Fall 2014

510:541   Colloquium in Global History: Rethinking Modernity
                  Professors Toby Jones and Jackson Lears

In recent decades, the concept of modernity has been challenged from a variety of conceptual and ideological perspectives. But it continues to inform public discourse, perhaps more intensely than ever in an era when Western apologists for modernity are deploying doctrines of progress against Islamic enemies, actual and imagined. This seminar provides a comparative history of modernity by exploring the key narratives underlying it—rationalization, secularization, industrialization, commodification, and the like. Our task will be to understand the inner logic of these narratives, but also to probe their weaknesses and strengths. If we are lucky, we may come up with a more capacious notion of modernity--one that includes “alternative modernities,” as some contemporary theorists advocate. Or we may decide to discard the concept altogether.

 510:551  Seminar in World Comparative: Cultural Memory
                  Professor Yael Zerubavel

The seminar introduces an interdisciplinary and comparative approach to the study of memory drawing on historical, sociological, anthropological, and literary perspectives. It is designed to provide a broad framework to explore major theoretical and methodological issues and key concepts related to memory studies. Through the readings and class discussions we will examines various aspects of the relations between history and memory; myths, commemorative narratives, and plot structures; national memories and invented traditions; the cultural production of memory and the media; trauma, silence, and the fragmentation of memory; witnessing, and intergenerational transmission; rituals, memorial sites, and monuments; diasporic communities, nostalgia, and heritage tourism. The development of individual research projects is an important component of the seminar, and students will choose their topic of research, disciplinary perspective, and methodology according to the project and their field of interest. Discussion of the research projects is an integral part of the course work. The project includes identifying a topic, writing a proposal with a preliminary bibliography, an in-class research report, a first ten-page paper draft, a presentation at the end of the course, and a final paper (between 20 to 25 pages, double spaced).


Spring 2014

510:511 Colloquium in Comparative History: Latin America: Global History
Professor Grail Triner

Prospective students who wish to discuss any aspects of the course should contact Professor Gail Triner at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

510:514  Aproaches to Global History
Professors Michael Adas and Benjamin Justice

The course focuses on major issues and approaches relating to teaching, writing and thinking about global history and cross-cultural comparisons of and interactions among major human societies from pre-historic times to the present.

510:534 Colloquium in Environmental History: Global
Professor  Toby Jones

Prospective students who wish to discuss any aspects of the course should contact Professor Toby Jones at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Fall 2013

510:541   Colloquium in Global History
                  Professor Bonnie Smith

Prospective students who wish to discuss any aspects of the course should contact Professor Bonnie Smith at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

510:601    Colloquium in European History: The History of Human Rights
Professor Melissa Feinberg 

In the contemporary world, human rights are a rallying cry for a wide array of groups dedicated to ending all kinds of oppression. As historian Samuel Moyn has noted, the ideal of human rights has become "the last utopia," a new (and better) totalizing vision of a better world, to replace the problematic utopias of Marxism or nationalism. This course will critically examine the historical evolution of human rights. We will take a broad approach to the subject, considering both the intellectual history of human rights as a concept or ideology and the history of rights-based or rights-inspired activism.  While the course will include numerous examples from modern Europe, it will take a global view of the subject and a considerable number of readings will cover other parts of the world.



510:511 Colloquium in Comparative History
Professor Michael Adas

The Global and Comparative Colloquium will focus on the Age of Expansion and Exploration, one of the most pivotal and controversial eras in world history. In recent decades the sub-field of world history has been revived and in many ways profoundly transformed. As a result, it has emerged as one of the most dynamic, innovative, and visible arenas of research and publishing in the discipline and a core component of many university history programs both in the U.S. and internationally. Designed for both Masters’ students in the Global and Comparative Program and PhD students minoring in Global and Comparative History, the course covers themes, areas and centuries that are essential parts of post-1500 World History courses at all levels.

