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Fall 2015

Fall 2015

Literature and Writing Seminars

Hist. 80010- Literature of American History l
GC:  R, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 5 credits, Prof. David Waldstreicher

This course introduces Ph.D. students to the historiography of the U.S. through the Civil War and is intended to prepare students for the First Written Examination.
One of our primary concerns will be periodization. To what extent should the colonial period be considered a prologue to U.S. history? And on the other side of the nationhood divide, are there analyses that suggest a coherence or continuity to U.S. history beyond the peculiarities of the early republic or Civil War periods? What is the status of the Revolution and the Civil War, and the political history that drives or used to drive the narrative of U.S. history, amid transformations that might otherwise be seen as social, cultural, economic? Are there explanations that that cut across centuries, or stories that hold up in our time?  What are the most important achievements of recent US historians, and what are the trends in the field now? 
The books and articles we shall discuss include prizewinning narratives, monographs born as dissertations, and historiographical essays. An important part of what we will be doing is attempting to read these in light of each other. Be forewarned: the reading is extensive, in recognition of the five credits this course carries and its status as required preparation for qualifying examinations. Our goal is to prepare for the exam, of course, but also to prepare to teach this period at the college level and to lay a substantial foundation for future research and teaching in any period of U.S. history.
  Instead of a seminar paper or historiographical essay, your written work for the course will consist of weekly short (2-3 page) responses to the readings. Each week I will provide prompting questions that will help us work toward the kinds of writing and analysis the faculty will expect for the examination in December. These short essays, while relatively informal, will be due Thursday at noon via email and may serve as jumping off points for our Thursday seminar discussions.
Hist. 84900- Seminar in American History l
GC:  W, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 5 credits, Prof. Thomas Kessner

 This seminar is designed to train incoming graduate students in the craft of historical research and writing. Over the course of the term, each student will formulate a research topic, prepare a bibliography of relevant primary and secondary sources, write an historiographic essay, and present and defend a formal project proposal for the substantial research paper that is to be completed in the second semester seminar. Weekly meetings will discuss common readings, share and critique written work, and develop and refine the research proposals.  We will also be devoting some time to methods and issues involved in undergraduate teaching.
Students will focus primarily on framing a topic and honing a well defined, focused and reasonable research proposal for their papers. The purpose of the collateral assignments is to help push this process forward.
Students are advised to give some thought to possible research projects before classes begin this way they can make some early efforts at sampling secondary materials and investigating the availability of sources.

Hist.80100- Middle East Literature of 19th century
GC: T, 
6:30- 8:30 p.m., 5 credits, Prof. Samira Haj

The object of this course is to familiarize students with the main themes and approaches in the history and historiography of the nineteenth-century “Middle East.” Temporally, the course moves from the late 1700s to World War I.  Geographically, the area includes the region from Egypt to Iran, the Balkans to Arabia, in short, those regions under the dominion of the Ottoman and Qajar Empires. We will look at some foundational as well as recent works that address the issues, concerns and anxieties in the region arising from a fundamental change in power structures and world politics. These works would cover a wide range of themes including governance, empire, reform and revival (religious and secular), nation, revolution, law, and political economy.
PLEASE NOTE - All PhD students taking this course for their literature requirement must register for it as an Independent Study (Hist.80100). Use CRN 16936 and change the credits to 5.

Hist. 80020- Literature of European History l
GC:  R, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 5 credits, Prof. Sarah Covington

 This course will introduce students to the basic theories, methodologies, debates, and themes in the historical study of late medieval and early modern history, from the late fourteenth through eighteenth centuries.  In addition to surveying the different conceptual and methodological approaches to the development of “history” as a mode of knowledge across time, we will read works that best reflect these different approaches; we will then move on to study classic and recent texts that approach such essential topics in early modern history as political thought and the emergence of states, nations, and empires; religion and the crisis of the reformation and counter-reformation;, revolutions in science and technology; transformations in social life and gender relations; and the Enlightenment.  This will be an intensive yet supportive course with the goal not only of helping students study for the first-year comprehensive examination, but in laying the critical foundations for future studies and research.  

