Course Description

HH1001 What is History?
Dr. Tapsi Mathur / Lecture

A thematically structured critical introduction to the subject of history: its meanings, frameworks, interpretations, schools of thought, practitioners and its uses and abuses. The subject will analyze both the traditional and new methods of studying, analyzing and interpreting the past and its relationship to our present and the future. This exciting debate on the concepts, practices and critiques of history will be framed by in-depth analysis of selected case studies that provide further critical insights into the discipline and its relationship with other scholarly disciplines.

HH1002 Asia-Pacific in Global History: Pre-1800
Dr. Nicholas Witkowski / Lecture

In this course, students embark on a vicarious journey through time to revisit numerous events, historical personages, and civilizations and societies, for some of which only dilapidated architecture remains. This course begins its narrative with prehistory and investigates how the earliest complex societies developed in the Asia-Pacific regions, such as the Indus Valley and Yellow River region of China. The story spans several millennia from the earliest known appearance of human beings based on fossil remains through the development of societies in Asia and the Pacific up 1800 when different regions could be said to have become integrated into a global system. The course applies “archaeology of knowledge” (Foucault) approach to the study of Asia Pacific from prehistory to 1800; students begin their study from the most recent period and work their way back to the earliest. This survey course will reveal a dynamic world of encounter, cooperation, conflict, interaction, and war. Through 13 weeks of lecture, students can expect to inject themselves into historical events, be it the numerous wars and conflicts of the mainland Southeast Asian polities, the Mongols, and the Korean kingdoms, the political intrigues within the court of Ayudhya and Xi An, or the death and destruction caused by the plague throughout 14th-century Asia and Europe.

HH1003 Asia-Pacific in Global History: From 1800
Dr. Els Van Dongen / Lecture

This course examines major themes which inform the study of world history following the start of the 19th century, particularly in two related areas: trade and migration against the backdrop of colonialism, imperialism and nation-building. The study of global history from an Asia-Pacific perspective looks at the history of globalization which is not strictly defined in economic terms, but is informed by themes, such as migration, environment, imperialism, biological exchange, etc. Even though the year chosen is 1800, the foundation for changes which marked China and Asia’s entry into the global economic system was laid in the middle of the 18th century. In particular, one can point to the institution of the Canton system established by the Chinese government to facilitate foreign trade, but which had various unforeseen economic, social, and political repercussions. Through 13 weeks of lectures, students will not only examine various themes such as migration, diaspora, colonialism, nationalism, and trade which relate generally to global historical studies, but they will also participate in current debates pertaining to the issues of global economic crises and climate change.

HH1004 Science and Technology in Historical Perspective
Dr. Park Hyung Wook / Lecture

This course surveys major scientific and technological developments in various geographical and cultural contexts, including those of Asia, Europe and the United States. It examines the transformations in the study of astronomy, medicine and natural philosophy, and compares the approaches to knowledge and the cultural values attached to science and technology in different societies. In so doing, it places these developments in their cultural, social and political contexts. It also surveys the technological innovation since the industrial revolution and how it has increasingly become a powerful force in transforming the human conditions.

HH1006 The West in Global History
Dr. Lin Qi Feng / Lecture

This course takes students on a thematic journey through the history of the world since the 1500s. Though many scholars differ in their selection of dates used to mark major transformation in world history, this course chooses to use 1500 as a date of convenience, since most scholars refer to 1492 as the turning point during which the Old and New Worlds became connected. It also represents the point when the “West” took its first steps toward economic, political, and cultural domination of the world. Throughout the course of the semester, students will have to grapple with larger historical issues such as Eurocentrism and other forms of bias, tradition versus modernity, “progress” versus “decay”, and continuity versus change. Students have to determine whether the cause and effect paradigm is an adequate and comprehensive method for studying historical issues. Subjects of discussion such as the ones mentioned above are important in the field of history and other disciplines. These scholarly considerations aside, the course will present students with opportunities to engage with the past by presenting multiple perspectives on the motivation for and impact of major transformations in human intellect, philosophy, social practices, innovation, technology, and other areas.

HH1008 The Emergence of Modern Southeast Asia

This module challenges students to consider the viability of defining Southeast Asia as a "region". It introduces students to major themes in the emergence of Southeast Asian countries as modern nation-states during the 20th century. The approach is both comparative and based on case studies; it explores broad themes and trends for the region while examining specific case studies in detail. In addition, the students will also examine the differential impact which colonialism and nationalism had on different sectors of Southeast Asian societies.

HH1010 US History to 1865
Dr. Miles Powell / Seminar

Aimed at history students but also suitable for anyone with an interest in American history, this elective course will provide you with a general overview of American history from the pre-colonial period through the Civil War. This class will also introduce you to some of the key theoretical approaches and debates in the writing of US history. Upon completion of this course, you will have a better understanding of the historical development of America’s political, social, cultural, and economic systems. You will additionally be stronger writers and thinkers.

HH1011 US History since 1865
Dr. Miles Powell / Seminar

Aimed at history students but also suitable for anyone with an interest in American history, this elective course will provide you with a general overview of American history from the Reconstruction Era through the War on Terror. This class will also introduce you to some of the key theoretical approaches and debates in the writing of US history. Upon completion of this course, you will have a better understanding of the historical development of America’s political, social, cultural, and economic systems. You will additionally be stronger writers and thinkers.

HH2001 Singapore: The Making of a Cosmopolitan City-State
Dr. Koh Keng We / Seminar

This course focuses on the evolution of Singapore in the regional and global contexts since 1945. It will discuss various factors--institutional, cultural, socio-political and international—that have shaped the trajectory of Singapore over the past seven decades. The successful story of Singapore’s economic development will be understood within the domestic multi-ethnic mosaic and complex regional relationships. It is the interplay of these forces that underscores the emergence and challenges of a cosmopolitan global city-state with an emerging national identity.

HH2002 Gender in History
Dr. Jessica Hinchy / Seminar

This course analyses ideas about gender and sexuality in the modern world, as well as the experiences of modern men and women. This course helps rethink modern categorisations of gender and sexuality. It will deconstruct dual gender systems through analysing diverse gender roles and multiple genders in different parts of the world and will analyse how gender has intersected with various dimensions of modernity, including: class and domesticity; labour; imperialism and race; citizenship and nationalism; sexuality and the body; ideas about crime; and forms of popular culture and mass media. The course will help gain an understanding of how contemporary ideas about gender and sexuality are historically specific.

HH2004 The Islamicate World
Dr. Faizah Zakaria / Lecture

This course is an introduction to the history of the Islamic world from the time of the Prophet Muhammad to the present day. Throughout this course we will consider key historical events, individuals and concepts from diverse parts of the Islamic world. We will consider the continuities of principles and practices central to Islam, as well as the diversity of Islamic and Islamicate expression over time and space. Using a range of primary sources and key texts in ongoing scholarly debates, we will critically engage with a number of enduringly relevant themes.

HH2005 East Asia: Tradition and Modernity
Dr. Lisa Onaga / Lecture

Much of what we see in current day East Asia finds its roots in centuries past. This course introduces students to the history of modern East Asia through the main themes of tradition and transformation. Tracing from the 1500s to the present day, this course examines how China, Japan and Korea emerged as modern nation states. A thematic approach is combined with a chronological one, giving both the historical context of events but at the same time a wider appreciation of phenomena such as the rise of nationalism, modernisation, and the idea of reform versus revolution. This course encourages students to examine preconceptions of what is meant by "East Asia" both in a historical and present-day sense and also to recognise that scholarship of East Asian history has also evolved over time.

