Professor of History
He is particularly interested in the history of Jewish and Arab nationalisms, as well as twentieth century United States political and intellectual history.
His publications include Nazism, the Jews and American Zionism, as well as articles on the Holocaust and Zionism. His current project looks at the American encounter with Arab nationalism.
World War II defined an era and transformed the lives of all who endured it. In doing so, the war has become a growing source of stories, and these tellings will be the subject of the discussions, writings, and projects in this course. Stories, above all, provide clues to the meanings we have attached to the politics and experience of the war, and the resulting social transformations within the United States, particularly with regard to matters of race, gender, and class. We will draw widely from journalists, scholars, novelists, artists, and participants, and we will certainly consider whose stories are heard and why. But we also intend to study these writings as human productions in their own right. What do they teach us about the method of history and craft of storytelling? We hope to identify authorial choices and, ultimately, incorporate what we learn into our own analytical and creative historical writings.
In this class we will study the history and relationship of Zionism and Palestinian nationalism. We will examine the origins of both movements and the history of their conflict. Significant attention will be given to the conflict over Palestine which culminated in the establishment of Israel in 1948 as well as the half-century of war, protest and occupation which followed. We will read primary and secondary sources from many perspectives, and will view films and other materials.
In the twentieth century, the ideals of "national self determination" and "national liberation" created powerful political movements throughout the world. But what happened when two peoples claiming the right of "self determination" lived amongst each other? In India, Palestine and Ireland, the British sought to solve the problem through partition: dividing a territory to accommodate conflicting national aspirations. Rather than solving a problem, this solution led to some of the century's longest conflicts and ethnic cleansing. In this course we will study how the idea of partition developed and how it was practiced in India, Palestine and Ireland. We will explore how partition relates to changing concepts of nationhood, and how the repercussions of these partitions continue to shape politics today.
The American encounter with Arab nationalism spanned the entire twentieth century. Arab nationalism and the American empire developed on the same timetable and influenced each other in subtle but profound ways. The United States at the dawn of its age of empire was far more aware of events in the Middle East than we generally realize today. As American global interests mushroomed, understanding the political developments in the Middle East became a necessity. However, several factors impeded the American understanding of Arab nationalism. Ethnocentrism and an American brand of Orientalism would make it hard for Americans see the real peoples of the Middle East, not the imagined inhabitants of the Holy Land. Even more importantly, Americans would never be able to grapple with the meaning of Arab nationalism without considering the challenges of yet another brand of nationalism, Zionism. In 1908, Zionism and nascent Arab nationalism first encountered each other on the American scene. Their continued encounters would shape political and intellectual developments in the United States and the Middle East for the hundred years that followed. That century is the focus of this course. Specific topics we will explore include the Turkish Revolution of 1908, Woodrow Wilson's response to Arab nationalism in the wake of World War I, World War II and America's response to the creation of the Arab League and the rise of Nasserism in the early Cold War, as well as the American response to Palestinian nationalism. We will also look at the efforts of the Arab Americans in the United States to influence US foreign policy and public opinion.
Who should care for the old, the sick, the unemployed, the poor? Is this a collective responsibility, to be fulfilled by government as it promotes the general welfare of the nation? Or is this an individual, personal responsibility: each adult responsible for his or her own welfare, with private charity picking up those who fall through the holes of a tattered safety net? This is the axis around which U.S. social welfare policy has turned since the early 20th century. For the last 30 years we have seen government policy move inexorably to the individual responsibility side of the debate. The state has been shifting responsibility for coping with the risks of aging, sickness, unemployment, and poverty to the individual, while relying increasingly on the private market to actually provide services. The results have not been pretty. Why this has occurred, who suffers and benefits, what are the institutional forces behind this trend, what are the prospects for change - these are the central questions to be explored in this course. We will look closely and critically at the history and politics of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Unemployment Insurance, Workers' Compensation, and supplemental income programs. Students will work collaboratively to develop alternative approaches to these issues of social welfare policy.
During the Great Depression, misery was visible. People lined up for soup, furniture of recently evicted tenants cluttered the streets and unemployed workers rode the rails. Today, poverty seems to be less visible. We hear about foreclosures and evictions through statistical rundowns on the nightly news, but are rarely confronted with images. When we compare the Great Depression and the current recession, many questions emerge. Why did people take to the streets during the Great Depression? What did the working class get out of the New Deal and what does the working class today get out of the Stimulus? Why did workers in the Thirties join unions at a record pace, while today membership is in steep decline? During the Great Depression, African Americans paid the price for the passage of social welfare legislation that benefitted White Americans. How does having an African American President complicate the interplay of race and class in American politics? During the Thirties socialism and the Soviet Union stood as viable alternatives to capitalism, while today few challenge the legitimacy of the established economic order. In this course we will be studying the history of the working class's struggle for economic security. We are particularly eager for students to engage with contemporary movements. For example, the anti-foreclosure movement has been active recently in nearby Springfield. Much of the material used in this class will be primary source documents, including memoirs, novels, films and photographs.
In this course, students will explore the complex and little understood history of the relationship between the Arab Middle East and the United States. We will look at the role missionaries, oil engineers, scholars and diplomats played in forging the relationship. We will pay particular attention to how the Arab-American community has attempted to influence perceptions of the Middle East and government policy. Students will be active learners in this course. We will be reading early twentieth century primary sources as well as scholarly and popular texts. Students will define and explore areas of particular interest and share them with the class.