First Year Seminars

HIST 0555B Robber Barons, Professor Lukas Rieppel (Fall 2017)

Today, the United States looks a lot like it did at the turn of the 20th century. Much like it is now, America's economy at that time saw tremendous growth interrupted by periodic financial crises. Moreover, both are periods of immense inequality. Whereas we have the one per cent, the late 19th century witnessed a small group of capitalists amass unprecedented fortunes, which provided immense political power. In this class, we will explore what the lives of these “robber barons” can tell us about the role of economic privilege in shaping America’s social, cultural, and political history. FYS WRIT DPLL

HIST 0557C Narratives of Slavery, Professor Emily Owens (Fall 2017)

This course will uncover the history of the slave trade, the labor regimes of slavery in the Caribbean and North America, and the rise of the Cotton Kingdom through the voices of the very people who lived through it: enslaved people themselves. We will read slave narratives, court documents, abolitionist treaties, oral histories of formerly enslaved people, and fictional accounts produced in the period. We will give special attention the ways that different kinds of historical sources-different types of narratives-shape what we know and how we know it in the history of slavery. FYS WRIT DPLL

HIST 0559 B Asian Americans and Third World Solidarity, Professor Naoko Shibusawa (not offered 2017-18)

As historian Vijay Prashad puts it, “The Third World was not a place. It was a project.” During the 20th century struggles against colonialism, the peoples of Africa, Asia, and Latin America believed that another world was possible. Here, too, in the United States, minorities and their allies dreamed of dignity, democracy, and justice. Looking through the experiences of Asian Americans, this course examines the domestic freedom movements in the context of global decolonization. Topics include: campus activism, immigration, capitalist labor regimes, neocolonalism, cultural hegemony, and Afro-Asian connections. FYS DPLL


Lecture Courses

HIST 0203  Modern Africa: From Empire to Nation-State, Professor Jennifer Johnson (Spring 2018)

This course examines the major historical developments in Africa from 1945 to the present and pays special attention to the diversity of experiences within the vast continent. The first part focuses on Africans’ varied responses to the waning European imperial project and explores different ways in which African nationalist leaders and everyday people challenged colonial administrations to ultimately achieve their independence. The second part of the class investigates the consequences and opportunities of decolonization, including questions of political legitimacy, state-building, structural adjustment programs and international aid, human rights, and civil conflicts. DPLL

HIST 1122 China Pop: The Social History of Chinese Popular Culture, Professor Rebecca Nedostup (not offered 2017-18)

An exploration of how the artifacts of visual, material, aural and ritual culture illuminate the practices and beliefs of people at various levels of Chinese society from the late imperial period to the present. Topics include arrangements of space and time, popular entertainment, religion and performance, the growth of mass media, and the relationship of cultural forms to politics, protest and global forces. In addition to lectures, discussions and papers, students will have the opportunity to create research presentations using multiple media formats. DPLL

HIST 1505 Making America Modern, Professor Lukas Rieppel (Fall 2017)

This course surveys a crucial period in American history between the end of Reconstruction and the beginning of World War I. During this time, the United States transitioned from a relatively fragmented, traditional, and largely agricultural society into one that was remarkably diverse, increasingly urban, and highly industrialized. In surveying this important transitional period, we will pay particular attention to far-reaching changes in the nation's business and economic life, its social movements, as well as its cultural developments, all with an eye to understanding how the United States became one of the world's most commanding economic, political, and cultural powers. DPLL WRIT

HIST 1515 American Slavery, Professor Emily Owens (Spring 2018)

This lecture course will address the history of slavery in America. We will trace the emergence of slavery in the New World, with a heavy emphasis on slavery in the U.S. South, and a focus on the relationship of slavery to the emergence of systems of racial and gendered power. The course is broad in scope, beginning with the emergence of the slave trade and concluding with a look forward to the ways that the history of slavery continues to impact the way race and gender (as well as sexuality and class) structure our lives today. DPLL

HIST 1553 Empires in America to 1890, Professor Sandra Haley (Fall 2017)

This class considers the forms of empire-building by various groups of indigenous and colonizing peoples in what is now the United States. The purpose is to understand the development of imperial U.S. power in both domestic and international contexts. Rather than resting upon a foregone conclusion of European settler colonial “success,” the course explores the contingent and incomplete nature of empire-building even within unbalanced power relationships. DPLL WRIT


Upper-level Seminars

HIST 1962D The Social Lives of Dead Bodies in China and Beyond, Professor Rebecca Nedostup (Fall 2017)

Corpses, much like the living, are not neutral bodies, but are managed into structures of social meaning. This course aims to uncover corpses as signifiers and actors during times of community upheaval. We will take modern China as our focal point, but also look elsewhere in the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia since the 19th century, when the broadening scale and nature of warfare; state expansion; rapid urban and rural development; global circulations of technology; and the interplay of international philanthropies with older forms of charity and ritual pacification significantly affected the treatment, conceptions, and actions of the dead. DPLL WRIT

HIST 1968F History of Capitalism: The Eastern Mediterranean and the World Around, Professor Meltem Toksoz (Fall 2017)

This course is an analysis of where the Mediterranean region fits in the evolving capitalist world-economy in the aftermath of the so-called Age of Discovery. The context of the Mediterranean is set in our own age’s “globalization” as histories of capitalism push on the “world” in new ways challenging our mental maps for historical change. The seminar takes on a critical approach to the European historiography on the rise of capitalism and the view that the Mediterranean collapsed with the rise of the Baltic and the Atlantic. WRIT DPLL

HIST 1969C Debates in Middle Eastern History, Professor Sreemati Mitter (Spring 2018)

This seminar investigates the historical bases of some of the major debates which continue to dominate contemporary discussions on the Middle East. These include debates on colonialism and its legacies; problems associated with the post-colonial Middle Eastern state (the "democracy deficit": human rights; oil; political Islam); and arguments about the causes and consequences of some of the major events in Middle Eastern history (the Israel-Palestinian conflict; the Iranian revolution; the Lebanese civil war; 9/11 and the Iraq invasion; and the Arab Spring). DPLL WRIT

HIST 1969F Nothing Pleases Me: Understanding Modern Middle Eastern History through Literature. Professor Sreemati Mitter (Spring 2018)

This seminar examines the major themes and events in the history of the Middle East in the 20th century through a close reading of literary texts and, in some cases, films. Throughout the course we will try to locate the perspectives of the “ordinary people” of the region, and will pay special attention to the voices of those who are rarely heard from in discourses on the Middle East: religious minorities, sexual minorities, women, children, but also criminals, misfits, misanthropes and others who have been deemed social outcasts. DPLL WRIT

HIST 1974A The Silk Roads, Past and Present, Professor Cynthia Brokaw (Spring 2018)

The Silk Road has historically been the crossroad of Eurasia; since the third-century BCE it has linked the societies of Asia—East, Central, and South—and Europe and the Middle East. The exchange of goods, ideas, and peoples that the Silk Road facilitated has significantly shaped the polities, economies, belief systems, and cultures of many modern nations: China, Russia, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and India. This course explores the long history (and the mythologies or imaginations) of the Silk Road in order to understand how the long and complex pasts of the regions it touches are important in the age of globalization. P WRIT DPLL