History 398. Experimental Courses
End of Christendom
What happened to religion in modern Europe? On the one hand, the decline in church attendance and the increasing separation of church and state points to a story of the secularization of European society and culture. On the other hand, religious groups and religious ideas were central to the formation of new states, new social policies, and new identities throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This course will explore the changing relationships between Christianity, politics, and culture in modern Europe with an eye to answering a deceptively simple question: has Europe become secular?
The Roots of China’s Rise: Reform, Revolution, and Re-Invention
“China since 1800” will offer a window onto the turbulent history that has shaped this emergent superpower. In what ways did movements of revolution and reform shape the modern consciousness of this nation? How did encounters with the West, and with Western notions of nationalism, communism, and science and democracy, impact China’s transformations over the past century and a half? Has China followed its own unique trajectory of cultural development, or has it evolved through larger regional and global interactions and movements? What has been the role of different groups, from urban intellectuals to village peasants, in lending their voices to China’s evolving definition of itself as “Chinese” and “modern”? We will address these issues through close examination of personal memoirs, fictional literature, and primary historical documents. Active learning through classroom discussion will be a central part of the classroom environment.
Traitors, Heretics, and Witches
This advanced seminar explores the idea that traitors, heretics, and witches were labels that mixed social, religious, political, cultural, and gender transgressions. Topics include the distinction between thought and action, the creation of categories for people as well as deeds, popular movements and official responses, dissent from social and political norms, magic, science, and religion.
The Vietnam Experience and the Shape of American Life
This course will explore the history of the American conflict in Vietnam and the impact of that experience on individual Americans and the overall shape of American life, both during the war and after. We will read memoirs of participants and opponents, discuss the fiction and films growing out of the experience, deal with postwar veterans’ issues, and investigate the ways the Vietnam experience influenced American life for the remainder of the 20th century and into the 21st.