The history immersion provides students with intensive study within the discipline of history. Students may choose to structure their immersion broadly, by choosing a wide range of historical topics to study, or narrowly, by choosing a particular area to study, such as American, European, or Asian history.
Notes about this immersion:
Students are required to complete at least one course at the 300-level or above as part of the immersion.
Notes about this immersion:
Students are required to complete at least one course at the 300-level or above as part of the immersion.
Choose three of the following:
Themes In European History
This course will examine variable topics within the scope of European history. In particular students will study the major European institutions, cultures, and societies as they have evolved throughout history, for example, the role of religion in European history, the rise of European nationalism, the age of discovery and colonialism/imperialism, or the various economic systems (feudalism, capitalism, communism, socialism). Students will also study Europe’s relationship both with other European powers as well as with the wider world.
History of the Modern Middle East
This course aims to provide students with a general overview of basic themes and issues in modem Middle Eastern history. Such themes include the influence of the world on the Middle East, the various political, religious, and social movements in the Middle East, and cultural and civilizational aspects of Middle Eastern societies. This course will also study cultural encounters and exchanges between the Middle East and the rest of the world, including the era of colonialism and the nationalist reaction. And finally, students will gain an understanding of the many conflicts in which the Middle East is embroiled as well as their historical antecedents.
World History Since 1500
This course will explore of how the contemporary global order in the 21st century has emerged from the historical events, processes and trends of the past 500-plus years. Since 1500, the world has changed dramatically, from several mostly—or entirely—separate and autonomous regions to a single interconnected system of people and societies. We will consider the political, social, economic, and technological developments as well as the intercultural and transregional contacts and interactions that helped create these changes.
Introduction to Public History
Public history is using the research-based methods and techniques of historians to conduct historical work in the public sphere. If you've gone to a museum, conducted an oral history, researched your old house, or learned from an interpreter at a park or historic site, you've seen public history in action. This course will introduce students to the wide variety of careers in public history, and will examine the challenges and opportunities that come with doing history in, with, and for the public.
American Deaf History
This course explores the history of the deaf community in the United States. It offers a broad survey of American deaf history from the early 19th century to the late 20th century. Major events in American deaf history will be considered, including the foundation of schools for the deaf, the birth of American Sign Language, the emergence of deaf culture, the challenge of oralism, the threat of eugenics, and the fight for civil rights.
History of Disability
This course will explore the meaning of disability in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The course provides a cultural over-view of disability and seeks to explore the social construction of disability, with special attention given to the cultural, intellectu-al, personal, and social histories of disability. Disability in history has been many (frequently contradictory) things: acquired at birth and acquired by war; a reason to promote eugenic policies or a reason to promote civil rights legislation; a medical diagnosis or a personal identity; visible in the body (as in the case of amputations) or invisible (as in the case of deafness); a source of family shame or a source of personal pride. How has the meaning and nature of disability changed over time? How can we understand the cultural meaning of the body in history? The course seeks to explore and explain these shifting meanings of disabil-ity within the context of Western history. Specific topics to be considered include freak shows, disabled veterans, prosthetic technologies, disability as culture, the history of eugenics, and political activism.
Civil War America
This class will examine American politics and society during the Civil War era. In addition to military affairs, students will focus on several broader themes, including the political, economic and social factors leading to the Civil War in the 1860s; the role of abolitionist, slave expansionist, and black freedom movements in the years before the Civil War; the development of emancipation policies during and after the war; and the reconstruction of the union following the war. Students will also examine the way subsequent generations of Americans remembered the Civil War in history books, memoirs, and museums.
American Slavery and Freedom
This class will survey the history of slavery and freedom in the United States from the establishment of global slave systems in the colonial period through emancipation movements during the Civil War era. Students will examine key economic, political, and social issues (from the development of slave labor systems to strategies of resistance among enslaved peoples) as well as the meaning of black freedom struggles during key eras (such as the American Revolutionary era and Civil War).
