Courses

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

HIST 104Travel Narratives and African History

Last offered Spring 2015

In a way, all historical thinking and writing deals with travel accounts given that, as many scholars have noted, the past can be likened to a foreign country and the historian can be viewed as a traveler in foreign places. Nevertheless, actual travel narratives--narratives about the actual physical visits of writers to distant lands--call for careful and critical analysis because they can be seductive, and they can shape the ways we think about the present--and the past--of distant lands and cultures. This course discusses Arab, Indian, European, African and African American travel narratives about various regions of Africa since the 14th century. We will mine the travel accounts for descriptions of local contexts. We will also explore what travel writing says about the author's perceptions of self, home, and "other." Ultimately, we will investigate the authors' biases and how the narratives influence both our perception of Africa and the writing of African history. This course is highly interdisciplinary and draws heavily on literary, anthropological, geographical, and historical methodologies. [ more ]

HIST 110 TThe Veil: History and Interpretations

Last offered Spring 2016

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 111Movers 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 115The World of the Mongol Empire

Last offered Spring 2018

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. 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, disintegration, and legacies for later periods. From a wide range of primary and secondary sources, including travelers' accounts, chronicles, art, and literature, we will investigate the diverse experiences of the Mongol world in different places, such as China, Russia, Persia, and Central Asia. [ more ]

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

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

HIST 121 T(F)The Two Koreas

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 135(F)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 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 136Before the Deluge: Paris and Berlin in the Interwar Years

Last offered Fall 2012

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

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

Long before the US and its allies fought the recent war in Afghanistan (2001-14), Britain fought three Afghan Wars. Now almost forgotten, dusty reminders of Britain's imperial past, they were crucial moments in the "Great Game", the rivalry between the British and Russian empires for supremacy in Central Asia and control of land routes to British India. Largely disastrous for the British, the First Afghan War (1839-1842) resulted in the tragic deaths of some 16,000 individuals, the second (1878-1881) generated considerable domestic discord, and the third (1919) basically ended British influence in Afghan affairs. Nevertheless, they exercised the Victorian imagination and led to numerous cultural productions that will be dissected in our class: illustrated tales of British military exploits proliferated in the press; the children's writer G.A. Henty turned the conflicts into the stuff of imperial adventure; Rudyard Kipling made the Great Game the backdrop for several works of fiction; military officers, government officials, "lady travelers", and amateur scholars all mapped the landscape and people of Afghanistan, an endless source of fascination for the Victorians. By interpreting these various forms of documentary evidence, we will not only reconstruct the history of Britain's Afghan wars but dissect the stories Britons told themselves about their Empire and about Afghanistan and its people. [ more ]

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

Last offered Fall 2016

This course examines the rise of soccer (futbol/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 race, masculinity, and 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 152The Fourteenth Amendment and the Meanings of Equality

Last offered Fall 2017

For more than a century, 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 "due process," "privileges and immunities," "equal protection," and "life, liberty or property"; the rise, fall, and rebirth of substantive due process; and the battles over incorporating the Bill of Rights into the 14th Amendment. We will pay particular attention to how debates over the 14th Amendment have shaped and been shaped by the changing meanings of racial and gender equality, and how the 14th Amendment has transformed the promise and experience of American citizenship. This course will be part of the Object Lab, a hybrid gallery-classroom, in which we will work in collaboration with the WCMA staff to select and analyze works of art that speak to and illuminate the themes of equality and freedom that are at the heart of this course. One major assignment will involve creating a course-specific installation that puts works of art in conversation with the court cases that we are studying. [ more ]

HIST 153 TEstablishment & 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 ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

HIST 154History of American Feminisms

Last offered Spring 2018

This class takes a historical approach to the development of feminist movements and ideas in the United States. Moving from expressions of women's rights in the 18th century up to the present, the class will examine how diverse groups of women organized for and understood the goal of women's equality. It focuses especially on the breadth of women's mobilization and the ways that race, class and sexuality intersected with political movements over time. Historical case studies and documents--including written analyses, films and popular media--will highlight major areas of agreement and disagreement between activists from a broad range of political perspectives, including conservative feminism, labor feminism, womanism, Third World feminism, transnational feminism, and queer/lesbian feminism. [ more ]

HIST 155 T(F)School Wars in U.S. History

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

HIST 156(F)Manifestos in American Politics

Is there an American style or tradition of writing political manifestos? Given the United States's origins in revolution, the answer would seem on the surface to be a definitive "yes." But some 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 explore that claim. How would we choose to define the very term, "manifesto?" Why have so many American writings been embraced as having the characteristics of a manifesto? We will explore these questions in two ways: first, through close readings and analyses of manifestos at three historical junctures in U.S. history (the Revolutionary era; the 1830s-1850s; and the decades following World War II); and second, through students' original research projects into manifestos of their own choosing. [ more ]

HIST 162 T(S)Unfamous Women, USA

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 164(S)Slavery in the United States

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

HIST 165(F)The Age of McCarthy: American Life in the Shadow of the Cold War

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 167(F)Let Freedom Ring? African Americans and Emancipation

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 1681968-1969: Two Years in America

Last offered Fall 2014

These two years were tumultuous ones worldwide. The escalation of the war in Vietnam, the Soviet invasion of Prague, the student uprisings in Paris and Japan, and the racial politics in the Summer Olympics held in Mexico City all had their counterparts that reverberated in the streets, college campuses, the halls of Congress, movie theaters, and concert halls and rock festivals in the United States. This first-year seminar will examine some of the major events of this time period in America: the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, the Democratic Convention in Chicago, as well as cultural trends such as the development of the anti-war movement, the push for curricular reforms on college campuses, and the rise of the "counter culture." [ more ]

HIST 203Modern African History

Last offered Fall 2016

This course surveys the history of 19th and 20th century Africa. The first section of the course focuses on the European conquest of Africa and the dynamics of colonial rule--especially its socio-economic and cultural consequences. The second section looks at how the rising tide of African nationalism, in the form of labor strikes and guerrilla wars, ushered out colonialism. The third section examines the postcolonial states, focusing on the politics of development, recent civil wars in countries like Rwanda and Liberia, and the growing AIDS epidemics. The last section surveys the history of Apartheid in South Africa up to 1994.Course materials include fiction, poetry, memoirs, videos, newspaper articles, and outstanding recent scholarship. The course is structured around discussions. [ more ]

HIST 207(F)The Modern Middle East

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 209The 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 210The 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 212Transforming the "Middle Kingdom": China, 2000 BCE-1600

Last offered Fall 2016

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

HIST 213Modern China, 1600-Present

Last offered Spring 2018

Observers may be struck by the apparent contradictions of contemporary China: market reforms undertaken by a nominally Communist government, extremes of urban wealth and rural poverty, increasing participation in the international community and intensifying nationalist rhetoric. This course will examine China's historical engagement with the modern world in order to gain perspective on our current views. It will cover the Qing (1644-1911) dynastic order, encounters with Western and Japanese imperialism, the rise of Chinese nationalism, Republican and Communist revolutions, the "other Chinas" of Taiwan and Hong Kong, economic liberalization, and globalization. [ more ]