HH2006 Modern European History
Dr. Scott Anthony / Lecture

This course introduces students to key themes in the social, political, and cultural history of Europe from the French Revolution to the 21st century. We will ask how and why Europe came to dominate the world in the nineteenth century and why it lost that dominance in the twentieth. Why did Europe give birth both to models of democracy and social equality but also to dictatorship and terror? Why has Europe been such a laboratory for nationalism and does the emergence of the European Union signal the end of this epoch?

HH2007 Health and Illnesses in History
Dr. Park Hyung Wook / Seminar

This course aims to provide a macro-level analysis of the history of global health over the past two hundred years. It begins with colonial conceptions of health, and examines a series of global health efforts ranging from the therapeutic revolution, eradication campaigns, the primary health care movement, and aging and health. It will also discuss the changing roles of the state and international organisations in the evolution of global health efforts. Specific case studies on Europe, North America, and Asia will be used for comparative analyses of the above topics, which will enhance the understanding of the interplay between health, structure and environments.

HH2008 Feasting and Fasting: Food and Drink in History
Dr. Hallam Stevens / Seminar

This course is intended to whet students’ appetites for a new interdisciplinary field, which focuses on the histories of everyone’s favorite past-time: eating! The course will be structured thematically rather than chronologically, commencing with a focus on the economics of food purchasing, its preparation, the rituals and practices associated with its consumption, including the development of table manners and the use of various implements as well as the acts of eating or abstaining. Various religious and cultural dietary regulations and taboos will be examined next, before a series of case studies looking at the connections between food and world politics: such as colonialism and nationalism. The development of food consumption as a leisure and social activity will also be analysed, before the course concludes with a study of the gendered aspects of food history in an interdisciplinary perspective.

HH2009 China in Revolution and Reform
Wang Chengyi / Seminar

This course examines the history of China from the late Qing Dynasty (1900-1911), Republican China (1912-49) to the People’s Republic of China (1949-), with a focus on key transformations from revolution to reform and the country’s integration into globalization. The focus is on revolution and reform, the two main themes which competed and alternated throughout the past century, and this domestic transition is to be studied in a global and regional context. Other themes such as tradition, modernity, nationalism, industrialization, war and identity will be discussed in the course as well. Besides the lectures, the tutorials will guide students to attach more attention to origin and evolution of various thoughts and ideologies, and the causation and key figures behind these events. It will also examine how modern China has interacted with and has had an impact upon the outside world.

HH2011 Ancient and Medieval South Asia

This course provides an introduction to the historical development of South Asia, from the Harappan or Indus Valley civilisation to the coming of the British in the 18th Century. Students will also learn about the major historiographical debates and controversies that have driven research on South Asian history in the last thirty years and will consider the role that the present continues to play in mediating understandings of the past.

HH2015 Biopolitics and East Asian History
Dr. Michael Stanley-Baker / Lecture

This course offers a comparative study of issues related to the history of biology and the uses of biological knowledge in East Asia. Biomedical technologies, biosecurity, biodiversity, and biobanking number among various issues that increasingly pertain to biopolitics. Used to describe 17th century shifts in sovereign power, Foucault raised the term biopolitics, along with anatomo-politics, to describe how different levels of life became increasingly regulated, from species-centric populations to individual bodies, respectively. Issues that involve the biological occur in many different locations with different styles of governance, but analyses of biopolitics have tended to relate more to European history. Within the grain of Asian history, the study of issues that involve the biological requires a questioning of existing theoretical frameworks used to examine the politicisation of life. This course explores imperial, colonial, and national experiences in East Asia in order to examine how various societies, polities, and people have authored, approached, and interpreted knowledge about different levels of regenerative life. HH1001 highly recommended in preparation of this course.

HH2016 History of Animals
Dr. Lisa Onaga / Seminar

The study of history often centers upon humans and human interests, but over eight million species of other organisms also inhabit the earth. This course provides students with an opportunity to consider the inclusion of non-humans in the writing of history. This heavy reading and research course exposes students to how various historians and academics have written about animals. The issues covered in this course span examples from mythology to biological rarity, natural history and agriculture to scientific experimentation, to theoretical concepts about the use of animals in the humanities more generally. This demanding course allows students to think with animals to advance their studies through a historical lens

HH2017 History of Information Technology
Dr. Hallam Stevens / Lecture

The History of Information Technology surveys the history of computers and other information technologies from the 19th century to the present. Content will include 19th century ‘information technologies’ such as Babbage’s engines and the telegraph, the invention of the electronic computer, the emergence of networking, the rise of the personal computer, the growth of the World Wide Web, as well as recent trends in computing and information technology such as social networking and cloud computing.

HH2020 Science and War
Dr. Hallam Stevens / Seminar

This course provides an introduction to understanding the complex interplay between science, technology, and warfare. Focusing on the 20th century, it examines both the impact of science and technology on the conduct of warfare and the impact of war on the practice and knowledge of science and technology. In particular, the course will cover the use of chemical weapons in World War I, the development of radar and the atomic bomb during World War II, the development and spread of the hydrogen bomb during the cold war, and the development of new weapons to fight terrorism in the post-9/11 era.

HH2021 Race, Gender, Class and Colonial Power
Dr. Jessica Hinchy / Seminar

British colonialism had important impacts upon colonised societies, from “settler” colonies like Australia and Canada to “exploitation” colonies like Singapore, Malaya and India. Understanding colonialism is important to understanding the post-colonial world. This course aims to provide students with an understanding of different forms of colonial power by examining the ways that the British Empire was structured by race, gender and class. This course will also provide students with an understanding of settler and anti-imperialist nationalisms, which will add to their knowledge of contemporary nationalisms and nation-states.

HH2023 Reading in History of Health and Medicine
Dr. Park Hyung Wook / Seminar

This course offers a series of seminars on reading significant books, papers, and popular literature in field of medicine and public health in the past. By reading these publications, students will be able to develop their skill in interpreting and using primary historical resources. They will also be able to learn more about the ways to write a comprehensive historical paper based on their own analysis of available historical sources. By teaching these academic skills, this course aims at broadening their historical vision of the place of medicine and health in cultural contexts.

HH2024 History of the Malay World: Present identities, Past Histories

This course will cover the history of the Malay World and Malays and analyse the various ways these concepts have been studied. Students will have a nuanced understanding of the term “Malay” and the varied histories that make up the Malay World. Student will be able to identify key ideas and texts in the study of the Malay World from the 15th century to the present.

HH2025 The World of Southeast Asia to 1600
Dr. Goh Geok Yian / Lecture

This course examines the relationship between art, archaeology, and history in ancient Southeast Asia. This course spans the period from prehistory until 1600 which marks the approximate point when Southeast Asian polities and cultures began to change as a result of the forces of early colonialism. The course readings cover conventional themes in Southeast Asian ancient history. Topics include “Indianisation” (or Sanskritisation as some scholars prefer to term it) in connection with Hindu and Buddhist concepts of kingship, processes of urbanisation and state formation, networks of communications and trade, and their impact on the development of intellectual ideas, religious practices, art and architecture; and comparisons between the ideas of earlier Southeast Asian historians and new perspectives. This course will end with new data from the field by archaeologists and other scholars. There will also be discussions about whether the data support or refute established notions of the Southeast Asian past.