Origins of U.S. Foreign Relations
This class analyzes the roots of U.S. foreign policy, beginning with the American Revolution and continuing through the Spanish-American War. It also examines the development of the United States from a small 18th century experiment in democracy into a late 19th century imperial power. Topics include foreign policy powers in the constitution, economic development, continental and overseas expansion, and Manifest Destiny.
Modern U.S. Foreign Relations
This course examines the late 19th century emergence of the United States as an imperial power and its development into a 20th century superpower. Topics include U.S. politics and foreign policy, the influence of racial and cultural ideologies on policy, isolation, and intervention, the cold war, and the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
The United States and Japan
This class examines the U.S.-Japanese relationship from the perspectives of diplomacy, economics, and culture. Fluctuating sharply during its 150 years, this relationship has featured gunboat diplomacy, racial conflict, war, and alliance. The course investigates U.S.-Japanese relations in the contexts of modernization, imperialism, World War II, the cold war, and the 21st century.
History of World War II
This course will cover the military, diplomatic, political, social, and cultural history of World War II. It will focus on the causes of the war, the battles that decided the war, the leaders (civilian and military) who made the key decisions, and how the war changed society. The purpose of the course is to acquaint students with the political, social, economic, military, and cultural history of WWII and that conflict's impact upon our own era.
History of Pre-modern China
This course will examine critically the early history of China: the origins of China, the early mytho-historical dynasties, early imperial China, and finally the late imperial era, ending at roughly 1850. Students will be able to trace the relationship to the Chinese to various non-Chinese peoples, particularly the semi-nomadic peoples on the northern frontier. Students will also examine the way that China's long and complicated past has shaped its present, and how its relations to other peoples has shaped its modern relations to both its neighbors and the west.
History of Modern China
China occupies a rather large place in the consciousness of most Americas. It is the most populous country in the world, it has one of the biggest economies in the world and, in many ways, China has been seen to be in direct competition with America. Whatever the truth of these ideas, it is clear that China will play a major role on the world stage for the foreseeable future. This class will seek to analyze the historical circumstances surrounding the rise of modern China. What were the conditions that led to the establishment of, first, Nationalist China, followed by the People's Republic; why did the communist government enjoy such popular support; what were China's relations with the outside world; and finally, what is the state of China today? These are all questions that we will seek to answer in this course.
History of Modern Japan
This course will seek to examine critically the history and culture of Japan and will address many of the stereotypes and misunderstandings that are an inevitable part of Japanese studies. We will do this by examining a number of materials such as primary documents in translation, Japanese films, and art such as woodblock prints. In doing so, I will try to present as complete and balanced a picture of Japan's history and culture as possible. This will not only be useful in understanding Japan and its past, but will also help in understanding many of the important regional issues that are confronting us here in the modern world.
History of Pre-modern Japan
This class will introduce students to the history of Japan from the earliest times to the opening of the country in the mid nineteenth century. Through a variety of readings, discussions, and lectures, we'll tackle issues such as the origin of the Japanese people, early state formation, Japan in the larger East Asian context, and the rise of the warriors. We'll also examine the unique dual form of government that existed in Japan from the twelfth century, consisting of rule by the imperial court as well as by the warrior class in Japan, the well-known samurai. And finally, we'll look at several of the modern myths of Japanese history and try to address them in a balanced, historical manner.
History of Modern France
This course explores pivotal themes in French history from the French Revolution of 1789 to the present. Topics will include the French Revolution, Napoleon III's Second Empire, French imperialism, World War I and nationalism, World War II and the Vichy regime, collaboration and resistance, and the 1968 student rebellions. Special emphasis will be placed on the recurring tension between secularism and Catholicism in French society, the role of French republicanism in shaping historic and contemporary debates about citizenship, race, and immigration, and France's relationship with its former colonial possessions and the United States.
