Through a close examination of the interrelationships among economic change, cultural and political developments, and the escalating sectional conflict between 1815 and 1861, this lecture course seeks to explain what the caused the outbreak of the American Civil War in April 1861. Students should note that this period also encompasses the Jacksonian era of American history, and most of the lectures in the first half of the course will be devoted to examining it, with a focus on party politics and debates over slavery. Grades will be based on class participation and on three written assignments: a midterm exam; an 8-10 page term paper; and a comprehensive, take-home final examination.
Goals of the course
Ancient India was an Indic Civilization; medieval and modern South Asia became Indo-Islamic. This course goes beneath the political, cultural, and ethnic warfare of present-day South Asia to discover and assess the growth and development of this Indo-Islamic legacy. By challenging various communalist, regionalist, colonial, and post-colonial assertions, we suggest how Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi publics (and their well-wishers) might revise the ideologically-driven, media-exploited, and socially devastating stereotypes and misunderstandings of their medieval and early modern pasts.
We cover Medieval Indo-Muslim civilization and political systems from the time Muslims arrived there; Turkic invasions; the urban revolution 13-14C; major Islamic dynasties, especially the Delhi Sultanate; Indian Sufi mysticism; Bhakti mysticism; the cosmopolitan Vijayanagara Empire; the Mughals; imperial decentralization and cultural fluorescence; the rise of regional political systems; early Europeans in South Asia; establishment of English domination of the maritime provinces and hegemony over some hinterland states; beginnings of the British Raj.
Emphasis will be on cultural and intellectual as well as political history, on major ethnic and confessional identities within India, and on the South as well as the North. Our geographical spread is modern Afghanistan to East Bengal, and Kashmir to Ceylon, with a lecture- discussion format, student participation, audio-visual materials, frequent handouts of study aids, and a free-wheeling narrative style.
Requirements You may choose between the two plans below, according to your personal aptitudes:
One mid-term 50% One map exercise* 20%
The final exam 50% One mid-term 40%
The final exam 40%
*See Map Exercise list; due in class Thurs. 15 September, at the start of class.
Texts and Assignments
Readings are grouped topically, divided into required and suggested, and listed in no special order. All required readings are on 2-hour reserve. A photocopy packet is available at N K Print and Design (7 Elliewood Ave), and is denoted below as PHOCO. Our texts are for sale in University Bookstore:
Catherine B. Asher and Cynthia Talbot, India Before Europe (Cambridge U.P., 2006)
Annemarie Schimmel, The Empire of the Great Mughals (London: Reaktion Books, 2004)
Richard M. Eaton, The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier (Berkeley: U.C. Press, 1993)
Lectures and Readings.
Serious students should familiarize themselves with those suggested readings marked (*). All are very strongly urged to read ahead of the lectures. Asking in an uninformed way about something in class that is clearly presented in the readings will reveal what you have not done, and will reduce everyone’s level of comfort, especially that of the very able TA for the class, Swati Chawla.
Note: the lectures, not being crammed into predigested time slots, are not dated. The reason? It allows free play of discussion, Q & A, and tangents in class. If this bothers you, do not take this class. The date of the mid-term will be decided by majority vote. The map is due on a fixed date.
This course surveys the history of England, Britain, and the British Empire up to the 18th century. We shall examine politics in the wake of the Norman Conquest in 1066 and at life in the later Middle Ages; the Reformation and the catastrophic civil wars of the mid-17th century; and the extension of England as it became Great Britain and a global empire. We will thus be concerned not only with England, but with its place in Europe and the world. Students will write some out-of-class essays and a take-home final exam. Readings may include: Robert Bartlett, The Hanged Man: A Story of Miracle, Memory, and Colonialism in the Middle Ages; Eamon Duffy, The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village; Alison Games, The Web of Empire: English Cosmopolitans in an Age of Exploration, 1560-1660; and Mark Kishlansky, A Monarchy Transformed: England, 1603-1714.
This seminar familiarizes graduate students with scholarships about international history of the Asia-Pacific region during the 20th century, and helps students refine their ongoing research projects or initiate new ones. In applying rigorously methods of historical research and working on primary sources, students produce scholarly papers or detailed prospectuses that can meet expectations in actual scholarly fields.
The course explores the relationship between China and the United State since the late 18th century. Starting as an encounter between a young trading state and an ageless empire on the two side of the Pacific Ocean, the Chinese-American relationship has gone through stages characterized by the two countries’ changing identities. By using both recent scholarly works and written records from the past, the course considers the historical contacts between China and the United States broadly and seeks to understand this intricate and profoundly important relationship by learning from insights at individual, communal, societal, state, and international levels. The course consists of lectures, occasional in-class discussions, and documentary films. The student’s grade is based on participation, two exams (midterm and final), a book report, and a 12- to 15-page (double spaced) research paper.
