The course examines how issues of race and gender shape the medical, social, and cultural discourses of reproduction. It will explore contested meanings of reproductive health alongside histories of eugenics, contraception, pregnancy, childbirth, emerging reproductive technologies, and reproductive justice activism. It will also address the enduring legacies of racism and reproductive violence in medical practice, and their impact on current issues of health inequality.
This lecture offers an introduction to the major themes, critical questions, and pivotal moments in post-emancipation African American history. It traces the social, political, cultural, intellectual, and legal contours of the Black experience in the United States from Reconstruction to the rise of Jim Crow, through the World Wars, Depression, and the Great Migrations, to the long civil rights era and the contemporary period of racial politics. Using a wide variety of texts, images, and creative works, the course situates African American history within broader national and international contexts.
Who were the Vikings, at home or abroad? How did their raiding and settlement change the history of the British Isles and western Europe? This course will study the political, cultural, and economic impact that Norse expansion and raiding had on early medieval Europe. It will also look at the changes in Scandinavia that inspired and resulted from this expansion. Sources will include contemporary texts, sagas and epic poetry, material culture, and archaeological excavations.
At its peak, the Roman Empire ranged from the North Atlantic to the Persian Gulf. We will study the rise and fall of this multicultural empire, from the assassination of Julius Caesar to the death of Constantine the Great. We will listen to the Empire's many voices: the emperor grumbling that the people of Rome did not have one neck; the young woman dreaming of triumph on the eve of her martyrdom; the centurion boasting of slaughtered Dacians and naked water goddesses. Finally, we will assess the Empire's relevance to early modern and modern societies across the globe.
An introduction to the history of the modern world, this course traces the global processes that connected regions with each other from the time of Genghis Khan to the present. The major themes of the course include the environmental impact of human development, the role of wars and empires in shaping world power, and the transformations of global trade, finance, and migration.
A general introduction to the history of the political cultures in China and Japan, with some heed to comparisons with developments in Korea.
This course traces an epic story: How Greeks and Romans, Jews and Christians, nobles and merchants, princesses and servants, serfs and slaves built what eventually became modern Europe.
Africa, Europe and the Middle East meet at the Mediterranean. This course will look at two millennia of Mediterranean history to see how this sea has been both shared and contested. This course is organized around a geographical entity rather than a political framework such as a state. As such, environmental and maritime history will be a theme running throughout the course.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, Ethiopia underwent rapid processes of expansion and modernization in the highlands of Northeast Africa, and at the same time became a beacon of hope for global Black movements, perhaps made most visible through Rastafarian culture and beliefs. This course introduces students to the history of the modern Ethiopian state and its role shaping moments and movements in global history. It highlights the way African histories are essential to, but often ignored (or erased) in the telling of modern world history. Students will engage with primary and secondary historical texts, literature, and film.
This course introduces students to the multiple and varied experiences of people of Asian heritage in the United States from the 19th century to the present day. It focuses on three major questions: (1) What brought Asians to the United States? (2) How did Asian Americans come to be viewed as a race? (3) How does Asian American experience transform our understanding of U.S. history? Using newspapers, novels, government reports, and films, this course will cover major topics in Asian American history, including Chinese Exclusion, Japanese internment, transnational adoption, and the model minority stereotype.
This course is designed to introduce students to the historical processes and issues that have shaped the lives if Indigenous Americans over the past five centuries. We will explore the ways that the diverse peoples who lived in the Americas constructed different kinds of societies and how their goals and political decisions shaped the lives of all those who would come to inhabit the North American continent. The course requires students to read and analyze historical documents and contemporary literature, and includes a visit to the National Museum of the American Indian in New York City.
An intensive introduction to the methods and practice of history, designed to prepare students for future independent work through the close reading of sources on three different topics in European history. This year these will be: 1) Luther in Worms, 1521; 2) the trial and execution of Marie Antoinette; and 3) the Eichmann trial. The class combines discussion with the occasional lecture, to introduce students to the basic vocabulary of European historiography and to develop their skills in the interpretation and analysis of documents, the framing of historical questions, and the construction of effective arguments.
