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Spring 2017


  • Research and Writing Seminars
Hist. 80010- Literature Survey in American History
GC: Wednesdays, 4:15-6:15 pm, 5 credits, Prof. KC Johnson

The objective of this course is for students to read and discuss important studies in post Civil War American history.  They will be considering the ways in which the critical elements of American history have been conceived, structured and narrated. Some of the readings are classics; others are important because they offer provocative theses about long established historical questions; yet others introduce new viewpoints and new questions for historical inquiry. The broad scope of readings provides an essential immersion in the literature of the field and promotes a textured perspective for subsequent colloquia and seminars. Students will also be considering diverse approaches and methods of historical analysis that will help them shape their own research projects. Open only to PhD Program in History students.

Syllabus here: Johnson-Lit-syllabus

Hist. 84900- Seminar in American History II
GC: Tuesdays, 2-4 pm, 5 credits, Prof. Jonathan Sassi

This course is for first-year U.S. history majors and is the continuation of the Seminar in American History I.  Having conceptualized projects in the fall semester, each student will complete the research and writing of an article-length research paper over the course of the spring semester.  The class is designed as a workshop, in which participants will present their works-in-progress, constructively criticize one another’s writings, and tackle common problems of the research and writing process.  Students will be responsible for circulating drafts of their developing works electronically in advance of class and preparing written responses to others’ papers.  Timely completion of the assignments and collegial participation in the seminar are essential requirements. Open only to PhD Program in History students.

Syllabus here: GC-spr-2017-syllabus-Sassi
Hist. 80020- Literature Survey in European History
GC: Mondays, 4:15-6:15 pm, 5 credits, Prof. Richard Wolin 

The focus of this course is twofold:
(1) Its primary intention is to introduce students to the main works of scholarly literature on European history from the Enlightenment to the present.
(2) Its complementary goal is to prepare students to take the written exam in modern European history.
In addition to reading major works of scholarship, we will also closely track recent critical discussions and debates in modern European history as they have transpired in organs such as Journal of Modern History, The New York Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, the London Review of Books, H-Net reviews, The Nation, Jewish Review of Books, and Chronicle of Higher Education. In keeping with the recent disciplinary trend toward global history, we will also remain attentive toward texts and discussions involving the question of “Europe and the world.”
Open only to PhD Program in History students.

Syllabus here: History-Mod-Europe-Lit-Survey2_2

Hist. 84900- Seminar in Non-American History II
GC: Tuesdays, 2-4 pm, 5 credits, Prof. Dagmar Herzog

This course is a continuation of History 80900 (Seminar in European and Non-American History I). Students will complete the research project developed in the fall, turning their prospectuses into 30-page papers of a publishable quality. The papers should be based on primary sources and should situate their topic within the appropriate historiographical context. During the semester, the class will read and discuss examples of model articles and, most importantly, offer constructive critiques of each others’ papers. Open only to PhD Program in History students.

Syllabus here: Spring-2017-syllabus-Herzog-Research-Seminar

Hist. 84900- Advanced Research Seminar 
GC:  Mondays, 6:30-8:30 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Steven Remy

In this course students will write and revise a roughly 30-page research paper of publishable quality.  The paper must be based on primary sources and current secondary sources, engage with a clearly defined historiographical problem, and reflect a high level of care for prose and professional standards.  In class, we will read model essays, discuss research methods and writing strategies, and workshop drafts.  Students should identify a topic for their paper before the first meeting of the course.  The topic should be significantly different from each student's first year seminar paper but may constitute a piece of research that leads toward a dissertation.  The course is only open to students in the PhD Program in History who have completed the first year seminar.   

