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

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

Last offered Spring 2023

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 2023

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 112(S) TUT The Asia-Pacific War

The "Asia-Pacific War," as it is known in Japan, raged from the full-scale Japanese invasion of China in 1937 until Japan's total defeat in 1945. This war, though certainly tied to the Allied war against Germany and Italy, was viewed by many participants at the time as truly a war apart due to the immense distances involved, the gleeful, racism-fueled brutality on both sides of the conflict, and the resultant abuses of POWs, use of atomic weapons, and other atrocities. Students will explore the intersection of colonialism, racism and opportunism that fed the conflagration, and the remarkable rapprochement between American and Japanese former enemies immediately after the war. It will examine in depth the roles of China and the USSR in this conflict, which are often mentioned but functionally ignored in the West. It will cover the various warzones and home fronts, focusing as much as possible on conveying the experiences of participants through primary sources. It will likewise seek to bridge the analysis of the military and socio-political sides of this conflict, which are often treated as distinct, by drawing on key academic works in the field. [ 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 116 LEC Understanding 9/11 and the War in Iraq

Last offered Spring 2024

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 and the world in general? 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. In this segment, students will engage with oral histories and memoirs related to the fateful events of that day. In the following module the political and cultural responses will be considered. Particular attention will be on the prelude to the Iraq War, especially how that war was justified and rationalized. Here students will analyze political rhetoric, public discourse, and activism through a range of sources including in the media, the academy, and in popular culture. Then the attention will be turned to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, 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, and the memory of this decade, continue to reverberate today. [ more ]

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

Last offered Fall 2023

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 122 SEM The Black Death

Last offered Spring 2024

In what ways does a pandemic change society? Historians and scientists still debate the development and impact of the second plague pandemic, also known as the Black Death, which decimated the people of Asia, Africa, and Europe in the mid-fourteenth century. For many medieval people, the plague was experienced as a terrifying judgment of God upon the world. In this class, we will see how the plague exposed and exacerbated divisions within society, encouraging new political movements, economic changes, and new forms of expression in art and literature. We will read multiple first-hand accounts of the plague, with an eye to seeing how medieval people tried to understand the calamity through science and religion, and how modern scholars have interpreted the evidence of both written records and archaeology and related sciences. The Black Death is the first global pandemic that produced an extensive written record, and the sources offer us a detailed look at how multiple complex societies handled the crisis. [ more ]

HIST 128 SEM Protest after Fascism: Youth, Revolution, and Protest in 1960s West Germany

Last offered Fall 2023

The 1960s was a decade of youth and protest. University students in Paris, Belgrade, and Dar es Salaam took to the streets to call for political, economic, and social transformation. This first-year seminar dives into this decade of heady revolutionary fervor, by focusing on the stakes of political protest in postwar West Germany. It evaluates how West Germans formulated their political protests while living in a post-totalitarian and post-genocidal society and considers the extent to which West Germans youths -- despite operating in the international milieu of the "Global Sixties" -- displayed a specifically national set of anxieties. Students can expect to gain an introduction to postwar German history, as well as experience working with primary sources. [ 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 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(F) TUT The Great War

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. For three-quarters of the semester, the tutorial follows a traditional format in which weekly tutorial meetings center on the writing of a paper and the partner's critique. The last segment of the course is structured around a research paper assignment, introducing students to archival research and longer-format writing. [ more ]

HIST 135(F) SEM The Coffeehouse from Arabia to the Enlightenment

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 European 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 143 SEM Soccer and History in Latin America: Making the Beautiful Game

Last offered Spring 2024

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 144(S) SEM Brazil's Myth of Racial Democracy

The notion that race worked differently in Brazil took root in the early twentieth century and grew into a myth that the country was home to a unique "racial democracy." This course will examine the creation and surprisingly long life of this idea among not only Brazilians but also observers and visitors from the U.S., Europe, and Africa. We will look at how "racial democracy" became central to constructions of Brazilian national identity, how the country's governments tried to coopt Black cultural forms like samba and Carnaval into official culture, and how thinkers around the world used Brazil to define their understanding of race making in their own regions. The special focus, though, will be on how Afro Brazilians challenged the myth politically, intellectually, and artistically from the 1920s to the 1990s. Our texts will include the fiction, memoirs, manifestos, and scholarship of individuals like Abdias do Nascimento, Carolina Maria de Jesús, and Sueli Carneiro, as well as the activism of Black and feminist groups. [ more ]

HIST 152(F) SEM The Fourteenth Amendment and the Meanings of Equality

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(S) TUT School Wars

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 SEM The Manifesto in U.S. Politics

Last offered Fall 2023

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 ]

HIST 158 SEM North of Jim Crow, South of Freedom

Last offered Spring 2023

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 160 SEM After the Civil Rights Movement

Last offered Spring 2024

This course examines African American politics, life, and culture from the period following the end of the civil rights movement in the late 1960s to today's Black Lives Matter movement. In examining this time period, we will pay particular attention to a number of key questions: What organizations, activists, and campaigns dominated Black politics in the post-civil rights movement era? How did organizers build on the issues and tactics of the movement in the years that followed? In what ways were structures of racial inequality reconfigured in the post-movement era? How did the popular culture of the era reflect the changing social, economic, and political lives of African Americans? How were the gains of the civil rights movement preserved or threatened in the post-movement era? In considering these questions, we will explore the ways that struggles for racial equality continued to shape American life in the 1970s, 80s, 90s, and 00s. Using scholarly works, film, music, oral history, and other primary and secondary sources, we will look at topics including: debates over the legacy of the civil rights movement; the impact of mass incarceration and the War on Drugs on Black communities; HIV/AIDS activism; Black conservatism in the age of Ronald Reagan; anti-police brutality activism in the years before the Black Lives Matter Movement; urban disinvestment and the rise of hip hop culture; electoral politics, Black political power, and the Obama presidency. [ more ]

HIST 161(F) SEM W.E.B. Du Bois: A Century of Study and Struggle

This course will apply a historical lens to the life and thought of historian, activist, social theorist, and writer W.E.B. Du Bois. We will engage with Du Bois' historical, sociological, and political writing, trace his intellectual transformation throughout the course of his nearly century-long life of study and struggle, and highlight his ongoing pertinence. Engaging with classic as well as lesser-known works by Du Bois, his contemporaries, and other scholars, a core aim of the course will be to comprehend the development of Du Bois's ideas, placing them in historical context. In examining his work and its lasting influence we will touch on a range of topics including, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the afterlife of slavery; race, the color line, and American citizenship; civil rights, Black advancement, and political leadership; Black urban life; war, colonialism, and global capitalism, among other topics. [ 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 ]

HIST 163(F) SEM Communications in Early America

How did the multiplicity of people who shaped "early" North America communicate with each other, across profound linguistic, cultural, social, political, and spiritual differences? What strategies did they use to forge meaning and connections in times of tremendous transformation, while maintaining vital continuities with what came before? This course examines histories of communication in North America and the technologies that communities have developed to record, remember, advocate, persuade, resist, and express expectations for the future. Using a continental and transoceanic lens of "Vast Early America," we will take up Indigenous oral traditions, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, wampum belts, and winter counts as expressions of ethics, identity, relationality, and diplomacy among sovereign Native/Indigenous nations. We will reflect on artistic and natural science paintings, engravings, and visual culture that circulated widely; and diaries and journals as forms of personal as well as collective memory. We will work with political orations, newspapers, pamphlets, and other forms of print culture that galvanized public opinion in the Age of Atlantic Revolutions; memorials and monuments that communities have created to honor ancestors and significant events; material culture such as baskets and weavings that signified through their imagery and physical forms; and social critique and visions of justice in the verse and prose of Phillis Wheatley Peters and William Apess. These materials take us into the complexities of individuals' and communities' interactions and relations of power. They also illuminate spaces of potential or realized solidarity, alliance, and co-building of new worlds. Throughout we will work together to understand different methodologies, theories, practices, and ethics involved in approaching the past. We will at every turn be attuned to the ongoing significances of these experiences among communities in the twenty-first century. [ 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 TUT Cold War Films

Last offered Fall 2022

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 168(S) SEM Black Film History

This course will examine the history of African American cinematic production since the silent era. By examining the work of Black filmmakers and cinematic representations of African Americans more broadly, we will explore a variety of key questions throughout the course of the semester, including: How did Black filmmakers address social and political questions in their work? How did filmmakers engage with and refute dominant cultural and Hollywood images of African Americans? What role did movie theaters play in the social lives of Black communities? How did film critics shape understandings of Black cinematic expression? What transformations occurred in the images of African Americans in film across the twentieth century? What role did filmmaking play in the Black Freedom Struggle? In addition to viewing a sampling of films, we will engage with a variety of scholarly and popular writing on the history of African American filmmaking, filmgoing, film criticism, and filmic performance. [ more ]

