Show The Graduate Center Menu

Fall 2021




HIST   84900       First-year Seminar in History         
5 credits, Thursdays 2 PM - 4 PM, Professor 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.
Open only to PhD Program in History students.
Syllabus: Kessner-Seminar-Fall-Syllabus

HIST   80020       Literature of European History l
5 credits, Mondays 4:15 – 6:15 PM, Professor Helena Rosenblatt

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.
HIST   80010       Literature of American History l
5 credits, , Fridays 11:45 AM - 1:45 PM, Professor 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.
Syllabus: Hist-80010-Fall-2021-final_1


HIST 70900         Mass Violence in Modern Europe
3 credits, Mondays 2 PM - 4 PM Professor Elissa Bemporad

This course explores instances of unprecedented mass violence in modern Europe during the twentieth century. It is based on several case studies, including events in German South-West Africa, Germany, Ukraine, the Soviet Union, and Chechnya. By analyzing some of the most recent scholarship on genocide and ethnic cleansing, the course examines the short-term and long-term causes for mass violence, assessing the extent to which, in different contexts, it resulted from political ideologies, colonialism, bureaucratic pressures, or ethnic and religious hatred. The course will also focus on the repercussions of mass violence, including acts of revenge, changes in international law and human rights, and attempts to create sites of memory in those places where atrocities were committed. Finally, this course aims at tracing how such unprecedented violence against civilians was experienced by ordinary citizens of European countries, and how it transformed and affected their everyday lives, political choices, and social attitudes during and after the events.   

HIST  71500        Revolution as Civil War, Revolution as War of Independence: Generations and Memory [in France] since 1789
3 credits, Wednesdays 4:15 PM - 6:15 PM Professor David Troyansky

Historians have long characterized the French Revolution as a civil war (revolution/counterrevolution), and historians of the Atlantic world have also employed that term; meanwhile, a famous article by Pierre Serna has made the point that “all revolutions are wars of independence.”  That idea can be applied to the French themselves but also evokes a more global context, including that of decolonization in the Caribbean.  This course will begin with those overarching ways of describing the French Revolution and examine their usefulness in regional, national, and international contexts.  It will also highlight themes of generation and memory in the transition to the post-Revolutionary era and beyond.  The first part of the course will focus on the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and develop those themes as conceptual tools to be applied, in the middle part, to a succession of moments of fracture and revolution in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries (possibly including 1848, 1871, Vichy, Algeria, 1968, or recent debates over race and multiculturalism in France).  The final part will provide an opportunity for students to apply the conceptual tools developed in the course to their own areas of research.  Written work will include historiographical papers and a research paper.
HIST 72200         LGBTQ+ Public History and Memory      
3 credits, Wednesdays 2 PM - 4 PM, Professor Anne Valk

This course introduces the practice of public history and its intellectual foundations, with a specific focus on representations of the LGBTQ+ past. Through our readings, class discussions, and assignments, we will examine how scholars, documentarians, activists, and other public historians have preserved, interpreted and presented LGBTQ+ history. By examining case studies and select projects, we will discuss how theory plays out in practice and in a variety of arenas in which historians engage with historical sites and subjects, material objects, and publics.  Our investigation of LGBTQ+ public history will encompass museums and historic sites; archives and oral history collections; films, podcasts, and digital displays; memorials; and history-based performances and public programs.  The class aims to immerse students in a variety of methods used to collect and memorialize LGBTQ+ history and educate the public. In addition, we will discuss many questions relevant to the larger public history endeavor including: How does society decide what’s worth remembering and saving? What is the relationship between public history and the historical discipline? Between history and memory? How do politics -- personal, professional, collective -- shape the work of public historians? What roles have activists, amateurs and those acting outside of historical institutions (and often in opposition to them) played in public history? And what is the impact of this work and how can it be assessed?  In addition to readings, book reviews, and discussions, students will complete a final research project which can take the form of a traditional paper, a collaboration with a public history organization, or a publicly-accessible digital exhibit or display.
HIST 74900         Topics in U.S. Legal History        
3 credits, Mondays 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM, Professor Anne Kornhauser
​Online (changed on 8/17/21)