Syllabus here

Hist. 89900- Dissertation Seminar 
GC: Wednesdays, 2-4 pm, 0 credits, Prof. Kessner, Thomas
This workshop will give students the opportunity to develop and complete dissertation chapters. It will be conducted as a workshop with students reading and commenting on one another’s work under the professor’s guidance.  Open only to Level 3 PhD Program in History students who have defended their dissertation prospectus.
  • American History
Hist. 75400 Colloquium on Public History
GC: Tuesdays, 4:15-6:15 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Andrew Robertson  
This seminar will begin by considering the subject matter, methodology and practice of public history.  A broad definition of public history would include historical evidence presented and interpreted for a wide audience outside of the academy. Public historians employ the methods of academic history and expand them by joining traditional and non-traditional evidence, inventing new formats for public presentation and reframing historical questions in a lively and accessible context.  By employing old and new forms of evidence, broadening the intended audience for the reception of historical scholarship, rethinking strategies of presentation and redirecting historical interpretations, public historians are creating an innovative and defined practice.  Public history prepares historians to consider their research in a popular and accessible context.
This seminar will introduce students to the context, methodology and practice of Public History in the following ways:
The first few weeks of the course will examine the definitions of public history, its origins, nature and prospects.  Topics include how versions of the past are created, institutionalized and disseminated as public memory in civic festivities, memorials and monuments; in invented tradition and in popular culture, including print media, film television and social media; and in the creation of public spaces. We will also consider the relationship of public memory and collective memory in museums (e.g. presenting Native America). This seminar will consider controversial case studies over historical presentation, including the Enola Gay Exhibition and the exhibits at the new Museum of African American History at the Smithsonian.  The remainder of the course will examine other aspects of public history including community and local history, oral history and digital history. Course requirements include leading one or more class discussions and a final research paper that describes and analyzes how a particular topic or issue in history has been interpreted and presented in a variety of public history formats.
Syllabus here: Hist-75400_spring17

Hist. 75000- The Era of the American Revolution
GC: Thursdays, 2-4 pm, 3 credits, Prof. David Waldstreicher

Well before the war ended, people were already arguing about what the American Revolution might mean, and the argument goes on. How important, and how revolutionary, was the American Revolution? What kind of revolution was it – political, constitutional, nationalist, localist, social, cultural or ideological, settler-colonial? How much emphasis should be placed on the Revolution in understanding the late eighteenth century? the origins of the United States? or world history? What kinds of before, during, and after stories have historians told about this event? How have trends in politics, in intellectual life, and in the writing of history changed the story? What were – and are --  the relationships between what one influential historian of the Revolution called, fifty years ago,  "rhetoric and reality"? This readings course begins with the debates among scholars as they emerged and developed during the twentieth century in part in response to the revolution’s first chroniclers  and the Revolution's place in American identity; moves on to an efflorescence of recent work that may or may not belie the notion of some practitioners that the field is moribund or stuck in old debates; and concludes with attention to some brand new attempts at synthesis and to the role that memory of the Revolution plays in U.S. politics and culture today.      
Syllabus here: Hist-75000-Era-of-the-American-Revolution

Hist. 75700- World War/PostWar/Cold War
GC: Mondays, 4:15-6:15 pm, 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 and the attempts of Americans and Europeans to make sense of their recent pasts and begin the difficult, but necessary work of social reconstruction, economic reconversion, and political reintegration.   

Full description and syllabus: Syllabus-s17

Hist. 75500- History of U.S. Labor and Capitalism
GC: Thursdays, 4:15-6:15 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Joshua Freeman 
 This course will consider the history of work, workers, and labor movements in the context of the changing capitalist economy, from the early 19th to the early 21st centuries.  While the bulk of the course will be devoted to labor and labor relations, attention also will be paid to capitalist development more generally, including finance, commodity trade, the corporation, and globalization.  Topics will include artisan culture and craft unionism, cultural perceptions and representations of capitalism, the constitutive role of labor law, labor radicalism, Fordism, the rise of industrial unionism, gender and race in labor markets and labor movements, capital mobility and deindustrialization, and global supply chains.  Readings will be in secondary works, including both recent and classic studies.  We will consider the historiography of labor and the significance of the emergence of the history of capitalism as an academic field.

Syllabus here: History-Labor-and-Capitalism-2017-Syllabus

  • European History
Hist. 72100 The Protestant Reformation and Its Impact
GC: Thursdays, 4:15-6:15 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Sarah Covington  
The year 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther unleashing onto the world the monumental religious revolution that came to be known as the Protestant reformation. But the story of the reformation—which was not one reformation but many, not simply “protestant” but multi-confessional and Catholic—was much more complex than the traditional narratives convey, and presents enormous challenges to scholars wishing to understand the shattering of western Christendom in the sixteenth century. Equally challenging is the attempt to understand the long-terms impact of the reformation, beyond the fact that it changed the history of Europe, the United States, and indeed the world. Weber, of course, attributed the spirit of capitalism to Protestantism, while Marx and Engels believed that it portended the proletarian revolution. Cultural critics discuss the transformation of literature and the arts under Protestant influence, while scholars still debate its role in the rise of modernity, however defined, more generally.
Such conclusions about influence are enriching, but they are too often based on a superficial and often sometimes error-prone understanding of what the reformation actually was. This seminar will therefore plunge students into the world of theological battles and religious wars, of persecutions and martyrdom, and not least the often ferocious debates between historians themselves, in order to understand the age on its own terms. Interdisciplinary in scope, the class will read the works of Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin, as well as literature; we will also extend ahead to later centuries, to discover what Americans or Europeans had to say about their forebears, or how interpretations of the reformation changed over time. The goal of the seminar is to therefore deepen students’ knowledge of this key period and the theological and political developments that propelled it, thereby illuminating its impact on states and empires, science and culture, economics and society in the centuries to come.

