Other Activities


"More than anything else, being an educated person means being able to see connections that allow one to make sense of the world and act within it in creative ways. . . . listening, reading, talking, writing, puzzle solving, truth seeking, seeing through other people’s eyes, leading, working in a community—is finally about connecting. A liberal education is about gaining the power and the wisdom, the generosity and the freedom to connect." —William Cronon


Human Traditions: Connections in World History I

Humans first started to domesticate plants and animals about 10,000 years ago.  From that point on, they engaged in the creation of evermore complex and interconnected societies.  Along the way humans sought answers to intractable questions, undertook impressive technological and scientific innovations, and endeavored to develop more efficient and effective ways to get along with each other.  In short, they attempted to make connections.  This course traces some of those efforts, using both primary and secondary readings to delve into the past.  [Syllabus]


Human Traditions: Connections in World History II

This course will address the theme of "human traditions" through a series of thematic discussions including the nature of religion and secularization, the origins of inequality, various efforts to establish a ideal government, the nature of imperialism and empire, changing ideas about aesthetics, the development of consumer culture, the impacts of World War I and World War II, the nature of just and unjust wars, the Holocaust and Holocaust memory, the cyclical nature of drug scares, the politics of music, and the collapse of Communism.


Telling Tales of the Past

This course examines the various ways that we think about the past by exploring documentary and blockbuster film, “scholarly” and “popular” history, heritage tourism, memory, and genealogy.  Over the course of the semester we will focus on the myriad ways that people tell tales about important historical moments, events, and personalities. [Syllabus]


European History I (to 1500)

This course traces the rise of "Europe," while keeping in mind contemporary debates about what that means.  Starting with the rise of poleis following the Greek dark ages and extending through the Northern Renaissance, we will address the intellectual, cultural, political, social, and economic developments that shaped what is generally referred to as "European history."  Topics will include Greek society and culture, the Roman Republic and Empire, the rise of kingdoms in the West, the Carolingian Renaissance, and life in the High Middle Ages among others. [Syllabus]


European History II (from 1500)

This class traces European history from the Renaissance to the present, addressing the intellectual, cultural, political, social, and economic developments that have shaped the modern age. Emphasis is on the intellectual responses to science, the evolution of the nation-state, and industrialization, along with their impact on society and politics. Both continuity and change will be addressed throughout the course. [Syllabus]


Histories of London

This course explores the interplay between life and death in London from earliest times.  We will trace not only the history of the city, but also how Londoners at various points dealt with the relationship between life and death.  Overall, this class will offer students not only an overview of British history from earliest times, it will give them a sense of just how dramatically ideas about death and dying have changed over the past two thousand years. [Syllabus]


The Holocaust in History and Memory

In the midst of World War II, the Nazi state engaged in a program of systematic mass murder, killing some eleven million people: Jews, homosexuals, the variously challenged, gypsies, Poles, political prisoners, and others. This class examines the Holcoaust, moving from the roots of racial anti-Semitism to the development of Nazi racial policy, and from the killing to memory of destruction.  Beyond exploring the history, we will also examine historical methods and approaches.  How do scholars use sources?  Why?  What issues are involved when writing about an event such as the Holocaust?  Are there special challenges? [Syllabus]


English History to 1688

From quasi-mythical kings to marital strife, the history of Britain between the construction of Stonehenge and the Glorious Revolution is one of excitement, warfare, intrigue, and perpetual, though often gradual, change.  This course explores English history from earliest times to roughly 1688—a period when England developed from a region of disparate tribes and divided kingdoms into a single unified and powerful state with global aspirations.  The course pays particular attention to the development of parliament, the changing nature of religious faith, and the everyday lives of nobles and peasants alike. [Syllabus]


British History from 1688

This course examines the development of Britain from the Glorious Revolution in 1688 through to Tony Blair's "New Labour" governments of the 1990s. Always paying particular attention to the interactions between the various national communities found in the North Atlantic Archipelago, we trace significant developments that took place in Britain during the past three hundred years. Important topics include the emergence of political parties, the rise of parliament, the development of social and cultural life from the late-Stuarts to the punk movement (and beyond), the impact of world wars, and the rise of separatist nationalist movements. [Syllabus]


Irish History: From Plantation to Tiger

This course will pursue two objectives. First, it will provide students with an overview of Irish history, tracing the evolution of Irish nationalism while paying attention to the development of Irish social, political, and economic life.  Second, students will examine how the Irish tourist industry, a large player in the country's economic boom during the late 1990s, represents these stories in tourist literature and at various tourist sites. The course will (sometimes) conclude with a two-week tour of Ireland in order to explore some of the sites/sights mentioned in class. [Syllabus]


The British Empire

It is often noted that the “sun never set on the British Empire.” It was huge, including extensive geographic space as well as diverse cultural groups. On one hand, the British had to be flexible, developing regionally distinctive forms of rule that fit specific contexts. On the other hand, colonial subjects faced all of the implications of being governed by outsiders, whether for good (as a tiny handful of scholars claim) or ill. This is a class about those interactions. Using a mixture of readings, lectures, and class discussions, it traces the history of the Empire, examines how the British people/government went about imagining and ruling their subjects, looks at the response to foreign rule among colonized peoples, and explores some of the ways that the imperial experience impacted our world such as (among others) the spread of the English language and the development of modern forestry techniques. [Syllabus]



Following the Second World War, Europe faced daunting challenges. Using lectures, readings, discussions, and films, this course will explore how European leaders and citizens faced the realities of a brave new world. [Syllabus]


History of Modern Tourism

Tourism is one of the most important industries in the world and it occupies a vital place in the modern experience. This class examines the evolution of tourism from the eighteenth century to the present, while critically engaging with tourist practices and tourist sites. After establishing a clear history of global tourism, the class will conclude with an extended consideration of the "heritage industry." This course includes field trips that are required. Students must make allowance for these trips in their schedules. [Syllabus]


Historiography: 19th Century Europe

This is a class about how historians have sought to make sense of this astounding century. Over the course of the semester, students will read a variety of articles and books that try to make sense of these many transformations. In doing so, they will start to understand the different branches of historical scholarship, or historiography, that dominate the study of European history. This class is especially recommended for history majors who are planning to write senior theses, but it will be of great interest to anybody who is curious about why our modern world looks and acts as it does. [Syllabus]


Drink!: Liquid Refreshment in World History

Drink Syllabus

During the 1980s, two University of Pennsylvania scholars suggested that the very first hunter-gatherers to settle down and form villages did so because they wanted to assure a steady supply of beer. From at least that moment, some 10,000 years ago, drink played an important, even pivotal, role in virtually every society around the world. This seminar will examine the place of beverages (whether alcoholic or not) in society from earliest times, addressing the social, cultural, political, and economic implications of fluid refreshment across time and geographic space. [Syllabus]


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