2022-2023 Seminar Schedule

Spring Semester 2023


“Freedom Summer”

February 3, 2023

Nicole Burrowes, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Rutgers University

In 1964, civil rights organizations, citizens of Mississippi, and student volunteers from across the country came together to challenge segregation in one of the nation’s most racially oppressive states.  In the face of extraordinary violence and economic deprivation, Black Mississippians waged one of the most powerful movements in civil rights history, widely known as “Freedom Summer.” During this campaign, organizers registered African American voters who had been denied the right to vote, organized Freedom Votes, and established Freedom Schools. They created the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, an alternative political party dedicated to unseating the whites-only Mississippi delegation for the Democratic National Convention of 1964. It was a strategic experiment rocked the nation and fundamentally challenged white supremacy in the South. This workshop will draw on film, music and primary sources to examine the history of Freedom Summer, its impact, contradictions, and legacy. We will also situate Freedom Summer in the larger context of the Black Freedom Movement in the United States, the Cold War, independence, and human rights struggles. 




Beyond the Silk Road: Inner Eurasia in World History,

February 17, 2023

Tuna Artun, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Rutgers University 

Much of our understanding of premodern Inner Eurasia--between the great urban centers of the Mediterranean world, East Asia and the Indian subcontinent--has been justifiably shaped by narratives revolving around the emergence and development of the Silk Road. As vital as it was for world history, the "Silk Road" itself constituted just a part of a much larger area of Eurasian steppes and it was also often shaped by politico-military and socio-economic pressures exerted by steppe peoples. The history of Inner Eurasia and the Eurasian steppes is key to understanding the diffusion of distinct linguistic, religious and epistemic traditions in an expansive geography  stretching from what is today Russian Siberia and Chinese Manchuria in the east to the Pannonian Basin of Central Europe in the west.


Finding Politics in Unexpected Places: The Case for Black Leisure in Modern American History

March 3, 2023

Tiffany Gill, Associate Professor, Department of History, Rutgers University

For African Americans, finding spaces of leisure and joy is a complex matter. The history of racial violence and disenfranchisement, as well as the social movements that rose in response to these phenomena have often overshadowed the desire for Black people to experience recreation outside the constraints of segregation and racial humiliation. This workshop will discuss the importance of political imagination in transforming cultures and societies and provide a methodological framework to consider concepts such as beauty, pleasure, and joy as mechanisms for social change.


"Race, Education, and Equity: Repairing the Past?"

March 21, 2023

Andy Urban, Associate Professor of American Studies & History, Rutgers University

This workshop is being jointly offered with the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis Seminar, which in 2022-23, will focus on the theme of “Repairing the Past.” The concept of “repairing the past” raises key questions about the roles that scholars of history and memory can play in applying interpretations of the past to present-day campaigns of redress. Participants in this workshop will learn about the history of racially segregated education in New Jersey and the United States, efforts to contest and resist discrimination in schooling, and the historic development of inequitable learning conditions that have persisted into the present. One case study for this workshop will be the New Brunswick/North Brunswick High Schools Public Memory Project, which is a collaboration between community stakeholders, scholars, and artists, focused on the creation of public programming exploring histories of school segregation in New Brunswick, New Jersey. This project is being launched in advance of 2024, which will mark the fiftieth anniversary of a landmark New Jersey State Supreme Court decision that permitted approximately 700 white students from the township of North Brunswick –– to withdraw from New Brunswick High School and reenroll in newly created, nearly all-white suburban schools. Workshop participants will be provided with an opportunity to discuss, in a respectful, collaborative setting, what ideas of redress and repair mean to them in their own pedagogy, and how questions of race, education, and equity relate not only to history, but also to contemporary politics and civic activism and engagement 

*Note: through a partnership with the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, this seminar is being offered free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis.


"Images of American History"

 March 31, 2023

Benjamin Justice, Professor of Education and History, Rutgers University

This workshop explores one of the oldest and most bizarre visual paradoxes in American culture: white settler’s use of images of “Indians” as symbols of civic authority and identity. During the first three centuries of European colonization, images of Native Americans appeared on maps, in travel accounts, and even on great seals of government. These depictions served many purposes, squaring the “discovery” of the Americas with medieval, Biblical, and Ancient history and science, resolving the legal problems caused by settlement, and promoting racist stereotypes. By the time of the American revolution and early national period, non-indigenous Americans deployed images of Indians as symbols of civic identity, even as settlers teamed with the federal and state government to remove and marginalize Indigenous people from land and society. In this workshop will explore the evolution and meaning of these forms of imagery as well as teaching strategies for determining whether and how to use these (often offensive) images in the history classroom. 


Machiavelli and the Political Culture of Modernity

April 21, 2023

William Connell, Professor of History and La Motta Chair in Italian Studies, Seton Hall University

In a famous letter the Florentine writer Niccolò Machiavelli describes how he spent his evenings studying the ancient classics.  He says of the writers of antiquity, “I am not ashamed to speak with them, and to ask the reasons for their actions; and they, in their humanity, answer me.”  This workshop will study how Machiavelli’s analytical approach to a distant pagan past resulted in a set of forward-looking ideas concerning the state, religion, consumer culture, republicanism, and pleasure that continue to frame a great part of contemporary political discourse.   We will read selections from Machiavelli’s Prince and other works and explore their relevance to the global Renaissance, our world of goods, and democracies facing crises.