Classes

HIST-LIT 90FY: Culture Wars

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2023

Instructor: Steve Biel and Lauren Kaminsky
Meeting time: Monday, 12:45-2:45 pm

Culture WarsIn 1992, former Nixon speechwriter and presidential candidate Pat Buchanan claimed that the United States was engaged in “a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we shall be as was the Cold War itself, for this war is for the soul of America.” The idea that the nation was embroiled in a culture war with nothing less than its soul at stake has its contemporary origins in the upheavals of the 1960s. Culture warriors took on the defense of “color blindness” against affirmative action and “identity politics”; of “family values” against feminism, homosexuality, and abortion; of literary and artistic canons and scholarly “standards” against “trendiness” and “political correctness.” Through polemics, speeches, essays, memoirs, fiction, television, films, and photography,... Read more about HIST-LIT 90FY: Culture Wars

HIST-LIT 90FW: Carceral Empire

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2023

Instructor: Balraj Gill
Meeting time: Thursday, 9:45-11:45 am

Carceral EmpireMass incarceration is a catastrophe in the United States, especially affecting Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and poor communities. Different forms of carceral confinements have long been an integral part of the formation of the United States and other settler colonies in the Americas. In this course, we will focus on the history of Indigenous confinements. While the incarceration of Indigenous peoples today resembles the incarceration of other minoritized peoples, it has similar and distinct historical genealogies that can be traced to coercive practices designed to exploit their labor and eliminate lifeways, knowledge systems, tribal identification, and relationships with homelands. From the enslavement of Taíno people in the fifteenth century, to the formation of reservations and reserves in the United States and... Read more about HIST-LIT 90FW: Carceral Empire

HIST-LIT 90FV: Piracy, Empire, and Race

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2023

Instructor: Patrick Sylvain
Meeting time: Monday, 9:45-11:45 am

Piracy Empire and RaceThis course explores piratical literature across multiple genres, including essays, poems, short stories, and novels. As we move through centuries we consider multiple definitions of piracy—privateering, filibustering, slavery, colonialism, and imperialism—and ask ourselves how these actions have been understood. We also look closely at ships and maritime life as alternative realms where social norms can be reformulated, and categories of gender, sexuality, race, class, and privilege can become fluid. Given the immense popularity of pirate narratives, we consider whether ships serve as laboratories for social change or if they—and the stories about them—function as pressure valves that bolster hierarchies on land. ... Read more about HIST-LIT 90FV: Piracy, Empire, and Race

HIST-LIT 90FR: Latinx, 1492 to 2022

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2023

Instructor: Thomas Conners
Meeting time: Tuesday, 9:45-11:34 am

Latinx from 1492 to 2022The 530 years since Columbus’s arrival in Hispaniola have paid witness to the fall and rise of empires, the perseverance of colonial structures of power, and the construction and (re)creation of racial, sexual, and gendered identities. In the midst of such change and continuity, this course sets out to ask: what place does Latinx occupy in this long history? What does Latinidad look like when we trace it back 530 years, when we take 1492 to be its starting point instead of the 20th century? How might this look backwards help us understand the current Latinx politics of gender (Latino vs. Latina vs. Latinx), sexuality (the place of queerness and transness in Latinx Studies), and race (Latinidad’s penchant for disavowing blackness and erasing indigeneity)? We will answer these ... Read more about HIST-LIT 90FR: Latinx, 1492 to 2022

HIST-LIT 10: Introduction to American Studies

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2023

Instructor: Philip Deloria
Meeting time: Monday/Wednesday, 10:30-11:45 am

Introduction to American StudiesAmerican Studies is an interdisciplinary effort to understand the complicated social and cultural lives of people in—and in relation to—the United States, both past and present. The intersections of History and Literature shape much of American Studies, but the field has also been marked by forays into music, arts, ethnic studies, economics, anthropology, journalism, and even forestry and climate science. This course will introduce students to the history and methods of the field, exploring evocative cases with a range of guest faculty.

Students interested in enrolling should submit a petition on my.harvard.

HIST-LIT 90ES: Prison Abolition

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2023

Instructor: Thomas Dichter
Meeting time: Wednesday, 12:45-2:45 pm

Prison AbolitionIs prison abolition a serious proposal, an aspirational ideal, a trendy slogan, or a blueprint for social transformation? This interdisciplinary and community-engaged course situates the prison abolition movement in deep historical context and explores its current relation to the politics of criminal justice reform. We will study the movement’s connections to slavery abolitionism, anti-lynching activism, Indigenous struggles for sovereignty, and the Black Power movement. We will examine the emergence of the modern prison abolitionist movement in the 1970s, as well as more recent developments concerning immigration detention, Black Lives Matter, and COVID-19. Our readings will include interdisciplinary scholarship on the carceral state in addition to protest... Read more about HIST-LIT 90ES: Prison Abolition

HIST-LIT 90EQ: Nuclear Imperialisms

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2023

Instructor: Rebecca Hogue
Meeting time: Wednesday, 9:45-11:45 am

Nuclear ImperialismsThis course will examine nuclear narratives in global contexts as reminders and remainders of empire. Are nuclear futures only tied to whims of unpredictable world leaders, or are they already part of our daily realities? Whose stories of nuclear proliferation are told, and whose are suppressed? Drawing on government propaganda, activist writing, television, fiction, photography, poetry, and film from 1945 to the present, this course will explore the cultural and material legacies of radiation around the world. From American “atomic culture” of the 1940s and ‘50s to Cold War era peace movements in the Pacific Islands to nuclear disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima, we will assess whether nuclear cultures have changed over time by using a place-based investigation of nuclear... Read more about HIST-LIT 90EQ: Nuclear Imperialisms

