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Fall 2014

American History

Hist. 80010- Literature of American History l
GC: R, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 5 credits, Prof. David Waldstreicher, Room 8203

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. 75200- The Age of Revolutions
GC: T, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Oakes
, Room 5212
In the 1960s and 1970s leading historians—R. R. Palmer, Eric Hobsbawm, David Brion Davis--began speaking of an “Age of Revolution” extending from late eighteenth to the mid nineteenth centuries.  The idea has recently been revived, but with a difference.  The earlier generation focused almost exclusively on revolutions in Europe and North America.  Today’s scholars have extended their sights to the broader Atlantic world, giving prominence to revolutions in Haiti and Latin America.  They are more inclined to trace the connections between the Age of Revolution and the Age of Emancipation.  This is a reading course devoted primarily to some of the most recent scholarship on the American, French, Haitian, and Latin American revolutions, as well as the Revolutions of 1848 and the American Civil War.

Hist. 75900- Race, Punishment and Citizenship in US History
GC: W, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Khalil Gibran Muhammad
, Room 5212
 This colloquium surveys the key historical scholarship on the history of how, who, and why individuals are punished in the United States. Only in the recent past has the U.S. become the nation’s leading jailer, creating states of unfreedom unmatched in world history. Readings will explore the way historians have conceptualized, interpreted and debated US punishment systems from their origins, philosophical underpinnings, political and racial goals, and change over time. While prisons have been the primary sites of punishment, carcerality extends beyond the literal prison to include everything from social containment, economic development, police behavior, immigration, education, and the very notion of citizenship.

Khalil Gibran Muhammad is a Visiting Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center and the Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a research division of the New York Public Library and one of the world’s leading research facilities dedicated to the history of the African diaspora. Khalil holds a doctorate in US history from Rutgers University (2004) and is a former associate professor of history at Indiana University. He is the author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America (Harvard), which won the 2011 John Hope Franklin Best Book award in American Studies. He is a contributing author of a 2014 National Research Council study, The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences (National Academies Press). His research focuses on racial criminalization in modern U.S. History.
His scholarship has been featured in a number of print and broadcast media outlets, including the New York Times, New Yorker, Washington Post, NPR and MSNBC. He is a former associate editor of The Journal of American History and prior Andrew W. Mellon fellow at the Vera Institute of Justice.
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History of Science

HIST78400 - Social Impacts of Science and Technology: Case Studies
GC: Tuesdays, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Joseph Dauben, Room 6493

This course will study some of the great discoveries of science and inventions of technology that have changed the course of human history, with a view to assessing their origins, impact, and eventual consequences, both foreseen and unintended. Through individual case studies, from the invention of the wheel or the arch to atomic energy and space technology, using selected case studies across time and in particular parts of the world, or the contributions of individuals like Newton or Darwin, or by genres including film and fiction, this course will survey major scientific discoveries and technological inventions that have changed human history in significant ways. Reading assignments are given for every class, and students will make weekly seminar reports. There will be a series of short essays during the course and a final research paper (approximately 15-20 pages) due at the end of the semester.


European History

Hist. 72200- Sex Society and Politics in Postwar Europe 1945-89
GC: T, 4:15 – 6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Sneeringer
, Room 8202
Students will explore in detail moments in the social history of postwar Europe, East and West, using sex and gender as key categories of analysis.  We will explore how the story of Europe changes when sex and gender are the focus, re-examining such phenomena as postwar reconstruction, the Economic Miracle, consumer culture, daily life under communism, the rise of youth culture, “deviant” subcultures, second wave feminism, 1968, terrorism, and the revolutions of 1989.

Hist. 71000- The Politics of the Enlightenment
GC: R, 4:15 - 6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Rosenblatt
, Room 8203

Since the mid 20th century, the Enlightenment has been under attack for a variety of purported sins, including Eurocentrism, imperialism, racism, sexism, and proto-totalitarianism. In fact, Enlightenment-bashing has become such a popular sport that many intellectuals are now feeling the need to “rescue,” “reclaim” and “redeem” it for the progressive goals they say were at its core.  In this course, we will read texts by some of the most important political writers of the Enlightenment (Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Ferguson, Jefferson and Wollstonecraft) with a focus on the following themes: the social contract and the role of government, property and commerce, race and slavery, women and religion. We will also read recent critiques and defenses of the Enlightenment, with a view to deciding for ourselves whether it is worth “reclaiming”.