Hist. 80900- Seminar in European and non-American History l
GC: M, 6:30- 8:30 p.m., 5 credits, Prof. Timothy Alborn

 This course seminar will provide an introduction to the nuts and bolts of historical research as well as an introduction to several electronic databases and to the New York Public Library, and a behind-the-scenes look at submitting an article for publication. In the context of this seminar students will be expected to formulate their own research paper topics and produce a paper prospectus, which they will have the opportunity to present to their peers for feedback and constructive criticism. 

European History


Hist. 71200- Intellectual Politics of the French Revolution
GC: T, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Helena Rosenblatt

This course is an in-depth introduction to the French Revolution and the scholarly debates it has engendered. We will privilege political/cultural/intellectual perspectives, reading some of the most innovative and thought-provoking recent work on a number of topics, such as the causes of the Revolution and its radicalization; the nature and legacies of the revolutionary wars and Terror; the question of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s influence; and the Revolution’s performance in the areas of gender, race and nationalism. We will have occasion to focus on the Revolution's relationship with "modernity" and its various ideologies (liberalism, socialism, totalitarianism, feminism, etc.) Scholarship on the French Revolution will also be placed in historical and political context in an effort to answer the question: "what is at stake when scholars adopt certain methodologies and perspectives on the French Revolution?"
Hist. 72100- Dictatorship: The Career of a Concept from Robespierre to Lenin and Beyond
GC: M, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Richard Wolin

         In retrospect, the “great dictators” of the twentieth century – Lenin, Mussolini, Stalin, and Hitler – have become negative moral and political templates: paragons of political evil. Nor have dictatorship’s ills been confined to the European theatre. According to recent estimates, Chairman Mao was responsible for some 40 million deaths. His disciple, Pol Pot (aka, Saloth Sar or “Brother Number 1”) managed, in three short years, to do away with 15% of the Cambodia’s indigenous population.
         Yet, the contemporary moral aversion to dictatorial rule is the exception. Dictatorship was a hallowed Roman political institution in times of emergency, until its “abuse” by Sulla and Caesar. Philosophes like Voltaire and Diderot, who were otherwise champions of “toleration,” also favored the idea of “enlightened despotism.” The historical verdict on the Jacobin dictatorship is still out; to this day, there is a Paris metro station named after Robespierre, the “Incorruptible.” And as is well known, Marx recommended a transitional period of working class rule he denominated the “dictatorship of the proletariat.” Marx’s Russian disciples, Lenin and Stalin, took this prescription all-too literally. Dictatorship became the cornerstone of Bolshevik rule from October 1917 until Stalin’s death in 1953. (Alluding to Kant, the philosopher Ernst Bloch famously described the Bolshevik Revolution as “The Categorical Imperative with revolver in hand.”)
           Read the full description below!

Hist. 70900- Science and Religion in Renaissance and Early Modern Europe
GC: R, 6:30- 8:30 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Allison Kavey

 The period between 1450 and 1700 in Europe is remarkable for its shifts in theological and natural philosophical thought.‎ This seminar will focus on those shifts in their larger cultural context and help produce multiple narratives for framing them and the period.

Hist. 70400- Bastards, Kingship, and Kinship in Medieval Europe
GC: W, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Sara McDougall

 This course will investigate ideas of illegitimate birth in medieval Europe and particularly their role in dynastic succession.  Throughout the Middle Ages some children were classified as less worthy than others: less worthy to inherit royal or noble title, and less worthy to inherit property more generally. This class will critically examine the history of when people in medieval Europe began to identify other people as "bastards," what they meant when they did so, and when calling a child a bastard meant his or her exclusion from succession or an inheritance. We will make use of a wide range of primary sources available in the original and in translation, sources including chronicles, legal texts, theological writings, vernacular literature, and images.  

Hist. 72800- The Medium of Culture
GC: T, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Dagmar Herzog

 This class is an experiment in educating ourselves about important recent developments in theoretically informed writing in history and allied disciplines, focused on puzzles of causation, interpretation, and uses of evidence. The five core topics we will explore, historically and conceptually (knowledge, faith, desire, violence, madness) are ones which have strong resonance in our present, even as assumptions about their meanings and functions have changed dramatically across eras and locations. All five challenge us to think more critically and carefully about the relations between individuals’ values and behaviors and social structures and polities – and the role of culture in mediating all of these. Because of its special expertise in theorizing culture, the discipline from which we will borrow the most is anthropology. But we will also read many historians, as well as philosophers, sociologists, literary critics, and journalists. One goal will be for you to acquire competence in reading a great variety of theoretically informed work, but another will be to understand the practical usefulness of this variety of cultural theory for the diverse historical research projects you are yourselves engaged in. Critical thinking about gender and sexuality will be integrated throughout.

