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Fall 2016


Research and Writing Seminars

Hist. 84900- Seminar in American History l
Monday, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 5 credits, Prof. David Nasaw
This seminar is designed for and restricted to first year, first semester U.S. history students in the Ph.D. program.   Its primary objective is to introduce students to the craft of historical research and writing.  Over the course of this semester, each student in the course will be expected to formulate a research topic, prepare of bibliography of primary and secondary sources, and write up and present to the class a proposal for the research paper that will be completed in the spring semester. 
While the main purpose and activity of the course is the preparation of a proposal for a potentially publishable research paper, there will be additional reading and writing assignments on theory, historiography, and methodology.  We will also read a bit and devote some time to discussing issues that you may confront when you begin your teaching assignments in your second year. 
Open only to PhD Program in History students.
Hist. 80010- Literature of American History l
Thursday, 2:00-4:00 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.

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?

The books and articles we shall discuss include prizewinning narratives, monographs born as dissertations, and historiographical essays. An important part of what we will be doing is attempting to read these in light of each other. Be forewarned: the reading is extensive, in recognition of the five credits this course carries and its status as required preparation for qualifying examinations. Our goal is to prepare for the exam, of course, but also to prepare to teach this period at the college level and to lay a substantial foundation for future research and teaching in any period of U.S. history.
Open only to PhD Program in History students.

Hist. 80900- Seminar in European and non-American History l
Thursday, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 5 credits, Prof. Julia Sneeringer
This is the first semester of the year-long seminar that will culminate in the production of a substantial, research-based first-year paper, as required by the History program.  In this course we will discuss methodology and prepare a research topic.  This will include: formulation of a research topic;  preparation of a bibliography of secondary works;  writing of a historiographical essay; and preparation of a detailed research prospectus by semester’s end.  To assist you in this process, we will discuss various examples of and approaches to historical writing, as well as the past and current state of history as a discipline.  We will also visit several research libraries.  Finally, we will workshop as a group each of your research prospectuses.  The first-year paper is a key requirement of the History program - helping you craft it is a main goal of this course.    Open only to PhD Program in History students.
Hist. 80020- Literature of European History l
Wednesday, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 5 credits, Prof. David Troyansky
This course provides an introduction to the literature of European history from the Late Middle Ages through the eighteenth century.  It explores different conceptual frameworks and methodological approaches to the period and examines an assortment of classic and recent works on a variety of topics: religion and the state; science, technology, and medicine; economy and society; gender and sexuality; and ideas and mentalities.  The course prepares students for the end-of-semester comprehensive examination and for further study of early modern Europe.
Open only to PhD Program in History students.

Literature of European History I Syllabus

American History

Hist. 75300 - The Gilded Age and Progressive Era
Wednesday, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Thomas Kessner

 This course focuses on a number of the major themes of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, the period between 1877-and 1914. In this period the United States was transformed from a largely agricultural and rural nation to one that is industrial and increasingly urban. It is the era of the rise of Big Business and the Industrial Revolution, the years in which America’s post Civil War racial and immigrant absorption policies are cast. Populist, labor and socialist reformers offer their own versions of a better way, but by and large the political lineaments for Modern America are forged from the capitalist market, modest state intervention and broad salience for individual freedoms. We will also investigate social change, the making of a new foreign policy and the multifaceted cultural transformations of these years.
Readings will include a sample of classic works along with a selection of more recent monographs and interpretive studies.

Hist. 75200 - The Civil War
Tuesday, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. James Oakes

  This is a reading course designed to introduce students to some of the major issues that have preoccupied historians of the American Civil War.  It will be topical more than thematic.  The readings will cover familiar subjects—the secession crisis, military strategy, internal dissent, the confederacy, turning points in the war—as well as more recent themes—violence, gender, and emancipation.  No single approach to the war will be favored. Instead, as much as possible within the space of one semester, we will cover the military, social, political, and economic history of the Civil War.

Hist. 75100 – Fear and Violence in Early America
esday 6:30-8:30 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Benjamin Carp

This course will critically examine a number of major themes and scholarly disputes in early American history, from the pre-contact period to the mid-nineteenth century.  Drawing from a number of scholarly disciplines, the class will investigate the historical impact and changing contexts of fear and violence, which set the tone for many of the ideas and actions that motivated people in the colonial, Revolutionary, and early national periods of American history.  Specific themes will include crowd violence; wartime violence, atrocity, and “total war”; legal regimes, violent crime, and criminal punishment; rumors, propaganda, and the transmission of fear; domestic violence and sexual violence; slave revolts and the violence of the slave system; and the intersection of violence with themes of empire, intercultural encounters, colonization, and nation-making.  Students will use these interrelated topics as their window into a relatively broad chronological period, and they will have opportunities to relate their own research interests to the overall theme of the course.

European ​History

Hist. 72400- The Political Thought of Hannah Arendt
Monday, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Richard Wolin
 In the annals of twentieth-century political thought, Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) carved out a unique and enduring niche. Today, some 40 years after her death, her political philosophy seems more relevant than ever. In 1951, she wrote the first important book on totalitarianism, perhaps the central political problem of the twentieth century. Seven years later, Arendt published her landmark contribution to European political thought, the Human Condition, in which she seeks to probe and to delineate the existential bases of human freedom. Avoiding the liberal political idiom of "rights," Arendt broaches this theme in terms of the ontological values of "plurality" and "action" – constituents of human distinctiveness that Arendt traces back to the glories of Periclean Athens. Nevertheless, she also found important modern political corollaries to "action" in the fleeting experience of direct (that is, non-representative) democracy: in the notion of "local democracy" that flourished in pre-revolutionary America and in the emergence of "workers consuls" in the course of the European revolutions of 1905, 1918, and 1956.
Our main thematic focus will concern Arendt’s central contributions to twentieth century political thought: The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), The Human Condition (1958), and On Revolution (1962). However, as preparation for this encounter, attention to Arendt’s formative philosophical and political influences is indispensable. Therefore, in conjunction with these works, we will also selectively read a number of background texts that will assist us in clarifying the conceptual framework that Arendt develops in her mature political works. Essential in this regard are key texts by Aristotle (Nicomachean Ethics) and by Arendt’s legendary and controversial German mentor, Martin Heidegger (Being and Time). At specific junctures, Arendt’s fascinating and voluminous correspondence with another celebrated mentor, Karl Jaspers, will also guide us.
Finally, the “Arendt renaissance” of recent years has been punctuated by important cinematic representations of her life and thought – a dimension of the international Hannah Arendt reception story that we will analyze and reflect upon in conclusion.

Hist. 71200- The 18th Century Enlightenment
Monday, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Helena Rosenblatt

It is a widely recognized fact that the modern Western world owes many of its fundamental concepts to the European Enlightenment. It is also true that since the mid-20th century, the Enlightenment has come under sustained attack. It is accused of a variety of purported sins, including Euro-centrism, imperialism, racism, sexism, and proto-totalitarianism. In this course, we will read texts by some of the most important writers of the Enlightenment (Hume, Lessing, Locke, Mendelssohn, Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Wollstonecraft) with a focus on the following themes: the social contract and the role of government, property and commerce, religion, race and slavery, sex and gender. We will also read recent critiques and defenses of the Enlightenment, with a view to deciding for ourselves what we might still be able to 
learn from it. 
The 18th Century Enlightenment Syllabus

Hist. 70900- Human Science in the Age of Extremes
Wednesday, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Andreas Killen
During the 20th century the human sciences became caught up in large-scale processes of social reform, revolution, war, postwar reconstruction, and decolonization. Many of these disciplines – psychiatry, criminology, psychoanalysis, sexology, anthropology and allied fields – underwent formative phases of their development within the shadow of the political conflicts and wars that marked what the historian Eric Hobsbawm called the “age of extremes.” What was the relation between politics and these disciplines? What kinds of hopes and promises marked the birth and development of these fields? In what way did these “young sciences” (to paraphrase Freud) become entangled within reformist, utopian, or – in some cases – deeply transgressive modes of social and human engineering? What conceptual, methodological, and ethical responses mark the history of these entanglements? This class will be organized around a combination of seminal theoretical readings (ranging from Michel Foucault and Ian Hacking to Franz Fanon) and works of historical scholarship that together will help us explore these issues.

