History 298. Experimental Courses
The Culture of Capitalism
In this course, we will analyze how social thinkers have analyzed capitalism’s virtues and vices, its strengths and weaknesses, its relationship to other social phenomena, and its intersections with gender, race, sexuality, and class. We will address how cultural texts have captured the spirit of capitalism – fueling its fantasies, contemplating its effects, and chronicling its crises. More than just an economic system, capitalism created new habits of life and mind; it also created new values, forged and distilled by new forms of art.
Charlemagne and the Family who Forged Europe
The Frankish king Charlemagne (r. 768-814 CE) has been described as the “Father of Europe.” He conquered vast lands, was crowned emperor by the Pope, and attempted to revive the Roman past. Moreover his ruling dynasty is legendary, known as “the family who forged Europe.” Charles Martel, his grandfather, was long revered for defeating the invading Muslim troops at the Battle of Tours, while his grandsons carved up the Empire into lands that foreshadow the modern nation-states of France and Germany and were the first to have their vernacular languages (old French and German) recorded. This course explores five generations of the Carolingian dynasty, from their rise to the beginnings of their decline, through primary texts written by the Carolingians and their courtiers. We will explore varied issues and themes in political, social, religious, and intellectual life and emerge with a fuller picture of the early medieval world.
History of South Asia
The vast and diverse South Asian subcontinent includes the modern states of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. This region is home to a population comprising nearly 23% of humanity. It presents a picture of cultural diversity, economic disparity, and political heterogeneity. In this course we will study the historical processes that have shaped the modern history of South Asia.
In this course, we survey the subcontinent’s pre-colonial past from its first civilizations to the decline of the Mughal Empire in the eighteenth century. We examine the impact of British imperialism and the forces of collaboration and resistance, and we study the growth of nationalism. We take a deeper look at the partition of India and creation of Pakistan in 1947, and we investigate the interplay of domestic, regional and international factors in post-independence South Asia.
A close look at the political, social and cultural development of modern China. The focus will be on both the foreign and domestic factors in China’s transition from its imperial past to a modern nation-state.
Islam and the West
Organized along both historical and thematic lines, this course aims to provide the essential background necessary to understand the currently vexed relationship between Islam and the West by concentrating on the colonial and post-colonial encounter between Muslim and Western societies and polities. We will focus on the ideologies of orientalism, colonialism, and Islamism in shaping the tumultuous relationship between the West and Islam. We will also address a wide array of topics that include the Muslim “other” in Western imaginings; the Muslim encounter with European colonialism; Muslims and modernity; Islamic universalizes and anti-colonial nationalisms.