Surveying key moments from the 19th century to the present, this course tracks how networked communications, numerical calculation, symbolic reasoning, and information processing converged to create contemporary information technologies. The course introduces students to the major kinds of historical inquiry-philosophical, engineering, labor, material, social, gender, legal, and cultural-needed for studying information technologies in the last 150 years. Topics include Silicon Valley, software engineering, PCs, hacking, artificial intelligence, information, cryptography, outsourcing, privacy, information warfare, social networks, surveillance
An exploration of three major themes in the history of India's and Pakistan's emergence as nation-states: colonial socio-economic and cultural transformations, the growth of modern collective identities and conflicts, and nationalism. Topics covered include: trade, empire, and capitalism; class, gender and religion; Gandhi, national independence, and partition; and post-colonial state and society.
Covering 1868 to the present, this course emphasizes Japan's dramatic rise as the modern world's first non-Western power, imperialism, industrialization, social change, gender relations, democracy, World War II, the U. S. Occupation, the postwar "economic miracle" followed by slow growth, and the preoccupation with national identity in a Western-dominated world. We will think about post-1945 developments in terms of continuities with prewar Japan. We will also hold Japan up as a "mirror" for America, comparing how the two capitalist societies have dealt with inequality, urbanization, health and welfare, and intervention in the economy.
This course examines the history of modern Brazil from the late colonial period to the present. Lectures, readings, and discussions challenge prevailing narratives about modernity to highlight instead the role played by indigenous and African descendants in shaping Brazilian society. Topics include the meanings of political citizenship; slavery and abolition; race relations; indigenous rights; uneven economic development and Brazil's experiences with authoritarianism and globalization.
The course will focus on the formation of the Christian West from Ireland to the Eastern Mediterranean until ca. 1000 CE. We will start with the insignificance of the Fall of Rome in 476 CE, to move on to much more fundamental changes in the Ancient and medieval world: the Christian revolution in the 4th century, the barbarian successor states in the fifth, their transformation into Christian kingdoms, or the emergence of new nations and states whose names are still on the map today and which all came to be held together by a shared culture defined by the Rise of Western Christendom in the first Millennium.
The Crusades were a central phenomenon of the Middle Ages. This course examines the origins and development of the Crusades and the Crusader States in the Islamic East. It explores dramatic events, such as the great Siege of Jerusalem, and introduces vivid personalities, including Richard the Lionheart and Saladin. We will consider aspects of institutional, economic, social and cultural history and compare medieval Christian (Western and Byzantine), Muslim and Jewish perceptions of the crusading movement. Finally, we will critically examine the resonance the movement continues to have in current political and ideological debates
This course charts the history of international order over the last two centuries, from the Haitian Revolution to the war in Ukraine. It explores how grand schemes for world parliaments, universal peace, and human rights as well imperial domination and dismal violence shaped today's world system. Can great power politics be squared with global ethics, with self-determination, with environmental protection? Is there such a thing as just war? We will investigate shifting answers to these questions in conversation with figures like Kant, L'Ouverture, Marx, Wilson, Du Bois, Lenin, Hitler, Ho Chi Min, Arendt, Hayek, and Nkrumah.
This is a survey of the history of Russian multinational empire from the late 1600s to the Revolution of 1917. Students will learn how the Russian Empire expanded, and why it collapsed in 1917. Special attention will be paid to the history of Russian colonialism, the policies of Russification, religious conversion and imperial assimilation in Ukraine, Alaska, Caucasus, Central Asia, Poland, and other national borderlands.
To explore the development of institutions and theories of government in England from the Norman Conquest to about 1700.
