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Spring 2020

Hist. 82600- Seminar in Non-American History II
GC: Mondays, 4:15-6:15 pm, 5 credits, Prof. Steven Remy

This course is a continuation of Seminar in Non-American History I. Students will develop and complete the research project begun in the fall and turn their prospectuses into papers of publishable quality. Throughout the course, we will discuss the ongoing work in class, emphasizing the analysis of secondary and primary sources. Students will also circulate their works in progress amongst each other and practice giving informal and formal presentations. We will also discuss the process of working with peer-reviewed journals.
Open only to PhD Program in History students.
final - Remy-syllabus-spring-2020

Hist. 84900- Seminar in American History II
GC: Wednesdays, 11:45 am - 1:45 pm, 5 credits, Prof. Thomas Kessner
There are two essential responsibilities for the seminar: the preparation of the research paper and fully engaged participation in the discussions and critiques of work submitted by other participants.
The objective of this Seminar is for students to expand and refine their skills in research and historical writing by carrying out the research project they proposed in the Fall semester. The required article length historical research paper must be a piece of original work on American history, substantially based on primary sources. It should engage a clearly defined historiographical problem, be well written, effectively organized and cogently argued. In class, we will workshop in-progress drafts and discuss research methods and writing strategies.  Students will also review and critique the works in progress submitted by their colleagues. 
Open only to PhD Program in History students.
Syllabus - Sem-II-Spr-2020

Hist. 80010- Literature Survey in American History
GC: Mondays, 6:30-8:30 pm, 5 credits, Prof. Anne Kornhauser
This course covers significant themes and developments in U.S. history from the end of the Civil War to the late 20th century. Major themes include: the aftermath and legacy of slavery, the emergence of the United States as a global power, the rise and consolidation of the American state, and the struggle for national inclusion: race, rights, and citizenship. The broad objectives of the course include helping to prepare students for a written departmental exam, to provide a substantive foundation for students to teach their own U.S. history courses, and to expose students to modes of inquiry, subfields, and bibliographies that will aid in future research and teaching. Given these broad ambitions, this 5-credit course is necessarily demanding. In general, students will be expected to read the equivalent of two monographs a week and to be prepared to engage in rigorous yet wide-ranging discussions. The course will proceed chronologically as well as thematically and will consider questions, debates, issues, and dilemmas that arise from political, legal, cultural, economic, social, race, and gender histories of this period. In keeping with recent trends in the field, we will also consider U.S. history from a global perspective, Assignments will include weekly response papers, short literature reviews, and oral presentations. The course will culminate in a departmental final. Attendance is required for each class session, and all students will be expected to participate in class discussions
Open only to PhD Program in History students.

