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Historical and Cultural Foundation

This requirement is designed to help students think historically—and culturally---about their concentration work. To that end, students are required to take at least 4 units of coursework in the 'pre-modern' period, 4 units in the 'early modern' period, and 4 units in ‘global cultures.’

It is important to understand that 'pre-modern' and 'early modern' are categories created by Western scholars to describe cultural, political, social, and economic differences across vast periods of time. For this reason, these categories are not fixed, and they vary across disciplines and geographic regions. In other words, while the terms 'pre-modern' and 'early modern' can be useful for exploring the diversity and development of ideas across time, they also invite debate, discussion, and interrogation.

Students are expected to complete one course in each of the areas of historical and cultural requirement for a total of 12 units. While some courses may satisfy multiple areas of the historical and cultural foundation (i.e. global cultures and premodern), only one of these areas will be counted toward the requirement (in this example, either global cultures or premodern, but not both).

To fulfill this requirement, students may take courses in Gallatin, as well as several CAS departments and programs. To see the list of Gallatin interdisciplinary seminars being offered this term that may be counted toward this requirement, please visit Gallatin's course listing page.

CAS departments and courses that satisfy the historical and cultural foundation requirement.

Pre-Modern Period

The 'pre-modern' period traditionally extends from the world of antiquity, from the earliest records of human civilization up to the emergence of early modern social, political, and technological regimes (14th-16th centuries CE).   It is common to include under this vast temporal umbrella such disparate phenomena as the ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean, the Middle East and South Asia; the societies and cultures of the European 'Middle Ages'; the Mayan and Incan civilizations of South and Central America; pre-Ming dynasty China; the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates of the Middle East, north Africa, and Spain.  Students of the pre-modern world might expect to study (among many possibilities) Classical Greek philosophy and drama, Ancient Mediterranean wisdom Literature, Epic poetry and romance, the interplay of oral and written cultures, the Han legacy in the East, the Roman legacy in the West, heresy and the institutionalization of religion, the rise of Islam, crusade, the flourishing of scientific learning at Baghdad and Cordoba.

Examples of "Pre-modern" courses include "Ancient Theatre and Its Influences," "Reading the Faces of Ancient Cultures," "The Arabian Nights," "The History of Kindness," "Archaeology: Early Societies and Cultures," "Civilization and Culture of the Middle Ages," "Classical Mythology," "The Oases of Egypt," "East Asian Art I: China, Korea, Japan to 1000 CE," "Introduction to Ancient Indian Literature." 

Early Modern Period

The 'early modern' period is understood to begin in many regions around the 14th century, and to continue to the 18th century, or, depending on geographic region, to the late 18th or 19th century CE. It describes the era from the invention of the printing press to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, from the early contact of European explorers with the Americas to the American Revolution. It marks the beginning of world exploration and the expansion of world trade, the beginning of a global economic system; and the beginning of European colonialism, including the Atlantic Slave trade. It is common to associate this period with, for some examples, the European Renaissance, the Ottoman Empire, the Tokugawa Shogunate in Japan, the Ming and Qing Dynasties in China, colonial Latin America, the colonial and early revolutionary culture of the United States.

Examples of "Early modern" courses include "Literature of Rebellion in Early Modern Europe," "Machiavelli's Prince," "Shakespeare and the London Theater," "History of Environmental Sciences," "Shakespeare's Mediterranean: Britain, Islam and the Early Modern Mediterranean World," "Family and Gender in Late Medieval and Renaissance Italy," "Magic, Religion, and the Inquisition," "Two Mediterranean Worlds: Christendom and Islam," "Early Masters of Italian Renaissance Painting."

Global Cultures

To expand their cultural knowledge, Gallatin students are required to stretch beyond the cultures that are most familiar to them, and take (at least) 4 units of coursework in classes dealing with the beliefs, practices, literatures, or intellectual traditions found in cultures beyond the boundaries of, in general, the United States and Western Europe. Students are encouraged to take classes that address the various cultures of Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

Examples of courses that fulfill the "Global Cultures" requirement include: "Consuming the Caribbean," "Imagining India: From the Colonial to the Global," "Postcolonial African Cities," "(Re) Imagining Latin America," "Sociology of Religion: Islam and the Modern World," "The Dangerous Women in Japanese Literature," "The (Post)Colonial Arabic Novel," "Isreali Cinema," "Czech Art and Architecture," "The Art of Russian Avant-Garde."

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