THEMES OF THE COURSE,
OR, TWENTY GOOD QUESTIONS
1.Understanding concepts like “modernity”, post-modernity, and anti-modernity
2.Understanding imperialism and colonialism at their peak, and in their decline
3.Seeking to explain the extraordinary prevalence of violence and extermination as state tools throughout the century
4.Understanding totalitarianism and dictatorship
5.Tracing the history of the modern myth of Revolution
6.Tracing shifting interpretations of the proper role of the state in determining social and economic arrangements.
7.Observing the shifting contours and concepts of the city, and its changing functions and images.
8.Observing how the concept of class has risen and fallen as a means of interpreting society and social change.
9.Tracing the shifting meaning of nations and nationalism, and how these ideas have been reshaped through both high culture and popular culture
10.Tracing the reshaping of concepts like race and ethnicity over the century, and how racial and ethnic awareness have been defined through ongoing conflict
11.Understanding the shifting concepts of gender, family and sexuality
12.Appreciating the pervasive impact of war on social, cultural and economic change
13.Understanding the idea of globalization, and suggesting that globalization might be its own grave-digger, in arousing anti-global and anti-modern forces.
14.Observing the influence of scientific and technological change on society, culture and politics. Exploring how accelerating changes in technology and mass media have changed human perceptions and consciousness
15.Explaining the reassertion of religion, the "revenge of God." Why is anti-modernity so often expressed in religious guises?
16.Appreciating the fundamental demographic realities that underlie all the development we will be addressing in this course
17.Understanding how memory (shaped, reshaped, and imagined) provides a basis for political action and cultural change. Understanding how popular history forms and sustains widely-credited myths that shape the conduct of nations and groups
18. Understanding the pervasive role of fear in identifying dangerous outsiders against whom modern societies define themselves.
19. Throughout, we will seek to understand how historians debate, how they form their opinions, and how those opinions achieve consensus. How has historical work been affected by the massive social and cultural changes outlined above
20.At every stage, we will observe how the social and political themes addressed are reflected in culture, in art, literature and cinema, and how in turn these cultural forms shape and change society and politics. Throughout, we will observe how social and political trends are “made to mean” through mass culture