including: the role of race and gender constructions in the initial adoption of soccer; the transformation of this foreign game into a key marker of national identity; the relationship between soccer and political and economic "modernization"; the production of strong, at times violent identities at club, national, and regional levels; and the changes that mass consumerism and globalization have effected on the game and its meanings for Latin Americans. [ more ]

HIST 152 SEM The Fourteenth Amendment and the Meanings of Equality

Last offered Spring 2020

For more than 150 years, the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution has served as the principal touchstone for legal debates over the meaning of equality and freedom in the United States. This course explores the origins of the 14th Amendment in the years immediately following the Civil War, and examines the evolution of that amendment's meaning in the century that followed. Central themes in this course include the contested interpretations of "birthright citizenship," "due process," "privileges and immunities," "equal protection," and "life, liberty or property"; the rise, fall, and rebirth of substantive due process; battles over incorporating the Bill of Rights into the 14th Amendment; and the changing promise and experience of citizenship. We will pay particular attention to how arguments about the 14th Amendment have shaped and been shaped by the changing meanings of racial and gender equality. [ more ]

HIST 153 TUT Establishment & Exercise: Religion and the Constitution in the United States

Last offered Spring 2017

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." This 100-level tutorial examines the constitutional history of conflicts over religion in the United States, and asks how the law has weighed religious freedom against other cultural values, legal rights, and social needs. This course will consider the following questions: How has the interpretation of the First Amendment's religious clauses changed over time? What happens when the establishment clause and free exercise clause come into conflict with each other? Is the American state secular? What is the difference between religious beliefs and moral beliefs? How have constitutional arguments about religion intersected with social movements and political culture? Topics will include: the origins and early interpretations of the religion clauses; the changing scope of constitutional protections for the beliefs and practices of religious minorities; controversies over religion in schools, workplaces, and public spaces; debates about tax exemptions for religious organizations; the rights of conscientious objectors; and the emerging conflicts between claims for religious liberty and anti-discrimination laws. This course examines the ways these conflicts illuminate tensions between the competing values of equality and liberty, and interrogates the ways that the very act of legal decision-making defines the boundaries of what counts as religion. [ more ]

HIST 155 TUT School Wars

Last offered Fall 2019

Throughout the 20th century, parents, students, teachers, and policymakers have fought bitterly about the purpose of and practices in public schools. Public schools have been the site of a series of intense conflicts over the meanings of democracy and equality; the relationship between the individual, the family, and the state; and about completing claims to recognize the rights of teachers, children, and parents. Organized both chronologically and thematically, this course examines a series of "school wars" in the 20th century, focusing especially on battles over religion, race, and sex. Topics will include evolution/creationism, segregation and desegregation, bilingual education, sex education, free speech, and school prayer. This course asks how, why, and with what consequences schools have been an arena of cultural conflict in the United States? How do these debates help us understand the contested relationship between the rights of children and students, the rights of parents and families, the rights of communities and states, and the obligations of the federal government? How can historical analysis shed light on our present-day "school wars"? Many of these conflicts wind up in court, and we will be looking at some key Supreme Court decisions, but we will also draw upon memoirs, social histories, oral histories, popular culture, and other archival and documentary sources that focus on the experience of teachers and students. Tutorials meet in pairs. Every week, each student will either write an essay (1000-1250 words) that responds to and analyzes the readings OR a short essay (no more than 500 words) that responds to their partner's paper and raises further questions for discussion. [ more ]

HIST 156(F) SEM The Manifesto in U.S. Politics

Is there a style or tradition of writing political manifestos in the United States? Given the nation's origins in revolution, the answer would seem on the surface to be a definitive "yes." But some observers are skeptical; one writer has gone so far as to say the term "manifesto" connotes "a radicalism that American writers generally lack." This course will investigate that claim. How would we choose to define the very term, "manifesto?" Why have so many radical American writings been embraced as having the characteristics of a manifesto? We'll look at these questions through close readings and analyses of manifestos across three different historical junctures in the U.S. -- the Revolutionary era, the 1830s and 1840s, and the 1960s and early 1970s -- focusing in particular on struggles over racial equality and women's rights. [ more ]

HIST 157 SEM 1960s and U.S. History

Last offered Spring 2020

This 100­-level seminar will introduce students to the craft of history through the study of the 1960s, an important decade in American history (indeed, the world). In the U.S., this decade was marked by the on­going war in Vietnam, the struggle against racial inequality and racist oppression, changes in attitudes toward sex and sexuality, music, the role of youth culture, advances in technology, the rise of new expressions of American conservatism, and other tumultuous transformations in politics, culture, and the economy. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

HIST 158(S) SEM North of Jim Crow, South of Freedom

This course analyzes the freedom struggle in the North during the twentieth century. Whereas black northerners drew from broader campaigns and traditions of black resistance, we will explore territorial distinctions in the region that otherwise have been flattened within the long history of civil rights discourse. To accomplish this aim, we will engage the following themes: black culture and radicalism; community formation and residential segregation; demographic and migratory transitions; deindustrialization and the war; gender and respectability politics; labor tensions and civil rights unionism; northern racial liberalism; and the influence of world affairs--all with an eye toward scrutinizing the freedom struggle in its northern variety. [ more ]

HIST 159(F) TUT Crossing the Color Line: A History of Passing

In June 2015, Rachel Dolezal emerged as a media spectacle and the subject of national scrutiny after her white parents stated publicly that Dolezal is a white woman passing as black. Their insistence that Dolezal is white came in the wake of her reports to local news media and police that she had been the victim of several hate crimes. To critics, Dolezal is a fraud who has committed cultural appropriation. Yet, for her supporters, Dolezal's racial identification as a black woman is authentic and indisputable, since race is not based on biology but rather is a social construction. For both groups as well as impartial observers, many wondered curiously why a white woman had chosen to pass as black, especially given that historically it has been African Americans who opted to become white. Inspired by the controversy surrounding Dolezal, this tutorial will explore the history of passing in the United States. Whereas our attention will primarily be focused on black-to-white passing, we will expand our understandings of passing by emphasizing the variety of ways that identities have been shaped through the crossing of boundaries--class, ethnic, gender, intellectual, political, religious, and sexual. To accomplish our goals, we will read and cross-examine fictional and nonfictional as well as primary and secondary historical accounts of boundary-crossers. We will also screen several films that engage the theme of passing. [ more ]

HIST 162 TUT Unfamous Women, USA

Last offered Spring 2019

How do historians write and discover the lives of American women who never ran for office, led social movements, or married famous men? What sorts of lives did they lead? In what ways did they respond to the social and political upheavals of their age? How do historians unearth everyday experiences? Are the stakes different when we attempt to tell the stories of people whose lives make little mark on official letters. We will read social and cultural U.S. women's history, looking at urban working class women, enslaved women, rural farmers and wives, immigrant women from Europe and the Caribbean. Tutorial pairs will spend at least one week investigating sources in the Chapin Library and perhaps looking at visual art at Williams College Museum of Art. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

HIST 163 SEM From Wampum to Phillis Wheatley: Communications in Early America

Last offered Spring 2021

How did the diverse peoples who inhabited early North America communicate with each other, across profound linguistic, cultural, social, and religious differences? This course examines histories of communication in early America and the technologies that communities developed across landscapes of coexistence and also contestation. We will study Indigenous oral traditions, traditional ecological knowledge, and wampum belts as signifiers of identity, meaning, and diplomacy for Native American nations and peoples; artistic and scientific paintings, engravings, and visual culture that moved around the Atlantic World; political orations, newspapers, and pamphlets that galvanized public opinion in the "Age of Revolutions"; stone memorials and monuments that connected communities to ancestral pasts; and the powerful poetry of African American writer Phillis Wheatley along with the orations of Pequot intellectual William Apess. Together we will raise new questions about the meanings and ongoing legacies of early American histories, and grapple with diverse approaches to understanding the past. Additionally, this course provides an opportunity to engage with original materials pertaining to early American histories in the Williams College Archives/Special Collections and Art Museum. [ more ]

HIST 165 SEM The Age of McCarthy: American Life in the Shadow of the Cold War

Last offered Fall 2019

The Cold War cast a long shadow over American life in the years following World War II. The relationship between domestic and foreign affairs was particularly acute during the Age of McCarthy, an era marked by a intensifying Soviet-American rivalry abroad coupled with dramatic Red baiting and witch hunts at home. This course explores related aspects of American life from the late-1940s to the late-1950s, ranging from the phenomenon of McCarthyism itself to fallout shelters, spy cases, the lavender scare, nuclear families, the Hollywood blacklist, the religious revival and its implications for foreign policy, Sputnik and the space race, and links between the Cold War and Civil Rights. Using scholarly books and articles, primary sources, novels, music, and films, we will explore interactions between politics, diplomacy, society, and culture in the Age of McCarthy. In this writing-intensive course, we will focus on analyzing sources, writing clearly and effectively, and making persuasive arguments. Students will not only learn about history, but they will learn to think and write as historians. [ more ]

HIST 166(F) TUT Cold War Films

This history tutorial utilizes popular film as a vehicle to explore American Cold War culture. The Cold War was an intense period of political, ideological, cultural, and military struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union that took place after the Second World War. For every nuclear test, arms sale, or military operation, there was a propaganda ploy, rhetorical barb, or diplomatic ultimatum to match. Amidst this hostile competition between two incompatible ways of life--communism and capitalism; totalitarianism and democracy--an atmosphere marked by panic, secrecy, insecurity, paranoia, surveillance, and conformity pervaded American life. Given the vast cultural influence of movies, film during this era served as a vital ideological battleground. Moreover, cinema offers us a window into the cultural landscape of Cold War America, for film reflects, interprets, and shapes national identity in complex ways. The films examined in this course (for the most part, Hollywood productions from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s) serve as unique historical documents and as cultural texts illuminating the ways filmmakers and audiences negotiated the challenges presented by the Cold War struggle. The films assigned for this course focus on a range of topics, including anticommunism, competing visions of Americanism, religion, the Hollywood Ten, J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, the nuclear arms race, brainwashing, gender, race relations, and the eventual unravelling of the Cold War consensus. The historical analysis of film requires not only a close reading of the movies themselves, but also a clear understanding of the historical context in which they appeared. The readings paired with each film will help to clarify this context and offer interpretations of the films with which we will engage. [ more ]

HIST 167 SEM Let Freedom Ring? African Americans and Emancipation

Last offered Spring 2021

This course will examine African Americans' transition from slavery to freedom. In the years that encompassed the Civil War and immediately after, most African Americans changed from being legal property, able to be bought, sold, mortgaged, rented out, and leveraged into U.S. citizens, with the Constitutional right to male suffrage. This course examines this transition. How did it come about? To what extent were African Americans able to exercise their rights that the constitution guaranteed? How did Emancipation shape African American family relations, culture and demography? This is a research seminar. We will examine work of historians and discuss the contradictions and nuances of emancipation. Readings will include monographs, scholarly articles and heavy dose of primary sources, as many as possible written by African Americans themselves. Assignments include an original research paper on an aspect of Emancipation. We will devote considerable time throughout the semester to finding primary and secondary sources and on the writing process. [ more ]

HIST 205(F) LEC The Making of Modern Africa

This course traces the incorporation of Africa into an expanding global world from the middle of the 19th century to the present and examines the impact of this integration on the history of African cultures and modern nation states. It is designed to provide you with an introductory understanding of the economic, social, and political forces that have shaped Africa in recent times and continue to affect the lives of individual people across the continent. Over the course of the semester you will be introduced to major historical themes in African History from the past 150 years, including the abolition of the slave trade and its effects, African states in the 19th century, the growing integration of different regions into shifting global and economic systems, European colonization, and African resistance to imperial conquest. We will also explore the emergence of the nationalist and anti-colonial movements, and Africa's post-colonial experiences of self-governance. Within these broad historical processes, the class will cover additional key themes such as religious change and the role of Western missionaries; changing gender roles; environmental exploitation and change; the emergence of the developmental state; urbanization; military dictatorships, and war and violence in the late 20th century. We will also cover some of the issues surrounding the study of African History as a discipline. This is a challenging task as no single course can cover more than a silver of the complexity and variety of the continent. This is why we approach the study of Modern African History through a comparative prism. [ more ]

HIST 206(F) LEC History of Islam and the Middle East since 1453

This course offers an introduction to the major political and societal institutions that evolved under the aegis of what we might call "Islamic civilization" since the Ottoman conquest of Byzantine Constantinople in 1453. The principal geographic areas covered are the Middle East, North Africa, and to some extent the Balkans. Major topics include the rise of the Ottoman sultanate and their consolidation of rule, the Persian Safavid Empire, the rise of Western intervention and colonialism, nationalism, and state formation, and the challenges of and responses to modernization. [ more ]

HIST 207 LEC The Modern Middle East

Last offered Fall 2019

This survey course addresses the main economic, religious, political and cultural trends in the modern Middle East. Topics to be covered include the cultural diversity of the Middle East, relations with Great Powers, the impact of imperialism, the challenge of modernity, the creation of nation states and nationalist ideologies, the discovery of oil, radical religious groups, and war and peace. Throughout the course these significant changes will be evaluated in light of their impact on the lives of a variety of individuals in the region and especially how they have grappled differently with increasing Western political and economic domination. [ more ]

HIST 208 SEM What is Islam?

Last offered Fall 2018

This course introduces students to Islam as a varied and contested historical tradition. The course will trace the historical development of Islam, focusing on religious and intellectual thought, political developments, and the practices and lived lives of Muslims. We will begin with situating the rise of Islam within the context of late antiquity, followed by an examination of the life of Muhammad, and the rise of Muslim empires. These developments will form the framework through which we investigate the theological, philosophical, legal, mystical, and literary writings of Muslims from the classical to the early modern periods of Islamic history. The main aim of the course is to develop a framework for understanding the historical developments through which Muslims have constructed ideas about normativity, authority, and orthodoxy in debates around Islam. Sources will include pre-modern historical and religious texts (in translation). [ more ]

HIST 209 LEC The Origins of Islam: God, Empire and Apocalypse

Last offered Spring 2014

Both Muslim and non-Muslim historians usually see the rise of Islam in the seventh century C.E. as a total break with the past. This course will challenge that assumption by placing the rise of Islam in the context of the history of late antiquity (c. 250-700 C.E.). The first portion of the course will examine the impact of Judeo-Christian monotheism in the ancient world, the rise of confessional empires, articulation of new ideas about holiness and its relation to sexuality and the transformations undergone by Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism. We shall examine the conversation of these traditions with classical paganism and philosophy, the internal struggle within traditions to define rules of interpretation, the impact of ascetic, iconoclastic and apocalyptic ideas and, finally, polemics among the traditions. We will then examine the career of Muhammad (PBUH) in the context of Arabia, the spread of the Islamic empire into Christian and Iranian worlds, the impact of apocalyptic expectations, the fixation of religious decision making within the tradition, the process of conversion, the encounter with the Late Antique heritage and religious diversity within the commonwealth of Islam. The course will end with the end of the Abbasid Caliphate in 1258. [ more ]

HIST 210 LEC The Challenge of ISIS

Last offered Spring 2017

What is ISIS and what does it want? Using historical and anthropological sources and perspectives, the course considers the origins, ideology and organization of the Islamic State. Beginning with an examination of early radical movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood, the Afghan mujahidin and Taliban, and al-Qaeda, the course will go on to investigate how ISIS derives important aspects of its ideology and organization from these earlier movements and how it deviates from them. We will look at unique aspects of the movement, such as its use of social media, its extensive destruction of ancient historical sites, its staging of spectacles of violence, and its recruitment of Muslims from Europe and North America. We will also examine the ideological constitution of the movement, including its attitude toward and treatment of non-Muslims, its conceptualization of itself as a modern incarnation of the original Islamic caliphate, the ways in which it justifies its use of violence, and its apocalyptic vision of the present-day as End Time. Finally, we will evaluate current responses to ISIS, in the West and among Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere, in terms of their effectiveness and strategic coherence. [ more ]

HIST 211 LEC Understanding 9/11 and the War in Iraq

Last offered Spring 2020

What were some of the causes of 9/11/2001 and what were some of the consequences? Why and how did the United States invade Iraq in 2003 and what impact did the subsequent occupation of that country have on the rest of the Middle East? In this course on recent political and cultural international history, that will also consider this history in film and popular culture, the monumental ramifications of the "War on Terror" will be considered and how this framework has shaped the 21st century. In the first part of the course, US-Middle Eastern relations will be explored and the eventual emergence of al-Qaeda in the late 1990s. Then the terrorist attacks on American soil on 9/11 will be studied and the ensuing wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. Particular attention will be on the prelude to the Iraq War, especially how that war was justified and rationalized, and the eventual occupation of Iraq. The myriad Iraqi responses will be studied along with American military experience. Finally, the course will evaluate the significance of the first decade of the 21st century and how these events continue to reverberate today. [ more ]

HIST 212 LEC Transforming the "Middle Kingdom": China, 2000 BCE-1600

Last offered Fall 2016

China expanded from scattered Neolithic settlements to become one of the world's most complex and sophisticated civilizations. During this process, it experienced dramatic transformation as well as remarkable institutional and cultural continuities. This course will examine Chinese history from prehistoric times to the "early modern" seventeenth century. It will address topics such as the creation and transformation of dynastic authority, the reinterpretation of Confucian thought, the transmission of Buddhism, the conquest of China proper by "barbarian" peoples, the composition of elites, and change in daily life, popular culture and China's place in the East Asian and world systems. [ more ]

HIST 213(S) LEC Modern China, 1600-Present

China's presence continues to grow in our world today, but contemporary China also evinces complex contradictions: a market economy promoted by a nominally Communist government, extremes of urban wealth and rural poverty, increasing participation in the international community and intensifying nationalist rhetoric. This course examines China's historical engagement with the modern world to offer perspective on its current conditions. We will begin with the Qing (1644-1911) conquest of China and consolidation of a multi-ethnic empire, and investigate China's encounters with Western and Japanese imperialism, the rise of Chinese nationalism, Republican and Communist revolutions, and the often turbulent history of the People's Republic. Throughout, we will examine themes of social, economic, intellectual, and cultural change through predominantly primary source reading and analysis. [ more ]

HIST 214(F) LEC Foundations of China

This course examines the foundational period of Chinese civilization, from the earliest evidence of human activity in the geographical region we now call China, through the end of the Han dynasty in the early third-century CE. This is the period that saw the creation and spread of the Chinese script (a writing system that would be the dominant one in East Asia for thousands of years), the teachings of Confucius (whose ideas continue to play a role in the lives of billions of people today), the construction of the Great Wall (which is not, as it turns out, visible from space), and the creation of the imperial bureaucratic system (that was, in essence, the progenitor of the modern bureaucratic state). We will proceed chronologically but focus on a set of thematic topics, including language and writing, religion and philosophy, art and architecture, politics and economics, and science and technology. While this course is entitled "Foundations of China," we will take a critical perspective on narratives, both Chinese and Western, that see Chinese history as an unbroken history of a single "civilization." [ more ]

HIST 217 LEC Early Modern Japan

Last offered Fall 2019

Over a century of constant warfare came to an end in the late 1500s, ushering in more than two hundred years of relative peace in a Japan that was ruled by a military government. This course will take up the extraordinary changes and enduring continuities of the period between the establishment of the Tokugawa government in the early 1600s and its eventual collapse in 1868, an era characterized by societal order and tensions, economic growth and stagnation, the development of cities and towns, the flourishing of urban culture, the spread of new and different ideas, and the decline of the samurai. We will focus on the political, social, and cultural history of early modern Japan, including topics such as the establishment of the Tokugawa order, the nature of the political system, foreign relations, urbanization, popular culture, material culture, the quality of life, the legal order, gender and sexuality, and the fall of the Tokugawa government. Assigned materials will include government documents, intellectual treatises, autobiographies, literature, and films. [ more ]

HIST 218(F) LEC From Crises to Cool: Modern Japan, 1850s-Present

Stunning revolutions, the construction and collapse of an empire, the waging of wars, devastating defeat and occupation by a foreign power, and postwar economic ups and downs have marked Japan's modern experience. This course will explore how various Japanese people from factory workers and farmers to politicians and intellectuals have understood, shaped, and lived the upheavals from the 1850s through the present day. And it will examine how the country of Japan as well as individual Japanese people have defined the identities and meanings of "modern Japan." We will ask why a modernizing revolution emerged out of the ashes of the early modern order; what democracy and its failures wrought; how world war was experienced and what legacies it left in its wake; and how postwar Japan has struggled with the successes and costs of affluence. Materials will include anthropological studies, government documents, intellectual treatises, fiction, films, and oral histories. [ more ]

HIST 219 LEC Japanese Culture and History from Courtiers to Samurai and Beyond

Last offered Spring 2017

This course will introduce students to the history, literature, and artistic culture of premodern Japan, from the time of the first recorded histories in the 800s through the abolition of the samurai class in the late 1800s. We will focus on the politics and aesthetic culture of the ruling elites in each period, from the heyday of the imperial court through the rise and eventual decline of the samurai warrior and the growth of Edo (Tokyo), with its new mode of early modern government and new forms of literature, theater, and art. Team taught by faculty from History and Comparative Literature, the course will examine historical texts alongside works drawn from literature, visual culture, and performing arts, and will ask students to consider how these different kinds of texts can shed light on one another. What is the difference between reading history and reading literature, or is it even meaningful to distinguish the two? [ more ]

HIST 220(S) LEC History and Society in India and South Asia: c. 2000 to 1700s CE

This course is an introduction to the history of India and South Asia from prehistoric times to the emergence of early modernity. During these centuries, the subcontinent emerged as one of the most diverse and complex regions of the world, as it continues to be even today. The course will cover the period between the rise of the urban Indus Valley civilization to the end of the Mughal Empire and will address topics such the as the origins and development of the caste system and 'Hinduism', society and culture in the great epics like the Ramayana, the beginnings of Jain and Buddhist thought, politics and patronage under Islamic polities, the formation of Mughal imperial authority through art, architecture and literature, among others. Through the study of social processes, the course will focus on the diversity and connectedness that have defined the subcontinent throughout its history. It will also consider the role of history in the region and how a number of events from the past continue to inform its present. [ more ]

HIST 221 LEC The Making of Modern South Asia: 1750-1950 CE

Last offered Fall 2019

This course focuses 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 historical primary sources on the specific themes, we will also work with a variety of multimedia sources including films, short stories and website content. One objective of this course is to introduce students to the different political and social processes that led to the creation of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh; another is to teach students to think critically about the significance of history and history writing in the making of the subcontinent. [ more ]

HIST 222(S) LEC Greek History

Ancient Greece has been thought to embody the origins of Western civilization in its institutions, values, and thought; it has been seen as the infancy of modern society, with the attributes of innocence, purity, and the infant's staggering capacity for exploration and learning; it has been interpreted as an essentially primitive, violent culture with a thin veneer of rationality; and it has been celebrated as the rational culture par excellence. The study of ancient Greece indeed requires an interpretive framework, yet Greek culture and history have defied most attempts to articulate one. We will make our attempt in this course by investigating ancient Greece as a set of cultures surprisingly foreign to us, as it so often was to its own intellectual elite. But we will also come to appreciate the rich and very real connections between ancient Greek and modern Western civilization. The course will begin with Bronze Age-Greece and the earliest contacts with eastern cultures, and will conclude with the spread of Greek influence into Asia and the transformation of Greek culture through the conquests of Alexander the Great. We will explore topics such as the aristocratic heritage of the city-state, the continuous influence of contacts as well as conflicts with non-Greeks, the effects of pervasive war on Greek society, the competitive spirit in political and religious life, the relationship of intellectual culture to Greek culture as a whole, Greek dependence on slavery, and the diversity of political and social forms in the Greek world. [ more ]

HIST 223 LEC Roman History

Last offered Spring 2021

The history of ancient Rome can be seen as an account of formative events, practices, and thought in the history of western culture; it also is the history of the most far-reaching experience of diverse cultures, beliefs, and practices known in the Western tradition until modern times. By studying Roman history from Rome's emergence in central Italy in the 7th century BCE through the reign of the emperor Constantine in the early fourth century CE, we will see the complex and fascinating results of an ambitious, self-confident nation's evolution, transformation, and expansion throughout the Mediterranean world. We will consider questions such as, How did a republic with an aversion to autocratic rule and devotion to libertas understand its existence as an imperial power as well as its own elite's dominant rule over Romans and non-Romans alike? How and why did the Roman republic and its deeply entrenched republican ideology give way to the effective rule by one man, Augustus, and the increasingly monarchical rule of the emperors who followed? Did Roman political life in the later republic cause the violence that left it in crisis, or did the persistance of violence in Roman life account for the nature of Roman politics? Who were the non-elites of Rome, Italy, and the Roman empire that often get left in the shadows in our ancient sources? Who were the important writers, politicians, poets, philosophers, and innovators whose works constitute a rich cultural heritage worthy of both appreciation and critique? Throughout the course there will be an emphasis on the problems of historical and cultural interpretation, on how the Roman experience is relevant to our own, and, importantly, on the pleasures of historical investigation. Readings for this course will include a variety of original sources, a range of scholarly essays on specific topics, and a textbook that will provide our chronological framework. [ more ]

HIST 226 LEC Early Modern Europe

Last offered Fall 2019

The three hundred years from the late Middle Ages to the French Revolution were Europe's formative centuries: they saw the emergence of the Renaissance and the Reformation, the outbreak of the Wars of Religion, the colonization of the Americas and intensification of trade in Asia, the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment. Through these historical experiences, European culture developed an identity distinct from its Christian one, as well as peculiar political and economic forms that ended up shaping the modern world. This course will examine such topics as the revival of classical letters, the formation of the modern state, urban and courtly culture, and religion and unbelief. Although the "early modern" era is profoundly different from our own, it remains crucial to any interpretation of the world in which we live today. Readings will emphasize primary sources and include such authors as Machiavelli, Montaigne, Hobbes, Aphra Behn, Voltaire, and Mary Wollstonecraft. [ more ]

HIST 228(S) SEM Europe in the Twentieth Century

This course will offer a survey of some of the important themes of twentieth-century European history, from the eve of World War One to the beginning of the twenty-first century. Organized topically and thematically, the course will consider European society in the fin-de-siècle period; imperialism, racism, and mass politics; the impact of the Great War on European thought, culture and society; the Russian Revolution and Stalinist Russia; economic and political stabilization in the 1920s; the Depression; the rise of Fascism and National Socialism; World War II and the Holocaust; the establishment of postwar social democratic welfare states; decolonization; the "economic miracle" of the 1950s; the uprisings of 1968; the development of the European Union; the 1989 revolutions in Eastern Europe; the break-up of Yugoslavia; and the recent debates about Islam in Europe. Through a combination of lecture and discussion, the course seeks to introduce students to the major ideologies and institutions that shaped the lives of Europeans in the twentieth century, and to reflect on the role of ordinary people who devised, adapted, embraced, and sometimes resisted the dominant ideas and practices of their time. [ more ]

HIST 230(F) LEC Modern European Jewish History, 1789-1948

What does it mean to be a Jew? The vexed question of Jewish identity emerged anew at the end of the eighteenth century in Europe and has dominated Jewish history throughout the modern period. Although Jewish emancipation and citizenship followed different paths in different parts of Europe, in general Jews were confronted by unprecedented opportunities for integration into non-Jewish society and unprecedented challenges to Jewish communal life. Focusing primarily on France and Germany, and to a lesser extent on the Polish lands, this course will introduce students to the major social, cultural, religious, and political transformations that shaped the lives of European Jews from the outbreak of the French Revolution to the aftermath of World War II. We will explore such topics as emancipation, Jewish diversity, the reform of Judaism, competing political ideologies, Jewish-gentile relations, the rise of modern antisemitism, the role of Jewish women, interwar Jewish life and culture, Jewish responses to Nazism and the Holocaust, and the situation of Jews in the immediate postwar period. In addition to broad historical treatments, course materials will include memoirs, diaries, and fiction. [ more ]

HIST 239(F) SEM Germany in the Twentieth Century

This course is designed to introduce students to the history of the twentieth-century Germany as experienced and made by ordinary human beings through written documents, literature, film, and the writings of historians and other scholars. Topics to be considered include: the bourgeoisie and the working classes in the Kaiserreich; Germany at the outbreak of World War I; the experience of war and its aftermath; the hyper-inflation of 1923; the commitment of Germans to democracy during the Weimar Republic; the mood in Germany at the beginning of the 1930's; the coming to power of the National Socialists; the ideology of National Socialism; the "Volksgemeinschaft"; the Nazi image of the Jew; the "Final Solution"; World War II on the battlefront and on the home front; the West German "Economic Miracle"; divided Germany in the 1970s and 1980s; life in the German Democratic Republic; the "Historians' Debate"; and Germany after the Wall. [ more ]

HIST 240 LEC The Soviet Experiment

Last offered Spring 2021

In 1917, the former Russian Empire became the site of the world's first socialist revolutionary government and the twentieth century's largest multiethnic state. Over the next quarter century, the Soviet Union witnessed the rise of one of history's most violent dictatorships, an apocalyptic war that claimed upwards of 26 million lives, and communist expansion into Eastern Europe and the decolonizing world. It also became the site of vibrant and optimistic utopian cultural projects, flights into space, bitter and hilarious political satire, and a society that was, for the most part, economically equal. Then in 1991, everything fell apart. This course will survey the origins, life, and collapse of the Soviet Union, paying particular attention to the ideas that shaped its development, the mark its architects' and leaders' policies left both at home and abroad, and the impact it had on the people who lived and didn't live to tell the tale. [ more ]

HIST 241 SEM Imperial Russia: State and Society between Europe and Asia

Last offered Fall 2020

Russia. The name alone evokes wonder, fear, romance, and history itself. Over the past ten centuries, the territory that we now call the Russian Federation has witnessed dramatic transformations that underwrote its transition from feudal backwater to global superpower. Its journey from tribalism to imperialism, feudalism to autocracy, agrarianism to industrialization, monarchism to parliamentarianism, Orthodox Christianity to revolutionary atheism, left a mark not just on the collective Russian conscious, but on a world that has grown accustomed to viewing Russia as a site for ideas, projects, and processes both exemplary and tragic. How did Russian state power borrow and depart from west European norms? How did foreign and domestic norms contribute to the creation of a "Russian" identity? How did Russian elites and ordinary people resist, collaborate with, or develop an apathy towards the Russian state, and to what success? This course will seek to answer these questions through a survey of Russian Imperial history from its founding in Kievan Rus' in the 10th century to the October Revolution of 1917. [ more ]

HIST 242 LEC Latin America From Conquest to Independence

Last offered Fall 2019

This course will examine the processes commonly referred to as the creation of "Latin America" and will do so from numerous perspectives. Starting with the construction of indigenous societies, from small and decentralized groupings to huge imperial polities-, before 1492, to the invasion of Europeans from that date forward, we will take up the question of the Iberian "conquest," looking at the often violent encounters that made up that event and analyzing its success, limits, and results. We will then study the imposition of Iberian rule from the point of view of would-be colonizers and the peoples they treated as objects of colonization, stressing the multiple and conflicting character of European, indigenous, and African perspectives. Thus looking at the Americas from both the outside-in and inside-out, we will focus on the unequal relations of power that came to define cultural, political, and economic life in the colonies, always with an eye on the gendered and racialized nature of those relations. We will also not only compare very different regions of the Iberian Americas but also see how the grand shifts of history intervened in--and perhaps consisted of--the most normal elements of daily life in northern Mexico, the central Andes, coastal Brazil, and other parts of colonial Latin America. Visual as well as more traditional written primary materials, along with secondary texts and films, will serve as the basis for our discussions throughout the semester. [ more ]

HIST 243 LEC Modern Latin America, 1822 to the Present

Last offered Fall 2016

This course will examine salient issues in the history of the independent nations of Latin America. The first two sections of the course will focus on the turbulent formation of nation-states over the course of the "long nineteenth century," from the crises of the Spanish and Portuguese colonial empires in the late eighteenth century to the heyday of liberal political economies at the turn of the twentieth century. In this regard the course will analyze the social and economic changes of the period up to World War I and the possibilities they offered for both political order and disorder. Key topics addressed will include caudillismo, the role of the Church in politics, economic dependency and development, and the place of indigenous and African Latin-American peoples in new nations, and industrialization and urbanization. The latter two sections will examine the trend toward state-led national development in the twentieth century, considering the diverse forms it took and conflicts it generated in different nations and periods. Here we will take up questions the emergence of workers' and women's movements and the rise of mass politics; militarism, democracy, and authoritarian governments; the influence of the U.S. in the region; and the life and possibly death of revolutionary options. Within this chronological framework of national and regional political economy, we will consider the ways that various Latin American social actors shaped their own lives and collective histories, sometimes challenging and sometimes accommodating the ideals of national elites. General regional trends will be illustrated by selected national cases, including Mexico, Brazil, Agentina, Cuba, Chile, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. [ more ]

HIST 248 SEM The Caribbean: From Slavery to Independence

Last offered Spring 2018

This class will begin with and foreground the current crisis in Puerto Rico, an island emblematic of the history of colonialism, racism, environmental destruction, and economic exploitation of the region. But as the Caribbean has suffered, so has it resisted. From the Haitian Revolution to the Manley `Revolt' in Jamaica, the Puerto Rican Independence Movement, the Cuban Revolution, and the Grenadian Revolution, the Caribbean has been at the forefront of radical change in the New World. Pioneering slave emancipation, independence from European empires, and unique experiments in socialism, communism, and Black Power, these small islands have been world leaders. But their innovative social and political experimentation--expressed in vivid artistic and musical forms--have all too often met with disdain and repression by their more powerful neighbors or former colonial rulers. This course will examine the audacious experiments of the Caribbean people from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries as well as the repression they have faced from abroad. We will pay attention to the rich cultural diversity of the region, using film, music, literature and art to examine diverse phenomenon, including voodoo, Santeria, and Rastafarianism. We will also explore the prospects for continuing change in the contemporary Caribbean, paying special attention to the environmental challenges they face amidst rising sea levels, drought, heat waves, and the effect of two hundred years of environmental destruction at the hands of rapacious foreigners, from slaveowners to cruise ship lines to bauxite and oil producers. [ more ]

Taught by: Shanti Singham

Catalog details

HIST 252 LEC North American Histories to 1865

Last offered Spring 2017

This course surveys North American histories from ancient Indigenous pasts to the U.S. Civil War. Beginning with the diverse Native societies that have long lived and interacted in specific Indigenous homelands, it then traces Indigenous encounters with a range of expansionist European colonial projects, and the dynamic, contested quality of these relationships and resistances. The course delves into the origins, evolution, and violences of the transatlantic slave trade, and the ways that peoples of African descent created new lives and identities in the Caribbean and North America. The transformations of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are examined in detail, including political, economic, cultural, and religious transformations and upheavals that fostered new senses of individual and collective identities. Connecting the pivotal Seven Years War and American Revolution, the course traces out the legacies of these contestations for multiple empires, nations, and communities. The last section of the course examines the antebellum era, multiple struggles for rights, land, and autonomy, and the coming of the U.S. Civil War as well as its ongoing legacies. The course introduces students to a wide range of historical methodologies and critical approaches to the past, and moves from large-scale vantages to on-the-ground accounts of how specific people experienced historical changes. The course conveys a sense of how key debates and struggles from the past have shaped North American presents and futures, and how scholars and communities have grappled with these topics. It also provides opportunities for engaging original archival and material culture collections at Williams College. [ more ]

HIST 253 LEC Modern U.S. History

Last offered Spring 2019

This course surveys themes and issues that inform the historical landscape of the United States after the Civil War and Reconstruction, from the late 1800s to the present. With special attention to freedom and fragmentation, the course examines the dilemmas inherent to American democracy, including: westward expansion and Indian affairs; immigration and nationalism; progressivism and domestic policy; the expanding role of the United States in the world; race, gender, and rights; and the shifting terrains of liberalism and conservatism. The course also tunes into the connections between current affairs and the American past. Course materials include a range of primary sources (letters, political speeches, autobiography, film, oral histories, fiction, and photography) and historical interpretations. [ more ]

HIST 254 SEM Sovereignty, Resistance, and Resilience: Native American Histories to 1865

Last offered Fall 2020

This course surveys Native American/Indigenous North American histories from creation through the U.S. Civil War, tracing the complex ways that tribal nations and communities have shaped North America. It also introduces foundational methodologies in Native American and Indigenous Studies and strategies for pursuing decolonizing scholarship and action. Beginning with the diverse Indigenous societies that inhabited the Americas millennia before Columbus's arrival, it discusses the cultural complexity of Native peoples, nations, and worldviews rooted in particular ecosystems and homelands, as well as accounts of beginnings and migrations. It addresses how Native peoples confronted grievous epidemics resulting from the "Columbian Exchange," and contended with Euro-colonial projects of "discovery" and colonization. Indigenous nations' multifaceted efforts to maintain sovereignty and lands through eras of pervasive violence and removal are discussed, as well as the important yet under-recognized ways that Native communities negotiated the tumultuous era and conflicting allegiances of the Civil War. The course centers on Indigenous actors-intellectuals, diplomats, legal strategists, knowledge keepers, spiritual leaders, artists, and others-and consistently connects historical events with present-day debates over land, historical memory, education, and activism. Additionally, it provides an opportunity to engage with original materials pertaining to Native histories in the Williams College Archives/Special Collections and Art Museum. While the scope of the course is continental and transoceanic, it devotes significant attention to the Native Northeast and the particular Indigenous homelands in which Williams College is located. [ more ]

HIST 255 SEM From Sand Creek to Standing Rock: Recent Native American Histories

Last offered Spring 2021

This course surveys Native American/Indigenous histories from the era of the U.S. Civil War to the present as well as future. Beginning with the violences experienced by Native communities at Sand Creek in 1864, it traces how diverse Native nations navigated the tumultuous times that followed, up to the recent actions at Standing Rock and Mauna Kea in the 21st century. Topics include Indigenous perspectives on "modernities"; creation and contestation of reservation systems; connections with African-American families and communities; residential school experiences of Native youth and families; Indigenous visual and performative artistic traditions and transformations, both in North America and abroad; "urban Indians" and the relocation era; Red Power activism and Indigenous internationalism; treaty rights, American Indian Law, and federal recognition debates; environmental interventions and food sovereignty movements; and critiques of settler colonialism. The course stresses the resilience of sovereign Indigenous nations into the present, and introduces students to a wide range of methodological approaches from Native American and Indigenous Studies and history. It blends big-picture vantages on these topics with microhistorical accounts of particular individuals, communities, and events, and offers a continental view of historical changes coupled with attention to the specific area of the Native Northeast in which Williams College is situated. [ more ]

