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Connected Courses

Art of Revolution (English 378)

This course will focus on the art of politics and the politics of the literary imagination in Revolutionary America as a means of rethinking traditional accounts of both the literature and politics of the American Revolution. Radically utopian in its desire and vision, the American Revolution was also driven by feelings of loss, betrayal, anger, and fear, and haunted by the specter of ghosts, insurrection, and apocalypse. We will explore the affective, sensational, and specifically literary shaping of various founding documents as a means of illuminating some of the more visionary, terroristic, and contradictory aspects of the American Revolution; and we will consider the ways the imaginative writings of the time—poems, letters, autobiographies, novels of seduction, the gothic, and the terrors of Islam—reveal aspects of the "real" American Revolution that were repressed, silenced, or written out of the more official writings of the Revolution.

Faculty: Betsy Erkkila

Civic Engagement Certificate Program

Coordinated in conjunction with Northwestern's School of Education and Social Policy (SESP), the Civic Engagement Certificate Program gives students a deeper understanding of the forces that affect communities and a more thorough grasp of how to achieve positive change. The two-year, five-quarter program is open to all Northwestern freshmen, sophomores and juniors. Participants earn credit for their interest in community service and gain the skills to understand and improve communities socially and economically. The program incorporates both community service and classroom learning — including five credits of course work, 100 hours of community service and a Capstone Project relevant to a community organization.

This program requires an application. The application deadline is Sunday, November 20th. Students begin the certificate the following winter quarter. Read more about the program at

Contact: Nathan Frideres

Legal and Constitutional History of the United States (Legal Studies 318-1)

This course explores some of the major questions and problems of American legal history from the colonial era to 1850. First, we will examine how and why the colonies developed their laws and legal institutions, and how these evolved over time. Next, we will explore the legal, political, and social forces that led to the American Revolution, and we will look at how Americans drew on their legal experiences in drafting a constitution. We will then examine how judicial and legislative action guided and enabled explosive economic growth in the nineteenth century. Not everyone was able to participate in the new economy, however; we will explore how the law created separate categories for women, American Indians, and African Americans that limited their participation in law, politics, and society. By the end of this course, you should be able to: read, understand, and analyze different kinds of legal texts; understand a variety of legal concepts and doctrines and their meaning in historical context; understand the distinct roles played by different actors (judges, legislatures, lawyers, litigants, voters, etc.) within the constitutional system; and make cogent, evidence-based arguments about these core themes in law and legal history.

Faculty: Joanna Grisinger

Political Inequality (Political Science 101-6; First-Year Seminar)

"Political Inequality", Prof. Thurston, Fall 2017 This course examines various types of inequalities - in representation, in participation, and in resources - and their consequences for American politics and democracy. After surveying theoretical debates on the relationship of equality and democracy we will explore how social scientists have attempted to a variety of related questions: What are the consequences of the way electoral institutions are structured for representation and policy? Do policymakers weigh the concerns of their constituents equally? Do wealthier individuals or corporations have greater influence in the political system than ordinary voters?

Faculty: Chloe Thurston  

Politics, Media and The Republic (Journalism 352-0-20)

This seminar examines the most challenging period for American political journalism since Watergate and the Vietnam War. Few in the news media recognized the political forces that led to Donald Trump's election and energized Republican efforts to reshape the national landscape. At a time when facts themselves often seem up for grabs, the new president labeled the press an "enemy of the American people" and dismissed unfavorable reporting as "fake news." Expect to go beyond the news of the day to develop your own understandings of how the country reached this point, what role journalism plays and what happens next as Trump fights for his agenda, progressive Democrats resist and the 2018 midterm campaign gets underway.

Faculty: Peter Slevin

FALL 2017

 American Intellectual History (History 326-0)

This course traces the history of the United States since 1800 through its ideas. How have intellectuals understood, reacted to, or participated in such developments as slavery, abolition, the rise of the corporation, Jim Crow segregation, World War II, the Cold War, the social movements of the 1960s, and globalization? How has the role of intellectuals changed with the emergence of the research university and the inclusion of new voices on the national stage? We will explore questions such as these as we read a variety of primary sources from throughout the period, beginning with Social Darwin- ism and ending with the memoirs of Barack Obama. This class has two main purposes. The first is to introduce you to a particular method of approaching the past. Like social history, cultural history, diplomatic history, and economic history, intellectual history—the study of ideas and intellectuals—offers a specific way of explaining events, which we will explore throughout the quarter. The second purpose of this class is to acquaint you with some of the most powerful, influential, and interesting texts in the U.S. intellectual tradition. By the end of this course, you will have read widely in the canon of U.S. social theory and will be equipped to carry out any number of research projects within the field.

