Bard College Catalogue

The Bard College Catalogue contains detailed descriptions of the College's undergraduate programs and courses, curriculum, admission and financial aid procedures, student activities and services, history, campus facilities, affiliated institutions including graduate programs, and faculty and administration.

Bard College Catalogue, 2018–19

Bard College Catalogue, 2018–19

Historical Studies


Robert J. Culp (director), Richard Aldous, Myra Young Armstead, Leon Botstein, Omar Youssef Cheta, Christian Crouch, Tabetha Ewing, Cecile E. Kuznitz, Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, Sean McMeekin, Gregory B. Moynahan, Joel Perlmann, Miles Rodríguez, Alice Stroup, Drew Thompson, Wendy Urban-Mead (MAT), David Woolner


The Historical Studies Program focuses primarily, but not exclusively, on political, social, economic, and cultural aspects of history. The program encourages students to examine history through the prism of other relevant disciplines (sociology, anthropology, economics, philosophy) and forms of expression (art, film, drama, literature, architecture). The program also introduces a variety of methodological perspectives used in historical research and philosophical assumptions about men, women, and society that underlie these perspectives.

Areas of Study

Study plans can be divided into the following categories: national, regional, or local history (for example, American, European, Asian, Russian); period-oriented history (ancient, medieval, early modern, modern); and topical specializations (environmental history, urban history, diplomatic history, ethnic history, African American history, history of gender and sexuality, history of ideas, history of science and technology). Individual study plans may be further subdivided into specific areas of concentration.


In the Lower College, students are expected to take three or four history courses covering different regions and time periods and using a variety of research methodologies. Students are required to take a global core course before graduation, and preferably before Moderation. For Moderation, students are required to submit the standard two short papers and a paper responding to an assigned reading. By the time of their graduation, students must have completed between six and eight history courses covering at least three world regions and one period prior to 1800. These should include one course focused on issues of historiography. As part of the preparation for their Senior Project, Upper College students should take two 300-level seminars; one of these should be a Major Conference taken in the junior year that culminates in a substantial research project.

Recent Senior Projects

  • “Filiki Etaireia: The Rise of a Secret Society in the Making of the Greek Revolution”
  • “From New York to Hollywood: Advertising, Narrative Formats, and Changing Television Space in the 1950s”
  • “Michael Faraday’s ‘Lines of Force’ and the Role of Heuristic Models in Early Electromagnetic Field Theory”
  • “Reframing the Ofrenda: An Analysis of Material Culture through the Death Cult of Mexico”


The course descriptions that follow are presented numerically, beginning with 100-level introductory classes and continuing through 300-level seminars, and represent a sampling of offerings from the past four years. Tutorials and Major Conferences are also offered regularly; recent examples include Anarchism, Critical Geography, and The Decision to Drop the Bomb.

The following descriptions represent a sampling of courses from the past four years.

Ancient History
History 100 / Classics 100
The course has two main purposes: to see how much is implied by the notion of historical causation and what it means to “think historically,” and to understand the way the foundations of Western culture were first shaped in the Near East and then developed quite distinctively in the ancient cultures of Greece and Rome. The class also looks at the chronological and causal sweep of ancient Mediterranean culture as a whole, from its beginnings to the death of St. Augustine.

History 1001
The class analyzes and compares some of the most iconic and influential revolutions in world history, including the French Revolution of 1789, the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, and China’s Communist Revolution of 1921–49. Other revolutionary events examined include the German Peasant Revolt of 1525, China’s Cultural Revolution, protests by students and intellectuals that rocked Europe in 1968, and the “velvet revolutions” and near revolutions that transformed state socialism in 1989.

Europe from 1350 to 1815
History 101
Who made “Europe?” How did power, wealth, and literacy spread north and westward from the ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean worlds? How did two new religions, Christianity and Islam, become established politically? How, despite recurring famines and epidemics, did the “Little Ice Age” (1300–1815) yield the Renaissance, the scientific revolution, and the Enlightenment? What is the connection between the Atlantic slave trade and the Industrial Revolution? Students read historians and historical sources to debate answers to these and other questions.

Europe since 1815
History 102
The first half of the course covers the period from the Congress of Vienna in 1815 to the outbreak of World War I in 1914, addressing such topics as the establishment of parliamentary democracy in Great Britain, the revolutions of 1848, and European imperialism. The second half focuses on the Great War, Russian Revolution, Great Depres­sion, rise of fascism, Holocaust, Cold War, and fall of communism in Eastern Europe.

Colonial Latin America since Conquest
History 110 / LAIS 110
See LAIS 110 for a full course description. 

Inclusion at Bard
History 117
Colleges have clearly served as stepping-stones, remediating against racial inequalities by providing pathways toward upward mobility for blacks and other minorities. At the same time, recent disclosures by Brown and Georgetown Universities of, respectively, a founder’s fortune made in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the sale of slaves to pay off antebellum debts exemplify the role played by institutions of higher learning in reproducing racial and other social hierarchies. This course explores how these contradictory dynamics have manifested themselves at Bard by reviewing the College’s evolving admission policies and the experiences of alumni/ae of color.

Modern Latin America since Independence
History 120 / LAIS 120
See LAIS 120 for a full course description.

The United States in the 20th Century
History 121
Four decades into the 20th century, LIFE magazine editor Henry Luce declared it the “American Century.” This course explores the different meanings Americans and people elsewhere have ascribed to Luce’s term. Over the last century, the United States has changed in dramatic ways (global power, demographics, economics), while continuing longer-standing trajectories (sense of mission, racialized citizenship, socioeconomic inequality). Themes include the Gilded Age, imperialism, world wars, women’s rights, the New Deal, Cold War, Civil Rights Movement, expansion of the federal government, and American popular culture.