Hist. 78500- Medicine in Early Modern Europe
Thursday, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Allison Kavey
Early modern Europe saw important changes in approaches to medicine (both in theory and practice) and ideas about the body that reflected broader cultural shifts and the influence of a broadening world of geography and experience.  This course will examine the important medical systems in early modern Europe and the changes that occurred between 1500 and the late 17th century as a means of better understanding prevailing ideas about medicine, the body, and the vexed relationship between humans and the natural world.  Readings will include primary sources and historiographic material.

Gender History

Hist. 72300- Gender Theory for Historians
Tuesday, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Dagmar Herzog
This graduate seminar is designed to introduce students to both classic and more recent texts in the overlapping areas of women’s and gender history, queer studies, and feminist, psychoanalytic, deconstructionist and poststructuralist theory, with forays into a wide range of historiographical styles and occasional excursions into anthropology, sociology, literary criticism, and political philosophy. There will be special emphasis on: the historical intersections of gender, race, economics, empire, religion; the histories of subjectivities and epistemologies; and the histories of psychiatry, sexuality, disability, reproduction. Most of the texts will focus on the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East since the 18th c., with many focused on the recent past and near-present. Throughout, the goal will be to understand the practical usefulness of varieties of gender theory for the diverse historical research projects you all are engaged in. 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 amongst ourselves on the first day), and one longer final paper exploring the relevance of and putting to use some aspect(s) of gender theory for your own work. Questions and summaries must be emailed by 7 a.m. on Tues.
Hist. 72200- Love, Marriage, and Motherhood in U.S. History
Tuesday, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Kristin Celello

This course explores gender and the politics of the family in the United States, considering the intimate, private lives of American women over time and place as well as the public manifestations and ramifications of the same.  We will study how ideals of wifehood and motherhood have been constructed, and how who has created and had access to these ideals has changed over time.  We will analyze the evolving meanings and value assigned to women’s reproductive labor, particularly the larger forces that influenced and were influenced by women’s various roles and responsibilities within their families.  Throughout the semester, we will play close attention to questions of race, ethnicity, class, region, and sexuality.  We will also consider how the social history of women’s family lives intersected with politics (domestic and international), law, medicine, social movements, and the economy, among other issues.  Weekly readings will cover topics such as same-sex relationships; courtship/dating; weddings; contraception, pregnancy, and childbirth; adoption; immigration; and welfare.

Latin American History

Hist. 76910- Afro-Latin America: Social Science & the Politics of Knowledge Production
Thursday, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Herman Bennett
In recent years, some Latin Americanists have questioned the hermeneutics defining the field of Latin American History.  The colonial designation some feel posits a disjuncture (or beginning) when it could be argued that continuity characterized the historical narrative.  While students of ideas, political practice, and the cultural domain have been the strongest proponents of this intervention, scholars of indigenous cultures—especially the Nahua Studies groups—share similar sentiments despite differences in scope and method.  Consequently, scholars have been utilizing terms like ‘early’ and ‘early modern’ Latin America to distinguish their work from a colonial project and its association with the rupture that Spanish and Portuguese hegemony allegedly implied.  Concurrently, a self-conscious collection of scholars identified as the Latin American subaltern studies group have called into question the elitist hegemony shaping the structure and content of writings about Latin America.  Scholars of the Latin American subaltern along with those who take issue with the occidental reasoning informing how Latin America history is currently conceived are introducing new terminology (subaltern, postcolonial, Afro-Latin American) that allegedly re-frames the Latin American past and present.  In our semester’s work, we shall explore the meanings and implications, if any, that this and other discursive shifts have had on research and writing Latin America.  Even as this seminar attends to shifts in meaning and context, we will engage the substance of the existing scholarship.
See the syllabus below for a fuller description.

