Show More


Topics Courses

SPRING 2015 / TOPICS COURSES

Topics: Globalization and Resistance
HIST290B - Kuecker

Tuesday/Thursday

Starting with the overthrow of Chile’s democratically elected socialist government on September 11th, 1973, and following more substantially with the Mexican default in 1983, Latin American’s experienced a radical transformation of their statist economic system, a change that ushered in the era of neoliberalism that lasted until the financial crises of 2008.  The neoliberal transformation provides the base line of inquiry for this course, through consideration of William Robinson’s Latin America and Global Capitalism.  From this political and economic base, the course focuses in on consideration of the amazingly rich and diverse social movements that emerged throughout the region in response to the neoliberal project.  While we will engage in multiple case studies, the course also provides theoretical insights form the social sciences about the meanings and experiences of resistance.  

 

FALL 2014/ TOPICS COURSES

Topics: British Empire
HIST290A - Dewey

Tuesday/Thursday, 12:40-2:10 pm

At its apogee, the British Empire incorporated nearly one-quarter of the world’s landmass and population.  Dominance of that scale, infused by economic influence and naval power, was both unparalleled and unprecedented.  HIST 290 will survey the British Empire, from the granting of the East India company charter through imperial liquidation, with a particular emphasis on events during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  The course’s geographic range includes considerations of British imperialism in South Asia, Asia, the Pacific, Africa and the Americas.  The class will analyze important historiographical debates, the differences between formal and informal imperialism, competing visions of Empire, indigenous responses, and the cultures of imperialism.    

Topics: Mexico City: An Urban History
HIST290B - Kuecker

Tuesday, Thursday, 2:20-3:50 

This course examines the history of Mexico City, one of the great cities of the world.   We will cover the sweep of the city’s history from its earliest inhabitants thousands of years ago to the present.  The course will consider the major social, political, economic, and cultural contours of the history, while also engaging the city’s environmental history.  The narrative does double duty, as knowing the city’s history is also an excellent way to know the major issues, questions, and themes in Mexican history.  Students, additionally, will be introduced to theoretical insights from urban studies, and gain experience in how to think about the city, an important intellectual challenge as the global community moves to a population of 9 billion by 2050, of which two-thirds will be urban.  An amazing city has an amazing history, one that merits our attention.  


spring 2014 / TOPICS COURSES

Topics: Latin American Environmental History
HIST290A - Kuecker

Tuesday, Thursday, 2:20-3:50

The diversity of people, geography, and ecology in Latin America combine to make it one of the most diverse environments on the planet. Complementing the diversity is a rich history of human interactions with the environment.  Knowing this history informs us about indigenous economic and cultural practices that offer alternative ways of thinking about how people relate to their environment.  The history of conquest and colonization illustrate the dramatic, if not catastrophic, impact of European environmental practices, which helps us to further understand how modernity attempted to control nature, as well as the consequences of this effort.  Learning the history also shows the troubled relationship between capitalism and the planet’s resources, and how the troubles were important in shaping Latin America’s social, political, economic, and cultural landscapes.  The history is important for our thinking about the contemporary and future challenges we face, especially in the areas of climate change, resource extraction, food sovereignty, and disease, and energy.


FALL 2013 / TOPICS COURSES

Topics: Ecocities
HIST290A - Kuecker

Wednesday, 12:30-3:30 

With global population trends showing that humanity will be two-thirds urban by 2030, a startling growth in the size and number of cities is taking place.  Existing cities will increase in size, and we will be building hundreds of entirely new cities, especially in Asia.  These demographic trends have raised concern about sustainability.  When we look at the current ecological footprint of cities, that concern appears very real.  Some argue that cities constitute humankind’s greatest invention, and as such our urban world will be a problem-solving machine, a dynamic social system driven by innovation and creativity that will take on the great challenges of the 21st Century.  A new trend within architecture, design, planning, and finance is already in play in places like Dongtan (China), Masdar City (United Arab Emirates), and New Songdo City (South Korea).  These are ecocities, built entirely from scratch with the goal of becoming the solution to our global problems.  It is an audacious undertaking, full of experimentation, creativity, and innovation.  This course deploys a workshop method for thinking about the ecocity.  We will work together as research teams to learn as much as we can about the social, political, economic, and cultural forces at play in the ecocity phenomena.  As the ecocity is a remarkably fertile topic for social science theory, the workshop will also use the case studies to learn about a range of topics within urban studies.   As a workshop, the course design is very much an open-ended, exploratory, and dynamic learning community.  It requires dedicated students who are looking for a merging of independent and collaborative work, as well as a chance to pursue an interdisciplinary course of study into one of the 21st centuries most pressing topics.    