Screening the Trenches: A History of WWI Through Film
This course uses popular films to examine World War I as the global conflict that set the stage for the rise of communism, fascism, and subsequent wars in twentieth-century Europe. Students will gain an understanding of the major causes and outcomes of World War I while investigating how the war transformed class, gender, and racial politics in Europe. Special attention will be paid to the combat/trench experience, the home front/war front divide, the German occupation of Belgium and Northern France, “total war,” the politics of shell-shock and disability, and the legacies of grief, mourning, and commemoration. Because World War I so greatly divided its participants, little consensus about the war’s meaning emerged in its aftermath. Filmmakers have consequently used World War I as a blank slate on which to project political fantasies, condemn elements of their own societies, or imagine the future. Students will use secondary historical literature and original primary sources to analyze filmic representations of World War I and consider how filmmakers have deliberately misrepresented the past or constructed particular narratives about the war to serve their own ends. This course will therefore equip students to think critically about representations of the historical past in popular culture.
History of Modern Germany
This course covers major themes in German history from the formation of the German Empire in 1870 to the present. Topics include nation building and nationalism, industrialization and urbanization, imperialism at home and abroad, the first world war, the Weimar Republic, Nazi racism and the second world war, the divided Germany and the Cold War, and reunification and the fall of the Berlin Wall. The course may focus on specific questions such as gender, class, religion or race and ethnicity. This course leads you to explore how German history shaped the role of Germans and Germany in the world today as well as how it informs problems facing other regions and eras.
U.S. History Since 1945
This class examines U.S. history from WWII to present, with emphasis on political, social, and cultural change. Focuses on the meanings and boundaries of American citizenship, as well as the role of the U.S. in the world. Topics include the Cold War and McCarthyism; the GI Bill and the building of a suburban middle class; consumer culture and its critics; The Civil Rights Movement; Great Society liberalism; The Vietnam War, the New Left and the New Right, and the counterculture; feminism, the Religious Right, and changes in gender roles, sexuality and family life; deindustrialization and economic restructuring; globalism and immigration policy; the War on Drugs and the growth of a penal state; the end of the Cold War and the New World Order; and the War on Terror.
Great Debates in U.S. History
This course offers an analysis and interpretation of the main themes in the history of the United States over a broad period of time that extends to the modern era. We will look at how issues such as race, class, gender, and the environment have shaped American history, as well as debates over the multiple meanings of that history.
Global Slavery and Human Trafficking
This course examines historical and contemporary dimensions of global slavery and human trafficking. The trans-Atlantic slave trade was the world's largest forced migration between continents, but it was only one of many slave trades that shaped societies throughout the world. In order to understand the historical significance of global slave trades, we will compare it to other systems of slavery. In examining the historical significance and legacies of the slave trade, we will link different regional histories to the growth of market-based capitalist economies into the 20th century. The course will also examine the changing meaning of the term ‘slavery’ and examine some modern forms of forced labor, bondage, and slavery that persist to this day in all sectors of the global economy. We will explore the rise of human trafficking, and global anti-trafficking programs and campaigns.
Monuments and Memory
Monuments are physical objects that were constructed to help us remember the past, but a deeper analysis reveals that the relationship between monuments and the memories they embody is complex and changes over time. We will tackle the process of memorializing, the monuments that result, and seek greater insight into the arguments these artifacts make about the past, the present, and our place in the world.
America’s National Parks
The National Parks are some of America's most treasured and spectacular landscapes, but even these wild places are the product of historical forces. In this class, we will explore the history of America's National Parks, and use these spaces to unpack the relationship between Americans, their land, and their history.
Oral history collects memories and personal commentaries of historical significance through recorded interviews. There are few opportunities for historical research that are more satisfying or more challenging than oral history. In this class, we will learn about oral history methods, techniques, and ethics. We will read, listen to, and watch some of the finest examples of the genre. Then we will go out and add to the world's understanding of its past by conducting oral histories of our own. For their final project in this course, students will work in teams to produce a podcast based on their own interview(s).
Museums and History
Many more people learn history from museums than from textbooks. What is it that is so special about encountering the real thing in a museum? Why are Dorothy's Ruby Slippers the most visited artifact in the National Museum of American History? Do history museums themselves have an important history? Join us as we investigate the connections between our history, our museums, and the material artifacts that tell historical stories.
Doing History in a Digital World
Computers and their networks have fundamentally altered the ways that history is both produced and consumed. Sources in digital formats simultaneously present opportunities and challenges that force us to rethink what is possible in history. Doing history in a digital age forces us to engage with the issues and opportunities raised by such as topics as digitization and preservation, text mining, interactive maps, new historic methodologies and narrative forms, computational programming, and digital storytelling. Digital tools, including blogs, wikis, video sharing sites, and many others, help bring history to new audiences in different ways. In this course, we will investigate the landscape of digital history and tackle the exciting task of understanding and creating history in the digital age.
Deafness and Technology
The deaf community has a long and complicated relationship with technological devices. The deaf community, for instance, was quick to embrace the new technology of moving pictures, and many deaf actors found work in early Hollywood during the silent film era. Most lost their livelihoods when sound was introduced to motion pictures. Deaf people were left out of the communication revolution brought about by the telephone for many years, but now the deaf community is increasingly a wired community, as texting, tweeting, and vlogging makes more communication technologies accessible to deaf users. This course will explore the historical relationship between technology and deafness. It will consider how views of deafness frequently shape technology, that is, if deafness is viewed as a pathological illness, technologies are focused on curing it (e.g., cochlear implants), whereas, if deaf people are viewed as members of linguistic and cultural minority, technologies are harnessed to make it easier for that minority to interact with the majority culture (e.g, relay systems). This course will consider how deaf people have historically used, created, and adopted technologies to their own ends.
Diversity in the Deaf Community
Students in this course will be introduced to the historical study of diversity in the Deaf community, especially as it relates to issues of race, ethnicity, gender, disability, and sexuality. Students will learn to analyze the implications of such diversity in terms of the social perception of deaf people, the history of the education of deaf people, and the experience of acculturation for and as Deaf people. The course will examine how the process of acculturalization has operated, historically, within the Deaf community. Deaf culture has sought to transcend various differences and to bond members of the Deaf community together, in one, larger Deaf identity. But has this always been achieved? How has the Deaf community handled issues of diversity in different historical moments? Has the history of diversity within the Deaf community been similar to the history of diversity within the hearing community? Or have there been distinctively Deaf ways of diversity in history? This course will invite students to compare and contrast the history of difference and diversity in the deaf and hearing communities, and to explore those historical moments of intersection and interaction as well.
Oppression in the Lives of Deaf People
Women and the Deaf Community
Deaf history, as a field, has often neglected the story of deaf women. Scholar Arlene B. Kelly has recently asked, Where is deaf herstory? This course seeks to correct that gender imbalance in deaf history. We will study deaf women's history. This will include a consideration of deaf-blind women, as well, as women like Helen Keller were often the most famous deaf women of their era. But this course also seeks to look at the role of hearing women in deaf history. Hearing women dominated the field of deaf education in the late nineteenth century. They had a tremendous impact on the lives of deaf children and the events of deaf educational history. Hearing women were also important figures in deaf history as mothers. As mothers of deaf children, hearing women were frequently asked to behave as teachers in the home. Their embrace of this role often led them to endorse oral education, and oppose the sign language. Hearing mothers in this way were pitted against their adult deaf daughters, who frequently went on to learn sign language against their mothers' wishes. The historically complex relationship between women and the deaf community will be explored in this course.
Rochester Reformers - Changing the World
This course will survey Rochester area social reformers who led a number of critical reform movements, identifying problems with the status quo and proposing solutions to those problems. They worked to establish a new social order and even to perfect society. As an Erie Canal boom town and major manufacturing hub, Rochester inspired generations of famous reformers who made principled arguments for improving urban life and labor relations, ending slavery and securing civil rights for African Americans, and claiming equality for American women. Students will study the historical impact of celebrated social reformers such as Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony as well as less well known figures like religious revivalist Charles Finney, urban park reformer Charles Mulford Robinson, and advocate of the social gospel Walter Rauschenbusch. The course will also introduce contemporary efforts that have attempted to reshape principles of social justice locally and nationally. In the 20th century the social reform movement efforts turned to the ethical and social problems of a modernizing America, debating solutions to the pressing problems of urbanization, immigration, and environmental protection. Students will also work on a community-based research project focusing on the history and impact of particular Rochester reformers.