HIST 202 SEM Islam in Africa

Last offered Spring 2023

Islam in Africa is often relegated to the peripheries in the study of Islam, a religion most associated with Arabs and the Middle East. On the flip side, Islam is also portrayed as foreign to African belief systems and institutions. The relationship between Islam and Africa, however, begins with the very advent of Islam when early Arab Muslim communities took refuge in the Abyssinian empire in East Africa. This course explores the history of Islam and Muslim societies on the African continent by focusing on the localized practices of Islam while also connecting it to Islam as a global phenomenon. The course will begin with a historical focus on the spread of Islam in Africa from East Africa and North Africa in the seventh century all the way to the spread of Islam through Sufi brotherhoods in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The course will also take an anthropological approach, exploring the diverse practices of Islam in African Muslim communities and the social and cultural impact of Islam on African societies. Among the topics the course will cover include African Muslim intellectual traditions, local healing practices, religious festivals, early modern African Muslim abolitionist movements, and the historical interactions between African and Asian Muslim communities in the Indian ocean world. [ more ]

HIST 203 LEC Modern Japan

Last offered Spring 2024

This course is intended to familiarize you with the history of modern Japan, the world's third-largest economy and a dynamic influence on global culture. We will begin during the Edo Period (1600-1868), during which feudal (e.g., the status system) and more modern (e.g., a consumer society) features of Japanese life developed alongside each other. We will then examine the Meiji Restoration and explore how the Imperial Japanese state led Japan through modernization into total defeat by 1945. The course then looks at economic recovery and societal change during the postwar period, taking us up to the present day. Students will become familiar with several significant shifts in interpretation of key aspects of Japanese history. We will cover the rise and demise of the erroneous "national seclusion" narrative, the legislation of Japanese Emperor's divinity, and the debate over Japan's supposed ethnic and cultural distinctiveness. We will focus especially closely on the roles of class, gender, imperialism and foreign contacts in modern Japanese history. You are expected to critically analyze assigned primary and secondary sources and to communicate your ideas to your classmates effectively both orally and in writing. You are also expected to collaborate with your classmates to complete group activities. You will also conduct limited original archival research. [ more ]

HIST 204 LEC Colonial Rule and Its Aftermaths in Africa

Last offered Fall 2022

This course focuses on the history of Africa during the colonial and post-colonial periods, especially focusing on the period between 1885 and 2000. The first part of the course will explore the imposition of colonial rule and its attendant impacts on African societies. During this section, we will especially examine how Africans responded to colonialism, including the various resistance movements that arose at different moments to contest colonial rule. We will also explore the various transformations wrought by colonialism. The second part of the course will explore the African struggle to decolonize their societies and to fashion viable political systems. In addition to historical texts, the course will make use of cultural materials such as novels and films. [ more ]

HIST 205 LEC The Making of Modern Africa

Last offered Fall 2021

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 LEC History of Islam and the Middle East since 1453

Last offered Fall 2021

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 2023

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 21 Domestic Terrorism: From the Klan, through the Oklahoma City Bombing, to January 6

Last offered NA

Domestic Terrorism: From the Klan, through the Oklahoma City Bombing, to January 6 On January 6, 2021, we witnessed numerous acts of domestic terrorism - the effort to advance political and ideological ends through violent means. Some of these acts were carried out by organized groups engaged in seditious conspiracies. Others were committed by fellow travelers and hangers-on acting without much of a plan or foresight. But as unprecedented as was the assault on the US Capitol and the disruption of the peaceful transfer of power between presidential administrations, domestic terrorism has deep roots in the United States. One hundred and fifty years ago, during Reconstruction, the defenders of white supremacy organized themselves into the Ku Klux Klan and other groups to prevent those who had recently been enslaved from exercising political and economic power. The Department of Justice was established in response to this rampage of violent crime. The twentieth century saw many different episodes of domestic terrorism, with violence deployed to oppose everything from the war in Southeast Asia, the effort to register Black voters and integrate public accommodations, to the availability of abortions, as well as to a more generalized opposition to the federal government. In this class we will focus on some of these historical antecedents and then on the crimes of January 6 and their investigation and prosecution. The readings will include government and press reports as well as court documents relating to the cases on which we will focus, and The Report of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. We plan to visit Washington, D.C., to meet with one or more federal judges and advocates involved in the January 6 prosecutions. If schedules permit, we would also attend court proceedings. Students will be expected to write one 4-5 page paper (or another work of comparable effort) on a topic of their choosing. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

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 212(F) LEC De-Centering Imperial China, 960-1800

The history of China from 960-1800 can be told as the story of a continuous, enduring culture and polity. This long period was nevertheless one in which the definition and contours of "China" were constantly contested. In this survey course, we will examine the political forms, institutions, and developments in culture, society, and economy that are characteristic of the Song (960-1279), Yuan (1279-1368), Ming (1368-1644), and early Qing (1644-1800) Dynasties alongside the Inner, Central, East, and Southeast Asian polities and cultures which interacted with, accommodated and repeatedly conquered centers of Chinese power over this time (Tanguts, Khitans, Mongols, and Jurchens/Manchus, among others). Gaining a historical perspective on power relationships within this diverse region will help us to understand the different ways in which Asia participated in changing world systems throughout this period. This course combines brief lectures with discussion of predominantly primary source readings. [ 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 LEC Foundations of China

Last offered Fall 2021

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(F) LEC Premodern Japan

This course is intended to familiarize students with the premodern history of Japan, roughly defined as before the Meiji Restoration of 1868 and the modernizing reforms it unleashed. We will examine the archipelago's natural environment and the human impact thereon. We will explore the creation of "Japan" as a coherent political and cultural unit, key figures and works of Japanese culture and the shift in cultural production from elite patronage to the market. We will examine the Imperial institution and gendered aspects of Japanese private and public life, tracing the changing role Japanese women played in both spheres. We will also pay close attention to the rise of the samurai, both as warriors and political elites, and Japan's relationship with foreign lands and peoples. Students will become familiar with several significant shifts in interpretation of key aspects of Japanese history, such as the growing appreciation of the roles of non-elites in history, and the shift away from the "national seclusion" understanding of Japanese foreign relations. [ more ]

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

Last offered Fall 2021

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 LEC History and Society in India and South Asia: c. 2000 to 1700s CE

Last offered Spring 2022

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 South Asia: Colonialism to Independence, 1750-1947 CE

Last offered Spring 2024

What did colonialism look like in India, Britain's most valuable and populous possession for over two hundred years? How did the British establish their rule over the vast subcontinent? And how did the people who lived there experience and finally overthrow colonial rule? 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 c. 1750 to 1947. This period spans the decline of the Mughal Empire through British colonial rule, South Asians' struggle for independence, and the Partition of India. 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 podcasts. One objective of this course is to introduce students to the different political and social processes that led to the creation of India and Pakistan; 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 LEC Greek History

Last offered Fall 2023

This course covers the history of ancient Greece from the Bronze Age Minoan and Mycenaean palace civilizations to the Roman conquest of the East Mediterranean (c. 1500-1 BC). We will study the development, expansion, and interactions of Greek society and its cultural expressions through a wide variety of textual sources and archaeological evidence across the Mediterranean basin and West Asia. How did the Greek world conceptualize and enact various modes of individual and collective status, construct political systems from one-man rule to popular democracy, and grapple with issues of memory and identity? How did the Greek world deal with victory and defeat, imperialism and subjugation, freedom and slavery, upheaval and decline? How should we approach the mythology about the origins of humanity, or the subsequent development of natural science and philosophy from Ionia to Athens and beyond? Why has this past continued to work as a mirror in subsequent periods, even up to our modern day? From the collapse of the Mycenaean palaces to the building of the Athenian acropolis, from autocratic warlords to the birth of democracy, from wandering merchants to Hellenistic kings, from Hesiod to Herodotus, Socrates, and Thucydides, this course will seek to reconstruct and understand the trajectory of ancient Greek society and culture from its early inception to its subjugation under Roman rule. All readings will be in translation. [ more ]

HIST 223(S) LEC Roman History

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 224(S) LEC Introduction to Medieval Europe

This course traces the development of European societies from the collapse of the Western Roman imperial order in the fifth century CE to the rise and consolidation of powerful monarchies by the fifteenth century: a foundational period in European history. Along the way, we will confront many of the paradoxes that make medieval history so compelling. How did political fragmentation coexist with the spread of an increasingly uniform, Latin Christian culture? How was that same Christian culture mobilized to support both hierarchy and popular resistance to hierarchy, both early capitalism and voluntary poverty? As we encounter the medieval world through the men and women who lived in it, we will read the writings of saints and heretics, poets and lawyers, merchants and mystics. Though Western Europe will be our focus, we will also examine how Western European Christians defined themselves, in part, through their relationships with their neighbors in the Islamic and Byzantine worlds, and with internal religious minorities, such as the Jews. By the end of the course, students will appreciate how the socio-economic and intellectual legacy of the Middle Ages profoundly shaped the subsequent history not only of Europe, but the world. [ more ]

HIST 226 LEC Early Modern Europe

Last offered Spring 2024

The three hundred years from the late Middle Ages to the French Revolution were Europe's formative centuries: they saw 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 Petrarch, Machiavelli, Montaigne, Francis Bacon, Mary Montagu, and Voltaire. [ more ]