HIST 214(F)Foundations of China

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

HIST 217Early Modern Japan

Last offered Spring 2018

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

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

HIST 218(S)Modern Japan

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 from politicians and intellectuals to factory workers and farmers have understood, instigated, and lived the upheavals of the past century and a half. We will ask why a modernizing revolution emerged out of the ashes of the early modern order; how Japan's encounters with "the West" have shaped the country's political and cultural life; what democracy and its failures have wrought; how world war was experienced and what legacies it left in its wake; how national identity has been constructed and reconstructed; and how postwar Japan has struggled with the successes and costs of affluence. Materials will include anthropological studies, government documents, intellectual tracts, fiction, films, and oral histories. [ more ]

HIST 219Japanese 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 220History and Society in India and South Asia: c. 2000 to 1700s CE

Last offered Spring 2018

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 Indus Valley civilization to the end of the Mughal Empire and will address topics such the as the "discovery of India", the coming of the "Aryans", 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(F)The Making of Modern South Asia: 1750-1950 CE

This course focuses on the history of South Asia with the aim of providing an overview of the political and social landscape of the region from the end of the Mughal Empire through British colonial rule and the Partition of India and Pakistan. We will explore a range of themes including the rise of colonialism, nationalism, religion, caste, gender relations, and the emergence of modern social and political institutions on the subcontinent. In addition to reading key texts and historical primary sources on the specific themes, we will also work with a variety of multimedia sources including films, short stories and website content. One objective of this course is to introduce students to the different political and social processes that led to the creation of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh; another is to teach students to think critically about the significance of history and history writing in the making of the subcontinent. [ more ]

HIST 222Greek History

Last offered Spring 2018

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

HIST 223(S)Roman History

The study of Roman history involves questions central to the development of Western institutions, religion, and modes of thought. Scholars have looked to Rome both for actual antecedents of European cultural development and for paradigmatic scenes illustrating what they felt were cultural universals. Yet Roman history also encompasses the most far-reaching experience of diverse cultures, beliefs, and practices known in the Western tradition until perhaps contemporary times. A close analysis of Roman history on its own terms shows the complex and fascinating results of an ambitious, self-confident nation's encounter both with unexpected events and crises at home, and with other peoples. As this course addresses the history of Rome from its mythologized beginnings through the reign of the emperor Constantine, it will place special emphasis on the impressive Roman ability to turn the unexpected into a rich source of cultural development, as well as the complex tendency later to interpret such ad hoc responses as predestined and inevitable. The Romans also provide a vivid portrait of the relationship between power and self-confidence on the one hand, and violence and ultimate disregard for dissent and difference on the other. Readings for this course will concentrate on a wide variety of original sources, and there will be a strong emphasis on the problems of historical interpretation. [ more ]

HIST 225(S)The Medieval World, 300-1500

The European world saw dramatic changes and the creation of new cultures and societies between the ancient and modern periods. This course will survey more than a millennium of history, beginning late in classical antiquity and concluding at the dawn of the modern era. We will concentrate both on developments within Europe, and on European encounters with Islam, the Byzantine East, and pagan cultures. With an approach that is both chronological and thematic, we will place the broader narrative of medieval history alongside special consideration of Europe's neighbors, social organization, medieval women, religion and piety, and education. Lectures and class discussion will receive equal emphasis. [ more ]

HIST 226(S)Early Modern Europe

The three hundred years from the late Middle Ages to the eve of the French Revolution were Europe's formative centuries: they saw the emergence of the Renaissance and the Reformation, the outbreak of the Wars of Religion, the colonization of the Americas and 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. Primary sources from the period will be read alongside modern secondary literature. [ more ]

HIST 227A Century of Revolutions: An Activists' Survey of 19th Century Europe (And Why It Matters Today)

Last offered Fall 2017

This course offers a survey of the revolutions and revolutionaries of 19th century Europe from the French Revolution to the Russian Revolution. The 19th century is intimately linked to us world citizens of today, both in the perils it bequeathed us - most importantly, widespread environmental destruction - and in the promise it offers us - of radical movements which sought to reconfigure the world into a more equitable, just and genuinely democratic place. Communists, anarchists, feminists, abolitionists, anti-imperialists, pacifists, and environmentalists - we will study all these and compare them with activists today in order to critically assess their continuing relevance. [ more ]

HIST 228(S)Europe in the Twentieth Century

This course will offer a survey of some of the important themes of twentieth-century European history, from the eve of World War One to the beginning of the twenty-first century. Organized topically and thematically, the course will consider European society in the fin-de-siecle 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; and the recent debates about Islam in Europe. Through a combination of lecture and discussion, the course seeks to introduce students to the major ideologies and institutions that shaped the lives of Europeans in the twentieth century, and to reflect on the role of ordinary people who devised, adapted, embraced, and sometimes resisted the dominant ideas and practices of their time. [ more ]

HIST 229(F)European Imperialism and Decolonization

This course will study European imperialism in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries and the formidable opposition it provoked, both on the part of the socialist opposition at home and the movements for national liberation in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the New World. The first half of the course will focus on the expansion of Europe in the nineteenth century, particularly the British conquest of India, the Scramble for Africa, and the break-up of the Ottoman Empire following World War I. In the second half of the course, we will examine some of the most dramatic movements for national liberation, including the independence in India, the Algerian Revolution, and the torturous struggle for independence in Lumumba's Congo. [ more ]

HIST 230Modern European Jewish History, 1789-1948

Last offered Fall 2015

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

HIST 231Medieval England

Last offered Spring 2018

Across the entire world of the Middle Ages, no region has captured the modern imagination as much as medieval England. From the Battle of Hastings to Magna Carta, from Braveheart to King Arthur, medieval English history and popular knowledge of the medieval past are closely linked. This course will survey the history of England from the Roman period through the reign of Richard II (AD 43-1399). We will find a great deal to detain us in these thirteen centuries, including the Anglo-Saxon settlement of England and subsequent conversion to Christianity, the Viking raids of the ninth and tenth centuries, the Norman Conquest, the growth of English common law, the murder of Thomas Beckett, Edward I's campaigns in Wales and Scotland, the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, and the beginning of the Hundred Years War. We will focus particularly on power and politics, but primary readings will add important social, cultural and religious context. Our meetings will emphasize lectures and discussion equally. No prior knowledge is expected. [ more ]

HIST 239Germany in the Twentieth Century

Last offered Fall 2012

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

HIST 242Latin America From Conquest to Independence

Last offered Fall 2017

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 243Modern 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 248The Caribbean: From Slavery to Independence

Last offered Spring 2018

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

HIST 252From Contact to Civil War: A History of North America to 1865

Last offered Spring 2017

This course will provide a survey of North American history from Europe's first expansion into the New World to the American Civil War. Cast as a contest between competing empires and their peoples, the course begins in Europe and Native North America before contact and studies the expansion of European nations into the New World. The course will emphasize the history of British North America and the interactions between and among the many peoples of colonial America. The course will then examine the coming, course, and consequence of the American Revolution (or what many at the time considered America's first civil war). The new nation unleashed massive and far-reaching economic, social and political changes. The last third of the course will explore these changes in the antebellum era and trace how they affected the coming of America's second civil war. [ more ]

HIST 253(S)Modern U.S. History

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 254Colonial American History to 1760

Last offered Fall 2017

The course will explore the experience of Indian, English, African, and European peoples in the process we know as the colonization of the North American mainland, during the 16th, 17th, and early 18th centuries. Topics will include the lifeways of native groups and their response to the arrival of newcomers from overseas; the migration of white "settlers" and their founding of new communities; the demographic, social, political, and economic systems that organized their lives; the beginnings and subsequent development of African slavery; gender relations and the life cycle (among the colonizers and their descendants); and, towards the end, the development of a distinctively American cultural style. [ more ]

