History's Civilization Courses

HIST 13002  History of European Civilization II  European Civilization is a two-quarter sequence designed to use close readings of primary sources to enrich our understanding of Europeans of the past. As we examine the variety of their experiences, we will often call into question what we mean in the first place by “Europe” and “civilization.” Rather than providing a narrative of high politics, the sequence will emphasize the contested geographic, religious, social, and racial boundaries that have defined and redefined Europe and its people over the centuries. We will read and discuss sources covering the period from the early Middle Ages to the present, from a variety of genres: saga, biography, personal letters, property records, political treatises, memoirs, and government documents, to name only a few. Individual instructors may choose different sources and highlight different aspects of European civilization, but some of the most important readings will be the same in all sections. The two-quarter sequence may also be supplemented by a third quarter, in which students will have the opportunity to explore in greater depth a particular topic in the history of European civilization.

HIST 13003 (Sections 5)  History of European Civilization III—The Enlightenment: Foundations and Interpretations (D. Lyons)  The two-quarter sequence may be supplemented by a third quarter, in which students will have the opportunity to explore in greater depth a particular topic in the history of European civilization. Descriptions of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment have ranged from a radical vanguard advancing the modern world’s "egalitarian and democratic core values and ideals" and "installing [human beings] as their own masters" to "a triumphant calamity" and an enterprise ending in nihilism. We will attempt to understand whether it makes sense to speak of the Enlightenment as a coherent program and, if so, how the ends of that program are best understood. We will first engage with works on politics, society, and religion by representative Enlightenment figures (Voltaire, Montesquieu, Hume, Diderot, Smith, Rousseau, Wollstonecraft, and Kant) and then turn to seminal interpretations of the Enlightenment from the mid-twentieth century to the near present, using the earlier readings to test the conclusions of the latter.

HIST 13003 (Sections TBD)  History of European Civilization III—Totalitarianism, Law, and Revolution  (D. Lyons)  The two-quarter sequence may be supplemented by a third quarter, in which students will have the opportunity to explore in greater depth a particular topic in the history of European civilization. In the final chapter of her seminal The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt argued that, far from being a lawless form of government, totalitarianism is an attempt to impose some notion of ultimate law directly on the world, with no mediation through positive law and no regard for the lived particularity of human communities. In this course we will examine some seminal theories about totalitarianism, as well as primary sources and some secondary sources on the history of totalitarian movements, all with an eye toward understanding what relationship totalitarianism bears to forms of legality and to attempts at overturning prior legal, social, and political regimes.

HIST 13300  History of Western Civilization 3  (K. Weintraub)  Available as a three-quarter sequence (Autumn-Winter-Spring) or as a two-quarter sequence (Autumn-Winter or Winter-Spring). This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. The purpose of this sequence is threefold: (1) to introduce students to the principles of historical thought, (2) to acquaint them with some of the more important epochs in the development of Western civilization since the sixth century BC, and (3) to assist them in discovering connections between the various epochs. The purpose of the course is not to present a general survey of Western history. Instruction consists of intensive investigation of a selection of original documents bearing on a number of separate topics, usually two or three a quarter, occasionally supplemented by the work of a modern historian. The treatment of the selected topics varies from section to section. This sequence is currently offered twice a year. The amount of material covered is the same whether the student enrolls in the Autumn-Winter-Spring sequence or the Summer sequence.

HIST 13700  America in World Civilization 3  The American Civ sequence is nothing like your high-school history class, for here we examine America as a contested idea and a contested place by reading and writing about a wide array of primary sources. In the process, students gain a new sense of historical awareness and of the making of America. The course is designed both for history majors and non-majors who want to deepen their understanding of the nation's history, encounter some enlightening and provocative voices from the past, and develop the qualitative methodology of historical thinking. What conditions have shaped inclusion and exclusion from the category "American" in the twentieth century? Who has claimed rights, citizenship, and protection, and under what conditions? The third quarter America in World Civilization focuses on multiple definitions of Americanism in a period characterized by empire, transnational formations, and America's role in the world. We explore the construction of social order in a multicultural society; culture in the shadow of war; the politics of race, ethnicity, and gender; the rise and fall of new social movements on the left and the right; the emergence of the carceral state and militarization of civil space; and the role of climate change and the apocalyptic in shaping imagined futures.

HIST 14100  Introduction to Russian Civilization III: All the Russians  (K. Sorenson)  The third quarter of Russian Civilization is a new (2020) addition to the curriculum. The course is thematic and will vary from year to year. We will be exploring how Russian intellectuals have both supported and challenged state power throughout modern Russian history. The course begins with a brief overview of nineteenth-century debates on the social responsibilities of intellectuals before examining how the intellectual traditions of collaboration and dissent were developed during the Soviet period. The second half of the course considers how prominent post-Soviet intellectuals invoke and alter these traditions as they navigate their own relationships to the state. Throughout the course, our main goal will be to examine the ways in which these thinkers both conceptualize and perform the role of "public intellectual" vis-à-vis state power.

HIST 15300  Introduction to East Asian Civilization 3  (J. Jeon, Teaching Fellow)  This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. This is a three-quarter sequence on the civilizations of China, Japan, and Korea, with emphasis on major transformation in these cultures and societies from the Middle Ages to the present. Taking these courses in sequence is not required.

HIST 16900  Ancient Mediterranean World-3: Late Antique  (R. Payne)  Available as a three-quarter sequence (Autumn-Winter-Spring) or as a two-quarter sequence (Autumn-Winter or Winter-Spring). This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. The final course of the sequence surveys the social, political, and cultural history of the late antique Mediterranean from Constantine I to Charlemagne. Through close reading and discussion of primary sources, we will examine (among other topics) the rise and spread of Christianity and Islam, changing conceptions of Roman identity, and the inheritance of the classical world, as well as some implications of these topics for subsequent European history.