In the twentieth century, Europe underwent a range of wrenching social and political upheavals that brought into question received truths about politics, the role of religion, the relationship between the sexes, and the place of Europe in the wider world. Over the course of the semester, we will study a range of different thinkers, including Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Hannah Arendt, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Frantz Fanon, Luce Irigaray, and Jacques Derrida, examining how they responded to these upheavals and offered new ways to thinking about the world and our place in it.
How did the United States emerge as a revolutionary republic built on the principle of human equality at the same time that it produced the wealthiest and mightiest slave society on earth? This course approaches that question in an interpretive history emphasizing the contradictory expansion of racial slavery and political democracy. Topics include the place of slavery in the Federal Constitution and the founding the nation, the spread of the cotton kingdom, Jacksonian democracy and the growth of political parties, the rise of antislavery and proslavery politics, and the growing social and political divisions between North and South.
A course intended as an introduction to the general problem of historical consciousness. How has the past been conceived in different times and places? How has knowledge of the past been sought, expressed, and conveyed? How does the past remain "present" - practically, politically, psychologically? What are the implications (existential, ethical, epistemic) of our being historical creatures? By means of readings in disciplinary history, creative literature, and philosophy, and through select encounters with works of visual art and film, this class will investigate the history (and diversity) of historical reflection.
This course surveys the history of cities in the United States from colonial settlement to the present. Over centuries, cities have symbolized democratic ideals of "melting pots" and cutting-edge innovation, as well as urban crises of disorder, decline, crime, and poverty. Urban life has concentrated extremes like rich and poor; racial and ethnic divides; philanthropy and greed; skyscrapers and parks; violence and hope; downtown and suburb. The course examines how cities in U.S. history have brokered revolution, transformation and renewal, focusing on class, race, gender, immigration, capitalism, and the built environment.
Rise of popular entertainment, values, ideas, cultural expression, and the culture industries in modern American history. Two lectures, one precept.
In our contemporary world, science, technology, and medicine enjoy tremendous cultural and intellectual authority. This class introduces a set of analytical tools historians use to understand the origins and consequences of these ways of knowing, across space and time. We will discuss a variety of ideas and methods that describe the social, cultural, and intellectual conditions of possibility for creating knowledge about the natural world. In addition, the class materials invite students to reflect on the cultural and intellectual constraints that shape how societies determine which knowledge is worth pursuing and why.
The Junior Seminar serves to introduce departmental majors to the tools, methods, and interpretations employed in historical research and writing. This course is compulsory for departmental majors and is taken in the fall of the junior year. Students may choose from a range of topics. Seminar topics will tend to be cross-national and comparative.
This seminar will explore how and why men and women, free and unfree, coming from different social backgrounds and from both sides of the Atlantic, chose to write and deploy memoirs, diaries, autobiographies and biographies. How have such testimonies changed over time? Why did they become increasingly popular from the 17th century onwards, and why do they still remain popular. How far do such texts conceal as well as reveal? And what opportunities, insights and challenges do they present to historians now?
How do representations of men and women, past and present, intersect with popular memories of and attitudes towards gender and sexuality? Thinking through this question with reference to India, this course will entail a close reading of one Bollywood film (with English subtitles) each week alongside an engagement with scholarly studies of the histories of gender and sexuality and of film in South Asia. Students will learn to be critical and historically sensitive viewers of film. They will also reflect critically on the crafting and re-crafting of popular memory, placing remembered pasts in dialog with scholarly approaches.
This course aims to explain the historical roles of fascism and antifascism in the making of our political world.
Studies of war and society rarely address environmental factors and agency. The relationship between war and environment is often either reduced to a simple environmental determinism or it is depicted as a war against nature and ecosystems, playing down societal dynamics. The seminar explores the different approaches to the war-environment-society nexus and highlights how and why the three spheres should be studied in conjunction. The objective is to assess how and why environmental and societal factors and forces caused and shaped the conflicts and how in turn mass violence shaped societies and how they used and perceived their environments.
