History Electives

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

This course examines centuries of struggle, anguish, and triumph. Students will dig into the stories of how Americans—specifically those from traditionally underrepresented, oppressed, and excluded groups—pushed the nation to fulfill its original promise of liberty. Using texts, images, and film, this seminar will examine what this nation is versus what it claims to be – and how civil rights activists have worked to bridge the two. The course moves chronologically, examining the efforts of activists and the challenges they confronted, all part of a continuing American revolution. The course will cover stories such as: slavery and abolitionism, American-Indian wars, Jim Crow segregation and the Civil Rights Movement, and continuing struggles in the “post-civil rights” era.

Critical Thinking in the Arts is an interdisciplinary course exploring visual and performing arts and their social, historical, cultural, and political contexts. The course takes a thematic approach to the study of art, theater, film, literature, and music. By examining such themes as gender, race, war, satire, childhood, and protest, students will gain an in-depth understanding of major cultural, social, artistic, and political movements of the 19th-21stcenturies. 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, presentations, and projects.

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.

NEW HERSTORY: WOMEN IN HISTORY (Women Who Have Challenged, Shaped, and Changed the World)
Across eras and continents, women have often been marginalized, blocked from power and justice. But many women have fought back, forging paths of leadership and changing the world. This course explores women’s stories, examining both what they shared and how they differed. Using major works by and about women—texts, artwork, film, artifacts—we will study sexism, and how these women countered it. This course will also bring in the voices of other teachers, as students uncover how women shaped history, defining social change, feminism, nations, politics, and efforts to battle back from crisis.

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.

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. In this fast-paced introductory survey, students learn how to recognize, interpret, and analyze works of art within their historical, cultural, and religious contexts. By examining the major forms of artistic expression (including sculpture, painting, architecture, and other media) from the ancient world to the present, students learn not just about art, but also about the cultures, politics, and popular sentiments that dominated the major time periods throughout history. This course includes frequent trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a visit to the Cloisters in the fall, and student presentations at the Museum of Modern Art in the spring. As this is a rigorous, college-level course, students should be prepared to stay up-to-date with nightly reading assignments and be able to manage their workload efficiently and independently.

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. (Not offered in 2014-15)

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. (Not offered in 2014-15)