HIST 256 SEM Social Justice Traditions: 1960s to #Black Lives Matter

Last offered Fall 2018

We live in a time of renewed social justice activism, as people from all walks of life confront economic inequality, police violence, discrimination against transgender individuals, and other forms of oppression. This course is designed to clarify where recent initiatives like Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street came from, and to evaluate how they might shape American life in the near future. Movements have histories, as today's activists draw on the "freedom dreams," tactics, and styles of rhetoric crafted by their predecessors, while making use of new technologies, such as Twitter, and evolving understandings of "justice." Taking a historical approach, we will begin by studying the civil rights, Black Power, anti-war, counter-culture, and feminist initiatives of the 1960s. We will then explore how progressive and radical activists adjusted their theories and strategies as the country became more conservative in the 1970s and 1980s. Making use of movement documents, documentary films, and scholarly accounts, we will study the development of LGBTQ, ecological, and economic justice initiatives up to the present day. Throughout, we will seek to understand how movements in the United States are shaped by global events and how activists balance their political work with other desires and commitments. [ more ]

Taught by: Andrew Cornell

Catalog details

HIST 257(F) SEM Religion and American Politics

In this course, students will explore the history of religion and American politics, from the colonial era to the present. In the process, they will tackle such questions as: Were Anglo-American colonies 'cities on a hill' or bastions of intolerance? Was the First Amendment designed to protect the state from religion, or religion from the state? Has American religion primarily served to justify the status quo or inspire revolutionary change? How have religious ethics shaped responses to racial, gender, and class inequality? How has religious conflict impacted civic unity and political polarization? What role should religion play in American political life? The course will cover such topics as: Anglo-colonial treatment of heretics and blasphemers; the meaning of the First Amendment; religious conflict over slavery; state regulation of sexuality and polygamy; state treatment of religious minorities; the Scopes Trial and scientific modernity; Christian responses to industrial capitalism; theologies of civil disobedience and nonviolence; and 20th-century religious battles over school prayer, civil rights, the military draft, abortion, and democracy itself. [ more ]

HIST 258(S) LEC The Petroleum Age: A Global History

We live in a world transformed by petroleum. All around us today--in global carbon emissions, transportation, the clothes we wear, everyday objects we touch, microplastics in our water--oil is there, even if we can't always see it. At the same time, the industry fuels massive flows of global capital, and provokes critical political shifts, conflicts, and resistance movements around the world. How did oil's ubiquity happen in just over 150 years? This course will chart a global, modern history by keeping this energy source always in our sight, paying particular attention to its role in the political economy, its ecological impacts, the cultural changes it has set in motion, and its place in people's material lives. Throughout the semester, we will also foreground some of the foundational skills needed to create an historical account, which will culminate in students' completing a 5-minute video or podcast on a relevant topic of their choice. [ more ]

HIST 259 SEM New England Environmental History

Last offered Spring 2019

Have you ever wondered why there are few old-growth forests in New England? What Williamstown looked like before Williams was founded? How ideas about environmental preservation have changed over time? These are some of the questions we will explore in this course, which introduces students to the discipline of Environmental History through New England examples. During the semester we will: (1) read and discuss scholarship on the environmental history of New England and the world; (2) use case studies and field trips to examine how past environments are represented in museum exhibits,digital projects, and physical landscapes; (3) Develop a research paper based on original archival research [ more ]

HIST 260 LEC U.S. History Since the 1940s

Last offered Spring 2020

This course surveys the history of the United States since the 1940s. It will acquaint students with the key developments that defined the postwar order, focusing especially on the history of inequality, politics and public policy, social movements, and intellectual life. As students make their way through the course, they will learn to think historically in the broadest sense--situating texts within their social context, engaging with diverse and unfamiliar perspectives, and gaining an appreciation for the complexity of human experience. In the process, students will tackle historical questions with contemporary relevance. What forces have made American society more or less equal, and how should equality be measured in the first place? How have race, class, and gender affected opportunities and outcomes for different Americans over time? To what extent have everyday people shaped the broader history of American capitalism, democracy, and social thought? To what extent have these broader developments shaped the lives of everyday people? Are we now living in an age of fracture or an age of liberation? The course will cover such topics as Cold War culture; the mass consumer economy; racial inequality, both Southern and Northern; the changing role of women at home and in the workplace; the global dimensions of the 1960s; the origins of the New Right; and the roots of modern polarization in conflicts over such issues as--busing, abortion, and privatization. [ more ]

HIST 261(F, S) LEC America and the Cold War

This course examines the rise and fall of the Cold War, focusing on four central issues. First, why did America and the Soviet Union become bitter rivals shortly after the defeat of Nazi Germany? Second, was one side primarily responsible for the length and intensity of the Cold War in Europe? Third, how did the Cold War in Europe lead to events in other areas of the world, such as Cuba and Vietnam? Finally, could the Cold War have been ended long before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989? Political scientists and historians continue to argue vigorously about the answers to all these questions. We examine both traditional and revisionist explanations of the Cold War, as well as the new findings that have emerged from the partial opening of Soviet and Eastern European archives. The final section of the course examines how scholarly interpretations of the Cold War continue to influence how policymakers approach contemporary issues in American foreign policy. [ more ]

HIST 262 LEC The United States and the World, 1776 to 1914

Last offered Spring 2014

From its foundation in 1776 to the beginning of World War I in 1914, the United States developed a complex of ideas for understanding--and methods for securing--its place in the world. During this period, the nation's diplomacy went through several phases as it made the transition from a young republic struggling to conduct its diplomacy, to an expansionist power in the first half of the nineteenth century, to an emerging world power in the aftermath of the Civil War, and then to an imperialist power after the Spanish-American War. Amidst these events, U.S. statesmen and citizens constantly debated the country's proper diplomatic role and struggled to construct and propagate a unique American ideology, as well as an advantageous geo-strategic position, on the global stage. Debates about foreign relations were imbued with questions of race, nation, independence, religion, economy, law, gender, and geographic expansion; indeed, defining U.S. foreign relations was a means of defining the nation itself. Through a variety of primary sources and scholarly books and articles, this course will examine U.S. relations with external powers as well as the interactions that occurred between U.S. domestic and foreign policy during this period. [ more ]

HIST 263 LEC The United States and the World, 1898 to the Present

Last offered Fall 2018

This survey course examines the United States and the World since 1898. Students will be introduced to key diplomatic developments since the Spanish-American War, when the country began its ascendance to hegemonic power from which it is now in retreat. American power reached its apex during the Cold War, but that conflict and its offshoots like the Vietnam War brought about crises over national identity and values that remain unresolved. Readings and discussions will focus on issues of ideology, empire and neo-imperialism, domestic politics and foreign policy, and the relationship between culture and foreign relations. [ more ]

HIST 264 SEM Environmental History

Last offered Spring 2020

This course is an introduction to Environmental History: the study of how people have shaped environments, how environments have shaped human histories, and how cultural change and material change are intertwined. As such, it challenges traditional divides between the humanities and the sciences. Taking U.S. environmental history as our focus, we will strive to understand the historical roots of contemporary environmental problems, such as species extinction, pollution, and climate change. We will take field trips to learn to read landscapes for their histories and to examine how past environments are represented in museum exhibits, digital projects, and physical landscapes. And we will develop original arguments and essays based on archival research. It is imperative that we understand this history if we are to make informed and ethical environmental decisions at the local, national, and global scale. [ more ]

HIST 265(F) SEM Race, Power, & Food History

Have you ever wondered why Spam is so popular in Hawaii and why Thai food is available all across the United States? Are you curious why black-eyed peas and collards are considered "soul food"? In this course, we will answer these questions by digging in to the histories of global environmental transformation through colonialism, slavery, and international migration. We will consider the production and consumption of food as a locus of power over the last 300 years. Beginning with the rise of the Atlantic slave trade and continuing through the 20th century, we trace the global movement of plants, foods, flavors, workers, businesses, and agricultural knowledge. Major units include rice production by enslaved people in the Americas; Asian American food histories during the Cold War; and fat studies critiques of obesity discourse. We will discuss food justice, food sovereignty, and contemporary movements for food sustainability in the context of these histories and our contemporary world. Readings are interdisciplinary, but our emphasis will be on historical analyses of race, labor, environment, health, and gender. [ more ]

HIST 266 SEM The Roaring Twenties and the Rough Thirties

Last offered Fall 2020

This course will probe the domestic history of the U.S. from 1919 to 1939 and the cultural, economic, political, and social changes accompanying America's evolution into a modern society. Themes include: developments in work, leisure, and consumption; impact of depression on the organization of the public and private sectors; persistence of traditional values such as individualism and the success ethos in shaping responses to change; and the evolving diversity of America and the American experience. [ more ]

HIST 270(F) LEC Sport and the Global Color Line

Throughout the twentieth century, African Americans have broken racial barriers, confronted racial stereotypes, and garnered unprecedented success within popular culture, most notably sport. In this course, students will explore the relationship of the black athlete to the color line. We will complicate the historical view of sport as a site of professional advancement and race reform by demonstrating how societal racial practices were reconstructed within athletics. In essence, this course will emphasize the role sport performed in structuring racial exclusion as athletic arenas--like movie theaters, railroads, schools, and other public sites--shaped what Historian Grace Elizabeth Hale has termed the "culture of segregation." Though our primary focus will be on the experiences African Americans encountered, we will also probe the color line beyond its typical black-white binary. Thus, we will examine the achievements and altercations that other ethnic and racial groups realized in their transnational push for equality and inclusion. [ more ]

HIST 273(F) LEC Going Nuclear: American Culture in the Atomic Age

This course will examine the historical development and use of the nuclear bomb. Among other features of the early atomic age, the course will look at the Manhattan Project, the delivery of the bombs for combat, and the destructive effects of the bomb's initial use in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and ongoing testing in the Marshall Islands. The class will investigate the role of the nuclear arms race in the Cold War, the consequences of nuclear production on specific communities, and the implications of the atomic age on our critical understanding of technological innovation more generally. We will also consider the saliency of competing narratives interpreting America's decision (and continuing policies) to build, use, and stockpile nuclear weapons. Employing both sociological and historical perspectives, we will explore the interactions between science, politics, and culture in the nuclear age. [ more ]

HIST 274(F) SEM Race, Land and Settler (Racial) Capitalism: Ongoing Topics in (Dis)/(Re)possession

This sequential course serves as an introduction to ongoing topics in colonialism, racial thinking, African Diaspora studies, Global and Caribbean studies. We will examine how race, gender and class operate under racial capitalism and settler colonialism. The readings in this class will center the works of critical geographers, caribbeanist, scholars of the African Diaspora, among other critical, anti-capitalist or decolonial scholars. Reading in this course will take up the question(s) of land and land-making; race, racialization, and racial thinking; alongside questions of space and place as they all relate to the various processes, projects and methods of (dis)/(re)possession. This course is the first part of a complementary course, which will be offered in the Spring, titled, "Race, Land, Space and (Dis)/(Re)possession: Critical Topics in Environmental Injustice and Subaltern Geographies," which tracks both the "historical breaks" and ongoing processes of (dis)/(re)possession to more contemporary materializations. Weekly in-class discussion will be combined with guest lectures in order to provide the opportunity for exploring how race, space and (dis)(re)possession can be understood geographically, and to also explain how a range of these territorializing processes operate. Sound, music and other audio engagements will also complement discussions in this course. Therefore, the capacity of deep listening, in-and-out of class, is mandatory. Sample topics covered in the course include the following: indigeneity and Blackness; dispossession and accumulation; environmental imperialism, war and colonial resistance. You are strongly encouraged to participate in both courses in this complementary sequence, but are not required to do so. [ more ]

HIST 275(S) SEM Race, Land, Dis/Re-possession: Critical Topics in Environmental Injustice and Subaltern Geographies

This course is an introduction to ongoing and contemporary topics in colonialism, racial thinking, African Diaspora and, Global and Caribbean studies, studies of 'the environment,' and dispossession. We will examine how race, gender and class operate under racial capitalism and settler colonialism as ongoing, sometimes continuous and discontinuous processes. The readings will center the works of critical geographers, caribbeanist, scholars of the African Diaspora, and other critical, anti-capitalist or decolonial scholars. Readings, as in AFR 234, will take up the question(s) of land and land-making; race, racialization, and racial thinking; of space and place as they all relate to the various processes, projects and methods of (dis)/(re)possession, both "past" and "contemporary." We will interrogate temporal binaries, settler time, notions of [the] "progress(ives)" and other bifurcated understandings of the world. This course is the second part of a complementary course, titled, "Race, Land and Settler (Racial) Capitalism," which focuses on the historical geography of processes of (dis)/(re)possession from a Black and Indigenous Atlantic perspective. In this iteration, weekly in-class discussion will be combined with guest lectures to provide the opportunity for exploring how race, space and (dis)(re)possession can be understood geographically, and to explain how a range of these territorializing processes operate. Sound, music and other audio will complement discussions. Therefore, the capacity of deep listening, in-and-out of class, is a grounding. Sample topics covered in the course include: indigeneity and Blackness; (dis)possession and accumulation; plantation geographies and economies; housing and houselessness; the problem of parks and conservation; prisons and carceral geographies; Black geographies; environmental racism and colonial resistance. You are strongly encouraged to participate in both courses in this sequence, but are not required to do so. [ more ]

HIST 280 LEC Emancipation to BlackLivesMatter

Last offered Spring 2021

This introductory course surveys the cultural, political, and social history of African Americans from Reconstruction to the present. It offers a balance between a "top-down" and "bottom-up" approach and focuses primarily on African Americans' quest for citizenship, equality, justice, and opportunity. In addition to examining major historical developments and popular figures within the modern black past, we will explore the lesser-known histories of everyday people who helped shaped the black freedom struggle. In so doing, we will interrogate conventional narratives of progressive movements since emancipation. Some of the main topics include: the transition from slavery to freedom; the rise of Jim Crow and the politics of racial uplift; the Great Migration and the emergence of the New Negro; the Great Depression and the New Deal; World War II and the struggle for economic and racial inclusion; the postwar period and the intersecting movements of Civil Rights and Black Power; and the impacts of deindustrialization and mass incarceration on the black community. We will end with a discussion of the Obama years and Black Lives Matter. [ more ]

HIST 281 SEM African American History, 1619-1865

Last offered Spring 2020

This course provides an introduction to the history of African Americans in United States during the colonial, early republic, and antebellum eras. The experience of enslavement necessarily dominates this history, and it is the contours and nuances of slavery-and the development of racial classifications-that give this course its focus. We will also explore African cultural influences, the significance of gender, the lives of free blacks, and the cultural and intellectual significance of the abolitionist movement. The course closes on the themes that emerge from the Civil War, and on the meaning of freedom and emancipation. Our readings will include primary sources and secondary literature. Class meetings will combine lecture and discussion. Informed participation in class discussion is essential. This Power etc course explores the experiences and expressions of the culturally diverse peoples of African descent in the New World (and the Old), as well as the myriad ways in which they confront, negotiate, and at times challenge dominant U.S. and/or European hierarchies of race, culture, gender and class. [ more ]

HIST 284 LEC Introduction to Asian American History

Last offered Spring 2019

This course covers the immigration of Asian to the U.S. from the 1850s to the present and the lives of both immigrants and their descendants. Possible topics are the Chinese Exclusion Act, the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and the arrival of Vietnamese to the U.S. after the war in Viet Nam. [ more ]

HIST 286 LEC Conquests and (Im)migrations: Latina/o History, 1848 to the Present

Last offered Fall 2020

The first Latinx communities were formed in 1848 when the United States conquered half of Mexico's territory. In 1898 the United States annexed Puerto Rico and has retained sovereignty to this day. These early conquests and continuing im/migrations created Mexican and Puerto Rican communities in the United States. U.S. imperialism continued to shape the im/migrations that created Cuban, Dominican, Salvadoran, Guatemalan and other Latinx communities in the United States. This course explores U.S. military, political, and economic interventions and their impact on im/migrations and the making of Latinx communities. We also explore the impact of U.S. employers' and the U.S. government's recruitment of low wage workers in shaping im/migrations, destinations, and the formation of Latinx working-class communities. Im/migration and refugee policies have long defined who is eligible to enter and how, as well as who is deemed eligible for citizenship and belonging. Within this context, Latinas and Latinos have developed survival and family reunification strategies for themselves, their families, and their communities. [ more ]

HIST 292(F) SEM History of Sexuality

Is sexuality an immutable aspect of who we are or is it socially constructed? How have people understood sex and sexuality throughout history? Why does religion have any say in the sexual lives of individuals and society? What are sexual transgressions and why are they punished? Is sex a commodity that can be exchanged for money? Is sex political? This course will explore these questions through a historical approach, focusing in particular on the shifting understanding of sex and sexuality across historical time and different geographical regions. In investigating the category of sexuality, this course will push us to consider three key questions: 1) Is sexuality a useful category for historical analysis, 2) how have our assumptions regarding sexuality and sexual ethics taken shape and changed over time and 3) how do social, cultural, political, and economic conditions affect changing meanings of sexuality. Historical studies will be read in conjunction with different theoretical frameworks about sexuality. Reading historical accounts of sexuality alongside theoretical pieces will allow us to consider how historians construct an argument and the influence of theoretical frameworks in shaping scholarship. Some of the theorists we will read in the course include: Michel Foucault, David Halperin, Afsaneh Najmabadi, Valerie Traub, and Carla Freccero. [ more ]

HIST 301 SEM Approaching the Past: The American Civil War

Last offered Spring 2019

How have historians told the story of the Civil War? Even before Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court house in the spring of 1865, historians and local communities strove to craft a coherent story of a war that left 620,000 soldiers dead and set enslaved people on a long road towards freedom. Civil War historiography has been reinvented numerous times in the last century. Biographies of Lincoln, of Generals--Union and Confederate still appear regularly. Historians of gender have tried to capture women's and queer people's experiences on the homefront and on the front lines. Histories of battles, of legislation, of the era's music, literature, and art all fill rows of shelves in Sawyer. We will not attempt to "understand" the Civil War. Rather we will examine a few very different histories of the event. We will read authors who center African Americans and authors who ignore them. We will read a biography and cultural history. We'll look at new attempts to tell local histories of the war through interactive web sites and film. We'll also study historical re-enactors, North and South. We will end with an examination of the recent struggles over Confederate Memorials. This course will be offered online. I encourage all students to schedule one on one office hour zoom meetings with me throughout the semester. [ more ]

HIST 301(F) SEM Approaching the Past: The Historian's Task

What is the historian's task? In this seminar we will consider a variety of answers to this question by looking at how historians have practiced their craft from antiquity to the present. In the first half of the course, we will read historians from across the globe to see how the study of the past has differed across human societies from antiquity until the nineteenth century. What do their approaches have in common, and what distinguishes them? In the second half of the course we will investigate the modern historical tradition from the early twentieth century to the present, including the Annales school, economic and environmental history, microhistory, and subaltern studies. Throughout, we will discuss what lessons we can draw for our own practice as historians. Authors to be read include Herodotus, Ibn Khaldun, Ranke, Bloch, Guha among others. [ more ]

