Highlighted Courses

Spring 2017

Please note: First-year students are encouraged to try either 200- or 300-level courses in History, according to their own interests. In general, the difference between 200- and 300-level courses is a matter of the topic’s breadth (200-level courses covering longer periods of time and/or larger areas of space than 300-level courses), rather than indicating any degree of difficulty, pre-assumed knowledge, etc.

While a 200-level course is necessary for entry into the Department, students need not “start” their History careers with one. First-year students are welcome and encouraged to take 300-level courses regardless of their previous experience.


HIS 281: Approaches to European History

A Princeton tradition, this class is an introduction to the sources and methods of studying European history. It is especially recommended to Freshmen and Sophomores who are considering History as their major, because it gives students a leg up in writing their JPs and theses. The course consists of three units, each of which centers on a single legal case in European history. This year, the cases will be: Galileo’s famous trial in 17th-century Italy; Joseph Süss Oppenheimer’s (“Jew Süss”) remarkable case in 18th-century Germany; and Stalin’s show trials in the mid-20th century. The class assumes no prior knowledge of European history on the part of the students, and is almost solely based on primary sources. It meets twice weekly, with each unit culminating with a short analytical paper. View more course details.

Instructor: Yair Mintzker
M W 1:30pm - 2:50pm


HIS 306 / LAO 306: Latino History

Comprising over 1/6th of the US population and rising, come learn the origins of Latinos in the nation that is often left out of textbooks. Transnational. Native born. Immigrant. 400 years on the land. Border. Indigenous. White. Mestizo. Black. Asian. Urban. Los Angeles. Chicago. New York. Miami. Rural. Delano. Salinas. Bisbee. Tierra Amarilla. Crystal City. Missions. Barrio. Farm workers. Muralists. Maquiladora workers. Professionals. Activists. Mexico. Caribbean. Central America. South America. There is something for everyone in this class. Latinos are a relatively new and heterogeneous group whose members have a history that runs deep in this nation and who have a large place in its future. View more course details.

Instructor: Rosina A. Lozano
Tu Th 2:30pm - 3:20pm


HIS 351: France, 1815 to the Present

France is the homeland of revolution and one of the world's first democracies, yet how does that square with its reputation as a pioneer of authoritarian practices and beliefs, from the coup d'état to Bonapartist dictatorship to anti-Semitic and now anti-Islamic prejudice? France's record of artistic and literary production is second to none. What is the connection, if any, between its cultural achievements and the turbulence of its politics? France was once the possessor of a vast overseas empire, second only to Great Britain's. How did it manage the transition from an age of empire to the post-imperial present? This course will address these questions and many more through an examination of art, cinema, and an array of primary source readings—novels, memoirs, comics, and the like.

Read the transcript.

View more course details.

Instructor: Philip G. Nord
M W 11:00am - 11:50am


HIS 368: England from the Wars of the Roses to the Glorious Revolution

Have you ever wondered why Henry VIII had six wives, whether Elizabeth I was really a virgin, or why Charles I got his head cut off? What was it about London ca. 1600 that produced some of the greatest literature ever written? Why did the English Revolution happen a century before the Age of Revolutions? Come find out in this course, which will also explore what life in early modern England was like for ordinary people, and how England went from tournaments to political parties, newspapers, and coffee-shops in just two centuries. View more course details.

Instructor: Eleanor Hubbard
M W 1:30pm - 2:20pm


HIS 403: The History of Free Speech

In the Western world, especially in the United States, we celebrate freedom of speech as one of our core values. But that's not true elsewhere across the globe. And it wasn't the case in the West either, for most of its history: even the concept of free speech didn't really exist. The aim of this course is to find out when and why that changed, and how the definition and experience of free speech has evolved over time—globally, nationally, and locally, from the seventeenth century to the present. The history of free speech remains largely unwritten, so come along if you'd like to help shape it, and to grapple with one of the central paradoxes of our modern Western condition: we all believe in free speech, but we can never agree on what exactly that means. No background knowledge required, just intellectual curiosity and an appetite for reading and discussion. View more course details.

Fara Dabhoiwala joined Princeton in 2016 after many years on the faculty at Oxford. He is a historian of the English-speaking world since the Middle Ages and is working on the history of free speech, language, and communication. His previous publications include The Origins of Sex: A History of the First Sexual Revolution. Find out more at www.dabhoiwala.com

Instructor: Fara Dabhoiwala
Th 1:30pm - 4:20pm


HIS 422: Hindu, Muslim, Untouchable: Society and Politics in Pre-Modern South Asia, c. 1100-1800

Who is a Hindu? Or, for that matter, who is a Muslim or an untouchable? Like today, these were hotly debated questions in pre-modern India. In this undergraduate seminar, students will closely read texts in translation composed for a ‘popular’ audience in South Asia between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Each week, students will also work through modern-day scholarly perspectives on caste, gender, and religion in medieval and early modern South Asia. Set against the context of a pre-modern, non-western society, the seminar will engage with such questions as how a community constructs its boundaries, how hierarchy is justified and upheld, and to what extent such efforts to create and maintain hierarchy and difference are successful. View more course details.

Instructor: Divya Cherian
Th 1:30pm - 4:20pm


HIS 441: Founders: The Early American Republic in American History

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton is only the coolest reason to learn more about the early American republic. At a moment when the nation’s institutions and political practices are experiencing profound stresses, this is a perfect time to take a close and careful look at the polity's opening moments. Not only will doing so equip you to better judge and evaluate the various ways the American past is currently being deployed by candidates, officials, pundits, and activists, studying this period will allow you to think deeply about history as an intellectual exercise. This course is designed to help you do just that. You’ll read about and discuss events during the American founding period (spoiler: 2016 was NOT the ugliest election in American history). You’ll use online and textual resources to conduct short research experiments (i.e., how did news travel in an age of sail? why did slaves run away? what was the meanest slur one politician could call another?). Rather than a research essay, the course culminates with an online exhibition that you will curate. Throughout the course, we’ll take weekly field trips around campus to visit the surprising number of places that historical evidence can be found and used here. View more course details.

Instructor: Alec Dun
M 1:30pm - 4:20pm


HIS 474 / AMS 474: Violence in America

It is easy to become inured to our violent world. Sometimes those headlines about terrorism, police brutality, and war seem endless and inevitable. The same is true when you read the history of the United States. The nation’s past is littered with stories of vigilantism, massacre, imperialism, and riot. But the ubiquity of violence—both past and present—make it an urgent topic of study. The presence of violence may be consistent over time, but its forms, causes, targets, and meanings have shifted. Through a series of case studies, this course will introduce you to the history of collective violence in America. View more course details.

Instructor: Beth Lew-Willliams
Tu 1:30pm - 4:20pm