HIST 228(S) SEM Europe in the Twentieth Century

From the vantage point of 1989, democracy's victory over fascism and communism in Europe in the twentieth century appeared decisive, even inexorable. From the present vantage point, however, the contingencies attending Europeans' commitment to democracy in the twentieth century have reemerged strongly, pointing toward a still uncertain future and a different reading of the past. This course offers a survey of twentieth-century European history with a focus on the political ideas, movements, formations, thoughts and feelings that shaped Europeans' experiences from the bottom up and the top down. 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 recent debates about the future of 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 Jewish? The 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, gender roles in Jewish society, interwar Jewish culture, Jewish responses to Nazism and the Holocaust, and the situation of Jews in the immediate post-WWII period. In addition to broad historical treatments, course materials will include exposure to different kinds of primary sources, from philosophical and political treatises, to memoirs, diaries, and fiction. [ more ]

HIST 232 LEC Twentieth-Century Europe: Nationalism, War, and Empire

Last offered Spring 2024

This course is a survey of twentieth-century Europe. While providing students with a historical basis for understanding the continent's social, political, and cultural changes, this course pays attention to two interrelated phenomena: first, the process by which Europe went from being a constellation of empires to one of nation-states; second, the heterogenous ways in which Europe's residents participated in the making -- and then the remaking -- of modern Europe. 2023 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the European Union. This course provides students with a historical framework for understanding how and why Europe's residents rallied around this project of European integration and did so after having lived under imperial and national formations. [ more ]

HIST 237 SEM The Life of Ancient Cities: Building, Belonging, Trading and Dying in Greece and Rome

Last offered Spring 2024

In this course we explore ancient urbanism, investigating Greco-Roman cities from the early archaic period through late antiquity. By analyzing a variety of primary sources -- literature, visual art, inscriptions, papyri, building remains -- dating from 750 B.C. to 300 A.D. and ranging geographically from Spain to central Asia, we will think critically about problems such as communal belonging, spatial interaction, social exclusion, monuments, memories, and identities in urban contexts. Athens and Rome will beckon along the way, but numerous places around the Mediterranean basin and beyond will feature prominently, including Pompeii in southern Italy, Olynthus in Macedonia, Cyrene in North Africa, Ephesus and Priene in western Asia Minor, Alexandria and Berenike in Egypt, and Dura Europos and Ai Khanoum in Central Asia. Every week, we will tackle a core question associated with life in the ancient city: the challenges of urban design, the tensions associated with civic membership, the consolidation of political institutions, the conflicts brought about by trade and migration, the role of religion, the effects of war, the universal reality of social exclusion, cultural expressions of life and death, and the impact of sudden natural catastrophes, among others. [ 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 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 LEC Sovereignty, Resistance, and Resilience: Native American Histories to 1865

Last offered Fall 2023

This course surveys Native American/Indigenous North American histories from beginnings through the mid-nineteenth century, tracing the complex ways that sovereign tribal nations and communities have shaped Turtle Island/North America. Equally important, it reckons with the ongoing effects of these pasts in the twenty-first century, and communities' own forms of interpretation, critique, action, and pursuits of justice. It also introduces foundational methodologies in Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) and strategies for pursuing decolonizing scholarship and action. Emphasis is on primary and secondary works produced by Indigenous authors/creators. Starting with the diversity of Indigenous societies that have inhabited and cared for lands and waters since "time out of mind," it foregrounds the complexity of Native peoples, nations, and worldviews situated in particular homelands, as well as accounts of origins and migrations. It addresses how societies confronted devastating epidemics resulting from the "Columbian Exchange," and contended with Euro-colonial processes of colonization, extraction, and enslavement. Indigenous nations' multifaceted efforts to maintain sovereignty and homelands through pervasive violence, attempted genocide, and dispossession are addressed, as well as forms of relations and kinship with African-American and Afro-Indigenous people. It concludes with how different communities negotiated the tumultuous eras of the American Revolution, forced removal in the 1830s, and Civil War, and created pathways for endurance, self-determination, and security in its aftermath. The course centers on Indigenous actors--intellectuals, diplomats, legal strategists, knowledge keepers, spiritual leaders, artists, and many others--and consistently connects historical events with present-day matters of land, historical memory, education, caretaking, and activism. Additionally, it provides an opportunity to engage with original materials 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 Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican homelands in which Williams College is located. [ more ]

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

Last offered Fall 2022

This course surveys Native American/Indigenous histories from the era of the U.S. Civil War to the present as well as future, centering community voices, scholarship, and interpretations. Beginning with Sand Creek and the violences experienced by Native communities in 1864, it traces how diverse Native nations navigated the tumultuous times that followed, up to recent protective actions at Standing Rock and Mauna Kea in the 21st century. Topics include treaty-making and diplomacy; 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 relocation policy and experiences; Red Power activism and Indigenous internationalism; treaty rights activism 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--Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican homelands--in which Williams College is situated. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

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 ]

HIST 258 LEC The Petroleum Age: A Global History

Last offered Spring 2023

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 261 LEC America and the Cold War

Last offered Spring 2022

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 263 SEM The United States and the World, 1898-2001

Last offered Fall 2022

This survey course examines the United States and the World from 1898-2001. Students will be introduced to key diplomatic developments from the Spanish-American War to the War on Terror with attention to ideological, political, cultural, military, and economic forces. Topics will include American imperialism and anti-imperialism, the emergence of U.S. cultural and economic hegemony in the interwar years, WWII and the origins of the Cold War, the Soviet-American rivalry in Europe and on the periphery, nuclear policy, the Vietnam War, late-Cold War diplomatic reconfigurations, the rise of political Islam, the collapse of the Soviet Union and its aftermath, and the events surrounding 9/11. By engaging with a range of primary and secondary source readings, students will examine how Americans historically have made sense of their nation's role in the world, and how historians explain important aspects of U.S. foreign policy. [ more ]

HIST 264 SEM Environmental History

Last offered Fall 2023

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 266(F) SEM The Roaring Twenties and the Rough Thirties

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 LEC Sport and the Global Color Line

Last offered Fall 2021

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, the destructive effects of the bomb's initial use in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the ongoing testing of nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands after WWII. 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 276 SEM Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Community Histories, Presents, and Futures

Last offered Spring 2024

The ancestral and continuing homelands of the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Community (SMC) are where Williams College is located, a fact that the institution formally recognized in Fall 2021 through a land acknowledgment. This was one step toward building more meaningful relations between the College and the sovereign tribal nation, which has been displaced through violent, painful processes directly shaped by the Williams family, while also maintaining enduring relations with these homelands. This course addresses needs to continue work of learning and repair by "educating beyond the land acknowledgment." It centers SMC experiences, knowledge, and goals, and provides space for students to work on projects directly meaningful for the community, including the Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) that is based locally through an official partnership with the college. It will have strong collaborative and experiential components, plus ethical commitments to highlighting the tribal nation's active forms of stewardship, knowledge-keeping, and intellectual as well as political sovereignty. The exact shape of the syllabus and projects will be determined in close conversation and collaboration with the Stockbridge-Munsee Community. Depending on goals/interests, potential areas of focus might include SMC homelands; archaeological research and its importance for place-stewardship; political sovereignty, governance, and leadership; histories and impacts of European colonialism among SMC people; SMC traditions of diplomacy and peacemaking; strategic uses of archives and documents in protecting community wellbeing and resisting dispossession; the "Many Trails" of forced removal westward; establishment of the SMC in Menominee homelands; 20th and 21st-century experiences, knowledge-keeping, and continuing connections with eastern homelands; repatriation of ancestors and belongings; language revitalization, Land Back, education, and economic sovereignty; and other topics. [ more ]

HIST 279(F) LEC African American History Since 1865

This course provides an introduction to the history of African Americans from the post-emancipation era to the present day. Focusing on the collective and individual life experiences of African Americans, it will highlight the actors, organizations, and ideas that have been central to the African American experience. We will examine struggles for equality, justice, citizenship, and self-determination and the various ways African Americans have sought to achieve these ends. By the end of the semester students will have a basic understanding of core topics in African American history such as Reconstruction and Redemption; the rise of Jim Crow segregation; urban migrations and the "New Negro"; the Civil Rights Movement, in its Northern and Southern manifestations; the movement for Black Power and its antecedents; the rise of mass incarceration in the post-Civil Rights Era. The course will conclude with a discussion of the Presidency of Barack Obama and the Black Lives Matter Movement. [ more ]

HIST 280 LEC Emancipation to BlackLivesMatter

Last offered Spring 2023

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(F, S) LEC Asian American History

This course offers an overview of Asian American history from the late seventeenth century to the present. It will cover the earliest Asian migration and settlement in the U.S., the rise of anti-Asian movements, the experiences of Asian Americans during World War II and the Cold War, the emergence of the Asian American movement in the 1960s, the post-1965 Asian immigration, and the War on Terror. We will investigate broader themes including labor, citizenship, political resistance, gender and sexuality, community formation, empire, and transnationalism. We will also consider key contemporary issues, including race and ethnic relations, anti-Asian harassment and violence, and the legacy of U.S. colonialism in Asia-Pacific. Along the way, we will engage classic and recent scholarship in the field, and form our own interpretations of the past based on a wide range of sources--including films, novels, newspapers, government documents, political cartoons, and more. Throughout, the course advances the argument that citizenship and belonging in the U.S. cannot be fully understood without accounting for the experiences of Asian Americans. [ more ]

