Research Seminar in American History
This course is designed to offer students a guide to research and publication of a scholarly article. While we will gather collectively at several points during the semester, the course operates primarily through one-to-one tutorials. I will meet with students individually to discuss the relevant secondary literature, primary sources, offer constructive criticism on drafts and other advice. At the initial class meeting, students will present a proposed topic and a rough description of the historiogrpahic framework they are inclined to engage (social history; cultural history, for instance). Based upon the project’s period, topic and approach, I will assign several articles or monographs that will serve as models. Over the course of our individual meetings, I will work with students to identify the relevant secondary literature, discuss research strategies, comment on outlines for the paper, and comment on drafts of the paper. Students will meet as a class to comment on written project descriptions, comment on excerpts from the student’s drafts, and comment on penultimate drafts. 75 % of the student’s grade will be based upon the final paper. 25% of the grade will be based upon participation in class meetings and individual meetings with me.
Digitizing America will explore the history of the United States from 1980 to the present through the lens of the information revolution that occurred during this period. Although the course focuses on recent history, it begins with the origins of the digital revolution in World War II. We will examine the origins of technological changes like the mainframe computer, cable television, and the emergence of the internet and the impact that they had on the economy, politics and social interaction. We will consider the ways in which the speed and ease of access to information served as a catalyst for globalization. On the one hand the combination of cable and satellite technology brought news of distant places into every living room. On the other hand, the powerful ability to collect and sort data allowed individuals to express a range of preferences, and to be identified and targeted based upon these preferences. This created a variety of new identities and associations (meetup.com is a good place to see this in action from the Yorkshire Terrier Meetup to Prosperity Gods Way.) We will also consider the varied impact of the information revolution along class and racial lines. We will examine futuristic visions of the digital age, and the ways in which digital technology changed the way Americans work and play. We will examine cyber-security and cyber-war, especially in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and subsequent American foreign policy.
Students will be asked to read approximately 150 pages a week, including books, articles and a range of primary sources. For the weeks that films are assigned, each student is required to watch the assigned film before discussion section. There will be a brief quiz on the reading and viewing at the start of each discussion section. Grades on these quizzes will be part of the student’s participation grade – which will count for 20 percent of the total grade. There will be also be several weekly assignments that will count as part of the class participation grade.
Colloquium in Atlantic History
HIST 7011 is a graduate colloquium for students wishing to contextualize their primary (usually regional) examination fields, or advanced research, in the integrated developments proceeding all around the Atlantic Ocean basin from the fifteenth through the nineteenth centuries. It draws on the trans-regional perspectives now prominent throughout the historical discipline, as contemporary “globalization” has prompted historians to recognize the artificiality (or, as the course will argue, merely the historicity) of the isolated “national” units that otherwise form the core of the modern field. The colloquium is intended primarily for students specializing in the histories of North America, the Caribbean/Central/Southern Americas, Europe, or Africa, or for students working on Asia who are interested in the epistemological challenges of thinking outside the “boxes” within which they (appropriately) concentrate their research. No experience with “world” or “Atlantic” or “global” or “big” history is presumed.
The intellectual challenge of HIST 7011 is to maintain a resolutely historical – empirically based, humanistic, particularistic, and processual – perspective on transcending scales that slide off far too easily into quasi-social-science abstractions. The “empires” at the core of most treatments of Atlantic history are among the prime suspects. Instead the course will focus on the sequence of encounters among people from vastly different regional backgrounds as they together – and only eventually unequally – engaged one another to create the first phases of the “modern” world by sometime in the early nineteenth century. The principal analytical axis will be the particular openness of the “Atlantic” context, the various strategies that it provoked, the dialectical and incremental processes by which people there (and then) generated change, the growing irrelevance of the means they brought to these challenges as they met them, and the eventual outcomes as largely unintended and unanticipated.
On the premise that graduate students learn best by doing, members of the colloquium assume primary responsibility for presenting their own assessments of selected readings and their own research. During the first third of the semester they thus review the basic (or emergent) historiographical framework of the discipline, lead discussions of assigned readings during the middle third of the term, and develop a substantial essay for presentation and discussion during the final third of the course. The objective of the essay is to apply the historical epistemology of the course to aspects of the broad process that they select; the instructor reads the finished essay at the end of the term.