HH2026 Health, Food, and Sports in Modern Korean History
Dr. Park Hyung Wook / Seminar

To learn the cultural meaning of medicine, food, and sports in the evolution of South Korean state and society in the 19th and early 21st century. To critically understand the major Korean issues in medicine, food, and sports, including traditional medicine debate, birth control, the Hwang Scandal, the anti-US beef protest, the 2002 World Cup crowd, cord blood banking, and the globalisation of Korean food. 

HH2027 Blood, Germs, and Sick Bodies: Biomedicine in History

To learn the history of biomedicine, including its diverse social impacts and cultural implications on modern life. To be able to critically assess various contemporary issues in biomedicine from students’ own perspective. This course introduces a topical survey of the history of modern biomedicine: 1) Birth of the germ theory of disease. 2) Biomedicalisation of modern society and everyday life. 3) The rise of biopower as an agency in modern politics and culture. 4) Biomedicine in Asia.

HH2029 Black Box Society – Data, Algorithms, and Software

Historians of science and technology have now begun to pay closer attention not only to computer hardware, but also the software and algorithms that allow us to interact with machines. These algorithms now have a ubiquitous, but often invisible, presence in our lives. This module examines the history of software and algorithms as well as the present-day impact of data and algorithms on our day to day lives. Here we will use historical perspectives to understand the growth and developing influence of algorithms on modern society. Since algorithms and software are increasingly entangled with the usage of big data, we will also examine the rise of the “data phenomenon” in historical perspective. Since understanding data and algorithms requires some specialized technical knowledge, we will learn some basic programming and data analysis in this course.

HH2030 Ancient and Medieval Japan
Dr. Nicholas Witkowski / Lecture
This course is a social and intellectual history of pre-modern Japan, mapping both institutional shifts and the distinct cultures that emerged in the early Buddhist temple complexes of ancient Nara, in women's quarters of the Heian court of Kyoto, in the medieval capital of Kamakura, among the samurai of the Warring States Period and in the tea houses and pleasure districts of Edo (early Tokyo). The course will engage the Japanese experience from a wide range of thematic and cultural perspectives. Themes will include poltical and military cultures, the machinations of court intrigue, the brilliant and melancholy literary productions of aristocratic women, the rise of a Buddhist intelligentsia, and the emergence of the high arts that have come to define what we all know and love about Japanese culture today.

HH2031 History of Food in China
Dr. Michael Stanley-Baker / Seminar

In this course, you will study Chinese history from the perspective of food and food practices, You will learn and apply critical perspectives from which to analyse the social and ethnic importance and function of Chinese foodways. The course will progress chronologically from pre-Imperial China to modern times, highlighting different periods of transition. Each class is coupled with different theoretical and critical approaches, which will help you reflect not only on changes in Chinese foodways over time, but also different historiographic approaches suitable to different primary sources and topics. Classes will cover pre-imperial, imperial, early modern and modern periods, and themes such as agriculture, ecology, religion, medicine, recipe cultures, regional history, technology, migration and globalisation. Attention will also be given to regional cuisines including SE Asia. You will present food as foci of historical reflection, and will make multi-media presentations.

HH3001 Historiography: Theory and Methods
Dr. Jessica Hinchy / Seminar

What IS history? Who is to say? Can historians ever write “objective” histories? What is lost and gained in the process of turning the traces of a messy past into neatly woven narratives? Are historians unfairly imposing the questions of the present on the past? What is the role of the nation in history-writing today? Is the writing of history ultimately a power game that ensures the dominance of those who possess it? Why do particular books come to be considered ‘classics’? Why do certain types of history become influential at particular moments of time? How have historians questioned and critiqued the power dynamics of their discipline? In an age in which information is widely available, are we in a sense all historians or should the practice be left to those trained at universities and well-versed in the art of using footnotes? In the digital age, what is the value of the written document as a historical source? What can past approaches to the writing of history teach us about what it means to be a historian today?  

This course will provide answers to these and many other questions pertaining to the craft of the historian. Building on the basic skills acquired in HH1001: What is History, this course offers a more advanced introduction to the theories and methodologies underpinning the historical discipline. We will discuss issues of class, race, gender, colonialism, knowledge creation, and globalization in relation to 20th century historiography. Each week we will explore a different approach to history, such as: the Annales ‘school,’ Marxism, social history, post-structuralism, gender history, post-colonialism, oral history and transnational history, among others. For each historical approach, we will look at one or two important or illustrative historical works and contextualize their contribution to wider historical and theoretical debates through reading relevant secondary sources. 

HH3002 Science, Technology and Medicine in Modern East Asia
Dr. Michael Stanley-Baker / Lecture

This course will introduce the evolution of science, technology and medicine in East Asia (STMEA) and its relationship with the making of modern nation-state from the late 19th century to the present. The course will cover central questions in this evolution, such as the changing approaches to STMEA, the formation of modern scientific knowledge in the East Asian context, the intimate and complex relationship between science, democracy, and modernity, the role of science and technology in Japanese empire building, public health and population policy, and encounters between the West and East in the transfer of scientific knowledge, etc. This course will also study recent developments in STMEA including China’s Space Programme and SAR epidemics. The course concludes with an analysis of the domestic and international politics of STMEA and a discussion on science fiction in China and Japan.

HH3003 Migration and Diaspora: Chinese Experiences in Comparative Perspective
Dr. Els Van Dongen / Seminar

"Diaspora" has become a buzzword in the last decades-with scholars referring to the proliferation of the term as a "diaspora diaspora" - but what do we mean when we talk about "diaspora"? Is there such a thing as a "Chinese diaspora"? And why do some use terms such as "overseas Chinese" and "Chinese overseas" instead? In this course, we will critically engage with different research paradigms to study the movement of Chinese to Southeast Asia, the Americas and Europe. We will first outline the broader historical patterns of migration, focusing on traders in Southeast Asia, mass migration since the mid-nineteenth century, migration after 1945, and the rise of the "new migrants" after 1978. Following this, we will look at distinct migration patterns in more details: why and when did Chinese migrate to Southeast Asia, the America, and Europe? Apart from local and global factors, what policies existed in host societies (and in China) and how did this affect the formation of Chinese communities? This brings us to the third area of concern, namely the organizational aspects of the Chinese communities: what were the principles behind community organizations? How did they materialize in different contexts? And how did they change over time? Finally, we will look into questions of identity and representation through media such as film, TV series, and literature. Throughout the course, we will engage with various types of primary sources, such as cartoons, photographs, novels, films, magazines and historical artefacts.

HH3004 Comparative Business History
Dr. Koh Keng We / Seminar

The objective of this course is to provide students with an introduction to business history and historiography. Students will undertake a comparative study of international business. In addition they will develop an awareness of the changing nature of business over time. Students will become familiar with the ‘tools’ used by business historians in the course of research. They will also become familiar with some of the key scholarlship and current debates in this field. This course will develop student’s appreciation of history and the field of business history, it will help them to develop research and critical writing skills as students of history.   

