Associate Professor of History
His teaching and research interests include modern European history with an emphasis on cultural history from the 18th through the 20th centuries; the French Revolution; Central Europe; fascism and Nazism; and early modern Europe.
Particular research interests involve the history of intellectuals and literary life.
Time and Narrative: Pandemics: Main Question: How do people, communities, and cultures understand, make sense of, and react to pandemics, both historically and now, given COVID-19? Course Description: The shock of suffering and death from the COVID-19 pandemic prompts many to speak of it as unprecedented. In fact, there have been many instances of global pandemics, from the Bubonic Plague of the Middle Ages to the Great Influenza of 1918 to the AIDS pandemic beginning in the 1980s. This class will examine historical, social, cultural, and scientific perspectives on how humans have understood and reacted to infectious disease across cultures and centuries and will provide insight as we seek to reconstruct our lives and societies. We will also investigate how our own particular identity and positionality lead to different consequences for each of us.This transdisciplinary course will involve research, hands-on investigation, and creative expression. We will focus on pandemics from multiple perspectives - biology, epidemiology, and public health policy, as well as history, politics, ethnography, oral history, literature, and other expressive arts. Students will undertake individualized study-analyze scientific data, conduct research in archives and via social media, interview pandemic survivors, and other projects -- and reflect on their own experiences and collectively share their findings through public forums, media, scholarship, creative writing, and journalism. Approaches: #epidemiology, #publicHealth, #history, #journalism, #ethnography
What can the hopes and fears of a given society tell us about it and ourselves? Did the gravest "sins" in old Europe and the North American colonies involve food, money, or sex? Among the hallmarks of modernity were the rise of new social formations (classes) and the commercialization of daily activities and relations. Did traditional institutions and belief systems hamper or facilitate the changes? What roles did religious and national contexts play? Did the increase in the sheer number of "things" change the way people thought? What changes did the family and private life undergo? At the heart of the course is the concept of culture as a process through which individuals and groups struggle to shape and make sense of their social institutions and daily lives. A core course in history, the social sciences, and cultural studies.
Many people have learned and are accustomed to thinking of history as an authoritative account of the past, based on indisputable facts. Scholars of history, by contrast, understand history as a matter of contested and evolving interpretation: debate. And they argue not just over the interpretation of facts, but even over what constitutes a relevant fact. This course will use some representative debates to show how dynamic the historical field is. Topics may include: Did women have a Renaissance? How did people in early modern France understand identity? Why did eighteenth-century French artisans find the torture and slaughter of cats to be hilarious rather than cruel? Were Nazi killers who committed genocide motivated by hatred or peer pressure? Are European Jews descended from medieval Turks rather than biblical Hebrews? Students will come to understand how historians reason and work. In so doing, they themselves will learn to think historically.
It is fashionable today to speak of "sustainability," but how do we understand the term in its broadest sense? Historic preservation plays a key role in researching our history, building civic identity, and creating sustainable communities. Once associated primarily with saving the elegant buildings of the elite, historic preservation today involves vernacular as well as distinguished architecture, landscapes as well as the built environment, and the stories of all social groups. Preservation and adaptive reuse of old buildings play a key role in both economic and environmental policy. Students will study general preservation theory and practice and in particular conduct research on Amherst's history and historic resources. Students will visit local historic sites, document collections, and museums
According to a famous and revealing anecdote, antisemitism means hating the Jews more than necessary. Among the most perplexing things about antisemitism is its persistence. It has flourished for over two millennia in a wide variety of settings, and, despite the rise of modern multiculturalism, seems to be on the rise again. It is no wonder that it has been called the longest hatred. Among the questions we will ask: How does it relate to other forms of prejudice? What are its origins? What forms does it take, and how do they change over time? What are its religious, psychological, or social roots? What were its effects? How did the Jews respond? The course moves from the cultural prejudices of the Classical world, through the anti-Judaic teachings of the Christian churches, to the rise of modern social, political, and racial antisemitism and their new contemporary manifestations, including the Middle East conflict.
For historians, "history" means both historical events and the writing of history. In recent years, they have increasingly turned to the relationship between "history and memory": the way the past shapes the present and the present shapes our views of the past. The twentieth century witnessed the fall of empires and the birth of nation-states, wars of colossal destruction, and the struggle between dictatorship and democracy. How did people recall, interpret, and appropriate this turbulent past: create national identities? confront the contrast between technological progress and moral regression? mourn the millions of war dead? deal with loss of home? seek justice in the wake of Nazism and communism? Ideal for current or prospective history concentrators but open to all.