Perspectives on History:
The Underworld of 19th-Century New York
T/TH 2:00 pm – 3:20 pm
From a very young age, underworld figure George Appo was trying to survive the mean streets of 19th-century New York City. The son of a Chinese father (incarcerated for most of his life) and an Irish mother (who disappeared), Appo, mixed-race and on his own, lived on the margins of society economically, socially, and culturally. Appo at last found his community among the criminal classes of New York, making a living as a pickpocket and conman before reforming later in life. This class will take us into Appo’s world, visiting the opium dens, houses of prostitution, police precincts, penitentiaries, saloons, back alleys, and streetcars where Appo lived and worked. Through Appo’s autobiography, we will be exposed to ruffians, swindlers, and scoundrels along with dirty politicians, corrupt policeman, earnest reformers, and other characters.
Delving into the underworld of 19th-century New York is a way for students to explore the process of researching and writing history, the purpose of Perspectives. Throughout the semester, students will be taught the differences between primary and secondary sources; learn about research strategies; be introduced to relevant historical databases in the library; and complete a series research and writing exercises culminating in a substantive original research paper about your own topic related to the 19th-century New York underworld.
Because this course is offered through the Open Textbooks Initiative, most of the primary and secondary sources will be online, thereby significantly reducing your costs.
France and Its Empire
T/TH 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
This course takes a global approach to the history of modern France. For most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, France possessed a vast empire that included significant parts of Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. In this course, we will explore the development of France’s unique national culture of republicanism, political and social rights, and the separation of church and state alongside the history of French imperial expansion, colonial racism, and the often violent end of French rule overseas. We will also consider the legacies of French colonialism and France’s position in both Europe and the wider world since the 1960s.
Europe in the Age of Revolutions
T/TH 2:00 pm – 3:20 pm
This course will focus on social and political ideas under the impact of the French Revolution and other movements that pointed toward political democratization and under the impact of the Industrial Revolution. Students will encounter a wide range of “isms,” mainly via selections from writings produced by people who lived during the period. Themes to be treated will include conservatism, liberalism and radicalism, socialism and communism, feminism, and racism and irrationalism. There will be background reading on the overall history of Europe during the nineteenth century, enabling students to understand the contexts in which ideas arose, but emphasis will be placed on ideas rather than on the events that surrounded them.
Race and Antiracism in Postwar Europe
T/TH 3:35 pm – 4:55 pm
Race was a central feature of everyday life in Europe and European empires in the first half of the twentieth century. Long before the rise of Nazism, race played an important role in European politics, society and culture; indeed, Nazi racism grew out of broader European trends. However, the Nazi regime took racial ideology and racial violence to such extremes that European leaders felt compelled to publicly reject racism after World War II. But could racism really be banished from Europe, let alone Europe’s colonies, virtually overnight? What concrete efforts were made to turn this rhetoric into practice, by whom and for whom, and how did those efforts fare? This course takes these questions as a starting point to explore the tangled legacies of the Holocaust and colonialism on European understandings of race and efforts to combat racism in Europe since 1945. Key topics will include the experience of Jewish survivors and black American GIs in West Germany; anticolonialism and the decolonization of the French and British empires; antiracist mobilizations by black and Muslim immigrants and their allies across the continent; European involvement in the global anti-Apartheid movement; “colorblind” state policies and anti-discrimination legislation in different European countries; strategies and tactics of grassroots antiracist organizations; terrorism and Islamophobia in Europe since 9/11; and new patterns of antiracist activism as well as new forms of racist exclusion in the contemporary European Union.
Women in the Ancient World
M/W 3:45 pm – 5:05 pm
In lieu of a standard research paper, students in this course will contribute to a website on Women in the Ancient World in partnership with students from different universities across North America. You can view the website here:https://womeninantiquity.wordpress.com/.
Development of United States I
M/W 8:00 am – 9:20 am
This course traces the path of American history from prior to European colonization, through the colonial period, Imperial Crisis, Revolution, Civil War, and Reconstruction. We will examine the period’s important political, economic, social, and cultural developments, as well as observe how different groups of people shaped, and were impacted by such developments. Learning about the past involves a careful effort to understand the ideas and beliefs that motivated people to act in certain specific ways, within particular historical circumstances. Development of U.S. 1 is an introductory course, intended to acquaint students with various ideas, events and people from America’s past, as well as some of the considerations that go into the study of history.
