History, Politics & Society

The second segment of the African Civilizations sequence uses anthropological perspectives to investigate colonial and postcolonial encounters in West and East Africa. The course objective is to show that while colonialism was brutal and oppressive, it was by no means a unidirectional process of domination in which Europeans plundered the African continent and enforced a wholesale adoption of European culture. Rather, scholars today recognize that colonial encounters were complex culture, political, and economic fields of interaction. Africans actively adopted, reworked, and contested colonizers' policies and projects, and Europeans drew heavily from these encounters to form liberal conceptions of self, nation, and society. Over the course of the quarter, students will learn about forms of personhood, political economy, and everyday life in the twentieth century. Course themes will include social reproduction, kinship practices, medicine, domesticity, and development.

HIPS 17300. Science, Culture, and Society in Western Civilization I. 100 Units.

Civilization studies provide an in-depth examination of the development and accomplishments of one of the world's great civilizations through direct encounters with significant and exemplary documents and monuments. These sequences complement the literary and philosophical study of texts central to the humanities sequences, as well as the study of synchronous social theories that shape basic questions in the social science sequences. Their approach stresses the grounding of events and ideas in historical context and the interplay of events, institutions, ideas, and cultural expressions in social change. The courses emphasize texts rather than surveys as a way of getting at the ideas, cultural patterns, and social pressures that frame the understanding of events and institutions within a civilization. And they seek to explore a civilization as an integrated entity, capable of developing and evolving meanings that inform the lives of its citizens.


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This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. This three-quarter sequence approaches the concept of civilization from an emphasis on cross-cultural/societal connection and exchange. We explore the dynamics of conquest, slavery, colonialism, and their reciprocal relationships with concepts such as resistance, freedom, and independence, with an eye toward understanding their interlocking role in the making of the modern world.


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Full course title: Science, Culture, and Society in Western Civilization III: History of Medicine 2. This three-quarter sequence focuses on the origins and development of science in the West. Our aim is to trace the evolution of the biological, psychological, natural, and mathematical sciences as they emerge from the cultural and social matrix of their periods and, in turn, affect culture and society. This course examines the history of modern medicine from the time of the "clinic," in the late-eighteenth century through the present. Topics include the changing character of the hospital, the development of new medical technologies such as the stethoscope, the impact of laboratory techniques (especially microscopy) for the understanding of disease, the history of public health movements in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the history of specific areas of medical practice such as childbirth, mental health, and surgery.

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History of European Civilization is a two-quarter sequence designed to use close readings of primary sources to enrich our understanding of Europeans of the past. As we examine the variety of their experiences, we will often call into question what we mean in the first place by “Europe” and “civilization.” Rather than providing a narrative of high politics, the sequence will emphasize the contested geographic, religious, social, and racial boundaries that have defined and redefined Europe and its people over the centuries. We will read and discuss sources covering the period from the early Middle Ages to the present, from a variety of genres: saga, biography, personal letters, property records, political treatises, memoirs, and government documents, to name only a few. Individual instructors may choose different sources and highlight different aspects of European civilization, but some of the most important readings will be the same in all sections. The two-quarter sequence may also be supplemented by a third quarter, in which students will have the opportunity to explore in greater depth a particular topic in the history of European civilization. This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies.

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History of European Civilization is a two-quarter sequence designed to use close readings of primary sources to enrich our understanding of Europeans of the past. As we examine the variety of their experiences, we will often call into question what we mean in the first place by "Europe" and "civilization." Rather than providing a narrative of high politics, the sequence will emphasize the contested geographic, religious, social, and racial boundaries that have defined and redefined Europe and its people over the centuries. We will read and discuss sources covering the period from the early Middle Ages to the present, from a variety of genres: saga, biography, personal letters, property records, political treatises, memoirs, and government documents, to name only a few. Individual instructors may choose different sources and highlight different aspects of European civilization, but some of the most important readings will be the same in all sections. The two-quarter sequence may also be supplemented by a third quarter, in which students will have the opportunity to explore in greater depth a particular topic in the history of European civilization. This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies.