The Ph.D. Program in History

at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York


Fall 2022 courses

Required History Courses

HIST  84900-01
First-year Seminar in American History
5 credits, Wednesdays 2 PM – 4 PM, Hybrid

Professor Thomas Kessner
This seminar is designed to train incoming graduate students in the craft of historical research and writing. Over the course of the term, each student will formulate a research topic, prepare a bibliography of relevant primary and secondary sources, write an historiographic essay, and present and defend a formal project proposal for the substantial research paper that is to be completed in the second semester seminar. Weekly meetings will discuss common readings, share and critique written work, and develop and refine the research proposals.  We will also be devoting some time to methods and issues involved in undergraduate teaching. Participants will focus primarily on framing a topic and honing a well defined, focused and reasonable research proposal for their papers. The collateral assignments are intended to advance this process forward.  Students are advised to give some thought to possible research projects before classes begin this way they can make some early efforts at sampling secondary materials and investigating the availability of sources. Open only to PhD Program in History students.

HIST   84900-02 
First-year Seminar in European and non-American History
5 credits, Wednesdays 2 PM – 4 PM, Hybrid
Professor Allison Kavey

This course aims to help you define the theoretical context appropriate for your research questions, locate and make effective use of different types of sources, and draft a research paper you will continue next term. Open only to PhD Program in History students.

HIST   80010
Literature of American History 1

5 Credits, Thursdays 2 PM-4PM, Fully In-Person
Professor David Waldstreicher
This course introduces Ph.D. students to the historiography of the U.S. through the Civil War and is intended to prepare students for the First Written Examination. One of our primary concerns will be periodization. To what extent should the colonial period be considered a prologue to U.S. history? And on the other side of the nationhood divide, are there analyses that suggest a coherence or continuity to U.S. history beyond the peculiarities of the early republic or Civil War periods? What is the status of the  Revolution and the Civil War, and the political history that drives or used to drive the narrative of U.S. history, amid transformations that might otherwise be seen as social, cultural, economic? Are there explanations that that cut across centuries, or stories that hold up in our time?  What are the most important achievements of recent US historians, and what are the trends in the field now?
The books and articles we shall discuss include prizewinning narratives, monographs born as dissertations, and historiographical essays. An important part of what we will be doing is attempting to read these in light of each other. Be forewarned: the reading is extensive, in recognition of the five credits this course carries and its status as required preparation for qualifying examinations. Our goal is to prepare for the exam, of course, but also to prepare to teach this period at the college level and to lay a substantial foundation for future research and teaching in any period of U.S. history. Open only to PhD Program in History students.

HIST   80020
Literature of European History 1

5 Credits, Tuesdays, 4:15 PM-6:15 PM, Hybrid
Professor Francesca Bregoli
This course offers an introduction to the literature of European history from the late Middle Ages through the eighteenth century. It explores key historiographical debates, themes, and methodologies pertinent to the study of that period. We will examine classic and recent works on cultural and political history, the economy and society, religion, states and empires, science and technology, popular culture, gender and sexuality, and more. The course prepares students for the end-of-semester comprehensive examination and for further study of European history. Open only to PhD Program in History students.

HIST 80050
Literature of Middle East History 1

5 Credits, Wednesdays, 4:15PM-6:15PM, Fully In-Person
Professor Lale Can
This course provides an introduction to the main themes and approaches in the history and historiography of the Middle East in the long 19th century, from roughly the late 1700s through the First World War. Our primary geographical focus will be regions under the rule of the Ottoman Empire and, to a lesser extent, Qajar Iran. Drawing on works of classic literature and important new scholarship, the course will cover themes such as state-building and governance; religious authority, identity, and sectarianism; economic and labor history; gender and law; histories of medicine and the environment; legal reform and modernization; migration; and the impact of imperialism and globalization. Students who complete the course will have a solid grounding in the literature of the Middle East, which will serve as a basis for preparation for oral exams as well as for future teaching and research.
This 5-credit HIST 80500 section is open only to PhD Program in History students. Advanced MA students in the MES program should register for the 3-credit MES 78000 section (with approval).