Development of United States II
T/TH 11:10 am – 12:30 pm
This course examines the political, economic, social, and military history of the United States from the 1860s through the 1970s. The course will also examine the roles played by ethnicity, race, gender, class, the development of a national market economy, and the emergence of a powerful national state in shaping ideas about American identity and its place in the world.
African-American History I
M/W 3:45 pm – 5:05 pm
African American History I explores the history of black people from the time of ancient African origins up to the Civil War-Reconstruction period. It examines the cultural,economic and epidemiological factors that contributed to the rise of the Atlantic slave system and the use of Africans as slaves in the United States and and the Atlantic world. The course will also examine the impact of slavery on gender roles and the black family, and resistance to slavery and the rise of the abolitionist movement. Finally, the course will look at the role of black activists such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, and the slave revolts and conspiracies.
Education in America
50:512:230:01 T/TH 6:00 pm – 7:20 pm
This course examines the history of American education with particular emphasis on schooling and the teaching profession. The development of the educational system along with contemporary issues are critically examined for what we can learn about access and equity. The course examines the role of race, religion, regionality, gender and class in education. This course satisfies the requirement for a course in diversity.
World War II
T/TH 2:00 pm – 3:20 pm
World War II was the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century. Some 60 million people, the large majority of whom were civilians, lost their lives. To understand why the world convulsed itself for the second time in twenty years, we will begin with World War I, and then trace the collapse of the fragile postwar peace in the 1920s and 1930s. By the time the United States entered World War II, it had been raging for years in Asia and Europe. We will study the famous battles, campaigns, weapons, and leaders familiar from popular accounts of the war. But we will also examine how the combatants mobilized their economies and societies, how they developed the logistical capacity to project combat power across oceans and continents, how everyday people and soldiers experienced the war, how the war and the Holocaust were related, and how the war generated new calls for decolonization and human rights. Last but not least, we will explore how the war changed the international order: vaulting the United States to superpower status, hastening the end of the European empires, leading to the establishment of the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund, and setting the stage for the Cold War.
The course is designed to be both accessible to non-History majors and rewarding for History majors. There will be a mixture of in-class exams and take-home writing assignments.
M/W 12:30 pm – 1:50 pm
In 1763 the British Empire was the most powerful global force on the planet since the Roman Empire and the thirteen colonies were deeply supportive of it, risked their lives for the empire in war, and were deeply proud to be part of it. Young George Washington dreamed of being an officer in the British Army, and Benjamin Franklin plotted to have the King of England take over the colony of Pennsylvania from the Penn family. American colonists were passionate and proud to assert their British identity and their loyalty and love for their king. Twelve years later those colonies declared independence from the British Empire and overthrew their king, actions nobody could have possibly imagined in 1763.
How could this have happened? Why did everything fall apart in twelve short years? In declaring independence, the colonists also found themselves embarking on a revolution that deeply disrupted the relationships between rich and poor, men and women, slaves and masters, and parents and children. As the violent war for independence and the revolutionary changes proceeded together, the fight to control British North America became a world war involving the American colonists, North American Indians, and the British, the French, and the Spanish. And then of course after winning the war, the new American nation had to figure out what kind of society it would be, what kind of government it would have, and how it would be possible to keep law and order without the power and might of a king and an aristocracy. This course will examine all of these issues and will end with a careful examination of the creation and ratification of the U.S. constitution.
African-American History Since the Civil Rights Movement
M/W 12:30 pm – 1:50 pm
African American History since the 1960s (with civic engagement) explores events in the black experience since the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
The topics that we will discuss will include the rise of the black middle class, but also the persistence of racism, poverty, unequal education, ghettoization and police brutality. This course is a civic engagement course, which means that it involves a mandatory community service component. Our community partner is the Cathedral Kitchen of Camden, which provides sit-down meals to more than 300 people per day throughout the week. Many of these people are homeless. Our community service involves contributing paper products such as paper towels, plastic spoons and forks, napkins, bleach, etc., and it involves preparing sandwiches which we will deliver to the Cathedral Kitchen and which it will give to patrons to take home with them. This community service helps us to understand how we as a university can contribute to the welfare of the community (Camden) in which we are located, in a mutually beneficial relationship; and how we can be participants in the process of building a better society rather than merely spectators.
United States Since 1945
M/W 3:45 pm – 5:05 pm
This course looks at the transformation of America in the years 1945 to today. From a country devastated by economic crisis and wedded to isolationism prior to WW II, America became an international powerhouse. Massive grass roots resistance forced the United States to abandon racial apartheid, open opportunities to women, and reinvent its very definition as it incorporated immigrants from around the globe. And in the same period, American music and film broke free from their staid moorings and permanently altered global culture. We will explore the political, social, and cultural factors that created recent American history with an emphasis on how popular films reflected that history.