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

Last offered Fall 2023

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 29 Gallery to Garment: Exploring Costume History in Museums & Beyond

Last offered NA

Welcome to "Gallery to Garment". This course offers a unique journey through the evolution of fashion, spanning from ancient times to the 21st century. Our exploration begins in the classroom, where we'll delve into the social, cultural, and economic influences that have shaped costume design throughout history. We'll focus on different eras, examining the materials, styles, and trends that defined it. To bring our studies to life, the course includes curated trips to various museums in Williamstown, New York, and Boston. Here, you'll witness firsthand the textures, colors, and craftsmanship of historical garments, ranging from the elaborate gowns of European courts to the intricate traditional wear of ancient civilizations. These excursions will not only enhance your understanding of the eras studied in class but also provide a tangible connection to the past. By the end of the course, you'll have gained a comprehensive understanding of the development of fashion and its role in history. You'll leave with an appreciation of how costume history is a vivid tapestry woven from the threads of time, culture, and creativity. Note: Travel outside of Williamstown is required for this course. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

HIST 292 SEM History of Sexuality

Last offered Fall 2022

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 296 LEC Human Rights and National Security: Seeking Balance in the United States

Last offered Spring 2023

This course will ask if ensuring collective security and preserving individual rights are inherently contradictory or if they may, in fact, be mutually reinforcing. Focusing on developments and issues within the United States since its founding, the class will explore how Americans have sought to reconcile concerns about national security and a broad array of rights in the past, and the implications of this history for contemporary debates. The course will challenge students to consider how debates over national security and rights have reflected broader partisan divides and served diverse political objectives. Moreover, students will explore how these debates reflected competing visions of national identity and purpose, and question how and why the costs of security measures disproportionately burdened people based on race and religious identification. The course will initially survey these issues through a historical lens, demonstrating how questions of security and rights have been present since the nation's founding. It will draw on key moments in U.S. history to explore issues of foreign subversion, dissent, surveillance, habeas corpus, presidential power in times of war, and border security and immigration. Familiarity with historic precedents will ensure that students are prepared to grapple with a closer examination of contemporary studies of refugees and immigration; cybersecurity and surveillance; domestic terrorism and hate crimes; and counter-terrorist detention and interrogation. Students will be assessed on participation, short writing assignments, and a group podcast project. [ more ]

Taught by: Vanessa Walker

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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 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 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 SEM Approaching the Past: The Use and Abuse of History

Last offered Spring 2023

Is history, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder? What is history and who gets to decide? How and where is history consumed and by whom? This course examines the use and abuse of history from the early twentieth century to the present especially how history has been impacted by the digital sphere (tv, films, social media), the rise of nationalism and the processes of globalization. First, students will grapple with what constitute notions of truth, objectivity and facts and how terminology has changed over the last 100 years. Next, we will evaluate various influential methodological trends that have impacted how history has been written and consider what was said and left unsaid, which perspectives were privileged and whose voices were marginalized. Finally, we will analyze the state of history today and how it appears in people's daily lives and especially how history is used and abused in public discourse on various media platforms. How is historical memory formed today? [ more ]

HIST 301 SEM Approaching the Past: Economic and Labor Histories in the Making of the U.S.

Last offered Spring 2024

This course examines the sources, methods, and theoretical assumptions that have shaped historical practice from the late nineteenth century to the present. We will grapple with foundational questions including: What is "history"? Who makes it, who writes it, and how? From whose perspective and to what end? Focusing on U.S. economic and labor histories, we will examine when and where these histories intersect, as well as where and why they might diverge. To what extent are historical narratives shaped by the time period in which they are written, revealing their embeddedness in the dominant discourses of the era? Or to what extent might historical approaches provide alternatives? We will also consider what the implications of U.S. economic and labor histories are in terms of relationships to the state via policymaking, politics, and activism. Anchoring our own historical analysis in the late nineteenth century and the 1930s, we will then focus on the era between World War II and the present. In our seminar meetings, we will analyze historical writings and debates, considering how their authors define historical themes, subjects/actors, and processes, as well as the meanings of history for different audiences and eras. [ 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, al-Mas'udi, Ranke, Bloch, Guha, Gordon-Reed among others. [ more ]

HIST 301(F) SEM Approaching the Past: Contemplating American Power

Historians have long debated how best to approach the study of U.S. "diplomatic history," which is now often subsumed under the more capacious descriptor "The United States and the World." In the 1960s, prevailing orthodox interpretations of American power--often patriotic and elitist--gave way to challenges from New Left revisionist historians who focused largely on economic motives for American imperialism. By the 1970s, however, the once dominant historical field of diplomatic history was beset by a sense of crisis; its practitioners consumed with anxiety over their marginalization in a discipline that embraced social and cultural theories that that seemed to render the narrow study of Western white men in power increasingly obsolete. For the past half-century, historians of American foreign relations have engaged in a sustained and ever-shifting debate, not only about the nature of American power, but over what can and should be included within the field's parameters. Today, annual meetings of the Society for American Foreign Relation--and its marquee journal, Diplomatic History--feature scholarship ranging from "traditional" approaches to those centered on gender, sexuality, race, cultural exchange, emotion, environmental studies, sports, music, and more. Yet, debates still rage about whether this broadening has enriched the study of American power, or diluted it to the point of meaninglessness while discouraging young scholars from pursuing critical research on high-level diplomacy. In this course, we will grapple with key historiographical schools and critical debates, and assess the current state-of-the-field of diplomatic history. [ more ]

HIST 301(S) SEM Approaching the Past: Transnational, Colonial, and Postcolonial Histories

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 national, transnational, colonial and post-colonial histories? 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: Biographical Methods

This seminar grapples with the methodological, conceptual, theoretical, and ethical challenges of writing biography, and of using biography as an approach for understanding the past. We will ask how historians attempt to understand the past through the lives of individuals; and how historians attempt to understand the lives of individuals through a wide range of interpretive methods. As we explore the goals, challenges, and possibilities of the genre of biography as practiced by historians, we will consider questions about archival abundance and archival scarcity; about the contested meanings of "facts" and the function of imagination; and about the different scales and categories of analysis used by historians writing biographies. We will consider a variety of answers to these questions by reading theoretical work about history and biography, as well as by reading examples that represent a wide range of theoretical and methodological approaches. [ 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 SEM Food in the Middle East: A History

Last offered Spring 2022

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(S) SEM Sacred Custodians: Environmental Conservation in Africa

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 SEM A History of Health and Healing in Africa

Last offered Spring 2022

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(F) SEM Indigenous Narratives: From the Fourth World to the Global South

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, Amazigh poetics in the Maghreb, 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? What is the connection between the recent "boom" of English translations of Indigenous texts and neoliberalism, multiculturalism and neo-colonialism? 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(S) SEM To Die For? Nationalism in the Middle East

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 the 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, Palestine, 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 do 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 Fall 2023

For millennia, the Nile River has sustained civilizations in eastern and northern Africa. It was on the banks of this river that the great Egyptian empires were founded that led to the building of some of humanity's most astounding structures and artworks. While the Nile seems eternal and almost beyond time and place, 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 alarming nexus of demography, climate change, and economic development has led to increasingly urgent questions of the Nile´s future. Is the Nile dying? How has the river, and people´s relationship with it, changed over the last century? This course will consider the history of the Nile and and its built and natural environment. 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. By following an imaginary droplet flowing from tributaries until it makes its way into the Mediterranean Sea, we will learn about the diverse peoples and cultures along the way. We will evaluate the numerous attempts to manage and control the Nile, including the building of big dams, and the continuous efforts to utilize the river for economic development such as agriculture and the tourism industry. At the end of the semester we will consider the relationship of the major urban centers 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 2024

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

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

Last offered Spring 2024

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 ]

Taught by: TBA

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

Last offered Fall 2022

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 315(F) LEC Minorities and the State in Modern East Asia

This course examines the relationships between minority peoples and the institution of the state in East Asia, focusing mostly but not exclusively on the early modern and modern periods (17th-20th centuries). We will explore the histories of the Ainu people of Japan, the "Small Peoples" of Russian Siberia, the Tibetan, Uighur and riverine communities of Mainland China, as well as the Hill Peoples of Southeast Asia. It also examines non-indigenous minority groups, such as conquest elites, mixed-race communities, and others. We will analyze how the transition to modernity, evolving understandings of race, gender, class, nation, the impact of imperialism and globalization all influenced the history of East Asian minority peoples. What, if anything, do all of these groups have in common? What do their histories reveal about the history of East Asia and of the countries in which they live? How are the lives of minority groups in East Asia changing today? What can their experiences reveal to us about the larger world? The class is structured as a reading-intensive seminar. Students will engage in and lead discussions, compose reading reaction papers and a final analytical essay. Students will be expected to use scholarly works in order to construct cogent, relevant arguments, which they will communicate both orally and in writing. Students will evaluate primary sources in order to engage with the people they study as directly as possible. Students will lead discussions on complex topics and develop as leaders and team members in professional settings. This course will present students with an opportunity to hone critical thinking and information literacy skills to a high level. All of you will have to analyze and process complex and often contradictory information, certainly in your personal lives and very likely in your professional lives. [ more ]

