A few of the courses I’m teaching these days…
“All wars are fought twice,” Viet Than Nguyen writes, “the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory.” In this seminar we will explore the ways in which wars have been remembered – and the ways in which memories of war have been contested. This is not your high school history course, but an interdisciplinary journey through history, literature, popular culture, art history, museum studies and more. We’ll take up memoirs and retellings from conflicts across time and around the world, with an extended consideration of the American War in Vietnam and its aftershocks. What has the trauma of war meant to individuals? What has it meant to societies? How has war been remembered and forgotten? What is at stake in these memories?
Be forewarned: much of the class content is emotionally challenging.
And note: this FYS will participate in an experiential service-learning project that will take students outside of the classroom and into the community.
We live in a media-saturated world, at a moment of profound change: online sources have undermined traditional news sources, the economic model of newspapers is in crisis, cable news has degenerated into sensationalism and opinion theater, new outlets for gossip and entertainment multiply. We’re wrapped up in debates over bias in the news, confused by allegations of “fake news” directed at vaunted outlets of press and broadcast. We’ve come a long way from the hallowed promise of the press as the fourth estate, the check and balance to kings and governments. How shall we understand our news world? A little bit of history may help us to make sense of it.
This course serves two functions. It is, first of all, an introduction to the history of the news in Western societies—from the newsbooks and ballads of the sixteenth century to the newspaper, broadcast news, the internet, and beyond. At the same time, this course is a practical introduction to the critical skills of the historian—including the analysis of primary sources, historiography, historical research and writing, and historical argumentation.
A series of questions will guide our studies: What, in different societies, has counted for news? How have news media changed? What connections are there between the form and the content of news? What has been the social impact of news? Who controls the news? We will explore these questions through classic works on the printing revolution, the history of the press, the sociology of culture, and media criticism, together with newspapers, films, newsreels, and fiction.
History 202 (History Workshop)—Documentary History (quarter credit)
This course will provide a theoretical foundation and practical training in historical documentary. We will spend part of our time discussion how historical documentaries work: What are their aims? When do they do well? When do they fail? How do they represent the past? The rest of our time will be devoted to the very practical: How should we go about making our own historical documentaries? We will study the essential techniques of historical documentary work, including camera and composition, script, sound, and editing.
This course is aimed at the History major who is interested in incorporating documentary video into his or her Senior I.S., but it is open to all students interested in history and documentary. If students have a video project in progress, they will be able to integrate it into the work of the course.
This is a quarter-credit course, which doesn’t amount to that much time. We will meet about two and a half hours a week for only six (non-consecutive) weeks of the semester
This course explores the history of Europe from about 1890 to 1945. These years were marked by pitched social conflicts, economic crises, ideological struggles between liberal democracy, fascism, and communism, two devastating world wars, genocide. But it’s not all so bleak. This was also an age of exciting cultural and intellectual innovations and profound social transformations. The age of Hitler and Stalin was also the age of Einstein and Freud, Picasso and Eisenstein, the “new woman” and a newly empowered working-class.
There is too much history here to be comprehensive. We’ll approach this history in three ways, first through a survey of the forces that brought Europe to war against itself twice in this era, then through the close reading of important secondary sources and primary sources, and finally, through student research in an area of interest.
Class format will combine lecture, discussion, and student presentations.
This course examines history and film in Europe from the immediate aftermath of the devastation of the Second World War to the present. Topics include: the reconstruction of Europe, the Cold War, the dilemma of Americanization, the expansion of the social welfare state, decolonization and immigration, student protest, the radical right, (the challenges of) European integration, and more.
The course will be taught with a mix of lecture and discussion. A large part of our studies will be devoted to a consideration of how the larger political and social struggles of Europe have been refracted and interpreted in the art of cinema. Throughout the semester, we’ll return to a set of central questions: How has Europe (and how have Europeans) recovered from the disaster that was the first half of the twentieth century? How have filmmakers reflected upon this history? How can film help to illuminate our understanding of history? How can history help to illuminate our understanding of film?
There will be (required) weekly film showings every Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. We’ll watch important (and often challenging) films from postwar European cinema. I will schedule an alternate viewing time for students who have an ongoing conflict with the Thursday night session. Titles include: The Third Man, Rome: Open City, The Marriage of Maria Braun, Blow-Up, Blind Chance, Hate.
France has fascinated and puzzled visitors for more than two hundred years now. For good reasons. It has been the “first daughter of the Catholic Church” and a hotbed of secularism, a country with a deep-rooted revolutionary tradition and a tradition of authoritarianism, the proud home of a human rights tradition and the breeding ground of virulent racism, a hothouse of modern art and a protector of tradition. In this course we will set out to understand France in historical perspective.
We will examine the history of France through the tumultuous experience of revolution, war, and empire. We will study several episodes of crisis in close detail—from the French Revolution to contemporary struggles over identity and integration. We will analyze long-running developments in French society and culture—the emergence of class society, industrialization, the survival of the peasantry, movements in high culture, changing roles for women, colonialism and decolonization, immigration. We will ask how French men and women of various social positions experienced this history. And we will look to the ways in which this history has been reflected in art, literature, film, and music.
Readings include a textbook of French history and a lively mix of important primary & secondary sources. We’ll watch a series of films that dramatize this history. The course will include lectures, frequent discussions, and class activities. There are no prerequisites. No familiarity with French or French history is assumed.
“The world has changed more in the last thirty years than it has since Jesus”—Charles Péguy, 1913
This course is an upper-level seminar on the history of the world at the turn of the twentieth century, the period Jan Romein described as “the watershed of two eras.” It was a period of profound transformations in politics, society, culture and ideas across the world; what is more, it was an era of seismic shifts in international relations. In many respects, the world in 1900 has more in common with our own world than the intervening era of world wars and cold war. After a survey of the world in 1900, we will take up an important question each week, examining international relations, changes in everyday life, mass politics, consumer society, scientific innovations, new cultural movements, imperialism, and more. We will look to examples from around the world. The class will be run on the model of a graduate seminar with a heavy reading load and weekly meetings. Readings will include important new scholarship, classic historical accounts, and powerful primary sources. Requirements include three short papers, class presentations, and a take home final exam.
Other Courses Include:
First Year Seminar: The Eyewitness in History
History 101: France in the Age of the Eiffel Tower
History 109: The Making of the Contemporary World
History 201: Crime & Punishment in History
History 275: The Nineteenth-Century European City