Oral History of Latino Camden
F 12:30 pm – 3:20 pm
In this course, students will learn about the history of Camden, the history of Latinos/as in the U.S., and the theory and practice of oral history. Students will spend the first six weeks of the semester studying the historical background of their subjects and practicing oral history methodologies in class. Then, through a collaboration with several of Camden’s community organizations that serve Latinos/as, Rutgers-Camden students will connect with interview subjects and begin assembling their own narratives of Camden’s Latino/a past with their interview collaborators. During the final weeks of the semester, students will work with a group of Camden high school students, training and supervising them in developing their own oral history projects with family and community members.
Introduction to Public History
M 6:00 pm – 8:50 pm
This seminar-style course provides an opportunity explore the ways that history is studied and communicated in settings such as museums, historic sites, and archives, and in the digital realm. Readings and discussion will include controversies such as the display of the Enola Gay at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., and the creation of the President’s House site exhibit in Philadelphia. The course also will examine how civic engagement techniques and the interpretation of diverse, multiple narratives of history have come to the forefront of public history practice. (This course meets concurrently with the graduate seminar Issues in Public History. Undergraduates will build familiarity with public history through a series of independent field visits and reviews of area historic sites and exhibits. The course also will provide an introduction to public history career options and advice on additional training necessary to enter the field.) A reading list will be posted during the summer at https://charlenemires.camden.rutgers.edu.
Latin America I
T/TH 9:35 am – 10:55 am
This course offers an introductory examination of Latin America’s history, politics, culture, and processes of socioeconomic change throughout the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. We compare the evolution of events along these lines in the different sub-regions and countries, noting where generalizations of the Latin American region are possible and where some sub-regional cases are unique. We start with a discussion of how colonial patterns of domination shaped the socio-economic and political structures of Latin American states after independence, which most countries in the region achieved in the 1820s. Thereafter, two centuries of state formation and development are examined. Throughout this period, the course explores in comparative perspective issues such as class formation, race, gender, national identity, “boom and boost” economic cycles, foreign influences, revolution and counter-revolution, and general social and political change.
United States and the Muslim World Since 1800
M/W 8:00 am – 9:20 am
At a time when much of the Muslim world looks at the United States with mistrust, and much of the American political class freely debates the issue of a “Muslim ban”, the importance of understanding the shared history of these two actors is clearer than ever. This course will examine the long and complicated history of the United States and the Muslim world since 1800 — taking into account the many ways in which the two have informed, interacted, perplexed, inspired and frustrated each other since the foundation of the American Republic. Topics to be covered include: attitudes to Islam among Thomas Jefferson and the Founders; the Barbary wars; the history of American missionaries in the Middle East; the practice of Islam among enslaved Africans in America; the United States and the Arab world since 1920; the United States and Iran since 1953; the United States and radical Islam since the 1970s; and the experience of Muslims in modern America.
East Asia I
M/W 2:05 pm – 3:25 pm
From samurai warriors to elegant courtesans, from sages, emperors, and court ladies to pirates, shamanesses, and slaves, this course examines the key events and figures in East Asian history from the earliest times to the year 1600, with an emphasis on the histories of China, Japan, and Korea. Along the way, we will examine the factors that determined the rise and fall of dynasties, kingdoms, and empires, the development of aristocratic, religious, and warrior-centered cultures, the evolution of gender roles over time, and the great literary and artistic achievements of each era.
Modern Japan from Samurai to Anime
M/W 9:35 am – 10:55 am
This survey course examines the history of Japan from the collapse of the samurai government in the 1850s to the present time. We will examine the “opening” of Japan following centuries of self-imposed isolation, its rise to power and defeat in World War II, and its subsequent transformation into an economic and pop culture powerhouse, as well as more recent events such as the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster.
Public History Practice
(course approval pending)
Please contact Dr. Charlene Mires,
This is an individualized opportunity to gain knowledge of local and regional history while contributing to a public history project based at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities (MARCH) at Rutgers-Camden. The options include historic house research and curatorship for the Cooper Street Historic District and research and digital publishing for The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia. In addition to readings in local and regional history, students will be provided with training and ongoing supervision and feedback while working approximately six hours per week on-site on their selected projects. This course is by arrangement, with permission of the instructor, and is open to juniors and seniors with a GPA of 3.0 and above.