HH3006 US Foreign Relations History
Dr. Ngoei Wen-Qing / Lecture

The course begins with a general introduction to the competing “origin myths” of American history, which appear to be complementary, but on further investigation reveal an image of the US as a relatively recent political formation. The course covers a historical timeframe from the 17th through the 21st centuries. The arrival of the Mayflower at Plymouth (Plimouth) in November 1620 marks the beginning of this course’s coverage of American history; the signing of the Mayflower compact marked the establishment of self-determining government in northeast America. The European view of “America” clearly began to differ from those of the pilgrims and other settlers, and it culminated in the American revolution of 1776 which established a new geopolitical entity, though there was still no unified concept of the United States of America. The formation of the US was to continue to develop over the next century. The second part of the course emphasizes the empire-building aspects of the US’s history and its role in the modern era. Over a few lectures, American empire building programmes will be compared and changes in US strategies and perceptions of their role as an emerging political and military superpower discussed. Also covered in this course are the socio-economic transformations which were taking place within the US during its rise to prominence in the international arena. Rapid industrialisation and the formation and flourishing of cities should be observed and examined in tandem with US development into a global superpower. The impact of US imperialism is not restricted to the political, economic, and military spheres, but also extends to the cultural sphere. Among countries most affected by the American way of life are Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines (former US colony). The last lecture will bring the subject to the 21st century and explores the US role in the future.

HH3007 Southeast Asian-China Interactions
Dr. Koh Keng We / Seminar

This course’s main objective is to provide a comprehensive view of the dynamic and long history of interaction between Southeast Asia and China from pre-modern to modern times. Sources examined comprise Chinese texts, indigenous writings including non-contemporary works which discuss the early historical connections of the Southeast Asian kingdoms with China, and, most importantly, archaeological data in the form of Chinese artifacts found on both land sites and shipwrecks. The early stage of Chinese relations with Southeast Asian kingdoms will be illuminated mainly with information from Chinese annals from the Han through the early Song periods, after which archaeological evidence becomes more readily available. Of particular interest to the students will be the recognition that archaeological sites contribute much information not recorded in written sources, demonstrating the usefulness of archaeological data in the discussion of early Southeast Asian relations with China. Students will also get to work with genuine artifacts. They will learn how objects such as Chinese ceramics and coins can be used not only to refine the understanding of Southeast Asia’s trade relations with China, but also to explicate certain questions regarding the material culture of early Southeast Asian societies.

HH3008 Modern South Asia
Dr. Jessica Hinchy / Seminar

India is rapidly emerging as an economic powerhouse and a global power. However, to understand India’s rise, students need a clear grasp of the complex historical trajectory of the modern history of South Asia and the persistent impact of the past on the present. This course is also important because social and political developments in South Asia were fundamental in influencing the political and intellectual developments, particularly nationalism, in much of Asia.

HH3009 Comparative History of Global Migrations
Dr. Koh Keng We / Seminar

This course shall examine the global history of migration from a comparative perspective.  It shall explore major approaches to the study of migration, and provide a survey of different types of migration in the longue dureé.  It shall compare different diasporas and examine changing institutional and structural contexts governing migration, especially with the rise of the modern nation-state and the international state system.  It shall examine different states and regions, and examine the impact of migration on society, politics, and the economies in different parts of the world.

HH3010 Biotechnology and Society
Dr. Hallam Stevens / Lecture

This course will introduce students to selected research and commercial applications of modern biotechnology in order to discuss the broader social, ethical, risk, and regulatory issues that arise from them. A range of topics will be covered in this course, including genetic engineering, cloning, stem cell research, xenotransplantation, the production of pharmaceuticals, the human genome project, genetic testing, assisted reproductive technologies, and synthetic biology. Students will consider debates that have taken place in the wider community about ownership, commercialisation, identity, governance, animal welfare, human well-being, and expertise in relation to these applications of modern biotechnology. 

HH3012 The United States and the Vietnam Wars 
Dr. Ngoei Wen-Qing / Seminar

This course examines the origins of the conflict in Indochina, the American involvement in the war, the nature and course of the military operations, strains in U.S. civil-military relations, the social upheavals in the United States, reactions and diplomatic moves among states in Southeast Asia, the impact of the war on Vietnamese society, the withdrawal and peace negotiations, and the lessons and legacies of the war on contemporary affairs.

HH3013 Comparative History of Race Science 
Dr. Lisa Onaga / Seminar

Advanced students will interrogate the interactions between science and race. The course is presented in three parts that will provide a theoretical and contextual foundation for the study of a topic that spans across diverse geographic locations, periods, and scientific and technological developments. The first four weeks are organized around the question of “how do we know what we see or experience is what we encounter?” in the context of colonial events. The following five weeks examine issues of measurement, classification, and progress surrounding the construction of race in the 18th and 19th centuries. The final four weeks of this course examine more specific topics, such as gender, medical and technological interventions, and nationhood. At least one other history course highly recommended in preparation of this course.

HH3016 History of Madness

This course surveys themes and theories related to madness and “psy” disciplines in various cultural contexts including continental Europe, Britain, colonies and different nation states. It introduces how madness was explained, treated and managed across different social and historical contexts. Through this course, students will learn the socio-historical, cultural and economic factors that determine our understanding of “madness” in the history and contemporary society.

HH3017 World Environmental History
Dr. Lin Qi Feng / Seminar

In this course, students will encounter the field of world environmental history through a variety of theoretical and methodological frameworks. It will begin by examining “Big History,” which contextualises the human past within broader biological, geological, and even astronomical processes. It will then contemplate how the exchange of pathogens has connected human populations and shaped world history through plagues and epidemics. The course will also examine the role of the environment in European colonisation of America and Australasia, a theme environmental historians have dubbed “Ecological Imperialism.” It will subsequently draw on world systems analysis and dependency theory to explore how the spread of capitalism has transformed societies and environments the world over with concluding discussion of the theories of space and place that underlie our understandings of the globe and its human history.

HH3018 The Environmental History of Oceans
Dr. Miles Powell / Seminar

In this course, students will explore the innovative field of marine environmental history. Students will discover that, although oceans appear pristine and timeless, human societies have been modifying marine environments for centuries. In turn, these modified environments have shaped the course of human history. Students will examine how numerous societies around the world and through time have developed relationships with the sea, some of them sustainable and some of them not. Students will also learn about the complex systems of international cooperation that have emerged to facilitate the conservation of mobile marine species. Finally, students will learn how perceptions of oceans and ocean creatures have changed in response to cultural and scientific developments.

HH3019 History of the Body
Dr. Park Hyung Wook / Seminar

The course will study the cultural, intellectual, and social history of the body from antiquity to the twenty-first century. It is structured to build historical perspectives, to think and write about the modern problems of the body and to analyse the problems of the body with regard to sexuality, punishment, healthcare, sports, and techno-scientific transformations.

HH3020 Introduction to Korean History
Dr. Park Hyung Wook / Seminar

This is an introductory seminar course in the history of Korea, focusing on its modern history. Students will be able to understand the major issues in the creation of the Korean nation, the national identity, the growth of its unique social and political structure, and the technological, industrial, and scientific growth in the modern period. The primary subjects in the seminar include premodern development of the Korean nation and culture, the modernisation in the late Chosŏn dynasty, the Japanese colonial era, the liberation after World War II, the Korean War and the division of the country, and the period after the mid-twentieth century when Koreans experienced the shock of their rapid industrialisation and urbanisation. Students will learn the dynamics of the Korean history which placed the country in the changing global landscape in the modern world.

HH3022 World War II and Southeast Asia
Dr. Zhou Taomo / Seminar

This course takes a country-by-country approach to studying the World War II in Southeast Asia.Students will have a thorough understanding of the events that led up to World War II coming to Southeast Asia, the idea of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere endorsed by Japan and the social and political dynamics of the Japanese Occupation. Students will also be able to critically assess the ways in which the Japanese Occupation impacted on Southeast Asian nations. 