HIST 316(S) LEC A History of the Samurai

It is difficult to find a person unaware of the samurai. However, most people, both in Japan and abroad, engage with their idealized images rather than as an actual historical phenomenon. The aim of this course is to bring the samurai to life as a distinct status group that left an indelible mark on the history of Japan, and thereby to separate fact from fiction. We will also explore the creation of iconic images of the samurai, which continue to influence worldwide popular culture. We will use academic readings, primary sources, and other media to examine the samurai from their origins during the Heian period (8th to 12th centuries) to their official dissolution in the late 19th century. We will focus on their development as a special status group and explore how they managed to maintain their corporate identity for so long. We will trace the evolution of the samurai from rural enforcers to territorial magnates to bureaucrats. This evolution affected and was affected by the development of samurai warfare, ethics, aesthetics, religious practices, ideas relating to gender roles and other aspects of samurai life, which we will explore. We will see how these ideas and practices mediated their relations with household, society, and government. Finally, we will examine why samurai status was abolished at the start of the Meiji period, and how former samurai transformed into modern citizens. Students will engage in discussion, write essays, and complete immersive historical simulation assignments. [ more ]

HIST 317 LEC Everyday Modernity in Japan

Last offered Spring 2023

This course asks one overarching question: What is everyday life like in modern Japan? There, one often hears the words "modern" contrasted with "traditional." When talking about Japan itself, the former is usually coded as "western," and the latter as "Japanese." Many Japanese politicians and cultural authorities, with the help of Orientalist westerners, are happy to highlight this distinction to promote notions of Japanese uniqueness. However, though modernization in Japan did usher in tremendous, often traumatic changes, not every aspect of "modern" Japanese life came from the west, and not all western imports were/are unwelcome. Moreover, many cultural imports, such as concrete buildings and the consumption of red meat, are now interwoven into the fabric of daily life in Japan. This course examines the complex history of modernity in Japan within living memory, highlighting on its presence in the daily lives of ordinary residents of Japan. What do people eat? Where do they live? How do they think about themselves and their neighbors? We will start with the Pacific War (1937-45), but focus especially closely on postwar and contemporary Japan. We will first get a sense of the chronology and major themes in Japanese history from this time period, then explore five units, "sites of modernity" that zoom in on different but interrelated aspects of ordinary Japanese life: 1) Total War, 2) The City, 3) Work, 4) Food, 5) Race and Ethnicity. Sources and data will be drawn from scholarly works, videos, movies, websites, maps, brochures and ephemera, as well as other sources. Students will analyze these sources, discuss them and complete various assignments. [ more ]

HIST 318 LEC Nationalism in East Asia

Last offered Fall 2022

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 controversies in Japan about how history is portrayed in high school textbooks, 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 and their historical development in East Asia. 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 2023

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 A Global History of Manga and Anime

Last offered Spring 2024

Japanese comic books and cartoons are known throughout the world by their Japanese names: "manga" and "anime." This is no accident, but a reflection of their enormous global popularity. Why are they so popular? How can we use them as historical sources for Japanese history and society? What do they reveal about the place of Japan in today's global culture? How did these two phenomena emerge and develop, and how do they influence each other? This class will explore these and other related questions through readings, screenings, discussion, and original research. It will trace the evolution of manga and anime from traditional Japanese (kibyoshi, ukyo-e and kawaraban) and western (comic strips and Disney films) influences, and the explosion of their popularity after World War II. We will use manga and anime, especially "girls'" (shojo) anime and manga as windows onto the intersection of Japanese and global society, economy and politics. [ 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 325 LEC Faith and Profit in the Medieval Mediterranean

Last offered Fall 2023

In many historical societies, there have been tensions between the demands of economic and religious life. What can I sell, what should I do with money, and how shall I interact with strangers? What is the relationship between religious ideals and the habits of everyday life? These questions can become especially acute when representatives of two or more competing belief systems interact with each other. The medieval Mediterranean provides numerous rich examples of societies and individuals facing these questions. In this class, we will look at how medieval Jews, Christians, and Muslims resolved these and other dilemmas in the market societies surrounding the Mediterranean basin, as they created their own forms of religious law and economic philosophy. In the process, we will gain a more profound understanding of the roots of modern debates about capitalism, property, and economic justice. [ more ]

HIST 326(S) SEM The Crusades: 1050-1550

The Crusades present a number of fascinating interpretive challenges for the historian. Were they a project of elites, or a genuine popular movement? Did they bring Latin Christians into closer dialogue with religious others, or did they foster greater intolerance and oppression? How did Muslims, Jews, and Eastern Christians respond to the Crusades? In this class, we will explore the Crusades as they were experienced by both the participants and their victims, in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. We will discuss the intellectual and political origins of the crusading movement, review the course of the expeditions to the Holy Land and elsewhere, and see how the idea of Crusade was used and abused by popes, kings and queens, poets, and intellectuals, for their own purposes for centuries. By the end of the class, students will have a sense of how the experience of crusading shaped not only internal European politics, but also relationships between Europe and the rest of the world. [ more ]

HIST 327(F) SEM The Byzantine Empire, 330-1453 CE

To study the Byzantine empire is to expand and challenge our understanding of Europe's historical development from late Antiquity to the Early Modern period. The Byzantine state was much more than the surviving Roman empire, but rather fostered a new kind of civilization: Roman and Greek, Christian, yet deeply connected to pagan Antiquity, a multi-ethnic empire that also acted like a nation-state. Its capital was the largest city in Europe for nearly a millennium and it transmitted its unique form of Christianity to much of Eastern Europe and western Asia, yet it was often dismissed, in the minds of western European observers, as an embarrassing, decadent appendix to triumphalist Western history-- its archives plundered, its treasures looted, a historical orphan among the nationalist historiographies of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, even its true name ("Rome/Romania") dismissed. In this class, we will examine the life and times of this medieval civilization, as we hear from its emperors, generals, monks, princesses and historians, who carried the ancient Roman empire into the fifteenth century, and whose legacy still inspires politicians, scholars, and artists today. [ more ]

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 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 340 LEC Anticolonial Europe: A History of Transnational Solidarity

Last offered Fall 2023

This seminar examines the history and paradoxes of European anticolonialism from the turn of the twentieth century to the 1970s. By following the anticolonial networks that developed in four European cities -- Paris, London, Berlin, and Moscow, it interrogates how political activists -- from both the Global South and North -- collaborated to establish a more racially egalitarian world order. It evaluates how events such as the First World War and the formation of the UN transformed their collective political projects. Finally, it investigates the multiple intellectual and political traditions which activists drew upon to contest Europe's racialized hegemony. Students can expect to gain an introduction to the 20th century's European-based anticolonial movements, as well as methods of transnational and global history. [ more ]

HIST 341(S) SEM The European Enlightenment

What was the Enlightenment? More often invoked than understood, the European Enlightenment can seem like a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Although a product of pre-revolutionary Europe's old monarchical regime, it has become a symbol of modernity. Although secular, its exponents thought natural science compatible with the existence of God and with (certain forms of) religion. Even as the world became increasingly interconnected, Enlightenment thinkers posited that European culture was different than--and superior to--any other. And, in the bitterest irony of all, Enlightenment writers produced powerful new theories of natural rights during the high-water mark of the Atlantic slave trade. Despite or because of these complexities, the Enlightenment remains a crucial chapter in the intellectual history of Europe, and an unavoidable legacy for anyone interested in secular traditions of Western thought. Combining methods from intellectual history, the history of knowledge, and the history of the book, this seminar will take the Enlightenment's measure. Our fundamental commitment will be to reading primary sources, and whenever possible to studying original printed editions in Williams College's Chapin Library. We will consider both the material form that authors and printers gave both massive tomes and slender pamphlets, and the new publics that spaces such as coffeehouses, print shops, and salons generated. A special focus will be Chapin's newly acquired copy of the Encyclopédie of Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert, the first modern encyclopedia and a triumph of intellectual collaboration as well as of printing. Throughout, we will ask: what were the Enlightenment's achievements and its limits? And what is its legacy in the twenty-first century? Sources to be read include Leibniz, Bayle, Madame du Châtelet, Rousseau, Voltaire, and Wollstonecraft. [ more ]

HIST 342 LEC At the Crossroads of Race and Nation: Borders and Frontiers in Latin America and the Caribbean

Last offered Spring 2024

When we think about the politics of borders and migration, we usually imagine the contentious U.S.-Mexico border. Seldom do we care to think about the numerous borders across Latin America and the Caribbean that are currently at the heart of our present refugee and migrant crises. This course will examine the history of borders and frontiers in Latin America and the Caribbean and how they were pivotal to Latin American racial and state formations and nation-building processes. This course will consider how borders and frontiers, as both a geographical demarcation and an imaginative conceptualization of difference, created overlapping and competing visions of race, racism, identity, belonging, and social marginalization. Beginning with the tumultuous Latin American independence movements of the nineteenth century and ending with Latin America in the twenty-first century, we will analyze the different creation of borders and frontiers to make sense of today's migration and border control crises. This course will give particular attention to the themes of racial stratification, authoritarianism, nationalism, imperialism, and citizenship. [ more ]