Hist. 80020- Literature Survey in European History
GC: Wednesdays, 2-4 pm, 5 credits, Prof. Eric Weitz
This course provides students with an introduction to the major themes of and historiographical debates on modern European history. Geographically we will range from the Eurasian steppe and eastern Anatolia to the Atlantic Ocean. Topically we will also range widely, from diplomatic and international to gender and social history and everything in between. We will also study Europe in its global context. By the end of the semester students should have achieved a solid grasp of the literature on European history, which will provide the basis for their qualifying exams, teaching, and dissertations. Students will write a substantial historiographical paper on a topic of their choice.
Open only to PhD Program in History students.
Hist. 89900- Dissertation Seminar
GC: Mondays, 2-4 pm, 0 credits, Prof. James Oakes
This course is entirely devoted to students at the dissertation writing stage who would benefit from sharing some of their work with fellow students. The goal is to create an atmosphere of friendly, constructive criticism that will benefit all students as they work to organize their material and develop their interpretations.
Open only to Level 3 PhD Program in History students.
Hist. 75500- Sojourners, Sultans, and Slaves: Slavery and Freedom in North America and the Indian Ocean
GC: Wednesdays, 4:15-6:15 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Gunja SenGupta  
        As the 19th century dawned, global systems of capitalism and empire knit the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds into international networks of trade and travel, and conquest and colonization, of labor and capital, and politics and ideology. The controversies over slavery,colonialism, and freedom’s meanings that resulted from this integration, offer U.S. scholars an analytical framework for “cross-fertilizing” national histories, historiographies, and epistemologies, with the burgeoning scholarship on the Indian Ocean. This course introduces students to transnational and comparative perspectives that illuminate the interoceanic scale of the Anglophone contexts in which Americans engaged with the politics and representations of slavery, abolition and empire.
           Such engagements emerged in a moment of transition between empires in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds during the 18th century. The backdrop against which they occurred, however, was shaped by developments that date as far back as what European historians would consider early modern periods in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds.  So we will begin there, reflecting, as we proceed to the 19th century,  on questions like:  how exceptional was “American” slavery, and its relationship with notions of freedom? How did British colonial traditions of legal pluralism translate in the Indian Ocean world? How do we theorize “agency,” “diaspora,” and “difference,” in African diasporic history, and evaluate scholarly debates over the boundaries between law and practice, family and the market, and nation and empire within that history? In what ways did “subaltern” migrations remake identities and produce change? How did free labor experiments in British Asia influence debates over sectionalism in the U.S.? What do the struggles of American slaveholders in Indian Ocean Sultanates over land, labor, cultural politics, and international power rivalries tell us about comparative slavery histories?
We will  grapple with these questions by placing U.S. historiography in dialogue with scholarship and multinational archival materials on slavery and freedom in the Indian Ocean, comparing, for instance, the Atlantic slave trade with human trafficking on the Trans-Saharan and Arabia Sea routes; considering the ways in which tropes of difference (race, religion, class, caste, gender, sex) and ideas about dependence (especially kinship) shaped ideologies and practices of “master-slave” relationships; discussing the workings of the state, law, political economy, religious institutions, and demography, in constructing systems of bondage,  hierarchy and patronage; considering how formal institutions and informal customs influenced marginalized people’s material conditions, and regulated their access to community membership/citizenship; examining the dynamics of “subaltern” family, culture, community, and resistance; tracing the transoceanic circulation of debates over slavery and poverty, and abolition and empire; and contextualizing emancipation in the U.S, within the framework of comparative chronicles of freedom.
Hist. 74900 - Race, Gender and American Political Development
GC:  Tuesdays, 11:45 am - 1:45 pm, 3 credits, Profs. David Waldstreicher & Ruth O’Brien

This course examines to what extent, in what ways, are exceptionalist understandings of U.S. political traditions a problem or a solution? Do accounts that stress race, or gender, or the confluence of the two, provide a necessary or sufficient theory or counter-narrative of political development? Do frameworks developed in European politics, in critical theory, postcolonial thought or in domestic vernaculars comprehend the roles of race and gender, or their relationship to each other, in the political past and political time now? What kinds of analytical scholarship and storytelling have been adequate to the task?  Finally, given the recent resurgence of angry and martial rhetoric at the center of national politics, how might we understand the relationship between the revolutionary or Enlightenment dreams of justice, peace, freedom and progress on the one hand, and the recurrent dread or nightmare of decline and oppression, as shaping facts of specifically political traditions?​