HH3023 Burma/Myanmar: A History
Dr. Goh Geok Yian / Seminar

The course will provide a comprehensive history of Burma/Myanmar from prehistoric times to the 21st century, ending with a discussion involving both instructor and students on the possible future directors Burma/Myanmar may take in the future. Over 12 weeks and 11 topics, students will examine accounts of Burma/Myanmar's development over a period of more than 2,000 years. Burma/Myanmar occupies an important geographical subregion, which is not only rich in minerals and other resources but forms a crucial interaction zones between the two other centers of complex societies: Indian and China. The account of Burma/Myanmar history does not examine only the development of polity, but the development of an important geospatial entity within the context of interregional and global linkages.

HH3024 Decolonisation and Democracy: Britain since 1945
Dr. Scott Anthony / Seminar

This course examines the culture, society and politics of Britain after 1945. In a broad sense it explores the political, economic and intellectual consequences of imperial decline. It analyses the ways in which national life both joyfully and painfully adapted to a new world order, and the ways in which new forms of social expression in Britain variously rubbed against, reached an accommodation with, and sometimes enhanced, much older and more far-reaching ambitions to wield influence on an international stage. 

HH3025 The Cultural, Social and Economic History of Football
Dr. Scott Anthony / Seminar

This course will explore the connections between football - particularly its most "globalised" forms - and global political, economic and cultural power relations. The course combines thematic analysis and national case studies that invite connections across boundaries of time and space. It explores the game's relationship with issues ranging from economic, social, and political change as well as issues of religion, migration, gender and technology. 

HH3027 A History of Modern Indonesia
Dr. Zhou Taomo / Lecture

This course will examine the historical forces that shaped a collection of islands spread across the equator named by the Dutch colonizers as "the Netherlands East Indies" into the world’s largest Muslim majority democracy today.

HH3028 Global History of Capitalism
Dr. Zho​u Taomo / Seminar

This module examines the long history of capitalism from a global perspective. Beginning with the rise of capitalism in the West, the module tracks the development of capitalism, its spread throughout the world, and the challenges it has faced. The module also introduces the major themes and debates in the new field of the history of capitalism.

HH3030 The Apocalypse in Western History

This course aims to help you understand how and why the prospect of total physical and/or spiritual destruction and rebirth has remained a recurrent preoccupation in Western culture. It will expand your knowledge of Western cultural and religious history as well as provide practice in the analysis of historical sources, historiography, as well as in written and oral expression. This course offers you opportunities to analyse historical sources and historiography, which will strengthen your abilities in the field of History. It will broaden your knowledge of American history and cultural history, and cultivate interdisciplinarity by bringing together the historical study of society with the analysis of literary texts, artworks, films, and other cultural artifacts.

HH3031 The United States and the Modern Middle East
Dr. Ngoei Wen-Qing / Seminar

This course explores major events and developments in the United States' interventions in the MIddle East and Muslim world since 1945.

You will learn to critique US involvment in the Middle East and Muslim World, particiularly how this involvment has been shaped by seminal events such as the European powers' neo-colonial projects in the post-1945 period, the rise of Arab nationalism and Islamic radicalism, US-Soviet competition for influence in the Middle East and adjacent Muslim-dominated states (such as Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan), the American alliance with the state of Israel, and US predominance in global affairs after the Cold War. 

HH3032 Science and Religion in History
Dr. Park Hyung Wook / Seminar

Many people, including historians of science in earlier ages, believed that science and religion are contraries. Science is often considered the paradigm of humans' rational thoughts that fight against all kind of ignorance, bigotry, and superstition, which may include religious thoughts and practices. However, many historians of science after the late twentieth century have found that the relationship between science and religion is far more complex. In some cases, religions do hamper and suppress some scientists' claims and acitivities, but religions can also be a positive factor in the construction of scientific ideas and worldviews, inculding those for the rise of modern science. This course aims at your deeper understanding of this complexity in a historical depth. 

HH3033 Buddhism: A Social and Intellectual History
Dr. Nicholas Witkowski / Seminar
Is Buddhism a philosophy? Is it a religion? Is it a set of rituals? This course will give you the tools to evaluate these and other questions you have about Buddhism. This course will cover Buddhist social and intellectual history, beginning with the emergence of the cult of the Buddha and the earliest monasteries in South Asia, then discuss medieval transitions in East and South East Asia, and end with a set of discussions on how to think about modern, post-modern and global Buddhisms. The course will engage the Buddhist expereince from a wide range of thematic cultural perspectives. Themes will include Buddhism and the family, the experience of meditation, death ritual, Buddhism and war, the body as an object of desire and repulsion, Buddhist medicine, and the structure of monastic life. Cultural contexts will include India, China, Japan, Cambodia, and Thailand, among others.

HH3034 Ascestism: The Discipline of Desire
Dr. Nicholas Witkowski / Seminar

Asceticism is an intense negotiation of the self with its desires, usually taking the form of the attempt to repress or curtail sexual desire. Asceticism is often misunderstood as a radical response to the problem of obsessive desire. Excessive attachments to sex, food, and money are among the most common of these concerns—today we refer to these as addictions—both in the contemporary world and to those living in a pre-modern context. In this course, we will discuss the experiences of ascetic figures throughout history not as relics of history but as intelligible responses to the problem of obsessive desire common to all ages. We will examine case studies of ascetic practices from ancient and modern India, Southeast Asia, medieval China and Japan, and the ancient and medieval Christian worlds. The first part of the course will be devoted to understanding some of the most notable social science approaches to ascetic behavior in the field of religion while the second part of the course will be devoted to close readings of case studies in light of these theoretical approaches. Cross-cultural comparison and contrast will be stressed. In the final part of the course, we will turn to modern conceptions of asceticism, attempting to answer the question—does the ascetic response to obsessive desire make sense in the world we live in today?.

HH3035 Empire and Decolonization
Dr. Tapsi Mathur / Seminar

This course will examine the history of the dismantling of the British Empire as well as the legacies it leaves, which continue to shape the modern world. At its height in the 1920s, the British Empire covered almost a quarter of the earth’s area, and yet soon after, by the 1940s and 50s, newly independent nation states were emerging from the end of Britain’s empire. Just in Africa, more than fifty new states were created in the 1950s. In this course, we will map the economic, social, political, and cultural histories of this foundational shift in the twentieth century called decolonization.

HH3036 South Asia and the World
Dr. Tapsi Mathur / Seminar

This module examines how the region of South Asia has interacted with the rest of Asia and with other parts of the world. In this course, we will track the complexity of these interregional connections through a focus on empire, oceans, slavery, labor flows, law, pilgrimages, migration, and diaspora. These interconnections are as varied as they are complex, but they allow us to rethink the history of South Asia as part of both an interregional arena and a world system.

HH3037 Politics of Popular Culture
Dr. Justin Clark / Seminar

What do Olympic protests, Nazi fashion, Cultural Revolution operas, and The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye have in common? All are examples used in this upper-division World History course to probe the global intersections of popular culture and politics since the 19th century. By examining theatre, television, film, artworks, literature, broadcast media, sports, fashion, and other popular cultural expressions through the lens of critical theory, you will gain a better appreciation of how states, revolutionary movements, citizens, consumers, and emerging media have originated, shaped, and resolved contentious debates over popular culture. Topics include such issues as cultural appropriation, boycotts, propaganda and censorship. In the process, you will gain a deeper understanding of global social, cultural and political history and critical approaches to culture, while developing skill in the use of historical sources and in written and oral expression. This course will thus prove useful to anyone involved not only in public history but communication and the arts.