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HIST  80040
Literature of Latin American History 2

5 Credits, Tuesdays, 11:45 AM-1:45 PM
Professor Mary Roldan
This course introduces first year graduate students to the literature of Latin American history from about the second quarter of the nineteenth century through the third quarter of the twentieth century (1820s to 1980s).  Though intended to prepare students for the First (written) examination the course is necessarily selective in terms of its thematic and country-specific content.  In addition to weekly assigned “Required Readings,” students will also receive a list of “Recommended Readings for Further Study” organized by theme and time period. “Recommended Readings” expand and deepen the course’s required readings and represent works that a graduate student of Latin American history would be expected to have read by the time of their written or oral examinations. As a longer term objective, this course is also intended to enable students to begin to think about possible dissertation or research topics, to inscribe their emerging research interests within larger paradigms of analysis and debate in Latin American history, and to expand their familiarity with methodological and comparative tools of analysis in ways that may benefit their future research and writing. Open only to PhD Program in History students.

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Elective History Courses

HIST 71000
Introduction to Global Early Modern Studies: The Atlantic World
3 Credits, Mondays, 4:15 PM-6:15 PM, Fully Online
Professor Clare Carroll

Transculturation in the Atlantic world will be the focus of our study of encounters between Europeans and Africans, peoples of the Caribbean, and the Americas in texts from Portuguese, Spanish, Nahuatl, French and English authors. Topics to be discussed include political versus economic interpretations of the encounter, slavery, and colonization; the geography of empire; visual narration in Meso-American codices; the intersection of gender, class and race in the creation of mestizo cultures; monsters and cannibals in maps and ethnographic writing; the construction of race before race (the pseudo-science of the 18th and 19th centuries). All texts can be read in the original language and in English. Readings will be available on Blackboard. Readings will be from: The Asia of João de Barros; Columbus, Diario; We People Here: Nahuatl Accounts of the Conquest of Mexico; Hernán Cortés, The Second Letter; Las Casas, A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies; Garcilaso de la Vega, Royal Commentaries of the Incas; Sor Juana Inés de a Cruz, Response to the Very Eminent Sor Filotea de la Cruz; Montaigne, ‘On Cannibals,’ ‘On Coaches,’ Jean de Léry, History of a Voyage to the Land of Brazil; Hakluyt, Voyages and Discoveries; Shakespeare, The Tempest. Theoretical and contextual frameworks include Fernando Ortiz, Cuban Counterpoint; Herman Bennett, African Kings and Black Slaves; Nicolás Wey Gόmez, The Tropics of Empire; Diana Magaloni Kerpel, The Colors of the New World: Artists, Materials, and the Creation of the Florentine Codex; Barbara Fuchs, Mimesis and Empire; Surekha Davies, Renaissance Ethnography and the Invention of the Human; Kim Hall, Things of Darkness, Nicholas Jones, Staging Habla de Negros.  There will be guest appearance by the authors of some of the works we will read including Herman Bennett, Amanda Wunder, Surekha Davies, among others.

HIST 72100
Understanding the Radical Right
3 Credits, Mondays, 6:30 PM- 8:30 PM, Fully In-Person
Professor Richard Wolin

Vladimir Putin in Russia, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Marine Le Pen in France, Matteo Salvini in Italy, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, and so forth: the world is awash in authoritarian populism. In order to better understand the origins and efficacity of these “soft dictatorships” or “illiberal democracies” (Orbán), we will pursue a twofold approach. First, we will review the leading theories of dictatorship and the authoritarian state as outlined by luminaries such as Carl Schmitt (The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy; 1923), Horkheimer and Adorno (Dialectic of Enlightenment; 1947), and Hannah Arendt (The Origins of Totalitarianism; 1951). Second, we will investigate the leading ideologues of fascism and the “total state,” thinkers who have recently experienced an enthusiastic revival among conservatives and reactionaries worldwide: Oswald Spengler, Carl Schmitt (again), Julius Evola, and the American paleocon Samuel Francis (1947-2005). In conclusion, we will examine the origins of “population replacement” ideology (Renaud Camus, Generation Identity, the Alt-Right) among representatives of the European “New Right”: Alain de Benoist and disciples such as Vladimir Putin-advisor and Steve Bannon-intimate, Alexander Dugin. (The course is intended for PhD students; master’s students must receive permission of the instructor –

