Open to first- and second-year students who are interested in history. These small courses address big themes, introduce newer literature, and teach writing skills for history classes at the college level.
HIST 15000 Science and the State (E. Kern) "The end of knowledge is power," wrote the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes in 1665. This introductory seminar looks at the intertwining historical relationships between states and the making of scientific knowledge and global political power from the eighteenth century to the present day. In this seminar, we will look at how past societies have wrestled with questions like the place of scientific expertise in different systems of government; the dynamics of state vs. private support for scientific research; and the coproduction of state power and scientific knowledge. Assignments: two short papers and one final paper.
HIST 15504 Bad Taste—Cultivation and Modern Society from Kitsch to Camp (A. Goff) "To understand bad taste one must have very good taste," the filmmaker and "Pope of Trash" John Waters wrote in 1981. This course will put this claim to the test in a journey through the material, cultural, and intellectual history of bad taste and its pillar concepts, such as schlock, kitsch, and camp, from the mid-eighteenth century through the present day. Our focus will be primarily on Europe, where shifting notions of bad taste powerfully shaped the modern social order, both underwriting and undermining categories of race, gender, class, sexuality, and religion. Readings will be drawn from primary and secondary sources from the history of art, aesthetics, sociology, political theory, media studies, and the history of the senses. How was taste connected to morality in European society? What did it reveal about individual and collective identities, and about people’s understanding of their position in the world? How did the emergence of consumer culture, empire, urbanization, or technology influence normative standards of taste? How was bad taste mobilized in order to resist or uphold these standards? In answering these questions, we will be concerned not only with theories of bad taste, but also with its material cultural manifestations, using everything from fashion to food to visual art to music to become ourselves connoisseurs of this historically potent genre. Assignments: one short paper, one long paper, and short alternative assignments.
History majors take at least one history colloquium, though you are welcome to take more than one. Students interested in pursuing the thesis or capstone track should take a colloquium prior to Spring Quarter of their third year.
HIST 29685 Asian/Pacific Islander American History, 1850–2021 (M. Briones) Looking through a broad interdisciplinary lens, this course will examine the trajectory of Asians and Pacific Islanders in America. How did nineteenth- and early twentieth-century "sojourners" become "citizens"? What constituted the public's shift in perception of Asians from unassimilable alien to ostensible "model minority"? We will interrogate not only what it means to have been and to be an Asian in America but also what role APIAs have played in striving for a multiracial democracy. The history of anti-Asian violence will be traced from the mid-nineteenth century to the most recent hate crimes in the age of COVID. Conscious of the tendency to homogenize all Asians in the historical imagination, the course will be explicitly comparative, incorporating the diverse and disparate experiences of East, Southeast, and South Asians, as well as Pacific Islanders in America over time. We will, also, at times, investigate the histories of other ethnic/racial groups and compare their experiences to the Asian American experience.
HIST 29801 BA Thesis Seminar I (A. Hofmann, H. Kim, R. Kimmey, and A. Jania) History students in the research track are required to take HIST 29801–29802. BA Thesis Seminar I provides a systematic introduction to historical methodology and approaches (e.g., political, intellectual, social, cultural, economic, gender, environmental history), as well as research techniques. It culminates in students' submission of a robust BA thesis proposal that will be critiqued in class. Guidance will also be provided for applications for research funding.
HIST 29803 Historiography (P. O’Donnell) The course provides a systematic introduction to historical methodology and approaches (e.g., political, intellectual, social, cultural, economic, gender, environmental history), as well as research techniques. Students will gain analytical, research, and writing tools that will assist them in their research colloquia and their BA theses.
NEHC 10101/HIST 15801 Introduction to the Middle East This course aims to facilitate a general understanding of some key factors that have shaped life in this region, with primary emphasis on modern conditions and their background, and to provide exposure to some of the region's rich cultural diversity. This course can serve as a basis for the further study of the history, politics, and civilizations of the Middle East. Prior knowledge of the Middle East not required.
