Empires and Colonialism
HIST 10101 Introduction to African Civilization I (E. Osborn) African Civilization introduces students to African history in a three-quarter sequence. Part One considers literary, oral, and archeological sources to investigate African societies and states from the early Iron Age through the emergence of the Atlantic World. We will study the empires of Ghana and Mali, the Swahili Coast, Great Zimbabwe, and medieval Ethiopia. We will also explore the expansion of Islam, the origins and effects of European contact, and the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
HIST 11301 Global British Empire to 1784: War, Commerce, and Revolution (S. Pincus) This course traces the origins, development, and revolutionary transformation of the British Empire. Students will explore the English Civil War, King Philip's War, Bacon's Rebellion, the development of slavery, the Revolution of 1688, the making of British India, the rise of Irish discontent, the Scottish Jacobite Rebellions, the causes of the American Revolution, and the transformation of the British Empire into an authoritarian state. Students will read selections from Locke, Defoe, Swift, Franklin, Burke, and many others.
HIST 13500 America in World Civilization I 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. America in World Civilization I examines foundational texts and moments in American culture, society, and politics, from early European incursions into the New World through the early republic of the United States, roughly 1500-1800. We will examine encounters between Native Americans and representatives of imperial powers (Spain, France, and England) as well as the rise of African slavery in North America before 1700. We will consider the development of Anglo-American society and government in the eighteenth century, focusing especially on the causes and consequences of the American Revolution.
HIST 13802 The Russian Empire (F. Hillis) Empire is back in contemporary Russia. Old imperial insignia have replaced hammers and sickles on government buildings, the bodies of the last tsar and his family have been exhumed and venerated, and Putin's foreign policy stakes imperial claims on the nations on Russia's border. This course examines what the Russian empire was, how it worked, and the legacies that it left behind. Themes to be considered include the culture of the autocracy and the tradition of reform from above; imperial expansion and multiethnic society; the construction of class, ethnic, and estate identities; and the causes and consequences of the Old Regime's collapse. First-year students warmly welcomed; no prior Russian history, culture, or language assumed.
HIST 13900 Introduction to Russian Civilization I (E. Gilburd & W. Nickells) This two-quarter sequence, which meets the general education requirement in civilization studies, provides an interdisciplinary introduction to Russian civilization. The first quarter covers the ninth century to the 1870s; the second quarter continues on through the post-Soviet period. Working closely with a variety of primary sources—from oral legends to film and music, from political treatises to literary masterpieces—we will track the evolution of Russian civilization over the centuries and through radically different political regimes. Topics to be discussed include the influence of Byzantine, Mongol-Tataric, and Western culture in Russian civilization; forces of change and continuity in political, intellectual and cultural life; the relationship between center and periphery; systems of social and political legitimization; and symbols and practices of collective identity.
HIST 15100 Introduction to East Asian Civilization I (G. Alitto) 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 20902 Empires and Peoples: Ethnicity in Late Antiquity (R. Payne) Late antiquity witnessed an unprecedented proliferation of peoples in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Vandals, Arabs, Goths, Huns, Franks, and Iranians, among numerous others, took shape as political communities within the Roman and Iranian empires or along their peripheries. Recent scholarship has undone the traditional image of these groups as previously undocumented communities of "barbarians" entering history. Ethnic communities emerge from the literature as political constructions dependent on the very malleability of identities, on specific acts of textual and artistic production, on particular religious traditions, and, not least, on the imperial or postimperial regimes sustaining their claims to sovereignty. The colloquium will debate the origin, nature, and roles of ethno-political identities and communities comparatively across West Asia, from the Western Mediterranean to the Eurasian steppes, on the basis of recent contributions. As a historiographical colloquium, the course will address the contemporary cultural and political concerns—especially nationalism—that have often shaped historical accounts of ethnogenesis in the period as well as bio-historical approaches—such as genetic history—that sometimes sit uneasily with the recent advances of historians.
HIST 23400 Sex in Twentieth-Century Europe (M. Appeltová, Teaching Fellow) This course will examine the "syncopated" history of sexuality across this tumultuous century. The period took Europeans from bourgeois norms of sexuality through the 1960s sexual revolution to same-sex marriages; genocide and the emergence of rape as a war crime; and the unprecedented regulation of sexuality and biomedical developments treating infertility. Since the history of sex and sexuality in Europe cannot be thought outside of European colonialism and the Cold War, the course will also examine how sexuality shaped and was shaped by political ideologies. In short, by examining the centrality of "who can have sex with whom," students will rethink "standard" political narratives of twentieth-century Europe. Working with Dagmar Herzog's Sexuality in Europe: A Twentieth-Century History, the main text of the course, and drawing on a variety of primary sources—including law and medical treatises, popular culture, and autobiographies—students will also gain an insight into the ways in which sexuality can be studied beyond archival sources.
HIST 24513 Documentary Chinese (G. Alitto) This course guides students through critical readings of primary historical documents from approximately 1800 through 1950. These documents are translated sentence by sentence, and then historiographically analyzed. Most of these documents are from the nineteenth century. Genres include public imperial edicts, secret imperial edicts, secret memorials to the throne from officials, official reports to superiors and from superiors, funereal essays, depositions ("confessions"), local gazetteers (fangzhi), newspapers, and periodicals. To provide an introduction to these genres, the first six weeks of the course will use the Fairbank and Kuhn textbook The Rebellion of Chung Jen-chieh (Harvard-Yanjing Institute). The textbook provides ten different genres of document with vocabulary glosses and grammatical explanations; all documents relate to an 1841–42 rebellion in Hubei province. Assignments: each week prior to class students electronically submit a written translation of the document or documents to be read; a day after the class they electronically submit a corrected translation of the document or documents read. A fifteen-page term paper based on original sources in documentary Chinese is also required.
HIST 24612 Chinese Frontier History, circa 1600–Present (K. Pomeranz) A study of frontier regions, migration, and border policies in Qing (1644–1912) and twentieth-century China, focusing on selected case studies. Cases will include both actual border regions (where the Qing/China was adjacent to some other polity it recognized), ethnically diverse internal frontiers, and places where migrants moved into previously uninhabited regions (e.g., high mountains). Topics include the political economy and geopolitics of migration and frontier regions, the formation of ethnic and national identities in frontier contexts, borderland society (e.g., marriage, social stratification, and social mobility), and the environmental effects of migration. Assignments for undergraduates are two short papers, a midterm (which can be waived under certain circumstances), a final, and class participation; requirements for graduate students are negotiable, but will include roughly twenty pages of writing (and no in-class exams).
HIST 26810 A Global History of South Asia: Migration in the Age of Empire (Z. Leonard, Teaching Fellow) Departing from narratives that privilege the rise of a static, territorially bounded, Indian nation-state, this course will examine modern South Asian history (roughly 1600 to present) through the lens of migration and trans-regional encounters. Analyzing shifting perceptions of "the global" as a spatial concept, we will study labor flows in the Indian Ocean, the colonial state's myriad efforts to circumscribe the movement of its subjects, and population transfers between various colonial sites. Entering the later nineteenth century, we will chart the influence of migration, both historical and contemporary, on nationalist thought; we will also discuss the issues posed by the international circulation of political dissenters. Finally, we will engage with fictional representations of the Partition of India and accounts of the social tensions stemming from South Asian immigration into Britain proper. Featuring moral reform literature, petitions, family histories, and anti-colonial tracts, this course will equip students with the skills to interrogate a range of primary sources and familiarize them with recent trends in global and colonial history.