Faculty: Susan Pearson

Anti-Poverty Crusades: First-Year Seminar (History 102-6-20)

This course is in part about poverty, but it is even more about the ways Americans have thought about poverty and tried to combat it. We will explore two periods of U.S. history: 1890-1910 and 1960-1990. In each period we will examine the forces that impoverished individuals and families, the issues raised in explanations of poverty, the range of remedies proposed, and the ways they were justified. In both periods we will try to determine how Americans answered some lasting questions: How is poverty defined? Who among the poor deserves what kind of help? Does helping the poor promote dependence? What are the implications of poverty for the health of the nation as a whole? The primary purpose of the course is to give students experience in some of the techniques employed by historians: close and critical reading of documents; reconstruction of the thinking of past actors and evaluation of their assumptions, motives, and options; and the production of clear, fair, and inclusive analyses of what happened. While the subject matter of the course has obvious relevance to present-day concerns, our primary goal is to think (and write) about the past.

Faculty: Henry Binford

Comparative History of Empires in the 20th Century (History 300-0-30)

This course offers a comparative history of empires in the 20th century. It will provide students with an overview of the new forms of world-spanning imperial rule that emerged in the past 100 years, and the extraordinary story of their rise and fall. We will study the collapse of the old empires at the end of the 19th century, and the rise of new 20th-century colonial regimes centered on England, France and Japan. We will consider the First World War as a war between empires, the emergence of new imperial structures in the middle of the 20th century, including those in the US, the USSR, and the Third Reich, Finally we will turn to the decolonization processes in the 1950s and 1960s, and the post-imperial world with its conflicting memories of empires. Attention will be paid throughout to developments in civil societies, local elites, and various forms of resistances within and between empires, as well as their cultural expression in the colonies and the metropoles. Powerpoint presentations will feature movie clips, songs, and documentary photographs, as well as in-class student engagement.

Faculty: Pap Ndiaye

Evolution of Chicago (History 300-0-20)

This course will employ a chronological and topical approach to survey major developments in the history of Chicago, with an emphasis on the city as a built environment. It will examine Chicago from the 1830s to the turn of the twenty-first century in terms of a series of major human-made structures and institutions that both reflected the larger events and ideas that created them and left a lasting mark on the cityscape. Among subjects to be considered are the creation of the canal and the railroads in the middle decades of the nineteenth century; the construction of the Union Stock Yard and the model town of Pullman in the period following the Civil War; response to perceived urban problems in such forms as settlement houses, suburbs, and city planning; the formation of hypersegregated areas such as the "Black Belt," and massive recent public projects, from universities (e.g., UIC) to parks (e.g., Millennium Park) under the mayoralties of Richard J. and Richard M. Daley. In addition to lectures and sections, there will be two field trips on selected Saturdays during the term.

Faculty: Henry Binford

Global Civil Rights (History 492-0-22)

This graduate seminar introduces students to a growing body of scholarship on the transnational interactions between the Civil Rights movements in the American South and the colonized areas of Africa and the Caribbean in the decades after WWII. We will study and discuss the ways resistance to the politics and economics of the segregated South came to influence social movements in colonial Africa, and vice-versa; how African-Americans and Africans came to grips with the challenge of white supremacy; and how trans-Atlantic political and religious exchanges shaped Pan-Africanism and influenced the emerging Civil Rights movement on one side and decolonization movements on the other. We will also focus on trips to Africa and Europe by African-Americans such as Richard Wright, Martin Luther King and Malcom X; on the role played by Africans in the United States, France, and Britain (NKrumah, Kenyatta, Senghor), and on the transnational history of the Black Panthers Party.

