Foundations Courses

Welcome to Harvard University. All History courses—both lectures and seminars—are open to first-year students; none have prerequisites. This page lists a subset of the Fall courses. These “101” courses are those that the History Department considers particularly appropriate for first-year students. All of them will give you the tools you need for other History courses, introduce you to basic historical research, and improve your writing ability. You can see the full list (already filtered) of 101 courses in the my.harvard course catalog  and in map view (all the course names are clickable links). You can also see a pre-filtered list of all Fall History Courses open to undergraduates (101s, other lectures, and seminars) in my.harvard course catalog and on a day/time grid (all the course names are clickable links). See the bottom of the page for suggested career clusters of History courses and contacts for any questions.

101 Courses

African Diaspora 101

Hist 1412: African Diaspora in the Americas
Vincent Brown
This course’s listing in the my.harvard course catalog is located here: https://bit.ly/3QgOLRF

Big Question: How can we best understand the diverse cultural practices of the African diaspora in the Americas?

Africans and their descendants in the Americas have drawn upon their experiences to create enduring cultural forms that seem simultaneously to be thoroughly American and distinctly African. How can we best understand these diverse cultural practices? From where did they derive? How are they related to each other? The course explores how transnational affinities have been articulated, debated, and put to use from the Transatlantic slave trade to the present.

Borders 101

GenEd 1140: Borders
Mary Lewis

This course’s listing in the my.harvard course catalog is located here: https://bit.ly/3p96PBi

Big Question: How have borders been formed historically, and what are the ethics of border construction, defense, expansion, and transgression?

As a society, we pay particular attention to borders when violent events remind us of their existence and function: children separated from their asylum-seeking parents; tear-gas being used to deter entry; members of the mounted border patrol whipping migrants with their reins. But seldom do we stop to think about what a border is, or when and why some borders are defended more aggressively than others. This course looks at the modern history of borders, broadly construed, from clashing “frontiers,” to national boundaries between sovereign countries, to supranational agreements such as the European Union. It considers how borders are erected and dissolved, both legally and materially. And it queries the legal, diplomatic, social, and ethical considerations that ensue from drawing a line between one side and another, and defending that line. We will also consider how actors within societies create internal (often racialized) boundary lines such as “gated communities” or “redlined zones,” that are sometimes extra-legal or even illegal, but have profound effects on the everyday lives of individuals and groups.

British Empire 101

Hist 1024: The British Empire
Maya Jasanoff
This course’s listing in the my.harvard course catalog is located here: https://bit.ly/3AceDsw

Big Question: How did a small island nation come to rule over a quarter of the world?

Less than a century ago the British Empire ruled a quarter of the world. This course surveys the empire’s extraordinary rise and fall from the American Revolution to World War II. The course presents a narrative of key events and considers the empire’s political and cultural legacies. This is not just a lecture: the class includes multimedia presentations, in-class discussions, debates, and engaging readings.

Deep History 101

GenEd 1044: Deep History
Daniel Smail/Matthew Liebmann
This course’s listing in the my.harvard course catalog is located here: https://bit.ly/39CkRTZ

Big Question: How can we understand the entirety of the human past, from the long ago to the present day?

When does history begin? To judge by the typical history textbook, the answer is straightforward: six thousand years ago. So what about the tens of thousands of years of human existence described by archaeology and related disciplines? Is that history too? This introduction to human history offers a framework for joining the entirety of the human past, from the long ago to the present day, in a single narrative that stretches across many disciplines. We will explore a series of interrelated themes each of which invites questions that travel across time and space. The material presented through lectures, discussions, and activities will not only guide students through a collaborative exploration of human experience, but will also encourage them to contemplate how such experiences mirror and contrast with their own. To help anchor ourselves in the timeline of past and present, we will engage with the world-class collection of artifacts in Harvard’s museums, giving students a unique, hands-on opportunity to experience human history through material remains.

End of Communism 101

Hist 1281: The End of Communism
Terry Martin
This course’s listing in the my.harvard course catalog is located here: https://bit.ly/3QDlC37

Big Question: Why did communism collapse in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in 1989 & 1991?

This course examines how and why communism collapsed in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Although the events of 1989/1991 are usually considered sudden and shocking, we’ll question this assumption within the political, economic, social, and cultural contexts of the surrounding decades (1970-2000). As we do so, we’ll consider both international and domestic factors, including the Cold War and the arms race; ideology and dissent; consumption and culture; oil, economics and the environment; nationalism and civil war; gender and health. Fundamentally, in this class we’ll debate how structural conditions and contingency affect the course of history.

Japan in the World 101

Hist 1023: Japan in Asia and the World
Andrew Gordon & David Howell
This course’s listing in the my.harvard course catalog is located here: https://bit.ly/3qkcNhk

Big Question: How did Japan transform into a regional empire and later a global cultural powerhouse over five centuries?