The Widow at Montgomery Place in the 19th Century
History 123
In 1802, Janet Montgomery began to convert her 380-acre riverfront property from a “wilderness” into a “pleasure ground.” This transformation reflected prevailing ideas about the ideal aesthetic relationship between humans and nature as well as emerging notions regarding scientific agriculture. Development of the property also mirrored contemporary social and cultural conventions, as the estate was populated by indentured servants, tenants, slaves, free workers, and elites. This course approaches Montgomery Place as a laboratory for understanding social hierarchies, cultural practices, and evolving visions of nation and “place.”

The Pacific World
History 125
The Pacific Ocean covers a third of the Earth’s surface. Home to over a thousand languages and thousands of years of rich histories, the Pacific has been, and continues to be, one of the most diverse regions of cultural, social, economic, and environmental interaction. This seminar begins with the settlement of the Pacific Islands from Southeast Asia over 40,000 years ago and ends with a critical analysis of debates about the geostrategic and economic significance of the Pacific today.

Introduction to Modern Japanese History
History 127
Japan in the mid-19th century was beleaguered by British and American imperialism and rocked by domestic turmoil. How, then, did it become an emerging world power by the early 20th century? Why did Japan’s transformations during the late 19th and early 20th centuries lead to the total war of the 1930s and 1940s, and what factors explain its postwar economic growth and renewed global importance?

Origins of the American Citizen
History 130
The United States is often portrayed as emerging triumphantly in 1776 to offer inclusive citizenship and a transcendent, tolerant, “American” identity to all its indigenous and immigrant residents. Yet the reality of American history belies this myth. This course focuses on six moments that definitively challenged and shaped conceptions of “American identity”: the early colonial period, the Constitutional Con­vention, the Cherokee Removal, the era of internal slave trade and the “Market Revolution,” the Mexican-American War, and Reconstruction.

The Mystery of History
History 132
In “whodunnits,” the criminal has to be discovered; in police procedurals, another popular mystery genre, we know who did it, but need to find the facts that will lead to an arrest and conviction. Students become detectives as they take on a broad range of issues in American history: Were there really witches in Salem? How did the revolutionary generation square their call for liberty with their dependence on slavery? Were Sacco and Vanzetti robbers and murderers or the victims of a political prosecution?

The Ottomans and the Last Islamic Empire
History 134
After World War I, the Ottoman Empire disappeared from the world scene. In its place arose numerous states, which today make up the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe. In these states, memory of the empire is alive and well; it is in relation to the Ottoman legacy that national identities were constructed and claims to national borders settled (or not). Topics: the empire’s origins, its Islamic and European identities, everyday life under the Ottomans, and the emergence of modern Turkey.

Imperial Chinese History
History 135
China’s imperial state, sustained in one form or another for over two millennia, was arguably history’s longest continuous social and political order. This course explores the transformations of imperial China’s state, society, and culture from their initial emergence during the Zhou period (1027–221 BCE) through the end of the Qing dynasty in 1911, when a combination of imperialism and internal stresses destroyed the imperial system. Readings in philosophy, poetry, fiction, and memoir are supplemented with a rich array of visual sources.

The Mediterranean World
History 138
A historical journey to the Mediterranean world of the 16th and 17th centuries using the scholarship of Fernand Braudel as a vehicle. The class considers geography, demography, climate, and econo­mies; next, the formation of social structures; and last, politics, religion, and culture.

City Cultures
History 139
This course looks at a variety of physical structures and spaces from the industrial and postindustrial eras in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris, and Vilna. The class considers what the sites reveal about urban life across time, including such issues as technological innovation, new forms of leisure, changing relationships to the environment, and the development of working class culture.

Introduction to Russian Civilization
History 140
An examination of the origins and evolution of Russian civilization from the founding of the first Eastern Slavic state through the 18th century, when Russia began to modernize by borrowing from Western culture. Among the topics considered are the ethnogeny of early Russians, the development of state and legal institutions, the relationship between kinship and politics, the role of religion in public and private spheres, economic organization, social institutions, popular culture, and the impact of the outside world upon Russian society.

20th-Century Germany and the Unification of Europe
History 141
This course explores Germany’s pivotal place in the ideological divisions, political catastrophes, and theoretical, social, and scientific innovations of modern Europe. A guiding theme is the paradox that even as Germany is perhaps the most “modern” of European states, it has been haunted since its inception by its past. Topics include the impact of World War I, the political experiment of Weimar democracy, the Holocaust, student protests of 1968, and the creation of a new German and European identity after 1989.

European Diplomatic History, 1648–1914
History 143
A survey of the major developments in European diplomatic history between the Treaty of Westphalia and the outbreak of World War I. Key themes: the changing nature of diplomacy and international order; the rise of the nation-state and standing armies; war finance and the bond market; and the French Revolutionary upheaval, the Industrial Revolution, and ideological responses to them (e.g., liberalism, nationalism, conservatism, socialism, and anarchism).

West African History, 1000–1900
History 154
This survey of the peoples and kingdoms of West Africa between 1000 and 1900 CE takes a long view of the medieval kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai; and studies the Hausa states, Yoruba chiefdoms, and republican communities and city-states of the Igbo people. Topics include the social and political organization of West African societies, bureaucratic and government institutions, modes of worship, and the history of domestic slavery and traffic of West African captives in the Atlantic World.

Apartheid in South(ern) Africa
History 158
Apartheid was a political beast that ravaged southern Africa from the late 18th century until 1994’s democratic election of South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela. However, recent economic struggles and the perceived failings of the African National Congress are shedding new light on apartheid’s legacies of inequality and South Africa’s longstanding regional dominance. This course uses primary-source documents to explore apartheid’s philosophical, economic, and social origins within political institutions and daily life from the time of the Great Scramble for Africa (1881–1914).