HIST 72110
Globalizing the Enlightenment
3 Credits, Thursdays, 4:15 PM-6:15 PM, Hybrid
Professor Helena Rosenblatt

The Eighteenth-Century European Enlightenment is widely seen as a transformative moment in Western culture, one which gave birth to many of our most cherished ideals. We are often told, for example, that it is to the Enlightenment that we owe our modern notions of human rights, representative government, and liberal democracy. However, the recent “global turn” in scholarship has led historians to ask some new and questions. How, for example, did eighteenth-century European thinkers perceive the world beyond their own borders? How did they get their information about the outside world and to what purposes was that information put?  What were their attitudes toward race, slavery, imperialism, “primitives” and gender? Did regions outside of Europe experience Enlightenments too? If so, what was the relationship, if any, of these Enlightenments to the European one? With the help of both primary and secondary sources, we will ask how adopting a “global” perspective on the Enlightenment might enrich or even change our view of it. Is it even correct to call the Enlightenment European?

HIST 72200         
Race, Gender, & the Art of Memoir
3 Credits, Tuesdays, 6:30 PM-8:30 PM, Hybrid
Professor Tanisha Ford

In recent years, there has been resurgent interest in the genre of memoir. Many of these contemporary texts are written by young(er), people of color. In this course we will read classic memoirs in conversation with more recent publications to explore the intersections of gender and race and the unique ways that writers of creative non-fiction use the genre to explore identity politics, trauma, pleasure, the (recent) past, and worldmaking. Learning how to write in this style is a useful skill for all students—regardless of field, discipline or career path. To that end, students will write and revise several autobiographical essays, with attention to developing voice and tone, pacing, and social/cultural/political texture.
Registration open only to M.A. Program in Biography and Memoir and PhD Program in History students.


HIST 72300
Quantitative Method for Social Scientists and Humanists: Data Analysis and Mapping Data
3 Credits, Thursdays, 4:15 PM-6:15 PM, Fully Online
Professor Laird Bergad

This course is designed to develop introductory skills needed for the analysis of large-scale data bases such as those provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, other government agencies such as the National Institute of Health, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or census data bases provided by other countries throughout the world. After you conclude this course you should be able to use the skills you have learned to analyze any kind of data base, large or small, including those which you may develop independently in your future research. There are three broadly based skill sets you will learn in this course: 1) how to download data from specific web sites; 2) how to analyze these data to extract the specific information you want; 3) how to present these data in tables and graphic materials; and presentation of data on maps. The course will first focus on the skills needed to download data files to your computer using the IPUMS web site (Integrated Public Use Microdata Series) from the Minnesota Population Center, University of Minnesota (  which maintains a repository of every census of the United States from 1790 on. There is also a number of ‘companion’ sites such as IPUMS International which maintains an ever-growing archive of census materials from around the world which you may register for and use as you develop your skills. ( . We will also learn how to download other, and similar data sets used for mapping purposes at the National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS) web site ( ).


HIST 72400
Meritocracy: Education and Inequality, Past and Future
3 Credits, Tuesdays, 2 PM-4 PM, Fully In-Person
Professor John Torpey

The Supreme Court has announced that it will hear two cases bearing on affirmative action – and hence on “merit” in higher education, one emanating from Harvard and the other from the University of North Carolina.  Meanwhile, Harvard political philosopher Michael Sandel, author of a recent critique of “the tyranny of merit,” advised German Social Democratic chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz to use the campaign theme of “respect” that helped him get elected.  Controversies have arisen over the principles of admission into several selective public high schools around the country.  What is “meritocracy” and where did it come from?  Is it good or bad as a principle for organizing society?  What does its future look like?  We will explore the “merit” and “meritocracy” comparatively and historically in an effort to answer these questions.