Hist. 74300 - Readings in 20th Century U.S. Women’s History
GC:  Wednesdays, 6:30-8:30 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Kathleen McCarthy
When women’s history emerged as a subfield in the 1960s, its initial goal was to write women into the historical record.  Since then, the analytical focus has shifted from an emphasis on “sisterhood” to class relations, political culture, the social construction of gender, transnationalism, and colonialism and empire.  Cultural analyses have also become increasingly important, illuminating the subtexts that shaped women’s lives in different regions and eras, while microhistories have excavated the lives of ordinary Americans in revealing ways.  This course will chart these historiographical shifts, as well as the ways in which women’s history has reshaped our understanding of American history for the period from 1900 to the late 20th century.
Within this framework a variety of topics will be explored, including (among others): 1) mainstreaming and microhistory; 2) gender and sexuality; 3) politics and political cultures; 4) transnationalism and empire; 5) race; 6) popular culture; 7) feminism and its discontents;  8) family and domesticity;  9) the women’s movement; 10) science and the politics of the body; 11) women and the welfare state; 12) power and money.
The goal of this course is threefold: 1) to help students prepare for their written and oral examinations; 2) to deepen their knowledge of the ways in which women’s history has reshaped our understanding of American history; and 3) to bolster their research, writing and analytical skills.
Students will lead one to three discussion sessions, and have a choice of doing weekly abstracts on the assigned readings for the weeks in which they are not presenting, or developing a research proposal on a women’s history topic of their choice for the period between 1900 and the 1990s.
Hist. 75900 - African Americans in Public
GC:  Tuesdays, 6:30-8:30 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Tanisha Ford
This course on African Americans in Public utilizes a “long twentieth century” approach to examine key historiographical debates in the field of African American History. Using “public” as a category of analysis, we will explore the ways in which scholars have used social, intellectual, cultural, labor, urban, and public history methods to ask different questions (and arrive at different conclusions) about African American life. To that end, we will consider how these different subfields approach the archive and read its gaps and silences, marshal evidence, and determine who and what gets to be worthy of historical study. The aim is to move beyond a debate about "public" vs "private" to instead focus on how African Americanists have, over time, defined and redefined what "the public" is and how people of African descent engage with/in such spaces. Students will be expected to write a 2-page critical review of each assigned monograph and produce a 10-15pp historiographical essay.
Registration open only to PhD Program in History students. If you are interested, please write to
syllabus - Ford-HIST75900-AfAms-in-Public_2

HIST 78400 and CHSS 695 (MPH) and CHSS 895 (Doctoral) 
Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Corporations, Health and Democracy, 1900 to the Present: Modern Capitalism and the Fate of Health    

Tuesdays, 4:00 - 5:50 pm, 3 credits
NOTE: CLASSES HELD AT The School of Public Health at 55 West 125th Street
Distinguished Professors Gerald Markowitz(History) and Nicholas Freudenberg (Public Health).

This jointly taught course with Nick Freudenberg of CUNY’s School of Public Health will explore how  21st century capitalism influences health and how its impact on health has changed since 1900?  To answer these questions, this course presents students with historical, epidemiological and sociological perspectives on the impact of corporations on population health. It reviews how changes in capitalism influenced patterns of health and diseases in the United States  and how globalization, financialization, technological changes and neoliberalism changed how capitalism and corporations shaped living conditions.   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 the United States and globally.  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 changing roles of  food, pharmaceutical, health care ,  automobile and chemical industries on the health of  workers, consumers, communities and planetary well-being. 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 doctoral students in public health, history, sociology, psychology, geography, political science  and related disciplines and Masters students in public health, liberal studies, or related academic or professional programs.

Hist. 72600- Late Life: Histories of Old Age and Death
GC: Wednesdays, 4:15-6:15 pm, 3 credits, Prof. David Troyansky

The course will explore two very rich historiographies that range widely across time and space and deploy methods and approaches that emphasize religion and culture, economy and society, health, demography and public policy.  Much of the course will concern early modern and modern Europe, but we will also pay attention to notable works in ancient and medieval history, American history, and non-western (especially Asian) histories.  Our approach to the history of old age will require us to focus on gender and family, property and intergenerational relations, medical literature and institutions, pensions and social security arrangements, ageism and individual subjectivities.  Our exploration of the history of death will pay much attention to religion and secularization as well as histories of the body and its disposal, individual and mass death, and commemorative practices.  I anticipate that most students will write historiographical papers, but there will also be opportunities to do research in primary sources.
Hist. 78110- Palestine under the British Mandate: Origins, Evolutions and Implications, 1906-1949
GC: Mondays, 6:30-8:30 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Simon Davis
This course examines how and with what consequences British interests at the time of the First World War identified and pursued control over Palestine as an imperial objective, the subsequent forms such projections took, the crises which followed and their eventual consequences. Particular themes will be explored through analytical discussions of assigned historiographic materials, chiefly recent primary research-based journal literature.

Hist. 72400- The Political Thought of Hannah Arendt
GC: Mondays, 6:30-8:30 pm, 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 German mentor, Martin Heidegger (Being and Time). At specific junctures, Arendt’s 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.
Syllabus - Political-Thought-of-HA

MA students will be admitted on a space-available basis at the discretion of the instructor. Please write to to gain permission.

