Courses: Summer 2021

To apply for the Pace–Gilder Lehrman MA in American History Program, click the “To Apply” menu option.


The Summer 2021 semester begins May 27, 2021 and ends August 18, 2021. Registration is open now until June 2, 2021. 

Finalized syllabi and book lists are available below for Summer 2021 courses. Contact onlinecourses@gilderlehrman.org for more information.

Click here for the Summer 2021 book list


Legacies of the Age of Revolutions

with Nora Slonimsky, Gardiner Assistant Professor of History, Iona College

As we approach the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution, there are timeless as well as new questions about its legacy. Situating the struggle for American independence amidst the broader transformations of the Age of Revolutions, this course explores the meanings and scope of revolution, both in the long eighteenth century and in contested memories today. By considering how contact and imperial expansion in North America set the stage for global conflict over sovereignty and freedom, we will study how complex interactions between Indigenous people, enslaved people, and settler colonialists fermented equally complex views and ideologies surrounding revolution. This process was not limited solely to British North America, but in the Haitian and French revolutions as well. We will explore how the American Revolution was remembered by subsequent generations: as a singular event or a cluster of ideologies and protests, and in comparison with other late eighteenth-century movements. We will especially consider whose voices surrounding revolution are celebrated, criticized, or left out all together. Drawing on public and digital history resources as well as archival studies, the course will focus on how the study of the Age of Revolutions speaks to contemporary understandings.

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Registration information: CRNs: Lecture Section: 40640, Lab (Discussion) Sections: 40641, 40642, 40643, 40644


The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass (Six-week Compressed Course, May 27–July 7, 2021)

with David Blight, Sterling Professor of History, of African American Studies, and of American Studies, Yale University

These twelve lectures, the readings, and the discussions probe the nature of the life, the work, and the thought of the nineteenth-century abolitionist, orator, and author Frederick Douglass. We examine in depth the public and private sides of Douglass’s life, and his importance as a thinker and as a political activist in the great dramas of the Civil War and Reconstruction eras.

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Registration information: CRNs: Lecture Section: 40658, Lab (Discussion) Sections: 40659, 40660, 40661, 40662, 40663, 40664


Black Women’s History (Six-week Compressed Course, July 8–August 18, 2021)

with Kellie Carter Jackson, Knafel Assistant Professor of Humanities and Assistant Professor of Africana Studies, Wellesley College

This course focuses on African American women’s history in the United States with certain aspects of Black women’s activism and leadership covered within the African Diaspora. We will examine the ways in which these women engaged in local, national, and international freedom struggles while simultaneously defining their identities as wives, mothers, leaders, citizens, and workers. The course will pay special attention to the diversity of Black women’s experiences and to the dominant images of Black women in America from Mumbet (the first enslaved Black woman to sue for her freedom and win) to contemporary issues of race, sex, and class in the Age of (Michelle) Obama. Participants will explore such questions as: What is Black women’s history? How does Black women’s history add to our understanding of American history? Where should Black women’s history go from here?

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Registration information: CRNs: Lecture Section: 50290, Lab (Discussion) Sections: 50291, 50292, 50293, 50294


The History of American Protest

with John Stauffer, Sumner R. and Marshall S. Kates Professor of English and of African and African American Studies, Harvard University

This interdisciplinary course examines the rich tradition of “protest literature” in the United States from the American Revolution to the present. The primary focus is on three enduring strands of protest: civil rights (beginning with antislavery); women’s rights; and workers’ rights. Using a broad definition of protest literature, we pay particular attention to the cultural production and consumption of dissent as a powerful “voice” of both individuals and movements. We examine a wide range of print, visual, and oral forms of dissent, and we explore how various expressions of dissent function as political, ideological, rhetorical, aesthetic, and performative texts within specific contexts. Readings are mostly primary sources, ranging from pamphlets, speeches, essays, and poetry to photographs, music, sociology, and history. 

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Registration information: CRNs: Lecture Section: 40630, Lab (Discussion) Sections: 40631, 40632, 40633, 40634, 40635


Conflict and Reform: The United States, 1877–1920

with Michael Kazin, Professor of History, Georgetown University

This course is about the history of the United States during a period of great social change and conflict. Over these four decades, the US became a predominately urban and industrial nation, a nation of immigrants and wage-earners, an imperial nation, and a nation where progressive reform was the order of the day—though its definition and aims were furiously contested. We will seek to understand how and why these tumultuous changes occurred—and who gained and who lost in the process.

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Registration information: CRNs: Lecture Section: 40649, Lab (Discussion) Sections: 40650, 40651, 40652, 40653, 40654, 40655


The Great Depression and New Deal

with Eric Rauchway, Distinguished Professor of History, University of California, Davis

Professor Eric Rauchway considers causes and consequences of the economic slump of 1929–1933 with the economic recovery of 1933–1941 under the New Deal. The course will examine the scope and effects of the Depression, considering particularly how it placed democratic institutions in peril and contributed to the rise of fascist movements. We will then consider the New Deal not only as a program for restoring economic prosperity but more importantly as an effort to reinvigorate democratic institutions, concluding with an investigation of the transition from the New Deal into mobilization for the Second World War. Lectures and reading will focus on the political, social, and economic history of the United States in this period and especially on the policies of the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt during his first two terms in office.

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Registration information: CRNs: Lecture Section: 40690, Lab (Discussion) Sections: 40691, 40692, 40693, 40694, 40695, 40696


Historiography and Historical Methods

with Andrew Robertson, Professor of History, Lehman College and CUNY Graduate Center

Historiography is the study of historical writing. Students enrolled in this course will journey through American history guided by Professor Andrew Robertson and seven other professors (Zara Anishanslin, University of Delaware; Ned Blackhawk, Yale University; Kristopher Burrell, Hostos Community College; Sarah King, SUNY Geneseo; Lauren Santangelo, Princeton University; Nora Slonimsky, Iona College and the Institute for Thomas Paine Studies; and Wendy Wall, Binghamton University). Students will read and discuss historical interpretations of the American past as they have changed over time in specific chronological periods: colonial/Revolutionary history, the early nineteenth century to Reconstruction, the Gilded Age to the Cold War, and the 1960s to the present. This course will also present lectures on the evolving historiographies of African American history, Native American history, and women’s history by scholars specializing in those fields. The historical methods portion of the course will teach students to interrogate primary sources and to read secondary sources with a critical eye.

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Registration information: CRNs: Lecture Section: 40452, Lab (Discussion) Sections: 40453, 40454, 40455, 40456, 40457


Thesis/Capstone Course

The Thesis/Capstone course will be offered every semester.

Registration information: CRNs: Lecture Section: 40458, Lab (Discussion) Sections: 40342, 40343, 40459, 40549, 40669


To apply for the Pace–Gilder Lehrman MA in American History Program, click the “To Apply” menu option.