This class will survey the history environmental disasters (from floods to oil spills) in modern American and global society. Students will study several specific disasters (for example, Hurricane Katrina, the Great Midwestern Floods of the 1990s, Love Canal, and the Haitian Earthquake of 2008) and analyze a series of broader themes that illuminate their meaning, including the economic impact of various disasters, the legal and political ramifications of modern disasters, and the social and cultural meaning of disasters in various societies.
Terrorism, Intelligence, and War
This course investigates the historical, political, moral, and legal dimensions of terrorism, intelligence, and war. It uses a case-study approach with themes that include just war theory, terrorism in the colonial and post-colonial worlds, domestic terrorism, and mechanisms of intelligence and covert operations.
The Vietnam War
The Vietnam War continues to loom over American history. In the service of vastly different causes, politicians repeatedly invoke it: some define it as a tragic mistake, others as a noble cause. Many search for the lessons of Vietnam, a war that cost more than 58,000 American lives and as many as three million Vietnamese. In this course, we consider the war experiences of both the United States and Vietnam. We begin by highlighting Vietnamese history, culture, nationalism, communism, and independence. After analyzing Vietnam as a colony under the French, we turn our attention to American involvement beginning in the early years of the Cold War and ending with the fall of Saigon. Although we examine military and political history, the course also emphasizes social and cultural perspectives on a war that tore at the fabric of American society and led ultimately to the downfall of two presidents. Last, we look at the war’s enduring legacies in the United States and Vietnam today. Readings and assignments for the course include government documents, memoirs, fiction, film, and secondary literature from both nations.
The Holocaust: Event, History, Memory
In the midst of the Second World War, under the auspices of the National Socialist regime in Germany, Germans along with their allies and collaborators murdered roughly six million European Jews and countless numbers of other “undesirables, including homosexuals, Slavic peoples, and gypsies. This much is incontrovertible, but only in subsequent decades did this series of events become known as the Holocaust. In this course we will cover not only the historical context and potential causes of the Holocaust—from the long history of European anti-Jewish and antisemitic violence to the specifics of National Socialist racial ideology—and the events themselves—the persecution, ghettoization and eventually extermination of Jewish communities across occupied Europe—but also consider the long afterlife of this historical fact. Why (and how) has the Holocaust become a critical episode in both European and global history? How have the books and films released in the years after 1945 influenced our collective consciousness of that period of European history? Why have the most notable location of mass murder, the camp at Auschwitz in southern Poland, a memorial in the center of the German capital of Berlin, and a museum dedicated to the Holocaust in Washington, DC, become major tourist destinations? How have our contemporary understandings of genocide and human rights emerged from this series of events? Why are there still thousands of people invested in denying that these events ever happened?
A Global History of Baseball
Baseball has been called America’s game, and the late, great historian Jacques Barzun once quipped that in order to understand the soul of America, one first had to understand baseball. This may be true about America, and if so, then it is equally true for many other areas of the world. Baseball, since the nineteenth century, has been an integral part of not just America’s sports culture but also that of countries from Japan to Taiwan to Venezuela to the Dominican Republic. This course will examine the origins of baseball from English bat and ball games such as Rounders, American missionaries introducing the game to Japan and Korea, baseball as a nationalist reaction to Spanish rule in Cuba, and, finally, the global reach of modern baseball as seen in such classic institutions as the Little League World Series.
Conflict in Modern East Asia
The 20th century has sometimes been called the Pacific Century, which is ironic since this period of time has been anything but pacific! The twentieth century saw the rise of four great pacific powers; the U.S., Japan, China, and the Soviet Union, and saw the eclipse of several others, including the British and French Empires. Furthermore a major front of the Cold War was played out on the Asian continent, namely the Korean and Vietnam wars, as well as the U.S. standoff with Communist China. And of course the Second World War, the greatest concentrated period of human destruction, played out at the midpoint of the twentieth century. This class will analyze these conflicts both as conflicts in and of themselves, but will also look at the backdrop against which these conflicts were played out. Beginning with the subjugation of China in the 19th century, our class will examine the many conflicts that defined this region through the end of the twentieth century.
