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Printable Listing of OAH Distinguished Lecturers | OAH

This course will offer a survey of some of the important themes of twentieth-century European history, from the eve of World War One to the beginning of the twenty-first century. Through a combination of lecture and discussion, the course seeks to introduce students to the major ideologies and institutions that shaped the lives of Europeans in the twentieth century, and to reflect on the role of ordinary people who devised, adapted, embraced, and sometimes resisted the dominant ideas and practices of their time.

What does it mean to be a Jew? The vexed question of Jewish identity emerged anew at the end of the eighteenth century in Europe and has dominated Jewish history throughout the modern period.

Camp Sites : Sex, Politics, and Academic Style in Postwar America

Although Jewish emancipation and citizenship followed different paths in different parts of Europe, in general Jews were confronted by unprecedented opportunities for integration into non-Jewish society and unprecedented challenges to Jewish communal life. Focusing primarily on France and Germany, and to a lesser extent on the Polish lands, this course will introduce students to the major social, cultural, religious, and political transformations that shaped the lives of European Jews from the outbreak of the French Revolution to the aftermath of World War II.

We will explore such topics as emancipation, Jewish diversity, the reform of Judaism, competing political ideologies, Jewish-gentile relations, the rise of modern anti-Semitism, the role of Jewish women, interwar Jewish life and culture, Jewish responses to Nazism and the Holocaust, and the situation of Jews in the immediate postwar period. In addition to broad historical treatments, course materials will include memoirs, diaries, and a novel.

This course is designed to introduce students to the history of the twentieth-century Germany as experienced and made by ordinary human beings through written documents, literature, film, and the writings of historians and other scholars. Taught by: Thomas Kohut. In , the former Russian Empire became the site of the world's first socialist revolutionary government and the twentieth century's largest multiethnic state. Over the next quarter century, the Soviet Union witnessed the rise of one of history's most violent dictatorships, an apocalyptic war that claimed upwards of 26 million lives, and communist expansion into Eastern Europe and the decolonizing world.

It also became the site of vibrant and optimistic utopian cultural projects, flights into space, bitter and hilarious political satire, and a society that was, for the most part, economically equal. Then in , everything fell apart. This course will survey the origins, life, and collapse of the Soviet Union, paying particular attention to the ideas that shaped its development, the mark its architects' and leaders' policies left both at home and abroad, and the impact it had on the people who lived and didn't live to tell the tale.

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The name alone evokes wonder, fear, romance, and history itself. Over the past ten centuries, the land that we now call the Russian Federation has witnessed dramatic transformations that underwrote its transition from feudal backwater to global superpower. Its journey from tribalism to imperialism, feudalism to autocracy, agrarianism to industrialization, monarchism to parliamentarianism, Orthodoxy to revolutionary atheism left a mark not just on the collective Russian conscious, but on a world that has grown accustomed to viewing Russia as a test case for ideas, projects, and processes both fortuitous and tragic.

How did Russia become the site of such a diverse array of political, social, economic, and cultural experiments? In what ways did they contribute to the formation and exercise of Russian political power? How did they contribute to the creation of a "Russian" identity, and to what effect for Russian citizens? This course will seek to answer these questions through a survey of Russian history from its founding in Kievan Rus' in the 9th century to the October Revolution of This course will examine the processes commonly referred to as the creation of "Latin America" and will do so from numerous perspectives.

Starting with the construction of indigenous societies, from small and decentralized groupings to huge imperial polities-, before , to the invasion of Europeans from that date forward, we will take up the question of the Iberian "conquest," looking at the often violent encounters that made up that event and analyzing its success, limits, and results. We will then study the imposition of Iberian rule from the point of view of would-be colonizers and the peoples they treated as objects of colonization, stressing the multiple and conflicting character of European, indigenous, and African perspectives.

Thus looking at the Americas from both the outside-in and inside-out, we will focus on the unequal relations of power that came to define cultural, political, and economic life in the colonies, always with an eye on the gendered and racialized nature of those relations. We will also not only compare very different regions of the Iberian Americas but also see how the grand shifts of history intervened in--and perhaps consisted of--the most normal elements of daily life in northern Mexico, the central Andes, coastal Brazil, and other parts of colonial Latin America.

Visual as well as more traditional written primary materials, along with secondary texts and films, will serve as the basis for our discussions throughout the semester. This course will examine salient issues in the history of the independent nations of Latin America. The first two sections of the course will focus on the turbulent formation of nation-states over the course of the "long nineteenth century," from the crises of the Spanish and Portuguese colonial empires in the late eighteenth century to the heyday of liberal political economies at the turn of the twentieth century.

In this regard the course will analyze the social and economic changes of the period up to World War I and the possibilities they offered for both political order and disorder. Key topics addressed will include caudillismo, the role of the Church in politics, economic dependency and development, and the place of indigenous and African Latin-American peoples in new nations, and industrialization and urbanization.

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The latter two sections will examine the trend toward state-led national development in the twentieth century, considering the diverse forms it took and conflicts it generated in different nations and periods. Here we will take up questions the emergence of workers' and women's movements and the rise of mass politics; militarism, democracy, and authoritarian governments; the influence of the U. Within this chronological framework of national and regional political economy, we will consider the ways that various Latin American social actors shaped their own lives and collective histories, sometimes challenging and sometimes accommodating the ideals of national elites.