HIST 255Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies

Last offered Fall 2017

What does it mean to acknowledge the literal land we stand upon--in Williamstown and beyond--as the occupied territory of indigenous peoples? This course strives to answer that question by offering an introduction to the histories, politics, knowledges, and arts of indigenous peoples across the Americas and Native Pacific. Foregrounding the ways in which indigenous peoples have resisted, refused, and reimagined ongoing histories of settler colonialism, we will survey scholarship in the interdisciplinary field of Native American and Indigenous Studies. By analyzing such scholarship alongside a range of primary sources--including historical documents, literature, film, visual art, music, and social media--we will examine the complex interweavings of indigeneity, race, gender, and sexuality. Throughout the course, we will discuss topics of both past and present importance, such as environmental justice, cultural representation, and self-determination. [ more ]

HIST 256(F)Social Justice Traditions: 1960s to #Black Lives Matter

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 259(S)New England Environmental History

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

HIST 261America and the Cold War

Last offered Fall 2016

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 262The United States and the World, 1776 to 1914

Last offered Spring 2014

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

HIST 263(F)The United States and the World, 1898 to the Present

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

HIST 280African American History: An Introduction

Last offered Spring 2012

This course provides a survey of African American History from the earliest importation and migration of Africans to North American through the present day. Our readings and discussions will take up the development, expansion, and organization of slavery, the coming and meaning of freedom, and the political and cultural landscapes of African Americans over time. We will discuss slavery, freedom, civil rights, and racial ideologies. Finally, we will examine the post Civil Rights era, the changing meaning of the designation "African American" in light of global migrations, and African American political power in the 21st century. Our readings, which will include both primary and secondary sources, will help us to interrogate American history and gain an understanding and overview of African American history. The course will be primarily discussion based. [ more ]

HIST 281(F)African American History, 1619-1865

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 282History of the Civil Rights Movement

Last offered Spring 2018

This course examines the American civil rights movement, arguably the most important social movement of the twentieth century, and its far reaching effects. We will set the movement's classic phase from 1954-1965, within a broader history organizing for freedom from the 1930s through the demise of Black Power in the 1970s. We will trace a wide variety of activists in southern struggle, examining familiar figures like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., from new perspectives, together with the often unsung heroes of local movements. We will also highlight freedom struggles in the North and West, whose timing, issues, and politics often differed, including the presence of a diverse cast of racial minorities including Latinxs and Asians. Throughout our study, we will interrogate the perspectives of both the participants and the historians who have written their stories about the time, space, issues, and strategy that define our understanding of the struggle for freedom. Class will consist of lecture and discussion. [ more ]

HIST 284(S)Introduction to Asian American History

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

HIST 286(F)Latina/o History, 1848 to the Present

From 1848 to the present, Latina/o communities have taken shape in the United States through conquest and migration. Why and when have distinct Latina/o groups come to have sizeable communities in different regions of the United States? U.S. imperialism and foreign policies, as well military, political and economic ties between the United States and the various countries of origin define the political and economic contexts in which people leave their homes to come to the United States. In their search for low-wage labor, U.S. employers have recruited workers from Latin America and the Hispanic Caribbean. Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, Guatemalans, and Salvadorans, as well as others, have responded to labor recruitment and have also relied on networks of family and friends to seek a better life in the United States. What do the histories of these distinct Latina/o groups share and where do their experiences diverge? [ more ]

HIST 292History of Sexuality

Last offered Spring 2018

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

HIST 301(F)Approaching the Past: Remembering American History

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

HIST 301Approaching the Past: Practices of Modern History

Last offered Spring 2017

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 come to know, think about, and understand the past. Topics include: the nature of historical truth, objectivity and bias, different types of sources, scale in history, and uses of theory. The second section of the course will explore the purposes and uses of history. We will consider questions raised by public history, history education, historical film, and the construction of memory. The class will meet once a week, and each session will focus on some theoretical material as well as readings on a broad range of topics that concretely illustrate the methodological issues at stake. [ more ]

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

Last offered Fall 2017

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? 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 seminar 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 301Approaching the Past: Westward Expansion in American History

Last offered Fall 2014

How does historical knowledge evolve? How do historians build on but also repudiate the work of historians that came before them? In this course, we will explore the historiography that has developed over the last 150 years about the Anglo-American settlement of the West, using it as a lens to explore larger questions about shifting perspectives of the historian's craft. This historiography will also illuminate critical conflicts about the meaning of American history. Did the frontier build American character, as Frederick Jackson Turner argued in 1893? Did it establish patterns of conquest that have shaped American policy toward other parts of the world, as later historians would argue? Has the West been an "exceptional" place or representative of the nation at large? The class will meet twice a week, and the discussions will focus intensively on one book, examining the theoretical and historical assumptions of the author; how these assumptions shaped the historian's search for evidence and their claims; and the impact they have had on our understanding of the American West. [ more ]

HIST 301Approaching the Past: Varieties of Historical Thinking

Last offered Spring 2017

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

HIST 301Approaching 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(S)Approaching the Past: Other People's History

From antiquity to the present, most historians have chosen to write about their own community, whether they have defined it by ethnicity, nationhood, language, or creed. Only a minority have chosen instead to record the history of a group of which they are not a member. This seminar asks: what does it mean to write other people's history? We will consider, first, the motivations that might lead someone to dedicate their lives to studying a foreign culture. What practical challenges are involved? What languages, archives, and forms of knowledge does the historian have to master, and how is this achieved (or not achieved)? Further, we will inquire: what unique problems and opportunities emerge? What mental categories mediate the inevitable comparisons that arise in the study of other people's history? What kind of histories can be written this way, and what kind cannot? Throughout, we will take seriously the ethical challenges and opportunities of this peculiar historiographic position. Finally, we will determine the lessons that can be drawn for our own practice as historians. Authors to be read will range from antiquity to the present and include Herodotus, al-Biruni, Jose de Acosta, and Edward Gibbon among others. [ more ]

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

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

HIST 301Approaching the Past: Chronicles of the First Crusade

Last offered Fall 2017

Historians collect and study stories, or narratives, about the past; and they are often expected to build their own narrative accounts of historical events. We do not, however, experience the present as a narrative. To tell a story is always to adopt a perspective, to introduce anachronisms, to assume causality, and to misrepresent. This seminar will consider how narrative sources illuminate and deceive, and how historians can approach the contradictions and inconsistencies among many different accounts to arrive at deeper insights, not only about past events but about the aims of their chroniclers. As our case study we will take the First Crusade of the eleventh century, when a great many peasants, soldiers and nobles set out to seize Jerusalem from the Turks. Their efforts were recorded in a wide variety of interrelated chronicles, set down by the participants, victims, and observers of this bizarre military expedition. By studying the interrelationships and contradictions that these sources present, we will learn the basics of source criticism and probe the limits of historical knowledge. Our familiarity with the primary sources will also prepare us to dissect and critique several modern studies of the First Crusade. [ more ]

HIST 301Approaching the Past: Writing History

Last offered Spring 2018

The course explores various modes in the writing of history: analytic, narrative, microhistorical, *public,* and so on. Inevitably (and usefully) it raises broad epistemological questions--the purposes of history, its moral dimension, the relationship of the historian to their subject--but the baseline throughout is writing, the creation of prose suited to the task of engaging the past. The readings embrace a variety of exemplary works (models). These do not connect by way of content; their common element is interesting, innovative prose. The first month of the course involves reading and discussion of several such works. The second (middle) month is quite different--what might be called a practicum--with students writing short papers (approximately 1000 words), to be circulated and discussed among the group. The third and final month is like the first: i.e., a return to the exemplary. [ more ]

HIST 301(S)Approaching the Past: The American Civil War

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 formally enslaved people on a long road towards freedom. Civil War historiography began in the 19th century and 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 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. [ more ]

HIST 302(F)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 303A History of Islam in Africa

Last offered Fall 2016

This course examines the history of Islam in Africa from the seventh century to the present. We will start off by looking at the spread of Islam in different parts of Africa. We will then analyze the social, political, economic, and cultural impact of Islam on African societies, the interaction between Islam and indigenous African institutions, the Islamic revolutions in the nineteenth century, the impact of European colonial rule on Muslim societies, and the development of Islam in the post-independence period. We will also examine how African Muslims reconstructed and asserted their religious identities by localizing Islamic intellectual traditions, healing practices, music, arts, cultural norms, and formal and informal religious festivals. By the end of the semester students should be able to appreciate Islam's common framework as well as its diversity and dynamics within that larger framework and over time. [ more ]

HIST 304South Africa and Apartheid

Last offered Spring 2017

This course introduces students to the spatial, legal, economic, social and political structures that created Apartheid in South Africa, and to the factors that led to the collapse of the racist order. We will examine the many forms of black oppression and, also, the various forms of resistance to Apartheid. Some of the themes we will explore include industrialization and the formation of the black working classes, the constructions of race, ethnicities and sexualities, land alienation and rural struggles, township poverty and violence, Black education, and the Black Consciousness Movement. [ more ]

HIST 305Nationalism and Nation Building in the Middle East

Last offered Spring 2016

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 and the challenges of statecraft. After assessing some of the more influential theories of nationalism, we will explore the historical experience of nationalism and national identity in Iraq, Israel, Turkey, Palestine, Iran, and Egypt. What has been at the basis of nationhood? How did European concepts of nation translate into the Middle Eastern context? What was the role of religion in these modern societies? How did traditional notions of gender effect concepts of citizenship? We will also explore some of the unresolved issues facing the various nations of the Middle East, such as unfulfilled nationalist aspirations, disputes over land and borders, and challenges to sovereignty. Finally, we will evaluate the role of foreign powers in nation building in the Middle East and consider whether the modern concept of the nation has any validity in the Middle Eastern context. [ more ]

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

Last offered Spring 2018

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

HIST 308(S)The Nile

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

HIST 309(S)Fire and Ice: The History of Modern Iceland

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: "Fogur er hli?in," "Deyr fe, deyr fr?ndr," "?etta reddast," "dugleg/ur," and "Afram Island." This comprehension is, of course, very practical since 320,000 people understand the Icelandic language. [ more ]

HIST 310Iraq 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 311The United States and the Middle East

Last offered Spring 2014

At the turn of the twentieth century, the United States was considered a benign superpower in the Middle East. Americans were known as "innocents abroad" for their educational and philanthropic work. From a distance, American society was admired for its affluence and freedom, and Middle Eastern politicians eagerly sought American advice and assistance. Today, however, the situation could hardly be more different. This course will examine the remarkable transformation of American involvement in the Middle East. Significant cultural and political encounters of the latter half of the twentieth century will be assessed in order to identify how the United States has approached the region and consider the multifaceted and sometimes ambivalent reactions of people in the Middle East to increasing U.S. presence. It will also explore the difficulty the United States has experienced in balancing diverse, and sometimes conflicting, foreign policy interests, and will evaluate what may account for the increasing level of antagonism and mistrust on both sides. [ more ]

HIST 312(F)The Mughal Empire: Power, Art, and Religion in India

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

HIST 313(F)The People's Republic: China since 1949

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 318 TNationalism in East Asia

Last offered Spring 2017

This tutorial examines the theoretical literature on nationalism, and then uses insights from those readings to study of the emergence and development of modern nationalist movements and national identities in China, Japan, Korea -- both South and North -- and Taiwan. [ more ]

HIST 319Gender and the Family in Chinese History

Last offered Fall 2017

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, generational, and sexual roles in different historical periods. Beginning in the late imperial period (16th-18th Centuries), we will examine the religious, marital, sexual, and childrearing practices associated with the "orthodox" Confucian family. We will then explore the wide variety of "heterodox" practices in imperial China, debates over and critiques of the family system in the twentieth century, and configurations of gender and family in contemporary China. [ more ]

HIST 321History of U.S.-Japan Relations

Last offered Fall 2017

An unabating tension between conflict and cooperation has been an undercurrent of U.S.-Japan relations for over 150 years, at times erupting into clashes reaching the scale of world war and at times allowing for measured collaboration. We will explore the U.S.-Japan relationship from the perspectives of both countries with a focus on how culture, domestic concerns, economic and political aims, international contexts, and race have helped shape its course and nature. Topics will include early U.S.-Japan encounters; the rise of both countries as imperial powers; the road to, and experience of, World War II; the politics and social history of the postwar American occupation of Japan; the U.S.-Japan security alliance; trade relations; and popular culture. Contemporary topics will also be discussed. [ more ]

HIST 323(F)From Achilles to Alexander: Leadership and Community in Ancient Greece

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 324The 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 326(F)The Shadow King and the Emperor: Pippin III, Charlemagne, and the Rise of the Carolingians

By the later seventh-century, Frankish Gaul had entered an advanced state of political decline. The long-haired kings of the Merovingian dynasty became little more than figureheads as true power devolved to court officials, particularly the mayors of the palace. Ultimately, a new clan, the Pippinids, acquired hereditary control over mayoral positions in the Neustrian and Austrasian kingdoms. In 751, Pippin III (d. 768) packed the last Merovingian king off to a monastery and assumed royal power in his own right. He and his son Charlemagne (d. 814) established a new dynasty, the Carolingians, as they extended their rule throughout Gaul, western Germany, and northern Italy. These years saw a steady progression of military conquests, as well as legal and ecclesiastical reforms and an elaborate program of cultural renewal known as the Carolingian Renaissance. In this seminar we will approach the rise of the Carolingians as a historical problem. How did these kings reverse the political decline of the Frankish kingdoms so suddenly? How thoroughgoing were the political, legal, and cultural reforms that they implemented? To what degree has our view of Carolingian achievement been distorted by the abundance of official and quasi-official sources for the era? To answer these questions we will turn to a wide array of primary sources, including monastic chronicles, royal biographies, legislation, letters, poems, and saints' lives; we will also consider a selection of classic and recent secondary studies. [ more ]

HIST 327(S)Hollow Empire: Louis the Pious and the Decline of the Carolingian Kingdoms after 814

After Charlemagne died in 814, his son, Louis the Pious, assumed sole rule of the Carolingian Empire. Almost immediately, he faced profound political problems, among them a threatened rebellion in 817, brutally suppressed; and coups in 830 and 833, which left Louis's prestige and power greatly reduced. Gone were the success and the confidence of Charlemagne's rule. Instead, the Franks found themselves on the defensive as Vikings began to conduct seasonal raids and the political and economic structures of the early ninth-century entered a period of extended devolution. The downward spiral continued after Louis's death in 840, as his heirs opened a civil war among themselves and the Carolingian Empire fragmented into a series of independent kingdoms. This seminar will study the decline of the Carolingians through close study and discussion of the most important primary sources, including royal biographies of Louis the Pious; monastic annals; legislation promulgated by Louis and his successors; contemporary histories; and a host of other documents, including letters, treatises, and saints' lives. We will also consider select secondary studies. We will ask after the nature of Louis the Pious's political problems, seek to find out how it was that Carolingian power came apart almost as suddenly as it emerged, and investigate the newer, smaller political and legal world that emerged in western Gaul in the latter half of the ninth-century. [ more ]

HIST 328Witchcraft

Last offered Spring 2018

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

HIST 330(F)Reformations: Faith, Politics, and the World

The Protestant Reformation was long understood as the first salvo of modernity. By opposing the faith of the individual believer to the authority of the established Church, Martin Luther and his followers, it has been argued, laid the foundations not just of the Reformed Churches but of the modern self and of the modern state. While considering these classic interpretations, this seminar will also examine more recent investigations of the plural Reformations: not just Protestant but also Catholic, and not solely mainstream but radical as well. Moreover, in this same period, Christianity expanded well beyond Europe, becoming a global religion. We will ask: in these sweeping transformations of what it meant to be a Christian, who was included and excluded? And how did Reformations of the faith intersect with such a dramatic expansion of the faithful? Historical developments to be considered include theology, popular culture, women and mysticism, the Wars of Religion, overseas missions, the Council of Trent, and the settlement of Westphalia. Authors to be read include Luther, John Calvin, Teresa of Avila, Michel de Montaigne, Ignatius of Loyola, and others. [ more ]

HIST 331European Intellectual History from Aquinas to Kant

Last offered Spring 2018

The scholars and philosophers of early modern Europe set the agenda for much of modern Western 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? Is individual freedom or political stability more important? Our class will examine how these ideas emerged in the context of such intellectual movements as scholasticism, humanism, the new philosophy and the Enlightenment. We will also discuss the effects of the invention of the printing press, the edition and translation of the classics and the Bible, and the foundation of journals and new gathering places for public discussion. Thus we will retrace the long and winding path from the intellectual culture of late medieval Europe to that of the Enlightenment. In the process, we will rediscover the arguments of major thinkers and consider what they can teach us today. Authors to be read include Petrarch, Machiavelli, Montaigne, Hobbes, Spinoza, Voltaire and Rousseau. [ more ]

HIST 332(S)Queer Europe: Sexualities and Politics since 1850

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

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

Last offered Spring 2016

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

HIST 334(F)Victorian Psychology from the Phrenologists to Freud

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

HIST 335(F)Weimar Germany

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

HIST 336National-Socialist Germany

Last offered Spring 2018

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

HIST 338The History of the Holocaust

Last offered Fall 2016

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 339Marx and His Times (and Marx's Relevance Today)

Last offered Spring 2018

Growing economic inequality--at home and in the world--is fueling powerful new protest movements reminiscent of the times of revolution in which Karl Marx played such an important role. Not surprisingly, activists, journalists, and academics have revived interest in studying Marx--the man, the activist, the theoretician--to discover his continuing relevance today. In this class, we will study Marx both by reading lively biographies of Marx and his family (Engels included) and by reading some of his most important writings. We will focus on Marx the revolutionary activist, paying special attention to the two revolutions he was actively engaged in (the 1848 revolutions, the Paris Commune of 1871); we will study his role in founding and working in the First International (1864-1876); we will examine Marx's views about slavery and the Civil War in the United States, as well as the increasing attention he paid to non-European peoples and social formations in his later life; we will focus on Engels and Marx's ideas about the family, gender, and the woman question; we will read excerpts from his major work, Capital, with an eye towards understanding the pertinence of his critique of capitalism; and we will conclude by examining Marx's relevance for revolutionary movements today, particularly those demanding environmental justice in Standing Rock and beyond. [ more ]

HIST 340(S)Marxism after Marx: The Socialist Movement in Europe and Beyond

This course traces the development of the socialist movement after the death of Karl Marx, focusing on the rise and fall of the Second and Third Internationals during the war-torn years of the early 20th century. As Marxism spread East, particularly after the Russian Revolution, it became a global phenomenon with important homes in Asia (China), Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas (Cuba, Chile). Although this course cannot study all these movements, it will focus on the most important moments in this evolution, from the split between reform and revolution in the Second International, to the split between Trotskyism and Stalinism in Russia, the Sino-Soviet conflict and the evolution of Maoism in the 1960s, the student rebellions of 1968, and the formidable impact of the Cuban Revolution in stimulating revolutions in the New World and in Southern Africa. Finally, the class will assess the strength and relevance of Marxism in the world today. [ more ]

HIST 347Democracy and Dictatorship in Latin America

Last offered Spring 2018

The inability--or failure--of Latin American countries to establish stable and democratic governments 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 in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Peru, and the countries of Central America. 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)Americans and the Maritime Environment

This course examines the impact of the maritime environment (both salt water and fresh) on human affairs from the age of European expansion to the opening decades of the 21st century. Taught using the collections of Mystic Seaport Museum and on several distant field seminars, Americans and the Maritime Environment examines en situ such things as race, gender, revolution, and humankind's changing relationship with the world's oceans. Readings in primary sources and secondary works on the social, economic, and technological implications of maritime activities culminate in an original research paper. [ more ]

Taught by: Alicia Maggard

Catalog details

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

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

HIST 358(S)The Roosevelt Style of Leadership

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

HIST 362(S)Indigenous Women's History

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 363Cold 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(F)History of the Old South

During the course of the semester, we shall investigate two broad, interrelated topics: slavery in the antebellum South, and the impact of slavery on Southern civilization. Our approach will be primarily topical. In the first half of the course, we shall look at subjects like the foreign and domestic slave trade, patterns of work and treatment, the nature of the master-slave relationship, resistance and rebellion, and slave cultural, social, and family life. The second half of the course will concentrate on the influence of the institution of slavery on the mind, social structure, and economy of the Old South, and slavery's impact on Southern politics and the decision for secession in 1860-61. [ more ]

HIST 365(S)History of the New South

A study of the history of the American South from 1877 to the present. Social, political and economic trends will be examined in some detail: the rule of the "Redeemers" following the end of Reconstruction; tenancy, sharecropping, and the rise of agrarian radicalism; Southern Progressivism; the coming of racial segregation and the destruction of the Jim Crow system during the years of the Civil Rights movement; Southern politics during the depression and post-World War II years. [ more ]

HIST 366What They Saw in America

Last offered Spring 2018

This course traces the travels and writings of four important observers of the United States: Alexis de Tocqueville, Max Weber, G.K. Chesterton, and Sayyid Qutb. The course will consider their respective journeys: Where did they go? With whom did they talk? What did they see? The historical scope and varying national origins of the observers provide a unique and useful outsider's view of America--one that sheds light on persisting qualities of American national character and gives insight into the nature and substance of international attitudes toward the United States over time. The course will analyze the common themes found in the visitors' respective writings about America and will pay particular attention to their insights on religion, democracy, agrarianism, capitalism, and race. This course is part of the Williams College program at the Berkshire County Jail and House of Corrections and will be held at the jail. Transportation will be provided by the college. The class will be composed equally of Williams students and inmates, and one goal of the course will be to encourage students from different backgrounds to think together about issues of common human concern. * Please note atypical class hour Monday, 4:45-8:30 pm. [ more ]