Faculty: Pap Ndiaye

Inequalities in the Arabian Peninsula (History 392-0-22)

Following an expedition to the arabian peninsula in the mid-18th century, danish scientist carsten niebuhr described a social order of equal precariousness and said of the bedouins that they "always rated liberty above ease and wealth." 250 years later, this old cliché no longer holds, for the arabian peninsula is now home to some of the richest and most complex states of the middle east. Not only has the rugged lifestyle of bedouin nomads virtually disappeared, but liberty appears to be the possession of a few. In the past hundred years, various forms of inequalities have indeed become salient in the region: between the haves and the have-nots, between rulers and ruled, between men and women, between natives and foreigners, between individuals of higher and lesser tribal "nobility," as well as between people of different religious identities. This seminar aims at examining some of these chasms and inequalities from a historical perspective. Under what circumstances did they emerge? Are they unique to the arabian peninsula? Are they new or do they constitute extensions of older inequalities? Have any efforts been made to change or subvert existing power relations? Among the themes to be treated throughout the quarter are: slavery, nasab (genealogy), communist opposition movements, urbanization (and its unintended consequences), sectarianism, the kafâla system for temporary workers, and other uses of state legislation to include and exclude.

Faculty: Henri Lauzieri

Race and the American Presidency: First-Year Seminar (History 102-0-21)

How did Lyndon B. Johnson, a son of the Texas Hill Country and a product of the Jim Crow South, become the standard bearer of presidential liberalism? Faced with an intransigent Congress, how did he win groundbreaking civil rights legislation and a great expansion of the American welfare state? This course is designed to answer these questions and explore what lessons can we apply from Johnson's political career to the current political climate? This course will pay particular attention to the evolving relationship between Johnson and the rising tide of black freedom struggles in the post-World War II. It will focus particular attention to the ways in which grassroots demands for political and economic rights were translated into public policy against the backdrop of a political structure marked up separation of powers, federalism, and entrenched white supremacy. In the final weeks of the semester, students will consider Johnson's political legacy in subsequent presidential administrations and the contested memories surrounding his presidency.

Faculty: Brett Gadsden

Upcoming Courses


Age of American Revolutions (History 395-0-26)

Faculty: Caitlin Fitz

American Immigration (History 305-0)

Faculty: Shana Bernstein

Background of the Establishment of the State of Israel (History 300-0-26)

Faculty: Elie Rekhess

Constitutional Revolution: The Fourteenth Amendment, Past and Present (History 300-0-44)

Faculty: Joanna Grisinger & Kate Masur

Development of the Modern American City since 1879 (History 322-2)

Faculty: Henry Binford

Global Legal History and Empires (History 103-6-20)

Faculty: Helen Tilley

Go Directly to Jail: The Punitive Turn in American Life (History 300-0-32)

Faculty: Michael Sherry

Hamilton’s America (History 300/Latino 391)

Faculty: Geraldo Cadava & Caitlin Fitz

Latino Politics (Latino 392)

Faculty: Jaime Dominguez

Race and American Political Development (History 300-0-36)

Faculty: Brett Gadsden

Racial and Ethnic Politics (Political Science 390)

Description coming Winter 2018

Faculty: Julie Merseth

Revolution (History 405-0-20)

Faculty: Paul Gillingham

The End of Consensus and the Rise of Polarized Politics (History 102-6-20)

Faculty: Michael Allen


Critical Education & Praxis (Latino 392)

Faculty: Alejandro Carrion

Debating the Age of Reason (History 200-0-20)

Faculty: Sarah Maza

Film, Literature and Revolution in Mexico (History 300-0-24)

Faculty: Paul Gillingham

Global Asians (History 216-0-1)

Faculty: Ji-Yeon Yuh

History of U.S. Foreign Relations (History 319-0)

Faculty: Kyle Burke

Indigenous Resistance to U.S. Colonialism (History 393-0-20)

Faculty: Doug Kiel

Latino History (History 218)

Faculty: Geraldo Cadava

Marxism (History 405-0-20)

Faculty: John Bushnell

Native American History (History 492-0-20)

Faculty: Doug Kiel

The Civil Rights Movement (History 300-0-32)

Faculty: Kevin Boyle

U.S. Pre-Colonial to Civil War (History 210-1)

Faculty: Caitlin Fitz

Immigration Politics and Policy (Political Science 395)

Description coming Spring 2018

Faculty: Julie Merseth

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