HIST 10103 Introduction to African Civilization III (K. Takabvirwa) Part three uses anthropological perspectives to investigate colonial and postcolonial encounters in sub-Saharan Africa, with a particular focus on Southern Africa. The course is centered on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It begins with an examination of colonialism, the institutionalization of racism, and dispossession before examining anti-colonialism and the postcolonial period. The class draws on scholarship on and by African writers: from poets to novelists, ethnographers, playwrights, historians, politicians, political theorists, and social critics. Over the course of the quarter, students will learn about forms of personhood, subjectivity, gender, sexuality, kinship practices, governance, migration, and the politics of difference.
HIST 10600 Power and Resistance in the Black Atlantic (M. Hicks) Beginning with the arrival of European explorers on the West African coast in the fifteenth century and culminating with the stunning success of radical abolitionist movements across the Americas in the nineteenth century, the formation of the Black Atlantic irrevocably reshaped the modern world. This class will examine large-scale historical processes, including the transatlantic slave trade, the development of plantation economies, and the birth of liberal democracy. Next, we will explore the lives of individual Africans and their American descendants, the communities they built, and the cultures they created. We will consider the diversity of the Black Atlantic by examining the lives of a broad array of individuals, including black intellectuals, statesmen, soldiers, religious leaders, healers, and rebels. We will examine African diasporic subjects as creative rather than reactive historical agents and their unique contributions to Atlantic cultures, societies, and ideas. Within this geographically and temporally expansive history students will explore a key set of animating questions: What is the Black Atlantic? How can we understand both the commonalities and diversity of the experiences of Africans in the Diaspora? What kinds of communities, affinities, and identities did Africans create after being uprooted by the slave trade? What methods do scholars use to understand this history? And finally, what is the historical and political legacy of the Black Atlantic? Assignments: short and long papers.
HIST 12203 Italian Renaissance: Petrarch, Machiavelli, and the Wars of Popes and Kings (A. Palmer) Florence, Rome, and the Italian city-states in the age of plagues and cathedrals, Petrarch and Machiavelli, Medici and Borgia (1250–1600), with a focus on literature, philosophy, primary sources, the revival of antiquity, and the papacy's entanglement with pan-European politics. We will examine humanism, patronage, politics, corruption, assassination, feuds, art, music, magic, censorship, education, science, heresy, and the roots of the Reformation. Writing assignments focus on higher level writing skills, with a creative writing component linked to our in-class role-played reenactment of a Renaissance papal election (LARP). First-year students and non-History majors welcome. Assignments: short papers, alternative projects.
HIST 13002 History of European Civilization II 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. Spring 22 topic: Max Weber famously argued that the rise of capitalism coincided with "the disenchantment of world": God and magic gave way to the rule of technical prowess and impersonal forces. Starting where Weber did—the Protestant Reformation—and ending with the onset of the secularism in the Enlightenment, this class will serve as an extended critique of Weber's narrative. We will consider how, in the century after the Reformation, social dislocations wrought by commerce, confessionalism, and the rise of the state led to the intensification of magical thinking (witchcraft, alchemy, folk cosmologies); how European imperial expansion around the world generated fables of cornucopian abundance and the fetish of consumer goods; and how the emergent categories of Enlightenment thought (society, economy, nation) were informed by theological assumptions. The anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss defined magic as "the humanization of the universe"; by looking at documents from its gradual emergence in early modern Europe, this class asks: how was capitalism different?
HIST 13003 History of European Civilization III 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. Spring 23 topic: TBD.
HIST 13300 History of Western Civilization III (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 III The American Civ sequence examines 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 (E. Giburd The third quarter of Russian Civilization is a new (2020) addition to the curriculum. When taken following Introduction to Russian Civilization I and II, Introduction to Russian Civilization III meets the general education requirement in Humanities, Civilization Studies, and the Arts. The course is thematic and will vary from year to year. The course is thematic and will vary from year to year. Spring 23 theme: 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 15411 East Asian Civilization I, Ancient Period–1600 (S. Burns & K. Pomeranz) This course examines the politics, society, and culture of East Asia from ancient times until c. 1600. Our focus will be on examining key historical moments and intellectual, social, and cultural trends with an emphasis on the region as a whole. Students will read and discuss culturally significant texts and be introduced to various approaches to analyzing them. HIST 15100-15200-15411 is an approved three-course sequence to fulfill the Core Civ requirement. HIST 15100–15200, HIST 15100-15411, or HIST 15200-15411 is an approved two-course sequence.
