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Fall 2015

 

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.”)
           Read the full description below!
Dictatorship

 
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

 This course examines the relationship between insanity and its social and historical contexts from the 18th-century birth of the asylum up to contemporary debates about psycho-pharmacology. Beginning with the age of the so-called “Great Confinement,” the course traces the institutional and therapeutic reforms of the revolutionary and post-revolutionary era; the rise of theories of degeneration and hysteria in the late 19th century; the emergence of psychoanalysis; war neurosis and military psychiatry; relations between psychiatry, totalitarianism, and the legacy of imperialism; the anti-psychiatry movement; and contemporary bio-psychiatry.
 
While the principal focus will be on histories of madness and psychiatry in the West, comparisons with non-Western societies will also play a role in the course. Attention will be paid to the intense methodological and interpretive debates that have marked the field over the last 30 years, and to the shifting meanings of madness for social categories like class, race, and gender.

 

American History


 Hist. 75700- Aftermaths: World War, Postwar, Cold War
GC: M, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. David 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.     
Read the full syllabus below.
Aftermaths-f-15

Hist. 75900- 20th Century African American History
GC: T, 6:30- 8:30 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Khalil Muhammad


KhalilMuhammad@nypl.org
 
Hist. 75500- The History of Capitalism
GC: T, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. James Oakes
 
            This course surveys classic as well as recent approaches to the history of capitalism.  The earliest weeks will focus on historically grounded definitions of capitalism as they were formulated in debates over the transition from feudalism to capitalism.  We will examine competing explanations for the “the great divergence” between Europe and the rest of the world.  The course continues to move chronologically to discussions of the consumer revolution of the eighteenth century, the industrial revolution of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, and the emergence of finance capitalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  Various relationships will be considered, between, slavery and capitalism, antislavery and capitalism, capitalism and imperialism, capitalism and freedom, and capitalism and socialism.  The course will conclude by examining the “downturn” of the 1970s and debates over the rising maldistribution of wealth in the late twentieth century.
 
Hist. 75400- Seminar on Public History
GC:  W, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Andrew Robertson


ARobertson@gc.cuny.edu

Middle East History


Hist. 77950- Middle East Literature of 19th century
GC: T, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Samira Haj

The object of this course is to familiarize students with the main themes and approaches in the history and historiography of the nineteenth-century “Middle East.” Temporally, the course moves from the late 1700s to World War I.  Geographically, the area includes the region from Egypt to Iran, the Balkans to Arabia, in short, those regions under the dominion of the Ottoman and Qajar Empires. We will look at some foundational as well as recent works that address the issues, concerns and anxieties in the region arising from a fundamental change in power structures and world politics. These works would cover a wide range of themes including governance, empire, reform and revival (religious and secular), nation, revolution, law, and political economy.

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


HBennett@gc.cuny.edu
 
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


This course examines the making of nations in the Andean region. A process conceived as a complex quest for integration against the backdrop of a millenarian civilization and a thick colonial legacy. The transition from colonies to republics is the point of departure of an examination that mostly concentrate on the last one hundred years. A comparative perspective (Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru mainly) is adopted to examine the national phenomena –from the building of states to the integration of subaltern groups.  Understanding specific Andean peculiarities as opposed to continental-wide generalizations is also an important concern of this course. Particular attention will be given to the historiographic dimension. Classes will follow a seminar format including weekly presentations.

 
Hist. 76910- Comparative Caribbean History
GC: M, 6:30- 8:30 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Teresita Levy


TeresitaLevy@gmail.com
 

Transnational/Comparative/Methodological


Hist. 78500 -  Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Corporation, Health and Democracy, 1900 to the Present
GC: T,
 4:15-6:15 p.m.,3 credits, Prof. Gerald Markowitz

This course will introduce students to historical, epidemiological and sociological perspectives on the impact of corporations on population health.  Through in-depth investigations of selected industries, products and practices, students will analyze the changing pathways and mechanisms by which corporate practices influence the health of consumers and workers and of the environment in both the developed and the developing world. The class will also consider public health and other responses to harmful corporate practices.  Among the topics to be studied are lead in paint and gasoline, automobiles, tobacco, food and beverages, alcohol and firearms.   Students will write a case study of a specific industry or product.  

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
 

SCovington@QC.cuny.edu

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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