Topics: Paradise Revisited
HIST300A - Dewey

Tuesday, Thursday, 2:20-3:50 

The notion of the Pacific Islands as "paradise" is a historic and pervasive fixture of stage, screen and tourist brochures. But when and how did the European construction of "paradise" and the representations that followed from it come about? More importantly, how have indigenous peoples of the Pacific Islands represented or “re-presented” Oceania in light of that legacy? HIST 300A incorporates the history of the Pacific Islands including Aotearoa (New Zealand), with a thematic emphasis on representation from the late 18th century to the present. During the semester you will engage and evaluate historiographic and epistemological debates which have shaped the study of Oceania as well as primary and secondary sources drawn from history, literature, anthropology, art and film.

Topics: American Suburbia
HIST300C - Cavin

Tuesday, Thursday, 12:40-2:10

Why do most Americans live in the suburbs? How does suburbia shape American politics, economics, and culture? Is suburbia the epitome of the American dream or has it become an American nightmare? In this course, we will examine the history of American suburbia, from its origins in the 19th century to the recent mortgage crisis. We will consider a wide variety of suburban issues, including housing and architecture, highways and sprawl, racial segregation and desegregation, the feminine mystique and American families, and the relationship between popular culture and public policy.
 

Spring 2013 / TOPICS COURSES

Topics: Latin American Resistance Movements
HIST290A - Kuecker

Tuesday, Thursday, 7:00-8:30 pm TR

 

Topics: Revolutionary Russia
HIST290B - Ward

Tuesday, Thursday, 12:40-2:10 TR

In the first half of the twentieth century, revolution washed over Russia in three waves: the Revolution of 1905, the February and October Revolutions of 1917, and Joseph Stalin’s ‘Revolution from Above’ of the 1930s, which included the Great Terror. What sparked these explosions? How did they transform lives and worlds? What legacies did they bequeath not just to Russia but the world? We will investigate these questions within competing historiographical schools as well as from a variety of social viewpoints. Readings will include primary sources.  
 

Topics: History of Islamic Philosophy
HIST290C - Fancy

Tuesday, Thursday, 2:20-3:50 TR

 

Topics: Dancing on the Wall: The Fall of European Communism
HIST300A - Ward

Tuesday, Thursday, 8:20-9:50

In 1989, Communist regimes through Eastern Europe collapsed, followed within months by the shattering of the Soviet Union. What caused this remarkable, unprecedented, and entirely unexpected failure? Why did these revolutions produce both democratic renewal and ethnic war? How did this turn fit within a global context?  We will examine each revolution in depth, starting in Poland and ending in the USSR. Coursework will include a research paper drawing on substantial primary sources and a presentation of findings to the class.

Topics: Environmental History of North America
HIST300B - Fingal

Tuesday, Thursday, 2:20-3:50 TR

 

Fall 2012 / TOPICS COURSES

Topics: Latin American Environmental History
HIST290A - Kuecker

Tuesday, Thursday, 2:20-3:50

The diversity of people, geography, and ecology in Latin America combine to make it one of the most diverse environments on the planet. Complementing the diversity is a rich history of human interactions with the environment.  Knowing this history informs us about indigenous economic and cultural practices that offer alternative ways of thinking about how people relate to their environment.  The history of conquest and colonization illustrate the dramatic, if not catastrophic, impact of European environmental practices, which helps us to further understand how modernity attempted to control nature, as well as the consequences of this effort.  Learning the history also shows the troubled relationship between capitalism and the planet’s resources, and how the troubles were important in shaping Latin America’s social, political, economic, and cultural landscapes.  The history is important for our thinking about the contemporary and future challenges we face, especially in the areas of climate change, resource extraction, food sovereignty, and disease, and energy.  This course is discussion based, and will emphasize short analytical writing (take home essays) for evaluation.  Students can expect between 50-75 pages of reading per class session.

Topics: History of the 21st Century
HIST290B - Kuecker

Tuesday, Thursday, 7:00-8:30 pm

Social scientists are increasingly becoming aware that the 21st century will be defined by one of the greatest transformations in human history. Early outlines of the great transformation are already apparent as large-scale, global, interconnected, and concomitant crises are causing deep structural change to the meanings and practices of the modern world.  The perfect storm of crises (climate change, end of oil, food insecurity, rapid urbanization, population growth and aging, pandemics, economic instability, and ecological distress) are defining a new historical period, one that is distinct from the recent period of globalization, and one potentially marking a departure form the modern era.  This transformation is happening in your lifetime.  It will define the opportunities, limitations, risks, and challenges of your generation.  Indeed, your generation will most likely engage in the building of a new civilization, an undertaking that is both daunting and exciting.  This course approaches the perfect storm by introducing students to complexity thinking, which is one of the most important critical reasoning skills for the 21st century.  In addition to learning the particulars of the crises we face, the course invites us to explore the new ways of being, thinking, and acting that are coming into formation. The course is offered for “W” credit.  