HIST 301(F) SEM Approaching the Past: History, Theory, Practice

This course will explore how the discipline of "History" has come to assume its present form and how a number of historians since the 1830s have understood their craft. We will begin by discussing the work of three great nineteenth-century historians (Macaulay, Marx, and Ranke) who believed that historical "truth" existed and could, with skill, be deciphered. Next we will explore the philosophy and practice of the cultural and social historians of the 1960s-1980s, comparing and contrasting their work with that of their nineteenth-century predecessors. We will then consider the writing of those more recent theorists who have tried to refute historians' claims to be able to capture the "truth" of the past, focusing on the state of the field in the wake of challenges posed to its epistemological foundations by postmodernism in the 1980s and 1990s. Finally, we will conclude with an assessment of the state of the discipline today. In general, we will be less concerned with "the past" than with what historians do with "the past." Consequently, we will focus primarily on those abstract, philosophical assumptions that have informed the various practices of history from the 1830s to the present. [ more ]

HIST 301 SEM Approaching the Past: Practices of Modern History

Last offered Spring 2021

What is history? What is it that historians do? In this course, students will explore how and why we historians practice our craft. The first section of the course will examine how historians think about and come to know the past. Issues of historical truth, fact, and objectivity will be considered. And we will discuss what questions to ask of different types of evidence, from material objects to oral histories. Next, we will explore how historians attempt to make sense of the past. We will consider the perspectives, scale, and categories of analysis that historians can bring to bear on the past, and how history can be written. Finally, the third section of the course will pose questions about the purposes, uses, and misuses of history. We will ask how historians might engage with those outside of academe; what moral and political responsibilities historians should assume; how history is related to memory making; and why history education has been so contentious. Each week, we will focus on some theoretical material as well as readings on a broad range of topics, across time and geography, that concretely illustrate the methodological issues at stake. [ more ]

HIST 301(S) SEM Approaching the Past: Remembering American History

Much of what we know and understand about American history is rooted in the received narrative of our national history, a history that is constructed of individual, collective, and a national memory of the past and its meanings. This course will examine some forms through which American historical memory is presented and (re)presented, such as monuments, museums, novels, film, photographs, and scholarly historical writing, by considering a number of pivotal events, institutions, or eras in American history. Potential topics are slavery, race, and the Civil War; westward expansion; the Great Depression; World War II; the Sixties; the war in Viet Nam; and the events and aftermath of September 11, 2001. [ more ]

HIST 301 SEM Approaching the Past: National, Transnational, and Postcolonial Histories

Last offered Spring 2021

This course examines the practice of history from the nineteenth century to the present. We will examine the sources, methods, and theoretical assumptions that have shaped the historical craft in this period, as well as the deeper questions that all historians must confront, implicitly or explicitly: What is "history"? Who makes it and how? How do these questions figure into histories of nations, colonialism, and anti-colonialism? To address these issues, we will discuss the work of canonical and non-canonical historians from across the world, and from outside as well as inside the academy. The particular focus will be on the production of history from the rise of the nation-state through the spread of new imperialisms in the late nineteenth century and on to the emergence of the "Third World," decolonization, and the "new globalization" over the course of the twentieth century. In weekly meetings we will analyze texts and how their authors define historical subjects/actors and processes, as well as the meanings of history for different audiences and eras. [ more ]

HIST 301(S) SEM Approaching the Past: Varieties of Historical Thinking

This course is designed to acquaint students with some of the ways historians have thought about the past. Beginning with Thucydides' The Peloponnesian War, the work of twelve historians will be studied closely and critically over the course of the semester. In the process, students not only will become familiar with various important historical approaches but will also be encouraged to examine their own assumptions about the past and about how and why--or even if--we know it. We will meet weekly to define, understand, and assess the different ways historians considered in the course have thought about the past. [ more ]

HIST 301 SEM Approaching the Past: Writing the Past

Last offered Fall 2016

"History" refers to the aggregate of past events as well as to the branch of knowledge that seeks to understand those past events. Whereas history courses often take as their content the first of these two meanings of history, focusing on the politics, society, and culture of a particular place in a particular historical era, this course will examine history's often concealed "other" meaning: the practices of historians, their methods and assumptions. In so doing, this course aims to unsettle history majors' own assumptions about what history "is" and what historians "do". How do historians reconstruct the past, and how and why have their approaches to sources, theories, and narrative strategies changed over time? And on a deeper level, how have historians' suppositions changed--if they have changed--about the nature of historical truth, knowledge, and the value of history to the societies in which they wrote? Taking history-writing itself as our object of study, over the course of the semester we will read the work of twelve, quite different historians from the classical to the modern era. Each week in our seminar meetings, we will subject these texts to a careful reading in order to understand and assess these historians' theories and practices. [ more ]

HIST 302(F) SEM Islamic Law: Past and Present

From fear of the Shari'a to its implementation in so called "Islamic countries," Islamic law is perhaps best associated with draconian punishments and the oppression of women. Islamic law is ever present in our public discourse today and yet little is known about it. This course is designed to give students a foundation in the substantive teachings of Islamic law. Islamic law stretches back over 1400 years and is grounded in the Quran, the life example of the Prophet Muhammad, and juridical discourse. Teetering between legal and ethical discourse, the Shari'a moves between what we normally consider law as well as ethics and etiquette. The course will explore four key aspects of the law: its historical development, its ethical and legal content, the law in practice, and the transformation of Islamic law through colonialism and into the contemporary. Specific areas we will cover include: ritual piety, family and personal status law, criminal law, and dietary rules. [ more ]

HIST 303(S) SEM Food in the Middle East: A History

In this course we examine the rich culinary history of the Middle East first among the three major religions in the region (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), then during the time of major Islamic Empires such as the Abbasids and Ottomans, and finally in the modern period. Using an array of primary and secondary sources, we explore the social, religious, literary, and economic place of food. We will study the consumption of an attitudes toward specific foodstuffs, gauging the medicinal and culinary value of spices, the historical taboos against drinking coffee and alcohol, and the dispute over various dishes within modern nationalist constructions. We will also investigate how Middle Eastern peoples from different ethnic, geographic, and religious backgrounds have historically used food to express their distinct cultural, national, and gendered identities. [ more ]

HIST 304 SEM Sacred Custodians: Environmental Conservation in Africa

Last offered Fall 2020

In this seminar we will explore environmental conservation in Africa. In particular we will look at African ideas, ethics, and approaches to environmental conservation. Are there African ideas, ethics, and activities that are uniquely conservationist in nature? We will explore well-known African leaders to understand what spurred them to become conservationists, how they interpreted and communicated environmental crises. For example, Wangari Maathai is a world-renowned female scientist who established the Green Belt Movement in Kenya. This movement focuses on addressing the problem of de-forestation. Ken Saro-Wiwa was an activist in Nigeria who fought for and alongside local communities against multinational oil corporations. We will examine these and other African conservation practices alongside popular images of environmental crisis that place blame for environmental degradation on Africans. Students will be invited to critically study histories of environmental management on the continent and the emergence, development, and impact of the idea of conservation. We will unpack the rich histories of conservation efforts in Africa, such as resource extraction, game parks, desertification, wildlife and hunting, traditional practices, and climate change. [ more ]

HIST 305(S) SEM A History of Health and Healing in Africa

This class will explore the history of health and healing in Africa, with emphasis on the colonial and post-colonial eras. During the semester we will explore diverse medical and social interventions in African health over the past 150 years. How have African societies understood healthy communities and public health? We will examine this question through the study of spirit possession and other African healing practices but also how they have intersected with different biomedical practices and public health programs. We will also study the patterns and social impacts of new diseases in the twentieth century, as well as transformations in the understanding and treatment of diseases long present on the continent. In particular we will explore shifting understandings of the causes, treatment, and social implications of sleeping sickness, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. The development of colonial rule, shifting environmental conditions, changing diets, and urbanization all impacted the disease landscape, as well as the way African societies have understood public health. Indeed, the themes of health, medicine and disease provide a useful lens for understanding important social transformations across the continent. [ more ]

HIST 306 SEM Indigenous Narratives: From the Fourth World to the Global South

Last offered Spring 2021

In the late 20th century, world literature has witnessed a "boom" in indigenous literature. Many critics and historians describe this global re-emergence of the subaltern and the indigenous in terms of literary justice fostered by post-colonial studies and the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, by the UN General Assembly on December 18, 1992. In this course, we will investigate this "indigenous boom" by reading novels and short stories from the Americas, the Middle East and North Africa from the 1970s to the present. Through these trans-regional and trans-historical peregrinations, our principal goal will be to examine and compare narratives about conquest, settler colonialism, colonial nationalism, indigeneity, sovereignty, indigenous epistemology and philosophy. At the same time, we will consider the following questions: How did pioneering indigenous women writers, such as the Laguna Pueblo Leslie Marmon Silko in the US and the Mayan playwrights of La Fomma in Chiapas, Mexico lead the feminist front of the indigenous literary renaissance? How did Palestinian folktales, Tashelhiyt Berber tales in Morocco, and Mayan dream narratives in Mexico and Guatemala produce narratives of decolonial history? What does the aesthetics of magical realism in Arabic, Quechua and Spanish, respectively, as evident in the works of the Kurdish writer Salim Barakat (Syria) and the mestizo writer José María Arguedas (Peru) tell us about the intersection of race, ethnicity, and indigenous epistemology? Ultimately, our goal is to trace how these texts contributed to global indigenous literature and the trans-historical and trans-geographical connections between them. [ more ]

HIST 307 SEM To Die For? Nationalism in the Middle East

Last offered Fall 2020

In 1932, or twelve years into his rule and twelve years after the establishment of Iraq, King Faysal I lamented that there were "no Iraqi people but only unimaginable masses of human beings, devoid of any patriotic idea, imbued with religious traditions and absurdities, connected by no common tie." This course will consider how true the King's statement still holds by evaluating the various attempts at state and nation building in the modern Middle East. Some of the more prominent questions that this course will examine include: What is a nation? What are essential characteristics of a nation? Who are a people? Why are people ready to die for the nation? And who is included and excluded in the nationalist narrative? After assessing some of the more influential theories of nationalism, we will explore the historical experience of nationalism and national identity in Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. What has been at the basis of nationhood? How did European concepts of nation translate into the Middle Eastern context? What was the role of religion in these modern societies? How did traditional notions of gender effect concepts of citizenship? We will also explore some of the unresolved issues facing the various nations of the Middle East, such as unfulfilled nationalist aspirations, disputes over land and borders, and challenges to sovereignty. [ more ]

HIST 308 SEM The Nile

Last offered Spring 2019

For millennia, the Nile River has sustained civilizations in eastern and northern Africa. It is the only reason that Egyptians have been able to live in the Sahara Desert. It was at the banks of this river that some of the most significant human structures were built and some of the most beautiful artworks conceived. The Nile provided the silt and hence the alluvial soils on which all the great Egyptian empires were founded. Yet now in the 21st century, the Nile River is at a historical turning point. The water level and quality is dwindling while at the same time the number of people who rely on the river is ever increasing. This course will consider the history of the Nile and the peoples and cultures it has sustained. After a brief overview of the role of the river in ancient Egypt, we will explore the modern political and cultural history of the Nile. Who lives along this river and what kind of cultures have developed in the Nile valley? We will evaluate the numerous attempts to manage and control the Nile and the continuous efforts to utilize the river for human development such as agriculture and the tourism industry. At the end of the semester we will consider the relationship of the mega city Cairo with the Nile and whether the tensions among Nile riparian states will lead to "water wars" in East Africa and the Middle East. [ more ]

HIST 309 SEM Fire and Ice: The History of Modern Iceland

Last offered Spring 2019

How have a few wretched souls been able to survive on a frozen tundra in the middle of the north Atlantic for over 1100 years? This course will explore the curious history of Iceland, a small and unimportant country, that despite, or because of its geographic isolation and lack of any valuable natural resources, has been able to develop a distinct national and cultural identity. What lessons can be drawn from the historical experiences of Icelanders? The course will start with the paradigmatic sagas (Egil´s and Njal´s Saga) that have played an out-sized role in the development of Icelandic culture. Then we will assess the nation´s independence, the impact of the world wars, the building of the modern welfare state, and how the country has fared through economic peaks and valleys. At the end of the semester, students will be able to understand the significance of the following phrases: "Fögur er hlíðin," "Deyr fé, deyr frændr," "Þetta reddast," "dugleg/ur," and "Áfram Ísland." This comprehension is, of course, very practical since 320,000 people understand the Icelandic language. [ more ]

HIST 310 LEC Iraq and Iran in the Twentieth Century

Last offered Spring 2017

Despite being neighbors, the historical experience of Iran and Iraq has been drastically different. In this course we will begin by exploring the creation of Iraq in 1921 and the Pahlavi government in Iran. We will evaluate the revolutions of 1958 and 1978-9 and compare the lives and careers of Saddam Hussein and Ayatollah Khomeini. The tragic Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88 will also be discussed. Finally, the political future of these countries will be assessed. [ more ]

HIST 311 Women Warriors, Colonial Soldiers, and Slave Armies: Soldiering and Warfare in African History

Last offered NA

Soldiering is one of the oldest professions in African history. Throughout the continent's long history, ordinary soldiers have risen to become kings, queens, presidents, and held other positions of significance. Soldiers in African history have hailed from diverse backgrounds, ranging from the enslaved to those from the nobility. Notable soldiers in African history have been both men and women. Certainly, in Africa as in other world regions there is a tendency to associate the military profession with men. Yet, there have been famous female military warriors in African history, some of the most famous ones being Queen Nzinga in the seventeenth century; the all-female military units in the kingdom of Dahomey, known for their rigor and being effective fighters; and, more recently, Alice Lakwena who commanded a rebellion that nearly brought down the Ugandan government in the late twentieth century. Some of the other themes which we will explore include how warfare was organized from the precolonial era to more recent times; the impact of changing technologies on warfare and the everyday life of armed soldiers; colonial conquest and the soldiers who fought for Europeans and those who resisted; recruitment criteria during the colonial period, and colonial military identities; service in the military as labor and rebellions and mutinies over pay and work conditions; the army and nationalism. Throughout the course we will challenge the enduring Western image and stereotype of Africa as a violent place by focusing on a) the changing conditions that have pushed individuals and communities to go to war, and b) by examining how Africans have initiated and resolved conflict. Students will analyze a variety of resources including soldiers' biographies, films, oral traditions, and archival sources that will help them to come up with their own arguments about the role of the soldiers and the military in Africa. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

HIST 312 SEM The Mughal Empire: Power, Art, and Religion in India

Last offered Fall 2018

Established in the early 1500s, the Mughal Empire was one of the grandest and the longest to rule the Indian subcontinent for over three hundred years. Commanding unprecedented resources and administering a population of 100 to 150 million at its zenith--much larger than any European empire in the early modern world--the Mughals established a centralized administration, with a vast complex of personnel, money, and information networks. Mughal emperors were also political and cultural innovators of global repute. Moreover, while the Mughal dynasty was brought to an end with British colonial rule over India in 1857, the Mughal administrative structures and cultural influences continued to have a lasting impact on the British and later Indian states that followed. Centered around the intersection of the themes of power, patronage of art and architecture and religion, this course will ask: What factors contributed to the durability of the Mughal Empire for three centuries? How did global trade and innovations in taxation contribute to its wealth and stability? How did this dynasty of Muslim monarchs rule over diverse, and largely non-Muslim populations? How did they combine Persian cultural elements with regional ones to establish an empire that was truly Indian in nature? How were the Mughals viewed in their contemporary world of gunpowder empires like the Safavids of Persia and the Ottomans of Turkey? Readings will include the best of the recent scholarship on this vastly influential empire and a rich collection of primary sources, including emperor's memoirs, accounts of European travelers, and racy biographies, which will allow students make their own analysis. They will also have the opportunity to interpret paintings (some of which are held in the WCMA collections) and architecture. They will also discuss how the Mughals are remembered in South Asian film and music. [ more ]

HIST 313 SEM The People's Republic: China since 1949

Last offered Fall 2018

This course provides a close examination of the six decades of the history of the People's Republic of China, from the 1949 Revolution to the present day. Through readings and discussion, we will explore the multiple political, economic, social, and cultural factors that contributed to the idealism of the "golden age" of Communist Party leadership (1949-65), the political violence of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), the profound transformation of the Reform Era (1978-present) as well as the motors of change in China today. Course materials will include films, novels, and ethnographies, as well as secondary analyses. Please note that this is a discussion seminar and not a survey course. [ more ]

HIST 314 SEM Emperors of Heaven and Earth: Mughal Power and Art in India, 1525-1707

Last offered Fall 2019

The Mughal dynasty ruled over most of northern India from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The Mughal Empire was the grandest and longest to rule the Indian subcontinent--much larger than any European empire in the early modern world--and it continued to have a lasting impact on South Asia. Mughals established a centralized administration with a vast complex of personnel, money and information networks. Styling themselves as 'Emperors of Heaven and Earth', the Mughal kings were also globally viewed as political innovators and unprecedented patrons of art. Their visual practices were as much a part of their imperial ideologies as their administrative and military measures. This co-taught course combines the disciplines of Art History and History to explore the intricate workings of Mughal politics and ideologies. The first of its kind to bring an interdisciplinary approach to teaching South Asia at Williams, the course asks: How did the Mughals sustain their empire for three centuries? How did they use art and politics to rule over diverse and largely non-Muslim populations? How did these Muslim imperial patrons merge Persian and Central Asian cultural values with preexisting Indian forms of administrative and artistic expression? How does Mughal culture continue to shape the South Asian imagination today? Readings will include a variety of visual and literary texts. We will delve deep into the world of biographies, travel accounts, poetry, architecture and a plethora of artworks. Students will take a hands-on approach to Mughal painting through several visits to the WCMA and a dedicated Object Lab. The primary aim of this co-taught course is to introduce students to a multifaceted picture of one of the greatest empires in pre-colonial world history. Another goal is to familiarize them with a wide range of visual and written primary sources and develop a vocabulary for 'reading' these. [ more ]

HIST 318 LEC Nationalism in East Asia

Last offered Fall 2019

Nationalism is a major political issue in contemporary East Asia. From anti-Japanese demonstrations in China, to tensions on the Korea peninsula, to competitive elections in Taiwan, to debates in Japan about the possibility of a woman ascending the Chrysanthemum Throne, national identity is hotly debated and politically mobilized all across the region. This course begins with an examination of the general phenomena of nationalism and national identity. It then considers how nationalism is manifest in the contemporary politics and foreign relations of China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea and Taiwan. [ more ]

HIST 319 SEM Gender and the Family in Chinese History

Last offered Fall 2020

Although sometimes claimed as part of a set of immutable "Asian values," the Chinese family has not remained fixed or stable over time. In this course, we will use the framework of "family" to gain insight into gender, generation, and sexuality in different historical periods. Beginning in the late imperial period (16th-18th Centuries), we will examine the religious, marital, sexual, and child-rearing practices associated with traditional ideals of family. We will also examine the wide variety of "heterodox" practices that existed alongside these ideals, debates over and critiques of gender, family, and sexuality in the twentieth century and in China today. [ more ]

HIST 320 SEM Emotions in Modern Japanese History

Last offered Spring 2021

Emotions have been integral to the human experience--to relationships between people, political decision making, economic behavior, individual and communal identities, international affairs, and national projects. This course will consider a full range of emotions including fear, insecurity, pride, anxiety, desire, anger, and happiness. And it will examine these emotions as both actors in history and subjects of historical inquiry. We will ask how emotions have reflected and shaped the making of modern Japan. What role have emotions played in steering the course of Japanese history, from the modernizing revolutions of the late 1800s, imperialism, colonialism, and war, to the navigation of both affluence and economic insecurity in the postwar era? How have emotions been talked about and represented in modern Japan? We will also discuss different ways of researching and writing a history of emotions. [ more ]

HIST 321 SEM History of U.S.-Japan Relations, 1853-Present

Last offered Spring 2021

An unabating tension between conflict and compromise has been an undercurrent of U.S.-Japan relations since the 1850s, at times erupting into clashes reaching the scale of world war and at times allowing for measured collaboration. We will explore the U.S.-Japan relationship from the perspectives of both countries with a focus on how culture, domestic concerns, economic and political aims, international contexts, and race have helped shape its course and nature. This course will fulfill the Difference, Power, and Equity requirement by examining not just the diplomatic relationship between the U.S. and Japan, but also how various types of interactions have influenced the dynamics of power between these two countries and have shaped the ways in which each country has understood and portrayed the other. [ more ]

HIST 323 LEC From Achilles to Alexander: Leadership and Community in Ancient Greece

Last offered Fall 2018

Visionary, opportunist, reformer, tyrant, demagogue, popular champion: concise characterization of influential leaders is often irresistible. But placing leaders in their much less easily encapsulated political, social, and religious contexts reveals them to be far more complicated and challenging subjects. Among the questions that will guide our study of Greek leadership: Was the transformative leader in a Greek city always an unexpected one, arising outside of the prevailing political and/or social systems? To what extent did the prevailing systems determine the nature of transformative as well as of normative leadership? How did various political and social norms contribute to legitimating particular kinds of leader? After studying such leaders as the "tyrants" who prevailed in many Greek cities of both the archaic and classical eras, then Athenian leaders like Solon, Cleisthenes, Cimon, Pericles, Cleon, and Demosthenes, and Spartans like Cleomenes, Leonidas, Brasidas, and Lysander, we will focus on Alexander the Great, whose unique accomplishments transformed every aspect of Greek belief about leadership, national boundaries, effective government, the role of the governed, and the legitimacy of power. Readings will include accounts of leadership and government by ancient Greek authors (e.g. Homer, Solon, Herodotus, Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, Demosthenes, all in translation) and contemporary historians and political theorists. [ more ]

HIST 324 LEC The Development of Christianity: 30-600 C.E.