HIST 368Black Metropolis: Writing About Race and the City

Last offered Fall 2017

This course investigates how scholars, writers, and activists have written about the black urban experience in the twentieth century. Today, there exists a complex relationship between black and urban, with much public discourse stereotyping black people as residents of the "inner city." At the beginning of the 20th century this development would have been highly improbable; circa 1900, African-Americans remained the country's most rural demographic group, disproportionately working in agriculture. This class addresses why, how, and when black people migrated to cities, and the structural mechanisms that channeled them into segregated neighborhoods and jobs, even as these changed over time. More importantly, though, we will focus on the way in which African-Americans themselves sought to understand, explore, and contest these experience of ghettoization. How did black people express themselves and build communities for survival, pleasure, and profit? Throughout the course we will put in dialogue various types of writing: these include social scientific studies of black life, urban history, and the journalism, poetry, and literature produced by black urbanites during the first half of the 20th century. By examining of these different modes of writing about race in the city together, we will gain perspective on the specific practices of historical writing and how historians differ from other inquirers in the questions they ask, the sources they use (and how they use them), and the arguments they make. [ more ]

HIST 369The Carceral State

Last offered Spring 2018

This seminar will examine the rise and character of the "carceral state," a term scholars use to denote "the vast apparatus of punishment and control tat exists in the contemporary United States." We will begin with systems of policing, processing, and punishment that came under criticism in the 1960s from civil rights advocates, simultaneous with the rise of "law and order" politics. The middle of the course will trace out how in the aftermath of civil rights reform, conservatives and liberals together paved the way for the expansion of punitive capacities at the local, state, and federal level. We will pay particular attention the uneven development of mass incarceration across states and localities, and the different patterns of racial disparity that this produced. Finally, we will look at the effects of the carceral state on American society and politics, and the movements to dismantle it. [ more ]

HIST 370African American Urban History

Last offered Fall 2015

In the mid twentieth century, "inner city" became synonymous with poor African Americans living in the urban centers of the industrial North and West. However, urban African American history stretches back to before the Declaration of Independence. African Americans built and dwelled in great cities North and South. This course will explore the history of African Americans in places like New York, Savannah, Chicago, Miami, and Oakland. We will explore such themes as slavery and freedom in cities, migrations to cities in the early 20th century, the shape of Jim Crow in the North, and the contention over the definition of "black" as Caribbean and African migrants came to urban centers after 1960. We will pay particular attention the history of black urban culture and style, reading texts on fashion, music, dance, and leisure. Students will write one book review (2-3 pages), do an oral presentation, and write two papers. One brief research paper (7-10 pages) and one historiographic essay (7-10 pages). [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

HIST 371Oral History: Theory, Methods and Practice

Last offered Fall 2017

Oral history offers a powerful means to document history "from the bottom up," filling gaps in the historical record and creating ways to make new community connections. Using a variety of texts, including transcripts and recorded interviews, students will consider what oral history offers as a source of information; how oral history is produced and analyzed; legal, ethical, and methodological considerations; the impact of digital technologies on oral history; and the ways that memory, context, and identity shape the interview. The class will include a hands-on component and a group final project, giving students the chance to conduct, archive, use and present interviews. Interviews will be added to the Williams College Archives. The final project will focus on a topic related to local history such as the impact of industry and deindustrialization on northern Berkshire County. All students will be expected to complete several short research and writing assignments; travel off campus to conduct recorded interviews; submit written transcriptions; and participate in the final group project. Additional compulsory class sessions may be added for field trips and methods workshops. [ more ]

HIST 372(F)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 both has a remarkably rich history and poses central questions to how we view 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? Or 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 both 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' stories of western individualism fit into the histories of massive federal interventions in "the West"? We will take up these and many other questions as we examine topics from the era before Europeans arrived in North America to the present day. [ more ]

HIST 373(S)Sites of Memory and American Wars

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 374American 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 375History 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)Sex, Gender, and the Law in U.S. History

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

HIST 379Black Women in the United States

Last offered Spring 2017

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 ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

HIST 380(F)Comparative American Immigration History

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

HIST 384Selected Topics in Asian American Studies

Last offered Fall 2017

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

HIST 385(S)Politics, Activism, and Everyday Life: Latinas/os in New York City and the Northeast

This course explores how everyday life has shaped the politics and activism of Latinas/os in New York City and the Northeast from the post-World War II era to the present. Arriving in larger numbers in the 1940s and 1950s, Puerto Ricans sought to define a place for themselves in the region. In ensuing decades, Cubans, Dominicans, Central and South Americans, and Mexicans increasingly settled in the city and the region. Addressing the issues stemming from their everyday lives, politics and activism took a wide variety of forms from community building to meet immediate needs, to social service approaches and community-based organizing during the War on Poverty in the early 1960s, to the radical political and social movements of the late 1960s and the 1970s, to electoral politics throughout the decades to the present. Activists organized around a wide variety of often intersecting issues including education, workers' rights, women's rights and feminism, legal status, and LBGTQ+ visibility and rights. At times, politics and activism were rooted in one national origin group, while other efforts were intentionally and explicitly Latinx. This course will draw on autobiographies and other primary materials, as well as documentaries to help in making the connections between everyday life and politics. For final projects, students will have the option of delving deeper into autobiographies and other narrative sources OR of engaging in community based learning throughout the semester and using these experiences as the foundation for their final projects. [ more ]

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

Last offered Fall 2017

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 387Living with the Bomb: American Culture in the Nuclear Age

Last offered Spring 2018

Following the first use of nuclear weapons against Japan at the end of World War II, atomic science has fueled Americans' fears, hopes, nightmares, and fantasies. This course will examine various aspects of American nuclear culture in the early-Cold War period. It will consider topics ranging from the Manhattan Project to delivery of the bombs for combat, scientists' movements to abolish atomic weapons and expand peaceful atomic energy production, and the destructive consequences of the bomb's initial use and subsequent testing. The class will also investigate the role of the nuclear arms race in the Cold War, the development of civil defense and bomb shelter culture in the United States, and dystopian fiction about the nuclear apocalypse. Employing both historical and sociological perspectives, we will explore the interactions between science, diplomacy, politics, and culture in the nuclear age. [ more ]

HIST 388Decolonization and the Cold War

Last offered Fall 2014

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

HIST 389(S)The Vietnam Wars

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(F, S)Transforming the New World and the Old: The Haitian and French Revolutions

This course focuses on the radical transformative power of the Haitian and French Revolutions, the ways in which they challenged the hierarchies of the New World--of racism, and slavery--and of the Old World--of monarchy, aristocracy, the Church, and even of the bourgeoisie--with long-lasting effect. It will show how the two revolutions were intricately interrelated--even though historians of the French Revolution have usually neglected the Haitian Revolution and downplayed its centrality--and how they initiated a century of Revolution on both sides of the Atlantic. Given the incomplete and unfinished character of both Revolutions, and the fact that the issues they attempted to address live on today, this class will make a conscious attempt to show the continuing relevance of these Revolutions to 21st century movements for change. [ more ]

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

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 392History of the Book

Last offered Fall 2014

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

HIST 393(S)Sister Revolutions in France and America

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

HIST 394The 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 395Signs of History