HH3039 Maritime Asia in the Longue Dureé
Dr. Koh Keng We / Seminar

This course shall survey the history of the seas in the making of Asian history.  It examines the making of Maritime Asia in the longue dureé.  It posits an alternative framing of Asian history from the perspective of the sea. Instead of focusing on individual oceans and seas, it shall treat the Indian Ocean, littoral and archipelagic Southeast Asia, the East Asian seas and the Pacific within a single analytical frame, and the chart the impact of the seas and oceans and the people, commodities, and ideas moving through these maritime spaces on Asian history.  It shall examine the making of premodern Maritime Asia, and its transformations during the periods of European commercial and imperial expansion between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. It shall also examine the continued impact of the seas and oceans on modern Asian history today.

HH3040 History of Chinese Medicine
Dr. Michael Stanley-Baker / Seminar


The course will progress chronologically from pre-imperial China to modern times, highlighting different periods of transition. Each class/topic is coupled with different theoretical and critical approaches, which will help you consider how evidence and sources relate to research approaches. Classes will outline internal changes, different medical approaches by different actors, processes of importation and translation, and top-down rationalisation and standardization. You will learn how different kinds of practice and theory became "mainstream," for whom, and in what time period, and in so doing, come to a broad synthetic understanding of Chinese medical culture. This will build to a reflection on the continuity and change in the modern biomedical context of Chinese medicine, and how medical heritage has become a site of cultural negotiation. The course will contain opportunity for hands-on experience of different traditional healing arts, as well as site-visits to different locations on and off campus.

HH3041 History of Feminism  
Dr. Jessica Hinchy / Seminar

In 'History of Feminism' you will examine the global history of feminist movements since the nineteenth century. Feminist movements have globally played a significant role in redefinitions of citizenship and shifts in gender norms. You will investigate the place of feminist movements in broader social, political and cultural transformations, as well as analyzing various strands of feminist thought, within and outside academia. You will be introduced to various gender history and transnational/global history methodologies and will compare, contrast, and appraise these methodologies. This course will equip you with skills in interpreting primary sources, especially analysing gendered language and images in historical documents. 'History of Feminism' will also develop your capacity to apply your historical research and writing skills outside of an academic context, for a non-specialist audience.

​HH3042 Climate and Society in Historical Perspective  
Dr. Faizah Zakaria / Seminar

This seminar covers major traditions of thought regarding climate, climate change and its impact on society, drawing on history, science and anthropology. In this course, you will investigate how climactic factors conditioned the development of human societies and conversely, how human societies impacted the climate. You will analyze diverse theories and interpretations of climate-related societal change that span a global scale while being embedded in their own local political, economic and social contexts. This course will also equip you to conceptualize the basic precepts and terminology that define knowledge of the climate while inviting you to critique this notion through empirical historical evidence. You will also develop your skills in analyzing environmental public policy and distinguish between data-supported arguments and popular rhetoric. This course will be useful for you if you seek to understand how human societies, past and present, have tackled, interpreted and responded to climate conditions. If you major in history or environmental studies, you will find the class useful in facilitating informed readings about the present climate crisis and in helping you analyze more deeply how policy-making, politics and societal change can make a difference to it. This will be of value for students aiming for careers in the public service sector or in journalism.

​HH3043 China’s Cultural Revolution as History and Memory  
Dr. Els Van Dongen / Seminar

Firstly, this course will allow you to develop in-depth knowledge and critical perspectives on the Cultural Revolution as history by familiarizing you with secondary sources and debates on the period. Secondly, using various types of primary sources, including novels, exhibitions, films, and debates in online spaces, it seeks to develop historiographical skills by encouraging you to compare various source materials and perspectives, including sources categorized as “fiction.” Finally, it also seeks to contribute to skills in the realm of public history by looking into how the Cultural Revolution has been remembered in public media. This course would not only allow you to develop your skills as historians through the use of sources across disciplines and beyond “non-fiction,” but it would also help you to develop “historical empathy” by reading personal accounts from multiple perspectives as well as written in different time periods. No prior knowledge of Chinese history is required.

HH3130 The History of Time 
Dr. Justin Clark / Seminar

This course contributes to the History programme's offerings in Interdisciplinary History. It will add to your knowledge of Western social, cultural and technological history as well as provide practice in the analysis of historical sources, historiography, as well as in written and oral expression. This course explores three important elements of the history of time: its intellectual conception and cultural representation; its scientific and technological quantification, rationalization, and mastery; and its role in structuring societies and their activities. The course will expand your knowledge of Western social, cultural and technological history and contribute to your knowledge in the field of Interdisciplinary History. You will also gain experience in the analysis of historical sources, historiography, as well as in written and oral expression.

HH4003 The Silk Road: Old and New
Dr. Koh Keng We / Seminar

This course will examine the fascinating and complex history of the ancient Eurasian trade routes and the social, religious and political histories of the civilisations, which developed alongside these routes. Taking a thematic rather than chronological approach, the course is divided into two halves: in the first, we will look at the early history of the Silk Road including the trade in silk, musk and other luxury goods, the links between religion and material culture, the travellers, traders, monks and scholars who traversed these routes; the nomadic populations of Central and Inner Asia; religious co-existence and conflict as well as art and architectural productions. In the second half we will consider the strategic and economic importance of Central Asia and the expansion of Britain, Russia and China into these areas from the 18-21st Centuries. The rise of Islam after the fall of Communism and the continuing struggle of the great powers for mineral wealth forms another topic of discussion. Finally we will end with a consideration of the contemporary relations between the two emerging global and economic powerhouses: China and India. 

HH4005 Culture and Heritage: Perspectives from History

The course will address issues which pertain to the debates and discussions of culture and heritage. One of the most neglected resources in any society is the intangible aspects of its cultural and historical heritage. Some countries and regions within countries have been quite successful in marketing certain segments of their cultural and historical heritage. One of the most successful examples in Southeast Asia is Bali, which manages to promote both older and more recently created cultural practices and performances as “traditions”. Today Bali can still be considered a living heritage site in the sense that the Balinese continue their daily ritual practices and routines. However the authenticity of some of the art forms and performances can be questioned. Though this course will address theoretical issues and examples from various places in the world, class discussions and case studies will come predominantly from Asian examples. Some questions to be addressed include the following: what can be considered cultural and historical heritage in each society? Can these be divided into categories such as good and bad, marketable and non-marketable, representative and non-representative, etc? How does a person use heritage tourism as a means of preserving cultural and historical heritage of people who are gradually “losing” their pasts?

HH4006 The Green Earth: Issues in Environmental History
Dr. Miles Powell / Seminar

The Green Earth covers some of the most important themes in environmental history which have informed academic scholarship during the last 20 to 30 years. The course begins by examining the impact of the environment on early human evolution and development of early complex societies in the world. It explores the recent proliferation of works on world history which argue that climate change (in the form of a period of warming around 12,000 years ago) led to the stimulation of human actions which had brought about early agriculture and settled complex societies. The bulk of the course focuses on human transformation and exploitation of the environment in various regions of the world as well in through different ways. The lectures are organised according to elements, starting with agriculture (“land”) and proceeding to water and fire. The subject of environmental history is closely linked not only with human history and continuous desire to harness energy, but also the subjects of biological exchange (germs and pathogens) and the impact of human actions on the environment including animals, particularly with reference to the extinction of species, deforestation, and the destruction of the earth’s greenery. The course examines how these human actions over several millennia, which have been most deliberate and strongest in the past 200 years, have lasting repercussions on the earth, particularly in the form of climate change. Current debates on climate change and strategies to save the environment will be covered at the end of the course.