Last offered Fall 2011

This class will introduce you to the history, writings, practices, and structures of early Christians between 30-600 CE. Who were "Christians" and how did they understand and define themselves in this time period? What historical and cultural factors influenced the ways in which Christians were perceived, could imagine themselves, and lived? While this class addresses the basic flow of events and major figures in early Christian history, it will also require you to develop a critical framework for the study of history in general. In addition, you will gain significant experience in the critical analysis of primary source materials. Special attention will be paid to the incredible diversity of early Christian thought and practice. [ more ]

HIST 327(S) SEM A History of the German Democratic Republic

This seminar is a cultural history of the German Democratic Republic that focuses on the lives and experiences of East Germans from 1949 to 1990 and beyond. The course relies heavily on primary sources, including films, works of literature and art, ego documents such as memoirs, diaries, and letters, as well as the documentary, The Children of Golzow, that covers the lives of a handful of East Germans from 1960 to 2007. Proceeding chronologically, the course will consider the emergence of the GDR out of the Second World War and the Third Reich between 1945 and 1950; the GDR during the 1950s, including the workers' uprising and the brief liberalization that occurred in its aftermath; the GDR in the shadow of the Wall during the 1960s; the GDR during the 1970s under Erich Honecker with its emphasis on consumerism; the GDR during the last decade of its existence during the 1980s with increasing economic stagnation, environmental degradation, popular disillusionment, and the ascendance of the Stasi state; and, finally, the collapse of the GDR and the subsequent experience of its former citizen in the Federal Republic of Germany after 1989. [ more ]

HIST 328(S) SEM The Making and Unmaking of the United Kingdom

England may be a very old country, but the United Kingdom (technically the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) is a relatively new concoction, newer in fact than the United States of America. Although James VI of Scotland ascended both the English and Irish thrones as James I in 1603, it was only in 1707 that the Acts of Union united the two separate kingdoms of Scotland and England into one nation, Great Britain. And it was only in 1800 that further Acts of Union brought Ireland into the fold, creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. This would itself only last until 1922 when, after bloody civil war, Ireland was partitioned, leaving only the northern six counties remaining in the United Kingdom. Largely through discussion, this course will explore the troubled making and unmaking of the United Kingdom since 1689. After considering the meaning of the nation, nationalism, and national identity, it will focus on specific moments in the history of that making and unmaking. Topics will include: the revolution of 1688-89 and subsequent Scottish Highland support for the discredited Jacobites (followers of ousted monarch, James II); Anglo-Scottish commercial interests that fueled the Acts of Union in 1707; the defeat of the Jacobites in the last battle on British soil in 1746; Anglo-Irish relations in the eighteenth century that fueled the creation of the United Kingdom in 1800 against the backdrop of the French Revolution; the nineteenth-century movement for Irish Home Rule, culminating in the Easter Rising in 1916 and the partition of the island; the more recent resurgence of Scottish and Welsh nationalism, leading to the establishment of the Welsh and Scottish parliaments and a referendum on Scottish independence; and, finally, the current dilemma of Northern Ireland. Although primarily a political history of the four nations that comprise the United Kingdom, the course will also focus on the cultural meanings of Britishness in the eighteenth century, the imperial dimensions of national belonging in the nineteenth century, multi-racial attempts to recast Britishness against the backdrop of postwar imperial decline, and recent, right-wing formations of Englishness in the context of the fragmentation of the United Kingdom and Britain's exit from the European Union. [ more ]

HIST 329(S) SEM The History of Witch-Hunting and Witchcraft in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

Between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, some 50,000 people--overwhelmingly women, but also some men and children--were hunted, prosecuted and executed for witchcraft all over Europe and its colonies. In this seminar, we investigate through the reading of primary and secondary sources why and how this phenomenon developed in the early middle ages, and then erupted and subsided in the early modern period. We also examine the various methodologies and arguments that historians have employed and debated over the past decades to try and explain why and how witch hunting, witchcraft beliefs and prosecutions influenced and impacted European cultures and societies. Lastly, the study of witch-hunting and witchcraft will also inform our understanding of its place in the religious, political, legal, social, and cultural development of medieval and early modern Europe, as well as of its connections to the histories of European persecution, heresy, antisemitism, gender and state formations, demonology, magic, and race. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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HIST 330 SEM Reformations: Faith, Politics, and the World

Last offered Spring 2020

The Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century was one of the major transformations in the history of Christianity, a faith whose 2.2 billion adherents make it the largest religion in the world today. Martin Luther and his followers sparked a schism that changed what it meant to be a Christian, and, by various reckonings, helped to create the state as we know it, the modern self, capitalism and even, as an unintended consequence, secularism. As inhabitants of a post-Protestant society, we have much to learn about the world in which we live from studying the Reformation and its legacies. While considering classic interpretations, this seminar will also probe recent research on the plural Reformations: not just Protestant but also Catholic, and not solely the elite movement of Luther and John Calvin but also the Reformation of women and peasants. What was at stake in these sweeping transformations of what it meant to be a Christian? We will consider theological debates about human agency, the changing relationship of religion and the state, female mysticism, religious warfare, iconoclasm, the arrival of Protestantism in New England, and toleration. We will work intensively in Chapin Library, examining books of hours, Bibles, missals, psalters, and primers. The seminar will also visit WCMA and the Hancock Shaker Village. Authors to be read include Luther, Calvin, Teresa of Ávila, Jean Bodin, Ignatius of Loyola, and John Winthrop. Note: due to the constraints of rare-book research, enrollment is capped at 12. [ more ]

HIST 331 SEM European Intellectual History from Aquinas to Kant

Last offered Fall 2019

The scholars and philosophers of early modern Europe set the agenda for much of modern thought concerning epistemology, morality, religion, and politics. Many of their debates still inform our intellectual world: How do we know what we know? Is human nature intrinsically selfish? What is the nature of God, and of His revelation? Should we prefer individual freedom or political stability? Our seminar will retrace the long and winding path from the intellectual culture of late medieval Europe to that of the Enlightenment. We will try to understand how a Christian culture of manuscript books, whose inquiries were conducted in Latin, transformed into a secular culture of public debate in new printed publications such as journals and newspapers in vernacular languages (English, French, German, etc.). In the process, we will encounter the foundational movements that structured European thought and the making of knowledge in these centuries: scholasticism, humanism, the new philosophy and the Enlightenment. Ultimately, we will recover the arguments of major thinkers and consider what they can teach us today. Authors to be read include Petrarch, Christine de Pizan, Thomas More, Descartes, Leibniz, Montesquieu and Rousseau. [ more ]

HIST 332 SEM Queer Europe: Sexualities and Politics since 1850

Last offered Fall 2020

This course explores the construction, articulation, and politics of queer sexual desire in Europe from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. By placing queer sexualities in their broader social and political context, the course examines the ways in which sexuality has become central to questions of identity, both personal and national, in modern European society. Topics include: ways of thinking about the queer past; women's "friendships" in Victorian Britain; the role of the new science of sexology in specifying various "sexual perversions"; the rise of sexual undergrounds in the context of European urbanization; the birth of campaigns for "homosexual emancipation"; attempts to regulate and suppress "deviant" sexualities, especially under the fascist and Nazi regimes in the 1930s; the effects of the postwar consumer revolution on the practices of sexual selfhood; the postwar "sex change" debates; the politics of 1950s homophile organizing and the 1970s Gay Liberation Movement; and recent debates about migrant queer identities in an increasingly multicultural Europe. The course will focus primarily on experiences in Britain, France, and Germany, but with some detours to Italy and Russia. Readings will be drawn from sexological texts, political tracts, memoirs, and the writings of recent historians and theorists. Several films will be screened and will also be central to our discussions of the changing meanings of sexual selfhood in modern European societies. [ more ]

HIST 333 SEM Postwar Britain: Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Change, 1945-1990

Last offered Spring 2016

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 by turning the clock back; finally, throughout this period successive waves of immigration appeared to many to challenge 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 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. [ more ]

HIST 335 SEM Weimar Germany

Last offered Fall 2020

The Weimar Republic has been examined and re-examined, not only in an effort to account for the failure of democracy and the rise of Hitler in Germany but also for its remarkable artistic achievements. Using a variety of primary documents, including movies, works of art and literature, as well as more traditional historical sources and the writings of historians, this course will consider the social, political, and cultural history of the Weimar Republic. At issue in the course will be the relationship between the political and social instability and the cultural blossoming that characterized Germany during the 1920s. We will also consider whether the Weimar Republic in general, and Weimar culture, in particular are better understood as the product of Germany's past or as harbingers of its future. [ more ]

HIST 336 LEC National-Socialist Germany

Last offered Spring 2020

This course is a history of National-Socialist Germany based to a considerable extent on primary documents. Students will use the documents to reconstruct the history of the Third Reich and to articulate and assess some of the principal historiographical debates relating to National-Socialist Germany. The course will consider the following topics: the failure of the Weimar Republic and the rise of National Socialism; the consolidation of Nazi rule; the experiential reality of the Volksgemeinschaft; the popularity of National Socialism; youth and women in the Third Reich; Nazi culture; Nazi racism and image of the Jew; Gestapo terror; the pre-war persecution of Jews; popular German anti-Semitism; the regime's euthanasia program; the Nazi Empire; the experience of war in Russia; the implementation of the "Final Solution to the Jewish Problem"; German knowledge of and complicity in the "Final Solution"; the experience of "total war" on the home front; resistance to National Socialism; and the collapse of the Third Reich. The course will focus especially on how ordinary Germans experienced and participated in the history through which they lived. We will take an empathic approach to National-Socialist Germany and to the Germans who lived through this period, attempting to understand why they felt, thought, and acted as they did. We will also consider the epistemological and ethical problems involved in attempting to empathize with Nazis. [ more ]

HIST 337 SEM After Stalin: Soviet History from "Thaw" to Collapse

Last offered Fall 2019

When Joseph Stalin died in 1953, the crowd of people that gathered to view his embalmed body on Moscow's Red Square grew so large, it provoked a stampede that killed nearly 500 people. This moment embodies the uncertainty and challenges that ordinary citizens and state officials faced when they imagined what a post-Stalin future might bring to the Soviet Union. For all the suffering that his rule infected on the Soviet people, Stalin remained for many a reliable constant in a life dominated by revolution and war. Stalin's successors faced a classic dilemma: how to reform and breathe new life into a system without disturbing the foundation it needs to stand intact? Despite superpower status and some stunning achievements at home and abroad, the fault lines in Soviet society ran deep. This course will consider the experiences that grew out of the uncertainty that emerged after Stalin's death. We will examine how the "Soviet experiment" evolved - politically, legally, socially, culturally - once the last of the original Bolshevik revolutionaries left the Kremlin. What opportunities did the post-Stalin moment open up for political elites, members of the professional class, the intelligentsia, and citizens from Soviet republics and satellite states? What obstacles did they face, and how successful were they at overcoming them? In what ways did the spirit of the October and Stalinist Revolutions persist or erode from 1953 until 1991? Most importantly, how did the "children of the revolution" participate in, check out of, or contest the socialist system whose birth their parents witnessed first hand? After all, more generations experienced the Soviet Union without Stalin as their leader than generations who only knew a life with the "Vozhd" in power. Through secondary and primary source readings, we will attempt to recover the voices of those whose lives both shaped and were shaped by the nearly four decades after Joseph Stalin's death. [ more ]

HIST 338 LEC The History of the Holocaust

Last offered Fall 2019

In twenty-first century United States, the murder of approximately six million European Jews by Nazi Germany remains a central event in our political, moral, and cultural universe. Nevertheless, the Holocaust still confounds historians¿ efforts to understand both the motivations of the perpetrators and the suffering of the victims. In this course, we will study the origins and unfolding of Nazi Germany¿s genocidal policies, taking into consideration the perspectives of those who carried out mass murder as well as the experiences and responses of Jews and other victim groups to persecution. We will also examine the Holocaust within the larger context of the history of World War II in Europe and historians¿ debates about Germany¿s exterminatory war aims. Course materials will include diaries, speeches, bureaucratic documents, memoirs, films, and historical scholarship. [ more ]

HIST 339 The German Democratic Republic: A Cultural History

Last offered NA

This course is a history of the German Democratic Republic largely as experienced by its citizens. Using primarily cultural documents, novels, films, works of art, and documentaries, along with more traditional historical documents, the course will seek to reconstruct and analyze the experience of East Germans from 1945 until 1989 and beyond. Topics to be considered include the legacy of the Third Reich and the lost war, the founding of the socialist state, the impact of Marxist ideology on the lives of East Germans, the Ulbricht era, the impact of the building of the Wall in 1961, the Honecker era and the emergence of the Stasi state, the end of the GDR in 1989, and the experiences of East Germans in unified Germany. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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HIST 341 SEM Collapse: The Fall and Afterlife of the Soviet Union

Last offered Fall 2020

On Christmas Day 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev ended two things: his tenure as President of the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Union itself. In the years that followed, the Soviet Union's fifteen national republics splintered overnight into more than a dozen nation states along uneven and highly contest ethnic lines. In Russia, Boris Yeltsin assumed office as the first president of the Russian Federation, and without delay, began to institute radical economic and social reforms. Under his watch, the country privatized national industry, cut the state budget, and courted foreign multinational businesses. The world most commonly used to describe Russia in the early 1990s is "disappear": money, jobs, food, and people. The very things that Soviet-style socialism had committed itself to providing for started to vanish as a result of invisible and market forces. Russian nationalism replaced Soviet internationalism as a guiding national idea. This course will explore what emerged in the spaces left empty after Soviet-style socialism's demise in three parts. The first part of the semester will examine the origins of the Soviet Union's collapse and its breakup into fifteen successor states. The second part of the semester will survey the political, economic, and social processes that followed the collapse. Finally, the third part of the course will focus on Putin's ascendancy to the presidency and its consequences for Russian citizens at home and Russia's image abroad. Three themes will occupy a prominent place in the course: political-economy, nationalism, and identity. By semester's end, students will have acquired the content and analytical literacy to place the former Soviet Union in its specific historical context and identify multiple sources of causation that may help explain Russia's transition from socialism to capitalism to Putinism during the past quarter century. [ more ]

HIST 342 SEM Sounds and Pressures: Music in the 1970s Caribbean

Last offered Spring 2020

For the Caribbean the 1970s was a decade of cultural excitement and political tragedy. 1960s radical consciousness contributed to rapidly changing music styles that formed by the early seventies and blossomed on the world stage as the decade progressed. This was the period when Jamaican Reggae, Haitian Konpa, and Spanish Caribbean Salsa, asserted their presence in the mainstream. But the countries that birthed these popular music forms were locked in political crisis. In Jamaica, political violence escalated, Haiti faced a brutal dictatorship and Cuba was caught in the midst of Cold War strain. A common response to these challenges was massive emigration from the Caribbean to the United States. This course will examine the music produced in the 1970s Caribbean and its relationship to the forces of migration, national politics, and inter-regional contact. After a background on Cuban and Haitian music, the course will give greatest focus to Jamaican politics its relationship with Reggae, which reached further than any other Caribbean music form in the 1970s. It will explore the journeys of the music as it accompanied and oftentimes preceded the arrival of large numbers of Caribbean immigrants. In the process, the US imaginary of the Caribbean was reshaped by the popularization of Caribbean commercial music. [ more ]

Taught by: Matthew Smith

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HIST 346(F) LEC Modern Brazil

Brazil has been the "country of the future" longer than it has been an independent nation. Soon after Europeans descended on its shores, Brazil was hailed as a land of resources so rich and diverse that they would inevitably produce great wealth and global power for its inhabitants. Although this has often contributed to an exaggerated patriotism, it has also fostered ambiguity-for if the label suggests Brazil's potential, it also underlines the country's failure to live up to that promise. This course will examine Brazil's modern history by taking up major themes from Independence to the present. Beginning with a "bloodless" independence that sparked massive civil wars, we will analyze the hierarchies that have characterized Brazilian society. The course will give particular attention to themes of race, gender, sexuality, and citizenship; national culture and modernity; and democracy and authoritarianism in social and political relations. [ more ]

HIST 347 SEM Democracy and Dictatorship in Latin America

Last offered Spring 2021

The scarcity of stable and democratic governments in Latin America has frustrated observers across the region and beyond for almost 200 years. This course will examine the historical creation of both democratic and anti-democratic regimes in different national cases, seeking to identify the conditions that have fostered the apparent persistence of dictatorial tendencies as well as diverse forms of pro-democratic and social justice activism. Our main cases will be Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Peru, and the countries of Central America, but we will address the region as a whole. In this regard we will look at the social and economic forces as well as the political actors and ideologies that have contributed to distinct, if often parallel, outcomes. At the same time, we will also question the criteria we use to label regimes "democratic" or "dictatorial"--and the implications of our choice of criteria. [ more ]

HIST 352(F, S) SEM American Maritime History

This course explores themes in American maritime history from the colonial era to the 21st century. We will consider the dynamic relationship between the sea and American life, and the broad influence that each has had on the other. This relationship led to interactions with the water as a highway for the transportation of not just people and goods, but powerful new forces and ideas. The water creates a unique space for the formation of new communities and identities, while also acting as an important, and often exploited, resource. We will sample from different fields of inquiry including labor, environmental, cultural, and political history to gain a deeper understanding of diverse people's complex interactions with the oceans and seas. [ more ]

