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Fall 2015


American History

Hist. 75700- Aftermaths: World War, Postwar, Cold War
GC: M, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. David Nasaw
Hist. 75900- 20th Century African American History
GC: T, 6:30- 8:30 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Khalil Muhammad
Hist. 75500- The History of Capitalism
GC: T, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. James Oakes
Hist. 75400- Seminar on Public History
GC:  W, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Andrew Robertson

European History
Hist. 71200- Intellectual Politics of the French Revolution
GC: T, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Helena Rosenblatt

This course is an in-depth introduction to the French Revolution and the scholarly debates it has engendered. We will privilege political/cultural/intellectual perspectives, reading some of the most innovative and thought-provoking recent work on a number of topics, such as the causes of the Revolution and its radicalization; the nature and legacies of the revolutionary wars and Terror; the question of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s influence; and the Revolution’s performance in the areas of gender, race and nationalism. We will have occasion to focus on the Revolution's relationship with "modernity" and its various ideologies (liberalism, socialism, totalitarianism, feminism, etc.) Scholarship on the French Revolution will also be placed in historical and political context in an effort to answer the question: "what is at stake when scholars adopt certain methodologies and perspectives on the French Revolution?"
Hist. 72100- Dictatorship: The Career of a Concept from Robespierre to Lenin and Beyond
GC: M, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Richard Wolin

         In retrospect, the “great dictators” of the twentieth century – Lenin, Mussolini, Stalin, and Hitler – have become negative moral and political templates: paragons of political evil. Nor have dictatorship’s ills been confined to the European theatre. According to recent estimates, Chairman Mao was responsible for some 40 million deaths. His disciple, Pol Pot (aka, Saloth Sar or “Brother Number 1”) managed, in three short years, to do away with 15% of the Cambodia’s indigenous population.
         Yet, the contemporary moral aversion to dictatorial rule is the exception. Dictatorship was a hallowed Roman political institution in times of emergency, until its “abuse” by Sulla and Caesar. Philosophes like Voltaire and Diderot, who were otherwise champions of “toleration,” also favored the idea of “enlightened despotism.” The historical verdict on the Jacobin dictatorship is still out; to this day, there is a Paris metro station named after Robespierre, the “Incorruptible.” And as is well known, Marx recommended a transitional period of working class rule he denominated the “dictatorship of the proletariat.” Marx’s Russian disciples, Lenin and Stalin, took this prescription all-too literally. Dictatorship became the cornerstone of Bolshevik rule from October 1917 until Stalin’s death in 1953. (Alluding to Kant, the philosopher Ernst Bloch famously described the Bolshevik Revolution as “The Categorical Imperative with revolver in hand.”)
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Hist. 70900- Science and Religion in Renaissance and Early Modern Europe
GC: R, 6:30- 8:30 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Allison Kavey

The period between 1450 and 1700 in Europe is remarkable for its shifts in theological and natural philosophical thought.‎ This seminar will focus on those shifts in their larger cultural context and help produce multiple narratives for framing them and the period.

Hist. 70400- Bastards, Kingship, and Kinship in Medieval Europe
GC: W, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Sara McDougall

This course will investigate ideas of illegitimate birth in medieval Europe and particularly their role in dynastic succession.  Throughout the Middle Ages some children were classified as less worthy than others: less worthy to inherit royal or noble title, and less worthy to inherit property more generally. This class will critically examine the history of when people in medieval Europe began to identify other people as "bastards," what they meant when they did so, and when calling a child a bastard meant his or her exclusion from succession or an inheritance. We will make use of a wide range of primary sources available in the original and in translation, sources including chronicles, legal texts, theological writings, vernacular literature, and images.  

Hist. 72800- The Medium of Culture
GC: T, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Dagmar Herzog

This class is an experiment in educating ourselves about important recent developments in theoretically informed writing in history and allied disciplines, focused on puzzles of causation, interpretation, and uses of evidence. The five core topics we will explore, historically and conceptually (knowledge, faith, desire, violence, madness) are ones which have strong resonance in our present, even as assumptions about their meanings and functions have changed dramatically across eras and locations. All five challenge us to think more critically and carefully about the relations between individuals’ values and behaviors and social structures and polities – and the role of culture in mediating all of these. Because of its special expertise in theorizing culture, the discipline from which we will borrow the most is anthropology. But we will also read many historians, as well as philosophers, sociologists, literary critics, and journalists. One goal will be for you to acquire competence in reading a great variety of theoretically informed work, but another will be to understand the practical usefulness of this variety of cultural theory for the diverse historical research projects you are yourselves engaged in. Critical thinking about gender and sexuality will be integrated throughout.

