Fall Semester 2023


“Antebellum Black Political and Intellectual Thought”

September 22, 2023

Leslie Alexander, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor, Department of History, Rutgers University

The early nineteenth century was a time of tremendous turmoil, as the newly independent United States struggled to forge a new nation. Political leaders, seeking to chart a new path forward, found themselves embroiled in endless ideological conflict. At the heart of much of this political strife was the explosive topic of slavery; particularly as the North abandoned their attachment to the international trade in humans and embraced an industrial economy, while the South became even more firmly committed to the expanding system of slavery. In this session, we’ll explore how newly emancipated Black northerners articulated their own political agenda—often also becoming deeply divided over political strategy as they fought for abolition, citizenship, and equality in a country that remained profoundly hostile to their presence. We discuss, in particular, how various Black activists imagined freedom, articulated the need for abolition, pleaded for citizenship, and even considered abandoning the United States entirely.


“Muslims, Christians, and Jews: Interactions Past and Present”

October 6, 2023

Paola Tartakoff, Chair and Professor, Department of History and Jewish Studies, Rutgers University

This seminar will explore the intertwined histories of Muslims, Christians, and Jews, with a focus on links between the past and the present. We will consider the earliest encounters between Muslims, Christians, and Jews; key developments during the medieval and early modern periods; and the modern legacies of this history. Examining dynamics ranging from peaceful coexistence and cultural cross-influence to persecution, Islamophobia, and antisemitism, we will grapple with a complex subject that is of urgent importance today. 


“Gender, Sexuality, and Colonialisms”

November 17, 2023

Chie Ikeya, Associate Professor of History, Rutgers University

Gender and sexuality were imperative for colonial governance. European, American, and Japanese colonial regimes all deployed gender and sexuality in creating and sustaining the kind of political and social orders that yielded the labor and resources on which they depended. Across different colonial empires across the globe, gender and sexuality, together with religion, race, and other intersecting categories of difference, served to rationalize and legitimize oppression and exploitation. These scholarly insights will guide our exploration of both shared and divergent historical experiences of colonialism. Focusing on select case studies, we will seek to understand the various and specific ways that gender and sexuality shaped the goals, strategies, and achievements of modern colonial powers and the marks they left on their respective colonies. 


“The World of Henry VIII: Understanding the Tudors”

December 8, 2023

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

The history of Henry VIII’s search for an heir continues to fascinate students, artists, and writers nearly 400 years after his death.  This seminar will focus on understanding the larger Tudor world and the forces that shaped Henry and his children’s actions as they sought to remake the English Church and the English State. The seminar will also focus on the clash between Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell and the ways in which that clash has been portrayed in literature and film.