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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

Hist. 75200- The Age of Revolutions
GC: T, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Oakes

Hist. 75700- Aftermaths: World War to Postwar and Cold War
GC: T, 9:30-11:30 a.m., 3 credits, Prof. Nasaw

“Math”:  the old-English term for harvest.  
When the cutting is done and the field is barren, there arises a new growth, stunted, near deformed, but alive and reaching upwards for the light.   This is the aftermath. 
 
We shall together explore and investigate the violent transformations wrought by the Second World War in Europe and the attempts of Americans and Europeans to make sense of their recent pasts and begin the difficult, but necessary work of reconstruction.  The bulk of the reading will be secondary sources, though I intend to assign some contemporary novels, autobiographies, and films.   The reading will be heavy at times—at least one book a week, often more than that.   There may be a few brief writing assignments during the semester.   For their final papers, students will prepare and write a lecture in which they introduce advanced undergraduates to the issues, themes, and dilemmas associated with the study of  the immediate postwar period.     
 
Readings will focus on Europe, east and west, and the United States.   They may include secondary works such as:
Atina Grossmann, Jews, Germans, and Allies.  Princeton University Press, 2007.
Tony Judt, Postwar.  Penguin Press, 2005.
Ian Kershaw, The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler’s Germany, 1944-5. Penguin Press, 2011. 
 Thomas Childers, Soldier From the War Returning.   Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009.
 Alan Allport, Demobbed: Coming Home after the Second World War.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009. 
 Arnold A. Offner, Another Such Victory: President Truman and the Cold War, 1945-1953.  Stanford U.P., 2002.
 Gerard Daniel Cohen, In War’s Wake: Europe’s Displaced Persons in the Postwar Order.  Oxford U.P., 2012.
 Ian Buruma, Year Zero: A History of 1945.  Penguin Press, 2013.

Hist. 75900- Race, Punishment and Citizenship in US History
GC: W, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Khalil Gibran Muhammad

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

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


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


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. 79200- Political History of European Jewry 1750-1850
GC: M, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Sorkin

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

 

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

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

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
 

Transnational/Comparative/Methodological

Hist. 72300- Quantitative Methods for Social Scientists and Humanists
GC: Mondays 4:15 – 6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Bergad

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.              
 

Research And Writing Seminars

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

Hist. 80900- Seminar in European and non-American History l
GC: Mondays 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., 5 credits, Prof. Alborn

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

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: jblustein@ccny.cuny.edu

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.)

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).