Syllabus here: CovingtonReformation-syllabus
Hist. 73900 Britain and the World
GC: Mondays, 6:30-8:30, 3 credits, Prof. Timothy Alborn  

This course explores different channels of intercourse between Great Britain and the rest of the world between 1750 and the present. It opens with surveys of Britain’s ambivalent location between America and Europe, its status an imperial power in the nineteenth century, and its changing role in the world since then. It then discusses spaces, goods, and people that have travelled, framed, and settled in and among British territories and trade partners: including colonial America and the US, India, Ireland, Jamaica, and Canada.  
Syllabus here: HIST-73900-S17

Hist. 75700- World War/PostWar/Cold War
GC: Mondays, 4:15-6:15 pm, 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 and the attempts of Americans and Europeans to make sense of their recent pasts and begin the difficult, but necessary work of social reconstruction, economic reconversion, and political reintegration.   

Full description and syllabus here.
  • Women’s History
Hist. 72200 Readings in Gender and Society in the U.S.
GC: Mondays, 6:30-8:30 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Kathleen McCarthy

When Joan Scott’s essay, “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis” appeared in 1986, historians initially turned their attention to gendered constraints on women’s roles. More recently, the history of masculinities and diverse sexualities have moved men’s histories beyond normative frameworks.  This course will consider the ways in which historians have used gender as an analytical tool for reassessing American politics, cultures, slavery, war, crime, foreign policy, social reform, transnationalism, and  specific events such as the California Gold Rush.  Both men’s and women’s roles will be examined, with the aim of understanding how the shifting parameters of gendered constructs have shaped American history.

Syllabus here: syllabus-Gender-2017-1
  • Transnational History

Hist. 76000 The African Diaspora
GC: Wednesdays, 6:30-8:30 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Herman Bennett  
Cross-listed with AFCP 73100

Course description here 

Hist. 75700- World War/PostWar/Cold War
GC: Mondays, 4:15-6:15 pm, 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 and the attempts of Americans and Europeans to make sense of their recent pasts and begin the difficult, but necessary work of social reconstruction, economic reconversion, and political reintegration.   

Full description and syllabus here.
  • History of Public Health
Hist. 78400 Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Corporations, Health and Democracy, 1900 to the present
GC: Tuesdays, 6:05-7:50 pm, 3 credits, Profs. Gerald Markowitz and Nick Freudenberg ​
Classes at CUNY School of Public Health, 55 West 125th Street, New York, NY 10027​
Cross-listed with PH 647

This course will present students with historical, epidemiological and sociological perspectives on the impact of corporations on population health.  Through in-depth interdisciplinary investigations of selected industries, products and practices from the last 120 years, 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.  It will also consider the roles of governance, democratic principles, the public health community and civil society in efforts to control harmful practices.  Among the topics to be studied are the food, pharmaceutical, automobile and chemical industries and products such as PCBs and lead.   Students will write an in-depth case study of a specific industry or product.  Masters and doctoral students will have different assignments for this class. The class is open to Masters students in public health, nutrition, urban planning and history and doctoral students in public health, history, sociology, psychology, geography and related disciplines. 


 ENGL 85410. David Reynolds. Cultural Currents in American Literature: Critical Turns, Historical Contexts, and Archival Discoveries. Wednesdays 2:00PM-4:00PM. 4 credits. 
Cross-listed with Hist 74900