Modern France
History 159
The French nation gave birth to itself in 1789 but would be reborn as demographic and economic changes, brought about through colonial relations, forced new ideas about France’s political identity. This survey of French politics, society, and economy in the 19th and 20th centuries—from the French and Haitian Revolutions to the fall of France in Indochina—also addresses how the rise of the French intellectual, reformulation of gender roles, and resistance in overseas territories somehow created one of the most strongly articulated modern identities in Europe.

The History of Technology and Economics in the Modern Period
History 161
The course considers how a separate domain of technology first came to be defined during the 18th century and addresses how institutional forces, such as law, academia, business, and government, came to define and influence technological change and scientific research during the industrial revolution. Case studies range from the bicycle to the birth control pill.

Jews in the Modern World
History 181
In the modern period Jews faced unprecedented opportunities to integrate into the societies around them, as well as anti-Semitism on a previously unimaginable scale. In response to these changing conditions they reinvented Jewish culture and identity in radically new ways. This course surveys the history of the Jewish people from the expulsion from Spain to the establishment of the state of Israel. It examines such topics as acculturation and assimilation, Zionism, the Holocaust, and the growth of the American Jewish community.

Inventing Modernity: Peasant Commune, Renaissance, and Reformation in the German and Italian Worlds, 1291–1806
History 184
Using Jacob Burckhardt’s The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy as its starting point, this course examines the role of the drastic upheavals of the early modern period in defining the origins of such institutions as capitalism, political individuality, religious freedom, democracy, and the modern military. Also addressed is the historiography and politics ­surrounding the “invention” of the Renaissance in the late 19th century and Burckhardt’s relation to von Ranke, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche.

The Making of the Modern Middle East
History 185
An introduction to the major transformations of the Middle East from the late 18th century to the present. Topics include reform movements in the Ottoman Empire, European imperialism, nationalist movements (including the Arab-Israeli conflict), political Islam, military intervention, and the Arab Spring (and its aftermath). The course emphasizes the interactions between society, culture, and politics, with particular attention paid to such social and cultural aspects as gender, labor, popular culture, and forms of protest.

Topics in Modern European History, 1789 – Present 
History 192
This course employs methodologies and historiographies ranging from gender and demographic history to diplomatic and military history. It offers both an in-depth presentation of key aspects of modernity and a survey of ­contemporary historiography. Among the key issues discussed are the relation of the Industrial Revolution to the creation of new institutions of invention and patent, the role of institutional structure in diplomacy, and the effect of new mass media on citizenship.

James Bond’s World
History 2007
The character of James Bond has played a defining role in creating our understanding of what it means to be a spy and an Englishman. This course looks at the reality behind the fiction of one of Britain’s most glamorous and enduring exports, as well as the author who created him and the context of the postwar world. Background reading: Ian Fleming’s The Blofeld Trilogy and Simon Winder’s The Man Who Saved Britain.

Alexander the Great
History 201 / Classics 201
Alexander the Great changed the world more completely than any other human being, but did he change it for the better? How should Alexander himself be understood—as a tyrant of Hitlerian proportions, as a philosopher-king seeking to save the Greek world from self-destruction, or as a deluded madman? Such questions remain very much unresolved among modern historians. This course undertakes a thorough reading in the ancient sources concerning Alexander and examines as much primary evidence as can be gathered.

History of New York City
History 2014
A history of New York City from its founding as a Dutch colony to the present postindustrial, post-9/11 era. Emphasis is on the 19th and 20th centuries, when the city was transformed by immigration and rose to prominence as a global economic and cultural capital.

When Race Morphed: Understanding the Peoples of the United States, 1900 to the Civil Rights Era
History 2015
This course traces ethnic and racial divisions among Americans during the 20th century. The nonwhite groups we speak of today—blacks, Asians, and Native Americans—are part of this history; so too are the many European immigrant groups who arrived in the tens of millions by the 1920s, the Mexicans, Chinese, and others. Students consider the social history of these peoples across the years; the ways in which they were understood, by intellectuals and in government classifications like the census; and how “whiteness” was changing.

Russia under the Romanovs
History 203
A survey of Russian history during the reign of the Romanov dynasty from 1613 until the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II in 1917. Key themes include military history and imperial expansion, autocracy and its critics, Russia’s allegedly “belated” economic modernization, serfdom and land reform, the long-running argument over Russian identity between “Westernizers” and Slavophiles, and the origins and nature of Russian political radicalism in both populist and socialist strains.

Wars of Religion
History 2035
Religion and revolution have formed an unholy alliance at several distinct moments in history. This course is a journey across the motley religious landscape of early modern Europe, in which the ideas and practices of heretics, infidels, and unbelievers nestled in the spaces where orthodox Catholicism held sway. From the expulsion of Iberian Jews and Muslims to European contact with “cannibalism,” and from Luther in Germany to Carmelite nuns in Canada, students trace the stories of real people through Inquisition records, diaries and conversion tales, early pamphlets, and accounts of uprisings.

The First Power Couple: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt in Depression, War, and Peace
History 2039
An examination of the public policies, leadership strategies, and sometimes contentious political partnership between Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. The course concludes with a look at Eleanor Roosevelt’s role as a member of the first U.S. delegation to the United Nations, chair of the first Human Rights Commission, and the driving force behind the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Students conduct primary source research at the FDR Presidential Library.