Hist. 72100 - Key Concepts in the Western Tradition
GC: Mondays, 4:15 – 6:15 pm, Room TBA, 3 credits, Prof. Helena Rosenblatt
In recent decades there has been a new development in the academic study of political and social thought. Much attention is now being paid to “key concepts” and their historicity. The so-called “linguistic turn” has played an important role in this process.
By “key concepts” we mean the big ideas and indispensable terms without which it would be virtually impossible to engage in any meaningful political discussion. We use such concepts daily to make sense of our world and communicate with others. And yet, as scholars today are increasingly realizing, the meanings of these concepts are not static or timeless. They are constantly evolving and being contested. Key concepts can be seen as tools and weapons wielded at specific times for specific political purposes.
In this course we will examine the meaning and evolution of a number of key concepts essential to our current vocabulary, among which “democracy”, “populism” and “liberalism,” as well as “happiness,” “fear,” “genius” and “woman”. We will consider questions such as the following: What did “democracy” mean to the ancient Greeks and what does it mean to us today? How does our notion of “genius” compare to that of the Renaissance? When and why was the word “liberalism” coined and how has its meaning changed over time? Has our understanding of “woman” remained the same across the centuries?

Hist. 79200- Jews and the Left
GC: Tuesdays, 4:15-6:15 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Elissa Bemporad
This course will explore the historical involvement of Jewish men and women in the political left from the French Revolution to the contemporary world, in Europe, America and Palestine/Israel. By discussing the political and ideological factors that attracted Jews to leftist political movements over time and in different geopolitical contexts, the course will study the ambivalent relationship between universalism and particularism that lied at the heart of these movements. Through a diverse selection of readings, which include memoirs, letters, fiction, press articles, and monographs, students will also be asked to disentangle facts from myth, as they ponder the reality and the limits of the Jewish alliance with the Left. This course will also explore the ways in which, at different times and in different places, the association between Jews and the Left have become a common thread in antisemitic thinking.
JewsLeftGC syllabus

Hist. 72200 - Race, Gender, and the Art of Memoir
GC:  Tuesdays, 4:15-6:15 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Tanisha Ford
In recent years, there has been resurgent interest in the genre of memoir. Many of these contemporary texts are written by young(er), people of color. In this course we will read classic memoirs in conversation with more recent publications to explore the intersections of gender and race and the unique ways that writers of creative non-fiction use the genre to explore identity politics, trauma, pleasure, the (recent) past, and worldmaking. Learning how to write in this style is a useful skill for all students—regardless of field, discipline or career path. To that end, students will write and revise several autobiographical essays, with attention to developing voice and tone, pacing, and social/cultural/political texture.
Registration open only to PhD Program in History and M.A. Program in Biography and Memoir students. If you are interested, please write to

Hist. 70330- The Trajanic Moment in Roman Literature
GC: Wednesdays, 4:15-6:15 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Joel Allen
This history course looks at the Roman Principate in its transition from the reign of Domitian to that of Trajan (roughly 80-120 CE), a momentous period that saw shifts in the nature and exercise of political power, the negotiation of empire, and attitudes toward ethnicity and identity, three themes that will form the emphases of our readings. 
            Proceeding chronologically, we’ll begin with an exploration of the intellectual climate of Domitianic Rome.  Some areas of inquiry include the use of memory of the Roman past among both poets and prose authors of the late Flavian period—Silius Italicus, Frontinus, Quintilian—as well as changes in the nature of public life in the city and the emperor’s role therein, as evident in Martial and Statius.  To the extent possible, we’ll seek to recover perspectives on and of the provinces, especially the Greek East (Josephus, perhaps), an area that will have more evidence as we move into the Trajanic empire with the texts of Dio Chrysostom, Plutarch, and Favorinus.  Tacitus will be an obvious reference point in both chronological “halves” of the course, leading into the commentaries of his later contemporaries (the letters and Panegyricus of Pliny the Younger, the biographies of Suetonius, and the satirical poems of Juvenal) on politics, ethnicity, and what it means to be “Roman”.  All texts will be read in English translation (though knowledge of Greek and Latin would of course enrich the student’s experience!).

