It so happened that in and around 1948 several significant events took place that have shaped the world we live in since 1945. “1948: A Global History” explores how these events have made the world as we know it today. They include the UN genocide and human rights conventions, the Cold War, the beginning of Apartheid in South Africa, the partitions of India/Pakistan and Palestine/Israel, and several events that made the world one, or “global,” as we call it today, such as the foundation of the World Health Organization and of UNESCO. The class starts in 1948 and ends in the present, tracing the meaning and developments of these events since 1948. The course is open to undergraduate (with instruction permission) and graduate students.
This course explores the war of 1948 in Palestine from the UN partition resolution of November 29, 1947 to the cease-fire agreements in early 1949. It has two narratives. The first thread of the course focuses on the voices of Jewish, Palestinians, and British contemporaries taken from diaries and letters from the period. We seek to capture the human element in this event, marked by such different outcomes as redemption and catastrophe, while telling a story of commingled Jewish and Palestinian histories. The second narrative places 1948 in Palestine in global perspective of decolonization, partitions, and forced migrations in the post-1945 world, as well as in an international history of self-determination, minority rights, and the emerging post-1945 world order. We combine then the local and the global.
This introductory seminar explores a classic question: What happened to religious practices and beliefs in their encounter with rationalists and skeptics in the eighteenth century? The era which historians call the Enlightenment (c. 1660-1815) was a period of intellectual fervor in which radical ideas about human nature, the organization of society, the role of government, and the validity of belief in the divine and miraculous spread through a "republic of letters" that spanned Europe and the Americas. These ideas produced a host of new cultural practices and institutions, such as free press, state sponsored libraries and scientific laboratories, newspapers and coffeehouses, clandestine philosophical movements, and, untimately, democratic revolutions in America, France, and Haiti.
In books published in secret and cloistered literary salons, philosophers extended rationalist and empiricist thinking to critique religious belief and the authority of the institutions that taught and enforced those beliefs. In France, this pitted the national Catholic Chuch against skeptics who sought to undermine "priestcraft" for the sake of freethinking. Yet elsewhere, as in Britain and its American colonies, rational religious thinking emerged as a way to yoke belief in the supernatural with the new science. Such thinkers as Robert Boyle and John Locke employed their considerable intellectual might toward proving the existence of God and the immaterial soul through empirical methods. In America, the science of acoustics emerged as a means to determine whether or not individuals could actually hear divine voices.
Through sources ranging from published essays and sermons to descriptions of scientific experiments and personal accounts of mystical experiences, we will witness the contests for control over the sacred that religious leaders, skeptics, and common people waged throughout the long eighteenth century. Topics will include the growing tension between faith and reason, the spread of revivalism and ecstatic forms of religious practice, the confrontation of science with magic, and the contributions of religion to new medicine.
This course is designed to introduce first and second-year students to reading and writing about history. Special attention will be given to methods of studying religion as a historical subject. Students are expected to read carefully, participate actively in class discussions, and write regularly. Weekly short writing assignments will train students in the practice of "close reading" by asking them to analyze primary source materials. At the end of the semester students will complete a longer project a topic of their choice. This may take the form of a traditional essay or a digital essay published on the web.
This seminar explores the relations among three key topics in recent historical writing: how the notions of emotions, violence, and memory have been used by hisorians in terms of method, theory and interpretation in order to gain access to people in the past, and, especially, in what way their commingling opens up new possibilities of historical writing. We shall discuss, among others, broad range of topics, read across continents and periods, and consider history alongside literature.