Hist. 72400- The Outcome of Classical German Philosophy: From Hegel to Adorno
GC: M, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Wolin
, Room 3309

In 1886, Friedrich Engels wrote a perfectly mediocre book, Ludwig Feuerbach and the Outcome of Classical German Philosophy, which nevertheless managed to raise a fascinating and important question that is still being vigorously debated today: how should we go about evaluating the legacy of German Idealism following the mid-nineteenth century breakdown of the Hegelian system? For Engels, the answer was relatively simple: the rightful heir of classical German philosophy was Marx’s doctrine of historical materialism. But, in truth, Engels’ response was merely one of many possible approaches. Nor would it be much of an exaggeration to claim that, in the twentieth-century, there is hardly a thinker worth reading who has not sought to define him or herself via a confrontation with the heritage of Kant and Hegel.

Our approach to this extremely rich material will combine a reading of the canonical texts of German Idealism (e.g., Kant and Hegel) with a sustained and complementary focus on major twentieth-century thinkers who have sought to establish their originality via a critical reading of Hegel and his heirs: Alexandre Kojeve, Georges Bataille, Jean Hyppolite, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Theodor Adorno, and Juergen Habermas. But we will also seek acknowledge the importance of the contemporary North American Hegel renaissance, as exemplified by the work of philosophers such as Robert Pippin, Michael Forster, Terry Pinkard, and Allen Wood.

In his “Discourse on Language” Foucault warns us appositely that, “Truly to escape Hegel involves an exact appreciation of the price we have to pay to detach ourselves from him. It assumes that we are aware of the extent to which Hegel, insidiously perhaps, is close to us; it implies a knowledge that permits us to think against Hegel, of that which remains Hegelian. Thus we have to determine the extent to which our anti-Hegelianism is possibly one of his tricks directed against us, at the end of which he stands, motionless, waiting for us.” Foucault’s insightful caveat will, in many respects, function as our interpretive watchword as we seek to decode and reconstruct the legacy of German Idealism and its most significant contemporary heirs.

Hist. 80020- Literature of European History l
GC: T, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., 5 credits, Prof. Covington
, Room 5212

This course will introduce first-year students to the rich and extensive literature of the late medieval and early modern period, from approximately 1300 to 1700. The centuries that comprise this period elicit some of the most heated debates undertaken by historians, across a range of subjects that include political developments and the emergence of state systems; economic and scientific revolutions; social and gender relations; religious movements and persecutions; technological innovations such as the invention of print; and the often-fraught encounters between cultures, civilizations and ideas. All of these themes will be explored in classic and more recent books that represent divergent perspectives, offering the student a foundation in understanding historical developments and the manner in which historians forge arguments and attempt to illuminate old documents and theses with new questions. In addition to providing preparation for the First (Written) Examination, the course will help students to understand the long reach of European history; to grasp the current state of scholarship in relationship to older and still-enduring texts and positions; conduct research by studying the works of masters; and learn how to formulate theses for their future work, by understanding how historians did so in the past.


Middle East History

Hist. 78110- Authority, Affinity and Resistance in the Construction of the Modern Middle East
GC: M, 4:15 – 6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Davis
, Room 5212
This course explores relationships between local, regional and outside constituencies which have framed Middle Eastern experience from the late eighteenth century onwards. The leading themes will be of empires and imperialism, in cultural, economic societal and political context, and the implications of such currents for understanding intra-regional, international and global relations historically. Each session will feature a discussion on a theme preceded by suggested readings, including course texts, published documents in translation, and assigned items of canonical and current academic journal literature. Students will each complete a research essay chosen from one of the major course topics, a number of smaller critical exercises, and a final examination.

African History

Hist. 72700- Historical Perspectives on Africa
GC: Wednesdays 2:00-4:00 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Vaughan
, Room 5212
In this course we take a historical perspective on a range of issues affecting sub-Saharan Africa today. We’ll begin by examining the nature of political power in precolonial Africa and its relationship with demography, environment,the impact of the slave trade and its abolition. We’ll then move on to address a range of topics including:
-the role of colonialism in transforming African economies and societies
- artistic production and historical knowledge
-the impact of the world religions
-currents in African political thought in the twentieth century
-aid and ‘development’, wealth and poverty
-population, environment and climate change
- gender and sexualities
- the new ‘scramble’ for African resources
Throughout the course we’ll critically examine questions of the production of knowledge about Africa and ask what a longer-term historical perspective has to offer for analyses of critical contemporary issues.