This seminar seeks to understand the role of law in American life and the social, cultural, and political meaning of law in U.S. history. To that end, the course surveys some of the key topics in U.S. legal history, from the early republic to the present. We will dissect historiographical debates, but we will also incorporate primary sources, including legal treatises, judicial opinions, and legal lives. The aim of the primary sources is to facilitate students’ understanding of various historical methods for interpreting legal sources and to demystify and denaturalize them. Methodologically, the course will cover socio-legal approaches to legal history, critical textual analysis, and political understandings of law. Among the broad questions we will ask are: How does law affect people’s lives and how do people affect the law? How do we locate those effects? What tools have historical actors and historians used to interpret the law? Does law exist separately from other large forces that determine relations of power and possibilities for action? Specific topics include: the making of the American common law regime, slave law, law and economic development, race and the constitutional imagination, the 20th-century rights revolution, and the concept of privacy.

HIST 72500         Race and the Middle East/North Africa
3 credits, Thursdays 2 PM - 4 PM, Professors Beth Baron, Kristina Richardson and Mandana Limbert 
This seminar explores how notions of race (jins or `unsur and similar terms in Turkish, Persian, and other Middle Eastern languages) have been examined, experienced, and deployed in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In particular, and in dialogue with scholarship on the United States, the Americas, and the Atlantic, the course addresses practices, policies, and beliefs of hierarchy and power, “blood,” biology, and marriage, appearance and regulation, exclusion and inclusion. Rather than presuming either the stability of the notion of “race” or its “irrelevance” (as it is often argued) for the MENA region, this seminar highlights the specific, differing, and changing ways that race has been understood, used, and reproduced in the Middle East and North Africa; among Middle Easterners and North Africans in Sub-Saharan Africa; in confrontations and conversations with Europeans; and among diaspora populations in the United States.

HIST 72600          Comparing Pandemics
3 credits, Wednesdays 2 PM - 4 PM, Professor John Torpey

This course examines epidemic diseases and their social consequences across historical time and geographic space.  We will focus primarily on the Black Death of the mid-fourteenth century, smallpox and its role in the conquest of the Americas, the “Spanish” flu pandemic of 1918-1919, and the coronavirus pandemic of 2020-2021(?).  We will seek to understand how different societies were affected by these plagues, how they responded to them, and the consequences of these public health and social crises for the societies in question.
HIST 75200         Civil War as Social History
3 credits, Tuesdays 2 PM - 4 PM, Professor James Oakes

The American Civil War was a military and political conflict.  It has an economic history, an intellectual history, and a broader cultural history.  But some of the most important scholarship in recent years has recovered the Civil War as social history.  This seminar surveys some of that recent literature, notably the history of women but also common soldiers and poor whites.  Themes will include violence, gender, and class conflict.  Toward the end we will consider what is gained and what is lost from a focus on the Civil War as social history.
HIST 75900         The Black Freedom Movement
3 credits, Thursdays 11:45 AM - 1:45 PM, Professor Robyn Spencer

The emergence of the movement for Black Lives has moved racial justice in America to center stage and resulted in wide scale re-examination of the impact and legacy of the Black freedom movement of the post WWII period. This course will examine the major campaigns, personalities, organizations and guiding themes of the civil rights and Black Power movement.  In particular, we will analyze the major historical interpretive debates about the Civil Rights/Black Power movements and place the movements in the broader context of Cuban independence, the Cold War, the US war in Vietnam and African liberation movements. A close examination of the intersections between the Black freedom movement and the new left, women’s movement, and anti-war movement will broaden how the movement is traditionally conceptualized and foreground the movement’s anti-capitalist, anti-patriarchal and anti-imperial engagements. We will also examine the afterlives and historical memory of these movements and how they continue to animate the contemporary political landscape.
HIST 76000          The African Diaspora     
3 credits, Tuesdays 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM, Professor Herman Bennett