Hist. 76900- Comparative Slavery: Latin American and Caribbean Slavery and The Slave Trade in Comparative Perspective
Wednesday, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Laird Bergad
See the syllabus below.


Middle East History

Hist. 75200- Religion and Society in the Middle East
Monday, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Samira Haj

In this class, religion is approached as a social and historical fact with political, legal and economic attributes and ramifications. Accordingly, religion has been constantly defined in response to changes in circumstance and social settings. The focus of this class is to trace the definition and redefinition of Islam in light of the dramatic changes and concerns engendered by modern structures, institutions and power. These changes are drawn out through familiar oppositional categories like the secular and the religious, state sovereignty and religious authority, modern law and shari’a among others.


See Also

MALS 70200 – Metropolis: A Political, Historical, and Sociological Profile of New York
Wednesdays, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Cindy Lobel

This interdisciplinary course will explore New York City’s rise and role as the nation’s metropolis, examining several key themes in the city’s development.  In particular, we will look at Gotham as a center of work, culture and residency as well as at the diverse populations that have called the city home through its four-century history.  We will examine New York City from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including history, sociology, anthropology, economics, and political science.  

MALS 70600 - Enlightenment and Critique: American Enlightenments
Wednesday, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Martin Burke
The course will examine a number of seminal texts produced in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries within the contexts of current debates over the contours, and the consequences, of the Enlightenment in America. The interpretive and analytic approaches taken will be ones from cultural and intellectual history, the history of political thought, religious studies and the history of science. Among the sources to be read are: Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography; St. John de Crèvecoeur’s Letters from an American Farmer; Thomas Paine’s Common Sense; the “Declaration of Independence”; Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia; the “Federalist” and the “Letters of Brutus”; Charles Brocken Brown’s Alcuin; Sarah Wentworth Morton’s Ouabi; Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s Journals; and letters and essays by Benjamin Banneker, Mercy Otis Warren, Benjamin Rush and Judith Sargent Murray. Among the contemporary scholarly works are monographs by John Fea, Susan Parrish, Darren Staloff and Leigh Eric Schmidt, as well as a number of articles and historiographic reviews. The course welcome masters-level students from the Liberal Studies Program (especially, but not exclusively, the Western Intellectual Traditions and the American Studies tracks) and doctoral students from the Ph.D. Programs in History and English, and the American Studies Certificate Program.

PDEV. 81690 - Colloquium on College Teaching

Mondays, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 0 credits, Prof. Steven Cahn 


Next fall semester Professor Steven Cahn of the Philosophy Program will again offer the Colloquium on College Teaching, intended to assist doctoral students in developing strategies for success in academic careers. Among the topics to be discussed are improving teaching, enhancing publications, and succeeding in the search for academic positions. The course is intended both for those early in their graduate studies and for those nearing graduation. Seating is limited, so early registration is suggested. No charge is involved.The course meets during the early weeks of the semester, and students register through on-line course registration.


Dr. Cahn, a former Provost and then Acting President of the Graduate Center, is the author of the widely read book FROM STUDENT TO SCHOLAR: A CANDID GUIDE TO BECOMING A PROFESSOR (Columbia University Press).


