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  • Current Courses

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        The New School for Social Research
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        79 Fifth Avenue, 5th floor
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        212.229.5600 or 800.523.5411

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        Ross English

        Committee on Historical Studies
        80 Fifth Avenue, 5th floor
        New York, NY 10011
        Tel: 212.229.5100 x3385
        Fax: 212.229.5929

        Oz Frankel

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        Annie Huaraca

        Student Advisor
        Julian Gomez Delgado

        Historical Studies Student Handbook


    • Courses in the Department of Historical Studies explore what happened in the past to understand what's happening now. Students study the most important theories of the discipline and learn to rethink accepted foundations through a modern lens. Ideas are explored through research, reading, writing, and discussion.

      Please consult the New School Course Catalog for a full list of courses. Fall 2020 courses include:

      • Histories of Political Media, GHIS 5196
        Claire Potter, Professor of History

        How are political ideas proposed, contested, and received? How do novel communications technologies and strategies expand, or restrict, participation in civic life? Can new media — pamphlets, oral communications, and aural, televisual and digital platforms — actually make history? Beginning with the rise of print and ending with social media, this course examines the evolution of political communications technologies as a historical force. In addition to analyzing the terms under which new communications technologies have emerged and been deployed in the service of politics, we consider the ways in which new literacies become a necessary component of full citizenship and when the lack of literacy, or access to media, has been a barrier to political participation. Using Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities (1983) as an initial provocation, we examine historical phenomena associated with, and sometimes driven, by political media. Nationalism, mass mobilization, the emergence of grassroots movements, rumors, falsehoods, and the spread of conspiracy theories are themes that thread through the course. Undergraduates are admitted to the seminar only by permission of the instructor.

      • Gender, Politics, and History, GHIS 5233
        Elaine Abelson, Associate Professor of History

        This seminar explores various aspects of women's history and the history of gender in the United States over the past two centuries. The course stresses the themes of difference among women and between women and men as a means of examining the social construction of gender and the logic of feminist analysis and activity. Students discuss the major themes of gender history, build critical and analytical skills, and develop an appreciation of current and ongoing theoretical debates. The course analyzes such key conceptual and methodological frameworks as gender, class, sexuality, power, and race. Thematically organized, readings include both primary and secondary material. Students complete two papers and participate in student-led discussions. Cross-listed with Lang; open to juniors and seniors only.

      • Since 9/11: America's Wars in the New Century, GHIS 5255
        Jeremy Varon, Professor of History

        This course is open to both NSSR students (MA and PhD) and advanced undergraduates. It is designed to be a terrific learning experience for everyone, with different kinds and quantities of work for different kinds of students. All students will participate in our class site visit and the written response to it and draft periodic reading responses to explorations of particular concepts. In addition, all students are expected to do private screenings (via Youtube or streaming services) of assigned films. some weeks, the NSSR students will have supplemental readings, chiefly texts with complex theoretical content. The undergraduates will write six- to eight-page midterm and final essays in response to specific questions. The graduate students may write the midterm and final essays (though in the 10-12-page range) or write a 20-25-page research paper on a topic of their choosing, based on close consultation with the instructor.

      • Wealth and Power in U.S. History, GHIS 5322
        Julia Ott, Associate Professor of History

      • Historiography and Historical Practice, GHIS 6133
        Oz Frankel, Associate Professor of History

        In this course, we explore current permutations of historiographical interests, practices, and methodologies in relation to U.S. history. Over the last few decades, U.S. history has proved particularly fertile ground for rethinking the historical, although many historical topics and themes have shaped the study of other nations and societies. American history has been largely rewritten by a generation of scholars who experienced the 1960s and its aftermath and have viewed America's past as a field of inquiry and contestation of great political urgency. Identity politics, the culture wars, and other forms of organization and debate have also endowed U.S. historiography with unprecedented public resonance in a culture that had been notoriously amnesiac. We examine major trends and controversies in American historiography, the history of the historical profession, the emergence of race and gender as cardinal categories of historical analysis, popular culture as history, the impact of memory studies on historical thinking, the recurrent agonizing over American exceptionalism, and current efforts to break the nation-state mold and to globalize American history. Another focus is the intersection of analytical strategies borrowed from the social sciences and literary studies with methods of historicization that originated from the field of history. This course should be taken during a student's first year in the Historical Studies program.

      • Documentalities, GHIS 6232
        Ann Stoler, Willy Brandt Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and History

        Documents are cultural artifacts with lives and itineraries of their own. While historians treat documents as the grist of their historiographic labors, they have often neglected to reflect on the content lodged in particular documentary forms. Anthropologists, on the other hand, once steered clear of documents altogether, passively and sometimes aggressively sharing Claude Levi-Strauss' contention that ethnology defines itself by the study of “what is not written.” Neither of these postures and approaches holds today. The last decade has seen an explosion in attention to visual and written archives, to “paper trails” and “paper empires,” and to the coercive and curative “teaching” task that documents and new forms of documentation perform (the Latin root of "documentation," docere, means "to teach"), in turn challenging the criteria of credibility, evidence, and proof. In this seminar, we look at the wide range of fields and disciplines in which the nature of documentation has come into analytic focus and creative question. Our focus is in part on what constitutes a document and the varied “hierarchies of credibility” to which different kinds of documentation are subject and dismissed or valorized as reliable proof. Not least, we address how documents create the realities which they only ostensibly describe. In accordance with principles of organization, visual, written, verbal, and digital forms of documentation are assigned different values and different degrees of proof under specific conditions and at different times. Under the assault of COVID-19, the graphic has been a crucial form of fact production, proof, and dissemination of knowledge and a site where the political is played out and inequities of rights and resources are fought over and challenged. Systems of storage and retrieval, forms of reproduction, technological innovation — all shape the political forces to which they give rise. Documentation can be a vital technology of rule in itself, the apparatus that shapes and permeates our lives.

      • Life Chances of Polities, GHIS 6250
        Quentin Bruneau, Assistant Professor of Politics

        In his writings, Max Weber examined the determinants of individuals’ "life chances” in different societies. This course examines the determinants of polities’ life chances within international society, covering the period from the Renaissance to the end of the 20th century. To do this, it engages with scholarship in historical sociology, international relations, international law, and international history. The course first deals with the early modern period, as it constitutes the basis for so much theorizing in the social sciences and is generally taken to be the axiomatic example of a world in which military force reigned supreme. The second part of the course looks at the period from the French Revolution to the late 20th century, placing emphasis on the underpinnings of the extinction of non-European states. Readings include work by Charles Alexandrowicz, Anthony Anghie, Lauren Benton, Tanisha Fazal, Mamadou Hébié, Edward Keene, Martti Koskenniemi, Jason Sharman, and Charles Tilly.
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