HIST 343(S) SEM Student Movements, Youth Politics, and the University in Modern Latin America and the Caribbean

Students and universities in Latin America and the Caribbean possess a unique and unusual ability to politically mobilize and shape their society's political culture. Unlike the university system in the United States, students in universities across Latin America have voting power in their university's bureaucracies, hold positions of power in the governing structures of the university, and garner vast political support and moral legitimacy from their nation's citizens. In fact, most Latin American icons of political revolution like Fidel Castro, Salvador Allende, and Subcomandante Marcos, emerged from the radicalizing spaces of the Latin American university. This course examines the political, cultural, and social history of the university's evolution in Latin American and Caribbean history from the nineteenth to the twentieth century. This course will consider how student politics, the university as a geographic space of political socialization, and their relationship to the larger swath of their nation's population were central to the political and social history of modern Latin America and the Caribbean. [ more ]

HIST 346 LEC Modern Brazil

Last offered Fall 2021

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 2023

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 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(F) SEM The Atlantic World: Connections, Crossings, and Confluences

This course considers the Atlantic World as both a real place and a concept: an ocean surrounded and shaped by diverse people and communities, and an imagined space of shared and competing affiliations. Moving from "time out of mind" to the early nineteenth century, it examines ecological, cultural, political, economic, intellectual, and spiritual transits as well as exchanges among Indigenous/Native American, African and African American, Asian and Asian American, and Euro-colonial people. It introduces conceptual dimensions of this Atlantic paradigm and case studies that illuminate its human subtleties, with the goal of examining "early American" histories through transnational and transoceanic lenses. The course takes an interdisciplinary approach to these intertwined histories, and reckons with how the very construction of "history" has, at different turns, affected what is shared, known, valued, and commemorated--or overwritten, denied, or seemingly silenced. Attentive to the structures of power that inflect every part of Atlantic histories, it offers specific ethical frameworks for approaching these topics. Blending methods grounded in oral traditions and histories, place-based knowledge systems, documentary/written archives, songs, archaeology, material culture, and other forms of expression and representation, it invites class members to revisit the nature and meanings of these connected spaces. The course consistently connects historical experiences with the twenty-first century, and how communities today are grappling with the afterlives and ongoing effects of these Atlantic pasts through calls to action for reparations, repatriation and rematriation, Land Back, climate justice, and other forms of accountability. The course also 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 ]

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 364(S) SEM Asia and Asian Americans During the Cold War

This course traces how American geopolitical interests and involvement in Asia during the Cold War affected Asian Americans. It examines the history of the Cold War as a period of U.S. imperial expansion as well as a time when various actors and organizations, especially those of Asian descent, harnessed the East-West rivalry to advance their own agendas. We will consider how diverse diplomatic strategies including militarization, educational exchange, and immigration reform shaped East, South, and Southeast Asian migrations to and settlement in the United States and the social and material lives of these diverse communities. Case studies include transnational adoptees from Korea, Hmong and Vietnamese refugees in the U.S. and across Guam and Israel-Palestine, Black, Latinx, and Asian American activists who traveled to Vietnam, educated Indian and Pakistani immigrants, and American-born individuals of Japanese ancestry in Japan. We will also explore how individuals of Asian descent leveraged Cold War geopolitics and forged cross-ethnic, cross-class alliances to advocate for social change both at home and abroad. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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HIST 366(F) SEM What They Saw in America

This course traces the travels and writings of important observers of the United States, including Alexis de Tocqueville, Max Weber, G.K. Chesterton, Sayyid Qutb, and Wang Huning. 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 369(S) LEC Policing, Punishment, and Protest in African American History

This seminar will examine the development of the criminal legal system in the United States from the early republic to the present. Topics of study will include legacies of racial slavery; convict leasing; dynamics of gendered state violence; police tactics and technologies; the Great Migration and its impact on policing in the urban North; prisoner rights movements; urban rebellions; law and order politics; the Wars on Crime and Drugs and the rise of mass incarceration. This course will pay particular attention to the distinct relationships between domestic regimes of policing and imprisonment and various Black political struggles. By placing these topics in conversation with the history of African American life and politics, this course seeks to highlight the ways in which the criminalization of Black people has circumscribed Black citizenship and inspired successive insurgent movements for reform of the American carceral system. [ more ]

HIST 371 SEM The City in African American History

Last offered Spring 2024

This course will explore African American urban life in the twentieth century. In particular we will examine the complicated role that cities have played in African American history, serving simultaneously as sites of exclusion and exploitation, and as sites of community organizing and institution building. Through engaging with a variety of case studies, students will examine the ways that African American struggles for equality and self-determination have shaped, and been shaped by, the urban environment in the modern US. Topics of study will include the Great Migration; redlining, real estate, and residential segregation; crime, policing, and surveillance; suburbanization, urban divestment, and the "urban crisis"; municipal politics and policy making. [ more ]

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 ]

Taught by: TBA

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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(F) SEM Sex, Gender, and the Law in U.S. History

This course explores that ways in which the law has defined and regulated gender and sexuality in the United States, and the ways that individuals have experienced and responded to those definitions and regulations. 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. This course examines how assumptions about gender and sexuality have informed the creation and development of American law and the changing meanings of citizenship; considers how laws regulating sex and gender have yielded varied effects for men and women across race and class divides, challenging some differences while naturalizing others; and assesses 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 ]

HIST 377(F) SEM A Global History of Mass Dictatorship

What if the majority supports dictatorship? Is it dictatorship or democracy? How far is the contemporary American democracy from Alexis Tocqueville's observation of America as the 'tyranny through masses'? What's the dividing line between democracy and dictatorship? How could the communist regime use the metaphor of 'people's democracy' to justify the proletarian dictatorship? How distant is Mao Zedong's 'dictatorship by the masses' from the plebiscitary democracy? How different is the French Jacobin's 'Sovereign dictatorship' from the Fascist's 'new politics' based on popular sovereignty? How different is Jacobin's 'totalitarian democracy (Jacob Talmon)' from the Cold War paradigm of totalitarianism? 'Mass dictatorship' as a historical oxymoron is a hypothetical answer to those questions. This course is designed to encourage students to respond independently to those questions. Putting comparatively diverse dictatorships, including fascism, Nazism, Bolshevism, Maoism, developmental dictatorships, and (neo-)populisms in a global historical perspective, this seminar course would raise doubt about the conventional binary of democracy and dictatorship and problematize the Western democracy. This course is motivated by "how to democratize contemporary democracy." As a participatory observer of the American presidential election 2024, we will investigate a global history of mass dictatorship with a critical gaze. [ 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 383 SEM Religion and American Capitalism

Last offered Fall 2022

Was Jesus a revolutionary socialist or a savvy salesman? Does capitalism bring prosperity to the virtuous or lead us to worship Mammon? Shall the meek inherit the earth or should the hand of the diligent rule? Is it holy to be poor or is prosperity our moral duty? 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; liberation theology and racial capitalism; and conservative Christianity in the age of Wal-Mart and Chick-Fil-A. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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HIST 384(F, S) SEM Comparative History of Science and Medicine in Asian/Pacific America, 1800-Present

How have scientific knowledge and medicine been tools of exclusion, violence, and imperial control against Asian Americans, as well as indigenous peoples, Black, Latinx, and white migrants, and their descendants? How have these groups negotiated and resisted encounters with such knowledge from the 19th century to the present? This seminar explores these questions by examining a series of case studies--including American colonial medicine and science in the Philippines and Hawai'i, Cold War migration of Chinese scientists and South Asian doctors to the U.S., and the politics of HIV/AIDS, psychiatry, and culturally competent care in Black, Asian, and Cuban migrant communities. Together, we will survey the literature in history, English, Global Health, Sociology, and other fields and consider how the Asian/Pacific American experience in science and medicine has been integral to, as well as informed by, the experiences of other groups in the transpacific world. Students will leave this course with interdisciplinary tools for understanding present-day health inequities in underserved Asian/Pacific American communities and other marginalized groups. [ more ]

HIST 385 SEM Latinx Activism: From the Local to the Transnational

Last offered Fall 2022

Latinas/os/x's have long sought inclusion in the U.S. polity and society, while the meanings of inclusion and the means to achieve it have shifted historically. For Latinxs, activism is often shaped by the specific dynamics of each group's migration to the United States and by their arrival into a particular context. Home country politics and transnational connections can remain important. Yet local activism to meet immediate needs and to address critical issues becomes important as well. Working within existing structures, Latinx communities have at times questioned and challenged those existing structures, as activists have addressed a wide variety of often intersecting issues. This course roots itself in the historical progression of Puerto Rican and Mexican-American activism, before turning to the social and political movements of the late 1960s and 1970s, as shaped by Puerto Ricans, Chicanos/as, Cubans, and Dominicans. The 1980s witnessed increased immigration from several Central and South American countries, arriving in the context of reactions to those political and social movements, as well as increased U.S. intervention in their countries of origin--a context that again shaped both local and transnational activism. Students' final projects will be anchored within this historical framing and within the lens of local and transnational activism, while moving forward in time to consider more contemporary dimensions of Latinx activism. [ 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(S) SEM Decolonization and the Cold War

