Turning Points in American History

Students in this course will analyze and evaluate a very select number of "pivotal moments" over the past four centuries of American history. As an introduction to historical thinking and argumentation, the course will combine close scrutiny of documents from the past with an awareness of  interpretive issues of contingency, determinism, and historical agency raised by leading contemporary historians.


Europe in Medieval and Early Modern Times

Emphasizing the analysis of primary sources, this course examines the foundation of Western European civilization from the fall of the Roman Empire to 1715. Topics include the origins of European nation states, the intellectual and cultural achievements of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the rise of constitutionalism and absolutism, the economic and technological roots of Europe’s global dominance, as well as the social, political, and religious crises that divided the continent.

HIST 3.03

Europe in the Age of Violence

The last two centuries were an era of dramatic transformations and contradictions: while Europeans enjoyed unprecedented prosperity, technological advances, and social mobility, they also unleashed and experienced empire, terror, total war, foreign occupations, and mass murder. Throughout these 100 years, contrasting visions of a new society ushered in a range of different regimes—monarchical empires, liberal republics, murderous and racist dictatorships, Communist autocracies, and a democratic welfare states—yet these visions also led to the emancipation of women, the development of a new consumer society, the creation of environmentalist movements and new counter-cultures, and the transformation of everyday lives.

HIST 4.1

The Crusades

Crusades, launched in 1095 by Europeans who sought to control Jerusalem, led to a period of sustained and largely inimical contact between Christians and Muslims. This course explores the cultural, religious, and ideological contexts of crusade history which shaped notions of devotion, religious violence, holy war, and cultural purity, along with the long history of distrust between the peoples of Christian Europe (or the Christian West) and the Islamic Middle East.

HIST 5.1

Pre-Colonial African History (Identical to African and African American Studies 14)

This course will examine the social and economic history of Africa to 1800. Several interrelated themes of social organization, the expansion of trade, rise of new social classes, the emergence and disintegration of various states and European intervention will be discussed. Through our readings, we will visit every major historical region of Africa (north, east, central, west and south) at least once during the semester to illuminate the various themes.

HIST 5.2

Introduction to the Modern Middle East

This course will survey the history of Middle East from 1500 to the present day, and to situate that history within its global context. Rather than treating the Middle East as an isolated and monolithic territory governed solely by the mandates of a religion, our goal will be to understand diverse dynamics and multiple actors that continuously unmade and remade the region. We will study both the local and trans-regional connections, smooth transitions and radical transformations that shaped the contemporary Middle East. As we will discuss the first week in detail, Middle East is an imagined cultural and political geography which lacks any agreed upon boundaries. Hence there are many, often conflicting ways to demarcate the region. Spatially, this course will mostly be concerned with the area that spans the Arab Middle East, Palestine/Israel, Iran and Turkey. Although, is the course schedule will follow some chronological order, the readings, lectures and the discussions will be organized around themes that will help understand and analyze issues pertaining to state formation, religious politics, gender relations, power inequalities, economic transformation, colonialism, and imperialism in the region since the 1500’s.

HIST 5.3

The History of China since 1800

This survey course traces China’s social, political, and cultural development from the relative peace and prosperity of the high Qing period, through the devastating wars and imperialist incursions of the nineteenth century, to the efforts, both vain and fruitful, to build an independent and powerful new nation.

HIST 5.4

Introduction to Korean Culture

(Identical to Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Literatures 11)

This course provides an introduction to Korean culture and history, examining Korea's visual and textual expressions from the pre-modern age to the twentieth century. What are the origins of Korean national and cultural identities? How have Korean claims of cultural distinctiveness been manifested and modified over time? Tracing answers to these questions simultaneously helps us to consider how and why Korea has entered America's consciousness. As Korean matters to the US not simply as a fact but as a project, this course avoids portraying Korea through any generalized statements or uncritical categories. Rather, students are encouraged to explore and perspectives on Korea and thereby unravel their own prejudices and agendas. No prior acquaintance with the Korean language is required.

HIST 5.5

The Emergence of Modern Japan

A survey of Japanese history from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. Topics to be covered include the building of a modern state and the growth of political opposition, industrialization and its social consequences, the rise and fall of the Japanese colonial empire, and the postwar economic ‘miracle.’

