Seats Are Still Available

One of the challenges that I faced this past year as head of the history department was filling one final vacancy.  You would think that with this economy we would have had no problem finding the right individual.  Well, think again.  Private schools face a number of challenges in the hiring department.  We are looking for folks that excel at teaching, work well with students, have an interest in coaching, and in our case, living in the dormitory.  This year we were flooded with resumes.

For the department we were looking to bring someone in with an interest in non-western history and International Studies.  It’s important for us to be able to offer courses that challenge our students to think globally.  We want them to be able to build on their understanding of world history in the 9th and 10th grades with a thorough understanding of global politics and culture in the modern world.  As April wore on I was worried that we were not going to find the right person, but thankfully on one of the last visits we hit the jackpot.  This means that we are going to be able to offer a slate of new courses next year and I couldn’t be happier with what our new teacher came up with.  Below you will find short course descriptions.  Please keep in mind that these are rough sketches that will be revised for the course catalog.  That said, I think you will get a sense of what each course will involve.  Given the excitement surrounding the World Cup I couldn’t be more excited about the first offering.  I probably should anticipate some brain drain from my own electives once students get wind of these.  I am also excited about a pilot program that we are offering in American Studies as well as an elective on Government and Politics that will prepare students for the AP test in that subject area.

“The Beautiful Game: A Global History of Soccer”

Soccer is more than a game. More often than not it provides the setting where crucial political, cultural, and social dramas take center stage. What compelled the Algerian-born French soccer legend Zinedine Zidane to head butt an Italian player in the final minutes of the 2006 World Cup championship match, earning him a red card? How did Brandi Chastain’s 1999 World Cup-clinching goal celebration revolutionize women sports and gender stereotypes? Why is Freddy Adu – a 20-year-old player born in the West African country of Ghana – playing on the United States National Team? These are just a few of the questions we’ll be answering in this course; we’ll see how soccer has played a role in shaping the lives of people from around the world, especially those from non-Western societies. No prior knowledge of the game of soccer is required for this course.

  • Foer, Franklin. How Soccer Explains the World. 2004.
  • Goldblatt, David. The Ball is Round. 2008.
  • Hawkey, Ian. Feet of the Chameleon. 2009.
  • Kuper, Simon. Soccer Against the Enemy. 1994.

“Indigenous Betrayal and Resistance “

About 320 million people around the world call themselves “indigenous.” These groups include, but are certainly not limited to, the Berbers and the San of Africa, Native Americans in North, Central, and South America, Pacific island groups, aboriginal Australians, and the Basque people of northern Spain. After reviewing the history of several indigenous groups, we will cover the ways in which these groups around the world have interacted with external forces, usually powerful colonial empires. As the title suggests, the course is not just about learning the cultures of indigenous groups, but rather recovering the neglected history of their interactions with colonizers in the last 500 years. We will also ask what it means to be “indigenous,” and who gets to claim “indigenous” authority, which will conclude with how these groups interact with the modern globalized world today.

  • Cocker, Mark. Rivers of Blood, Rivers of Gold. 2001.
  • Mander, Jerry and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, eds. Paradigm Wars. 2006.
  • Stewart-Harawira, Makere. The New Imperial Order. 2005.
  • Wolf, Eric. Europe and the People Without History. 1982.

“Peace and Justice in Post-Apartheid South Africa”

How can you forgive someone who has hurt you? How can you live with guilt brought on by perpetrators who might share your background? These questions – essential to building peaceful human relations after violent conflict – were put to the test in South Africa after the fall of apartheid.  Although the world watched with great anticipation as Nelson Mandela was released from prison in early February 1990, many knew the road to a free democracy would be long and arduous. Of particular concern would be how the entire country – whites, blacks, and numerous other ethnic minorities – could possibly heal from apartheid’s horrendous history. This course will primarily examine the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, an investigative team set up in 1995 by the first-ever democratically elected South African government. The team, led by Nobel Peace Prize-winning Archbishop Desmond Tutu, was tasked to investigate human rights abuses under the apartheid regime. We will use this particular case to discuss issues of guilt, forgiveness, conflict resolution, and justice. To fully comprehend this path to peace, we will also review important episodes and figures in southern African history.Government of South Africa. Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report. 2003.

  • Krog, Antjie. Country of My Skull. 2000.
  • Tutu, Desmond. No Future Without Forgiveness. 2000.
  • Verwoerd, Wilhelm and Charles Villa-Vicencio, eds. Looking Back, Reaching Forward. 2000.
  • Collin Marks, Susan. Watching the Wind. 2000.

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

Purchase your copy today!

3 comments… add one
  • Patrick Lewis Jun 10, 2010 @ 13:34

    Great idea, Kevin. I took a course on sports in culture/society in Latin America and the Caribbean as an undergrad. It was a fantastic experience. Heck, even the less-than-academically-inclined soccer players in the class were enthusiastically discussing race and class by the end of the term.

  • Alun Jun 10, 2010 @ 10:14

    Those look like really interesting courses, especially the football course. For example there’s this blog post from Tim Vickery on how Uruguay’s success in the World Cup was based on the social conditions of the country, It sounds like an excellent way to explore cultural history.

    • Kevin Levin Jun 10, 2010 @ 10:21


      Thanks for the link.

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