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, and films. [ 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 ]

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 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(S) SEM Victimhood Nationalism in Global History & Memory

As globalism of the 21st century has shifted its focus from imagination to memory, the global memory culture focusing on victims has dawned on us as an undeniable reality with the entangled memories of: Apartheid, American slavery, and white settler genocides of the indigenous peoples; German empire's colonial genocide of the Nama and Herero in Namibia and the Nazi Holocaust; the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust; Vietnam War and Algerian war; Rwandan genocide and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans; Japanese military "comfort women" and gendered violence during the Yugoslav Wars; forced sexual labor in the Nazi concentration camps and sexual slavery of the Islamic State; political genocide of Stalinism and the Latin American military dictatorships; civilian massacres of developmental dictatorships in the global Cold War era. Global memory formation intensified the victimhood competition among national memories. Victimhood nationalism epitomizes nationalism's metamorphosis under the globalization of memory in the 21st century. This course will trace the mnemo-history of victimhood nationalism, focusing on the entangled memories of Poland, Germany, Israel, Japan, and Korea in the global memory formation. Other case studies, including former Yugoslavia, post-9/11 America, will also be discussed. [ more ]

HIST 396 SEM The Pivotal Decade--The 1970s Origins of Contemporary America

Last offered Fall 2022

Often overshadowed by the long 1960s and the conservative ascendancy of the 1980s, the 1970s provides an important transitional moment for the United States. It was also a decade fraught with contradictions. On the one hand, Americans experienced widespread disillusionment with the power of the federal government to promote and protect the minority from the majority. Historians seeking to understand the collapse of the welfare state or the origins of white resistance to civil rights' initiatives often point to the 1970s as the time when the federal government shifted the burden of the social welfare system onto the market, state and local governments, and onto poor people themselves. And yet, the 1970s also saw an explosion of progressive social activism, as the women's movement, the gay rights movement, and the environmental movement, among others, all came into their own. Likewise, this was a time when U.S. realignment internationally and military overextension intersected with new hegemonies of human rights regimes, multinational corporations, and "globalization." This course will emphasize a wide array of social movements and activism--both left and right--and the interplay among formal politics, grassroots organizing, and popular culture. It will ask students to consider how and why the 1970s catalyzed many of the domestic and international dynamics and debates that define American politics and society today. Students will be assessed on participation, short response papers, and an individual research project culminating in a poster presentation. In Fall 2022, this course will be offered at both Amherst and Williams College campuses. There will be an end of the semester symposium at Williams College that all enrolled students are required to attend as part of the final project. [ more ]

Taught by: Vanessa Walker

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HIST 402(F) SEM Displacement: Global Histories of Refugees and Forced Migration

The Middle Eastern refugee has become a central figure in debates on migration, asylum, and the right to belong in Europe, Asia, and North America. Often stereotyped as threatening, alien, and rootless, these migrants are generally depicted as lacking histories and by extension not worthy of consideration or empathy. This course invites students to understand some of the most tragic humanitarian crises of our time and the massive involuntary displacements provoked by war, violence, and/or climate change. Taking a global perspective, this seminar examines the history of displacement, refugees, migration, diaspora in a focusing on the nineteenth century through the present. With special attention to the historical experience of various peoples of the Middle East, the course will start with theoretical approaches to the study of migration and then delve into case studies, A range of different moments of displacement will be analyzed such as the experiences of Armenians, Jews, Palestinians, Syrian, Iraqis, and Kurds. By examining the human geography and politics of forced displacement and migration, this course will address a number of important academic and political questions: what makes a history written by, about, and for displaced people powerful? How can writing from the perspectives of refugees challenge core debates about identity, the nation and borders? How does the focus on displacement help in understanding the nature of war and conflict? [ more ]

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 413 SEM The Big Ideas: Intended and Unintended Consequence of Human Ambition

Last offered Fall 2022

What have been the most consequential ideas of the last 100 years? This course will explore some of the more audacious and ambitious plans to alter natural and urban environments in the late 19th century to the early part of the 21st, specifically those that sought to improve the human condition through science, engineering, and technology. By building big bold things, politicians around the globe sought to bring prosperity to their nation and embark on a path of modernity and independence. Through an intellectual, political and environmental history of major construction projects such as the building of the Suez Canal and the Aswan Dam, extensive river valley developments in Iran, Turkey and Iraq, and utopian and futuristic city planning in western Asia, students will consider how, with the benefit of hindsight, to best evaluate the feasibility of such bold schemes. Who has benefitted and who has not, what have been some of the unanticipated consequences, what was sacrificed or neglected, and what do these projects tell us about the larger processes of global capitalism, decolonization, and climate change? [ 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 SEM The Many Lives of Tokyo

Last offered Fall 2021

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 417 SEM The Treaty System and Treaty Ports of China, 1840-1945

Last offered Fall 2023

China in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was not colonized by a single Western power; instead several Western powers (and later Japan) exercised domination over China through a system of "unequal treaties" that granted them special privileges within Chinese territory. The years (1842-1943) in which these treaties were in effect is often called "The Century of Humiliation" by contemporary Chinese nationalists: a period of weakness that the rising Chinese nation still strives to overcome. The system imposed by these nineteenth century treaties, however, was a complex amalgam of legal, commercial, and residence privileges for foreigners in China that played a significant role in shaping the modern nation. One the most recognizable features of this system was the treaty port--an urban center designated as open to foreign residence, trade, and shipping. Extending from an initial five open ports to nearly fifty by the turn of the century, these ports became commercial and industrial centers that connected China to the global economy and created novel spaces of culture, labor, society, and politics. In this research seminar, we will use of several recent online collections of English-language primary source material to investigate the role of the treaty system and the treaty ports in modern Chinese history. The seminar will begin with an exploration of the historiography of the treaty system and "foreign presence" and culminate in an original research paper on a related topic of each student's choice. Throughout, we will work on general and specific research methods. [ more ]

HIST 422 SEM Festivities in the Early Modern World

Last offered Fall 2023

In 1860, Jacob Burckhardt put festivals at the center of his influential study of Renaissance Italy. In the century and a half since, scholars have enriched and deepened our understanding of festivities across early modern Europe and the world during the era of early global interaction (ca. 1400­­-1800). In this seminar we will seek to establish why festivities were so intrinsic to early modern culture, and what work they did. To what extent was performing a form of knowledge? How did festivity mediate early global interaction? We will consider, moreover, the many ways in which ephemeral events were commemorated in paintings and prints, and to what extent historians can recapture the early modern festivity today. Beyond Europe, we will investigate how the festival cultures of the Americas, of Africa, and of Asia interacted with European festival traditions, whether in Goa, Pernambuco, or Mexico City. Ultimately, we will ask: what might an early modern cultural history focused on festivities reveal? We will approach this history through a combination of primary materials drawn from the holdings of Williams College's Chapin Library and secondary readings, which will range from classics in the field to the most recent scholarship. Students will take turns delivering presentations on preselected objects of the week. By semester's end each student will complete a 15-to-20-page research paper on a festival of their choosing. [ more ]

HIST 430 SEM Postcolonial Reparations: Trauma, History, and Memory after European Imperialism

Last offered Spring 2024

How have European states responded to calls to acknowledge and atone for the crimes of Empire? This course places recent calls for reparations in a historical context. Weaving together a wide-range of historical and contemporary case studies -- including the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (1951), Germany's official recognition of the Herero Genocide (2021), and ongoing debates in France about the restitution of colonial-era looted art, this course investigates how the language and mechanisms of restorative justice have historically developed, evaluates which past efforts of restorative justice were successful and why, and examines what role historical memory and historians-as-activists should play in campaigns that seek reparations for colonial injustices. In doing so, it evaluates how activists have deployed scholarly vocabularies on memory, justice, and violence in a number of national and international contexts. [ more ]

HIST 433 SEM Colonialism and the Jews

Last offered Fall 2022

Where are Jews in colonial history? Where is colonialism in Jewish history? In many ways, these questions haunt contemporary Jewish and often world politics. Indeed, in the twenty-first century, the relationship between Jews and colonialism has been present in debates about Zionism, the history of capitalism, Jewish-Muslim relations, the wider Middle East, the future of European identity, the aims and roots of American empire, and the intersections of race and religion in colonial domination. And yet, typically, the subject of Jews and colonialism is more polemicized or avoided than probed. This course will seek to address this lacunae by introducing students to new historical scholarship that has begun tracing these questions. Students will consider the ways in which imperial legal forms, economic structures, and cultural and intellectual underpinnings shaped Jewish lives from the British antipodes to French North Africa, and throughout the Russian and Ottoman Empires, as well as in metropolitan Europe. Among other issues, we will ask: How did Jews become defined and define themselves in the colonial venture? In their various roles in colonial empires, are Jews best understood as subjects or agents of empire or are there more fruitful ways to conceptualize their engagement? What was the impact of anti-colonial struggles on modern Jewish politics and historical development? The course will approach this topic thematically rather than as a comprehensive survey. By introducing students to some of the key debates in this emerging field, we will consider what it takes to construct a successful historical argument and how to engage critically with works in an emerging field. A semester-long writing project will expand students capacities to pose thoughtful historical questions; conduct research and gather compelling evidence; read deeply and critically; carefully assess evidence; and write inquiry-based essays. [ more ]

