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The History of 2021

How can we understand the events, ideas, and conflicts that have featured in the news cycle during the past year? “The History of 2021” offers historically informed reflections on this year’s momentous events, providing an opportunity to understand our world in its historic context. Each week will feature a different History faculty member speaking on a major news topic of the year, showing what we can learn by approaching it from a historical perspective. The course is open to all students (newcomers and history veterans alike) who want to reflect on the challenges and opportunities of 2021, and who are curious to consider how studying history can offer a deeper and richer understanding of tumultuous times.

See HISTORY 21 on ExploreCourses

Course Coordinator:

Professor Fiona Griffiths


  • 1 unit, Credit/No Credit
  • One lecture every week
  • Attendance required
  • Short readings may be posted in conjunction with some lectures
  • Tuesdays, 9:45-10:45 AM
  • Bishop Auditorium

Speakers and Topics:

Sept 21

Kathryn Olivarius

"Public Health as Public Wealth: Yellow Fever, Covid-19, and the Politics of Immunity"

Sept. 28

Tom Mullaney

"China's Border Crises: Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Legacies of Empire"

Oct. 5

Robert Crews

"The Year the Afghan War Ended?"

Oct 12

Jonathan Gienapp

"Electing the U.S. President: The Electoral College"

October 19

Amir Weiner and Nancy Kollmann

"Russia's Love Affair with Authoritarianism: From Ivan the Terrible to Putin"

October 26

Parth Shil

"Laboring Lives and the Pandemic in South Asia, c. 2020-21"

Nov 2

No Class

Nov 9

Gordon Chang

"Anti-Asian Violence in America"

Nov 16

Paula Findlen

"The Plague Generation: Love, Death, Healing and Friendship in a Time of Pandemic"

Nov 23

No Class

Nov. 30

Jim Campbell

"Monumental Questions: Race, Memory and Monument in Modern America"