Highlighted Courses

Spring 2021

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. (NOTE: This distinction will not necessarily apply where History is cross-listed, e.g. AAS 313/HIS 213.)

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.

Map of Europe at the death of Charles the Great, 814

HIS 212 / EPS 212: Europe in the World: From 1776 to the Present Day

A big picture overview of European history over the past two centuries, but also focusing on some surprising elements including generational and religious conflict as well as strains produced by a new economy and a new society and the formulation of new nationalisms. The course uses literary and artistic (visual and musical) ways of understanding how Europeans conceptualized the change they were living through. View more course details.

Instructor: Harold James

HIS 214: British Empire in World History, 1700-2000

What is empire? Today, we generally think of it as something bad, and as something that Europeans did. Yet, along with monarchy, different forms of empire have been the most common form of rule for much of human history; while, as late as 1900, China, Japan, Russia, Turkey, and the United States all styled themselves as empires, as well as some of the Western European powers. So this course will address the phenomenon of empire generally through the particular experience of Britain, for a short period the biggest empire ever in history. We look at how this empire was made, its relationship with war, naval power and religion, how the empire worked and was supposed to work, the ideas that underpinned it, how it was represented in art and literature, and at those who believed in it and those who resisted it. We will also consider the degree to which empires still exist today but under different names. Accordingly, this is a course that meshes British history, imperial history, and global history. View more course details.

Instructor: Linda Colley

HIS 411: World After Empire

George Floyd’s murder by the police sparked a global conversation on race and inequality. This seminar turns to the modern history of empire and race to place this conversation in a historical perspective. We will look at writers and activists ranging from W.E.B. Dubois to the current Black Lives Matter movement, and from Gandhi to Frantz Fanon. Our aim will be to examine how they understood systemic inequality produced by colonial and racial enslavement, and how they imagined and advocated for a world free of imperial and racial domination. View more course details.

Instructor: Gyan Prakash
Tu 1:30 - 4:20pm

HIS 415 / AMS 415: Race, Labor, and Empire

This course explores histories of race, labor, and empire in the United States beginning in the late 19th century and throughout the 20th century. We will examine the historical experiences of immigrant and racialized communities who were often targets of discriminatory immigration laws and labor practices. In doing so, this course is interested in interrogating the intersections of race, empire, labor, and migration. View more course details.

Instructor: Neama Alamri
Th 1:30 - 4:20pm

Shi'a Muslims mourning before a ta'ziya, c. 1800, Lucknow, Chester Beatty Library

HIS 416 / SAS 416: Resistance and Reform: Islam and Colonialism in Modern South Asia

From the rise of European imperial influence in South Asia, Muslims have negotiated social, political, and religious changes wrought by colonial power. In this course, we ask how Muslims in India negotiated the social, political, and religious challenges wrought by British colonialism. We will both analyze how Europeans understood Islam and Muslims in the South Asian context, and study the diverse and divergent ways in which Muslims responded to, adapted within, and resisted British imperial discourses. View more course details.

Instructor: Amanda Lanzillo
W 1:30 - 4:20pm

HIS 420 / SAS 420 / GSS 420: Desi Girl, Mother India: Gender, Sexuality, and History in Hindi Cinema

What do Hindi films have to do with history? This seminar will combine historical and film studies approaches to "read" a selection of commercially successful or critically acclaimed Hindi films (with subtitles). It will reflect on how commercial Hindi cinema has shaped popular memories of the historical relationship between gender and community in pre-modern and colonial South Asia. It will also look at the dynamic relationship between "tradition," politics, and gender in filmic representations of post-colonial India from the 1950s till the 1990s. Students will come away as critical and historically attuned viewers of film. View more course details.

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

Citizens of Tournai Bury Their Dead by Pierart dou Tielt

HIS 428 / HLS 428 / MED 428: Empire and Catastrophe

How can we make sense of our experiences of Covid-19? One way is to situate our experiences within a broader history of pandemic. This course examines how different peoples and institutions have grappled with disasters – both natural and manmade – from antiquity to the present day. We will look at the way political, economic and social norms shape resilience to disaster. And we will examine superpowers' obsession — from Rome to China — with narratives of destruction and rebirth. By reading texts written by both famous and ordinary men and women, as well by studying material culture, we will acquire analytical tools that will enable us to assess changes in humanity's approach to catastrophic events before and after the invention of modern science. Be prepared to join a lively and illuminating discussion! View more course details.

Instructor: Teresa Shawcross
M 1:30 - 4:20pm

HIS 431 / AMS 432: Archiving the American West

Come join us as we explore the making of the American West as a history of conquest and a conquest of history. Plunge into Princeton’s own Western Americana collections, investigate some long-unused manuscripts and photographs, and describe them for the public for the very first time. Learn how archives get made, why some voices are absent, and how archives shape the ways in which history is written. Curious? Help expand Princeton's own collections. You’ll get to research and recommend new acquisitions on the market right now which Princeton will purchase with money set aside for the course! View more course details.

Instructor: Martha Sandweiss
W 1:30 - 4:20pm

Uncle Sam carving turkey at large table surrounded by men, women and children of different races; centerpiece is labeled "self-government/universal suffrage".

HIS 441: Reconstructing the Union: Law, Democracy, and Race After the American Civil War

How did the remaking of the nation, in the wake of the Civil War, shape American intellectual and political life? Reconstructing the Union  studies how the Civil War and Reconstruction—America’s “Second Founding”— influenced ideas about law, politics, culture and race. We will pay close attention to how intellectuals, political leaders, and cultural figures in the North reimagined the American nation in the wake of the Civil War. Each week we will read secondary readings by contemporary historians interpreting the Civil War and Reconstruction as well as primary sources from writers, politicians, abolitionists, and ex-slaves of the time-period. View more course details.

Instructor: Peter Wirzbicki
M 1:30 - 4:20pm

 Swiss and Landsknecht soldiers engage in the exceptionally-fierce hand to hand combat known as "bad war." The long spear shafts are their pikes. Hans Holbein the Younger

HIS 448: History: An Introduction to the Discipline

History 448 is a seminar devoted to thinking about history, as it’s been researched and written in recent years. We examine a series of books and articles that have shaped the field—and we don’t just read them, we go into the kitchen and see how the sausage was made, and then we engage in a full, free and lively discussion. The course is aimed at people seriously interested in history as a discipline—including, but definitely not limited to, those considering further study. This year it will be co-taught by Tony Grafton and Richard Calis, a fellow of Trinity College Cambridge who just completed his Princeton doctorate. View more course details.

Instructors: Tony Grafton and Richard Calis
T 1:30 - 4:20pm