LACS 16300/HIST 16103 Introduction to Latin American Civilization 3 (D. Borges) Taking these courses in sequence is not required. This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. This sequence is offered every year. This course introduces the history and cultures of Latin America (e.g., Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean Islands). The third quarter focuses on the twentieth century, with special emphasis on economic development and its political, social, and cultural consequences.
HIST 16900 Ancient Mediterranean World III: Late Antique (T. 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. Part III examines late antiquity, a period of paradox. The later Roman emperors established the most intensive, pervasive state structures of the ancient Mediterranean, yet yielded their northern and western territories to Goths, Huns, Vandals, and, ultimately, their Middle Eastern core to the Arab Muslims. Imperial Christianity united the populations of the Roman Mediterranean in the service of one God, but simultaneously divided them into competing sectarian factions. A novel culture of Christian asceticism coexisted with the consolidation of an aristocratic ruling class notable for its insatiable appetite for gold. The course will address these apparent contradictions while charting the profound transformations of the cultures, societies, economies, and political orders of the Mediterranean from the conversion of Constantine to the rise of Islam.
HIST 17809 The United States since 1920 (J. Dailey) This is a thematic lecture course on the past one hundred years of US history. The main focus of the lectures will be politics, broadly defined. The readings consist of novels and nonfiction writing, with a scattering of primary sources. Assignments: two short papers and a podcast
HIPS 18506/HIST 175116 Science, Culture, and Society in Western Civilization III: SUBTITLE TBD (Z. Barr) Description TBD.
NEHC 20013/HIST 15604 Ancient Empires III The ancient Egyptians were able to establish a vast empire and become one of the key regional powers for most of the duration of the New Kingdom (1550–1069 BCE). This course investigates the development of Egyptian foreign policies and military expansion that affected parts of the Near East and Nubia. We will examine and discuss ideology, imperial identity, political struggle, motivation for conquest and control of wider regions surrounding the Egyptian state, and the relationship with other powers and their perspectives on Egyptian rulers as, for example, described in the Amarna letters.
SALC 20200/HIST 10900 Introduction to the Civilizations of South Asia II (D. Chakrabarty) This sequence introduces core themes in the formation of culture and society in South Asia from the early modern period until the present. This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. These courses must be taken in sequence. The second quarter analyzes the colonial period (i.e., reform movements, the rise of nationalism, communalism, caste, and other identity movements) up to the independence and partition of India.
NEHC 20203/HIST 15613 Islamicate Civilization III, 1750–Present This course focuses on Western military, economic, and ideological encroachment; the impact of such ideas as nationalism and liberalism; efforts at reform in the Islamic states; the emergence of the "modern" Middle East after World War I; the struggle for liberation from Western colonial and imperial control; the Middle Eastern states in the Cold War era; and local and regional conflicts.
NEHC 20603/HIST 25616 Islamic Thought and Literature III This course covers the period from ca. 1700 to the present. It explores Muslim intellectuals' engagement with tradition and modernity in the realms of religion, politics, literature, and law. We discuss debates concerning the role of religion in a modern society, perceptions of Europe and European influence, the challenges of maintaining religious and cultural authenticity, and Muslim views of nation-states and nationalism in the Middle East. We also give consideration to the modern developments of transnational jihadism and the Arab Spring. This course sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies.