Topics: Science and Medicine in Islamic Society
Hist 300A - Fancy
Tuesday, 7:00-9:50 pm

This course examines the history of the study of nature within Islamic societies, beginning with the rise of Islam in the seventh century up until the early modern period. Through a combination of primary and secondary source readings, the class explores some of the major trends and debates within science and medicine of that period, including (but not restricted to): the make-up of the cosmos, the role of theory in medicine, the nature of body and soul, the epistemological status of mathematical models, and the relationship between reason and revelation. A special emphasis is also placed on situating these developments within the larger political, social and institutional structure of Islamic societies. Finally, the course engages with historiographical debates surrounding the position of Islamic science vis-à-vis ancient and modern science.

Spring 2012 / TOPICS COURSES

The American Experience: Abolishing Slavery (W)
HIST105A - Gellman 

Monday, Wednesday, Friday , 10:30-11:30 a.m. 

The struggle to abolish slavery was one of the longest and most important chapters in U.S. history.  This course emphasizes efforts to end slavery from the Revolutionary era through the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865.  Major topics include: the origins of antislavery ideology; the gradual demise of slavery in the North; the rise of the nineteenth-century movement for immediate abolition; the underground railroad; changing conceptions of race; and the final demise of slavery during the Civil War. The course will place particular emphasis on the biographies of the complicated and courageous women and men who helped to redefine the meaning of freedom in a nation deeply invested in African-American bondage. 

Topics: Partition and Memory
Hist 300A - Fancy
Wednesday, 8:30-11:20 am; Tuesday, 7:00-9:50 pm (Film study lab)

This course tries to understand the history of partition, its representations, memories and legacy in Israel-Palestine and Pakistan-India in a broadly comparative manner. It covers not only the events leading up to partition, but also how partition and partition memories and narratives continue to inform the construction of national identities in these regions, and the conflicts therein. The course uses a very interdisciplinary approach in order to grapple with the various collective memories of key events, and in order to flesh out their ethical and political implications. The class has a lab component, during which we will watch and critically engage with films on and about partition and memory in light of the assigned readings. We will assess the limits and capabilities of this genre as a means of refining cultural memories, coping with memories of violence, as well as challenging the status quo of collective memories.

 


Fall 2011 / TOPICS COURSES

Topics: Brazil
HIST290A - Johnson 

Monday, Wednesday, Friday , 1:40-2:40 p.m. 
Syllabus 

“In the favelas, in the Senate, filth everywhere. Nobody respects the Constitution, but everyone believes in the future of the nation. What kind of a country is this? Que país é esse?” This question, set in the words of a famous Brazilian rock band but reverberating across public and private discourse, provides an entry into the history of a sub-continent (only recently, and secondarily, a nation) that continually surprises both natives and novices. This introduction to Brazilian history will begin at the beginning but will focus primarily on the modern history of Brazil, addressing such topics as Society and Nation, Slavery and Abolition, Gender and the Family, Economics and the Environment, and those other things that “só brasileiro faz,” that only Brazilians do.

Spring 2011 / TOPICS COURSES

The American Experience: Unsolved Colonial Mysteries (W)
HIST105A - Gellman 

Monday, Wednesday, Friday , 12:30-1:30 p.m. 

What really caused the infamous Salem witchcraft trials?  Did Pocahontas really save John Smith, and if so, why?  Were pirates freedom-loving egalitarians or ruthless vagabonds?  How did African slavery become permanent and pervasive in Virginia?  What were the Pilgrims really like?  Could Indians ever have regained the upper hand in New England?  Focusing primarily on England’s seventeenth-century North American colonies, the course will probe some of early American history’s most enduring and intriguing questions.  Underlying all these questions will be an even more basic one:  What was it like to be alive—as a man, woman, or child, Indian, African, or European—in a new world of conquest, community-building, and dramatic social upheaval.   

Topics: Shattered Empire: The Habsburgs and Their Heirs, 1526-2002
HIST290A - Ward
Tuesday, Thursday, 12:40 - 2:10 p.m. 

This course follows the history of the Central European Habsburg lands from the Ottoman Conquest of Hungary to the introduction of a common EU currency in the region. The core of this story is the shattering of an empire: the dissolution of Austria-Hungary in 1918 in favor of the successor states of Austria, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia. How is life different under empires as opposed to nation-states? What impact, for better or worse, did the collapse of the empire have on polities, societies, cultures, and individuals?

Topics: Imperial Spain
HIST 290B - Berenberg
Monday, Wednesday, 12:40 - 2:10 p.m.

