The following courses were offered during the 2017-2018 academic year and are representative of regular department seminars.

Spring 2018

Colloquium: U.S. history to 1865

This colloquium is designed to acquaint graduate students with colonial North American / United States history and historiography from roughly 1450 to 1865. The course will revolve around discussion of common assigned readings.  Essays and other scholarly undertakings, based on these readings, will also be required.

Modern Latin America in an Atlantic Context - Edward Beatty

This course examines central interpretive problems in our understanding of the political, cultural, and socio-economic history of Latin America through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  Topics vary, but will address major themes in the history of the Latin American nations in the context of the Atlantic world.  The course assumes no particular prior knowledge of modern Latin America; however, a general sense of Latin American history is useful.  Students are encouraged to obtain and regularly consult a good textbook or reference.  Advanced undergraduates interested in Latin American history are welcome to apply.

Byzantium and the Crusades - Alexander Beihammer

This course explores crucial aspects of the encounter between the Latin West, Byzantium, and the Muslim East in the time of the crusades between the eleventh and the fourteenth century. While students are given the opportunity to become familiar with the political, economic, and social developments of the Eastern Mediterranean/Levant during the period in question, the main focus lies on the analysis of primary sources referring to topics of cross-cultural encounter, exchange, and perception. In an interdisciplinary approach, we will scrutinize and compare Latin, Byzantine, and Arabic texts with respect to their intellectual and ideological context and the ways medieval authors representing the three spheres perceived and conceptualized the other in their historical writings. This course invites graduate students who are interested in the medieval West, Byzantium, or Islam to work together by juxtaposing and comparing the particularities of each sphere and thus to arrive at new insights and conclusions.

Empire and Borders (17th century to 21st century) - Rory Rapple

Across the modern world the frontiers of political states, marked out by borders, have been fixed by imperial powers through negotiation and coercion. The legacy of these borders remains of the utmost relevance although, until recently, many thought that globalization had reduced their significance. Nowadays the foreign policy commitments of Donald Trump, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union have all demonstrated the endurance of these borders, even in the Western ’engine room’ of global capitalism. This should not surprise us. Much of the world has experienced political conflict stemming from border conflicts, forced partitions and the mismatch between ethnic population and modern state. This class seeks to scrutinize and explain the contexts that have brought us the interplay between the legacy of imperial power and modern borders in the Indian subcontinent, Africa, Ireland, the Balkans, Cyprus, Antarctica and the Middle East.

Perspectives on Religion and Politics - Sarah Shortall

From the rise of ISIS to the recent legal wrangling over religious exemptions to the contraception mandate under Obamacare, it is clear that religion and politics remain deeply intertwined in the contemporary world. This has yielded a robust scholarly and theoretical literature exploring the past and present role of religion in public life. This course introduces graduate students to the key texts in this literature, which will be of use to those pursuing historical work on the relationship between religion and politics—particularly in the early-modern or modern era. Intentionally broad in scope, the course is designed to speak to graduate students with a variety of geographical, temporal, and confessional specializations. As such, it will focus less on substantive historical questions and more on the development of the conceptual tools needed to guide further historical study. We will read classic works of theory by philosophers and theologians, as well as more recent works by historians and scholars from cognate disciplines who have made key contributions to the field. Themes to be explored include secularization, political theology, totalitarianism, religious freedom and human rights, the role of gender and colonialism, and the relationship between religion and law. We will read works by Max Weber, Carl Schmitt, Ernst Kantorowicz, Eric Voegelin, Marcel Gauchet, Jürgen Habermas, Gustavo Gutiérrez, Saba Mahmood, Joan Scott, Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, and Robert Orsi, among many others.

Fall 2017

Topics in Reformation History - Brad Gregory

A colloquium to acquaint graduate students with significant scholarship on early modern Christianity, both geographically and thematically, in its political, social, and cultural contexts. Students will lead class discussions, write book reviews, and produce a historiographical essay on a topic of their choice. Reading ability in languages other than English desirable but not required.

Medieval History Seminar: Politics, Reform, and Intellectuals between Emperor Henry III and Pope Innocent III - John Van Engen

This course treats the era of twelfth-century reform by way of some of the great political battles over a century and a half. It will proceed by way of reading key primary sources in Latin and a range of secondary sources mostly in English. Students will be expected to keep up with the readings which will be discussed in class, and to write a seminar paper based on research in primary documents.

The History of American Capitalism - Emily Remus

This graduate seminar explores the history of American capitalism, reaching from the colonial era to the late twentieth century. It focuses particularly on the social and cultural dimensions of capitalism as revealed through classic scholarship as well as cutting-edge contributions to the field. Although our primary focus will be on the American experience, we will take comparative glances to other nations and regions of the world. Over the course of the semester, we will consider how the development of capitalism shaped conceptions of selfhood, morality, citizenship, and freedom. We will also investigate how changes in market relations influenced human relationships and divisions of race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality, and religion. The seminar highlights key turning points in American capitalist development: the market revolution and the spread of wage labor; the defeat of slavery; the rise of mass production and mass consumption; the emergence of corporate and managerial capitalism; deindustrialization and capital flight; the growth of the service economy; and globalization.

The Global Sixties - Jaime Pensado

This graduate course examines the “Sixties” (c.1956—c.1976) with particular attention to politics, culture and religion. Attention will be given to the United States and Western Europe, but the emphasis will be primarily from the perspective (and influence) of the “Global South.”  Work for the first part of the semester will consist of discussing the foundational texts, influential figures/ideas, and key events that shaped leftist as well as conservative movements during this period. Work for the second part of the semester will consist of evaluating key studies recently published in the field.

Language and Scholarly Culture in the Medieval Mediterranean - Thomas Burman

This is a seminar on what medieval-Mediterranean scholars did: write texts, interpret texts, and argue about those texts and their interpretations.  We will focus on scholars and scholarly culture throughout the Mediterranean region, with special emphasis on the Latinate and Arabic regions.   We will read both a range of modern scholarly literature  as well as primary texts from across the region.  From the beginning of the course on we will ground our thinking about medieval scholars in what we know about their basic tool:  language (its profoundly complex nature, its cultural meanings, the scandal of its variety, its huge potential as a model for understanding culture).   Intermediate knowledge of Latin and/or Arabic would be helpful, but all graduate students are welcome.