History of Material Culture

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 23812  Russia and the West, Eighteenth–Twenty-first Centuries  (E. Gilburd)  There are few problems as enduring and central to Russian history as the question of the West—Russia's most passionate romance and most bitter letdown. In this course we will read and think about Russia from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries through the lens of this obsession. We will study the products of Russian interactions with the West: constitutional projects, paintings, scientific and economic thought, the Westernizer-Slavophile controversy, and revolutions. We will consider the presence of European communities in Russia: German and British migrants who filled important niches in state service, trade, and scholarship; Italian sculptors and architects who designed some of Russia's most famous monuments; French expatriates in the wake of the French Revolution; Communist workers and intellectuals, refugees from Nazi Germany; and Western journalists who, in the late Soviet decades, trafficked illicit ideas, texts, and artworks. In the end, we will follow émigré Russians to Europe and the United States and return to present-day Russia to examine the anti-Western turn in its political and cultural discourse.

HIST 29527 The Spatial History of Nineteenth-Century Cities: Tokyo, London, New York  (S. Burns)  The late-nineteenth century saw the transformation of cities around the world as a result of urbanization, industrialization, migration, and the rise of public health. This course will take a spatial history approach; that is, we will explore the transformation of London, Tokyo, and New York over the course of the nineteenth century by focusing on the material "space" of the city. For example, where did new immigrants settle and why? Why were there higher rates of infectious disease in some areas than in others? How did new forms of public transportation shape the ability to move around the city, rendering some areas more central than others? To explore questions such as these, students will be introduced to ArcGIS in four lab sessions and asked to develop an original research project that integrates maps produced in Arc. No prior ArcGIS experience is necessary, although students will be expected to have familiarity with Microsoft Excel and a willingness to experiment with digital methods. Assignments: Discussion posts, homework (mapping), and a final research project.