Gutenberg 2.0: Making Books for Everyday Life and Ordinary People
History 209
This study of the history of the book examines authorship, readership, circulation, print technology, and the culture of print that papered bureaucracies and news media in the early-modern period. In addition to workshops in letterpress printing and digital bookmaking, the course considers selections from the how-to manuals that abounded in the period; instructional articles in Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie, the first great encyclopedia project; and the ways that digital technologies inform our understanding of early-modern techniques for everyday life.

Crusading for Justice: On Gender, Sexuality, Racial Violence, Media, Rights
History 210
This course focuses on the activism of journalist Ida B. Wells, daughter of two American slaves, who exposed lynching as state-sanctioned, extralegal violence against black men and women, and challenged legal double standards that erased the victimization of black women and the sexual agency of white women. In Wells’s work, we see more than a century of black feminist thought, critical race theory, and civil and human rights activism.

Gender and Sexuality in the Ancient World
History 211 / Classics 211
The course explores the gendered relations of men and women in the ancient Greco-Roman world, focusing on literary and historical sources, in order to understand the social history of ancient sexuality and its manifestations. Topics include women’s lives in classical Athens; Greek homoerotic relationships; sexuality as part of Greek drama, religion, and mythology; and women in Roman myth, literature, and history.

Early Middle Ages
History 2110
The European “middle ages,” originally so called as a term of derision, are more complex and heterogeneous than is commonly thought. This course surveys eight centuries, with a focus on the formation and spread of Christianity and Islam in the Mediterranean, European, and Nordic worlds. Topics include religions and polities; the roles of Jews and Judaism; monuments and their meanings; and the transformations of the Mediterranean, Near East, northern Atlantic, and Europe, 200–1,000 c.e.

High Middle Ages
History 2110
The course focuses on Europe and the Middle East (with glances to Asia and North Africa), from the first millennium through the 14th-century Black Death, and asks: How did towns change and a middle class emerge in Western Europe? How did capitalist cultures develop, linking East and West? How did universities complement or challenge the status quo in Europe? How did political patronage sustain ancient philosophy in the Muslim world? And how did medieval climate, technology, and epidemic transform Asia, the Middle East, and Europe?

The Invention of Politics
History 2112
Individuals and groups spoke, wrote, and fought to make their claims to public power in the period between 1500 and 1800 in ways that forced a reimagining of political relationships. The greatest institutions in place, particularly monarchies and the papacy, used their arsenals of words, documents, symbols, and ritual to maintain their legitimacy in the face of subtle or uproarious resistance. The tensions between groups created new political vocabularies to which we, in our present, have claimed historical ownership or explicitly rejected.

The World Makers: The Intellectual Foundations of U.S. Foreign Policy since 1890
History 2113
“Sometimes I’ve been charged with being an elitist,” diplomat George F. Kennan observed in 1945. “Of course I am. . . . God forbid that we should be without an elite. Is everything to be done by gray mediocrity?” This course examines the foreign policy intellectual elite that Kennan both admired and personified, including Alfred Mahan, Woodrow Wilson, Charles Beard, Walter Lippmann, Paul Nitze, Henry Kissinger, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Francis Fukuyama, Paul Wolfowitz, and Samantha Power, who each have shaped the discourse and practice of U.S. foreign affairs.

History 2116
The cry “Plague!” has struck fear among people around the world, from antiquity to the present. What is plague? How has it changed history? Starting with Camus’s metaphorical evocation of plague in a modern North African city, this Upper College seminar examines the historical impact of plague on society. Readings include literary works by Camus, Boccaccio, Manzoni, and Defoe; historical and philosophical analyses by ancients Thucydides and Lucretius; and contemporary literature on history, biology, and public health.

Soviet Russia
History 2118
This course examines the Russian Revolution and Civil War; the new economic policy and succession struggle after Lenin; the major phases of Stalinism; the “Great Patriotic War” (WWII) and the onset of the Cold War; “soft repression” and the growth of the Soviet bureaucratic elite of cadres under Leonid Brezhnev; Alexei Kosygin’s reforms and efforts to improve Soviet economic performance; Soviet foreign policy; the economic crisis of the 1980s; and, ultimately, the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Photography and Visual History in Africa
History 2123
Key themes include photography’s role in shaping historical knowledge and the representation of Africa and its peoples, the appropriation of image making into African creative practices and daily life, the politics of exhibition and archiving, and the ethics of seeing war and social justice. Students design a historical photography exhibition and have the opportunity to interact with leading curators, photojournalists, and art photographers who have spent time in Africa.

Immigration in American Politics, Past and Present
History 213
Dreamers and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), illegal aliens, dangerous Muslims, fear for jobs, “populism” gone rampant. During and since the 2016 presidential election, immigrants and immigration policy have played a central role in American political debate (with many apparent parallels in Europe). This course tries to specify what is novel in the American case—and what is not so new. Class readings focus on historical accounts of the immigrant in American politics as well as emerging understandings of the present instance.

The Making of the Atlantic World
History 2133
The “Atlantic World” encompasses the histories of the peoples, economies, ideas, and products that interacted in the oceanic basin in the early modern period. This was an international arena that shaped or destroyed communities, and developed as a result of voluntary and involuntary movement. Students consider the histories of the actors and agents who shaped or were shaped by Atlantic systems, as well as the implications of how we write or remember that history.

Comparative Atlantic Slave Societies
History 2134
Forced labor, whether indentured or enslaved, underpinned the early modern Atlantic world. Beginning in the early 16th century, millions of enslaved Africans and indigenous Americans came to or moved around the Americas. This course focuses on the African and indigenous Atlantics, and considers three important issues: the comparative development of slavery, methods of resistance, and processes of emancipation and national formations at the end of the 18th century. Readings help students trace the development of “African American,” “Afro-Brazilian,” “Afro-Mexican,” and “Afro-Caribbean” cultures.