Japan is a collection of islands, but its past and present unfolds through continuous interaction with wider worlds. This course places Japan in contexts of Asian and global history. It begins with the people, institutions, and ideas of premodern Japan, from the emergence of a court-centered state 1500 years ago to a warrior-dominated society centuries later. We then examine the tumultuous process of change from the 19th century through the present and explore how people in Japan have dealt with the dilemmas of modernity that challenge us all.

Middle East 101

Hist 1800: A Critical Introduction to the Study of the Middle East
Cemal Kafadar

This course’s listing in the my.harvard course catalog is located here: https://bit.ly/3zOqU4M

Big Question: Which histories does the term “Middle East” encompass?

This course introduces students to the medieval and modern history of the Middle East while exploring diverse theoretical frameworks, methodological approaches, and critical debates in the field of Middle East studies. Beginning with the idea of “the Middle East” itself, various aspects of the field will be scrutinized from the perspective of different disciplines and methodologies. Readings and discussions will also focus on key categories of analysis such as orientalism, modernity, capitalism, gender, (post)colonialism, nationalism, anthropocene.

Modern China 101

Hist 1602: Modern China: 1894–Present
Arunabh Ghosh

This course’s listing in the my.harvard course catalog is located here: https://bit.ly/3p4KZix

Big Question: How has China redefined itself over the past one hundred eventful years?

This lecture course will introduce you to the history of post-imperial China (1912- ). Beginning with the decline of the Qing and the dramatic collapse of China’s imperial system in 1911, the course examines how China has sought to redefine itself anew over the past one-hundred years. The revolutionary years of 1911, 1949, and 1978 will serve as our three fulcra, as we investigate how China has tussled with a variety of ‘isms’ (such as republicanism, militarism, nationalism, socialism, and state capitalism) in its pursuit of an appropriate system of governance and social organization. In so doing, we shall also explore the social, economic, cultural, and scientific changes wrought by these varied attempts at state-building.

Modern South Asia 101

Hist 1036: Modern South Asia
Sugata Bose
This course’s listing in the my.harvard course catalog is located here: https://bit.ly/3Aa3vMv

Big Question: How do we understand the global role of modern South Asia?

This course provides the historical depth in which to understand modern and contemporary South Asia in broad Indian Ocean and global contexts. It explores the history, culture, and political economy of the subcontinent, which provides a fascinating laboratory to study such themes as colonialism, nationalism, partition, the modern state, democracy development, religious identities, and relations between Asia and the West.

Postwar U.S. 101

History 1223: The American Century? A History of the United States since World War II
Aaron Bekemeyer
This course’s listing in the my.harvard course catalog is located here: https://bit.ly/3BUT1lz

Big Question: How can we understand the tumultuous past 75 years of American history as a coherent whole?

The decades after the end of World War II marked an exceptional era in American history, the
dawn of the so-called “American Century.” In this course, we will explore the history of the United States since it became the world’s preeminent economic and military power at the end of World War II. Since 1945, the country moved from a “Golden Age” of capitalism to the neoliberal era of inequality and erratic growth; from immigration restriction to attracting people from across the world; from the hegemony of liberalism to the ascendance of conservatism; and from the Cold War to the War on Terror.

Sub-Saharan Africa 101

Hist 1700: The History of Sub-Saharan Africa to 1860
Emmanuel Akyeampong
This course’s listing in the my.harvard course catalog is located here: https://bit.ly/3PacDFf

Big Question: What do we learn from constructing a history of Sub-Saharan Africa before 1860?

This course provides you with an introduction to sub-Saharan Africa until 1860, with attention to the range of methodologies used in writing early African history, including oral history, archaeology, and anthropology. We will examine crucial themes such as the impact of climate change on migration and settlement; trade and commerce; state formation; slavery; and the impact of Islam and Christianity on the continent. By the end of the course, you’ll have gained a methodological and historiographical framework in which to understand specific historical processes and events.

U.S. & World Order 101

Hist 1465: The United States and World Order since 1900
Erez Manela
This course’s listing in the my.harvard course catalog is located here: https://bit.ly/3pf3IHX

Big Question: How does the United States shape global order and what are the limits on its power?

Since the turn of the twentieth century, when the United States became a major economic and military power, Americans have tried to mold and manage international order. In this course, we will explore and assess these efforts through the rise of US overseas expansion, two world wars, the Cold War, and into the twenty-first century.



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All of the course names within the PDF are clickable links.

Fall 2022 101 Course Map (revision 2)



Click the image below to be redirected to a PDF file, or click the following link: https://bit.ly/3PqytUZ
All of the course names within the PDF are clickable links.

Fall 2022 101 Course Grid (revision 2)

Director

Ian J. Miller

Ian J. Miller

Professor of History
Director, Undergraduate Studies
Faculty Dean of Cabot House

Academic Office Hours | Thursdays, 1:00 - 3:00pm 
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Cabot Office Hours | Fridays 1:00-2:20pm
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Assistant Directors

Carla heelan

Carla Heelan

Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies
Lecturer on History