*Update: This class has been moved from Tuesday evenings to Thursday evenings. The class will begin on Thursday, August 29.
History is the database from which we learn what human beings have done in the past and are able and likely to do at present and in the future. Understanding the past is a portal to the present and our individual and collective futures. This course explores the history, politics, and recent literature on the formation of nations and the development of nationalism.
Theories of the nation have moved from ideas of their essential, primordial quality through a moment of social construction featuring the processes of modernization to a more cultural, discursive approach emphasizing the role of imagination and invention. These theoretical advances have been developed primarily by historians and literary analysts, but in recent years social science thinking on nationalism has borrowed freely, often critically, from the emerging literature. We will both develop a narrative of the emergence of nations and explore some of the ways in which social science has employed and developed the body of theory on nationalism, looking at paradigms taken from international relations, identity theory, anthropology, and various psychological theories.