HIST 72500
Disability: History and Theory
3 Credits, Tuesdays, 2 PM-4 PM, Fully In-Person
Professor Dagmar Herzog

Disability is not quite like other “others” (race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, etc.), but learning to think historically, critically, intersectionally about this important marker of difference (10-15% of the world’s population is estimated to have some type of disability) can enrich research on many geographic and topical themes. This seminar course will introduce students to a variety of conceptual approaches (ranging from history of medicine and cultural history to histories of care and anti-ableist social movements and human rights activism to crip theory in its overlap with queer theory), drawing also on adjacent disciplines, and will consider disabilities in the broadest sense: from madness to sensory differences to physical and cognitive impairments and chronic illnesses. Students working on any part of the globe, 19th-20th century, are welcome. In addition to close reading and active discussion, students will be expected to develop an independent research project grounded in primary sources that advances their own ongoing scholarly agenda.  Instructor permission

HIST 74900
Police, Prisons, and Repression in the United Stated of America

3 credits, Wednesdays, 6:30 PM-8:30 PM, Fully In-Person
Professor Johanna Fernandez
This course examines the rise and role of jails, prisons, police and repression in the United States beginning with emergent reformulations of punishment in the early years of the republic and the proclamations on imprisonment and involuntary servitude in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. The course covers the founding, by the Pennsylvania Quakers, of the first modern US prison in 1790 and analyzes the expansion of prisons during two turning points in American History. First in the late 19th century during the era of Reconstruction and the Second Industrial Revolution and again one hundred years later beginning in the 1970s— in the decades immediately following the civil rights and black power movements, at a time of domestic and global economic restructuring. The course tracks the origins of slave patrols —the earliest police units in the US — charged with capturing and returning escaped enslaved Africans back to southern plantations and the later expansion and professionalization of police after World War I in the context of labor unrest, left radicalization and the rise of the second KKK. We explore the link between imprisonment and political repression as seen in the Salem Witch trials, the trials and hangings of Haymarket labor activists in Chicago in the late 19th Century; the executions of Italian immigrant anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti in the 1920s and Ethel and Julius Rosenberg in the 1950s; and the failed attempts at execution in the case of Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal in the 1990s. The course ends with an analysis of developments in the last fifty years in the US — the rise of hyper incarceration of poor, Black American and Latinx communities in deindustrializing cities and of migrants in the US-Mexico border. We explore the meaning of police militarization and its expansion in the context of the cold war and the explosion of the carceral state as the country’s third largest employer in the 21st century.

HIST 75000
Politics of Race and Slavery in the Early Republic
3 Credits, Tuesdays, 11:45 AM-1:45 PM, Fully In-Person
Professor James Oakes
It has become clear that slavery was a contested issue in American politics for a much longer period than previous generations of scholars once suggested.  Where it was common to start the history of the sectional crisis with the Mexican War, historians now speak of a “long emancipation” that involved “eight-eight years” of conflict.  At the same time, the contours of the struggle over slavery have widened.  Where it was once reduced to a dispute over slavery in the territories, it has now become clear that the fugitive slave crisis was equally important in the developing conflict between the North and the South.  That, in turn, raised questions about the rights of free Blacks in the free states and territories.  As a result, the politics of slavery have become inseparable from the politics of race.  “Politics” itself is no longer confined to parties and elections, but embraces the active participation of Blacks and women.  Gender ideology is now understood to be a key component of antislavery thought.  Finally, where historians once contrasted the radical egalitarianism of abolitionists with the moderation of antislavery politicians, more recent scholars have highlighted interconnections between antislavery politics and radical abolitionism.
This seminar will focus on the politics of race and slavery, primarily in the northern states, between the Revolution and the Civil War.  Readings will range from classic accounts that stressed the role of racism in limiting antislavery politics, to more recent studies that have recovered an enduring anti-racist tradition that arose as the analogue to antislavery politics.  A persistent theme is the way antislavery politics repeatedly raised the question of citizenship rights for African Americans and women.

