The first quarter of this sequence focuses on key texts for liberal political and state conceptions. We explore the distinctly modern liberal claim that society or groups of associated individuals make states for their own protection and the governance of their affairs. We interrogate authors on questions concerning individuality, liberty, equality, the limitation of state power, the importance of political stability, the value of democratic participation in governance, the role that organized society plays in political life, and the degree to which social and political relations vary historically-- among other issues. Winter Quarter focuses on the work of central figures in modern political economy and social theory. The course highlights the organization of economic process and the ways in which it relates to social and political relations and institutions. The central questions are these: How historically distinctive is the modern form of capitalist economy? Do human beings "naturally" act in certain ways in the economy and society? To what degree can we rely on individual self-control? Is inequality an inevitable outcome of capitalist economic development? What is the role of power in economic life? How should we think about the relationship between political power and economic practice? Spring Quarter analyzes the way in which selected themes from the first two quarters work themselves out in the history of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Broadly, we consider the role and place of violence in liberal thought and practice. Problems of individual psychological violence as well as social and political violence are considered.
“Self, Culture, and Society” introduces students to a broad range of social scientific theories and methodologies that deepen their understanding of basic problems of cultural, social, and historical existence. The sequence starts with the conceptual foundations of political economy and theories of capitalism and meaning in modern society. Students then consider the cultural and social constitution of the self, foregrounding the exploration of sexuality, gender, and race. Finally, students critically examine dominant discourses of science, individuality, and alterity, keeping an eye towards the application of social theory to contemporary concerns.
Quantitative data and mathematical information are abundant features of the social world, found in stock markets, unemployment reports, and inflation measures, in pre-election polls and forecasts of election outcomes, in strategic decisions about corporate takeovers, in the spread of disease, and in assessments of job-market discrimination or police violence. Social Science Inquiry aims to help students understand how quantitative social scientists examine such phenomena, highlighting core questions of design, analysis, and presentation. There are three different versions of SSI: one (SSI-General) which focuses on general quantitative social science methods with special emphasis on causal inference, a second (SSI-Formal) which focuses on deductive (or "formal") models of social phenomena, and a third (SSI-Spatial) which focuses on quantitative social research over spatial settings as small as communities or as large as nations. All three versions share the same structure in that the first quarter introduces the general approaches and the basics of study design, the second quarter develops the research toolkits that analysts routinely use, and the third quarter combines the first two to help students explore research questions of their own choosing in greater depth, culminating in a research paper.
This sequence takes an empirical, scientific approach to understanding the functions of the mind. Drawing on psychology, anthropology, sociology, economics, and a number of other social as well as biological sciences, the course examines how the mind operates at multiple levels of analysis (e.g., biological, psychological, societal) and across a variety of time scales (e.g., exploring processes that unfold over the course of milliseconds as well as those that unfold over millennia). We examine issues such as how people apprehend reality, the development of thought across the life span, the impact of social contextual factors on mental processes, the ideal of rationality and systematic deviations from that ideal, how different languages and cultures represent different ways of seeing and thinking about the world. Cross-cutting these specific topic areas is a sustained exploration of the process by which contemporary social science is conducted. For example, we consider what constitutes a legitimate social scientific question, what counts as valid empirical evidence, and how data are used to test theories and to support causal claims.
What is justice? What makes a good society? What is the best form of government? What is the relation between a good citizen and a good human being? When are obedience, resistance or revolt justified? What is the role of religion in politics? This sequence explores such fundamental questions through classic writings from Plato, Aristotle, and Aquinas and from the works of the great founders and critics of modernity such as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Tocqueville, Mill, Marx, Nietzsche, and DuBois. Writing before our departmentalization of disciplines, they were at the same time sociologists, psychologists, political scientists, economists, and moralists; they offer contrasting alternative conceptions of society and politics that underlie continuing controversies in the social sciences and in contemporary political life.
Global Society is organized around three essential areas for making sense of a globalized world: social thought, population, and social change. The sequence is designed to cultivate an understanding of social science research that extends beyond experiences and processes that are particular to Western civilizations. The curriculum will expose students to a long-standing, globally expansive canon within the social sciences and teach students to distinguish cultural particulars from universal concerns.
The Democracy sequence examines democracy as it has been practiced around the world since its emergence over two and a half millennia ago. It considers democracy to be not only a particular kind of regime and politics organized around the principle of self-government, but also a kind of social order ostensibly defined by the operation of power among independent equals (sometimes conceptualized as the balance between liberty and equality). Rather than presume self-government and equal liberty to be universal ideals or accomplished realities, this sequence explores how their categorical assertion amid often drastic imbalances of social and political power has produced unequal outcomes and other unintended consequences. To grapple with the analytical challenge posed by democracy requires blending multiple modes of analysis—historical, comparative, institutional, social, political, cultural, conceptual, textual—to bring empirical evidence and theoretical frameworks into mutually reinforcing focus. In addition to the critical reading and analysis of texts traditional to general education at the University of Chicago, the Democracy sequence guides students in the fundaments of independent inquiry through assignments requiring library research and supporting intellectual habits that are essential to social-scientific inquiry and democratic citizenship.