HIST 434(S) SEM Humanitarianism and Jewish History

In the twentieth century, Jewish history and humanitarian history became deeply intertwined. As the victims of persecution and expulsion, mass violence and genocide, Jews repeatedly figured as the recipients of aid and humanitarian intervention. At the same time, Jewish political figures, legal thinkers, intellectuals and scholars, social activists, and aid workers played central roles in the establishment of humanitarian organizations and in debates about the moral, political, and legal frameworks that have shaped approaches to humanitarianism across the decades since World War I. This research seminar is designed to open up big questions about the history of humanitarianism and to carve out space for students to conduct research on a particular place, time, and aspect of that larger history in conversation with other students working on related topics. In the first half of the semester, in discussions of common readings, we will examine various works of scholarship that connect to the history of humanitarianism from the nineteenth century to the present. 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 humanitarianism using the digitized archives of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, culminating in a twenty-plus-page paper. In the final weeks of the semester, 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. 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. The goal is for each student to produce a polished research paper based on 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 452 Before and After Roe v. Wade: The History of Reproductive Politics in the United States

Last offered NA

Debates about abortion, adoption, and birth control; and debates over who should be allowed to procreate and parent have generated major social, legal, and political conflicts in the United States. This course examines the history of those debates and conflicts, as well as their impact on the lives of individuals and on political culture. We will explore how legislative bodies, courts, medical experts, religious authorities, activists, and individuals have participated in those debates, and will pay particular attention to how class, race, religion, age, and sexuality have affected the experience of reproduction. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

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 ]

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

Last offered Spring 2023

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; decolonizing museums; the complex dynamics of collaboration; Indigenous, African-American, and Afro-Indigenous artistic connections and solidarities; and Indigenous challenges to Eurocentric and settler colonial approaches to preservation, interpretation, and classification. Seminar 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 Material Cultures in North American History

Last offered Fall 2023

Material culture studies consider the dynamic relationships that people develop with the physical world. Tangible items like clothing, furniture, tools, and the built environment are all shaped by communities' identities, aspirations, resources, struggles, and forms of power. This course approaches North American histories through the lens of materiality, and examines how interdisciplinary methodologies can illuminate multiple or alternate understandings of the past--and its continuing impacts in the twenty-first century. While many historians emphasize written archives and documents as primary sources, scholars and practitioners of material culture studies center everyday as well as exceptional material items that communities have produced and interacted with over many generations. Equally important are the afterlives of these items. At different turns, and across time, social groups have cherished certain belongings; contested, rejected, or remade them; ascribed and activated meanings that may be very different from what the original makers conceived. These continuing transits compel reckoning with major issues of justice, rights, restitution, and sovereignty. The course traces key theories, ethics, and practices of caretaking, preservation, repatriation, curation, creative re-making, and digitization. Members will participate in a series of visits to area museums, collections, and meaningful places to deepen skills of critical analysis. The scope of the course is North American and at times transoceanic. It also includes substantial focus on our location in the Northeast and local formations of materiality and memory, as well as topics in Native American and Indigenous Studies, settler colonialism, and decolonizing approaches. Class members will build familiarity with appropriate techniques for approaching and handling different forms of material culture. They will also cultivate skills for developing and carrying out an original research project; and explore diverse modes of analysis and expression for representing the stories of materials and the communities who engage with them. [ 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 ]

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

Last offered Spring 2023

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 470 SEM Latinx Migrations: Stories and Histories

Last offered Spring 2024

Latinx migration histories are often told with sweeping data and within broad historical contexts. While these are important, the voices of the people leaving their home countries and coming to the United States can be lost or buried. During the 1970s, the emerging subfield of social history asserted the need to craft histories that took into consideration the everyday lives of everyday people. Oral history emerged a key tool in capturing the personal stories too often missed in historical archives. At the same time, Puerto Rican Studies, Chicano Studies, and later, Latinx Studies emerged to tell the histories of groups too often omitted from or misrepresented in the scholarship. These fields relied on traditions of testimonios or storytelling. This course focuses on Latinx oral histories, autobiographies, memoirs, testimonios, and other first-person narratives to explore how people are impacted by and experience those broad historical contexts, as well as how the decisions they make and the actions they take shape those broad historical contexts. As Latinx Studies is a field that has been at the forefront of exploring intersectionality, we also analyze how attention to first person narratives and lived experiences reveal the complexities of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class, as well as other visible and invisible markers of difference. Examining first person narratives in the context of specific Latinx groups in particular historical, geographical, and social contexts, we interrogate the methodological and interpretive challenges of working with oral histories and other first-person primary sources. Course topics include the gendered dimensions of migration, geopolitics and stories of exile, and the connections between lived experiences and political activism, particularly the feminist activism of the late 1960s and 1970s-- all while students develop and share their own research topics. [ 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 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 TUT Media and Society in Africa

Last offered Fall 2022

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(F) 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 486(S) TUT 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 ]


This tutorial offers a social history of fire in a national, international, and transnational framework. The aim of this course isn't to historicize fire, itself. Rather, "fire" is treated as a subtext to other historical developments and events in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries that have been factually and figuratively shaped by it. In this regard, we will grasp fire not only as combustion or conflagration but also through its nuanced meanings and their implications for how we think historically about issues related to capitalism, class, climate and environment, labor, gender, immigration, internationalism, policing, politics, race, radicalism, and sex. In essence, bodies might be on fire, burning with sexual desire; buildings might be on fire, engulfed in an intense conflagration; cities might be on fire, ignited by gunfire and urban unrests; workers might be fired or even fired up in a working-class movement, the latter incited by the push for labor democracy; or there might be fire weather, sparked by drier conditions and sweltering temperatures reflecting climate change. Thus, we will examine "fire" in a variety of historical contexts, from actual accounts of disastrous fire incidents due to environmental or industrial mishaps to stories of passion or protest inflaming individuals and groups to studies of rebellions and riots that produce fiery conditions. Lastly, we will analyze society's historical fascination with "fire" events, both real and imagined, and the way they have prompted efforts to rebuild, reform, and reimagine. To accomplish our goals, we will engage primary and secondary sources in addition to screening films that focus on histories directly or indirectly related to fire. [ more ]

HIST 488(F) TUT Sites of Memory and American Wars

This tutorial 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. Given the enormous national conversation and reconsideration of many of these sites over the last decade, we will ask such questions as: How and why has the memorialization of U.S. wars changed since the country's founding? 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 society's views of wars and soldiers and about the United States? Throughout, we will pay attention to how these sites reflect historical understandings of the time and have also served as focal points of social and political protests. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

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 TUT Memory, History, and the Extermination of the Jews of Europe

Last offered Spring 2022

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(S) TUT The Suburbs

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 Making Race in Early Modern Europe

Last offered Spring 2024

In modern scholarship, racism has most often been portrayed as a child of the European Enlightenment, a set of ideas about embodied human difference and its heritability that arose after the abandonment of the Biblical account of human creation and the rise of a new natural science. This tutorial asks: what racial ideas and practices preceded the Enlightenment? Beginning in the late Middle Ages, Europeans participated in enormous economic and cultural transformations, including increased global mobility and the establishment of new, transoceanic empires. Intensified interactions with people in the Americas, Africa, and Asia shaped European understandings of human difference, as did the burgeoning Atlantic economy and its cruelties. In this tutorial, we will place the emergence of modern racism in a long-term perspective, reconstructing the deep history out of which Enlightenment racial theory emerged. Proceeding both chronologically and thematically, we will consider how the major global transformations of the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries shaped European racial understandings with enduring consequence. In the process, we will develop a conceptual vocabulary to describe in a historically sensitive manner how embodied human difference has been interpreted differently across space and time. Throughout, we will read a variety of historical primary sources in conjunction with recent scholarship. Ultimately, our historical study will afford a comparative perspective on contemporary views of races and racism. [ 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(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(F) TUT The Medieval World System: Globalization before 1500

In recent years, scholars have turned increasing attention to global history in the pre-modern period. This tutorial takes as its focus the global Middle Ages: roughly speaking, the period between 500 and 1500 CE. This was a period that saw mass-produced consumer goods cross from China to India, East Africa, and the Middle East, inspiring admiration and imitation in multiple different markets. It saw games, music, and forms of literature become popular across continents, and saw religious communities forge networks spanning thousands of kilometers. To study the global Middle Ages is to place exchange and networks, both commercial and cultural, at the heart of our analysis. We will read and analyze many accounts by medieval travelers, merchants, and pilgrims who crossed Afro-Eurasia, alongside works by modern historians and archaeologists who have pieced together the patterns of movement and exchange that tied together the diverse societies of pre-modern Afro-Eurasia. [ 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 ]