Reason and Revolution: European Intellectual History to 1870
History 2136
The course outlines some of the principal transformations in the modern understanding of society and nature within a political, cultural, and institutional framework. Particular attention is placed on the interrelation of science, theology, and philosophy that characterized the period (from Descartes and Leibniz to Mach and Nietzsche). Topics of interest include skepticism, the interrelation of enlightenment and romanticism, feminism, conservatism, utopian socialism, nationalism, and anarchism.

From Shtetl to Socialism: East European Jewry in the Modern Era
History 215
Eastern Europe was the largest and most vibrant center of Jewish life for almost 500 years prior to the Holocaust. In that period East European Jewry underwent a wrenching process of modernization, creating radically new forms of community, culture, and political organization that still shape Jewish life today in the United States and Israel. Topics: the rise of Hasidism and Haskalah (Enlightenment), modern Jewish political movements, pogroms and Russian government policy toward the Jews, and the development of modern Jewish literature in Yiddish and Hebrew.

The Progressive Era in U.S. History
History 217
cross-listed: american studies
A survey of the period between 1890 and 1930, with a focus on the social and cultural politics of reform that it spawned. Topics include cross-Atlantic exchanges that informed an American progressive consciousness, competing historical interpretations of progressivism, and the legacy of progressivism for later 20th-century liberalism.

North America and Empire
History 218
A look at the rise of the United States from hemispheric to global power over the course of the 20th century. Two world wars, a global depression, and the Cold War, as well as a series of smaller but no less violent conflicts, dominated U.S. foreign relations during that time. The course concludes with a look at America’s role in a world marked by the rising influence of China, India, and nongovernmental actors.

The Past and Present of Capitalism in the Middle East
History 219
This course explores the multiple, and often counterintuitive, ways in which capitalism became entrenched in the modern Middle East. Drawing on social, intellectual, environmental, and business histories, the class examines how the encounter with capitalism shaped political phenomena such as imperialism, postcolonial nationalism, and contemporary sectarianism; how modern practices like smuggling and consumerism came to define the culture of capitalism in the region over the past two centuries; and the place of the Middle East within the current global order.

History 220
This course explores the multiple, and often counterintuitive, ways in which capitalism became entrenched in Are famines inevitable? For Robert Malthus, 18th-century clergyman and political economist, famines were (along with war and plague) natural curbs to overpopulation, necessary because humans reproduce faster than their food supply. For Amartya Sen, 20th-century philosopher and economist, famines result from social and economic policies, not food shortages. To understand what causes famines, the class examines famines globally, from premodern times to the present. Readings from Malthus and Sen, plus historians William Chester Jordan, Mike Davis, Robert Conquest, Frank Dikötter, Rob Nixon, and Cormac Ó Gráda.

A History of the Modern Police
History 222
The course investigates the invention and evolution of the police from the late 17th century to the present, focusing largely on France, Britain, and the United States. The class considers the development of the police as an expression of sovereign right and of citizens’ rights, from enforcer of the king’s will to public servant.

Contemporary Russia
History 2241
After examining the dilemmas of reform in the 1980s and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the course traces the different paths of Russia and other successor states through the present day. Key themes: the command economy and efforts to liberalize it; the nature of the Soviet collapse and whether it was inevitable; the hyperinflation of the early 1990s and its consequences; the rise of the Mafia; the war(s) in Chechnya; the transition from Yeltsin to Putin; and the current scene.

Migrants and Refugees in the Americas
History 225
The border, the ban, the wall, raids, deportations, sanctuary, refugee resettlement—all terms that exploded into the public discourse as the Trump administration made migration a centerpiece of its campaign and the subject of its first executive orders. Focusing on south-north migration from various Latin American regions, the course considers the history of migrant and refugee human rights over the last three decades, shifting global demographics, changing reasons for migration, enforcement policies, and reform movements, in order to gain a more complete understanding of Latin American–origin migration.

War against the World
History 2253
Ecological history is a skeptical version of the triumphalist history of technology. For each achievement, there has been a price to pay. Studies have traced the toll of agriculture on human health in a world where living things compete for water; examined how electricity and the combustion engine have contaminated air, water, and earth; and correlated dams with reduced salmon spawning and pesticides with extinctions and mutations. Readings include Joachim Radkau’s Nature and Power and case studies from around the world.

Law in the Middle East: From Ottoman Edicts to Contemporary Human Rights
History 2255
This course examines how law was constituted and applied among Muslim and non-Muslim communities of the Ottoman Empire (16th through 18th centuries); how this particular early modern legacy shaped the policies of the Ottoman and post-Ottoman states toward legal reform in the modern period (19th and 20th centuries); and the politics of law in the contemporary Middle East. Readings revolve around the intersection of law with various social spheres, such as religious conversion, gender, slavery, and human rights.

From Missionaries to Marines: The United States in the Middle East from the 19th Century to the Present
History 226
Popular perceptions of American involvement in the Middle East coalesce around three issues: oil, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and 9/11. This course questions whether this articulation of the United States’ presence in the Middle East fully reflects American interests in the region. It also explores how U.S. policy has oscillated between disengagement and intervention.

Dominion: Empire and Environment in Modern History
History 227
How have empires shaped the environment? And how, in turn, have human and nonhuman environments affected the course of empires? Students consider the interplay between empire and the environment from a global perspective. Topics discussed: how European settlers changed the natural environment of New England, why the Chinese government decided to build gigantic dams, and what the history of empires can tell us about contemporary debates on human-made climate change. Guest speakers join the conversation throughout the semester.