            By employing the heuristic concept of diaspora—and specifically the African diaspora—this course focuses on the analytical work generated by studying cultures of movement.  As scholars, we might begin by asking whether diaspora complicates our understanding of disciplinary formations—including the normative assumptions that inform the study of society and culture.  How does diaspora, for instance, enhance our perspectives on imperial, colonial, national and post-colonial formations and the ways in which they have been historically represented?  In utilizing the prism of diaspora we confront the politics of representation through which scholars render meaning out of the past and present.  For this reason, diaspora like other categories of analysis engages the vexed terrain of representation whereby scholars frame the subject of their inquiries.          
            Diaspora brings into relief many of the principle categories and themes informing the social and human sciences.  It de-naturalizes many of the foundational assumptions on which contemporary social theory rests.  For this reason, we will route our conversations and readings through some of the central concepts defining social theory (state, nation, society, sovereignty, difference, stratification, race, ethnicity, religion, and culture) so as to discern how diaspora might trouble existing forms of knowledge bequeathed to us by the Renaissance, Enlightenment and Modern Era. 
            On a practical professional level, the course serves as a graduate-level introduction to diasporas in general but the African diaspora in particular.  Scholarship on this subject along with its development over time and in distinct settings (the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, England and Continental Europe) introduces us to the historical profession and professionalism.  For this reason, we will devote significant time focusing and discussing how various scholars have framed and approached their scholarly projects.  Since the African diaspora as a field of study constitutes a relatively novel endeavor, most of the readings draw on works from the last few decades.  While this conveys a sense of where the field is presently at it also serves to delineate how the African diaspora draws and builds on early forms of inquiry (polity formation and the history of empire, the history of slavery and freedom, the history of racial formation, the history of colonialism, the study of trans-nationalism, etc.)  Over the semester we will constantly need to ask what defines an inquiry, an approach or a perspective as diasporic in scope.  In doing so, we will necessarily focus on an earlier body of scholarship that was associated with different fields of inquiry (slavery, race relations, African Studies, Latin American & Caribbean history, the study of religion, English Cultural Studies, etc.).

HIST 76900          The Comparative Histories of Slavery in the Americas
3 credits, Thursdays 4:15 PM - 6:15 PM, Professor Laird Bergad

This course will examine some of the main themes found in the vast historiography on Latin American and Caribbean slavery in comparative perspective with slave systems in the United States.  Comparative patterns of race relations will also be considered. Readings have been selected from some, not all, of the principal scholars who have worked on the theme of slavery; and they are reflective of topics that have been the subject of recent research and debate.
                The most exhaustive bibliographical guide to works on slavery is Joseph C. Miller, Slavery and Slaving in World History:  A Bibliography, 1900 - 1991 (Millwood, New York:  Kraus International Publications, 1993). This has been updated as Slavery and Slaving in World History: A Bibliography - Vol 2, 1992-96 (Armonk NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1999). More importantly a searchable web site has been developed by Miller and other collaborators at the following internet address: Also see Seymour Drescher and Stanley L. Engerman, eds. A Historical Guide to World Slavery (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998). There are many synthetic surveys on slavery and the slave trade to Latin America and the Caribbean that you may use for general reference. It is recommended that you read, or become familiar with, Herbert S. Klein and Ben Vinson III, African Slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean  (second edition) (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007) and Klein’s survey of the slave trade, Herbert S. Klein, The Atlantic Slave Trade  (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999).  Robin Blackburn’s book is also recommended: The American Crucible: Slavery, Emancipation, and Human Rights (London: Verso, 2011), as well as Seymour Drescher, Abolition: A History of Slavery and Antislavery (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009). An expansive survey which transcends slavery, and which focuses only upon the 19th and 20th centuries is George Reid Andrews, Afro-Latin America, 1800-2000 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).
                Latin American and Caribbean slavery is best understood in comparative perspective, which is one of the objectives of this course.  The literature on U.S. slavery is enormous.  There are several survey histories that I recommend which summarize much research. These are: Ira Berlin, Many Thousands Gone:  The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America (Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 1998); Ira Berlin, Generations of Captivity: A History of African-American Slaves (Cambridge MA: Belknap Press, 2003); Peter Kolchin, American Slavery, 1619-1877 (New York: Hill and Wang, 2003); Robert William Fogel, Without Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery (New York:  W.W. Norton, 1989); and David Brion Davis, Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006).​