The readings considered collectively during the middle portion of the colloquium have been selected to represent recent and significant thematic and methodological developments in the fast-growing field of Atlantic history, accommodating student budgets by emphasizing works available in paper editions.
Students in the colloquium have the opportunity to emerge in May with an overview of the sources, methods, and historiography of the field, familiarity with selected recent, significant works, considered knowledge in areas in which they have led discussion, up-to-date annotated bibliographies in other fields that their classmates have presented, and expanded perspectives on their own research or examination-field preparation. The colloquium thus supports students’ larger academic strategies as well as exposing them to a teaching field that is in high demand in departments rebuilding toward the integrated proportions of the future historical discipline.
Slaving in World History
HIST 5111 is a small seminar-style class for graduate students and advanced undergraduates (with instructor’s permission) that will explore historical approaches to one of the world’s oldest, most ubiquitous, and most tragic, “institutions”. Most Americans are familiar with slavery primarily (or only) as it developed racially in the decades before the Civil War on the plantations of the “Old South”. In fact, Greeks, Romans, Muslims, Native Americans, Africans, Renaissance Italians, Brazilians, Chinese, South Asians, West Indian planters, and others also assembled significant numbers of outsiders – by no means all of them Africans – in private hands. Most treated slavery as a way to integrate foreigners, not as the racially exclusive dead end prescribed in antebellum American laws. And most took in far more women than the men who prevailed in the Americas. A principal objective of HIST 5111 is to move beyond these static stereotypes, limited perspectives, and the political and emotional intensity of the subject in American culture to consider slaving as processes throughout the history of humanity.
Weekly discussions will draw on recent significant works in this enormous field (more than 1500 academic studies appear each year, in literature, sociology, and economics, as well as history) slaving in the histories of major world regions – the ancient Mediterranean, the Islamic world, Africa, medieval and Renaissance Europe, the Indian Ocean basin and Asia, Brazil, the Caribbean, colonial North America, and the United States. The background reading for the modern Atlantic portions of the course will be Robin Blackburn’s The Making of New World Slavery: Other, extremely varied readings will highlight aspects of the histories of slaving elsewhere.
Each member of the class will prepare a substantial term-paper (i.e. based on secondary authorities) setting the strategies and experiences of participants in a process of slaving (in a single region) in relevant aspects of their historical context. The stages of writing a polished term paper (a preliminary topic proposal, annotated bibliography, an interim draft, a revised full draft, and the final submission) will receive close editorial attention, with the object of developing clarity in writing. In lieu of a conventional final examination, students will write an analytical review of the instructor’s recent The Problem of Slavery as History (Yale 2012) to demonstrate their grasp of the issues developed in the course.
HIST 5111 carries no specific pre-requisites, but the many settings of slaving throughout world history presume a general familiarity with several parts of the globe, or a willingness to assimilate a considerable quantity of new material during the semester.
The objectives of the course emphasize historical ways of thinking, the distinctive aspects of attempting to think thus on world scales, and clear exposition of analytical ideas, particularly in written formats. Students may adapt the course to support graduate field or undergraduate major distribution requirements by selecting a term paper topic set in the desired world region.
Students considering enrolling in the course should contact the instructor (<firstname.lastname@example.org>, 924-6395) to understand its learning strategy and to plan their participation in it in ways that will develop their own broader educational goals.
Twentieth Century South Asia
This course will survey the history of 20th-century South Asia by examining anti-colonial movements in British India and the creation of the new nation-states of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Students will also engage closely with debates on topics such as nationalism, colonialism, economic development and gender and the family that have shaped public discourse and the politics of identity in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Questions of political and cultural representation, interpretations of history, and the rights to resources animate many of these debates. Moreover, the very nature of the political, the public, and social activism, was transformed through anti-colonial, nationalist, and revolutionary movements in the 20th century—a process that we will also trace over the duration of the course.
