Regularly Scheduled Courses

This course introduces some of the most influential approaches that historians (from antiquity through the present) have taken in thinking and writing about the past. It also addresses various meta-questions about history: What is history? What is it for? Who is it for? It addresses various philosophies of history (the underlying assumptions of how we can access and understand the past), as well as various historical interpretive frameworks that have shaped the professional practice of history. Coursework consists of numerous short essays that compare and contrast different processes, modes of thought, and modes of expression from different historical time periods and in different geographic areas.

This course explores both historical and contemporary ways of thinking about ‘American’ food. We look the changing meanings of food and foodways throughout US history, including what people eaten, how they have attached cultural values to certain foods yet rejected others, and how immigration, and regionalization have shaped notions of American cuisine. When you think of Mexican food, or Italian, or Chinese, a range of dishes and ingredients immediately spring to mind. But what about American food? Is there such a thing? How much does the history of American Food tell a very different story of US History than we typically hear? How are ideas of nationalism reflected in our foodways? What constitutes a “national” cuisine? Does this concept even make sense anymore?

How do archives and algorithms govern our access to the past? How does the digitization of cultural artifacts and social media technologies present opportunities for new kinds of archives? What kinds of new research methods do historians need to analyze and interpret the exponentially growing digital archive? How has digital publishing and platforms like Wikipedia challenged traditional historical expertise and authority? Our collaborative coursework will focus on understanding the challenges inherent in digital archives and access to information.

What does it mean to “make history”? On one hand, to do something worth recording. On the other, the act of memorializing. This course examines how we interact with history everyday, through books, film, Wikipedia, public spaces, historic buildings, art, and so on. It also addresses various meta-questions about history: What is history? What is it for? Who is it for? This entirely online and asynchronous course consists of short lectures, reading assignments, quizzes and short essays that helps students learn robust research skills, analytical techniques, and ways of using evidence to make arguments.

If someone tells you how to eat or what you should or shouldn’t eat, do you believe them? Why or why not? Is dietary advice ever truly believable? This course uses the long history of diet and health to investigate the relationship between medical expertise and popular understandings of health. Some guiding questions: How do dietary experts establish their expertise? Why have medical authorities continually redefined what it means to be healthy and to eat a healthy diet? Why have so many fad diets come into and gone out of fashion? What can historical perspectives on topics like GMOs, vitamins, and obesity offer contemporary debates on these issues?

This course explores the complex relationships between food, food production, technology, and society. In some ways, our goal is to explain how and why supermarkets have come to look like they do. Taking chronological and thematic approaches simultaneously, we’ll look at the impact of science and technology on food processing and distribution (such as canning, refrigeration, GMOs, food stabilizers and preservatives). We’ll also put these developments in larger social, cultural, and demographic contexts, including the growing divide between food producers and consumers, governmental regulation, the rise of global food conglomerates, urbanization, and sustainability. Even more broadly, we identify connections between agribusiness, ecology, consumerism, media, politics, and the history of science and medicine.

With ubiquitous digital maps at our finger tips, it’s easy to move through space without giving it much thought. At the same time, we recognize that physical space connects us to our past and charts a course for the future. This multidisciplinary course draws from history, geography, archeology, anthropology, literature, cultural studies and architecture to explore the how we attach meanings to space and how both space and place influence our identities, communities, regions, and nations. Coursework contributes to ongoing projects at the National Park Service on the National Historic Trails (particularly writing about historic sites on the Santa Fe Trail and contributing to this website), emphasizing qualitative research and historical writing for a broad audience with digital publication technologies.

We are in the midst of a major paradigm shift in human consciousness and society caused by our ubiquitous connectedness via the internet, smartphones, and digital maps. These globalizing forces have telescoped space and time to an unprecedented degree, while paradoxically heightening the importance of local places. The course explores the technologies, tools, and workflows that can help collect, connect, and present online interpretations of the spaces around us.