Through major works dealing with the Early Modern Era (roughly 1450-1750), participants in the colloquium will explore major approaches to researching, writing and teaching global and comparative history. Drawing on some of the pioneering work by Marshall Hodgson and some of his more prominent successors, we will examine in detail and seek, where appropriate, to decenter the place of Western Europe in the global processes and transformations which define the age of exploration and expansion. Participants in the seminar will consider works which approach key, non-European culture areas – in the Islamic arc, East and South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas (including the Caribbean) and the Atlantic and Indian Ocean regions – in depth and on their own terms. We will also discuss the key components of the comparative method and the challenges of cross-cultural analysis, and  the importance of in-depth case studies, the mastery of relevant theoretical works, the literature of the sub-fields chosen for comparison, and critical primary sources. Some of the key themes and topics covered will include the means and motives for expansion and exploration on the part of states and empires in various regions of the globe; the spread of plantations and chattel slavery; the “military revolution:” the impact of science, technology and medicine: shifts in gender relationships and social status; the sources and effects of racial ideologies; conquest and resistance; the expansion of commerce and the rise of capitalism; and the exchange of plants, animals, humans and diseases among the culture areas and regions of Afro-Eurasia and the Americas. Participants will read and track key debates relating to books (or selected portions of same) and articles by influential scholars in the field and their often equally prominent critics, including Sidney Mintz, Geoffrey Parker, Alfred Crosby, Igna Clendinnen, Kenneth Pomeranz, George Fredrickson, and Eric Williams.

In addition to active engagement in ongoing group deliberations, each participant will be expected to co-organize and lead at least one discussion session that focuses on areas and issues that they are particularly interested in pursuing as historians. Together with a short review of  the readings chosen by each student in the groups leading one of the weekly discussions, each participant will write a review essay on a book or essays on issues/themes that are of particular interest to her or him. The review will encompass a broader survey of the literature that results from each of the group critiques and will constitute the major written assignment for the course. We will also discuss ways of developing and teaching comparative and global courses with broad appeal.

510:222   Comparative Colonialism in Asia
Professor Chie Ikeya

This course offers a comparative study of colonial encounters in Asia, and explores various theoretical approaches used to analyze colonialism and its relationship to world history. Recent scholarship on the Japanese colonial empire has highlighted the continued failure of the Euro-American academia to make any concerted reference to Japan, the only “non-Western” colonial power, in its critique of colonialism. Challenging this systemic disavowal of comparability, this course draws scholars and critics of European, American, and Japanese colonial projects in Asia and the so-called semi-colonies of China and Siam into comparative conversations about colonialism and its role in shaping transcultural contacts and global interconnections. It considers specific and wide-ranging historical experiences of colonialism—the way particular individuals and groups negotiated the possibilities and constraints of colonial rule and shaped colonial ideologies, institutions, and practices—as well as important intersections in the goals, strategies, and outcomes of different colonial projects. It aims to problematize the dichotomy of colonizer/colonized by critically examining interactions and relations of intimacy, inequality, and contestation formed across the putative colonizer/secular/modern/West and colonized/religious/traditional/Asia divide.


FALL 2012

510:504 Global History: Theory, Historiography & Pedagogy
Professor Allen Howard

This course is designed to provide participants with a foundation in 1) important theoretical, comparative, and historiographical approaches to Global History, and 2) basic issues and debates in teaching Global History. The course sweeps over a long time period from pre-history to the present. It focuses on the Atlantic (West Africa, the Circum-Caribbean, and Northwest Europe), but also looks at some earlier history of Afro-Eurasia. Thus, while members of the colloquium are debating problems in Global History, they will be supporting and illustrating their analysis with local and regional histories from various places. The course is interdisciplinary and seeks to integrate social, cultural, and environmental history into global history.

