European & Russian History
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 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 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.
HIST 16603 Rome: The Eternal City (M. Andrews) The city of Rome was central to European culture in terms both of its material reality and the models of political and sacred authority that it provided. Students in this course will receive an introduction to the archaeology and history of the city from the Iron Age to the early medieval period (ca. 850 BCE–850 CE) and an overview of the range of different intellectual and scientific approaches by which scholars have engaged with the city and its legacy. Students will encounter a broad range of sources, both textual and material, from each period that show how the city physically developed and transformed within shifting historical and cultural contexts. We will consider how various social and power dynamics contributed to the formation and use of Rome's urban space, including how neighborhoods and residential space developed beyond the city's more famous monumental areas. Our main theme will be how Rome in any period was, and still is, a product of both its present and past and how its human and material legacies were constantly shaping and reshaping the city's use and space in later periods.
HIST 20404 Troy and Its Legacy (M. Andrews) This course will explore the Trojan War through the archaeology, art, and mythology of the Greeks and Romans, as well as through the popular imaginings of it in later cultures. The first half will focus on the actual events of the "Trojan War" at the end of the second millennium BCE. We will study the site of Troy, the cities of the opposing Greeks, and the evidence for contact, cooperation, and conflict between the Greeks and Trojans. Students will be introduced to the history of archaeology and the development of archaeological fieldwork. The second half will trace how the narrative and mythology of Homer's Iliad and the Trojan War were adapted and used by later civilizations, from classical Greece to twenty-first-century America, to justify their rises to political and cultural hegemony in the Mediterranean and the West, respectively.
HIST 22611 Paris from Les Misérables to the Liberation, c. 1830–1950 (Colin Jones, Professor of History, Queen Mary University of London) Starting with the grim and dysfunctional city described in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, the course will examine the history of Paris over the period in which it became viewed as the city par excellence of urban modernity through to the testing times of Nazi occupation and then liberation (c. 1830–1950). As well as focussing on architecture and the built environment, we will examine the political, social, and especially cultural history of the city. A particular feature of the course will be representations of the city—literary (Victor Hugo, Baudelaire, Zola, etc.) and artistic (impressionism and postimpressionism, cubism, surrealism). We will also examine the city's own view of itself through the prism of successive world fairs (expositions universelles).
HIST 23006 Looting in Modern European History (A. Goff) At the end of the eighteenth century Europeans recognized the seizure of enemy property to be a time-honored practice of warfare and subjugation. At the same time, however, new ideas about human rights, cultural heritage, and international law began to reshape the place of looting in the exercise of power. This course will take up the history of looting in European cultural and political life from the late eighteenth through the twentieth centuries as a tool of nationalism, imperialism, totalitarianism, and scholarship. How was looting defined, who defined it, and what kinds of ethical and legal codes governed its use? How was the seizure of personal property, cultural artifacts, and sacred objects legitimized by its practitioners and experienced by its victims? In what ways did looting change the meaning of objects and why? How do we understand looting in relationship to other forms of violence and destruction in the modern period? While the focus of the course will be on Europe, we will necessarily be concerned with a global frame as we follow cases of looting in colonial contexts, through migration, exploration, and during war. Course materials will including primary texts, images, objects, and historical accounts. Students will be required to write a final historiographical essay.
HIST 25217 Decolonizing Science (J. Niermeier-Dohoney, Teaching Fellow) What does science look like from the perspective of colonized, indigenous, or otherwise marginalized people? How has science been used to justify domination during the age of imperialism? Can science and technology ever be morally neutral? How universal is science? What ways of knowing have existed in the past that provided systematic explanations for natural phenomena? This course will ask these and other questions about the global practice of the sciences from prehistory to the present and, when possible, view the sciences from the perspective of non-Western people. We will examine both the contributions of non-Western cultures to modern science as well the use of the sciences by Western powers as tools of colonization. We will also examine the methodological, epistemological, and ontological assumptions made by modern science and attempt to tease out some of their more problematic aspects. Topics may include the development of Islamic, Chinese, and Indian sciences; pre-Columbian mathematics and botany; indigenous cosmologies and astronomy; practical knowledge (e.g., Papuan taxonomic systems, Polynesian navigational astronomy, and West African botanical medicine); the use of science as a tool of subjugation or resistance; the racialization of medicine; phrenology, eugenics, and social Darwinism; indigenous resistance to nuclear weapons, fossil fuel companies, agribusiness, and climate change.
HIST 25613 Saints and Sinners in Late Antiquity (R. Payne) Between the third and seventh centuries, Christian communities came to flourish throughout the Middle East and neighboring regions in the Roman and Iranian empires as well as the kingdoms of the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Ethiopia. This course will examine the development of Christian institutions and ideologies in relation to the distinctive social structures, political cultures, economies, and environments of the Middle East, with a focus on the Fertile Crescent. The makers of Middle Eastern Christianities were both saints and sinners. Holy men and women, monks, and sometimes bishops withdrew from what they often called "the world" with the intention of reshaping society through prayer, asceticism, and writing; some also intervened directly in social, political, and economic relations. The work of these saints depended on the cooperation of aristocrats, merchants, and rulers who established enduring worldly institutions. To explore the dialectical relationship between saints and sinners, we will read lives of saints in various Middle Eastern languages in translation.