Requirements include: thorough reading of the assigned materials, two critical questions about each assigned text sent to instructor and classmates in advance of class every time, thoughtful and active participation in class discussions, two short summary analyses of weekly readings also sent to instructor and classmates in advance of class (we will divide up the reading list on the first day), and one longer final paper exploring the relevance of and putting to use some aspect(s) of cultural theory for your own work. 

Hist. 72110- Histories of Madness in the Modern Era
GC: W, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Andreas Killen

Middle East History
Hist. 77950- Middle East Literature of 19th century
GC: M, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Samira Haj
Hist. 78110- The Iranian Revolution in Comparative Perspective
GC: W, 6:30- 8:30 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Ervand Abrahamian

The course will explore the diverse theoretical approaches that ave been used to explain the 1979 revolution in  Iran. The main approaches to be  examined will be the Cultural, Weberian, Durkheimian, Behavioral, Intellectual,  Feminist, Discourse, Tillian, Structural, and Marxist. 
Latin American History
Hist. 77300- Afro-Latin America: Social Science & the Politics of Knowledge Production
GC: R, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Herman Bennett
Hist. 76900- Nation-Building in Latin America: The Andean Republics in Comparative Perspective
GC:  R, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. José Rénique
Hist. 76910- Comparative Caribbean History
GC: M, 6:30- 8:30 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Teresita Levy

Research and Writing Seminars
Hist. 80010- Literature of American History l
GC:  R, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 5 credits, Prof. David Waldstreicher

This course introduces Ph.D. students to the historiography of the U.S. through the Civil War and is intended to prepare students for the First Written Examination. We will consider classic debates and texts as well as representative studies and classics in the making in a variety of subfields while each seminar member prepares a historiographical essay and presentation to be shared with the group on a specific topic of their choice.  One of our primary concerns will be periodization. To what extent should the colonial period be considered a prologue to U.S. history? And on the other side of the nationhood divide, are there analyses that suggest a coherence or continuity to U.S. history beyond the peculiarities of the early republic or Civil War periods? What is the status of the Revolution and the Civil War, and the political history that drives or used to drive the narrative of U.S. history, amid transformations that might otherwise be seen as social, cultural, economic? Are there explanations that that cut across centuries, or stories that hold up in our time?  What are the most important achievements of recent US historians, and what are the trends in the field now?
Hist. 84900- Seminar in American History l
GC:  W, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 5 credits, Prof. Thomas Kessner

This seminar is designed to train incoming graduate students in the craft of historical research and writing. Over the course of the term, each student will formulate a research topic, prepare a bibliography of relevant primary and secondary sources, write an historiographic essay, and present and defend a formal project proposal for the substantial research paper that is to be completed in the second semester seminar. Weekly meetings will discuss common readings, share and critique written work, and develop and refine the research proposals.  We will also be devoting some time to methods and issues involved in undergraduate teaching.
Students will focus primarily on framing a topic and honing a well defined, focused and reasonable research proposal for their papers. The purpose of the collateral assignments is to help push this process forward.
Students are advised to give some thought to possible research projects before classes begin this way they can make some early efforts at sampling secondary materials and investigating the availability of sources.
Hist. 80020- Literature of European History l
GC:  R, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 5 credits, Prof. Sarah Covington
Hist. 80900- Seminar in European and non-American History l
GC: M, 6:30- 8:30 p.m., 5 credits, Prof. Timothy Alborn

This course seminar will provide an introduction to the nuts and bolts of historical research as well as an introduction to several electronic databases and to the New York Public Library, and a behind-the-scenes look at submitting an article for publication. In the context of this seminar students will be expected to formulate their own research paper topics and produce a paper prospectus, which they will have the opportunity to present to their peers for feedback and constructive criticism. 

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