Requirements include: thorough reading of the assigned materials, two critical questions about each assigned text sent to instructor and classmates in advance of class every time, thoughtful and active participation in class discussions, two short summary analyses of weekly readings also sent to instructor and classmates in advance of class (we will divide up the reading list on the first day), and one longer final paper exploring the relevance of and putting to use some aspect(s) of cultural theory for your own work. 

Hist. 72110- Histories of Madness in the Modern Era
GC: W, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Andreas Killen

 This course examines the relationship between insanity and its social and historical contexts from the 18th-century birth of the asylum up to contemporary debates about psycho-pharmacology. Beginning with the age of the so-called “Great Confinement,” the course traces the institutional and therapeutic reforms of the revolutionary and post-revolutionary era; the rise of theories of degeneration and hysteria in the late 19th century; the emergence of psychoanalysis; war neurosis and military psychiatry; relations between psychiatry, totalitarianism, and the legacy of imperialism; the anti-psychiatry movement; and contemporary bio-psychiatry.
While the principal focus will be on histories of madness and psychiatry in the West, comparisons with non-Western societies will also play a role in the course. Attention will be paid to the intense methodological and interpretive debates that have marked the field over the last 30 years, and to the shifting meanings of madness for social categories like class, race, and gender.

American History

 Hist. 75700- Aftermaths: World War, Postwar, Cold War
GC: M, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. David Nasaw

“Math”:  the old-English term for harvest.  
When the cutting is done and the field is barren, there arises a new growth, stunted, near deformed, but alive and reaching upwards for the light.   This is the aftermath. 
We shall together explore and investigate the violent transformations wrought by the Second World War in Europe and the attempts of Americans and Europeans to make sense of their recent pasts and begin the difficult, but necessary work of reconstruction.  The bulk of the reading will be secondary sources, though I intend to assign some contemporary novels, autobiographies, and films.   The reading will be heavy at times—at least one book a week, often more than that.   There may be a few brief writing assignments during the semester.   For their final papers, students will prepare and write a lecture in which they introduce advanced undergraduates to the issues, themes, and dilemmas associated with the study of  the immediate postwar period.     
Here’s a revised tentative syllabus:
Cross-listed with ASCP 82000

Hist. 75900- 20th Century African American History
GC: T, 6:30- 8:30 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Khalil Muhammad

This course is primarily a readings course designed to introduce students to the major topics, themes, and problems in 20th Century African-American history.  Our readings and discussions will explore the following: the rise and evolution of segregation in the South and North, migration, labor and unions, education, crime and punishment, housing, urban life and culture, health and disease, institution-building, intra-racial class and gender dynamics, civil rights, and black nationalism.  Weekly assignments will consist of reading one monograph (most of which have been published recently) and occasionally an article.  
By familiarizing students with the literature and major historiographical debates since the end of Reconstruction, the goal of this course is for every student (1) to identify a research topic for a future seminar or thesis; (2) to help prepare students for qualifying exams; and (3) to facilitate and sharpen students’ abilities to engage critically and constructively with scholarship.   Every student will be responsible for at least one presentation a monograph, a short book review, an encyclopedia article, plus an historiographical essay due at semester’s end.  Class participation will be very important to student’s overall performance.  Everyone, including the week’s presenter, is expected to have read the assignment and to be prepared to engage in discussion.