HIST 75300
Topics in the History of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era
3 Credits, Wednesdays, 11:45 AM- 1:45 AM, Hybrid
Professor Thomas Kessner
This course focuses on a number of the major themes in U.S. social, political and cultural history the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, the period between. between 1877-and 1914. In these years the United States was transformed from a largely agricultural and rural nation to one that is industrial and increasingly urban. It is the era of the rise of Big Business and the Industrial Revolution, the years in which America’s post Civil War racial and immigrant absorption policies are cast. Populist, labor, and socialist reformers offer their own versions of a better way, but by and large the political lineaments for Modern America are forged from the capitalist market, modest state intervention and a regard for individual freedoms. We will also investigate economic changes, the forging of a new foreign policy and the multifaceted transformations of these years. Readings will include a sample of classic works along with a selection of more recent monographs and interpretive studies.

HIST 75500
Public History and Memory
3 Credits, Mondays, 2 PM-4 PM, Fully In-Person
Professor Anne Valk

This course investigates approaches to studying and producing public history and collective memory. Through our readings, class discussions, and assignments, we will examine the activities of public historians and the complex issues they face when preserving, researching, interpreting and presenting history and collective memory. Reading a series of case studies that span over time and place, we will discuss how theory plays out in practice and in various arenas in which historians and publics encounter historical events, sites, objects, and traces.

HIST 75700
Labor and Race in the 20th Century U.S.

3 Credits, Mondays, 4:15 PM-6:15 PM, Fully In-Person
Professor Ruth Milkman
The rich history of labor activism among Blacks and other workers of color is well documented.  It is also beyond dispute that many white trade unionists embraced racist ideologies and/or excluded workers of color from their labor organizations, especially before 1935.  Even in that period, however, some unions did manage to build working-class unity across racial lines.  Although such cases were exceptional in the early 20th century, they began to multiply in the 1930s as the Congress of Industrial Organizations took shape.  By the end of World War II, union exclusion of workers of color was largely eliminated, although racism persisted in other forms within the labor movement.  The rise of public-sector unionism in the 1960s and 1970s introduced new dynamics thanks to the influence of the civil rights movement.
This course will explore the complex interplay of race and class in the 20th century U.S. labor movement through a series of exemplary historical case studies and selected theoretical texts.  The goal is to address the question:  under what conditions has class solidarity prevailed over white supremacy in the U.S. labor movement?   

HIST 75900
Twentieth Century African-American History
3 Credits, Tuesdays, 4:15 PM-6:15 PM, Hybrid
Professor Tanisha Ford
This is a readings course designed to introduce students to major themes, questions, and historiographical debates in African American history. Typical weekly readings consist of a book monograph and 1-2 articles. Students will be expected to actively engage with one another about the books’ core arguments, interventions, contributions to the field, use of source material, periodization, and so forth. Spirited, collegial debate is encouraged. Assignments will include weekly response papers, oral presentations, and a 15-17pp historiographical essay or a review essay. The course is organized chronologically as well as thematically and will explore topics such as racial capitalism, criminalization and the rise of the carceral state, social movements, religion, gender and sexuality, and artistic production. Some of the authors whose work we read will join us virtually to share insights about their research methods and interventions. The course will provide a foundation for students who are preparing for exams or who plan to write a thesis or dissertation on United States, African American, or African diaspora history. Attendance at each class session is mandatory. All students will be expected to participate fully and thoughtfully in class discussions.