General regional trends will be illustrated by selected national cases, including Mexico, Brazil, Agentina, Cuba, Chile, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. This class will begin with and foreground the current crisis in Puerto Rico, an island emblematic of the history of colonialism, racism, environmental destruction, and economic exploitation of the region.

Camp Sites: Sex, Politics, and Academic Style in Postwar America

But as the Caribbean has suffered, so has it resisted. Pioneering slave emancipation, independence from European empires, and unique experiments in socialism, communism, and Black Power, these small islands have been world leaders. But their innovative social and political experimentation--expressed in vivid artistic and musical forms--have all too often met with disdain and repression by their more powerful neighbors or former colonial rulers.


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This course will examine the audacious experiments of the Caribbean people from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries as well as the repression they have faced from abroad. We will pay attention to the rich cultural diversity of the region, using film, music, literature and art to examine diverse phenomenon, including voodoo, Santeria, and Rastafarianism. We will also explore the prospects for continuing change in the contemporary Caribbean, paying special attention to the environmental challenges they face amidst rising sea levels, drought, heat waves, and the effect of two hundred years of environmental destruction at the hands of rapacious foreigners, from slaveowners to cruise ship lines to bauxite and oil producers.

Taught by: Shanti Singham. Cast as a contest between competing empires and their peoples, the course begins in Europe and Native North America before contact and studies the expansion of European nations into the New World.

The course will emphasize the history of British North America and the interactions between and among the many peoples of colonial America. The course will then examine the coming, course, and consequence of the American Revolution or what many at the time considered America's first civil war. The new nation unleashed massive and far-reaching economic, social and political changes. The last third of the course will explore these changes in the antebellum era and trace how they affected the coming of America's second civil war.

This course surveys themes and issues that inform the historical landscape of the United States after the Civil War and Reconstruction, from the late s to the present. With special attention to freedom and fragmentation, the course examines the dilemmas inherent to American democracy, including: westward expansion and Indian affairs; immigration and nationalism; progressivism and domestic policy; the expanding role of the United States in the world; race, gender, and rights; and the shifting terrains of liberalism and conservatism. The course also tunes into the connections between current affairs and the American past.

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Course materials include a range of primary sources letters, political speeches, autobiography, film, oral histories, fiction, and photography and historical interpretations. Civil War, tracing the complex ways that tribal nations and communities have shaped North America. It also introduces foundational methodologies in Native American and Indigenous Studies and strategies for pursuing decolonizing scholarship and action.

Beginning with the diverse Indigenous societies that inhabited the Americas millennia before Columbus's arrival, it discusses the cultural complexity of Native peoples, nations, and worldviews rooted in particular ecosystems and homelands, as well as accounts of beginnings and migrations. It addresses how Native peoples confronted grievous epidemics resulting from the "Columbian Exchange," and contended with Euro-colonial projects of "discovery" and colonization.

Indigenous nations' multifaceted efforts to maintain sovereignty and lands through eras of pervasive violence and removal are discussed, as well as the important yet under-recognized ways that Native communities negotiated the tumultuous era and conflicting allegiances of the Civil War. The course centers on Indigenous actors-intellectuals, diplomats, legal strategists, knowledge keepers, spiritual leaders, artists, and others-and consistently connects historical events with present-day debates over land, historical memory, education, and activism.

While the scope of the course is continental and transoceanic, it devotes significant attention to the Native Northeast and the particular Indigenous homelands in which Williams College is located. We live in a time of renewed social justice activism, as people from all walks of life confront economic inequality, police violence, discrimination against transgender individuals, and other forms of oppression.

This course is designed to clarify where recent initiatives like Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street came from, and to evaluate how they might shape American life in the near future. Movements have histories, as today's activists draw on the "freedom dreams," tactics, and styles of rhetoric crafted by their predecessors, while making use of new technologies, such as Twitter, and evolving understandings of "justice. We will then explore how progressive and radical activists adjusted their theories and strategies as the country became more conservative in the s and s.

Making use of movement documents, documentary films, and scholarly accounts, we will study the development of LGBTQ, ecological, and economic justice initiatives up to the present day. Throughout, we will seek to understand how movements in the United States are shaped by global events and how activists balance their political work with other desires and commitments. Taught by: Andrew Cornell. This course examines the intersection of religion and American politics, from the colonial era to the present.

It focuses especially on electoral politics and social movements, exploring the role of religion in conflicts over racial equality, capitalism, gender and sexuality, and church-state relations.


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Students will tackle questions with both historical and present-day relevance, such as: Was America founded as a Christian nation? Has religion been a source of revolutionary change, or a mere 'opiate of the masses? How has growing religious diversity affected civic unity? What role should religion play in American political life? Taught by: Casey Bohlen. We live in a world transformed by petroleum. All around us today--in global carbon emissions, transportation, the clothes we wear, everyday objects we touch, microplastics in our water--oil is there, even if we can't always see it.

At the same time, the industry fuels massive flows of global capital, and provokes critical political shifts, conflicts, and resistance movements around the world. How did oil's ubiquity happen in just over years? This course will chart a global modern history by keeping this energy source always in our sight, paying particular attention to its role in the political economy, its ecological impacts, the cultural changes it has set in motion, and its place in people's material lives.