NEHC 20840/HIST 25901 Radical Islamic Pieties, 1200–1600 (C. Fleischer) This course examines responses to the Mongol destruction of the Abbasid caliphate in 1258 and the background to formation of regional Muslim empires. Topics include the opening of confessional boundaries; Ibn Arabi, Ibn Taymiyya, and Ibn Khaldun; the development of alternative spiritualities, mysticism, and messianism in the fifteenth century; and transconfessionalism, antinomianism, and the articulation of sacral sovereignties in the sixteenth century. All work in English; some knowledge of primary languages (i.e., Arabic, French, German, Greek, Latin, Persian, Spanish, Turkish) helpful.
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.
CLCV 21222/HIST 20602 Democratic Failure in Greece and Rome (C. Ando) The course will study processes of democratic erosion and collapse in classical Athens and republican Rome. Assignments: in-class presentations and a long paper.
HIST 22124 Church and State in Medieval and Early Modern Political Thought (S. Waldorf) The question of the relationship of church and state is one of the central themes in the history of European political thought. In this course, we will examine theories of the relationship between Gelasius's "two swords"—the temporal and spiritual powers—in the medieval and early modern periods. Do church and state have distinct spheres of authority, and if so, where are the boundaries between them? Does the state depend on religion for its legitimacy? Is the church ultimately subject to state control, as with other civic associations? We will consider such questions as they arise in the writings of thinkers including Aquinas, Marsilius of Padua, Suárez, Bellarmine, and Hobbes, focusing on how they understand the relation of religion to political authority and how their understandings were shaped by historical events such as medieval conflicts between pope and emperor and the Protestant Reformation.
HIST 23006 Looting, Plunder, and the Making of Modern Europe (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. Assignments: one short paper, one long paper, short alternative assignments, and an in-class presentation.
HIST 23502 Germany and the Habsburg Empire, 1870–1914/1918 (J. Boyer) The purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to major themes in the political, social, and international history of Germany and of the Hapsburg Empire from 1870 until 1914/1918. The course considers both the history of Prussia and of kleindeutsch Germany and the history of the Austrian lands. A primary concern of the course will be to identify and to elaborate key comparative developmental features common both to the German and the Habsburg experience and, at the same time, to understand the ways in which late Imperial German and Austrian history manifest distinctive patterns, based on different state and social traditions. The course involves a very significant program of reading, including many primary sources. Hence, students who opt to take the course should be prepared to devote a substantial amount of time to careful and thoughtful reading of the materials assigned. We will be considering many newer historiographical interventions and trends, but also many venerable older views and positions as well. Reading knowledge of German strongly recommended.
HIST 23520 Medieval Masculinity (A. Herlands & J. Lyon) This course will introduce students to concepts of masculinity in the Middle Ages, especially in the period between approximately 1000 and 1500 CE. Special attention will be paid to medieval notions of honor and to the roles that knighthood, chivalry, and monasticism played in promoting (often contradictory) masculine ideals. The course has two main goals. First, to assess and discuss recent scholarly debates and arguments about medieval masculinity. Second, to read closely a variety of medieval sources—including Arthurian literature, chronicles of the Crusades, biographical texts, and monastic histories—in order to develop new perspectives on masculinity during the Middle Ages. Assignments: short paper(s)/alternative projects.
HIST 23706 The Soviet Union (E. Gilburd) This lecture course surveys the making and unmaking of the Soviet Union as a society, culture, economy, superpower, and empire from 1917 to 1991. The Soviet Union began as an unprecedented radical experiment in remaking society and economy, ethnic and gender relations, personal identities, even human nature, but in the course of its history, it came to resemble other (capitalist) societies, sharing, in turn, their violence, welfare provisions, and consumerism. The story of this transformation—from being unique and exhilarating to being much like everyone else, only poorer and more drab—will be at the center of our exploration. The main themes of the course include social and cultural revolutions; ideology and the role of Marxism; political violence from the birth of the socialist state to the end of the Stalin terror; origins, practices, aesthetics, legacies, and critiques of Stalinism; law, dissent, and human rights; nationality policies and the role of ethnic minorities; the economy of shortages and the material culture it created; institutions of daily life (communal apartments, courtyards, peasant markets, dachas, and boiler rooms); socialist realism and the Soviet dreamworld. Assignments: weekly readings, document-based papers, and a final exam.