Black Modernism
History 2271
This course grounds students in the foundational literature of 20th-century anticolonial and postcolonial thought. By focusing on the francophone world, students follow developments in Paris, Marseilles, Haiti, Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Senegal, enabling them to assess heterogeneous responses to a single imperial framework. Readings include the poetry of Aimé Césaire, essays by Léopold Senghor and Suzanne Césaire, the psychosocial theory of Frantz Fanon, a novel by Maryse Condé, and history by C. L. R. James.

Turkey and Europe
History 228
An exploration of the “Eastern Question” from the Napoleonic era to the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which fixed (most) of the post-Ottoman borders in the Middle East, at least until the rise of the Islamic State. The main focus is on Great Power and Ottoman diplomacy, but the course also considers internal developments in the Ottoman Empire, especially those brought about by (or in opposition to) European influence; the Ottoman role in the origins and conclusion of World War I; and recent relations between Turkey and the European Union.

China in the Eyes of the West
History 2301
European Enlightenment thinkers viewed the Qing dynasty (1644–1911) as the world’s most enlightened despotism, but by the turn of the 20th century most Western thinkers considered China to be the “sick man of Asia.” This course reconstructs the visions of China formulated by Europeans and Americans during the 19th and 20th centuries, and explores how those visions changed over time. Texts include popular histories, news reports, travel writing, academic works, novels, photographs, films, websites, and blogs.

Shanghai and Hong Kong: China’s Global Cities
History 2302
Shanghai and Hong Kong are cities with long cosmopolitan pasts. This course explores the history of their current economic, social, and cultural dynamism, and in doing so probes the historical roots of globalization. It analyzes how 19th- and early 20th-century colonialism and semicolonialism both drove and conditioned, in somewhat different ways, the development of these two cities.

Gender and Sexuality in Modern China
History 2306
This course explores the roles of gender and sexuality in the construction of social and political power in China over the last 500 years, including traditional areas of focus such as foot binding, the cloistering of women, and the masculinization of public space; the transformations of Confucian age/sex hierarchies within the family; women’s rights movements of the early 20th century; and the Communist revolution’s ambivalent legacy for women in the People’s Republic of China.

China’s Environment
History 2308
The fate of the global environment depends in large part on how China handles its environmental challenges. The country’s coal consumption is the single largest contributor to global climate change, and domestic environmental problems like desertification, air pollution, and a rapidly degrading water supply threaten to undermine its economic growth and political stability. This course explores the economic, social, cultural, and political dynamics that have generated the current crisis, and analyzes how and why the government has dramatically shifted its approach to emerge as a leader in climate change mitigation. 

How to Wage War in Colonial America
History 2315
Colonial America existed in a constant state of war. This course examines formal and informal military conflicts from the 16th to the early 19th century, looking at well-known engagements like the so-called French and Indian War as well as lesser-known episodes, such as the French and Abenaki raid on Deerfield in 1704. Students learn how European and indigenous American rules of violence developed, shifted, and adapted in response to the Columbian Exchange, and how war came to shape contemporary American identity.

American Urban History
History 232
A study of U.S. urbanization as a social and cultural process best understood by relevant case studies. Topics include, but are not limited to, urban spatial practices and conceptualizations, the establishment of the nation’s urban network, the changing function of cities, the European roots of American city layout and governance, urban social structure, the emergence of urban culture, and ideations/representations of American cities.

Native American History
History 2356
An overview of the history created by and between native peoples, Africans, and Europeans, from the 15th through the 20th century. Attention is paid to the exchanges and contests between Native Americans and African Americans in the colonial and early national period, as well as today. Primary sources and historical interpretations of interactions provide a context for evaluating questions of current Native American politics and financial and land reparations.

Power and Performance in the Colonial Atlantic
History 236 / Theater 236
See Theater 236 for a full course description.

Greek Religion: Magic, Mysteries, and Cult
History 2361 / Classics 2361
See Classics 2361 for a full course description.

20th-Century Diplomatic History
History 240
This course examines in depth the tumultuous history of the “short 20th century.” While one cannot understand the period without grappling with social movements and ideas, the emphasis here is primarily on high politics, war, and diplomacy from the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, with a brief epilogue on the post–Cold War era.

Mao’s China and Beyond
History 2481
No individual shaped modern China more than Mao Zedong. This course uses Mao’s life and writings as a framework for exploring modern Chinese history, beginning with an analysis of how the 20th-century revolutions relate to other social, cultural, and economic trends, including urbanization, industrialization, consumerism, and the expansion of mass media.

Joyce’s Ulysses, Modernity, and Nationalism
History 2551
Although it concerns only one day in 1904, each chapter of James Joyce’s Ulysses is written in a radically different style. This course complements Joyce’s stylistic innovation by using ­multifarious contemporary documents and ­historical texts to unfold the historical context and resonance of each of Joyce’s chapters. Among the key issues addressed are the function of historical and mythical time in everyday life and the effect of politics and mass media on personal experience.

Capitalism and Slavery
History 2631 / Human Rights 2631
Scholars have argued that there is an intimate relationship between the contemporary wealth of the developed world and the money generated through 400 years of slavery in the Americas. Is there something essential that links capitalism, even liberal democratic capitalism, to slavery? This course examines the development of this linkage, focusing on North America and the Caribbean from the early 17th century through the staggered emancipations of the 19th century. Contemporary issues (e.g., reparations, the “duty” of the Americas to Africa) are also considered.

The Holocaust, 1933–1945
History 2701
This course examines modern anti-Semitic movements and the aftermath of World War I; Nazi rule and the experience of German Jews from 1933 to 1938; the institution of ghettos and the cultural and political activities of their Jewish populations; the turn to mass murder and its implementation in the extermination camps; and the liberation and its immediate aftermath. Special attention is paid to the question of what constitutes resistance or collaboration in a situation of total war and genocide.

