Seminar on selected topics in general history, with special emphasis on preparation for field examinations. Topics vary according to interests of students and instructor.
Since its inception, social science has been vaunted by its practitioners and proponents as a unique (and uniquely useful) mode of apprehending the world. In this course, students will be introduced to some of the rich and varied strands of the global histories of social science.
Rather than focusing on any single discipline in isolation, we will track the evolution of the relationships among these disciplines, and the particular historical circumstances that have led to the enshrinement of social science as a distinctively powerful form of knowledge. And yet, as we will see, this power has often been partial or denigrated; the ascension of social science was never secure or complete. We will focus on the evolution of the relationship between social science and state power. How have social scientists been engaged both in supporting and resisting the aims of the state? What is the relationship between the disciplines cited above, and other subfields of social scientific theory and practice, such as development and demography? How has social science shaped – and been shaped by – broader historical phenomena, from colonialism to the Cold War? The course thus serves as an opportunity to historicize the emergence of interdisciplinarity itself, and to consider the conditions under which interdisciplinary scholarship has emerged.
Geographically, we will range widely, drawing on readings that address contexts in Western and Eastern Europe, the United States, East Asia, South Asia, Latin America, and Africa. This truly global history will be united by its emphasis on the relationship between social science and the state, and the ways in which this relationship has been embedded in different local contexts.
Key authors will include Thomas Malthus, Henry Mayhew, Cesare Lombroso, and Emile Durkheim, as well as recent work by Nikolas Rose, Ted Porter, Partha Chatterjee, John Carson, Rebecca Lemov, Matt Connelly and others.
This is a "W" course.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading
book reviews; historiographical essays
See above, plus participation in discussion and leading one discussion