This sequence uses the American historical experience, set within the context of Western civilization to (1) introduce students to the principles of historical thought, (2) probe the ways political and social theory emerge within specific historical contexts, and (3) explore some of the major issues and trends in American historical development. This sequence is not a general survey of American history. Autumn quarter examines the basic order of early colonial society; the social, political, and intellectual forces for a rethinking of that order; and the experiences of the Revolution and of making a new polity. Winter focuses on the impact of economic individualism on the discourse on democracy and community; on pressures to expand the definition of nationhood to include racial minorities, immigrants, and women; on the crisis over slavery and sectionalism; and on class tensions and the polity. Spring quarter focuses on the definitions of Americanism and social order in a multicultural society; Taylorism and social engineering; culture in the shadow of war; the politics of race, ethnicity, and gender; and the rise of new social movements.
African Civilization introduces students to African history in a three-quarter sequence. Taking these courses in sequence is recommended but not required; this sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. Part one considers literary, oral, and archeological sources to investigate African societies and states from the early Iron Age through the emergence of the Atlantic World. Part two examines the transformations of African societies in the long nineteenth century. At the beginning of the era, European economic and political presence was mainly coastal, but by the end, nearly the entire continent was colonized. Part three uses anthropological perspectives to investigate colonial and postcolonial encounters in sub-Saharan Africa, with a particular focus on Southern Africa.
European Civilization is a two-quarter sequence designed to use close readings of primary sources to enrich our understanding of Europeans of the past. As we examine the variety of their experiences, we will often call into question what we mean in the first place by “Europe” and “civilization.” Rather than providing a narrative of high politics, the sequence will emphasize the contested geographic, religious, social, and racial boundaries that have defined and redefined Europe and its people over the centuries. We will read and discuss sources covering the period from the early Middle Ages to the present, from a variety of genres: saga, biography, personal letters, property records, political treatises, memoirs, and government documents, to name only a few. Individual instructors may choose different sources and highlight different aspects of European civilization, but some of the most important readings will be the same in all sections. The two-quarter sequence may also be supplemented by a third quarter, in which students will have the opportunity to explore in greater depth a particular topic in the history of European civilization. Topics in this third quarter of the sequence may include women in European history, religion and society, Church and State, the Enlightenment, the transformation of the Roman World, or other focused topics on cultural, economic, social, political, or religious aspects of European history.
This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. This three-quarter sequence approaches the concept of civilization from an emphasis on cross-cultural/societal connection and exchange. We explore the dynamics of conquest, slavery, colonialism, and their reciprocal relationships with concepts such as resistance, freedom, and independence, with an eye toward understanding their interlocking role in the making of the modern world. Themes of slavery, colonization, and the making of the Atlantic world are covered in the first quarter. Modern European and Japanese colonialism in Asia and the Pacific is the theme of the second quarter. The third quarter considers the processes and consequences of decolonization both in the newly independent nations and the former colonial powers.
This two-quarter sequence aims to expand students’ exposure to an array of texts—theoretical, historical, religious, literary, visual—that address the fundamental place of gender and sexuality in the social, political, and cultural creations of different civilizations. This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. The first quarter offers a historical examination of bodies, sex, and gender. Through a series of readings that include historical primary sources and examples of cultural production from antiquity to the present, we will investigate how bodies across a variety of cultures become sexed and gendered. In particular, we will ask how the very categories of sex and gender not only produce social meaning from bodies and their anatomical differences but may also be complicit in acts violence, oppression, and colonization. Thematically we will pay attention to the emergence and critique of the distinction between sex and gender; resistances to the gender binary; the relationship between gender, power, and authority; feminism and critiques of Western feminism; the category of woman as an object of scientific knowledge; and the flourishing of and violence against trans life. Finally, while we will be dealing with historical accounts in this course, the aim is to understand how the regulation of bodies in the past has informed and may challenge our understanding of the diversity of embodied experience in the present. The second half of the civ sequence will extend our earlier interrogation of bodies, sex, and gender into an examination of sexualities and socialities. Through an encounter with theoretical texts, literature, and art, we will investigate a series of important critiques of biopower, or statist strategies for regulating bodies and controlling populations. These interventions include critiques of nationalism, colonialism, capitalism, and heteronormativity, all of which, as we will see, contribute to our understanding of sexuality. Throughout the course, feminist and queer critique will fundamentally frame our analyses of power, desire, and sexuality.
This two-quarter sequence explores how human rights have been constructed across transnational, imperial, national, and local spaces in a variety of civilizational vernaculars while exposing students to their contested genealogies, limits, and silences. The sequence is primary source driven and discussion based, with readings drawn from a range of texts from the political and the legal to the literary, aural, and visual. The first quarter begins with a set of conceptual problems and optics designed to introduce students to the critical study of human rights, opening up questions of the universal, human dignity, and the political along with the practices of witness and testimony. It is followed by two thematic clusters. "Anti-Slavery, Humanitarianism, and Rights" focuses on the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to historicize notions of dignity, sympathy, and witness. "Declarations as a Human Rights Genre" examines revolutionary eighteenth-century rights declarations in France, the United States, and Haiti against the aspirations of the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Four thematic clusters structure the second quarter. "Migration, Minorities, and Refugees" examines minority rights, the evolution of legal norms around refugees, and human trafficking. "Late Twentieth Century Human Rights Talk" explores the contestations between rights claims in the political-civil and socio-economic spheres, calls for sexual rights, and cultural representations of human rights abuses. "Global Justice" considers forms of international criminal law, transitional justice, and distributive justice. "Indigenous Rights as Human Rights" takes up the relatively new domain of the rights of indigenous peoples and how they relate to contemporary human rights practice.