HIST 353(F) SEM Controversies in American Thought

This course will explore some of the most explosive controversies to shape modern America -- from debates over Darwinism to the so-called 'culture wars' -- through the lens of intellectual history. Students will examine how the emergence of new ideas about science, capitalism, democracy, race, and gender have fueled divisive conflict in the United States since the mid-19th century. In the process, they will wrestle with invigorating intellectual critiques of American life, while thinking historically about the transformative power of ideas, both academic and popular. The course will cover debates over such topics as: the purpose of higher education; eugenics and evolutionary theory; 'madness' and femininity; the nature of truth; social democracy and modern capitalism; immigration and nationalism; racial identity and inequality; and the state of intellectual life today. [ more ]

HIST 354(F) SEM The Revolutionary Generation: Galaxy of Leaders

The American Revolution produced a galaxy of brilliant and creative statesmen and intellectuals: Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, Adams. In this seminar, we will study their astounding accomplishments--a successful war of independence, a Constitution and Bill of Rights, enduring democratic political institutions, and a nascent party system. But mostly we will focus on their ideas, for they were thinking revolutionaries. We will examine in depth and in detail their superb writings, their letters and speeches as well as Madison and Hamilton's Federalist essays. We will also read recent interpretations of the founding generation by Gordon Wood, Joseph Ellis, Bernard Bailyn, and others. [ more ]

HIST 355(F) SEM The CIA and American Foreign Policy

Despite an American aversion to espionage captured by Secretary of State Henry Stimson's oft-cited (yet unsubstantiated) remark, "Gentlemen don't read each other's mail," intelligence history in the United States dates back to the Revolutionary War. Still, it took the shock of Pearl Harbor for the United States to establish a permanent peacetime civilian intelligence service independent of another federal department--the Central Intelligence Agency. Since then, the agency and others which comprise the loose entity called the Intelligence Community (IC) have played a pivotal albeit intensely controversial role in US foreign and national security policies. Yet their roles and missions remain largely misunderstood and divisive, as attested to by recent debates surrounding the multiple investigations of the 9/11 tragedy, the flawed pre-war estimates of Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) capabilities, the reporting on Benghazi, the Snowden revelations, and much more. This course seeks to provide greater understanding of the relationship between intelligence and US foreign and national security policy by examining the CIA's and IC's roles and responsibilities, illuminating their history alongside the history of America and the World, assessing their successes and failures, evaluating their reforms, and correlating their behavior and capabilities with US values and institutions. [ more ]

HIST 358(S) SEM The Roosevelt Style of Leadership

In this seminar, we will study the political and moral leadership of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. The three Roosevelts transformed and expanded the role of government in American society, bringing about fundamental and lasting change. What were their leadership strategies and styles? How did TR and FDR differ in their approaches to leadership? Were the ideas behind TR's "Square Deal" and FDR's "New Deal" similar? How did Dr. New Deal become Dr. Win-the-War? How did they balance political deal-making with bold, principled leadership? What kind of leadership role did Eleanor Roosevelt play? In addition to studying biographies and especially the writings and speeches of TR, FDR, and ER, we will do research using the Proquest data base of historical newspapers, to see history as it was being made. [ more ]

HIST 360 SEM Mapping North America: Critical Cartographies

Last offered Fall 2020

This course examines histories of mapping: what maps show, and what places the practices of cartography have tended to erase, distort, or conceal. Focusing on North America, it examines how Native Americans, African-Americans, and Euro-colonial peoples strongly contested the meanings and representations of "place." Course topics include Indigenous mapping traditions and concepts of homelands spaces; European navigational strategies and colonialism; urban planning; and scientific as well as military depictions of particular lands and waters, especially west of the Mississippi River. The course teaches strategies for employing maps as primary sources, and ways of understanding the historical and ideological circumstances of their production and circulation. It will offer opportunities to critically engage cartographic materials in Williams College's archival and museum collections, and to develop independent research projects. [ more ]

HIST 361 LEC The Atlantic World: Connections, Crossings, and Confluences

Last offered Fall 2019

Early Americans inhabited an interconnected world through which people, beliefs, and objects circulated. This course explores the "Atlantic World" as both a place and a concept: an ocean surrounded by diverse communities and empires, and an imagined space of shared or competing affiliations. Moving from the tenth century to the nineteenth, it examines ecological, cultural, political, economic, intellectual, and religious exchanges among Native Americans, Europeans and colonizers, and Africans and African Americans. It introduces both conceptual dimensions of this Atlantic paradigm and case studies that investigate its human subtleties, with the goal of examining early American history through a transnational lens. The course will take up the stories of Wabanaki mariners and Norse/Viking expansionists; Pocahontas, a trio of Inuit people, and myriad other Indigenous travelers to Europe; West African survivors of the Middle Passage and their enslaved descendants who pushed for survival and recognition of their humanity overseas; New England religious dissidents, intellectuals, and profiteers from Caribbean slavery; Touissant L'Ouverture and the reverberations of the Haitian Revolution; and whaling ship crews who pursued cetaceans ever farther out at sea, among other topics. The course also delves into new methodologies for telling histories that have been unevenly presented or seemingly silenced in traditional documentary archives, probing ways that oral traditions, songs, archaeology, material culture, and other forms of expression and representation can help recast the nature and meanings of these connected spaces and histories. Additionally, it provides an opportunity to engage with original materials pertaining to Atlantic World histories in the Williams College Archives/Special Collections and Art Museum. [ more ]

HIST 362 SEM Indigenous Women's History

Last offered Spring 2019

What would it mean to locate indigenous women and their stories at the heart of American history? This advanced junior seminar course answers this question by centering the lives of indigenous women from the pre-colonial period through the present. We will discuss both the historical importance of these women's lives, as well as the methodological and ethical concerns that arise through the historiographic recovery of their stories. We analyze both canonical figures--such as La Malinche, Pocahontas, and Sakakawea--as well as lesser known historical actors, political leaders, writers, and artists. [ more ]

Taught by: Tyler Rogers

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HIST 363 SEM Cold War Technocultures

Last offered Spring 2015

With the Soviet Union's collapse at the end of the twentieth century and the emergence of the United States as an unchallenged victor and "new world" hegemon, have we lost a sense of the drama, fear, and unbridled terror that permeated American life during the Cold War? In this course we will set out to understand Cold War American culture(s) by examining the intersection of politics, aesthetics, and a range of major technoscientific developments during this period. The course will take shape in three parts. Part I will explore the emergence and role of the computer in shaping the distinctly American style of thought aimed at Soviet "containment". We will furthermore trace historical treads connecting MIT's legendary Whirlwind computer, the SAGE continental air defense system, nuclear wargaming at the RAND Corporation, artificial intelligence, and the advanced technologies, management strategies, and atrocities of the Vietnam War. Part II takes up the symbolic potency of the space race, which we will use as a conduit through which to explore the following events and developments: Sputnik, Yuri Gagarin's spaceflight, the Apollo moon landing, and American civil defense; the postwar science of cybernetics and the emergence of the now iconic cyborg; the Club of Rome's Limits to Growth report and the Gaia hypothesis; plans backed by NASA for the industrialization, humanization, and colonization of outer space; and Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, '"Star Wars". Finally, case studies considered in Part III will focus on moments of conflict and resistance, appropriation, and unintended consequences of the preceding and other Cold War technological developments, among them antipsychiatry and environmentalism; Project Cybersyn, an infrastructural causality of the US/CIA-backed Chilean coup of 1973; the American counterculture and the countercultural roots of neoliberalism(s). [ more ]

HIST 366(S) SEM What They Saw in America

This course traces the travels and writings of four important observers of the United States: Alexis de Tocqueville, Max Weber, G.K. Chesterton, and Sayyid Qutb. The course will consider their respective journeys: Where did they go? With whom did they talk? What did they see? The historical scope and varying national origins of the observers provide a unique and useful outsider's view of America--one that sheds light on persisting qualities of American national character and gives insight into the nature and substance of international attitudes toward the United States over time. The course will analyze the common themes found in the visitors' respective writings about America and will pay particular attention to their insights on religion, democracy, agrarianism, capitalism, and race. [ more ]

HIST 367(S) SEM Black History is Labor History

This seminar explores labor history in relation to black people, spanning the colonial period to the early twenty-first century. It racializes the history of work by tracing the long story of black labor in the U.S. from the plantation to the plant. Whereas the bulk of the course will analyze black labor and labor movements in the twentieth century, specifically focusing on the push for economic inclusion and mobility amid employment, societal and union-related racial discrimination, we will examine what involuntary black labor meant in the context of slavery and the construction of a capitalist economy. Likewise, we will devote attention to black workers with regard to such topics as antiunionism, deindustrialization, economic inequality, Fordism, informal economies, Jim and Jane Crow, labor radicalism and violence, New Deal and welfare, the rise of civil rights unionism, and slavery and capitalism, among other themes. [ more ]

HIST 368 SEM Framing American Slavery

Last offered Fall 2020

Readings in American Slavery This course will delve into how and what historians have written about US slavery for the last century or so. Rather than marching through time, like we might in a survey course, we'll explore the nooks and crannies of slavery's history. We'll consider gender and sexuality, labor and capitalism, regional difference, maritime culture, and every day life. We'll compare histories produced well before the Civil Rights Movement to books written afterward. We'll consider the obstacles and challenges Black scholars faced in the academy and consider the significance of their work. Finally, we'll examine slavery's role in today's world, beginning with the institution's relationship with American universities and continuing on to the recent protests against monuments and statues. [ more ]

HIST 370 LEC The Caribbean and the World: 1945-1968

Last offered Fall 2020

The ending of the Second World War in 1945 coincided with the dawn of a new nationalism in the modern Caribbean. The British territories were beginning their shift away from colonialism and charting a path toward independence that would arrive in the early 1960s. Their independent neighbors contended with US imperialism which greatly shaped questions of race, nationalism, and sovereignty. By the 1960s much of the region faced crises that grew out of the tensions of the postwar period. This course examines closely these transformations in the Caribbean. It is divided into three parts. The course begins with an examination of the ideas about race, state development and empire that dominated Caribbean intellectual discourse of the 1940s. Key texts for this period include the works of Caribbean intellectuals such as Roger Mais, Una Marson, CLR James, and Jacques Roumain who considered the possibilities of racial equality and democracy in the postcolonial Caribbean. The course then looks more closely at 1950s attempts to forge greater Caribbean unity during the early Cold War years. West Indian Federation and the circuits of travel within the Caribbean are given special focus. Finally, the course will discuss challenges of the postcolonial Caribbean by looking at the circumstances and wider responses to regional radicalism in the 1960s. The key events that will be examined in this section include the Duvalier dictatorship, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and black power in Jamaica in 1968. [ more ]

Taught by: Matthew Smith

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HIST 372(F) SEM The North American West: Histories and Meanings

This course will explore the various and contested histories of the geographical region in North America that Americans often call "the West." With porous boundaries; changing empires and national borders; an extraordinarily diverse mix of peoples; and most importantly, continuous Indigenous presence to the present day, this region poses foundational questions about the construction of American history. What if, from the vantage point of the 1780s, we look not at the founding of the United States in the East but at the elaboration of the Spanish mission system in California and other parts of the Southwest? What if, instead of understanding "the West" as a place that people migrated "to" from "the East," we think about "the West" as a place diversely inhabited for thousands of years that experienced very sudden and violent forms of military conquest and settler colonialism, as well as waves of migration from many different compass points around the globe? And where do Americans narratives of western "individualism" fit into the histories of massive federal interventions in "the West"? We will take up these and many other questions as we examine topics from the era before Europeans arrived in North America to the present day. [ more ]

HIST 373 LEC Sites of Memory and American Wars

Last offered Spring 2019

This course will examine the ways that U.S. military ventures have been memorialized through a variety of physical sites, including landscapes, monuments and statues, museums, and other depictions. We will ask such questions as: How and why have the memorializations of wars in America changed over time? Who determines what is preserved and what stories are told? What is the relationship between individual experiences, collective memories, and national narratives? What do sites of memory tell us about history, about society's views of wars and of soldiers, and about America? We will look at these questions both throughout U.S. history and through case studies, including the American Civil War, the wars against indigenous nations, World Wars I and II, and Vietnam. [ more ]

HIST 374 LEC American Medical History

Last offered Spring 2015

This course will cover major themes in American medical history and historiography from the colonial period through the twentieth century. Every aspect of American "medicine" underwent tremendous transition during the period we will study. Medical education, the medical profession, and notions about cures and care changed fundamentally, as did ideas about the nature of illness itself. Our course of study, in addition to charting ways in which the practice of medicine in America has developed, will make an equal effort to understand how medicine has changed and affected American society. Topics that we will investigate include cholera, TB, and childbirth in American society, as well as other medical phenomena. [ more ]

HIST 375 LEC History of American Childhood

Last offered Fall 2014

Over the course of American history both the experience of childhood and our understandings of childhood have changed radically. Children have been bought and sold as slaves, hanged as convicted witches, and purchased slaves themselves. A century ago many children were sent "out to work" at ages that our society now defines as too young even to be left alone in the house. Common experiences of modern middle-class American childhood--summer camp, secondary school, and organized youth sports teams--are recent additions to American life. Through reading works of history and autobiography we will explore American childhood and what attitudes toward specific groups of children reveals about American society. [ more ]

HIST 376 SEM Sex, Gender, and the Law in U.S. History

Last offered Spring 2020

This course explores how the law in America has defined and regulated gender and sexuality. We will evaluate how the law has dictated different roles for men and women, how sexual acts have been designated as legal or illegal, and the ways that race, class, and nationality have complicated the definition and regulation of gender and sexuality. We will examine how assumptions about gender and sexuality have informed the creation and development of American law, contested interpretations of the Constitution, and the changing meanings of citizenship; We will consider how seemingly gender neutral laws have yielded varied effects for men and women across race and class divides, challenging some differences while naturalizing others. Finally, we will examine the power and shortcomings of appeals to formal legal equality waged by diverse groups and individuals. Throughout the course, we will consider the various methodologies and approaches of the interdisciplinary field of legal history. Topics to be covered will include the Constitution, slavery, marriage, divorce, custody, inheritance, immigration, sexual violence, reproduction, abortion, privacy, suffrage, jury duty, work, and military service. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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HIST 378 SEM American Conservatism

Last offered Fall 2020

This course traces the history of modern conservatism in the United States, from the early 20th century to the present. Students will examine the key ideas, leaders, and social movements that fueled and defined the rise of the modern right, broadly construed. In the process, they will go beyond electoral politics, exploring the relationship between conservativism and American life more broadly - especially in the realms of race relations, gender and sexuality, religion, and capitalism. Students will be asked to think historically, considering how the right rose from obscurity to political ascendance over the course of the 20th century. And they will be asked to engage theoretically, considering what (if anything) has defined conservatism in principle and in practice. In the process, they will examine such topics as Christian fundamentalism; anti-New Deal organizing; Cold War nationalism; the GOP's 'Southern Strategy;' law and order politics; anti-feminism and the culture wars; neoliberal economics; and neoconservative foreign policy. [ more ]

HIST 379 LEC Black Women in the United States

Last offered Spring 2021

As slaves and free women, activists, domestics, artists and writers, African Americans have played exciting and often unexpected roles in U.S. political, social, and cultural history. In this course we will examine black women's lives from the earliest importation of slaves from Africa and the Caribbean through to the expansion of slavery, the Civil War, freedom, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights movements, and up to the present day. Consistent themes we will explore are the significance of gender in African American history and the changing roles and public perceptions of black women both inside and outside the black community. We will read and discuss a combination of primary and secondary sources; we will also consider music, art, and literature, as well as more standard "historical" texts. [ more ]

HIST 380 LEC Comparative American Immigration History

Last offered Fall 2020

This course covers the history of immigration to the U.S. from the 1800s to the present. It compares the experiences of immigrants from Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. [ more ]

HIST 381(S) LEC The Legal History of Asian America

This course will focus on how certain legal structures have shaped the Asian American experience. We will examine the impact of the laws that are part of the anti-Chinese movement, the Chinese Exclusion Act, the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII, school desegregation, citizenship cases, and other legal decisions that have influenced the development of Asian American history. [ more ]

HIST 383 SEM Religion and American Capitalism

Last offered Fall 2020

Was Jesus a revolutionary socialist or a savvy salesman? Does capitalism bring prosperity to the virtuous or breed selfishness and sin? Shall the meek inherit the earth or should the hand of the diligent rule? Is it holier to renounce worldly wealth or crusade against poverty? These questions have long preoccupied religious believers, and their changing answers have transformed the history of American capitalism. This course invites students to study that history, from the early 19th century to the present. It will cover such topics as: utopian communes; the political economy of slavery; working-class religion and labor organizing; Christian and Jewish socialism; big business and the Prosperity Gospel; 'New Age' spirituality and the counterculture; and conservative Christianity in the age of Wal-Mart and Chick-Fil-A. [ more ]

HIST 384(F) LEC Selected Topics in Asian American Studies

Assuming some previous knowledge of Asian American history, this course will examine a number of specific topics in Asian American Studies. Using historical sources, monographs, graphic memoirs, novels, and films, potential topics include Asians of mixed race, Orientalism, adoption, food culture, the "model minority," legal studies, Asian Americans and the environment, and the impact of war on Asian American history. [ more ]

HIST 385 SEM Latinx Politics in New York City and Beyond

Last offered Spring 2021

Latinas and Latinos have long sought inclusion in the U.S. polity and society. The meanings and terms of inclusion have shifted historically, as have the methods for seeking that inclusion. This course explores activism that has included community building to meet immediate needs, social service approaches, community-based organizing, political and social movements, and participation in pre-existing unions and political groups, as well as electoral politics. At times working within existing structures, Latinx communities have also questioned and challenged those existing structures. Activists have addressed a wide variety of often intersecting issues including education, workers' rights, women's rights and feminism, immigration rights and legal status, environmental justice, LBGTQ+ visibility and rights, as well as others. New York City has long been home to a diverse group of Latinas and Latinos, and provides an important lens to Latinidades and to the politics of recognition, inclusion, and radical transformation. For final projects, students will select a contemporary issue to explore in greater depth and/or explore Latinx politics in another community. [ more ]

HIST 386 SEM Latinas in the Global Economy: Work, Migration, and Households

Last offered Spring 2019

An increasingly global economy, from 1945 to the present, has affected Latinas in their home countries and in the United States. The garment industry, one of the first industries to go global, has relied extensively on Latina workers in their home countries and in the United States. Domestic work, a traditional field of women's work, also crosses borders. Challenging the myth that labor migration is a male phenomenon and that women simply follow the men, this course explores how the global economy makes Latinas labor migrants. What impact has the global economy and economic development had on Latinas' work and their households in their home countries? How have economic changes and government policies shaped Latinas' migrations and their incorporation in the changing U.S. economy? How have Puerto Rican, Mexican, Cuban, Dominican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan women confronted the challenges created by a globalizing economy and balanced demands to meet their households' needs? [ more ]

HIST 388 SEM Decolonization and the Cold War

Last offered Fall 2019

The second half of the twentieth century came to be defined by two distinct, yet overlapping and intertwined phenomena: the Cold War and decolonization. In the two decades that followed the end of WWII, forty new nation-states were born amidst the bipolar struggle for global supremacy between the Soviet Union and the United States. Those new nations were swept up in the Cold War competition in ways that profoundly influenced their paths to independence and their postcolonial orders, but they often had transformative effects on the Soviet-American rivalry as well. In this course, students will focus on two related questions: How did decolonization influence the Cold War and the international behavior and priorities of the two superpowers? And what impact did the Cold War exert on the developing states and societies of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America? Course materials will consist of scholarly texts, primary sources, memoirs, films, and fiction. [ more ]