HIST-LIT 90DV: Red Scares

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2023

Instructor: Steve Biel and Lauren Kaminsky
Meeting time: Wednesday, 12:45-2:45 pm

Red ScaresThe specter that haunted Europe when the Communist Manifesto was published in 1848 continues to shape American political discourse to this day. “From the very get-go,” wrote a Mississippi newspaper columnist as the pandemic entered its second year, “COVID was used by the leftists in this country to seize power, fundamentally change our nation and usher in totalitarian socialism.” This course reveals how charges of fealty to radical “foreign” ideologies have operated as rhetorical and political strategies for much of U.S. history.... Read more about HIST-LIT 90DV: Red Scares

HIST-LIT 90DR: American Speeches

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2023

Instructor: Drew Faust
Meeting time: Monday, 3:00-5:00 pm

American SpeechesThis course will explore speeches across the sweep of American history, examining them both as windows into their own era and as texts created to inform and persuade. We will ask who speaks and how and the ways that has evolved over time, and we will seek to identify the enduring and changing elements of effective oratory from Jonathan Edwards to Frederick Douglass to contemporary commencement addresses and political speeches. Assignments include the composition and delivery of a speech.

HIST-LIT 90AN: God Save the Queen! Ruling Women from Rome to the Renaissance

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2023

Instructor: Sean Gilsdorf
Meeting time: Monday/Wednesday, 1:30-2:45 pm

God Save the QueenThis seminar will explore female rulership in Europe from the late Roman empire to the age of Elizabeth I. Discussion of varied texts and images (most of them primary sources in translation) will reveal the role of queens within their societies, their relationship to broader social and cultural institutions such as the Christian Church, and the ways in which queens were celebrated, criticized, and imagined by writers and artists of their time. 

HIST-LIT 90FX: Imagining Latin America

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2022

Instructor: Jennifer Alpert
Meeting time: Wednesday, 12:45-2:45 pm

Imagining Latin America“Latin America” refers to a geographical region, a culture, a form of racialization, a mode of being, and even a concept. How have these different characterizations imagined Latin America and its diaspora, and what kinds of myths and discourses emerged as a result? How have these imaginaries constructed Latin America as a homogeneous, cohesive whole, and to what effect? What do these representations erase, especially considering the heterogeneous cultural and linguistic traditions in the region? Throughout the semester, we will analyze a broad range of media, popular culture artifacts, and historical sources from the 20th and 21st centuries that include films, comics, photographs, music, and speeches to... Read more about HIST-LIT 90FX: Imagining Latin America

HIST-LIT 90FU: British Soft Power from Shakespeare to Dua Lipa

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2022

Instructor: Laura Quinton
Meeting time: Wednesday, 3:00-5:00 pm

British Soft PowerToday, the United Kingdom is considered one of the world’s “soft power superpowers.” How did this small island come to wield such outsize global influence? From Voltaire’s rhapsodizing about eighteenth-century England to present-day infatuations with James Bond, Harry Potter, and the Royal Family, this course explores how British art and culture have historically produced alluring national images. What “British” qualities have captured the world’s imagination, and to what extent are they a fantasy that overlooks dynamics of class and multiculturalism? What countries, leaders, and popular audiences around the world have latched on to these images, and to what end? Have they launched revolutions... Read more about HIST-LIT 90FU: British Soft Power from Shakespeare to Dua Lipa

HIST-LIT 90FM: Tasting Place: Food and Culture in America

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2022

Instructor: Rachel Kirby
Meeting time: Thursday, 12:45-2:45 pm

Tasting PlaceWe often associate specific tastes and foods with particular places, memories, and experiences. What would it mean, then, to center taste in our study of place and culture? How can places be tasted, and tastes be placed? In this class, we explore the relationship between taste and place within American culture, discussing how elements of nation, region, and identity are created, absorbed, and imagined through foods and their represented forms. The word “taste” has multiple meanings: taste is used as a synonym for flavor, a verb for the process of eating, and as a marker of socioeconomic class. Together, we examine these various modes of taste in American culture to consider the role of food... Read more about HIST-LIT 90FM: Tasting Place: Food and Culture in America

HIST-LIT 90FK: Europe After the Cold War

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2022

Instructor: Briana Smith
Meeting time: Tuesday, 9:45-11:45 am

Europe after the Cold WarIn the summer of 1989, political scientist Francis Fukuyama infamously declared the “end of history,” marking the “unabashed victory” of liberal market capitalism and defeat of communism. A few months later, East Germans poured through the Berlin Wall. The Cold War was over. But what came after? This course examines the history of Europe since 1989 and questions how the aftermath of the Cold War in Germany, France, and the former Eastern Bloc has shaped politics and culture in contemporary Europe and beyond. Course topics include: post-socialism and Ostalgie, Holocaust memory, neoliberalism, Islam, the 2010s migrant crisis, and right-wing populist and authoritarian movements... Read more about HIST-LIT 90FK: Europe After the Cold War

HIST-LIT 90FT: A Luta Continua: Legacies of Portuguese Empire

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2022

Instructor: Lilly Havstad
Meeting time: Wednesday, 9:45-11:45 am

Legacies of Portuguese EmpireAs a central player in the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and widely known as the last of the European powers to let go of its grip on its African territories in 1975, Portugal earned a reputation as one of the most violent imperial powers in modern world history. Over 500 years, tactics of violence and coercion were key tools for building its empire across Asia, the Americas, and Africa, particularly for the purpose of enslavement and recruitment of forced indigenous labor, and to establish colonial "order." In this class we examine Portugal’s violent colonial past while also examining a lesser known history of nonviolent resistance to Portugal’s imperial ambitions. We will read a mix of scholarly and primary... Read more about HIST-LIT 90FT: A Luta Continua: Legacies of Portuguese Empire

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