An exploration of the history of Spain from the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella in 1469 to the invasion of Napoleon in 1808. Traditionally, the history of Spain is told in terms of the story of its decline, but is this the best way to understand it? The course will look at the interactions of political, cultural, social and economic history, examining such issues as the changing nature of royal power, Spain's interactions with its religious minorities and the Inqusition, its acquisition of a large empire and the way the empire affected the state, Spain's participation in the Renaissance and Enlightenment, and the social structure and life of its people.

Topics: Latin American Environmental History
HIST 300A - Kuecker
Tuesday, Thursday, 2:20 - 3:50 p.m.

This course combines the perspective of environmental history with approaches from anthropology, sociology, and economics to gain understanding of the complex interaction between humans and the environment in Latin American history. It covers the range of the history, from the pre-Columbian period to present, as well as the scope of the region, from Brazil to Mexico. Anticipated topics include: pre-conquest peoples in the Amazon rainforest, the Columbian exchange, the post-conquest demographic collapse, mining, export agriculture, the Green Revolution, and urbanization. The course is discussion centered. Students should anticipate a rigorous reading load with multiple analytical essays constituting the core of evaluated assignments.

Topics: Collaboration, Resistance, and Retribution in Europe, 1938-1948
HIST300C - Ward
Tuesday, Thursday, 8:20-9:50 a.m. 

This seminar focuses on the experiences of European populations under occupation or foreign domination during the Second World War. How did populations respond to an invader or hegemonic power such as Nazi Germany? Should one fight? Or was cooperation the more sensible and even more moral route? The course also explores how postwar Europe judged the choices made in the face of this dilemma. Our topics span high politics to individual lives. Our methods include a critical dialogue with select texts and themes as well as significant student research on primary sources.

Topics: Christians, Muslims and Jews in the Middle Ages
HIST 300D - Berenberg
Tuesday, Thursday, 2:20 - 3:50 p.m.

An in-depth exploration of the relationships between three major faith communities from Late Antiquity through the fifteenth century. We will explore how the Christian West and the Muslim Middle East and North Africa dealt with their religious minority populations. We will also look at how the two communities related to each other, both in conflict and cultural and economic exchange. Topics will include issues like the Crusades, the apparent rise of anti-Judaic laws and violence in the Christian West, and how Christians and Muslims understood each other.

Fall 2010 / TOPICS COURSES

American Experience: Popular Music (W)
HIST105A - SCHLOTTERBECK 

Monday, Wednesday, Friday , 9:20-10:20 a.m. 
Syllabus 

This course follows Walt Whitman’s plea to “hear America singing” by listening to the “varied carols” of people “singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.” Popular music provides windows for understanding ordinary peoples’ everyday lives, cultural traditions, struggles, and hopes. We will sample popular musical traditions from the mid-18th to the mid-20th centuries examining their British, African, and European origins; their manifold expressions in ballads, hymns, spirituals, blues, work, and protest songs, and in regional music traditions; and how vernacular music and new technologies created popular music including minstrels, gospel, urban blues, country, and Rock ‘n Roll. Our focus will be on the South, the source and seedbed for most American popular music. No background in music theory or American history is required.

Topics: Global Migration (W)
HIST290A - KUECKER 

Tuesday, Thursday, 10:00-11:30 a.m. 
Syllabus
This course examines the process of globalization in Latin America as means for understanding the process of hemispheric migration. The course frames migration as a social movement, a form of resistance to neoliberal economic policies implemented throughout Latin America starting in the early 1980s. The course will provide historical context for understanding contemporary debates about migration, one of the central issues facing our nation. It also provides students with interdisciplinary approaches to thinking about historical processes. Our primary focus will be upon Mexico, but we will also include substantial analysis of Central America and South American countries.

Topics: The Rise and Fall (?) of the Nation in Europe 
HIST290B - WARD

Tuesday, Thursday, 8:20-9:50 a.m. 
Syllabus
Between 1600 and 1945, Europeans increasingly ordered their political, economic, and cultural space according to the idea of the nation. Projects such as the European Union, in contrast, have striven to transcend it. This course follows the rise of the category and the attempts to supplant it with other forms of identity. What is the nation, and how is it built? What are its consequences as a central perspective on the world? Are we entering a post-national age, or is the nation with us for the foreseeable future? Our readings include both scholarship and primary sources.

Topics: The Witchcraze in Early Modern Europe 
HIST336 - BERENBERG

Tuesday, Thursday, 2:20-3:50 p.m. 
Why did Europe suddenly erupt in a fury of witch trials in the sixteenth century? Why did these trials just as suddenly die out in the eighteenth? What was the role of religion in the pursuit of witches? Was misogyny at the heart of the witchcraze? These questions and more will be addressed in this course as we try to understand the nature of the European witchcraze. Through a close and careful analysis of primary documents, we will try to develop our own conclusions on this troubling episode of European history.