HH4007 An International History of the Cold War
Dr. Zhou Taomo / Seminar

This course is about the history of Southeast Asia and the Cold War. It aims to enlighten students on the origins and course of the conflict in the subregion in the global context. It also seeks to help students appreciate the cultural, diplomatic, economic, political, and social impacts of the 20th century global conflict on Southeast Asia. In addition, the course will analyze the effect that the turn of events in the area had on global and international developments. To those ends, the course will pay particular attention to the multidimensional attempts by external powers to expand their influence in Southeast Asia as well as the ways that peoples within the area furthered their personal and national ends by exploiting, adapting to, and resisting the Cold War powers’ involvement in their societies. By studying developments within 20th century Southeast Asia from global, international, transnational, and national perspectives, therefore, we will discover that inasmuch as external forces had shaped the subregion, Southeast Asians had also made significant impacts on the course of global and international history.

HH4010 Dissent, Resistance, Rebellion
Dr. Tapsi Mathur / Seminar

This course will examine anticolonial thought and movements that were a corollary of the British Empire in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We will study the response of colonized peoples to the expansion of the British Empire as it spread across the globe through the means of both formal and informal rule. Further, we will try and understand how anticolonial resistance changed and mutated as the British Empire consolidated itself, and how people effected social and political transformations under conditions of colonialism. Finally, we will examine the dismantling of the British Empire and the lasting legacies of empire that continue to shape the trajectory of postcolonial nation states.​ 

HH4011 Slavery and Forced Labour in the Indian Ocean World
Dr. Jessica Hinchy / Seminar

Slavery was an important aspect of the social order and political structure of many Indian Ocean societies in the early modern and modern periods. Analysing slavery will add to students’ understanding of the historical transnational linkages within the Indian Ocean region, as well as historical processes of trade, political formation, colonialism and modernity. Moreover, examining the everyday lives of slaves will deepen students’ knowledge of the lives of marginalised groups in Indian Ocean societies.

HH4012 Intellectual History of Modern China
Dr. Els Van Dongen / Seminar

What is an "intellectual" and what did and does it mean in a Chinese context? How did "intellectuals" understand the world around them and what was their role in society? How did they express they views and what media did they use to spread them? In this course, we look into the main themes, debates, and circulations of ideas in twentieth-century China through some of its advocates, paying attention to the specific contexts in which these ideas were put forward. The various themes and debates we will study reflect Chinese engagements with being "modern" in the economic, political, and cultural sense. The readings include translated selections of writings by Chinese intellectuals, which allows us to evaluate the various interpretations put forward in secondary sources. On a broader level, we also address the underlying questions: What is the relation between ideas and social and political engagement? And how does the intellectual history relate to other approaches to history? Starting in the late nineteenth century, this course moves chronologically and thematically across the twentieth century. We begin our journey in the late 1800s, where we look into circulations of Western ideas about “progress” and how they came to be merged with novel interpretations of Confucianism and Buddhism. Here, we discuss the reformers Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao. Whereas the former held some unusual views, the latter also played a role in the development of modern journalism. From there, we first look at the role of translation in the shaping of new ideas and worldviews. We then move to the May Fourth Movement, where we pay specific attention to the position of women in society. We will also discuss those who questioned the tenets of a liberal modernity based on scientism, such as Liang Shuming. After this, we pause at the more inward-looking nationalism of the 1930s and debates on pan-Asianism. For the post-1949 period, our main focus is on Maoism and its global circulations. In a final section, we relate the intellectual developments of modern China to contemporary outgrowths. Here, we discuss the issue of minority writers through the figure of Tsering Woeser, the Tiananmen demonstrations, and, finally, the rise of the so-called “grassroots intellectuals” in the 1990s and 2000s.

HH4013 The 'Big Man' and Political Legitimation in Southeast Asia

This course examines major themes pertaining to the study of political authority and moral legitimacy of power in Southeast Asia from ancient times to the present day. The characterisation of the “Big Man” captures the essential ideas pertaining to the figure of political and moral authority in the region; the “Big Man” is not only an ascribed status, but an achieved one as well. The course gives students the historical context within which modern political figures of authority place themselves.  Through the examination of early political institutions and models, the course allows students opportunities to examine in detail the original concepts behind models of moral authority and leadership.

HH4014 A Global History of Death

How does a Chinese funeral in the 21st century compare with one conducted two hundred years earlier? How much does fengshui still direct the choice of burial ground or the location of a slot in the columbarium — and determine their prices? Where did the Saint Death come from and why the Catholic Church wants to expel her? What roles do dead bodies and bones as material objects play in history and in modern societies? Was there a difference between American and Singapore funeral industries? What should we do in this scientific age with the concept of reincarnation and the Resurrection? These questions among other death practices and imaginations will be examined in this module. The course will go through the recent research on death rituals and practices in the fields of history and anthropology. By analysing the original sources in English and English translation, along with a critical reading of secondary literature, students will debate how modern and traditional are the changes in global death practices while tracing their history. The course will also cover topics such as the role of the state in shaping death practices, the persistence of the underworld in popular imagination, and the dead exercised power from the graveyards and beyond.

HH4015 Film: A Global History
Dr. Scott Anthony / Seminar

Film was the major international cultural form of the 20th century. This course examines the ways in which the output, the organisation and the economics of the film industry impacted on the modern world: it analyses how and why filmic images altered the fabric of social relations at particular points in the 20th century. The course also challenges students to integrate cinema history into other fields such as social history, geography and economics.

HH4016 Topics in World History
Dr. Goh Geok Yian / Seminar

This advanced level seminar introduces and engages students to learn the various approaches, methodology, and themes examined by world historians through the careful reading of key works by world historians. The course is divided into six parts, each part encapsulating a major theme which forms the foundation for the world history discipline. Each theme will be examined over a period of two weekly meetings during which time, students read a major world history text.

HH4017 Defining the Nation: India on the Eve of Independence
Dr. Jessica Hinchy / Seminar

In 1945, the British rulers of India gathered at the hill station of Simla with leaders of the Indian National Congress, the Muslim League and various sections of Indian society to determine the future of the nation. The ultimate outcome of these heated negotiations was the 1947 Partition of the subcontinent into the nation-states of India and Pakistan (and subsequently in 1971, Bangladesh). Partition resulted in the displacement of 15 million people and continues to shape foreign policy, security, and national identity in South Asia today.

But did it have to happen this way? This innovative course takes the form of a role-play game modeled on the Simla conference in 1945. You will be assigned the role of one of the participants of the conference, from the British Governor-General to Nehru (India’s first Prime Minister), from Indian princes to representatives of the untouchables. Drawing on your knowledge of the historical context and the objectives of your figure, you will deliver impassioned speeches and write persuasively to convince the other conference participants, in particular the British who will decide the subcontinent’s future. You will negotiate, join factions and build alliances to bring about your figure’s vision of the nation. The aim is to see if we can improve on history, but the trick is to stay true to the motivations and worldview of your figure.