American Environmental History 
History 280A
For centuries, nature has played a pivotal role in the imagination of America. At the same time, Americans have dramatically reshaped their own environment and those of places far beyond. This seminar explores the environmental history of North America, with a special focus on the 19th and 20th centuries. Topics include settler colonialism, Native American resistance, railroads, meat production, conservation, environmental disasters, dams, nuclear energy, space travel, environmentalism, and contemporary debates about the Anthropocene.

The Civil War and Reconstruction
History 282
An exploration of the connection between the American Civil War and the subsequent Reconstruction project in the former Confederate states. Also examined:?the competing understandings of the war’s goals by contemporaries; the experiences of various participants (Northerners, emancipated slaves, Southern whites) in Reconstruction; political and extrapolitical opposition to Reconstruction; and the institutional and constitutional legacy of the project.

Beyond Witches, Abbesses, and Queens: A History of European Women, 1500–1800
History 297
Women make history—as historical actors and as historians. This course examines the “woman question” in the medical, legal, religious, and political discourses of the early modern period through processes such as the centralization of European states, Protestant and Catholic reformations, explorations, and colonial settlement. It also serves as an opportunity to reflect upon the history of women’s studies, both as a field of inquiry and as an academic institution.

Captivity and Law 
History 310
The class focuses on the confrontation of early modern African and European political thought and practices of captivity—abduction, wartime hostage-taking, slavery, and other forms of internment. Captivity engages questions of war and ransom as much as labor, religion, and race. It involves contracts, written or not, for renting, selling, buying, and freeing people. As such, captivity figures prominently in laws of war and peace. The language of the law indicates varying degrees of legitimacy and becomes a touchstone for the changing morality of societies.

The Lives of Other Slaves
History 312
In the United States, the antebellum “Cotton Kingdom” shapes understandings of slavery and its legacy. But slavery was not limited to the trans-Atlantic trade. Millions of Africans were enslaved and forced to convert to Islam in an eastern-oriented trade. Taking the experiences of slaves in the Ottoman Empire (c. 1300–1922) as a starting point, this seminar explores the identities, trajectories, and afterlives of slaves in the Middle East (broadly defined to include North Africa, the Balkans, and the Caucasus) during the early modern and modern periods.

The Case for Liberties
History 3121
What is tyranny? When is rebellion justified? Given human nature, what is the ideal government? Is there a human right to free trade? Is commerce compatible with art and philosophy? Such questions prompted Netherlanders in the 16th and 17th centuries to carve a Dutch Republic out of the Spanish Empire, and to create a “Golden Age” of capitalism, science, and art. Monographs on Dutch history are supplemented with paintings, scientific treatises, and the literature of rebellion and republicanism (including Spinoza’s Theologico-Political Treatise).

Resistance and Collaboration
History 3133
The class considers the concepts of resistance and collaboration, in particular as they apply to the actions of victims and bystanders during the Holocaust. The class examines patterns of reaction—passive, armed, cultural and spiritual resistance—and the range of behaviors among bystander groups, including collaboration, inaction, and rescue. By reading a number of scholars with widely varying views, such as Hannah Arendt, Yehuda Bauer, and Isaiah Trunk, students grapple with the issues on theoretical, empirical, and ethical levels.

The Arab-Israel Conflict
History 3134
This course provides students with an understanding of this conflict from its inception to the present. Among the themes discussed are how the Jewish national movement that began in the late 19th century and the Arab national movement that arose to contest Ottoman and European rule of Arab peoples led to the emergence of the State of Israel and the Palestinian refugees in 1948. The course examines how the political character of the conflict has changed over the decades.

The Power of Print
History 3139
An exploration of print media over the last half millennium and its impact on society, culture, and politics. Through a mix of theoretical and historical texts, students consider how print has fostered the development of new political communities, created and undermined cultural authority, and enabled new dynamics of knowledge production. Analysis of the rise of digital media provides critical perspective for understanding how the materiality of the printed text and its circulation through space has affected its social, cultural, and political significance.

Violent Cultures and Material Pleasures in the Atlantic World
History 314
Emeralds, chocolate, sugar, tobacco—precious, exotic, sweet, addictive. Like human actors, commodities have stories of their own. They shape human existence, create new sets of interactions, and offer a unique lens through which to view history. This course explores the hidden life of material objects that circulated from the early modern Atlantic into the rest of the world.

Jamestown: An American Horror Story
History 3145
Jamestown, the first permanent English locality in the Western Hemisphere and the model for all future English colonial ventures, is a settler story from hell. Cannibalism, starvation, constant war with First Nations, slavery, and ecoterrorism—Jamestown had it all. This seminar investigates historiographical trends centered on Jamestown’s changing place in American narratives and then turns to early Virginia primary sources (oral, visual, textual, archaeological) as students learn strategies to retrieve and reconstruct different historical voices, especially those of enslaved and indigenous peoples.

The Historical Politics of Africa’s Civil War
History 3149
This seminar challenges students to move beyond the rhetoric of political conflict in Africa and instead understand current struggles as crises of historiography. Ongoing conflicts in the Central African Republic and South Sudan are considered within a historical context of civil war in postindependent Africa. Through primary and secondary sources, students explore possible causes for civil unrest in Nigeria, Angola, Mozambique, and Sierra Leone, as well as the actors and interests involved, and proposed resolutions.

European Intellectual History since 1890: Central Debates of the 20th Century
History 318
A survey of the central suppositions and conflicts through which 20th-century European thought developed, using as its central theme the “great debates” of this period and their consequences. Sorel, Gramsci, Heidegger, Benjamin, Adorno, DeBeauvoir, Fanon, Luhmann, and Habermas are among the thinkers studied.