The critical “turns” in recent Americanist scholarship—among them the hemispheric turn, the religious turn, the animal studies turn, the posthuman turn, the disabilities turn, and revised approaches to race and gender—have challenged bygone notions of American exceptionalism and have freshly illuminated the multivalence of the American experience. These issues have implications not only for literary studies but also for American historiography, which has in recent times made a massive “cultural turn,” opening up virtually every historical subject to cultural analysis.  This course considers groupings of American texts, from the seventeenth century to the early twentieth century, organized around five themes: religion and philosophy, race and slavery, gender issues, the city, and revolution. What happens when we juxtapose seventeenth-century Puritan religious writings with later works on religion or philosophy by the likes of Emerson, Hawthorne, and William James? In what ways did antebellum slave narratives and Stowe’s antislavery best-seller Uncle Tom’s Cabin generate debates over race that resonated later in Thomas Dixon’s fiction and W. E. B. Dubois’s The Souls of Black Folk? Is there a continuum in gender-specific devices and themes from the iconoclastic seventeenth-century poet Anne Bradstreet and to nineteenth-century writers like Margaret Fuller, Emily Dickinson, and Kate Chopin? How does urbanization influence the treatment of the American city we compare Brockden Brown’s Arthur Mervyn with antebellum city-mysteries fiction and with a later urban novella like Stephen Crane’s Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, and how does the portrayal of human bodies in such fiction (especially as considered in disability studies) align with shifting commentary on the body politic? How does the trope of revolution, especially as related to the Haitian slave rebellions, develop from Leonora Sansay’s Secret History to Nat Turner’s Confessions, Melville’s “Benito Cereno,” and Stowe’s Dred? We’ll address these and other questions against the background of recent critical turns and of contextual documents unearthed in archives, many of them now digitally available. Among our topics of discussion is the polyvocality of literary texts in dialogic relation to their cultural, social, and political contexts. Requirements include a book review and a term paper.

MSCP 73100 - Foundations of Monasticism
GC: Wednesdays, 4:15-6:15 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Jennifer Ball
Cross-listed with Hist 70800

This course will explore the beginnings of Christian monasticism in Egypt and Palestine and the later divisions into Western monastic orders and early Byzantine foundations.  The course will be arranged both geographically, as well as by the various types of monasticism practiced (hermetic, coenobitic, etc.).  Texts, especially early monastic rules and saints’ lives, alongside architectural and archaeological remains will be used to piece together the everyday life and development of these communities, and their relationship with the secular world around them, which was sometimes fraught with tension. Special attention will be paid to issues of gender and sexuality, as groups ranged from those based on sexual renunciation to communities in which entire families took up the monastic life. The body as a site of monastic practice is of special interest to me. Additionally, the involvement of monasteries in cultural production will be examined, as monastics were generally literate and often housed scriptoria, textile producing workshops or artist workshops of other kinds.

IDS 81630 - The Public and Publics
GC: Thursdays, 2-4 pm, 3 credits, Profs. Setha Low and Amy Chazkel ​
This interdisciplinary course examines the concept of the public, and the plural publics, as an analytical construct of particular importance in both scholarship and political life. Students will master the classic and more recent theoretical literature on space and place with respect to the designation of public and private. We will also go beyond the literature on shared resources and social spaces to think broadly about major approaches to the common, the communal, and the ordinary. We will critically examine such themes as: state versus private jurisdiction in regulating everyday life; feminist and black public spheres; the history and politics of public education; the privatization of urban public space; and political, social, and legal conflicts over copyright, intellectual property and public scholarship and art. We will pay special attention to a dimension of the study of public life of perennial political relevance as a question of global social justice: the privatization of formerly shared or commonly owned resources—the “enclosure of the commons”—as both a historical process and a present-day phenomenon. Readings will include a combination of theoretical inquiries and case studies drawn primarily, but not exclusively, from the North American, Latin American, and European contexts. Students from all disciplines and geographic specialties will be welcomed. Enrollment with permission from the instructors. Contact Setha Low and Amy Chazkel ( and for registration permission details.

ART 85000 - Material Culture and the Arts of the Early Modern Iberian World.
GC: Mondays, 2-4 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Amanda Wunder
Students in this seminar will explore methodologies from material culture studies and apply them to art objects made in and for the vast territories of the early modern Iberian world (ca. 1500-1700). This course is being offered in conjunction with a panel on the same topic at the College Art Association on Feb. 17 (5:30-7:00), which students are expected to attend. During the semester, we will read classic works on material culture and the most recent scholarship from Spanish/Latin American/global studies. Some classes will meet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where we will examine objects made from various materials (textiles, paintings, domestic furnishings, prints, and more). There we will be paying special attention to the relationship between the academic study of art history and museum-based conservation and scholarship. This is an interdisciplinary course that welcomes graduate students from different departments and programs--it is not restricted to art history students. Please email Prof. Wunder ( if you need permission to enroll.
Requirements: Active participation during classroom discussions and museum visits; oral presentation on one week's readings. Written assignments: One catalogue entry based on a museum object due mid-semester; object-based final research paper and conference-style presentation at the end of the term.