510:520 South Asian in Global History
Professor Sumit Guha

This course will introduce you to the long history of South Asia with special attention to its peoples’ interaction with the wider world. We shall look at societal cultures, perceptions and political economy. We will consider the movement of ideas and institutions as well as people. It will require two significant papers in addition to the weekly response papers on the readings. The first paper will be a 10 page extended review; the final research paper will use primary and secondary sources on a select topic. This topic will be selected in consultation with the instructor and must be decided by the tenth week of the semester.



510:511 Colloquium in Comparative History:  Postcolonial Theory
Professor Indrani Chatterjee

Unlike directed reading courses in geographical ‘area’ specializations, this course aims at inculcating familiarity with histories of colonialism, anti-colonialism and the political thought that arose in such contexts. This is a three-part course. Part A establishes the prehistories of trade, war and knowledge networks by the late eighteenth century. Part B lays out four parallel scholarly perspectives on the political –economic arrangements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: the Liberals for and against Empire, Evangelicals, Marx and the Marxists. This section also touches briefly on the ways in which these scholarly perspectives were deployed to understand the pasts of colonized societies in South and Southeast Asian, Latin American and African contexts, and teases out the implications for the politics of the present, such as those of trans-national feminisms. Part C gestures at the continuing material implications of imperialism for the global present.  

These themes and the structure of the course attempts to meet three goals. The first is to familiarize students with regions and histories that they might be asked to teach during and after their graduation. The second is to enable students to deal confidently with the methodological aspects of their own historical craft. The third is to further each student’s analytic skills, to stimulate them to see their own areas and topics of interest in creative ways, to enhance their ability to synthesize disparate matter and to communicate such synthesis intelligibly.

510:514 Approaches to Global History
Professors Michael Adas and Benjamin Justice

The course focuses on major issues and approaches relating to teaching, writing and thinking about global history and cross-cultural comparisons of and interactions among major human societies from pre-historic times to the present.


FALL 2011

510:503    African in World History
Professor Barbara Cooper

This course approaches the history of Africa from the vantage point of discussions and debates in global history.  The course strives to de-center Global History by revisiting some familiar themes in global history while placing the history of Africa at the center of the discussion rather than Europe or the Americas.  Issues discussed will include the blindspots of species-centric history, the limitations of an overemphasis upon centralized states, re-conceptualizing the African Diaspora, implications of the slave trade, Africa and global flows of consumption, and the contradictory implications of technology.

Students whose primary interest is a comprehensive survey of Africa in Global History (primarily Ph.D. students and some MA students) will be expected to do more reading and to produce historiographic essays synthesizing developments in key debates.  They may be invited to offer a lecture in the class or lead the discussion where appropriate.  Students whose primary interest is in the teaching of history at the primary or secondary school (many of whom are likely to have major time commitments in teaching elsewhere while in the course) will be expected to do less reading and will produce modules integrating the themes of the course into their own teaching.

Because the continent is diverse and the temporal scope of the course potentially daunting, we will focus on a number of case studies so that students can trace an increasingly familiar set of examples over time. Cases will include the Ethiopian highlands, the forest zone of west Africa, the Congo Basin, the Swahili coast, and my own area of specialty, the central Sahel.

510:505    Islam: A Global Civilization
Professor Sandy Russell-Jones

This course explores the origins and growth of Islamic Civilization. Beginning with a look at the social, political, and religious conditions of pre-Islamic Arabia, as well as Arabia’s role as a center of trade linking the Byzantine and Sassanid Empires, we consider the impact of the life of Muhammad and the revelation of the Qur’an. We will then survey the development of the Caliphate, Islamic thought and culture, and religious institutions such as the legal schools and Sufi brotherhoods. Attention will be given to women’s role in Islamic history and the religious texts, as well as the emergence of sectarian conflict and the construction of sectarian religious narratives. 





Explore SAS

Follow Us

Contact Us

vandyck1111 Van Dyck Hall
16 Seminary Place
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

P  (848) 932-7905
F  (732) 932-6763
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.