The Suburban Ideal
History 319
Once a marker of refinement and status in the American mind, suburban life morphed to become synonymous with oppressive conformity, racial exclusion, and gender restrictions. Some of these characterizations continue today, but have been complicated by the rise of the boutique city even as blacks, new ethnic groups, and working class people are voluntarily and sometimes involuntarily reshaping the landscape between urban centers and the countryside. Readings explore the complexities of suburbia in the United States from 1830 to the present. Open to Upper College students only.

On the Move: U.S. Policy from 1890 to the Present
History 321
Immigrants, workers, soldiers, suburbanites, activists. Over the last century, Americans were on the move. In this research seminar, students take an in-depth look at the history of the United States in the long 20th century with an emphasis on movement. Social movements discussed include populism, workers’ rights, progressivism, pacifism, indigenous rights, women’s rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, religious fundamentalism, conservatism, and Black Lives Matter. Other movements are also explored, including colonialism, migrations, and social mobility.

The Great War in World History
History 3224
This course looks at the changes and trends in the research and writing of history as practiced by professional historians. After brief consideration of the origins of history as a formal academic discipline in the 19th century, and of the transition from political to social history in the mid-20th, the class considers the multiplicity of approaches that came out of the “theory explosion” between the 1960s and 1990s. The course draws from the fields of modern European, African, and world history.

History 323
Who were the Vikings? When and how did they stop being Vikings? What was their impact on the medieval world? To answer these questions, students in this Upper College seminar examine archaeological evidence, documents, and modern scholarship.

Your Papers, Please? Technocracy, Technology, and Social Control in Nazi Germany, the DDR, and the BRD
History 3234
This course addresses the coercive and violent powers of the modern state as they were refined through technologies and techniques in National Socialist Germany, and then alternately condemned and utilized in the (East) German Democratic Republic (DDR) and (West) German Federal Republic (BRD). Topics range from the development of new techniques of propaganda and military oversight to the manipulation of social technologies such as identification papers, the census, racial pseudoscience, and, most horrifically, the concentration camp system.

Topics in American Immigration History and Policy
History 324
The course touches on the entire history of American immigration, but focuses on the period since 1870. Topics considered include policy debates over restricting immigration and the distinctive dynamics of Mexican immigration. Class readings consist of primary source documents as well as the work of historians and social scientists. Students prepare an extended research paper on a topic of their choice, usually based heavily on documents from the relevant period.

Four Case Studies of Revolutionary Violence
History 325
The question of violence—of repressive governments, revolutions, and counterrevolutions—is traced across case studies from South Africa, France, Russia, and China. The course seeks to understand each revolution in terms of both indigenously generated dynamics and world-historical factors. This is a graduate-level course offered jointly by the MAT Program and the College.

Jewish New York, 1881–1924
History 328
Between 1881 and 1924, approximately 2.5 million Jews left Eastern Europe; one million of them settled in New York, transforming the city into the largest Jewish community in the world and laying the groundwork for the communal and cultural patterns that mark American Jewish life to this day. The course looks at East European Jewish society, the experience of migration, and issues including family and gender roles, religious life, the American Jewish labor movement, and the development of American Yiddish culture.

Spectacular History: From Minstrelsy to Reality TV
History 330
This course traces the ups and downs of the spectacle—as term, event, and structure of feeling—in American culture from the end of the Civil War to the present. What caught the eyes of Americans over this century and a half has a lot to tell us about popular culture, performance, and the media, but also about economics, race, and violence. Students encounter the American spectacular in a variety of forms and places, including show stages, courtrooms, postcards, novels, advertisements, television, and videos.

Latin America: Race, Religion, and Revolution
History 331
This seminar studies the violent interactions between race, religion, and revolution in Latin America from the early 20th century to the present. Students investigate how racial concepts formed and became fixed ideas through distinct revolutionary-inspired debates on interracial mixture and indigenous rights, and then consider the simultaneous rise of wars and conflicts over religious meanings and faiths. The latter part of the course focuses on Guatemala, which combined extreme violence over race, religion, and revolution, and focused global attention on indigenous and human rights.

Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire
History 332
Taking as its foil the Edward Gibbon classic, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the class investigates the hidden strengths of Byzantium—especially the underrated arts of diplomacy, deterrence, and strategic flexibility—that allowed an allegedly “decadent” empire to survive for so long.

Islamic Empires: The Ottomans, Safavids, and Mughals (1500–1850)
History 336
A look at the history of three empires of Islam during the early modern period, covering an area stretching from the Balkans to the Middle East, Iran, and India. Topics include the varieties of Islamic rule; relations between diverse populations (Muslims, Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, and Hindus) as well as urban, rural, and nomadic communities; incorporation of the Islamic world into the global world economy; and transimperial networks of commerce and knowledge.

The Politics of History
History 340
What are the origins of history as a modern discipline? How have particular modes of history developed in relation to nationalism, imperialism, and the emergence of the modern state? How have modern historical techniques served to produce ideology? This course addresses these and other questions through readings that offer diverse perspectives on the place of narrative in history, the historian’s relation to the past, the construction of historiographical discourses, and the practice of historical commemoration. Writers discussed include Hayden White, Dominick LaCapra, Michel Foucault, G. W. F. Hegel, Walter Benjamin, and Joan Wallach Scott.

Education in Colonial Africa: Theory, Memoir, Fiction
History 341
What might provide a window into the multiple layers of consciousness, types of identities, and fractured and unpredictable loyalties of Africans under colonial rule? Schools anywhere are sites bristling with these variegated exercises of power and shaping of consciousness—all the more so in colonial Africa. This advanced seminar engages key texts on theories of empire together with African-authored memoirs and works of fiction that feature the experience of education. Additional readings from analytical monographs.