MES 73000/ HIST 78110          History of the Modern Middle East
3 credits, Thursdays 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM, Professor Dina Legall
This course introduces students to major dynamics and issues in the history of the Middle East in the past two centuries and seeks to nurture critical historical thinking about the region. We will touch on a wide range of topics, from different forms of colonial intervention, to modernizing reforms and reforming elites, the move from empire to a new state order, the politics and culture of nationalism, post-colonial states and authoritarian regimes, Islamist mobilization, and recent neo-liberal politics. Proceeding in a roughly chronological order, we will weave thematic discussions related to women and gender, environmental history, urban history, history of consumption, etc. into that framework. All along, a central arching theme of the course will be modernity: what shape it took at different times and places, how it was perceived and experienced, what challenges and tensions it engendered, who were the beneficiaries and losers.
 Class discussions will be guided by reading questions handed out in advance, one of which students will answer in writing before class. For example: To what extent was Ottoman reform founded upon emulation of the West? How was WWI a watershed in ME political culture? How were women and gender deployed in nationalist and modernizing projects of the inter-war period? What best explains the resilience of ME post-colonial authoritarian regimes? What has given Islamist movements (of different kinds) their purchase? Has globalization been primarily destabilizing in the ME and why? The final assignment for the course is a 6-8 pages argument-based analytical essay.
Syllabus - History-of-Modern-ME,-Syllabus
HIST 78500         Case Histories: patient and physician narratives of self and disease 
3 credits, Wednesdays 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM, Professor Allison Kavey

    Disease is the great equalizer.  We will all be patients eventually.  But who are we to the physicians who encounter our pathological selves, who are we to ourselves, and who are doctors under those white coats?  This class endeavors to use disease as a common ground to discuss case histories as autobiographical and biographical tools.  We will read physician memoirs to better understand how they imagine themselves as people and professionals, and how they relate to their oddly narrative art--the act of writing is embedded in medical practice through case notes.  We will read patient memoirs and think about the nature of pain, the ways in which disease shapes us and how we resist its warping, and think about the person behind the case histories.  In short, this is a course that looks through both sides of the patient-physician mirror to try to grasp some very human truths.       
Syllabus: case-histories-fall-2021



ASCP 81000: Intellectuals and Intelligence: Spies, Secrets, and Surveillance in the University, Tuesdays, 4:15pm-6:15pm, 3 credits. Professor Lucia Trimbur
While the American university is often imagined as an independent and apolitical establishment, devoid of connections to and demands from other social institutions, academia has, in fact, been a primary site of ideological struggle through collaboration with outside agencies, most notably intelligence. In the discipline of anthropology, the history of ethnographic research, colonial administration, and surveillance is well rehearsed. The same relationships in the humanities and other humanistically-grounded social sciences are less known. Intellectuals and Intelligence attempts to better understand how and when academic disciplines have been contiguous or aligned with intelligence communities.   
First, we look at the origins of American studies in the 1940s and 1950s, examining the ideological work this newly-formed area of study performed during the Cold War. Second, we use methods and theories from American studies to analyze the connections among intelligence bureaus and English, psychology, sociology, area studies, and political science. Topics include explicit engagement such as the Frankfurt School and the OSS, recruitment in the Ivy League, anti-communist propaganda and loyalty oaths, counterinsurgency during liberation movements, torture during the “War on Terror,” and the Human Terrain Program as well as sites of complicity such as cultural exchange, clandestine support for journals and conferences, and federal grant funding.   
Works likely to be addressed include Frances Stonor Saunders's The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters, Robin Winks's Cloak and Gown: Scholars in the Secret War 1939-1961, “The CIA Reads Foucault” by Gabriel Rockhill, The Cold War and the University: Towards an Intellectual History of the Postwar Years edited by Noam Chomsky, and Rebecca Lowen’s Creating the Cold War university: The Transformation of S

MSCP 70500 Intro to Medieval Studies
3 credits, Mondays 4:15 PM - 6:15 PM, Professor Nicole Lopez-Jantzen

This course provides an introduction to medieval culture and society, from the fifth to the fourteenth centuries, as well as an introduction to the discipline of Medieval Studies. The course will be interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on approaches from history, literature, art history, and gender studies to explore both scholarly analysis and also the material and textual sources of medieval Europe. We will focus on how scholars have defined the Middle Ages, both temporally and geographically, major people and events in the Middle Ages, as well as emerging fields in medieval studies, such as the study of race. Topics include the end of antiquity, conquest and colonization, and the interaction of Muslims, Christians, and Jews in the Middle Ages.