This course explores the early-modern foundations of law in a world of global empire. It charts the development of regional trading systems that linked the early-modern Mediterranean and Indian Ocean, and their eventual integration into a growing Atlantic world of commerce and empire. The world of trade that emerged by the time of the industrial revolution was one in which markets, polities, and fortunes across Europe, Asia, and the Americas were intimately linked up to one another. Through a series of readings and lectures, the course pushes students to think of an interlinked world of commerce, empire, and law that came to being over the course of several hundred years. At the same time, the course introduces pivotal treatises that help us understand how actors in this world actively imagined and constructed the world of law and exchange around them. We read merchant letters, works on economic thought, legal treatises, trial transcripts, works of philosophy, and travel narrative to understand a burgeoning discourse in political economy – one that would frame actors’ understanding (and in many ways justify) their views on the natural world, the world of trade, and the expansionist tendencies of their own empires. We will read works by such luminaries as John Locke and Hugo Grotius, but we’ll also counterbalance their views with writings by their Asian counterparts – Jewish and Muslim jurists, philosophers, and traders who had just as much to say about European empires as they did about their own worlds.
This course examines the origins and development of colonial British America. Lectures focus on geography, politics, culture, economy, and society in North America and the Caribbean, ca. 1584-1783. Readings offer first-hand accounts of colonial experiences as well as historical models of analysis and interpretation. We study the emergence of regions and work to understand how each place fits into a wider Atlantic world populated by Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans. Students will learn to see early America with new eyes as a dynamic space that spanned islands and continents. Topics include first colonial foundings, plantation slavery, cartography, criminal justice, transatlantic trade, agriculture and environment, imperial competition, Anglo-Indian frontier war, material culture, gender and society, and the origins of the American Revolution.
This course surveys China’s long history from the earliest written records to the end of the 20th century. The first half of the semester focuses on the evolution of the country’s intellectual traditions, imperial institutions, and key cultural and religious beliefs and practices. We will also examine how the successive governments of the late imperial times dealt with the strains of a changing society and economy. The second half of the course will consider how China met the challenges of the 19th and 20th centuries, characterized by Western and Japanese colonialism and frequent, large-scale rebellions. We will conclude the class by discussing the government and society of the People’s Republic against the background of these challenges. Required reading for the class includes Patricia Ebrey’s The Cambridge Illustrated History of China and Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook and selected articles and book chapters. Final grades for the class will be based on mini-quizzes, exams, and one term paper. This course fulfills the College’s historical and non-Western perspective requirements. No previous knowledge of Chinese history is required.
This course explores political, social, and economic upheaval in Russia from the end of the Crimean War to World War I and the revolutions of 1917. Special focus will be on the "Great Reforms" beginning with the emancipation of the serfs; industrialization, urbanization, and labor; the fate of the agricultural economy and peasantry; the question of social identities, bourgeois culture, and Russia’s "missing middle class"; revolutionary terrorism; the impact of ethnic diversity and empire on opposition to the tsarist government; and the 1905 revolution and the experiment in liberal politics. Throughout, we will engage the issue of Russia's increasing surface resemblance to Western, industrialized societies during the late 19th century, and ask at what points it became unlikely and then impossible for it to evolve into a liberal democracy.
The first half of the course, after presenting the era of Great Reforms in a more or less narrative format, will take different social groups in turn, investigating the experiences and attitudes of each in the aftermath of the reforms and leading up to the revolutionary upheaval of 1905. Beginning with 1905, we will turn to a more chronological approach, using Orlando Figes's A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1891-1924 (excluding the last third of the book), to explore the complex chain of events leading to the breakdown of the tsarist system in February 1917 and the takeover by Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik Party in October 1917.
The syllabus will include a number of primary sources (memoirs, ethnographies, letters, literary works), secondary scholarly literature, and films set during the era. Classes will be a combination of lecture and discussion of readings. Graded work will include a take-home midterm, two short papers, and a comprehensive final exam. There is no prerequisite for the course, though a basic knowledge of European and/or Russian history is helpful.
This course is an exploration of Japan's imperial project from roughly 1890-1945. We will start by developing a critical theoretical vocabulary with which we will then focus on three recent and important books on Japanese imperialism in East Asia. At the end of the semester we will also look briefly at anti-imperial and decolonization movements as well as the status of the category of 'empire' for analyzing the postwar period.