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Selected Topics Fall 2013
Selected Topics Spring 2013
Selected Topics Summer 2012
COURSE DESCRIPTIONS FALL 2013
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
COURSE DESCRIPTIONS SPRING 2013
In this course, students experience modern Chinese history through the eyes of cultural outsiders. By analyzing travel writings and diaries left by foreigners passing through China, they trace the perceptions, preoccupations, biases, and commentary that have long shaped foreign impressions of its land and peoples.
Divided cities embody complex consequences of nationalism, war, migration and economic disparities in the last century. Focusing on salient cases like Jerusalem, Beirut, Berlin, and Dubai, this course studies historical, cultural, and geographic accounts of the impact of divisions on residents' daily lives and their sense of local identity. Meets with JWST-296 002.
This course approaches the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through historical, ethnographic, and cultural perspectives. Beginning with the Zionist and Palestinian nationalist movements in the late nineteenth century, the course traces their interactions to explore the complexities of national and communal identities, and notions of home and return in Israeli and Palestinian society. Meets with JWST-320 001.
This interdisciplinary course combines SOC's Film and Media Art Department's expertise in teaching documentary filmmaking with CAS' History Department's expertise in teaching historical interpretation and research methods. The course focuses on a specific historical time period, theme, or event. Students work in teams to produce several short documentaries focusing on this theme. The course covers the historical context of the central theme along with an introductory history of history documentary film. It addresses the issues of ethics and representation, copyright, and Fair Use guidelines. Students develop practical skills using archival resources, selecting appropriate imagery and sound, and conducting interviews. They learn the arts of storytelling and scriptwriting combined with visual and sound techniques to bring history alive. Meets with HIST-696 001.
Focuses on the legal regimes and governmental institutions that have influenced American society and politics from the revolutionary through the neoliberal eras. Topics include how Americans have defined and contested rights, regulation, and citizenship, in the context of the emergence of social, political, and economic modernity. Meets with HIST-696 002.
Considers the history of Iran from the late nineteenth century to the present. Discussion topics include great power rivalries and the rise of Iranian nationalism, the oil economy and elite modernization, political Islam and the Iranian Revolution, the Iran-Iraq war and state militarization, and most recently, the nuclear crisis. Meets with HIST-696 003.
Consumerism is, arguably, the dominant ideology of the twentieth century. This course explores key debates about Western consumer societies, including such themes as: self-service and choice; retailing (department stores to malls); consumer politics and organizations; gender, race, and identity; and fashion. Besides asking how historians can research such a diverse activity, it poses fundamental questions, such as whether consumerism has improved the quality of life. Meets with HIST-696 004.
This course examines the origins of modern conservatism, its self-defined values and mission, its enduring appeal to ordinary people, and the ebb and flow of its influence on American life. In focusing on the emergence and development of modern right-wing perceptions, ideology, and activities, the course redefines accepted ideas about America's political Left and Right. It challenges the notion that liberal institutions have been at the center while conservative forces have been on the periphery of American politics. Meets with HIST-696 005.
This course treats the history of the Soviet Union (1917-1991), seeking to explain how this civilization arose, survived, and ultimately fell, with particular attention to the history of communism as an idea. Readings help give a sense of both the aspirations and sufferings of its citizens.
COURSE DESCRIPTIONS FALL 2012
For the period from World War I to the present, this course explores historical debates over the two defining elements of American political life: liberalism and conservatism.
HIST-500 001: History of American Radicalism
This course surveys the history of the U.S. Left, assessing its successes and failures, from the American Revolution to the present. Although the course focuses largely on political movements, it also explores cultural, musical, cinematic, literary, and artistic expressions of radicalism. Course topics include abolitionism, labor, Populism, anti-imperialism, socialism, communism, anarchism, black radicalism, feminism, the New Left, nuclear abolitionism, gay liberation, anti-globalization, and Occupy Wall Street. The course makes extensive use of film and fiction in addition to historical monographs.
HIST-312 001: Topics in European History: Tolstoy vs. Napoleon: Russia and the West
Marking the bicentennial of Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812, the course will explore Russia's geopolitical and cultural engagement with the West from the fourteenth to the nineteenth century. Integrating history, literature and film, the course will culminate with a close reading and examination of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace.
HIST-500 002: Jews and Muslims in Modern Europe
This course examines the experiences of Jews and Muslims in European history from 1700 to 2000. We will be particularly interested in how these minorities were affected by the great changes of modern European history, including the rise of secularism, democracy, imperialism/decolonization, industrial society, and nationalism.
HIST-447/647 001: Asian Studies: 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. Meets with HIST-647 001.
HIST-496/696 001: Selected topics: US Urban History
This course will explore the rich history of US cities and suburbs from the nineteenth century through the present. We will pay close attention to how the dynamics of race, gender, class, and sexuality have interacted with the urban landscape and built environment. Among other topics, we will investigate the impact of riots, urban amusements, slum clearance policies, suburbanization, and gentrification.
HIST-496 003: Soviet Foreign Policy
This course will focus on the relationship between ideology and national security in the formation of Soviet policy as well as the evolution of foreign perceptions and misconceptions about Soviet interests. The materials will include primary documents, scholarly works, literary fiction, and film.
COURSE DESCRIPTIONS SUMMER 2012
Offered as part of the Initiative for Russian Culture, this course will take the form of a trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia, to explore the places where Dostoyevsky lived and worked and to walk the streets and visit the sites that his characters inhabited.
HIST-084/384/684-N01: Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Beyond
Summer study trip to Japan in conjunction with the Nuclear Studies Institute. Focuses on Japanese wartime aggression, the human devastation wrought by the atomic bombings, current Japanese and international efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons, and the building of closer ties between the people of the United States and Japan. Participants hear first-hand accounts of atomic bomb survivors and Asian victims of Japanese atrocities, visit sites of historical and cultural significance, and attend commemorative events. Usually offered every summer.
HIST-082/382/682-N01: Civil War Institute
This week-long summer program introduces participants to the key causes and consequences of the war by exploring its remnants and remembrances in the Washington, D.C. area. The intensive program combines morning presentations and discussions with afternoon field trips. Sites include Harper's Ferry, Antietam, Arlington National Cemetery, Sherman and Grant Memorials, Howard University, Fort Stevens, Frederick Douglass Home, Ford's Theater, and a full-day trip to Richmond. Usually offered every summer.Read More