IDS 81620 Scholarly Praxis at Work in the World
3 credits, TBD, Instructor: Dr. Stacy Hartman, Director of the PublicsLab
This course is intended for students who wish to do an internship for academic credit. In addition to their internship, students will meet every other week as a group with Dr. Hartman to consider the connections between their internship experiences and their academic work, as well as how knowledge production and dissemination function outside the academy. Open to both doctoral and master's students. If interested, please write to Dr. Stacy Hartman -

ENGL 89000  Mining the Archives, Reinterpreting the Past. 
4 Credits, Wednesdays 2:00PM – 4:00PM, Professor David Reynolds
(Please note: History students must register for the 4 credit option)

During the past two decades, a revolution has occurred in scholarship: troves of archival materials that were once very hard to access and search have been digitized and put online. Rare books; entire runs of newspapers; obscure pamphlets; letters; manuscripts; images—these are some of the rich resources that are now universally available and instantly searchable. The implications for the study of literature, popular culture, history, and biography are immense. With the help of now-available archives, previously unnoticed dimensions of past cultures can be explored. Famous figures or writings of the past can be placed in fresh contexts, and new ones can be unearthed. And it’s not only primary research that has profited from digitalization: so has secondary research. An ever-increasing number of scholarly journals and books are online. This surfeit of online material, however, brings new challenges. How does one sort through the apparently endless digitized archives? How do we take notes without accumulating masses of mere trivia? Most importantly, what are the most effective strategies for using archival research as the basis for writing original essays or book-length monographs? How do we move from the raw material of the archive to the publishable article or book? This course addresses such issues. Students from any field or period concentration will have the opportunity to explore online archives that are especially interesting to them and relevant to their work. If Covid permits, each student will also visit at least one physical archive in order get hands-on exposure to works of interest and to seek out material that has not been digitized. Class readings include articles or book chapters about archival research. Students will periodically report to the class about their progress in the archives and will write a term paper based on their research.


**All Fall semester PDEV courses will now be fully online**

Effective Academic Writing for Native English Speakers (PDEV 79403)
This course grounds students in the fundamental elements that inform all argument-based academic writing in order to help them better understand and navigate the sometimes bewildering array of genres in which they are expected to write, from seminar papers and conference presentations to grant applications and dissertation proposals to theses, dissertations, job letters, abstracts, and journal articles. At once a seminar and a workshop, this course combines opportunities for peer review with instruction in the genres of academic writing, revision techniques, advanced outlining, the art of the paragraph, methods for overcoming writer’s block, and other skills. The syllabus will be developed in coordination with students’ stated interests and needs.

Professor: David Hershinow
Time: Mondays, 11:45 AM-1:45 PM

Effective Academic Writing for Non-Native English Speakers (PDEV 79403)
This course is a workshop that aims to help non-native English-speaking students take control of their writing process as they move forward in their graduate studies. We look at the conventions that shape academic writing, keeping in mind that these conventions vary from discipline to discipline and from genre to genre. We focus on the writing process by looking at various steps we can take in order to create “effective academic writing,” with emphasis on discussing writing in progress. Students work on improving writing projects connected to their coursework. We deal with grammar and other writing convention issues as needed.

First Section
Professor: Sharon Utakis
Time: Tuesdays, 11:45 AM-1:45 PM
Second Section
Professor: Maria Jerskey
Time: Thursdays, 2-4 PM

Advanced Spoken English: Teaching and Presentation Skills (PDEV 79400)
This course, for both novice and experienced teachers, focuses on teaching and presenting in university classrooms. Students will improve their spoken English through increased interactional awareness and focused feedback on pronunciation and delivery. This course will prepare students to make informed choices about leading and facilitating classroom interaction, including consideration of the role of technology in teaching and presenting.
Professor: Christine Jacknick
Time: Tuesdays, 2-4 PM


Teaching Strategies (PDEV 79401)
This course provides Graduate Center students from all disciplines with community and structure to help them prepare for and reflect upon their development as teachers. Our work will proceed from an understanding of the social contexts of teaching, as well as the positionalities of graduate student instructors and adjuncts. Short theoretical readings will help guide participants’ exploration and development of their teaching philosophies and materials. The course curriculum and structure will be responsive to the group’s needs, and the realities of the moments when we teach. In Fall 2021, the course will address the challenges of the ongoing public health and social crises, and of the gradual transition back to face-to-face or hybrid teaching for many CUNY instructors in the 2021-2022 academic year.

Foundational topics explored in the course will include classroom community, student-centered and active learning approaches, accessibility, course design and policies, lesson planning, assignment design, assessment, educational technology, cultivating student writing, affective responses in classroom settings, and culturally responsive pedagogy. For questions about the course, please reach out to Dr. Waltzer

Professor: Luke Waltzer
Time: Fridays, 9:30 AM-11:30 PM