HIST 76000
The African Diaspora
3 Credits, Thursdays 6:30PM-8:30PM, Fully In-Person
Professor Herman Bennett
On a practical professional level, the course serves as a graduate-level introduction to the African diaspora.  Scholarship on this subject along with its development over time and in distinct settings (the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, England and Continental Europe) introduces us to disciplinary formations and the history of knowledge production.  For this reason, we will devote considerable time focusing and discussing how writers, theorists, and subsequently scholars have approached their engagement with the African diaspora.  Since the African diaspora as a field of study constitutes a relatively novel interdisciplinary endeavor, most of the readings draw on a range of disciplines (Anthropology, English, History, Religion, and Sociology).  While this conveys a sense of where this interdisciplinary field is presently at, it also serves to delineate how the African diaspora draws and builds on earlier forms of inquiry (the history of colonial expansion, the history of slavery and freedom, the history of racial formation, etc.).
Over the semester we will constantly ask what defines an inquiry, an approach or a perspective as diasporic in scope.  As scholars, we might begin by asking whether diaspora complicates our understanding of disciplinary formations—including the normative assumptions that inform the study of society and culture.  How does diaspora, for instance, enhance our perspectives on imperial, colonial, national and post-colonial formations and the ways in which they have been historically represented?  In utilizing the prism of diaspora, we confront the politics of representation through which scholars render meaning out of the past and present.  For this reason, diaspora like other categories of analysis engages the vexed terrain of representation whereby scholars frame the subject of their inquiries.
Conceived primarily as a reading course, this means there will be a significant amount of reading each week.  Reading up to or the equivalent of two books a week is standard practice but also one of the numerous skills that students need to master if they intend to succeed in graduate school and beyond.

HIST 78400
Science and Society
3 Credits, Mondays, 6:30-8:30 PM, Fully In-Person
Professor Timothy Alborn
This course surveys the rise of modern science in Western Europe and the United States from the late-eighteenth century to the present by focusing on a set of major themes that have captured the interest of historians and sociologists, including the intersections of science with empire, warfare, the environment, race, religion, and the state.

See Also

Comp Lit 85500
Italian Fascism: History and Interpretations

3 Credits, Tuesdays, 2 PM-4 PM, Fully In-Person
Professor Eugenia Paulicelli
On October 28, 1922, fascist squads headed by Benito Mussolini organized “the march on Rome.” One hundred years later (but also in the last two decades), debate on fascism has again taken center stage. Fascism is a term that often comes back in conversation in several historical epochs and political and cultural contexts. Questions have been asked about its origin and its different declinations throughout the years and in various countries. But how historically accurate is it to talk about fascism as a recurring political and cultural phenomenon? When and how did fascism come to the fore in its earliest incarnation in Italy? How did the political, social and cultural terrain in Italy before 1922–the year in which fascism came to power—foster the advent of the regime? What are the implications of Umberto Eco’s notion of “ur-fascism” and of Susan Sontag’s “fascinating fascism”? Starting from the questions emerging from this intense historiographic debate, the course will focus on how Italy was changed by fascism, a regime that took its distance from and drew on the past to realize its ambitions to transform Italy’s institutions and the Italian people. How successful was the regime in achieving totalitarism? How was antifascism organized and what forms did it take (political, armed, existential etc.)? The course focuses on specific themes such as violence, empire, gender, race, war, culture and the arts, antifascisms, propaganda and the impact of fascism abroad. These are today crucial topics in the history and interpretations of fascism. It is in this light that we will investigate the resurgence of neo-fascist groups, nationalism and threats to democracy. The last part of the course will be dedicated to cinematic and interpretations of fascism in films such as “Allarm siam fascisti!” (To Arms, we are fascist!)” (Cecilia Mangini, Lino Miccichè); “A Special Day” (Ettore Scola); “The Night of the Shooting Stars” (The Taviani Brothers); “Salò and 120 days of Sodoma” (Pier Paolo Pasolini).