HIST 71100/ MALS 74700/ GEMS 82100 - Reading Folklore in the Early Modern World
GC: Tuesdays, 4:15-6:15 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Sarah Covington
Folklore has traditionally been viewed as quaint and supplementary material illustrating “hidden” voices of “the people.” This seminar will question if not overturn virtually all of the previous statement, including the use of “folklore” as a term. Folklore, or more properly, vernacular expressions and practices, emerged wherever there existed a social group, of whatever status, which expressed its shared identity by calling on past traditions. It also could enter the most elite literature, move back and forth between oral culture and text, or be invented entirely as “fakelore.” This seminar will explore this enormously fertile vernacular world, including the often overlooked discipline of folkloristics, which offers historians and literary scholars new insights and methodologies into reading pre-modern texts or interpreting often opaque stories from the deeper past. Extending across Europe and the Atlantic World (including colonial North America), from the late medieval period through the eighteenth century, we will study stories and material culture, rituals and landscape, as access points to understanding an otherwise evasive mental world and our own approaches to it.
History 76900  Labor & U.S. Empire in the Americas
GC: Thursdays 4:15 - 6:15, 3 credits, Prof. Eduardo Contreras
Guided by the transnational and hemispheric turns in labor and migration studies, this course will examine the historical experiences of working people in Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico, and the United States. Our scholarly inquiry will specifically consider how laborers in and from these regions confronted U.S. imperialism and how they, in the words of some recent scholars, "made the U.S. empire work." Topics of study will include the interconnections between labor and migration; the construction of the Panama Canal; the expansion of the banana industry; ethnoracial tensions and collaborations among working people; and the role of U.S. imperialism in prompting migration to the United States, among others. The course will be of particular interest to students training in Central American, Caribbean, U.S. labor, and/or U.S. Latina/o/x histories.

See Also

Sociology - Spatial Patterns of Difference and Inequality: Global, National, Regional
GC: Tuesdays, 2-4 pm, 3 credits, Prof. John Torpey
This course explores spatial patterns of difference and inequality at the global, national, and regional levels.  It seeks to make sense of the historical roots of these patterns in political, economic, ethnoracial, religious, and demographic systems.  The course will explore diverse times and places in order to understand contemporary patterns of difference and inequality in comparative and historical perspective.

English 75100 - The American Renaissance
​GC: Wednesdays, 2-4 pm, 4 credits, Prof. David S. Reynolds
Known as the American Renaissance, the decades leading up to the Civil War are generally regarded not only as the peak moment in American cultural expression but also as a watershed of themes reaching back to ancient and early-modern periods and looking forward to modernism.  The American Renaissance saw the innovations in philosophy, ecological awareness, and style on the part of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau; the metaphysical depth and cultural breadth represented by the fiction of Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne; the poetic experimentation of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson; the psychological probing and ground-breaking aesthetics of Edgar Allan Poe; and landmark portraits of race and slavery by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Jacobs, and Frederick Douglass. Urban life and class conflict were dramatized in fiction by George Lippard, and gender issues were vivified in writings by Margaret Fuller and Sara Parton. Lincoln’s speeches crystalized the nation’s enduring political themes. In addition to reading central works of American literature—among them Moby-Dick, “Bartleby,” Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, The Scarlet Letter,  Leaves of Grass, Walden, Poe’s tales, Emerson’s essays, and Dickinson’s poems--we discuss current approaches to American Studies, criticism, and cultural history.
MALS 78500 - Economics For Everyone
GC: Tuesdays, 6:30-8:30 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Miles Corak
Upon completion of this course successful students will be familiar with the basic principles of economics and be able to apply them critically to issues dealing with American and international public policy. Students will read, summarize, and critically assess texts in economic theory, public policy documents, and media reporting, working both individually and in groups to produce written reports and oral presentations.
The course has been specially designed to meet the needs of graduate students in all disciplines who may have had only limited exposure to economics during their undergraduate studies. Upon completion of the course students will have the skills and knowledge to understand and critically assess public policy debates dealing with both micro and macro-economic issues, as well as to enrol in more advanced courses in economic theory.