Histories of Christianity
The history of Christianity is not simply the history of the religion of the west. Rather, Christian history is a long and complex movement that has profoundly affected Asia, Africa, Europe, and the New World. At various times there were several competing ideologies of Christianity, of which the west's was only a single example. Christianity also has a long history of interacting with other religions, from Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism to Judaism and Islam. This course will trace the development of Christianity paying special attention to how the Christian tradition developed in places such as Africa and Asia. We will, of course, also study Christianity in its western forms, but we will make an effort to dive into the rich tradition of this religion in all its many forms.
Global History of Religions
This course will examine the history of the world’s larger religious traditions, including origins, development in particular societies, and modern forms. This course will explore the formal doctrines of various religions, as well as popular cultural manifestations. Topics will include the role of religion in state formation, nationalism, and colonialism, as well as how religions adapt themselves to local cultures and societies as they spread across regions.
International Business History
This course provides an overview on the history of international business since the late 19th century. We will examine social change over time in how corporations have handled expansion into foreign markets, why corporations decided to – or not to – expand abroad, how they managed their foreign operations, and what contributed to their success or failure abroad. To do so, we will look at a variety of factors including how corporations dealt with corporate communication, local regulations, transfers of knowledge and technology, and how corporate decisions affect communities. We will apply these historical insights to case studies of multinational corporations.
Technology in the Modern World
Trains, planes, automobiles, phones and computers – modern technologies like these make our daily lives pleasant and convenient. Yet, many people around the globe lack access to these technologies. In this course, we will investigate the emergence of industrial manufacturing processes in late 18th century Britain that allowed for the development of these technologies. We will also examine how new technologies spread to other places in the world, how they shaped colonial relations, and what role they play in today’s developing world. In this course, you will gain a better understanding of how people around the world have shaped their technologies, and how technologies in turn have shaped them.
Medicine and Public Health in American History
This course introduces students to the social and cultural history of medicine by examining differing concepts of disease, health, and healing throughout American history. Themes include the professionalization of medicine, the role of science in medical research and practice, popular understanding and experience of health and illness, and the role of the state in providing medical care. We will explore how science and medicine defined social categories of difference, including race and gender, and how these categories in turn shaped medical thought and practice. The course format combines lectures, discussions, and films and readings include historical documents and case studies.
Get hands-on experience researching, interpreting, and writing history. The class will tackle a common historical theme (announced in the subtitle), then do original historical research on a topic of your choice within the overall theme. Our themes do not just rehash old topics with little new information to uncover. Instead, we focus on relatively unexplored areas of the past, where your research can shed new light on unknown topics. You will learn about history by doing it! All majors are welcome.
History, and particularly Deaf history within a predominantly hearing world, is the product of a vast network of inter-related spaces, in which more or less well-defined knowledges and cultures are performed. This course will provide students the opportunity to learn skills to identify and describe the different spaces - produced by both Deaf and hearing people - that have contributed to a 'history of the Deaf community'. It will equip students with the ability to not only identify and describe the histories of the Deaf community, but also to critically explore the meta-historical narratives that shape those histories, allowing them to situate those narratives within the wider evolution of social and cultural representation. Deaf Geographies reside at the intersection of Human Geography and Deaf Studies. It considers spatiality, language, citizenship, education, and identity, as well as other themes of interest in new ways by viewing these through the eyes of a community who perform their cultural and social geographies in the visual.
Theory and Methods of Deaf Geographies
The course is designed to give students theoretical and practical exposure to qualitative social science applied research methods in a new area of human geographic and Deaf Studies research: Deaf Geographies. Deaf Geographies reside at the intersection of Human Geography and Deaf Studies. It considers spatiality, language, citizenship, education, and identity, as well as other themes of interest in new ways by viewing these through the eyes of a community who perform their cultural and social geographies in the visual. The focus of the course is an instructor-led research project. Students will gain a grounding in appropriate methodological theory in order to conduct hands-on, primary research that will include proposal writing, data collection, analysis, and dissemination.