CRES 24003/HIST 18303 Colonizations III This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. These courses can be taken in any sequence. The third quarter considers the processes and consequences of decolonization both in the newly independent nations and the former colonial powers.
EALC 24256/HIST 24512 Everyday Maoism: Work, Daily Life, and Material Culture in Socialist China (J. Eyferth) The history of Maoist China is usually told as a sequence of political campaigns: land and marriage reform, nationalization of industry, anti-rightist campaign, Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution, etc. Yet for the majority of the Chinese population, the promise of socialism was as much about material improvements as it was about political change: a socialist revolution would bring about "two-storey brick houses, electric lights, and telephones" (loushang louxia, diandeng dianhua), new work regimes, and new consumption patterns. If we want to understand what socialism meant for different groups of people, we have to look at the "new objects" of socialist modernity, at changes in dress codes and apartment layouts, at electrification and city planning—or at the absence of such changes and the persistence of older patterns of material life under a new socialist veneer.
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. A reading knowledge of modern (Baihua) Chinese and some familiarity with classical Chinese (Wenyan) or Japanese Kanbun. Other students may take the course with permission from the instructor.
HIST 24908 Being Human: Histories of Paleoanthropology, Origins, and Deep Time (E. Kern) What does it mean to be "human," and how have different sciences been used at different points in time to answer that question? While the scientific discipline of paleoanthropology—the study of human evolution and the deep human past—only emerged at the start of the twentieth century, it grew out of both nineteeth-century investigations into mysterious stone tools and the fossils of strange prehistoric creatures and much older traditions about origins, creation, and the nature of human difference drawn from history, religious faith, and the mythological tradition. This seminar will explore the connected histories of paleoanthropology, prehistory, and the geosciences from the late eighteenth to the early twenty-first century, and consider how these sciences have been shaped by ideas about history, human nature, gender and race, and the earth itself. Assignments: two short papers and one long final research paper.
HIPS 25220/HIST 25120 Constructivism: A History (Z. Barr) Constructivism, the theory that human beings in some way make rather than uncover reality, is one of contemporary academia's great success stories, insofar as one can find avowed constructivists across a wide variety of seemingly unrelated disciplines. Like Darwinism and Freudianism before it, constructivism has also become firmly ensconced in the public imagination, as evidenced by the ubiquity of claims about the "social construction" of various phenomena across social media platforms. The aim of this course is not to offer judgment on the validity of such claims but to better understand what is at stake in them by examining their long and varied history in Western philosophy and science.
HIST 25308 Lab, Field, and Clinic: The History and Anthropology of Medicine and the Life Sciences (M. Rossi) In this course we will examine the ways in which different groups of people—in different times and places—have understood the nature of life and living things, bodies and bodily processes, and health and disease, among other notions. We will address these issues principally, though not exclusively, through the lens of the changing sets of methods and practices commonly recognizable as science and medicine. We will also pay close attention to the methods through which scholars in history and anthropology have written about these topics, and how current scientific and medical practice affect historical and anthropological studies of science and medicine.
HIST 26507 Brazil (D. Borges) This course will survey the history of Brazil, 1500–2023, with emphasis on the twentieth century. It will raise questions concerning slavery and forms of freedom, the consequences of rapid industrialization and urbanization, meanings of popular culture, and the implications of religious diversity and change. Assignments: short papers, midterm test, map quiz, in-class presentation, long paper.
RLST 28404/HIST 24108 Zen and Translation (J. Ketelaar, Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies, Divinity School) This course will be an examination of how Zen was initially interpreted, translated, and transmitted from the Sino-centric to the Anglophone world in the mid-twentieth century. In terms of their teachings and practices the Ch'an/Son/Zen (禅), Buddhist traditions in China, Korea, and Japan differed significantly in their respective cultural parameters even as they shared a Sino-centric body of textual materials. The translation of these shared materials into English occurred sporadically from as early as the late nineteenth century but was first systematically addressed in Kyoto from the 1960s. Ruth Fuller Sasaki created a Zen practice center and a translation atelier at the Ryosen-an (龍泉庵), a cloister within the Daitokuji (大徳寺) Zen Buddhist temple complex, and staffed it with both leading scholars of Buddhism in Japan and a new generation of Zen practitioners and writers from the West. The course focus will be the actual notes and draft translations of key Zen texts as worked on at the Ryosen-an and its team of Japan-based scholars and practitioners. Supplemental readings will contextualize these efforts more generally with the history of Zen in the West. Many of the original materials from these efforts are now held in the Special Collections of the Regenstein Library here at the University of Chicago.
