2022-2023 Seminar Schedule

As a part of  the university’s plan to re-populate campus, the RCHA’s High School Teachers Institute plans to deliver its seminars fully in person. We will continue to monitor conditions and follow University guidelines for meetings.

Fall Semester 2022


“Class, Race, Gender, and Empire in the Making of the British Industrial Revolution”

September 30, 2022

Seth Koven, Distinguished Professor, Department of History, Rutgers University

Steam engines, factories, coal and textiles are part of any historical reckoning about how and why Britain became the world's first great industrial capitalist economy.  This seminar will also show why Caribbean slavery, sugar, Indian opium, and the labor of poor women and children were no less important in the making of the so-called Industrial Revolution.  The seminar will explore the emergence of the concept of the "Industrial Revolution," the many ways in which scholars have approached it while also using primary sources drawn from across the globe to link together British, imperial and global histories. 


Tasting the Past: Understanding Global History Through Food and Diet

October 21, 2022

Jack Bouchard, Associate Professor, Department of History, Rutgers University

Well before the development of modern, globalized foodways, our ancestors were foodies – they obsessed about what they ate every bit as much as we do today, from the best spices to use in their wine to the right temperature to serve their calves’ foot pie to the healthiness of eating too much musk. Historians have focused recent research on how premodern households made food that they thought tasted good and made them healthy. Yet what that meant to different people – goodness and healthfulness – is hard for us to understand, and harder to teach. How do we take premodern household food seriously, and what can we learn? This talk will explore foodways in premodern Europe and the Mediterranean, in order to show the most recent work in food history and to think about how we can use a growing body of digitized primary sources to teach about food. It will use household and published recipe collections as a basis for studying medieval and early modern household and elite cuisine. As we will see, through these recipes we can see the interconnectedness of the premodern world. Not only do European recipes call for spices and flavours from Indonesia, Mesoamerica, West Africa and Central Asia on a regular basis, but they are also heavily influenced by Arab, Persian, and Indian thinking about health and food. But recipes also show the quotidian experience of food. They record the daily labour that went into food, and how that labour was organized around gender and racial lines. Recipes even teach us about the use of experimentation, knowledge-sharing and scientific investigation which households put into making food, and what that can teach us about premodern mentalities.


Science and Nature in American History

October 28, 2022

Elaine LaFay, Associate Professor of History, Rutgers University

This seminar will explore select episodes in the history of science and environment in the United States, with an eye toward using these episodes to think historically about climate change today. We will explore a range of themes including different cultural understandings of climate over time, the vexed relationship between humans and the natural world, and the ways in which scientific knowledge has been both a tool of oppression and resistance in the American empire.  


The World of Medieval Monasticism

December 9, 2022

Anthony di Battista, Lecturer, Department of History, Rutgers University

From illuminated manuscripts to herb gardens to inspirations for Chaucer and Shakespeare, monasteries are central to an understanding of the Middle Ages. Monasticism was among the most popular and influential forms of religious devotion in the medieval period. Its influences extended well beyond the walls of the monastery and helped to depose emperors and to found universities. This seminar will examine the origins of medieval monasticism from the Desert Fathers to the founding of the Franciscans and will ‘illuminate’ the enduring influence of these movements on the formation of the medieval world.