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History | Selected Topics Fall 2011

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HIST-296-003: Russian Film and Politics
HIST-296-004: Vampire Narratives and American Society
HIST-296-005: Dostoevsky’s Russia
HIST-296-006: the Revolutions of 1989
HIST-347-001: Modern China
HIST-380-002: Modern Presidency: FDR to Obama
HIST-380-003: American Constitutional History, 1896-Present
HIST-500-001: Postwar America, 1945-1970
HIST-500-001: Topics in Early Modern European History
HIST-500-005: Race in America

Course Descriptions

HIST-296-001: African History to the 1800s
This course surveys African societies from prehistory to the eve of European colonial rule in the 1880s. Focusing on political, economic, and social change, it examines the rise of African civilizations and state formation; the trans-Saharan and Indian Ocean trade networks; and systems of slavery. This course situates African history in a global context and provides students with a historical framework for interpreting current events in Africa.

HIST-296-002: Arabs & Persians
Considers the historical relationship between Arabic and Persian speakers since the advent of Islam. The problem of "Arab" and "Persian" as ethnic markers is raised and students investigate how the interactions and rivalries of Arabs and Persians have shaped their collective identities down to the present day. Particular attention is given to the central but often distinct roles that Arabs and Persians (and Arabic and Persian) have played in the spread of Islam and "Islamicate" culture and society. The relationship of Arabs and Persians with Turks, the third major ethnicity resident in the heartland of Islam, is also explored.

HIST-296-003: Vampire Narratives
For almost two hundred years, vampire narratives have served as projection surfaces for cultural angst and fears of social change. Using these narratives as a magnifying glass, this course investigates how vampires have been used to negotiate immigration and xenophobia, women's suffrage, fear of miscegenation, the Cold War, homophobia and AIDS. The class considers what aims the contemporary obsession with vampire narratives serves and what it reveals about today's culture. The course includes nineteenth century texts, history, silent movies, reading literature and theory, and academic analysis. Meets with AMST-296 001.

HIST-299-001: World War I
This course is an intensive engagement with the historiography of a major issue in world history. World War I was one of the most important events of the twentieth century. When it began, Europe was the center of global empires, economic networks, and culture. By its end, four great empires had collapsed, millions were dead or injured, and the preconditions for the rise of fascism were established. This course examines major interpretive debates over the origins, fighting, and consequences of the war for the societies that clashed in it. Open only to History majors.

HIST-299-003: Gender & Sexuality in Africa
This course explores how African and Western scholars have approached gender identities in Africa; how these approaches have changed over time; and how they have shaped our understanding of African history. The course provides students with a firm understanding of the literature on and interpretations of gender and sexuality in Africa. Open only to History majors.

HIST-396-001: Food, Media, and Culture
This course investigates the intersection of food, ideology, identity, and media in American history. Cookbooks, memoirs, magazines, radio and TV-shows as well as feature films have traditionally used food to discuss national, ethnic, and class identity, while simultaneously promoting norms on citizenship, gender and sexuality. The sources discussed in the course reach from the first American cookbook in the late eighteenth century to food centered videogames in the twenty-first century. Meets with AMST-330 001.

HIST-396-002: Civil Rights in the United States: Movements of Change
In this course students explore activist and civil rights movements in the United States, analyzing both the political and social actors articulating these movements, as well as the particular tactics and strategies mobilized by different communities and groups. Students consider how movements across the country and world play out in the contexts of their own lives. Focus on particular themes or movements including race/ethnicity; sexuality; immigration/nationalism; war/conflict; and class/Neoliberalism examines the various movements and actions that have mobilized around these concerns, such as the Civil Rights Movement, LGBT rights, the Minuteman Civil Defense Corp, squatters/occupiers, and so forth. Meets with AMST-320 002.

HIST-396-003: U.S. through Foreign Eyes
Since its inception, the United States has been the subject of celebration, inspiration, and condemnation from those living outside its borders. This course uses a wide variety of primary sources to explore how the United States has tried to project itself abroad, as well as how a variety of commentators, e.g., journalists, heads of states, intellectuals, migrants, and minorities in other countries, have responded to the United States at different times. Meets with AMST-320 001.

HIST-396-004: Environmental Politics in American History & Culture
This course explores the evolution of environmental politics in the United States from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. It examines environmental ethics, conservation, law and policy making, the role of science, environmental racism, and movements such as environmental justice, ecofeminism, animal rights, deep ecology, and sustainability. The course studies changing attitudes and ideas of different groups toward the natural environment, and how those have influenced the politics of the environment, whether through governmental policies or private activism. Students obtain a clear understanding of the legal, political, organizational, scientific, and economic factors shaping past and current environmental debates. Meets with AMST-340 001.

HIST-396-005: Modern China
This course explores the transition from empire to nation-state in modern Chinese history (1600-present). Topics include the rise of the last imperial dynasty in the seventeenth century, the heyday of the Qing order, the Western impact, and the revolution and nation-building enterprises of the twentieth century. The course emphasizes politics, culture, ethnicity, and gender.


HIST-445-001: Russia and the United States in the 20th Century

This course examines the impact of Russia and the Soviet Union on American history and culture during the twentieth century. Students examine the influence of Russian literature on American writers, the Russian Jewish community's influence on Hollywood and jazz, Russian items in the Library of Congress and the National Gallery of Art, as well as the legacy of the Cold War, much of which was played out on the streets of Washington, DC. The course includes field trips. Meets with HIST-645 001.


HIST-449-001: FDR, the Jews, & the Holocaust

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Jews, and the Holocaust This course examines the relationship between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Jews. It focuses on the crucial period of Nazi persecutions of Jews in the 1930s and the slaughter of Jews during World War II. It explores the controversy over whether America's liberal hero failed in his response to one of the great humanitarian crises in history. The course also explores the moral question of the responsibility of world leaders to genocidal violence in foreign lands. Meets with HIST-649 001.


HIST-449-002: Black Popular Culture

Covering from slavery to the hip hop generation, this course critically examines the role of black popular culture (i.e., folklore, fashion, sports, theater, music, and film) in the African American freedom struggle. It places special emphasis on the analysis of race, class, gender, and political discourses. Meets with HIST-649 002.


HIST-468-001: History & the Public

This course explores the wide range of ways the public encounters and creates history. The class examines the representation of the past in films, new media, oral narratives, monuments and memorials, museums, archives, national parks, and historic structures and landscapes. The course includes several field trips to area cultural institutions.


HIST-496-001: Zionism & the Establishment of Israel

This course considers the evolution of Zionism in Europe as a national political movement, its various expressions, and the road to the establishment of the State of Israel. Meets with HIST-696 001.


HIST-500-001: European Empires, Commerce, and Science

This course focuses on recent scholarship that explores aspects of the European imperial project, especially in the eighteenth-century Atlantic World and with a special emphasis on the French Caribbean. Themes include emerging ideas of race and colonial identity; the meaning of globalization for eighteenth-century Europeans, including sometimes ambivalent attitudes towards commerce and empire; and the importance of science in furthering imperial goals and creating colonial gentility.