We will read Ayesha Jalal’s Democracy and Authoritarianism in South Asia: A Comparative and Historical Perspective (1995) as our primary textbook to establish a broad comparative framework for understanding South Asia’s 20th century. Additional academic books, articles and primary sources (including fiction and memoirs) will illuminate more closely key eras and debates. Assignments comprise approximately 100 to 150 pages of reading per week, two short papers (3 to 4 pages in length), and two take-home exams.
HISA 4501 (1)
Seminar in South Asian History
"Migration in Modern South Asia"
Tracing the histories of migration in colonial and post-colonial South Asia reveals much about the cultural, social and economic history of the subcontinent. We gain a sense of how non-elite, urban and rural poor, tribal, landless and itinerant South Asians experienced and shaped colonial modernity just as actively as migrant intellectuals in urban areas. The British colonial government’s wide-scale efforts to police itinerant groups and coerce them into adopting fixed agriculture, as well as efforts to promote massive movements of people to internal and external land frontiers, re-shaped the human and physical geography of the subcontinent. Further, elite and non-elite migration to urban areas from the late 19th century created rural and urban networks through which ideas about gender, nationalism, and community identities and ethics circulated. No less significant were imperial circuits of indentured migration to the West Indies and South Africa and the movements of students, administrators, Indian native rulers and activists between the British metropole and colony. Changes to migration networks in post-colonial South Asia following the decline of the British empire and the rise of new imperial powers will be compared with the earlier period.
This seminar will examine a number of studies on colonial and post-colonial South Asia in order to outline a historical narrative of migrations, as well as to analyze the historiography of migration studies. We will also discuss methods of interdisciplinary engagement while working with innovative literary and ethnographic migration studies. Readings include both primary and secondary sources, including several historical monographs, a memoir, a classic ethnographic study of landless migration, excerpts from colonial reports, and scholarly articles and chapters from books. Students should expect a minimum of 150 to 200 pages a week. The seminar includes studies on the regions of present-day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Himalayas, as well as sites in the former British empire, from about 1800 to 2000.
Students will write an approximately 25-page research paper on a topic of choice using primary and secondary sources.
This seminar fulfills the second writing requirement.
HILA 4501 (1)
Seminar in Latin American History
"Research Seminar on the History of US-Latin American Relations"
This research seminar examines the history of Latin America-U.S. relations. The first half of the semester we will read a number of historical works. The assigned texts are designed both to provide a broad overview of the history of Latin America-U.S. relations and introduce students to a variety of approaches to writing the history of what is often referred to in Latin America as United States imperialism. The class will focus on a series of United States interventions in Latin America over the last two centuries, from the Mexican-American War, also known as the War of the U.S. Invasion in Mexico, to the occupation of Cuba, the CIA role in the overthrow of democratic governments in Guatemala (1954) and Chile (1973), and the US- sponsored counter-insurgencies in central America during the 1980s. We will ask basic questions about the logic of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America. What drives U.S. foreign policy in the region? Moral, ethical, or religious concerns? Economics? National security concerns? Can U.S. actions in Latin America be understood as imperialism or "neocolonialism?" How do they compare with European forms of colonial rule? What was the impact of the Cold War on Latin America? Has U.S. involvement in Latin America helped or hindered the development of democratic institutions and economic growth and development? We will also be interested in questions related to social and cultural history. We will be particularly interested in places of encounter between Latin Americans and North Americans, for example mining enclaves or the paths of migration that lead northward and into cities, towns, and rural districts throughout the United States. Indeed, we will ask if the analytical division between Latin America and the United States is justifiable. Does it make more sense to speak more broadly of "the Americas?" Can we think of the U.S. as part of Latin America and Latin American history, rather than outside it? Can we think of Latin-American-U.S. relations in terms of encounter and exchange, as well as unilateral imposition of political, economic, and military power from north to south?
Modern Latin America
This course will explore the histories of Latin America from the wars of independence between 1808-1830 to the present day. Emphasis will be on understanding the relationship between large economic structures and the lives of historical actors in political, social, and cultural terms and in global context. We will read primary and secondary sources. I will lecture once a week and we will have a semi-socratic discussion of the readings once a week. I will ask you to write two interpretive essays, one roughly at mid-term and the other at the end of the semester. Enrollment will be limited to 60.