Biography as History
This course will look at biography as a form of history. By studying biographies that approach their subjects with various formats and methods of presentation, the class will examine how the craft of biography shapes our contemporary understanding of the historical past. Among the questions to be examined in this course are: how does biography reveal the historical circumstances of the subject’s life to give readers a broader understanding of the historical context of that life? How effectively can contemporary readers explore the past through the prism of one person’s life? Can the history of an era be effectively told through an examination of one person’s life? What are the benefits of the biographical approach to history? What are the drawbacks? What are the benefits of biography as a form of public history? That is, when people can get their history through the Biography Channel, how important is it for public historians to grapple with the impact of biography as a form with a unique grip on the public imagination?
Modern Japan in History, Fiction, and Film
This course offers an introduction to modern Japanese history, highlighting social and aesthetic traditions that have formed the foundations for Japanese literature and cinema. It explores how writers and directors have drawn on this heritage to depict historical experiences.
The Age of Discovery, beginning in the 15th century and culminating with the advent of European imperialism, is one of the most fascinating, as well as problematic, periods in the history of both Asia and Europe. Too often historians frame the interaction between Asia and Europe in uniquely European terms and present Asia as a passive partner in this process of discovery. In fact, this period presents us with a number of complex issues such as national identity, the nature of European expansion, and the Asian response to European journeys to the East. This course will undertake to re-examine the age of discovery not only from a European point of view, but also from an Asian standpoint. In the process, we will see how many of the issues that we are facing in the region are products of a long and complex relationship between Europe and Asia. Students will also examine the issues that have arisen between the east and the west in the twentieth century and that continue into our own time.
The Samurai in Word and Image
One of the most enduring images of premodern Japan in the samurai, replete with sword and armor. This course will seek to examine the role of the samurai in Japanese history, examining popular perceptions in Japanese film, woodblock prints, and texts. We will also use a variety of secondary sources to critically examine some of the portrayals of the samurai and how they stand up to historical reality. Students will be encouraged to participate in extensive discussions as we deal with a great variety of media and try to arrive at an image of the samurai that is historically accurate. And finally, we will examine issues such as feudalism and the warrior code and how those historical concepts relate to the west at about the same time period.
Science, Technology, and European Imperialism
Between 1800 and 1945, Western nations dominated approximately three-quarters of the earth’s surface through imperialism. This course examines how industrialization, technological developments, and the emergence of the modern sciences facilitated Europe’s conquest and colonization of vast territories overseas. The course opens with a brief overview of the role of biology and science in shaping early imperial encounters (the Columbian Exchange). Students will then consider how 19th-century botany, zoology, acclimatization, cartography, geography, and anthropology became imperial sciences that facilitated formal conquest by producing knowledge about distant cultures, races, and environments. The Industrial Revolution produced new technological tools--steamboats, railroads, and weapons--that facilitated the Scramble for territory in the late 19th century. The course will consider how these inventions shaped patterns of conquest and colonial rule in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Throughout the course, students will interrogate how Europeans’ faith in the superiority of Western technology, scientific knowledge, and medicine shaped the evolution of the European civilizing mission-- the cultural and political logic that defined interactions between Europeans and non-Western populations. At the same time, they will evaluate how Africans and Asians experienced living under colonial rule, and in some cases, how they deployed Western technology as weapons of resistance to imperialism.
Global Information Age
The internet and cell phones seem to have turned us into world citizens of cyberspace. Programmers in Bangalore or Chennay now write software for U.S. companies, and doctors in India or Australia interpret the Cat-Scan or MRI images of US patients overnight. As bestselling author Thomas Friedman argues, the world is flat, that is competition for intellectual work is now global. Others have suggested that information technologies have led to global homogenization, with people around the world reading the same news, listening to the same music, and purchasing the same products. In this class, we will investigate the history of information and communication technologies to cast new light on these claims about our present-day technologies. This class is a small seminar which includes a research project.