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Spring Course Descriptions

Spring 2021

  • History 215: U.S. and the World since 1945.  Professor Sackley. Examines one of the most transformative half centuries in the history of U.S. engagement with the world: The Cold War.  The Cold War was a 45-year struggle between two “superpowers,” the United States and the Soviet Union. It was also a global conflict that enveloped peoples and nations around the world and profoundly influenced U.S. domestic culture, politics, and economics. From Russian-American diplomacy to the “war on terror,” its legacies reverberate to the present day.
  • History 221: Classical Greece.  Professor Stevenson.  Survey of Greek history from end of the Bronze Age through career of Philip II of Macedon.
  • History 239: The French Revolution and Napoleonic Era. Professor Watts.  This course focuses on the revolutionary politics that violently ended legal privileges and monarchical rule to forge a modern nation state. Revolutionaries sought to fulfill their pledge to institute liberty and equality in the face of deep social divisions between aristocrats and commoners, traditional Roman Catholics and enlightened secular rationalists, military careerists and wealthy bureaucrats. Of special interest are the parties’ ideologies and alliances that shaped the fight for and against the revolution. 
  • History 251: Chinese Revolutions. Professor Loo. One of the most enduring motifs associated with China’s recent history is that of “revolution.” After a period of long peace that stretched through the 17th and 18th centuries, China underwent profound transformations in society, philosophy, culture, economics, and politics in the 19th and 20th centuries in rapid succession. Each of these was a key moment in modern Chinese history in which people watched their worlds change in profound ways. This class examines the significance and impact of a series of revolutions – beginning with the “Taiping Rebellion” and ending in 1949 – and investigates how different actors in Chinese society recognized these moments of radical change and responded to them. 
  • History 271: The Modern Middle East. Professor Yanikdag.  The subject of this course is the Middle East in the modern period; although we begin with the late 19th century, our brief examination of this time period is meant to provide context both for the Western encroachment into the region and the responses of the inhabitants.  The course focuses on the issues that have defined the Middle East in the recent past and provides students with the historical context needed to understand the region, its peoples, and its conflicts in greater depth. Through political, social, and cultural history, the course seeks to examine this period as the latest phase in the evolution of Muslim societies in the region. The course will consider the impact of outside powers on the region, the responses of the region’s peoples to this challenge; the problems of political, economic, and cultural colonization and decolonization; the ideological choices dominant in successive periods; gender issues; and efforts to reassert Islamic identity in an era of globalization.
  • History 282: Africa in the 20th Century:  Professor Summers.  Conquest, consumerism, political authority, and popular mobilization. This course introduces the political, cultural, social and economic history of Africa in the 20th century, with special emphasis on several themes: what did colonialism mean for the people who lived under and with it? Did peoples’ identities change with cash crops, education, money, and political change? What sorts of decolonization and independence have people sought? And why have the continent’s newer structures of political, social, and economic opportunity proven so challenging? Further, how do we know any of this? This course will center on how Africa’s women, men, and sometimes even children have understood, survived, challenged, and changed themselves, their institutions, and the continent.
  • History 299: Major Court Cases of the 20th C U.S.   Professor Holloway.  This course examines on US Supreme Court cases that shaped the 20th Focus areas include free speech, civil rights (gender, racial, and LGBT discrimination), national security law, and the rights of criminal defendants. Students will read court opinions and other legal documents as well as historical accounts that place the case in historical context.
  • History 361: Madness & Society in Modern Era. Professor Meyer.  A historiographical examination of such questions as: What is insanity? How do we define the normal and the pathological? Who in society is best suited to determine psychological health and sickness? Can there be sciences of the emotions and sexuality? How do class, race, religion, and gender influence our views of human mental functioning? Can the human mind know itself? How did the sciences of the mind (i.e. psychiatry, psychoanalysis, clinical psychology, psychopharmacology, and the cognitive neurosciences) claim tremendous scientific authority and exert enormous cultural influence at the turn of the twentieth century? A variety of settings will be considered, including continental Europe, North America, Latin America, and Africa from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries.
  • History 398: Historiorgaphy:  Professor Loo.  – the study of how history is written – is a key component to the craft of the historian. Alongside a historian’s biases, points of view, and politics, modes of historical writing also inflect the kinds of historical knowledge she produces. This course examines the craft of historical writing to investigate the mechanics that lie behind the production of historical knowledge. Students will be introduced to a range of theories and modes of historical writing, from classics texts by Ranke and Carr, to the scholarship of leading historians today.
  • History 399: Gender and Sexuality in Europe: Professor Kahn. This course critiques the standard “Great Man” narrative of Modern European history through the lens of gender and sexuality, emphasizing the intersectionality of race, religion, and nationality. We proceed chronologically from 1750 to the present, exploring topics including: Enlightenment ideas about anatomy and sex organs; feminist interpretations of the French Revolution; marriage and domesticity; masculinity and effeminacy; the relationship between gender and (dis)ability; imperial-era sexual encounters; the policing of prostitution, masturbation, and pornography; early theories of homosexual and trans identities; fascism, sexual violence, and the world wars; and discourses surrounding immigrant sexualities. As an upper-level history course, we will devote the first four weeks to historiography—the changing theories and methods that historians have used to understand the past—and examine how the fields of “women’s history,” “gender history,” “the history of sexuality,” “the history of homosexuality,” and “queer history” have developed from the 1970s until today. Satisfies the WGSS “Historical Perspectives” requirement.
  • History 400: Social Reformers in the British World:  Professor Bischof.  In this senior seminar, you will pursue original research into the history of social reformers in the modern British world.  In conducting this research, you will seek to understand and then tell the story of your chosen social reformer(s), including what they thought it meant to do good in the world and how the objects of their reforms experienced their attempts to do good.  But you will also work to connect this specific story to broader historical developments by thinking about the larger social, cultural, economic, and political context.  How was the way they thought about the world and its problems shaped by the larger context — and how were reformers trying to reshape that larger context as they carried out their work?