MSCP 80500
Jerusalem: Monuments and Memory from Constantine the Great to Suleiman the Magnificent

3 credits, Wednesdays 4:15 PM-6:15 PM, ?????
Professor Warren Woodfin
Placed by many medieval maps at the center of the word, Jerusalem is a city triply sacred: to Jews as the capital of the kingdom of Judah and the location of the Temple until its destruction in 70 CE; to Christians as the city in which Jesus instituted the Eucharist, suffered, and was buried; and to Muslims as the site of the “farthest place of prayer,” al masjid al aqsa, visited by Mohammed on his night journey. Throughout the holy city and its environs, sites were marked with monuments to their spiritual significance that were in turn remodeled and re-interpreted over the centuries. The figural arts—painting, sculpture, textiles, metalwork, and the arts of the book—similarly played a role in configuring and reconfiguring this landscape of holiness. Jerusalem presents a remarkable series of case studies on the integration and diffusion of artistic and architectural models, the changing discourses around key monuments, the role of pilgrimage and relics, and interreligious competition through artistic patronage. Covering the period from the reign of Constantine (312–337) to the city’s conquest by the Ottomans (1516), the course will consider both the artistic production of Jerusalem itself and arts intended to reproduce the holiness of Jerusalem elsewhere.

CL 85500
Middle Eastern Explorers: Time, Space and Travel Literature

3 Credits, Thursdays 2 PM-4 PM, Fully In-Person 
Professor Anna Akasoy
Since the early days of Islamic history, Muslims traveled for a number of reasons, including trade, education and the pilgrimage. Some traveled on diplomatic missions. While most remained within territories under Muslim rule, others such as Ibn Fadlan or Ibn Battuta ventured well beyond these boundaries into the African, European and Asian continents. Like a small number of other medieval and early modern travelers of the Middle East, they left behind accounts of their journeys which provide important insights into the ways these authors experienced the world and their underlying geographical and ethnographic taxonomies. In some cases, these travel accounts have become critical sources for the regions the authors described (e.g., Ibn Fadlan for human sacrifice among the Vikings, or Ibn Battuta for the early history of Islam in the Maldives). In this course, we will be reading samples of medieval and early modern Arabic, Persian and Turkish travel literature in English translation. While most of these accounts were written by Muslim travelers, we will be including Jewish and Christian authors from the Middle East as well. We will discuss these texts against the backdrop of biographical, political and religious contexts, but also compare them with contemporaneous geographical and ethnographic literature and cartographic sources as well as travel accounts which can be described as more mythological or fantastical in nature. In order to identify and analyze the distinctive features of these texts, we will also be reading more recent accounts by western travelers such as Richard Francis Burton describing the same regions. We will be discussing the extent to which concepts such as imperialism or Orientalism can be applied to diverse historical and literary contexts. Medieval and early modern travelers have sometimes become iconic in their own right and inspired a literary afterlife – to explore this, we will be considering Naguib Mahfouz’ The Journey of Ibn Fattouma (on Ibn Battuta) alongside Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities (on Marco Polo). In addition to introducing participants to the historical context and literary features of this body of travel literature, this course will offer an opportunity to consider travel as a mode of exploration in a more general sense. We will be considering journeys as sites and facilitators of plots (e.g., in Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express or the travel account of Hanna Diab, the ‘author’ of Aladdin). Taking our cue from L.P. Hartley’s description of the past as a foreign country, we will be discussing ways in which explorations of both past and future times constitute forms of travel in which unknown worlds are constituted and described to a variety of ends (e.g., nostalgia or utopia). Premodern Middle Eastern accounts of travel in history will be read alongside modern Middle Eastern literature about time travel and examples of Middle Eastern-themed sci-fi literature. Here, otherness and wonder are a function of difference in historical time rather than geographical distance. This course will be using principles of collaborative syllabus design in order to reflect the interests of course participants. Students with an interest in the course are welcome and encouraged to contact the instructor at any time before the beginning of the fall semester in order to discuss their interests and expectations.

FALL 2022 History 80040