Latin American History

Hist. 76910- Renaissance Atlantic: Movement, Power & Difference in the Making of Early Latin America
GC: Tuesdays 2:00-4:00 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Bennett, Room 4433
 This course utilizes the concepts of movement, power, and difference to examine the formation of a Renaissance Atlantic 1400-1600 jointly configured by the Iberian and early Latin America experience.  Framed as a question, I am asking: in what ways does recent scholarship on medieval and early modern Iberia call for a reconsideration of colonial Latin America history?  Ostensibly a historiographical question, it has epistemic implications.  In view that recent scholarship on the Iberian past has been transformative, what implications might this have on our thinking, approach, and writing of early Latin American history?  Successive turns, most notably the imperial and Atlantic ones, complicate matters by underscoring how nineteenth-century nationalist fabrications conjured up a mythic Iberia with profound consequences for the foundational representations of colonial Latin America history.


Hist. 72300- Quantitative Methods for Social Scientists and Humanists
GC: Mondays 4:15 – 6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Bergad
, Room C196.02
This course was designed with a mind toward helping students with no background in statistical analysis develop a basic literacy of quantitative methods.  Through computer-lab based tutorials students will gain proficiency in tools commonly used by the quantitative community such as SPSS Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Fact Finder, IPUMS datasets, Microsoft Excel, and ArcGIS mapping.  This course will be especially useful for historians, anthropologists, and other social scientists looking to add a statistical component to their work that moves beyond basic secondary source data.  Particular emphasis will be given to the ways social scientists and humanists can use data to formulate new perspectives on their research and challenge prevailing trends in their respective fields.              
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Research And Writing Seminars

Hist. 84900- Seminar in American History l
GC: M, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 5 credits, Prof. Kessner
, Room 5212

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 question for their papers. The purpose of the collateral assignments is to help push this process forward. Thus, from the very beginning will be thinking about their research project, sampling secondary readings and investigating the availability of accessible sources.

Hist. 80900- Seminar in European and non-American History l
GC: Mondays 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., 5 credits, Prof. Alborn
, Room 3308
This course seminar will provide an introduction to the nuts and bolts of historical research as well as an introduction to a number of electronic databases and metropolitan-area libraries, 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.

See Also

ASCP 81000,  Introduction To American Studies: History And Methods
GC:  Thursdays 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Martin Burke
This course examines the intellectual and institutional histories of scholarship in American Studies, and the American Studies movement, from the middle decades of the twentieth century to the present. We will read and discuss classic and contemporary texts, with an emphasis on interdisciplinary works in cultural history, literary studies, and the social sciences. In particular, we will consider such models and metaphors as “culture,” “civilization,” “mind,” “myth,” and “national character,” and how they have been employed by academics and social critics. The course is required for students in the American Studies Certificate Program, and also welcomes Americanists from the Ph.D. Programs in English, History, Art History, Music, Theater, Urban Education, and the M.A. Program in Liberal Studies.

Required Readings:

Constance Rourke, American Humor: a Study of the National Character (1931).

F.O. Matthiessen, American Renaissance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman (1941).

Perry Miller, Errand into the Wilderness (1956)

Henry Nash Smith, Virgin Land: the American West as Symbol and Myth (1950).

Sacvan Bercovitch, The American Jeremiad (1978).

Robert Sklar, Movie Made America: a Cultural History of American Movies, rev. ed. (1994).

Barbara Novak, Nature and Culture: American Landscape and Painting, 3rd ed. (2007).

David Suisman, Selling Sounds: the Commercial Revolution in American Music (2009).

Phillip J. Deloria, Playing Indian (1998).

Christopher Smith, The Creolization of American Culture (2013).

Bethany Moreton, To Serve God and Wal-Mart: the Making of Christian Free Enterprise (2009).

Victoria De Grazia, Irresistible Empire: America’s Advance through Twentieth-Century Europe (2005).

PDEV. 81690 - Colloquium on College Teaching
GC: M, 2:00-4:00 p.m., Rm. TBA, 0 credits, Prof. Steven Cahn

This fall semester Professor Steven Cahn will again offer the Colloquium on College Teaching, intended to help doctoral students develop strategies for success in their academic careers, including advice about teaching, publishing, and searching for academic positions. The course is free and open to all graduate students. Over the years these ungraded workshops have been extremely well-received and have filled quickly. The course meets during the early weeks of the semester, and students register through on-line course registration. Any questions can be addressed to Professor Cahn at

French 87100 - Human Rights and Critical Theory
2/4 credits, Tuesday 4:15-6:15, Professor Stanton