HIST 5.6

Pre-Columbian and Colonial America

(Identical to Latin American and Caribbean Studies 10)

This course will examine the pre-Columbian civilizations of the Andes and Mesoamerica, the causes and consequences of the Spanish and Portuguese Conquests, and the establishment of colonial societies and economies.

HIST 5.8

Africa and the World

This course focuses on links between Africa and other parts of the world, in particular Europe and Asia. Readings, lectures, and discussions will address travel and migration, economics and trade, identity formation, empire, and cultural production. Rather than viewing Africa as separate from global processes, the course will address historical phenomena across oceans, deserts, cultures, and languages to demonstrate both the diversity of experiences and the long-term global connections among disparate parts of the world.

HIST 5.11

Gandhi: Twentieth Century India and the World

This course explores the history of modern India through the figure of Mahatma Gandhi. After exploring early developments in Gandhi's life and his philosophy of non-violence, we will examine the role of Gandhi and of his image in major political developments in India. We will also take up many key issues relating to Gandhian thought, including Hindu-Muslim relations, caste, gender and sexuality, and social equality. Finally, we will discuss Gandhi's legacy in India and globally.

HIST 8.01

Body Parts, Body Wholes: An Introduction to the Comparative History of Medicine

This course examines the possibilities and problems of comparing medicine across time and region. We will begin by considering divergent conceptions of body in Chinese and Greek antiquity before moving on to the transformation of the healing traditions and the advance of modern biomedicine since 1800. Instead of imposing "holism" or "reductionism" on medical traditions, this course encourages students to view past expressions of medicine as a means of analyzing our own self here and now.

HIST 8.02

The Making of the Modern World Economy, 1800-2014

This course introduces students to major economic developments of the last two centuries in global perspective. It addresses themes such as the Industrial Revolution and the “Great Divergence;” the political economy of imperialism; the economics of war; the transformation of the world financial system; the economics of development; and the roots of the crisis of 2008/8. Students can expect to acquire a historically founded understanding of the global economy of today.

HIST 8.04

History of Sexuality

How have historical processes produced distinct sexual practices and identities over time? This course engages 300 years of a history that often evaded the historical record or was deliberately purged from it and asks how more traditional topics of U.S. historical inquiry—immigration, citizenship, economic organization, intellectual and artistic production, racialization, formal politics, law, religious practice—can yield new insights when sexual history is included as a legitimate dimension of analysis.

HIST 8.06

History of Food

(Identical to LATS 8)

We will look at issues of food production and consumption, and how our relationship to food contributes to the political and social structures that we live with.  Our approach will be historical and pay special attention to the ways in which our production and consumption of food has been shaped by the movement of people over the last century.  The readings explore how food creates ways for people to form bonds of belonging while also creating bonds of control and regimes of inequality.

HIST 8.07

History of Eqaulity

This course will examine key shifts in the understanding and deployment of notions of
“equality,” including moral, legal, political, social, racial, and gender equality. Primarily
a course of intellectual history with a focus on European and American sources and texts,
it will nevertheless encourage the consideration of non-western perspectives and will
draw on relevant literature in other disciplines, including anthropology, psychology, and

HIST 9.1

Empires and Colonies in North America, 1500-1763

This course will explore the ways European colonies in North America were woven into empires, focusing primarily on French, Dutch, and English endeavors. It will discuss how they envisioned empires, how they hoped to profit from them, how they sought to manage them, and how much control officials really had over disparate colonial societies. It will also consider imperialism from the perspectives of those who confronted it—Native Americans, indentured servants, sailors, merchants, and slaves.

HIST 9.3

The Global Thirties: Economics and Politics during the Depression

This course provides an overview of the global history of the Great Depression of the 1930s. The course addresses themes such as the international economic order of the 1920s, the economic causes of the Depression, the political responses to the crisis, the rise of economic planning, and the legacy of the 1930s in post-war development states and economic thinking. Students will understand why the Depression influences economic theory and policymaking to this day.


What is History?

The discipline of History is about much more than names, dates, and events. It is actually a realm of robust argument, changing interpretations, and vivid imagination. This brand-new, team-taught course explores different genres of professional historical research and writing (e.g. biography, political history, cultural history). Through a dynamic mix of lectures and small-group discussions, both History majors and non-majors will gain a new appreciation of the historian’s craft. No prerequisites; first-year students welcome.