Available as a three-quarter sequence (Autumn-Winter-Spring) or as a two-quarter sequence (Autumn-Winter or Winter-Spring). This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. This sequence surveys the social, economic, and political history of Greece ot the death of Alexander the Great (323 BC), the Roman Republic (509 to 27 BC), and the late antiquity (27 BC to the fifth century AD). The first quarter surveys the social, economic, and political history of Greece from prehistory to the Hellenistic period. The main topics considered include the development of the institutions of the Greek city-state, the Persian Wars and the rivalry of Athens and Sparta, the social and economic consequences of the Peloponnesian War, and the eclipse and defeat of the city-states by the Macedonians. The second quarter surveys the social, economic, and political history of Rome, from its prehistoric beginnings in the twelfth century BCE to the end of the Severan dynasty in 235 CE. Throughout, the focus is upon the dynamism and adaptability of Roman society, as it moved from a monarchy to a republic to an empire, and the implications of these political changes for structures of competition and cooperation within the community. The third quarter surveys the five centuries between the establishment of imperial autocracy in 27 BCE and the fall of the Western empire in the fifth century CE.
Jewish Civilization is a three-quarter sequence that explores the development of Jewish culture and tradition from its ancient beginnings through its rabbinic and medieval transformations to its modern manifestations. Through investigation of primary texts—biblical, Talmudic, philosophical, mystical, historical, documentary, and literary—students will acquire a broad overview of Jews, Judaism, and Jewishness while reflecting in greater depth on major themes, ideas, and events in Jewish history. The Autumn course will deal with antiquity to the medieval period; the Winter course will begin with the early modern period and continue to the present. The Spring course will vary with a special topic.
This three-quarter sequence introduces the history and cultures of Latin America (e.g., Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean Islands). Autumn Quarter examines the origins of civilizations in Latin America with a focus on the political, social, and cultural features of the major pre-Columbian civilizations of the Maya, Inca, and Aztec. The quarter concludes with an analysis of the Spanish and Portuguese conquest, and the construction of colonial societies in Latin America. Winter Quarter addresses the evolution of colonial societies, the wars of independence, and the emergence of Latin American nation-states in the changing international context of the nineteenth century. Spring Quarter focuses on the twentieth century, with special emphasis on the challenges of economic, political, and social development in the region.
This sequence introduces core themes in the formation of culture and society in South Asia from the early modern period until the present. This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. These courses must be taken in sequence.
This three-quarter sequence, which meets the general education requirement in civilization studies, provides an interdisciplinary introduction to Russian civilization. The first quarter covers the ninth century to the 1870s; the second quarter continues on through the post-Soviet period. Working closely with a variety of primary sources-from oral legends to film and music, from political treatises to literary masterpieces-we will track the evolution of Russian civilization over the centuries and through radically different political regimes. The second quarter continues on through the post-Soviet period. Working closely with a variety of primary sources-from oral legends to film and music, from political treatises to literary masterpieces-we will track the evolution of Russian civilization over the centuries and through radically different political regimes. When taken following Introduction to Russian Civilization I and II, Introduction to Russian Civilization III meets the general education requirement in Humanities, Civilization Studies, and the Arts. The course is thematic and will vary from year to year. Spring 23 theme: There are few problems as enduring and central to Russian history as the question of the West-Russia's most passionate romance and most bitter letdown. In this course we will read and think about Russia from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries through the lens of this obsession.
This course examines the politics, society, and culture of East Asia from ancient times until c. 1600. Our focus will be on examining key historical moments and intellectual, social, and cultural trends with an emphasis on the region as a whole. Students will read and discuss culturally significant texts and be introduced to various approaches to analyzing them.
This two-quarter course sequence explores the historical roots of climate change and other global environmental problems by focusing on the social use of energy over time. Part I covers energy systems across the world from prehistory to the end of the nineteenth century. Part II investigates global energy systems from the early twentieth century to the present. The courses should be taken in chronological sequence. Taken together, they fulfill the general education requirement in civilization studies.
These courses focus on the origins and development of science in the West. They aim to trace the evolution of the biological, psychological, natural, and mathematical sciences as they emerge from the culture and social matrix of their periods and, in turn, affect culture and social. In order to satisfy the general education requirement in civilization studies, students must take a course in two or three of the following chronological periods: ancient (numbered HIPS 18300), early modern (HIPS 18400–18403), and modern (HIPS 18500–18503). Taking these courses in sequence is recommended but not required. Only one course per category may count toward the requirement unless special approval is granted.