Any questions about the course can be addressed to him at

PDEV 79400  Advanced Spoken English: Teaching and Presentation Skills
Tuesday, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Rm. TBA, 0 credits, 
This course is designed to help students improve their spoken English in a variety of academic and casual settings through guided instruction of American-style conversation and direct instruction of spoken English fluency and pronunciation skills.  Additionally, students will be instructed in the standard methods and style of teaching and presenting for the American university classroom.  Students will also be discussing and learning about American culture via themes and topics that are relevant to the students’ interests.
PDEV 79401  Teaching Strategies
Wednesday, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Rm. 3209, 0 credits, Prof. Allen,  
This course is designed to provide students with practical advice and hands-on exercises to help them design future courses and prepare for classroom teaching. It is grounded in an understanding of the social context of teaching at CUNY as well as providing some theoretical discussion of what makes for good pedagogical practice. This course will be especially valuable for graduate students who will soon be teaching undergraduate courses in the Humanities and Social Sciences.
PDEV 79403  Effective Academic Writing – for native English speakers
Thursday, 4:15-6:15 p.m., Rm. 3309, 0 credits, Prof. Jerskey,  
Section for native English speakers.

This course is designed to help students improve their academic writing.  This section is meant for native English speakers who want to address issues in their writing and overcome particular writing hurdles.
PDEV 79403  Effective Academic Writing – for non-native speakers
Wednesday, 2:00-4:00 p.m., Rm. 5383, 0 credits, Prof. Utakis, 
Section for non-native English speake
This workshop course intends to help students improve their academic writing skills.  The section is restricted to students who speak English as a foreign language and will address common issues and problems that they may face when writing.  All students are required to share with the class a draft of their own academic writing in progress.

ART 87100 - Selected Topics in Colonial Latin American Art & Architecture: Mellon at The Hispanic Society: Cross-Cultural Connections in the Hispanic World, 1520- 1810
Thursday, 9:30 – 11:30 am, 3 credits, Prof. Judy Sund
 With its defeat of Aztec forces at Tenochtitlan in 1521, Spain’s political and cultural empire (which already incorporated Flanders and parts of Italy) was solidified in the New World. During the period covered by this course (which ends with Mexican independence), Peru likewise became a Spanish viceroyalty (1542), and Spain made Manila the center of its commercial activities in the Far East. This Mellon Seminar at the Hispanic Society – a rich repository of maps, manuscripts, sculptures, paintings and decorative arts – will explore a range of objects from Europe, the Americas and Asia, with particular attention to arts production in New Spain (colonial Mexico). Situated at the confluence of Atlantic and Pacific trade, New Spain emerged a nexus of intercultural exchange in an era of burgeoning global commerce. Wealthy and cosmopolitan, it remained decidedly colonial in relation to the European seat of the Hispanic empire. Its aspirational multiethnic elites not only sought to assert status by lavish displays of imports from Europe and Asia, but constructed a unique national identity, or Mexicanidad, that was shaped from the start by the concept of mestizaje (racial and cultural mixing). Mexicanidad found reflection in a hybridic material culture incorporating indigenous American, European, and Far Eastern materials, motifs and stylistic cues – prime examples of which will serve as focal points of hands-on seminar sessions. Auditors accepted with permission of instructor - email:
ART 83000 - Selected Topics in Medieval Art and Architecture: Making Jerusalem
Tuesday, 11:45 am – 1:45 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Cynthia Hahn
 Taking advantage of the Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition to open in the Fall, this seminar, co-taught with Professor Ittai Weinryb of the Bard Graduate Center would consider Jerusalem as a potent religious and geographical center for ideologies, art production, and exchange. The class will read widely in classic art historical material (Richard Krautheimer’s work on the Holy Sepulchre, Oleg Graber on the Dome of the Rock) and more current approaches on material culture and the battle over who controls the city (Annabel Wharton, Selling Jerusalem). All three faith traditions of the holy city will be included in discussion and topics will range from the early Christian pilgrim account of the nun Egeria, to topographic mapping (Madaba) and exchange via the transport of the soil of the sacred city, to the impact of European Crusader rule on the built environment. The class will have a tour of the exhibition guided by the curators and will welcome two visiting lecturers. Students will attend associated Met lectures and be encouraged to work on objects in the show.