January Term 2016 Courses

History 185: On Skis and Rafts: Norwegian Explorers and the Building of a National Identity
Anna Peterson
This course will look at the historical relationship between Norwegian nation building and exploration through the lives of three of Norway's most famous explorers: Fridtjof Nansen, Roald Amundsen, and Thor Heyerdahl. We will examine primary source documents, including Nansen, Amundsen and Heyerdahl's diaries, log books and photographs, to understand explorers' varied motivations for venturing across oceans. These sources will inform our study of Norwegian interest in and experiences of exploration alongside social and political developments in Norway.  Our study will take us from the fierce competition to reach the North and South Poles in the nineteenth century to one man's determination to sail a balsam raft from Peru to Polynesia in the wake of World War Two.

AFST 185: "James Baldwin and Black American LGBT History"
Lauren Anderson
By examining the provocative writings of James Baldwin (1924-1987), this course will seek to understand America through the eyes of a black gay outcast. From his homes abroad in Paris and Istanbul, Baldwin wrote his way to becoming one of the most insightful voices of the mid-twentieth century. Through his life and words, in addition to scholarships about him, we will gain a distinct vantage point into religion, race, homosexuality, masculinity, American and black American identity, and the ways in which these categories overlap, specifically from the Great Depression through the Civil Rights Movement. (Same as HIST and WGST 185)

AFST 185: Oral Tradition and the Epic of Sundiata
Festus Cole
Sundiata, founder of the ancient kingdom of Mali, is usually remembered for his military prowess, daring, and courageous exploits in war, as well as his political acumen in uniting the disparate Mande clans to form the kingdom of Mali. The Epic of Sundiata is important for its portrayal of the rich cultural heritage and the foundations of political, social, and religious systems in medieval Africa. This course will be mainly based on African legends, customs, and mythology, and will introduce students to the role of griots (professional bards or hereditary keepers of oral traditions) in preserving the story of Sundiata, the majesty and mysteries of medieval African kingship, and the Sundiata's role in elevating the kingdom of Mali to greatness in medieval times. The course aims to show how oral tradition intersects with other disciplines in the humanities to illuminate part of Africa's pre-colonial past. Through an examination of various oral traditions, cultural interactions, and the human experience, students will be enabled to interrogate Western perceptions and criticisms of oral sources and recorded history in delineating Africa's rich historical past. (Same as HIST 185)

History 185: April, 1865: Civil War Ended
Edward Tebbenhoff
The events of April 1865 provided Americans with a kaleidoscope of jarring experiences and an emotional roller coaster which spared no one. Lee surrendered, the Civil War ended, Lincoln was assassinated and all the while, four and a half million African-American slaves contemplated their futures and the contours and meanings of a freedom that few, black or white, fully understood. The course examines primary and secondary sources describing and analyzing the meaning of this tumultuous thirty day period and explores the process by which events are turned into narratives from which are extracted conclusions, hypotheses, and generalizations.

History 243: Christianity and Islam, 632-1683
Robert Christman

This course will investigate the many varied contacts between Christians and Muslims, as well as the changing perceptions and attitudes each group had of the other, from the death of Muhammad (632) to the Battle of Vienna (1683). Analysis of these interactions will focus on distinct epochs and events including:immediate Christian responses to the rise of Islam; the relationships among the Carolingians, Umyyads, and Abbasids; convivencia on the Iberian Peninsula in the 9th-11th centuries; the Crusades; intellectual and commercial interaction in the 12th century; Europe and the rise of the Ottoman Empire; and Renaissance and Reformation perceptions of Islam. This course will demonstrate how specific historical contexts influenced religious interactions, military encounters, and economic and cultural exchanges, as well as perceptions of the other. (HB, Hist)

History 262 “Everybody Loves Gandhi”
Brian Caton

M. K. Gandhi remains the Indian most indelibly associated with India, one of the most frequently-quoted thinkers of all time, and one of the most important figures in developing the theory and practice of non-violent resistance. However, Gandhi's ideas and philosophy have managed to become detached from the historical context in which they were created, and indeed from the human being who created them. This course examines Gandhi's life, political positions, and political legacies in India and globally, in an effort to re-evaluate his achievements and failures, to place his life within the broader historical context of India in the early twentieth century, and to consider the reasons why some people, since his death, have variously beatified and demonized the man and his ideas. (Hist, HB)