HIST 389 SEM The Vietnam Wars

Last offered Spring 2021

This course explores Vietnam's twentieth century wars, including an anti-colonial war against France (1946-1954), a massive Cold War conflict involving the United States (1965-1973), and postcolonial confrontations with China and Cambodia in the late-1970s. Course materials will focus primarily on Vietnam's domestic politics and its relations with other countries. Lectures, readings, films, and discussions will explore the process by which Vietnam's anti-colonial struggle became one of the central conflicts of the Cold War, and examine the ramifications of that fact for all parties involved. The impact of these wars can hardly be overstated, as they affected the trajectory of French decolonization, altered America's domestic politics and foreign policy, invigorated anti-colonial movements across the Third World, and left Vietnam isolated in the international community. Students will read a number of scholarly texts, primary sources, memoirs, and novels to explore everything from high-level international diplomacy to personal experiences of conflict and dramatic social change wrought by decolonization and decades of warfare. [ more ]

HIST 390 SEM Race, gender and science: A Black, Brown, and Queer inquiry into Science and Technology Studies

Last offered Spring 2021

The protests that followed the murder of George Floyd have brought to the fore the realities of racism and violence that Black, Indigenous and People of Color experience daily. They also motivated a long overdue reckoning in various fields and institutions with the legacy of structural racism, and of colonial history. The history of modern science, technology and medicine is intractably connected to questions of race, gender, sexuality and colonialism. Scientific knowledge has been influenced by debates related to human difference and to colonialism, and has also contributed to the production of ideas around difference and distinction as well as around equality and equity. In this course, we will take a deeper look into different episodes in the history of modern science, technology and medicine, and will engage in a Black, Brown and Queer reading and investigation of science and technology. The course will offer a deep historical and methodological introduction to STS, as well as to a number of critical disciplines, such as Critical Race Theory, Postcolonial and decolonial theory, queer theory, in relation to science, technology and medicine. This course can serve as an alternative to STS 101. [ more ]

Taught by: Ahmed Ragab

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HIST 391 SEM When India was the World: Trade, Travel and History in the Indian Ocean

Last offered Spring 2021

What do Ibrahim Ben Yiju, a Jewish merchant from 11th century Yemen, Ibn Batutah, a Muslim scholar from 15th century Morocco and Captain Kidd, a 17th century English pirate have in common? All three men travelled and lived in the Indian Ocean region! This course explores the history of one of the world's oldest maritime highways that has connected the diverse cultures of Asia, Africa and Europe for millennia, thus making it a vital element in the birth of globalization. Moving away from conventional land-centric histories, we will focus instead on understanding the human past through oceanic interactions. South Asian ports and port cities remained the fulcrum of the Indian Ocean world throughout its history; traders, travellers, nobles, scholars, pilgrims and pirates from all over the world travelled to the Indian coast in search of adventure, spices, knowledge and wealth. Thus we will primarily focus on India's role in the Indian Ocean roughly from the rise of Islam in the seventh century CE through the expansion of various European communities in the region and the subsequent rise of the global economy and colonialism in the nineteenth century. Rather than following a strict temporal chronology we will concentrate on themes such as travel and adventure; trade and exchange; trust and friendship; religion and society; pilgrimage; piracy; the culture of port cities; and food across time. [ more ]

HIST 392 SEM History of the Book

Last offered Fall 2014

From ancient clay tablets, bamboo strips, and papyrus rolls to modern hardbacks, paperbacks, and e-readers, no object has so broadly and deeply represented the capacity for humans to create, preserve, and transmit knowledge, information, and ideas as the book. Books have been worshiped and condemned, circulated and censored, collected and destroyed. From works of art to ephemeral trash, they have been public and private, sacred and profane, magical and commonplace. Likewise, notions of the book have influenced every subsequent form of communication and transmission, whether we are browsing film and song "libraries" or "scrolling" down "pages" on the web. This course will explore aspects of the material, social, cultural, and intellectual history of the book, from the invention of the earliest writing systems through the modern development of digital media. Our inquiry will span the globe and the millennia, but we will pay special attention to the ancient and medieval Chinese, Greek, and Latin traditions and their enduring influence in the modern world. Topics will include orality and literacy, manuscript production, the invention and spread of printing, typography, reading culture, notions of authorship, libraries and collections, censorship, and the digital book. Through a variety of readings, hands-on exercises, and interactions with our abundant library resources, we will investigate how the changing form and function of the book interact across its long and diverse history. All readings are in translation. [ more ]

HIST 393 SEM Sister Revolutions in France and America

Last offered Spring 2020

In the late-eighteenth century, two revolutions burst forth--they were the most striking and consequential events in modern history, decisive turning-points that transformed society and politics. The American Revolution led to an enduring and stable democratic republic whereas the French Revolution was followed by a turbulent succession of Empires and restorations of the monarchy. France did not have a sustainable republic until 1870. We will analyze in detail and in depth the ideas and theories of the leaders of both revolutions in order to understand why the American Revolution took a moderate course and why the French Revolution took a more radical course and plunged into violence and terror. We will read the writings of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Rousseau, Robespierre, Saint-Just, Tocqueville, Edmund Burke and others. [ more ]

HIST 394 SEM The History of Panics

Last offered Spring 2018

What is a panic? This course takes up questions of what has defined, caused, and shaped panics of various kinds-political, societal, moral, medical, and financial. We will consider what has fueled panics, what has prevented them, what their effects have been, how they have ended, who has panicked, who has been the victim of panics, and what has distinguished premodern from modern incarnations of the phenomenon. Central themes will include the relationship between panics and emotions (anxiety, fear, insecurity, irrationality, hysteria), communication (rumor, gossip, mass media), technology (electricity, vaccines, the computer), and violence (persecution, revolution, psychological torment). With a multidisciplinary approach informed by sociology, economics, psychology, and history, our examination will span different times and different places and will encompass witch hunts of many sorts, infectious diseases, financial crises, cultural scares, and more. [ more ]

HIST 395 SEM Signs of History

Last offered Fall 2019

What is an historical event, and how do such events differ from other occurrences? How are historical changes reflected in or produced by literature, art and other cultural forms? Who or what makes history and what is the nature of historical agency? Is history always "written by the victors," as one says, or are there ways of challenging dominant accounts of the past? This seminar will attempt to answer these questions through readings of works of philosophy, poetry, history, prose fiction, film, photography, and cultural criticism that reflect upon the nature of history. Though answers will be multiple, course reading and discussion will in general strive to determine the consequences of understanding history as a site in which reading and writing, experience and narration, and action and interpretation interpenetrate. May include works by Kant, Burke, Hegel, Charlotte Smith, Marx & Engels, Woolf, Kafka, Arendt, Benjamin, Mahmood Darwish, Thomas Demand, and Eyal Sivan. [ more ]

Taught by: Walter Johnston

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HIST 409 SEM Crescent, Cross, and Star. Religion and Politics in the Middle East

Last offered Fall 2019

Is religion the most powerful force in the Middle East? Is religion becoming more prominent in the political sphere and what impact will that have on religious minorities and the status of women in the Middle East? Using a case study and historical approach, this course will consider the development of religiously inspired political ideologies in the Middle East in the 19th and 20th century. We will explore the experience of Iran, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan and evaluate role of religious actors, institutions, and ideologies in constructing national identities, policymaking, state-building, regime change, conflict, and war. [ more ]

HIST 411 SEM Happy Holidays! A Comparative History of Commemorations and Festivals

Last offered Fall 2017

What do our holidays tell us about ourselves and our societies? This seminar in religious, political and cultural history is in two parts. In the first half, we will explore the major holidays and festivals that emerged in the Middle East among the three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). It will examine how certain events became ritualized and then spread to different parts of the globe and were adapted to specific cultural situations. We will consider the role of myth and commemoration and how various religious holidays are celebrated in different ways around the world. The second part of the seminar focuses on secular holidays with particular attention to the Modern Middle East. Which events are commemorated and how and what are the political implications of these celebrations? [ more ]

HIST 414 SEM Merchant Cultures and Capitalist Classes in China and India

Last offered Spring 2015

As the expression "Chindia" in the title of a recent book suggests, contemporary commentators find it difficult to resist conflating the rise of China and India as economic powers in the early 21st century. There are, however, both significant parallels between the two national histories and important distinctions that shape their contemporary viewpoints and futures. This seminar will examine various historical dimensions of entrepreneurial activity in China and India from the early modern period through the twentieth century. It will focus on topics such as indigenous forms of merchant organization, the impact of nineteenth-century imperialism, the adoption of Western business forms and methods, and the relationship of entrepreneurial elites to the modern state. [ more ]

HIST 416(F) SEM The Many Lives of Tokyo

The city of Tokyo has had many lives from its early modern founding as the shogun's capital of Edo to its contemporary incarnation as a global megacity. This seminar explores how and why the city has changed--how an unassuming fishing village was transformed over four centuries into a vibrant early modern city of over a million people, the heart of a modern nation and metropole of an expansive empire, an emblem of urban cosmopolitanism, and a sprawling metropolis. Our focus will be on how people have lived, conceived, and shaped Edo/Tokyo. We will consider how different and various people have moved through the city; where and how they have lived, worked, and enjoyed themselves; how they have interacted with the natural and built environments; and how they have expressed their discontents with, and aspirations for, the city. Topics to be examined include: physical expansion, urbanization, and suburbanization; destruction and reconstruction from fires, earthquakes, and war; cultivation of opportunities to consume; and creation of urban popular cultures. The centerpiece of the seminar is the research and writing of a substantial and original paper that delves into a question of interest to you about the history of Tokyo. [ more ]

HIST 434 SEM The Meaning of Diaspora and the Jews of Europe

Last offered Spring 2020

Dispersion, exile, migration, statelessness are all aspects of diaspora. In the study of diasporic peoples and cultures, the Jews have long figured as the archetype. As a result, Jewish political figures, intellectuals, social activists and scholars have played a central role in discussions of the meaning of diaspora, including debates about its political and social implications, economic value, and cultural significance. In the first half of the semester, in discussions of common readings, we will examine various historical interpretations of Jews¿ diasporic existence from the nineteenth century to the present and its implications for humanitarianism. Beginning in the first half of the semester and with greater intensity in the second half of the semester, you will conduct independent archival research on some aspect of the history of the Jewish diaspora using the digitized archives of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee that will culminate in a twenty-plus-page paper. In the second half, the seminar will continue to meet weekly as a research colloquium, to provide a forum for you to present your research and drafts in progress and to give feedback on fellow students¿ work. In this seminar, we are not merely studying history; you are actually doing history. That is to say, you will be more than students of history in this course: you will become historians in your own right. Over the semester, you will learn how to pose historical questions; to engage critically with readings beyond summarizing them; to synthesize an enormous amount of source material; and to learn how to write more clearly. By the end of the semester, the goal is for each student to produce a polished research paper based on substantial engagement with archival sources and relevant secondary literature that will serve as a capstone to your coursework at Williams or as a potential jumping-off point for future research projects, including a senior thesis in History or Jewish Studies. [ more ]

HIST 443 LEC Race and Ethnicity in Latin America

Last offered Spring 2018

Race and ethnicity have been central to the formation of national identities in Latin America, as well as to the creation of transnational networks that include Latin Americans. This seminar will critically examine familiar characterizations of Brazil and other countries as "racial democracies" and look at the historical roots and political impact of both "positive" and "negative" stereotypes of race relations in the region. To do this we will explore the rise and decline of slavery, the changing constructions of indigenous and Afro-Latin American identities at national and transnational levels, and to the emergence of new Black Movements and other racial and ethnic activism in Colombia, Guatemala, Brazil, and elsewhere. [ more ]

HIST 453 SEM Women, Gender, and Social Movements in U.S. History

Last offered Spring 2019

This seminar is devoted to researching and writing a substantial research paper on some aspect of U.S. women's or gender history, with a particular focus on social movements. Social movements organized around gender issues and identities have been significant sources of social and political change in U.S. History. Drawing on online archival collections of personal letters and diaries, published writings, organizational records, and oral histories, students will research an individual, social group, organization, event, or movement that invites them to explore that particular subject in depth, while also considering some of the following issues and questions: the different strategies, tactics, and ideologies used for organizing and movement building across the political spectrum; the ways that gender has united and divided grassroots movements; how and when it has been useful for women to act through women's groups versus other types of organizations; the ways that ethnicity, race, religion, and class have been resources for organizing and coalition building; how social movements have shaped and been shaped by larger political and economic developments; the ways that various gendered identities have served as both agents and objects of political and social change; and the relative importance of formally organized politics versus less formal strategies to effect political change. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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HIST 454(F) SEM Land, Memory, Materiality: Histories and Futures of Indigenous North American Arts

This course engages Indigenous North American traditions of creative expression, remembrance, and representation in historical, contemporary, and future-facing ways. Drawing upon diverse Native American and First Nations theories and practices, it ranges widely across the continent to consider Indigenous arts and material culture within specific cultural, socioeconomic, and political contexts. Part of the course is grounded in the Native Northeast, including the Indigenous homelands of the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Community in which the Graduate Art Program and Williams College are situated. Other units will focus on continuities and transformations in artistic and maker-traditions within and across specific Indigenous nations and communities. The course is especially interested in connections between past and present, and the innovative ways Indigenous artists, makers, and knowledge-keepers have reckoned with what has come before, while also mapping meaningful future pathways. Topics will include repatriation and community-led restorative efforts to bring home ancestors and important heritage items "collected" over the centuries following 1492; concepts and practices of cultural, intellectual, visual, and political sovereignty, as well as of decolonizing museums; the complex dynamics of collaboration; and Indigenous challenges to Eurocentric and settler colonial approaches to preservation, interpretation, and classification. Class members will develop familiarity with methods and ethics grounded in Native American and Indigenous Studies, and with new scholarship by leading and emerging critics and creators. [ more ]

HIST 455 SEM The Afterlives of Objects: Telling American Histories through Material Culture and Museums

Last offered Spring 2020

Material culture studies examine relationships between people and objects. Tangible artifacts like furniture, clothing, ceramics, tools, and buildings give insight into communities' identities, aspirations, and struggles. This course approaches American histories through objects, and considers how interdisciplinary methodologies can reveal alternative understandings of the past. The course traces changing theories and practices of preservation, curation, and display; shifting conceptions of "heritage" among diverse peoples; and ethical challenges posed by Native American and African American items held in museums, particularly in relation to repatriation considerations. The course involves a staged set of class visits to work with collections at the Williams College Archives/Special Collections and Art Museum as well as local/regional repositories and historic sites. While the scope of the course is continental and at times transoceanic, it includes substantial focus on the Northeast/New England and the material assemblages and landscapes that shape western Massachusetts. Students will build familiarity with appropriate techniques for handling objects, cultivate skills for developing and carrying out an original research project, and explore diverse modes of analysis and expression for telling the stories of objects and their associated communities. [ more ]

HIST 456(S) SEM Civil War and Reconstruction

An examination of one of the most turbulent periods in American history, with special emphasis on the changing status of Afro-Americans during the era. The seminar begins with the build up of sectional antagonism culminating in the secession of the lower South in 1860-61 and the outbreak of civil war. During the war years, we shall study both the war itself and homefront conditions: military, naval, political, economic, and especially social aspects will be examined in some detail. Our study of Reconstruction will concentrate on the evolution of federal policy toward the Southern states and the workings out of that policy in the South, particularly as it relates to the freedmen. [ more ]

HIST 457 SEM Floridas

Last offered Spring 2020

Florida, the sunshine state with 1350 miles of coastline was once an outpost of Spain's 17th century empire. Its history comprises Disney World, the largest Cuban community outside of Cuba, a haven for enslaved Catholics in the 17th century and for an aging, largely white middle class in the 20th. It is the site of the nation's oldest city, and the home to range of Native peoples. A land of swamps, plantations, cities, islands, strip malls and theme parks is now ground zero in climate change discussions. This "purple state" has decided more than one presidential election. This course will explore the history of the many Floridas. We will move roughly through time as we seek to understand Florida and its place in United States culture. Why do people often think of Florida as "not quite southern" although it borders Georgia and Alabama? When and why did Spain colonize the area? How did they lose it? What is the history of the original inhabitants of Florida and how does that story help us understand it now? [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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HIST 462(F) SEM For the Soul of Mankind: The Cold War and American Foreign Relations

The United States emerged from the Second World War with unprecedented power and influence; for the first time it was poised to take on a level of global leadership that it had long shirked. Yet the U.S. faced an uncertain world, marked by the ascendance of the communist-led Soviet Union as a rival superpower, the impending decolonization of European empires, the emergence of a nuclear arms race, and a host of changes to domestic American life. What ensued was a 45-year Cold War--a battle for the soul of mankind--marked by American officials' relentless determination to combat the threat of communism at home and abroad. This course explores a range of scholarly approaches to that conflict, focusing on high-level diplomacy, hot wars, propaganda, the cultural cold war, and more. In addition to reading and discussing works that exemplify key approaches to studying America's Cold War, students will develop an original research topic and research and write a 20- to 25- page paper, based in primary sources, on a Cold War-related topic of their choosing. [ more ]

HIST 464 SEM The United States and the Vietnam War

Last offered Spring 2016

U.S. involvement in Vietnam affected nearly every aspect of American life, including the country's overall foreign policy, its military strategy, the relationship between various branches of government, the nation's political trajectory, the role of media in society, youth culture, race relations, and more. This seminar explores America's war in Vietnam and its dramatic ramifications at home and abroad. We will evaluate the Vietnam War era as a turning point in U.S. history--and in the role of the U.S. in the world--by reading and discussing a number of scholarly works on domestic and international aspects of the conflict. Students will develop an original research topic and research and write a 20- to 25- page paper, based in primary sources, on one aspect of America's Vietnam War. [ more ]

HIST 465 SEM War and Remembrance in Vietnam

Last offered Spring 2015

This seminar, which includes a required spring break field trip to Vietnam, examines how that country's twentieth century wars for independence have been remembered, memorialized, and represented by the Vietnamese state, by citizens and scholars, and by the ever-growing number of international tourists who visit Vietnam each year. All class members are eligible to participate in the spring break field trip at no cost. In the weeks leading up to the trip, students will read a number of scholarly works on war and memory that will prepare them to think critically and knowledgeably about the representations of Vietnam's recent past that they encounter inside the country's borders. Students will consider the following questions: What factors influence representations of war in Vietnam? What cultural assumptions underlie them? What political, social, or economic purposes might they serve? How do official memorials in state-run museums and monuments differ from other perspectives? How do Vietnamese memories and representations of the Vietnam Wars differ from American memories and representations, and for what reasons? These questions will serve as the basis for a research paper or final project on one aspect of war and remembrance in Vietnam that students will complete during the second half of the semester, based in part on observations recorded during the trip. [ more ]

HIST 468(F) SEM Race, Empire, and the Birth of the American Century

This course examines the birth of the "American Century" by studying the extension of Manifest Destiny to the Pacific, especially the American occupation of Hawaii and the Philippines. [ more ]

HIST 471 SEM Comparative Latina/o Migrations

Last offered Spring 2019

Since the 1970s, policymakers, scholars, the media, and popular discourses have used the umbrella terms "Hispanic" and "Latina/o" to refer to Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans and more recent immigrants from Central and South American countries. As a form of racial/ethnic categorization, however, these umbrella terms can mask widely divergent migration histories and experiences in the United States. In this course, we develop theoretical perspectives and comparative analyses to untangle a complicated web of similarities and differences among Latino groups. How important were their time of arrival and region of settlement? How do we explain differences in socioeconomic status? How fruitful and appropriate are comparative analyses with other racial/ethnic groups, such as African Americans or European immigrants? Along the way, we explore the emergence of Latina/o Studies as an interdisciplinary and comparative field of study, as well as methods used in Latino and Latina history, specifically oral histories, government documents, newspapers, and interdisciplinary approaches. [ more ]

HIST 476 SEM CAPSTONE: Black Radicalism

Last offered Fall 2018

Amandla! Black Power! Venceremos! A Luta Continua! Ever since the end of slavery--brought about by the Haitian Revolution, slave rebellions, maroons, Quilombos, Civil War and various other means of resistance--transatlantic people of African descent have demanded radical change in the organization of modern societies. Their struggles and ideas have changed the ways we think and study--through the formation of Africana/African-American/Black-Studies--and the ways in which we express ideas--through the creation of rich traditions of music, dance, theater, poetry, carnivals, sculpture, and art that have acted as global conduits of cultures of resistance. In this Senior Seminar, we will study the most tumultuous period of Black radicalism in the 1960's, focusing on the Black Panther Party, the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, the Third World Women's Alliance/Angela Davis, and Caribbean and African radical movements, with an eye to examining their relevance to Black radical movements today. [ more ]

Taught by: Shanti Singham

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HIST 478(S) SEM Cold War Landscapes

The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union set in motion dramatic changes to the natural and built environments of many nations between 1945 and 1991. Nuclear test and missile launch sites, naval installations, military production operations, and border securitizations are just a few of the most obvious ways in which the stand-off between the two countries altered rural and urban landscapes around the world. But one can also see the Cold War as setting in motion less immediately direct but nonetheless profound changes to the way that many people saw and planned for the environments around them, as evidenced, for instance, by the rise of the American suburb, the reconstruction of postwar Europe, and agricultural and industrial initiatives in nations across the globe. We will begin this seminar by exploring several distinct "Cold War landscapes" in the United States and North America. We will then move on to examining others in Europe and the Soviet Union. Our approach to our topics will be interdisciplinary throughout the semester, with the additional goal of helping students frame their final projects. Students are encouraged to write their research papers on any geographical area of the world that interests them. [ more ]

HIST 479 SEM Recent U.S. History: The 1970s and 1980s

Last offered Fall 2016

The 1970s and 1980s are decades that mark the beginning of many of the phenomenon shaping the United States today: the rise of economic inequality; the origins of globalization; the first awareness of an "energy crisis;" the birth of social movements like feminism, gay rights, and black power; the deepening of urban poverty and the expansion of the criminal justice system; the ascendance of stock market and financial deregulation; the transition to a service economy; the growth of new forms of art and music like hip-hop and punk; the rise of evangelical Christianity as a political force; the emergence of a conservative movement; the end of Soviet Communism. This course will look at the political, economic, cultural and intellectual history of the 1970s and 1980s in the United States, with a special eye to the question of how and why conservative politics and a neoliberal economic order developed alongside liberal social and cultural values. We will consider the connection between the right and the left over this period, asking how we should think about the rise of the gay rights movement, the legacy of the civil rights movement, and the evolution of feminism in the broader context of American political and economic history. The course will also address some of the transnational aspects of recent American history, both the ways that ideas from other parts of the world have shaped American politics and society and the impact that the United States has had on the rest of the world. We will make use mostly of primary documents-political speeches, manifestos, music and lyrics, film, journalism and fiction-but we will also consider the ways that scholars have tried to conceptualize such recent history. While we will look at political leaders, intellectuals and the evolution of national politics, we will also consider the role of social movements, popular culture and the actions and ideas of people with no special access to power in shaping the history of the period. Throughout, we will ask: what are the connections between this history and the present? What lessons can we draw to think about our contemporary political and economic situation? Students will develop their own research questions and will produce a 20-page paper based on original research. [ more ]

HIST 480(F) TUT Media and Society in Africa

The Media have long played important roles in African societies. As early as the second half of the 19th century, African intellectuals were using print technology to address the people. As radio technology was in its infancy during the first half of the twentieth century, Africans were gathering around re-diffusion stations and later around single receivers to listen to news and entertainment programing. In this tutorial, we will examine these histories of media and media technologies on the continent. Ultimately, we will explore the roles that media played in serving particular community needs and how communities also adapted new media technologies to fit local conditions. Media content has historically been determined based on standards beyond viewers', readers' and listeners' control. We will examine the influences that editors and political leaders on the continent have exerted on content as well as what forces they responded to. We will also further explore the media's role in major events on the continent, from governmental changes to the ending of apartheid in South Africa and the role that media have played in areas of conflict. [ more ]

HIST 481(S) TUT History of Taiwan

Almost all discussions of contemporary Taiwan reference the fierce debate over its sovereignty and international status: is the island of Taiwan an independent nation, or an "inalienable part" of the much larger and more powerful People's Republic of China? Part of the argument for Taiwan's separate nationhood derives from its claim to a unique history different from that of the P.R.C.. In this tutorial course, we will look closely at the distinctive aspects of Taiwan's history that underlie this claim, including its aboriginal populations, maritime history, experience of Japanese colonialism, settlement by mainland Chinese after World War II, role in the Cold War, and the development of a Taiwanese ethnic and political identity in the postwar period. We will also examine contemporary arguments for Taiwan as part of China. The goal of the course is neither to debate nor resolve the "Taiwan question", but to explore the history and historical arguments that inform it. [ more ]

HIST 482 TUT Race and American Foreign Relations

Last offered Fall 2020

From its origins, American society has been suffused with notions of white superiority and racial hierarchies that have underpinned the nation's foreign policy. Ideologies of race factored heavily into the nineteenth century process by which the United States expanded its territorial control across the North American continent and established an empire of its own. Racialized thinking persisted at the heart of U.S. foreign relations in the twentieth century, influencing everything from the administration of empire in the Caribbean and the Pacific and commercial expansion into central America to the decision to use nuclear weapons against Japan, the diplomatic path to war in Vietnam, and more. The defeat of fascism and Nazism in World War II posed serious challenges to the premises of white supremacy, while ushering in a Cold War that would become inextricably bound with the process of decolonization. American diplomats were forced to recon with the challenges domestic racism posed to their foreign policy goals, while black internationalists became increasingly involved with global struggles for liberation and equality. While the global color line grew more hotly contested, white supremacist thinking proved as enduring as it was mutable. This upper division tutorial surveys leading scholarship on a range of topics that centers race as a category for understanding American foreign relations. [ more ]

HIST 483 TUT Sport and Diplomacy

Last offered Spring 2021

Sport has emerged in recent years as a hot topic of study among diplomatic historians. Once considered a marginal topic, sport is now seen as a critical window into the world of international relations. Recent works address not only official state policies pertaining to international sport, but also issues of nationalism, imperialism, racial ideologies, transnational migration, public diplomacy, culture in foreign relations, and the role of sport governing bodies in the international system. In this tutorial, students will read key essays and monographs that contribute to this emerging literature, alongside state-of-the field essays that explore the methodological and thematic approaches that historians have used to grapple with the complex interactions between countries, peoples, and cultures that occur within the realm of sport. [ more ]

HIST 484(F) TUT Victorian Psychology from the Phrenologists to Freud

Although the Victorian era has traditionally been considered a psycho-social model of emotional inhibition and sexual prudery, recent studies, by scholars in various disciplines, have demonstrated that this characterization grossly oversimplifies the attitudes toward emotional and sexual life held by Europeans and Americans in the second half of the nineteenth century. This course will investigate professional and popular ideas about human psychology during the Victorian era. We will attempt to define and understand what people thought and felt about insanity, the unconscious, dreams, sexuality, the relationship between natural impulses and civilized society, child psychology and development, the psychological differences between men and women, the relationship between the physical and the psychical. The course will concentrate on the close reading and analysis of primary documents from the era. [ more ]

HIST 485 TUT Freud: A Tutorial

Last offered Spring 2021

This tutorial is devoted to the systematic reading of the principal works of Sigmund Freud, one of the deepest, subtlest, and most influential thinkers of the last one-hundred years. Students will read Freud's work more or less chronologically, beginning with his writings on hysteria and concluding with his deeply pessimistic essay, Civilization and Its Discontents. In tutorial, we will consider the development of Freud's thought over the course of his professional life: his general psychological writings on the nature and functioning of the human psyche, his clinical writings on psychoanalysis as a form of treatment, and his cultural writings on art and artists, on the origin of human society, on religion, and on the relation of the individual to society and civilization. We will not be considering the relevance of Freud's ideas for purposes that transcend his own psychological agenda in the tutorial. Nor will we be much concerned with assessing whether Freud was "right" or "wrong" or whether his thought has clinical relevance today. Instead, we will seek to understand Freud as much as possible on his terms and not on ours, as a historical figure of originality, complexity and contradiction, whose thought deserves close reading and deep understanding within the context of Freud's thought itself. [ more ]

HIST 486(F) TUT Islam in European Culture from Muhammad to Modernity

From the Crusades to modern colonialism, the relationship between Muslims and Western Christians has often been recounted as the clash of two opposing civilizations, a history of warfare and of incompatible values. This tutorial takes a different point of departure, namely the recent scholarly recognition that relationships between Muslims and Western Christians were often rooted in the intimacy of frequent interaction. We will delve into the many ways in which Muslim peoples shaped European culture from the Middle Ages to the present. We will explore different domains, from one of the first translations of the Qur'an into any language, the Latin version done in Toledo in 1143, to the many goods made by Muslim craftsmen that filled the homes of Renaissance Europe, and the roles of early modern Muslims as captives, slaves, diplomats, travelers, and converts. In the modern period, Muslims continued to inflect European culture both as colonial subjects and as domestic minorities, producing and inspiring art, imaginative literature, and critiques of European power. Our investigation will encompass music, visual art and film in addition to written works. How do we make sense of this intricately interwoven history? And what are its legacies for the present? Sources both primary and secondary will include Leo Africanus, Lady Montagu, Montesquieu, Mozart, al-Tahtawi, Flaubert, Sayyid Qutb and Fatima Mernissi. [ more ]

HIST 487 TUT Archive Stories

Last offered Spring 2020

What is an archive? What stories are to be found in the archives and what stories do we tell ourselves about the meaning and function of the archive? For many years now, and certainly since the publication of the French theorist Jacques Derrida's essay, Archive Fever, historians, archivists, and cultural theorists have been asking questions about the archive as much as they have been engaged in the actual practice of archiving, or making use of material found in archives. This tutorial considers some of those questions. It is not a hands-on course about how to use an archive, nor a celebration of material found in archives. Rather it consists of a series of broad enquiries into the history of the archive, the politics of collecting, and the political and social function of the archive in various societies. Each week a specific topic will be addressed, collectively illustrative of the breadth of recent enquiries into the logic of the archive. Topics will include, amongst others: the urge to archive in the Renaissance; the nature of the historian's encounter with "the past" in the archive; the function of the archive in the creation of the modern nation state; the power relations embodied in the colonial archive; the construction of contemporary group identities through the practices of archiving; the recent desire to archive everything, not merely the written document; and the new archives of cyberspace. [ more ]

HIST 488 TUT Fictions of African American History

Last offered Fall 2020

This course examines African American fiction, largely from the late 19th and very early 20th century. These Black authors, none of them professional historians, try to bring African American History to light in an era before this history was taken seriously by the white academy. Many of the authors we examine were activists and journalists who set their novels and short stories during Slavery and Emancipation. We will consider inherently radical act of reading and writing in a society where black literacy was illegal until after the Civil War. Alongside the fiction we will read modern historiography of the era. We will also delve into some of slave narratives published after Emancipation. Readings will include works by Booker T. Washington, James Weldon Johnson, Charles Chesnutt, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Sutton Griggs. This is a tutorial and will be taught online. [ more ]

HIST 489 TUT Appropriating History. Who Owns the Past?

Last offered Fall 2020

Who owns the past? How have modern states appropriated history? The political use of history is a critical ingredient in any nationalist discourse. In such narratives, the selective utilization of archaeology and ancient history often serves important functions in articulating a conscious and deliberate national history. Thus, in nationalist renderings, archaeological sites and artifacts are not merely relics of the past; they can also be potent and conspicuous symbols of national identity for the modern nation-state. In the Middle East, with its rich archaeological heritage, the relationship among politics, nationalism, and archeology has been particularly strong and interesting. This tutorial addresses the powerful nexus between history and nationalism with a special emphasis on the Middle East. It will explore the battle over who controls history and the "stuff" of history such as antiquities, land, heritage sites, and museum exhibitions and how that control has expressed itself in several Middle Eastern countries, including Iraq, Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, and Iran. Furthermore, it will discuss how archaeology entered the political discourse, the ethics of repatriation and appropriation, and archaeology's role in contested terrains and political disputes. [ more ]

HIST 490(S) TUT Memory, History, and the Extermination of the Jews of Europe

This course is about the postwar legacy of the Holocaust. Nazi Germany's extermination of European Jews has become a moral and cultural touchstone for people in Europe and in many other parts of the world. This tutorial explores a series of topics from the immediate aftermath of the Second World War to the present. Engaging with a wide-range of sources, we will wrestle with historical, legal, moral, political, and cultural issues and debates that have emerged out of the confrontation with the extermination of the Jews of Europe. They include: Why was the Holocaust "unprecedented" and "unimaginable"? Is it a Jewish story or universal story? Does the Holocaust raise different issues than other historical events for the historian? How should the Holocaust be represented in words and images, and what are the implications of different means of representing it? Has Germany faced up to its past? Were Germans also victims of World War II? Who were the "bystanders" as compared to the "perpetrators"? Were the postwar trials of perpetrators a travesty of justice? What "lessons" have we learned and should we learn from the Holocaust? By the end of the course, students will have grappled with the ongoing controversies that have arisen among scholars, artists, governments, and lay people about the meaning of the Holocaust for the postwar world. In a world in which extraordinary acts of violence continue to be perpetrated and many nations' pasts are marked by episodes of extreme criminality and/or trauma, exploring the manner by which one such episode has been remembered, avenged, and adjudicated has relevance for considering other societies' efforts to confront their own traumatic pasts. [ more ]

HIST 491 TUT The Suburbs

Last offered Fall 2020

The suburbs transformed the United States. At the broadest level, they profoundly altered spatial residential geography (especially in terms of race), consumer expectations and behavior, governmental policies, cultural norms and assumptions, societal connections, and Americans' relationship to nature. More specifically, the different waves of post-World War II suburban development have both reflected large-scale shifts in how power and money have operated in the American political economy; and set in motion deep-seated changes in electoral politics, in Americans' understandings of how their income should be used, and in how the built landscape should be re-imagined. This tutorial will explore the rich historical literature that has emerged over the last twenty years to provide students with a history of the suburbs, to see the suburbs as more than simply collections of houses that drew individual homeowners who wanted to leave urban areas. We will focus most of our attention on the period from 1945 through the 1980s. Some of the questions we will consider will include: how did the first wave of suburban development bring together postwar racial and Cold War ideologies? Is it possible, as one historian has argued, that suburbs actually created the environmental movement of the 1960s? And how have historians understood the role that suburbs played in America's conservative political turn, leading to the election of Ronald Reagan? [ more ]

HIST 492 TUT Revolutionary Thought in Latin America

Last offered Spring 2020

For much of Latin America's postcolonial history, political and business elites in the United States have viewed the region as a source of revolutionary threats. Too often histories of actual revolutionary movements and the ideas they promulgated have followed either the self-serving narratives that the revolutionaries have laid out or the similarly limited stories composed by their opponents. This tutorial, by contrast, will delve into the complex, contingent, and at times counterintuitive history of revolutionary thought in modern Latin America. Our readings and discussions will carry us from the nineteenth century to the rise of the "New Left" in the last few years. Throughout the course our principle goal will be to examine the internal logic of the most influential programs of revolutionary thought as well as their relationship to circumstances external to them, both in their home regions and globally. At the same time, we will consider the human or moral promise and price of revolutionary options: did the proposed or alleged aims of revolutionary ideals justify the costs they would impose? [ more ]

HIST 493(F) HON Senior Thesis: Research Seminar

This seminar is intended solely for writers of senior theses during their first semester. Although each student's major work for the year will be the writing of a thesis in consultation with an individual advisor, students are also required to meet in the context of the thesis seminar in order to present and critique each other's proposals and drafts and to discuss common problems in the research and design of a long analytical essay. For students proceeding to HIST 494, performance in the fall semester will be factored into the thesis grade calculated at the end of the year. The quality of a student's performance in the seminar segment of History 493, as well as their performance in all aspects of the May colloquium at which theses are presented and critiqued, figure in the overall grade the student earns for History 493-494 and the departmental decision to award Honors or Highest Honors at Commencement. [ more ]

HIST 494(F, S) HON Senior Thesis: Writing Seminar

This seminar is a continuation of HIST 493, and is required of all senior thesis writers. Students will meet to discuss draft thesis chapters and to prepare for the thesis colloquium in May at which theses will be presented. Performance in the year-long seminar and in all aspects of the thesis colloquium will be figured into the overall thesis grade the student is given for HIST 493 and HIST 494 as well as the departmental decision to award Honors or Highest Honors [ more ]

HIST 495 TUT Stalinism

Last offered Spring 2021

The quarter century during which Joseph Stalin ruled the Soviet Union witnessed some of the twentieth century's most dramatic events: history's fastest plunge into modernity, an apocalyptic world war, and the emergence of a socialist state as a competitive world power. This tutorial will offer students a deep dive not only into the historical depths of the Stalin era but into the gloriously complex historiographical debates that surround it. Some of the questions that will animate the readings, writings, and discussions that tutorial students will engage in are as follows: Did Stalin depart from or represent a continuation of the policies introduced by his predecessor Vladimir Lenin? Did he rule in a totalitarian fashion or in ways comparable to other twentieth century regimes? Were his policies destructive or possibly productive? And perhaps most boggling of all: why did no one resist Stalinist rule? [ more ]

HIST 496 TUT Gandhi: History, Ideas and Legacy

Last offered Fall 2020

This course studies the life, work, and ideas of M.K. Gandhi (1869-1948), one of the most influential thinkers of the non-western world. Gandhi is well known today for his philosophy of non-violent resistance and its application in India's freedom struggle as well as his influence on the work of leaders like Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. Hailed as the 'father of the Indian nation', however, Gandhi is not only known for his political ideas but also for his deep engagement with aspect of everyday human behavior and morality: truth, vegetarianism, sex and celibacy, to name just a few of his obsessions which contributed to making his broader philosophy. It is this commitment to a morally pure life that earned him the title of 'Mahatma' or Great Soul in India. This tutorial will focus on three key aspects of Gandhi: his ideas of peaceful protest as means of social and political change, his contemplations on moral philosophy, and on his legacy in modern India and the world. Students will read a combination of Gandhi's own writings as well as journal articles, monographs and films. The course will probe questions such as: What was the context and nature of Gandhian nationalism? Did it help to integrate the Indian nation? Was Gandhi truly a Great Soul, a saint or a shrewd politician? In what ways is Gandhi received and remembered by the Indian nation today? How does understanding a figure like Gandhi facilitate our understanding of modern nationalism, citizenship and political action? [ more ]