Hist. 75500- The History of Capitalism
GC: T, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. James Oakes 

            This course surveys classic as well as recent approaches to the history of capitalism.  The earliest weeks will focus on historically grounded definitions of capitalism as they were formulated in debates over the transition from feudalism to capitalism.  We will examine competing explanations for the “the great divergence” between Europe and the rest of the world.  The course continues to move chronologically to discussions of the consumer revolution of the eighteenth century, the industrial revolution of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, and the emergence of finance capitalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  Various relationships will be considered, between, slavery and capitalism, antislavery and capitalism, capitalism and imperialism, capitalism and freedom, and capitalism and socialism.  The course will conclude by examining the “downturn” of the 1970s and debates over the rising maldistribution of wealth in the late twentieth century.
Hist. 75400- Seminar on Public History
GC:  W, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Andrew Robertson

This seminar will begin by considering the subject matter, methodology and practice of public history.  A broad definition of public history would include historical evidence presented and interpreted for a wide audience outside of the academy. Public historians employ the methods of academic history and expand them by joining traditional and non-traditional evidence, inventing new formats for public presentation and reframing historical questions in a lively and accessible context.  By employing old and new forms of evidence, broadening the intended audience for the reception of historical scholarship, rethinking strategies of presentation and redirecting historical interpretations, public historians are creating an innovative and defined practice.  Public history prepares historians to consider their research in a popular and accessible context.
This seminar will introduce students to the context, methodology and practice of Public History in the following ways. The first few weeks of the course will examine the definitions of public history, its origins, nature and prospects. Topics include how versions of the past are created, institutionalized and disseminated as public memory in civic festivities, memorials and monuments; in invented tradition and in popular culture, including print media, film television and social media; and in the creation of public spaces. We will also consider the relationship of public memory and collective memory in museums (e.g. presenting Native America). This seminar will consider controversial case studies over historical presentation, including the Enola Gay Exhibition at the Smithsonian.  The remainder of the course will examine other aspects of public history including community and local history, oral history and digital history. Course requirements include leading one or more class discussions and a final research paper that describes and analyzes how a particular topic or issue in history has been interpreted and presented in a variety of public history formats.

Middle East History

Hist. 78110- The Iranian Revolution in Comparative Perspective
GC: W, 6:30- 8:30 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Ervand Abrahamian

The course will explore the diverse theoretical approaches that ave been used to explain the 1979 revolution in  Iran. The main approaches to be  examined will be the Cultural, Weberian, Durkheimian, Behavioral, Intellectual,  Feminist, Discourse, Tillian, Structural, and Marxist. 

Latin American History

Hist. 76900- Nation-Building in Latin America: The Andean Republics in Comparative Perspective
GC:  R, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. José Rénique

This course examines the making of nations in the Andean region. A process conceived as a complex quest for integration against the backdrop of a millenarian civilization and a thick colonial legacy. The transition from colonies to republics is the point of departure of an examination that mostly concentrate on the last one hundred years. A comparative perspective (Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru mainly) is adopted to examine the national phenomena –from the building of states to the integration of subaltern groups.  Understanding specific Andean peculiarities as opposed to continental-wide generalizations is also an important concern of this course. Particular attention will be given to the historiographic dimension. Classes will follow a seminar format including weekly presentations.

Hist. 76910- Comparative Caribbean History
GC: M, 6:30- 8:30 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Teresita Levy

The Caribbean region has been a theater for European and U.S. imperial expansion and colonial administration, post-colonial nation building, migration, and economic subordination since the time of the “discovery.” In this course, we will explore the major themes of Caribbean history, including slavery and abolition, plantation agriculture, labor mobilization, mass migration and the creation of a (or many) Caribbean diaspora(s), industrialization and tourism, and colonialism and post-colonialism.  We will use these converging historical themes to discuss their myriad manifestations throughout the geographic space that is the Caribbean.  Although this course will emphasize the Anglophone and Hispanic Caribbean islands, we will also examine the Francophone islands, as well as the coastal regions of Latin America that face the Caribbean Sea. 

Hist. 77300- Afro-Latin America: Social Science & the Politics of Knowledge Production
GC: R, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Herman Bennett

In recent years, some Latin Americanists have questioned the hermeneutics defining the field of Latin American History.  The colonial designation some feel posits a disjuncture (or beginning) when it could be argued that continuity characterized the historical narrative.  While students of ideas, political practice, and the cultural domain have been the strongest proponents of this intervention, scholars of indigenous cultures—especially the Nahua Studies groups—share similar sentiments despite differences in scope and method.  Consequently, scholars have been utilizing terms like ‘early’ and ‘early modern’ Latin America to distinguish their work from a colonial project and its association with the rupture that Spanish and Portuguese hegemony allegedly implied.  Concurrently, a self-conscious collection of scholars identified as the Latin American subaltern studies group have called into question the elitist hegemony shaping the structure and content of writings about Latin America.  Scholars of the Latin American subaltern along with those who take issue with the occidental reasoning informing how Latin America history is currently conceived are introducing new terminology (subaltern, postcolonial, Afro-Latin American) that allegedly re-frames the Latin American past and present.  In our semester’s work, we shall explore the meanings and implications, if any, that this and other discursive shifts have had on research and writing Latin America.  Even as this seminar attends to shifts in meaning and context, we will engage the substance of the existing scholarship.