In English
This course aims to grapple with the problematics of human rights praxis (discourse and activism) from the perspective of post-enlightenment critical and literary theory. It both recognizes the crucial importance of the human rights movement and it examines its blind spots and exposes the need – and questions the possibility-- of its re-formation, even as some are predicting this regime's "end." Can human rights become an openly progressive political movement?; or will it be further eroded by its claimed "neutralism" and its complicity with global capitalism?
Starting with a close, critical reading of the major human rights documents, the course will be organized into two parts. A first part will focus on enlightenment notions of human rights (including Kant, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Declaration of the Rights of Women) and their critique in Arendt, Lyotard, Rorty and Derrida. It will involve a rapid historical overview to 1950 (including imperial humanitarianism and the civilizing mission) and close with discussions of the current impasse in human rights in political terms (Feher, Hopgood) and in global economic terms (Cheah). We will then tackle a series of problems with the help of particular theorists: the universal vs the local divide; the question of the human in human rights; and the claims that women’s, gay/queer and transgender rights are human rights.
In the second half of the course, we will look more closely at ways we can read/analyze critically human rights discourse and stories (Nussbaum, Appiah), in, for example, traumatic testimonials (Felman), life-writing (Smith) and the bildung (Slaughter); in news reports, popular culture and the new media in the United States (Solomon, Volpp); and in globally circulated visual images (eg of and by the children of Darfur; and the Abu Graib images and the spectacle of suffering [Butler]).
Work for the semester includes: close reading and class participation; an oral presentation on mediatic representations of an individually chosen current human rights issue; a final paper on an  topic selected in consultation with the instructor (this will lead to submitting a thesis statement, an outline, and a final draft [a first draft is optional]; and a final take-home exam.
Classes will be conducted in English, which will also be the language of the written work. Readings will mostly be in English, and any texts first written in French, for instance, will appear in that language in the course pack with accompanying translations in English.

Please address all questions to<>

Phil 76000, Science and Metaphysics in the 17th and 18th Centuries
GC: T, 11:45-1:45 p.m., 4 credits, Prof. Wilson

This is a course in the major figures of early modern/Enlightenment philosophy up to and including Kant. Topics to be covered include the mechanical philosophy and the problem of force; the laws of nature; sensory qualities; the animal machine and the status of the soul; the nature of matter, teleology, the problems of generation and adaptation, the existence of species, and the relationship between God and Nature. Readings are drawn from primary and secondary sources.  Independent research is required from all students.

Phil 77600, Justice, Memory, and Forgiveness
GC: M, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 4 credits, Prof. Blustein
Email address:

This course addresses key issues in the theory and practice of what is known as transitional justice, a conception of justice associated with periods of upheaval and dramatic change in the political and social conditions of societies, from dictatorship to democracy and from war to peace. Though readings will be drawn from diverse fields, including political science, social anthropology, and international law, this is a course in moral and political philosophy, so emphasis will be placed on the conceptual and ethical issues raised by different options for responding to past atrocities and human rights violations.
Specific case studies will be used to illustrate different approaches to justice in transitional societies, including Argentina in the aftermath of the dirty war (1976-1983); post-apartheid South Africa; Rwanda after the genocide; and Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the successes and failures of each will be assessed. (The list may change.)

Digital Praxis Seminar - 25900 - IDS 81640
GC: TH 4:15-6:15, 3 Credits, Profs. Matthew K. Gold and Stephen Brier

We are excited to draw your attention to the second iteration of a course aimed at introducing doctoral students to digital tools, methods, and scholarship early in their graduate careers. Co-taught by Profs. Matthew K. Gold (English, Liberal Studies) and Stephen Brier (Urban Education, Interactive Tech. & Pedagogy Certificate Program), and open to students across the GC, The Digital Praxis Seminar (IDS 81640) will feature guest visits by well-known scholars and technologists, hands-on workshops, and collaborative projects. Topics covered include digital mapping, text mining, data visualization, network analysis, digital pedagogy, 3D fabrication, new forms of scholarly communication, digital archives and libraries, and digital preservation. 
Doctoral students enrolled in the two-course sequence will complete their first year at the GC having been introduced to a broad range of ways to incorporate digital technologies into their research and teaching. In addition, they will have explored a particular area of scholarly interest to them, produced a digital project in collaboration with fellow students, and gained technical skills that will be helpful to them in their graduate and professional careers.
Students interested in the course can see lectures from last year’s Digital Praxis class here -- -- and student project presentations here -- (starting at 7:00)

The course is an integral part of the Digital GC, a broad effort at the Graduate Center to integrate digital technology into the research and teaching of GC faculty and students. For more information on GC Digital Initiatives, please visit
We would be happy to answer any questions that might arise and we encourage any interested students to get in touch.
Matthew K. Gold
Associate Professor of English and Digital Humanities
Executive Officer, M.A. Program in Liberal Studies
Advisor to the Provost for Digital Initiatives
Stephen Brier
Professor, Ph. D. Program in Urban Education
Coordinator, Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate Program
Co-Director, New Media Lab