History 400 Jr. Seminars: History Concentrators Only

Fall 2021 Junior Seminars

HIS 400 - S01 "Dancing in the Streets": The Political Uses of American Streets

After the 2020 election in the United States, Motown’s smash hit “Dancing in the Street” by Martha and the Vandellas blared, “It’s an invitation across the nation/ A chance for folks to meet” in major cities in America. After months of lockdown due to Covid-19, millions of Americans spontaneously took to the streets, got ‘in formation,’ and started dancing. The nation’s impromptu party revived street culture emblematic of the summer 2020 uprisings against racism and police brutality.

Instructor: Rhae Lynn Barnes
W 1:30 - 4:20 pm


HIS 400 - S02 White Hunters, Black Poachers: Africa and the Science of Conservation

When is hunting poaching and what does the law have to do with that distinction? For that matter, what does race have to do with who is a hunter and who is a poacher? These are just some of the questions that students in this class will examine as they study the role of Africa—as both place and idea—in the advent of the science of conservation from the 19th century to the 20th century. The course looks at the complex ways in which the origins of conservation, ostensibly a universal good, were shaped by ideas about race and racialized understandings of the relationship between culture and nature, as well by asymmetrical power relations between imperial European powers and different parts of the world.

Instructor: Jacob Dlamini
W 1:30 - 4:20 pm


HIS 400 - S03 The Ghetto

This course will examine the history of the ghetto as a space and a concept. The inquiry will begin with ghetto as a forced enclosure for Jews in the cities of early modern Europe. It will continue to examine the ghetto in the twentieth century, when it served as a forced enclosure for Jews in Nazi occupied Europe and blacks in the cities of the United States. Readings will draw on a range of primary and secondary readings including but not limited to works by Leone Modena, Salo Baron, Mitch Duneier, Louis Wirth, Allan Spear, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and others.

Instructor: Yaacob Dweck
M 1:30 - 4:20 pm


HIS 400 - S04 The Global Depression, 1929-1953

The Great Depression was a comprehensive catastrophe: not only an economic slump, it was a period of political breakdown, social disruption, intellectual illusion, and environmental disaster. And the catastrophe encompassed the globe. In industrial powers like the United States and Germany, mass production yielded to mass unemployment; meanwhile, countries that relied on agricultural exports, like Brazil and Indochina, watched international markets for their commodities collapse. In one way or another, the Depression’s hardships hit every country in the world.

Instructor: Joseph Fronczak
M 1:30 - 4:20 pm


HIS 400 - S05 Space History

Almost everyone has thoughts about outer space and humanity’s engagement with it. For most of us, that engagement has been mediated through popular culture, primarily movies, television shows, and video games. This seminar takes a different path, into the long history of space exploration (much longer than you might have thought).

Instructor: Michael D. Gordin
W 1:30 4:20 pm


HIS 400 - S06 Two Empires: Russia and the US

This course will explore the entangled histories of the USA and the Russian Empire/Soviet Union/Russian Federation from the American revolution up to the present time. Starting from the late eighteenth century, many observers have paid attention to striking similarities and sharp contrasts between the two countries. Did Russia and the USA represent two versions of a single path to “modernity” or two cases of “multiple modernities”? How to explain similarities and distinguish borrowing of institutional decisions, cultural scripts, and political ideas from their parallel development? How “global” was the history of the two global powers and how deep was their interdependency? To answer these and other questions we will focus on: 1) common features in American and Russian trajectories of development (frontier and settler colonialism, slavery and serfdom, ethnic and racial conflicts, feminism, nationalism, etc.), 2) mutual perception, stereotypes, and “cultural diplomacy”, and 3) foreign policy and international rivalries, with the focus on the Cold war and the Post-communist global world.

Instructor: Igor Khristoforov
M 1:30 - 4:20 pm


HIS 400 - S07 Remaking the World: International Order Between the Two World Wars

The catastrophic events of the First World War plunged the global order into crisis. The great dynasties that had structured European and world relations for centuries met sudden and violent ends. The collapse of their empires – German, Ottoman, Habsburg, and Russian alike – left power vacuums and great uncertainty across Central Europe, the Middle East, large parts of Africa, and the Pacific.

Instructor: Natasha Wheatley
W 1:30 - 4:20 pm