Hist. 78500 -  Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Corporation, Health and Democracy, 1900 to the Present
GC: T,
 4:15-6:15 p.m.,3 credits, Prof. Gerald Markowitz

This course will introduce students to historical, epidemiological and sociological perspectives on the impact of corporations on population health.  Through in-depth investigations of selected industries, products and practices, students will analyze the changing pathways and mechanisms by which corporate practices influence the health of consumers and workers and of the environment in both the developed and the developing world. The class will also consider public health and other responses to harmful corporate practices.  Among the topics to be studied are lead in paint and gasoline, automobiles, tobacco, food and beverages, alcohol and firearms.   Students will write a case study of a specific industry or product.  


See Also

PDEV. 81690 - Colloquium on College Teaching
 GC: M, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 0 credits, Prof. Cahn 

This fall semester Professor Steven Cahn will again offer the Colloquium on College Teaching, intended to help doctoral students develop strategies for success in their academic careers, including advice about teaching, publishing, and searching for academic positions. The course is free and open to all graduate students. Over the years these ungraded seminars have been extremely well-received and have filled quickly. The course meets during the early weeks of the semester, and students register through on-line course registration. Any questions can be addressed to Professor Cahn at

PDEV 79401  Teaching Strategies
GC:  Wednesday, 6:30-8:30 p.m.,  0 credits, Prof. Allen
This course is designed to provide students with practical advice and hands-on exercises to help them design future courses and prepare for classroom teaching. It is grounded in an understanding of the social context of teaching at CUNY as well as providing some theoretical discussion of what makes for good pedagogical practice. This course will be especially valuable for graduate students who will soon be teaching undergraduate courses in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

ANTH 82000 – Anthropology and History      
GC:   W, 11:45 a.m.-1:45 p.m., 3 credits, Prof. Skurski

This seminar explores approaches to the interplay of anthropology and history by examining how scholars have grappled with the categories, theories, and methods of work within and beyond these disciplines, including in literary, visual, and performance fields.  The readings focus on key topics, including: culture and power, material vs. spiritual, postcolonial critiques, historical memory, the archive, violence and representation.  Among the authors we will read: Amin, Asad, Cohn, Coronil, Das, Hall, Mueggler, Pedersen, Stoler, Williams.

ART 75000 -  Topics in European Art & Architecture 1300-1750:
The Quest for the Spiritual in German Painting and Graphics from 1375 to 1550
GC: Mon. 4:15 – 6:15 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Barbara Lane,

This course will study German painting, woodcut, and engraving from the late Gothic period to the Reformation. The spirituality of these works inspired German artists of the Romantic period and were among the most significant sources of German Expressionism. After investigating how spirituality is expressed in the work of early German painters such as Master Bertram, Master Francke, Witz, Lochner, and Pacher, we shall study the development of early fifteenth-century printmaking by concentrating on Master E.S. and Schongauer. We shall then focus on Dürer and Grünewald, who produced some of the most spiritual work of the period, and conclude with a review of how the paintings and prints of Cranach, Altdorfer, and Holbein relate to the aims of the Reformation.
Course Requirements: There will be one midterm and a final examination. Students with a good reading knowledge of German and a strong background in Northern Renaissance art may choose to write a term paper instead of taking the final examination.
Preliminary Reading:
    •    Panofsky, Erwin. The Life and Art of Albrecht Dürer. Princeton, 1967.
    •    Snyder, James. Northern Renaissance Art: Painting, Sculpture, the Graphic Arts
from 1350 to 1575. Englewood Cliffs, N.J. and New York, 1985, Ch. IV, XI, XII, XIV, and XVI-XX. Students who have no background in Northern Renaissance Art may find it helpful to read Ch. V-X. 5 auditors will be accepted. Rachel Kousser