HIST 26416 History of Iberian and Ibero-American Ideas (M. Tenorio) The course explores the intellectual history, the big ideas, that have concerned the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking worlds from the early nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. Each week we study an idea (such as nación, pueblo, saudade, mestizaje, chingada) as an axis of analysis of variegated tendencies.
HIST 29421 Politics of Commemoration (L. Auslander) Most of the time we pass in front of the statues, commemorative museums, monuments, and flags that inhabit our cities without noticing them. In recent years, however, they (along with pre-college history curricula) have become controversial across the globe. This course addresses those controversies primarily in Europe and the United States, but also in Latin America, West Africa, and South Africa. Through a series of case studies we will analyze the conditions of the creation of statues, monuments, and museums. Who conceptualized them and lobbied for their creation? Who paid for them? For whom were they originally intended? What message did they convey? What happened over time? How did their message change? Did they provoke controversy at the moment of their planning or inauguration or later and, if so, from whom? Equal attention will be paid to scholars' efforts to address the question of what these commemorative works actually do. If they really become unnoticeable, then why does the threat of their removal so often spark such intense controversy? Assignments: Active participation in class, one secondary text analysis, one analysis of a controversy, and one proposal for a monument, museum, or school curriculum.
HIST 29632 The CIA and American Democracy (B. Cumings) This colloquium will examine all aspects of American intelligence and its influence on history, politics, society, and academe since the inception of the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. Particular attention will be paid to how intelligence is gathered and interpreted, intelligence failures and why they happened, the close association between top Ivy League universities and origins of US intelligence, the penetration of the early Central Intelligence Agency by British individuals spying for the Soviets, the wide influence of the CIA in the 1950s and 1960s on major aspects of American life, the crisis of US intelligence in the late 1960s and through the 1970s, the revival of intelligence vigor in the 1980s, and the uses and misuses of intelligence in the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Assignments: Six or seven books during the course of the colloquium, a few films outside of class time, a paper of roughly fifteen pages in the seventh week of the term, and a final exam, which mixes essay questions with questions on the reading. Outstanding participation in colloquium will merit an increment in the final grade, which otherwise will be determined equally by the outside paper and final exam.
HIST 29656 Urban Histories: Experiencing, Using, and Representing the City (L. Auslander) This course will provide an analysis of the changing forms, meanings, and representations of urban life in Europe from the medieval period to the present. To that end, each session will pair secondary readings with a wide range of primary sources, including maps, municipal and legal records, newspapers, novels, prints, songs, paintings, films, planning treatises, tourist guides, memoirs, architectural drawings, photographs, and advertisements. We will address the histories of building, zoning, transportation, planning, ghettoization, segregation, and gentrification. We will consider cities as destinations for migrants, refugees, pilgrims, and tourists, as well as sites of political, social and cultural experimentation, unrest and upheaval. At the end of the term, you will have learned how cities have been shaped by their role as centers of economic, political, and cultural life, as well as how those who inhabit them have sometimes been able to use urban space to their own ends. This will be a small discussion-based course in which each student will write a fifteen-page research paper. Our work with primary sources will provide the tools you need to pursue your research project, while our close readings of both classic and experimental historiography will assure that your final paper contributes to an ongoing scholarly conversation. The material will be drawn from (imperial) Europe, but students interested in urbanism in all parts of the world are very welcome.
HIST 29902 Tolkien: Medieval and Modern (R. Fulton Brown) J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings is one of the most popular works of imaginative literature of the twentieth century. This course seeks to understand its appeal by situating Tolkien's creation within the context of Tolkien's own work as both artist and scholar and alongside its medieval sources and modern parallels. Themes to be addressed include the problem of genre and the uses of tradition; the nature of history and its relationship to place; the activity of creation and its relationship to language, beauty, evil, and power; the role of monsters in imagination and criticism; the twinned challenges of death and immortality, fate and free will; and the interaction between the world of "faerie" and religious belief.
HIST 42302 Colloquium: Medieval Studies (J. Lyon) Since its beginnings as an academic field, medieval studies has been resolutely interdisciplinary. Scholars who conduct research on the Middle Ages routinely combine methods and theories drawn from a variety of disciplines, including history, art history, languages and literatures, music, and theology—to name only a few. This course will introduce graduate students to both classic historiography and important recent work in medieval studies. We will read scholarship that employs foundational methods in the field, including paleography and manuscript studies, as well as work inspired by more recent theoretical approaches.
HIST 49502 Colloquium: Colonialism, Globalization, and Postcolonialism (R. Austen) This course deals with European overseas expansion from the fifteenth through nineteenth centuries, the emergence from this process of new colonial territories inhabited by non-Europeans, and the fate of these territories as "postcolonies" in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century global order. The analytic goal is to integrate politics (the formation of colonial regimes and successor nation-states); economics (the dialectics of global capitalism, European overseas expansion, and varieties of development and underdevelopment), and culture (the construction of European and Third World identities via colonialism). The lectures and assigned readings will privilege "northern" Europe (as opposed to Iberia) but will include France. We will focus upon tropical Africa, the British and French Caribbean, and South Asia, but students are welcome to challenge or extend this definition of the topic. I will normally lecture on Wednesdays, and we will normally discuss the readings on Fridays. Assignments: Two short (3–5 pp) critical papers on specialized readings and one longer final essay (10–12 pp) discussing an approved, self-selected topic. The analysis of these readings must take into account the relevant general material in the course. Students may select a take-home final exam based on the required readings as an alternative to the longer paper.