HH4018 History and Fictional Representation

The course will be in the format of 4-hour seminars where various subjects related to history and fiction will be explored. Students will be asked to think critically about the nature of history, its aims and its differences from (or similarities to) other forms of writing. The course will require students to analyse works classified as “history” and “fiction” and to question that divide. Several issues in historical writing will be discussed such as those that question its objectivity and factual nature. These include orientalism in historical writing and the influence of colonialism in historical narratives; the subjectivity of the author; the representational differences between primarily literate and primarily oral cultures; the nature of narrative and the implications of causality; the influence of race, sex and subalternality on the resulting history; the impact of medium on history through analysing film, television series, graphic novels and games as vehicles of history; and lastly, reading historical works that have been seriously contended.

HH4019 Special Topics in History and Philosophy of Science

In our modern world, as scientific research is becoming global, how should we explain elements of cultural heritage, regional distinctiveness and national pride that continue to manifest? In order to analyse the question, this class introduces central historical and philosophical issues in traditions, styles, and nationalism reflected in scientific development in the modern world. First introducing debates in philosophy of science about paradigms and traditions of science, the course will then bring these philosophical tools into analysing and comparing a variety of historical trajectories in scientific developments in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology in modern Europe, United States, East Asia, and Southeast Asia since late 18thcentury.

HH4020 Science, Technology and Science Fiction
Dr. Hallam Stevens / Seminar

Science fiction has had a profound influence on recent developments in science and technology. Fields such as virtual reality, biotechnology, nanotechnology, and the development of Internet and communications technologies have been inspired and transformed by our cultural imaginaries. Our fears, hopes, and understandings of these domains are written into texts. Through reading science fiction, role-playing games, hypertext fiction, and MMORPGs, this class will explore the interfaces between science, technology, and fiction, examining how these imaginaries affect science and technology and how science and technologies affect these imaginaries. Through such analysis we will arrive at a deeper understanding of how our culture comes to terms with the dangers, threats, and complexities of contemporary technologies.

HH4021 Public & Applied History
Dr. Scott Anthony / Seminar

Public & Applied History introduces students to key theoretical, methodological, and practical challenges of applying history, and the historical method, to 'real world' problems. The course grounds students in relevant literature from ethnography, design, archaeology, education, public policy, and multimedia. Students are then given the opportunity to creatively, assess apply and evaluate, historical knowledge in a range of environments usually thought outside of the realm of scholarly history. 

HH4022 Colonial combination of Western and folk-based medical practices in Singapore
Dr. Ivy Yeh / Seminar

This new course teaches students to approach medical humanities by placing West and East medical practices developments in the forefront that had also contributed and shaped Singapore's history. Early tropical medicine with folk medicine practitioners in Singapore will enrich our discussion to further understand how Eastern medicine is incorporated with Western medicine today and to discuss why, in some historical cases, the cooperation between the two types of medicine worked to fight endemic disease that are still used today. Assessments by presentations and essay writing will enagge students to have a deeper undestanding and grow their critical thinking.  

HH4023 The United States and Southeast Asia in the Twentieth Century

This course explores major events and developments in the United States' involvement in Southeast Asia since the beginning of the twentieth century. You will learn to critique US intervention in Southeast Asia, particularly how this involvement was shaped by seminal events such as the rise of communism in Europe and China, the ascension of the Japanese Empire, the outbreak of the Pacific War, the neo-colonial/ recolonization efforts of the European powers, the surge in Southeast Asian nationalism that intertwined with the Cold War, and major developments in the post-Vietnam War era.  

HH4024 Lineage, Ritual, and the State in Asia
Dr. Nicholas Witkowski / Seminar

The ghost of the ancestor hovers like a specter over the social order of every political community. While power is often measured by economic prosperity or bureaucratic efficiency, in this course, we will examine a number of historical cases in China, India, and Southeast Asia, in which rulers appeal to the authority of ancestors to justify their claims to political power. This course has two major components. The first is a set of several case studies, which include medieval Indian courts, the earliest state-structures in China, tribal societies in modern central India, and the Cambodian Buddhist monastery. The second is the set of theoretical lenses through which we will examine these cases. These lenses will be drawn from ritual studies, theories of sexuality and lineage, anthropological theories of kingship, studies of shamanism and spirit possession, child psychology, and group psychology.​  

HH4025 History of Disease: Human Evolution, Disease and Health
Dr. Ivy Yeh / Seminar

The aim of the course is to provide you with a general overview of the basic themes and issues in the history of diseases and medical history. This will be done with an emphasis on global epidemic diseases - such as leprosy in the 12th century, plague in the 15th century and cholera in the 19th century-and how these have impacted human civilisations. The course will begin with an in-depth examination of why knowing disease history is important, which stretches from the archaeological evidence of our human fossil ancestors to the end of the early 20th century and the rise of current diseases in these last few decades. Knowing human medical history will help us know how to prepare for the future, because how we fight diseases could have unintended consequences that encourage pathogens to evolve and mutate again.

This course also focuses on the history of diseases and their evolution along with human history, beginning when certain zoonosis pathogens changed to affect human evolution. Apart from the history of diseases, the course explores how humans managed their illnesses in the past, modern medicine today, and how we seek to improve in the future.

HH4090 Special Topics in History - Global Asia

HH4091 Special Topics in History - Interdisciplinary History
Dr. Lin Qi Feng / Seminar

HH4092 Special Topics in History - World History

These courses are to be offered by both regular and visiting faculty in history, in conjunction with the three main categories of history core elective courses (namely, Global Asia, Interdisciplinary History, and World History). It will be conducted in a seminar style, through extensive reading of key texts in the subject and intensive discussions in the class. Students will be required to write two review essays and one research paper and to present their findings in the class. It is anticipated that through students will gain a better understanding of the specific topics and historical discipline through the combination of close reading, critical thinking, intensive discussion and debates, and rigorous training in writing and presentation.

HH4099 Graduation Project (Final Year Project)

To be developed by the student in consultation with his/her supervisor, the aim of HH4001 is to provide training in independent scholarly work. Under the guidance of a supervisor, each student is expected to formulate a thesis topic. The student must develop a set of research questions, a theoretical framework, and identify one methodology, or, in a research study which emphasises comparative work, an approach which combines two disciplines. These should be formulated in consultation with the student’s supervisor. By the completion of the project, the student will have gained experience in theoretical reasoning, empirical research (especially the collection, interpretation and analysis of data), and the writing and presentation of research findings.

HI3001 1984: Past, Present, Prophecy
Dr. Scott Anthony and Dr. Kevin Riordan / Seminar

During the second half of the twentieth centure George Orwell's 1984 became a staple (if not a cliche) of political, cultural and sociological comment. Heavily promoted by state actors after the Second World War for propaganda purposed, it took on a counter cultural life of its own during the late 1960s and 1970s. Interest in the book was again reinvigorated in the 1980s thanks to the arrival of new computer, media and military technologies. In 2017 sales of the novel reached a new peak. Orwell's novel only seems to have gained in momentum and relevance; its depictions of "Big Brother," of telescreens, and of the "forever war" have been uncannily prescient. This course examines in multi-disciplinary detail the long cultural tail of Orwell's canonical text. The course work includes an extended, intensive study of a literary text in conversation with the methods, concepts, and practices of contemporary history. Due to its interdisciplinary nature, this course will feature deliberation on and assessment of different disciplinary methods, and the assignments challenge you to express your knowledge in new modes and registers and to different audiences.


All information are based on when the course was last taught, which is subject to changes.​​​​​​​​​​