New courses



The Department of International History will be introducing the following new courses in 2017-2018. They are available for selection starting in September 2017.

Undergraduate courses

Dr Megan Black

HY245 - United States and the World since 1776

Dr Megan Black

This course explores how the United States has engaged the wider world since 1776. Throughout, the course analyzes state-to-state policy-making alongside a wide array of non-state actors and institutions that have also shaped U.S. global power. It opens with foundational concerns in the field about the nature of American exceptionalism—the belief that the United States is fundamentally different than other nation-states and empires—before exploring themes such as settler colonialism, race, gender, capitalism, imperialism, immigration, and transnationalism. The course arc will begin in the earliest founding of the American Republic. Since independence, the nation looked outward to the vast expanse of territory westward across the continent. It spearheaded expansion through indigenous land dispossession and contests with competing European empires. When the United States met territorial limits to continental expansion at the end of the nineteenth century, it initiated an era of formal overseas imperialism in the Pacific and Caribbean. In and through two World Wars, the United States jockeyed for a lead role in constructing an international global order organized around commitments to self-determination. These commitments rang hollow, however, as the United States intervened across the Third World as part of a Cold War contest with the Soviet Union to win hearts, minds, and allies. With decolonization movements, the international order began to fragment, a process accelerated by a new era of globalization. The course will trace this arc and end by considering such transnational forces, including migration, environmentalism, humanitarianism, financialization, and terrorism, which have underscored the recent emergence of a nationalist brand of anti-globalization in the United States and wider world. Throughout, we will ask, what historical conditions incited and enabled the projection of American power in the world? How have forces of globalization impacted the nation-state?


HY329 - Independent India: Myths of Freedom and Development

Dr Taylor Sherman

Focusing on the early decades after India gained independence in 1947, this course raises questions about the nature of freedom and the task of development faced by postcolonial nations. The course begins with a study of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister. Students will survey his philosophy and his style of leadership while exploring the myth of the strong male leader. Students will then question the nature of secularism in India by examining the treatment of Muslims as well as the politicisation of India’s Islamic monuments and their preservation. The course moves on to query how socialist India was by reading political theory from Communists, Socialists, Gandhians and others, as well as by exploring Indian programmes in education, health and family planning. Similarly, the course will question the nature and extent of economic development achieved in this period by studying famine, urbanisation and scientificadvancement. Next, students will investigate how strong India’s state was by scrutinising India’s Constitution and surveying the problem of corruption in the ranks of the police and bureaucracy. Finally, the course will cover India’s foreign policy, asking students to probe the meaning of Non­Alignment, and inspect the character of India’s relations with Indians Overseas and with its neighbours, including China and Pakistan. While the main focus is India, the course will involve comparative thinking about circumstances and policies in other countries around the world. Throughout the course we will watch films, read fiction and view art and architecture produced at the time to get a sense of the popular and artistic response to the challenges of freedom and development.

Watch a video of Dr Sherman introducing HY329


HY330 - From Tea to Opium: China and the Global Market in the Long Eighteenth Century

Dr Ronald C. Po

Did China foster or resist the early wave of globalization? How should we situate China within the global context prior to the First Opium War? Compared to the Dutch and the British, in what ways did the Chinese interact with the world that had been created by global trade? Had China already become the world factory in the eighteenth century? Using both primary and secondary sources, this seminar examines these questions by looking at the production, circulation, and consumption of a variety of commodities that were exported from and imported to China. If we agree that a commodity has its own social life and history, then we can also examine its story in order to complicate our understanding of China’s role and significance in the global market throughout the long eighteenth century. This seminar is divided into two parts. In Part I (the first 5 sessions), we will historicize the political, social, and economic background of the Qing Dynasty in the early modern period. From week to week, we will identify remarkable watersheds that changed or transformed the way China engaged in or became disengaged from the global market, covering the China Seas, Indian Ocean, Atlantic, and Pacific. We will also focus on port cities in China and Southeast Asia, so as to illustrate exactly how places and peoples facilitated the flow of commodities on a global scale. In Part II (the remaining 16 sessions), we will study a series of commodities that each fits under different featured themes, such as “When Silk was Gold,” “Pepper and Parley,” “Camphor and Taiwan,” and “Opium and Power.”

Postgraduate courses


HY473 - The GDR and Communist Parties in Europe 1949-1990

Professor Arnd Bauerkämper

The course will be divided into two sections. The first (major) part provides an overview of political, economic, social and cultural transformations in the GDR. Beyond comparison, mutual perceptions, relations and entanglements between the two German states will also receive attention. The second section will concentrate on the transnational history of East Germany’s ruling party, the Socialist Unity Party (Staatssozialistische Einheitspartei, SED), which was integrated into a European-wide network of Communist parties, including the West German KPD and DKP, respectively. The leading functionaries of the SED interacted with their “comrades” in various European countries. Yet the obstacles to exchange – in particular different national traditions, specific contexts, power asymmetries and misunderstandings – have to be taken into account, as well. All in all, the course aims to relate the history of the GDR to the development of the Federal Republic of Germany and embed it into its wider European context.


HY477 - Race, Gender, and Reproduction in the Caribbean 1860s-1980s

Dr Imaobong Umoren

In the wake of slavery, debates about the intersecting politics of race, gender, and reproduction arose in the Francophone, Anglophone, and Hispanic Caribbean and continued well into the 1960s. This module explores the ways in which the formerly enslaved as well as former planters, imperial officials, newly indentured labourers from South Asia, philanthropists, medical professionals, and welfare workers contributed to and shaped colonial social welfare, health policies, and ideas surrounding racial uplift and improvement. Students will engage in comparative intellectual and social history by drawing on primary and secondary sources to consider the influence of European and American imperialism in the Caribbean. A range of topics will be explored including post-emancipation population decline; infant mortality; illegitimacy; venereal disease; birth control; inter- and extra regional migration; eugenics; tropical medicine; interwar population increase and the impact these issues had on the First and Second World Wars, decolonisation, departmentalisation and other independence struggles. Each week students will focus on a topic in relation to different Caribbean islands. All primary sources will be available in English.


HY478 - The Origins of the Modern World - Europe, China and India, 1600-1800

Dr Gagan D. S. Sood

This course is about the developments which led to the emergence of our modern world. A variety of conditions have been highlighted by historians as responsible for this, including property rights, political and military conflict, family patterns, empirical rationality, conquest and exploitation, land administration, and sheer accident or contingency. Although scholarly consensus on the leading-edge conditions still eludes us, there is broad agreement that the polities of northwestern Europe, eastern China and northern India played critical roles, and that the main step change occurred in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The course focuses as a result on Mughal India, Qing China, the Dutch Republic and Early Modern Britain, and on the relations between them.