RLST 29100/HIST 24113 "History of Religions" (J. Ketelaar, Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies, Divinity School) Edmund Buckley was one of the first recipients of the PhD from Chicago, with a dissertation titled Phallicism in Japan (University of Chicago Press, 1895). As a practitioner of the new "science of religions," Buckley carried out field work in Japan and collected hundreds of objects to supplement his historical and comparative research with copious examples of contemporary material culture. These talismans, ritual objects, amulets, maps and guides to Buddhist and Shinto pilgrimage sites, portable statues, shrines for traveling and the home, as well as numerous folk curios (such as phalli and kteis related to his research), were kept by the University of Chicago and, over the decades, were moved many times. They now, or much of them at any rate, reside within the Smart Museum of Art. They are uncatalogued, merely stored there, and are largely unknown. This course will be an examination of the discipline of religionswissenschaft as it was applied to Japan and the religious worlds therein. Buckley's work, and the remnants of his collection, will serve as a major resource. Moreover, close readings of the works of Anesaki Masaharu, Hori Ichiro, Joseph Kitagawa, Helen Hardacre, and others, will enhance our understanding of the history of this discipline as applied to the religious world of Japan.
HIST 29522 Europe's Intellectual Transformations, Renaissance through Enlightenment (A. Palmer) This course will consider the foundational transformations of Western thought from the end of the Middle Ages to the threshold of modernity. It will provide an overview of the three self-conscious and interlinked intellectual revolutions which reshaped early modern Europe: the Renaissance revival of antiquity, the "new philosophy" of the seventeenth century, and the light and dark faces of the Enlightenment. It will treat scholasticism, humanism, the scientific revolution, Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Voltaire, Diderot, and Sade. First-year students and non-History majors welcome. Assignments: short and long papers, alternative projects.
HIST 29538 Global Jewish History since the 1960s (K. Moss) Jewish history around the globe since the mid-century watershed of the Holocaust of European Jewries; the establishment of a Jewish nation-state and a majority-Jewish Israeli society marked by radically new forms of Jewish culture and profound divisions of identity, ideology, and inequity; the unmaking of Jewish life in the Middle East and North Africa; the unprecedentedly full integration of American Jews into the political, economic, and cultural life of a global power; the total assimilation but stigmatization of Soviet Jews, and the further entanglement of Jewish and Palestinian life after 1967. Examines Jewish political, cultural, religious, and intellectual life with a particular focus on the creation and then ongoing crisis of secular Jewishness in Israel, the complexities of full integration in a dynamic but deeply fissured United States, the evolution of the Israeli-Arab conflict, and the deepening of Israeli domination over Palestinian life, feminism and the transformation of Jewish communal life, resurgent traditionalist religiosity, and rising disagreements over Zionism, identity, politics, and the Jewish future roiling Jewish communities. Assignments: short and long papers, in-class presentations.
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. Students must have read The Lord of the Rings prior to first day of class. Friday discussion sections are optional. Assignments: Short and long papers.
Graduate Courses Open to Undergraduates by Consent
HIST 44802 Development of Modern Chinese History Field in the West, 1950–2010 (G. Alitto) Reading and discussion of classics of historical literature in modern Chinese history from 1950 through the present. Emphasis on how historiographical changes during this period are manifest in each work. Each week students read and discuss the assigned monograph and write a review essay emphasizing its relationship to its historical context. The final requirement is a term paper in which the student constructs an analytical history of the historical literature of the period.