Last offered Fall 2017

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

HIST 402A History of Family in Africa

Last offered Spring 2017

The family is the center of private life, but it has also been a topic of constant discussion and contention in Africa. In this class we will examine how political upheavals and economic pressures have changed the concept of the family and the role it plays in various African societies. We will also consider the changing views of gender, race, age, class, and sexuality on the idea of family. [ more ]

HIST 403Making it in Africa: Business in African History

Last offered Fall 2011

Although Africa has come to be known as a continent that relies heavily on foreign aid, that aid rarely reaches ordinary people. In fact, recent studies have suggested that foreign aid has not helped develop Africa. In spite of the staggering problems that ordinary Africans face, many see Africa--now more than ever before--as a place bursting with promise and opportunity, even if that opportunity may require challenges to conventional economic and political thinking. Increasingly, an innovative class of entrepreneurs is emerging in Africa that is hustling in the formal and informal economy in order to accumulate capital. This seminar will trace the social and cultural history of entrepreneurship in Africa from the 19th century to the present. We will explore the individual journeys of several entrepreneurs, the values and objectives they nurtured, the changes in the strategy and structure of the businesses they created, and the dynamic environments in which they each lived and worked. The course will also examine the long-term impact of entrepreneurial innovation and market evolution on African communities and governments. Readings will include histories, biographies, autobiographies, ethnographies, and novels. [ more ]

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

Last offered Fall 2013

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 411Happy 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 414Merchant 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 415Gods and Kings: Historical Narratives from India

Last offered Spring 2016

India's long history with earliest written records going back to 2000 B.C presents multiple challenges that are unique among the ancient civilizations. The critical challenge is conceptual: how do we recognize the historical sense of societies whose past is recorded in ways that are different from European conventions? British rulers claimed that India had no sense of history before the colonial period. And this view has persisted despite recent scholarship that has undermined the factual and conceptual basis of this theory. The purpose of this course is two fold: first, to discuss the analytical methods one could apply to understand the 'history' contained in the diverse body of classical Indian literature; second, to study a representative set of primary sources that belong to the distinct historical traditions of India. Students will learn to apply these methods to gain new insights and debate the limitations of the approach. The course will begin with an exploration of the epic tradition and continue with in-depth readings of narratives from other important genres including popular bardic accounts, royal biographies and court dramas ranging from c. 1000 BCE to 1500 CE. [ more ]

HIST 424The Dark Ages: Gaul after the Fall of Rome

Last offered Spring 2017

What made Antiquity different from the Middle Ages? What changed after the Roman Empire ceased to exist in the West? This seminar will approach these classic problems through an intense focus on Gaul during the so-called "Dark Ages," from the fifth to the eighth centuries. During these years, Frankish kings of the Merovingian dynasty dominated Western Europe. Our sources for these transitional centuries are some of the most colorful and fascinating texts to emerge from the ancient world. We will begin with a look at life and politics under the later Roman empire, and then make ourselves experts in Merovingian history by studying nearly all the surviving written evidence. Narrative histories, chronicles and law codes will claim the bulk of our time and attention, but we will also sample documents, literature, and archeological finds. This comprehensive exposure will prepare us to confront the many scholarly debates that have surrounded the Merovingian age. [ more ]

HIST 434The Meaning of Diaspora and the Jews of Europe

Last offered Spring 2016

Dispersion, exile, migration, statelessness are all aspects of diaspora. And in the study of diasporic peoples and cultures, the Jews have long figured as the archetype. As a result, Jewish political figures, intellectuals, social activists and scholars have played a central role in discussions of the meaning of diaspora, including debates about its political and social implications, economic value, and cultural significance. In the first half of the semester, in discussions of common readings, this seminar examines various interpretations of Jews' diasporic existence from the nineteenth century to the present, both as a cultural practice and a form of group identity from which political claims have been made. We will test the proposition that "The Modern Age is the Jewish Age," that is, that the meaning of diaspora in modern Jewish history has direct relevance to students of human identity not just of Jewishness. Throughout the second half of the semester, students will conduct independent archival research on some aspect of the history of the Jewish diaspora that will culminate in a 20-page paper. The seminar will continue to meet weekly as a research colloquium, to provide a forum for students to present their research and drafts in progress and provide feedback on fellow students' work. [ more ]

HIST 443Race and Ethnicity in Latin America

Last offered Spring 2018

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

HIST 452Women in America, 1620-1865

Last offered Spring 2014

This course will explore the diversity of American women's experiences from the colonial era through the Civil War. We will pay particular attention to the roles women filled--as slaves, nuns, housewives, mothers, and workers, as well as depictions of women as witches, paragons of virtue, and urban consumers. In our reading of historiography and primary texts we will analyze the ways in which literacy and artistic culture as well as geopolitical events shaped women's lives. As we study works of history, we will also read modern works of feminist and race theory to further our understanding of connections between ideology and practice, between narrative and argument. [ more ]

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

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 456(F)Civil War and Reconstruction

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

HIST 458Sr.Sem:Sexual Rights,Gender Equality, and Religious Liberty: Conflicts in Law, Culture, and Politics

Last offered Spring 2016

Legal systems, political leaders, religious groups, and social movements, have generated and responded to conflicts and perceived conflicts between religious freedom, gender equality, and sexual rights in a variety of ways over the past twenty-five years. This course will consider these conflicts in a comparative context, and will examine when, why, and how appeals to religion, tradition and/or culture have been used to carve out exceptions to otherwise generally applicable laws. [ more ]

HIST 459The Culture and Politics of Neoliberalism

Last offered Spring 2018

Neoliberalism is, in essence, the belief that unencumbered market mechanisms will maximize prosperity and happiness. Over the past forty years this idea has come to shape the global economy, the ways governments function, and how individuals conduct themselves and view their relations with other people. However, political movements around the world have challenged these principles--pointing to growing wealth gaps, environmental destruction, and highly individualistic cultures that have developed in the wake of neoliberal thinking. This interdisciplinary course will provide students with a detailed understanding of the ways neoliberal ideology interacts with preexisting racial, gender, and global inequalities. We will begin by tracing the rise of "market fundamentalist" thinking in the fields of economics and public policy. We will rely on anthropological studies to assess neoliberalism's effects on the Global South, and turn to sociological and media studies texts to explore its imprint on aspects of U.S. culture ranging from welfare provision, to education, and even reality television. The course will conclude by examining movements resisting neoliberalism and asking whether the rise of the Trump administration's brand of right-wing populism signals the decline of this mode of governance and way of life. [ more ]

HIST 464The 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 465War and Remembrance in Vietnam

Last offered Spring 2015

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

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

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

HIST 469Notions of Race and Ethnicity in American Culture

Last offered Fall 2015

While "race" and "ethnicity" have always played fundamental roles in shaping the course of American culture and the definition of who is or who can be an "American," our understanding of these concepts of race and ethnicity has often been less than clear. The purpose of this seminar is to examine how Americans have defined and articulated the concepts of race and ethnicity at various points in our history and how these ideas have been expressed in art, policy, practice, and theory. [ more ]

HIST 471(S)Comparative Latina/o Migrations

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

HIST 476(F)CAPSTONE: Black Radicalism

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

HIST 478Cold War Landscapes

Last offered Fall 2016

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 many developing nations. We will begin this seminar by exploring several distinct "Cold War landscapes" in the United States, then move on to examining others in Europe and the Soviet Union. We will spend the final weeks of the semester discussing examples from other parts of the world. Our approach to our topics will be interdisciplinary throughout the semester, and students are welcome to write their research papers on any geographical area of the world. [ more ]