This course explores the continuities and ruptures, the striking similarities and the radical differences between Black freedom struggles from the 1960s to the present. Putting #BlackLivesMatter and the Movement for Black Lives in historical context, the course considers the history and legacy of the civil rights, Black Power, and anti-apartheid movements. In thinking about freedom movements past and present, we will pay particular attention to questions of philosophy, strategy, leadership, organization, and coalition building.
This course, designed for seniors and juniors in the History Department but open to others, will offer an introduction to the discipline of history. Through a series of case studies, students will learn how historians frame problems, ranging in scale from the history of the world to the lives of individuals, and in time from millennia to single years; examine the kinds of evidence and argument that historians employ; study the intellectual and literary problems involved in constructing a substantial piece of historical writing; and investigate the relations between history and memory in the late twentieth century.
This seminar provides a unique angle of studying Chinese history from antiquity to our present moment through the lens of medicine. Using China as method, it also aims at cultivating a pluralistic and historically informed understanding of medicine as evolving science, cultural system, socio-economic enterprises, and increasingly in the modern world a vital component of domestic and global governance. This semester, the thematic focus will be history of epidemic diseases.
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, a wave of revolutions swept across the Atlantic world. They shook the empires that had controlled this area of the globe, launched bold new experiments in democratic politics, challenged or overthrew existing social, cultural and religious hierarchies, and were accompanied by considerable violence. This course will examine this remarkable period in world history, concentrating on the American, French and Haitian revolutions, and devoting significant attention to issues of gender and violence, the overall global context, and theories of revolution.
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Over the past 3,000 years, texts written in Greek played a central role for how people in Western Eurasia understood themselves, their society, their values, and the nature of the universe. Over the same three millennia, the Greek language played a central role in a variety of political communities, including ancient Athens, the empire of Alexander, the Roman empire, Byzantium, and the modern nation state of Greece. In this course, we will trace the history of these two phenomena: the political life and fortunes of Greek speakers and the cultural life of texts written in Greek, seeking to understand the relationship between the two.
This class analyzes how different cultures imagine monsters and how these representations changed over time to perform different social functions. As negative objectifications of fundamental social structures and conceptions, monsters help us understand the culture that engendered them and the ways in which a society constructs the Other, the deviant, the enemy, the minorities, and the repressed. This course has three goals: it familiarizes students with the semiotics of monsters worldwide; it teaches analytical techniques exportable to other topics and fields; it proposes interpretive strategies of reading culture comparatively.
This course examines the fascinating and tragic history of the encounter and conflict between Jews and Arabs in and around Palestine/Israel beginning in the late 19th century. We will try to understand the evolution of the conflict from the distinct perspectives of the different parties engaged in it, aiming to comprehend their motivations and the obstacles that have stood in the way of a peaceful resolution. The course is structured around questions, inviting students to partake in the challenging task of exploring one of the world's most complex, ever-developing and enduring political conflicts.
The Cairo Geniza is a cache of texts from an Egyptian synagogue including letters, lists and legal deeds from before 1500, when most Jews lived in the Islamic world. These are some of the best-documented people in pre-modern history and among the most mobile, crossing the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean to trade, study, apprentice and marry. Data science, neural network-based handwritten text recognition and other computational methods are now helping make sense of the texts on a large scale. Students will contribute to an evolving state of knowledge and gain an insider's view of what we can and can't know in premodern history.
The major Near Eastern diplomatic crises and the main developments in internal Near Eastern history. The focus will be upon the possible connections between diplomatic crises and the process of modernization. Oral reports and a short paper.
This undergraduate lecture course examines the effects, response to, and legacies of pandemics in the past -- their short term and lasting impacts on government, civil liberties, trust in experts, ethnic and racial tensions, social inequalities, and global and local economies. The course uses insights from these past cases of world-changing pandemics (from the plague through influenza, polio, AIDS, and COVID) to inform our understanding of current social, political, and economic challenges. Analysis of the past is also used to inform policy discussions about planning for the future.