History Electives

Students in Class XII may elect to enroll in Advanced Placement Art History or the following one-semester seminars.

This course examines various economic systems and illuminates concepts introduced in earlier history courses. Beginning with the basic economic reality of scarcity, students analyze economic models, theories, and developments. The course follows a traditional micro-economic, macro-economic sequence and emphasizes the concrete implications of economic theory. Students gain a solid understanding of basic economic factors and the role they play in domestic and world affairs. The course lays a firm foundation for future study of finance and of economic trends.

The central goal of the course is to provide the student with an understanding of those factors that contribute to a unified vision of African culture and to those factors that contribute to a clear delineation among regions and nations. Students focus on selected African societies from a variety of viewpoints. An examination of ancient and medieval kingdoms lays the foundation for understanding the development of more recent cultures. Study of the slave trade provides a background for an analysis of the European colonization of Africa in the nineteenth century. The impact of Europe’s domination is explored in the post-World War II movements toward independence and nation-building in Africa. An examination of current issues is carried out through an analysis of economic, social, and political trends in selected contemporary African nations. Special emphasis is placed on the impact of globalization on Africa’s progress.

Students explore the geographical, historical, cultural, political, and economic dynamics that have shaped the “new China.” After a brief historical survey prior to the Communist victory in 1949, the focus shifts to a critical examination of the era of Mao Zedong, including the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, and the era of Deng Xiaoping and his successors. Students also investigate the diversity of people and traditions within the Chinese nation and look in some detail at the multiple currents of today’s rapid transformations, such as urban and capitalist development, the legacy of the one-child policy and its gender imbalance, pressures for political change, and China’s complex and wide-ranging foreign policy.

This course provides students with a deeper understanding of the complexities of the Middle East, a region that is increasingly associated with images of violence and strife. The course first defines the boundaries of the contemporary Middle East and critically examines this definition. By studying the modern history, the diverse cultures, the economics of oil, and the complex politics of the region, the students critically investigate the region’s role in global politics and its growing confrontational stance towards the West. Students read primary and secondary sources to look at the causes and the consequences of the region’s various conflicts, including the Israeli-Palestinian and sectarian conflicts. Included in these discussion are issues of gender, race, and class. Students investigate the possible solutions that have been offered and try to develop sophisticated understanding of the difficulties of creating peace. Students use the media lab to produce “news broadcasts” that deal with the topics studied in class as well as current events in the Middle East as they unfold.

Critical Thinking in the Arts is an interdisciplinary course (art history – drama – music) exploring visual and performing arts and their social, historical, cultural, and/or political contexts. The course takes a thematic approach to the study of art, theater, and music. By examining such themes as gender, race, war, satire, and protest, students will gain an in-depth understanding of major cultural, social, artistic, and political movements of the 19th-21st centuries. Students are required to attend field trips to theater, dance, and music performances, as well as visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Brooklyn Museum. Assessments will include performance and exhibition reviews, creative and analytical writing assignments, performances, and projects. Enrollment by semester, or for year.

APah2From the prehistoric caves at Lascaux to art made after the explosion of the atom, this course investigates art as the illumination of the human condition. Study begins with the ancient world: the Cult of the Dead in Egypt; the elevation of the human spirit in Greece; and the manipulation of art and politics in Rome. From the Roman catacombs arise the earliest Christian symbols which blossom in the mosaics of the Byzantine Empire and the great churches of the Middle Ages. The glories of the Renaissance and the great religious wars of the sixteenth century are next, as artists put their skills at the service of the Church or are thrown into the independent art market in the North. The Age of the Monarchy follows, succeeded by the Age of Revolution and then the great modern age of industry and technology. Students explore the role of the artist and art’s relationship with religious and political events. Through extensive study of the art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, students become adept at recognizing and evaluating style, technique, form, and content for a broad range of artistic periods. The course encourages independent thinking, broad understanding, and analytical ability.