HIST 479Recent 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 T(F)Interpretations of the Israeli Palestinian Conflict

This tutorial addresses the powerful, competing, and bitterly contested historical narratives that underpin the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Both Israelis and Palestinians appeal to history to legitimize their territorial claims and to justify contemporary action. Special attention will be paid to the interpretations of key historical moments, especially the 1948 and 1967 wars, and on the contrasting views of some of the core issues of the conflict (Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, terrorism). [ more ]

HIST 481 T(S)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. 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 T(F)The Great War, 1914-1918

During the nineteenth and early twentieth century Europeans and their immediate offspring created the modern world. European industry, science, trade, weapons, and culture dominated the globe. After a century of general peace the continual "progress" of Western Civilization seemed assured. Then, in August, 1914, the major European powers went to war with one another. After four years of unprecedented carnage, violence, and destruction, Europe was left exhausted and bitter, its previous optimism replaced by pessimism, its world position undermined, and its future clouded by a deeply flawed peace settlement. What were the fundamental causes of the Great War? How and why did it break out when it did and who was responsible? Why was it so long, ferocious, wasteful, and, until the very end, indecisive? Why did the Allies, rather than the Central Powers, emerge victorious? What did the peace settlement settle? How was Europe changed? What is the historical significance of the conflict? [ more ]

HIST 483 T(S)Sport and Diplomacy

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

HIST 484 T(F)The Hundred Years' War

By the Hundred Years' War, historians understand a series of battles and wider conflicts waged between England and France from 1337 to 1453, over the succession to the French throne. From the near-total English victory after the Battle of Poitiers to the remarkable revival of French fortunes associated with Joan of Arc, the Hundred Years' War encompasses some of the most iconic events of later medieval history. The events of the war, together with a broader history of the entire era, are the subject of a monumental study by Jonathan Sumption, who has now published the fourth of a projected five volumes. The greater part of this tutorial will concentrate on a careful, thorough reading of Sumption's history--a rare opportunity afforded by the tutorial format, given that great historical enterprises are otherwise beyond the scope of college and university classrooms. For additional perspective, we will also read a general survey of the later medieval period and several more specific monographs, and we will consider the reception that Sumption's work has received among historians of the Middle Ages. [ more ]

HIST 485 TAfter Rome

Last offered Fall 2014

What happened to the Western Roman Empire? Did barbarians destroy it, did internal weakness undermine it, or did its participants voluntarily set it aside in favor of new cultural, social and political ideas? How did the evaporation of imperial political and military structures change the cultural and religious fabric of Europe? And above all, what is it that divides the ancient from the medieval world? Few questions in European history have occupied historians as insistently as these, and yet for all the lengthy books, ponderous documentaries, and political polemics, we are no closer to a consensus view. This tutorial will approach these timeless questions, first, through a comparative survey of the post-Roman Mediterranean, considering North Africa, Spain, Italy, Gaul, and the Byzantine East in turn. We will consult key primary sources for each region, including tax records, laws, narrative histories, letters, religious texts and archeological finds, as they are variously available. This first-hand experience with the problems of post-Roman history will prepare us to engage with secondary scholarship on the late imperial and early medieval worlds. Alongside the classic catastrophist readings of post-Roman history, which see the centuries after 476 CE as a period of severe economic and social dislocation, we will explore more recent arguments that seek to circumvent the problem of Rome's fall by positing an era of economic, cultural and intellectual continuity from the fifth through the eighth centuries. [ more ]

HIST 486 TThe Pacific War in Japanese Historical Memory

Last offered Fall 2013

Almost seven decades after Japan's surrender, the enduring question of how to remember the Pacific War continues to provoke controversy both within Japan and between Japan, South Korea, and China. This tutorial will explore how this difficult past has been remembered in postwar Japan, and how and why these memories have changed from 1945 to the present. Our focus will be on certain sites of memory--museums, shrines, literature, textbooks, and films--and how they have expressed and shaped memories of various aspects of the war from the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to military comfort women and the Nanking massacre. Key issues include how various Japanese have tried to make sense of death and personal sacrifice in the name of a lost war; the implications of Japan's unique position as both perpetrator of wartime atrocities and victim of atomic bombings; the relationship between memory and nationalism; and what it means to come to terms with pasts contested both within and between countries. [ more ]

HIST 487 TLives Across Cultures in the Early Modern World

Last offered Spring 2018

The early modern era, 1500-1800, was the first truly global era in human history. While the period can be studied in terms of transregional trade and flows of capital, macrohistory cannot reveal the human texture of global interaction--the many ways in which people from different continents, religions and languages responded to each other as they increasingly came into contact. In order to explain what early modern globalization looked like on the ground, historians of our time have attempted to recover individual lives that played out across cultures and religions. They have debated whether intercultural experiences caused people to question their own assumptions or to harden in their beliefs, and whether the transition between religious and cultural environments empowered or entrapped these men and women. Through a series of case studies, we will investigate how people made lives across the early modern world, how historians have written about them, and what these historical experiences tell us about how the modern world was made. Readings will combine primary sources with global biographies by major historians of our time. [ more ]

HIST 488 TGandhi: Nationalism, Philosophy, and Legacy

Last offered Spring 2018

This course studies the 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. The 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 nature of Gandhian nationalism? Did it help to integrate the Indian nation? How, if at all, was shaped by Gandhi's engagements with moral philosophy and human behavior? 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 ]

HIST 489 T(F)Feminist Movements in U.S. History

This class studies the historical development of feminist movements in the United States. From the 19th century women's rights movements through 20th century movements for women's liberation, it examines the changing definitions of feminism and the array of strategies and organizations that activists have generated. It also examines the complex dynamic between feminist activism and the production of women's history, examining the role of historical narrative in feminists' struggle for social change. [ more ]

HIST 490 TMemory, History, and the Extermination of the Jews of Europe

Last offered Spring 2017

The atrocities committed by Nazi Germany during the Second World War continue to trouble historians in their attempts to understand and represent them in all their magnitude and horror. Beyond historians, the complicity of segments of European societies in perpetrating those atrocities continues to raise thorny questions for postwar European nations about what their responsibilities are toward that past. This tutorial will focus on a series of questions relating to the historicization and memorialization of the extermination of European Jews. They include: Is the Holocaust unique? Is it a Jewish story or universal story? Does the Holocaust raise different issues for the historian than other historical events? How should the Holocaust be represented and what are the implications of different means of representing it? What role, if any, did European Jews play in their own destruction? 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? How appropriate are the different uses that Israel and the United States have made of the Holocaust? By the end of the course, students will have grappled with the ongoing controversies that have arisen among scholars, governments, and lay people about the meaning (and meaninglessness) of the Holocaust for the postwar world. In a world in which extraordinary acts of violence continue to be perpetrated and more and more 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 should prove relevant for future consideration of other societies' efforts to confront their own traumatic pasts. [ more ]

HIST 491 T(S)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 TRevolutionary Thought in Latin America

Last offered Spring 2017

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

HIST 493(F)Senior Thesis: Research Seminar

This seminar is intended solely for writers of senior theses. 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 31 and 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)Senior Thesis: Writing Seminar

This seminar is a continuation of HIST 493 and HIST 31, 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 497Independent Study: History

Last offered Fall 2017

History independent study. [ more ]

HIST 498Independent Study: History

Last offered Spring 2018

History independent study. [ more ]