School of Historical Studies

Who Lost the Middle East?

Richard Murphy
Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria and Saudi Arabia
April 29, 2016
What brought about the current chaos in the Middle East? Did the machinations of the Cold War exhaust the region leaving it unable to develop new relationships between governor and governed? As Americans, how much should we criticize our role or even a particular Administration? In this public lecture, Richard Murphy will draw on his experiences as U.S. Ambassador to Syria and Saudi Arabia and Assistant Secretary of State for the region to attempt a reply.

Picasso and Abstraction: Encounters and Avoidance

Yve-Alain Bois
Professor, School of Historical Studies
April 6, 2016
Pablo Picasso did not speak often about abstraction, but when he did, it was either to dismiss it as complacent decoration or to declare its very notion an oxymoron. The root of this hostility is to be found in the impasse that the artist reached in the summer 1910, when abstraction suddenly appeared as the logical development of his previous work, a possibility at which he recoiled in horror. But though he swore to never go again near abstraction, he could not prevent himself from testing his resolve from time to time.

And Now for the Hard Part: China's Economic Adjustment After Three Miracle Decades

Michael Pettis
Professor, Peking University; Guanghua School of Management
February 2, 2016
In this public lecture, Michael Pettis will explore China’s tumultuous stock market and its impact on the global economy. A Wall Street veteran at Bear Stearns and Credit Suisse First Boston, Pettis has the unique distinction of having been right ahead of time in predicting the Chinese economic crisis.

Do We Understand Putin's Russia?

Jonathan Haslam
George F. Kennan Professor in the School of Historical Studies
November 7, 2015
We should not assume that making sense of post-Soviet Russia was ever going to be easy. Great Powers that lose empires bear grudges and the speed with which an empire is lost can exacerbate the problem. No one can expect that a powerful country run by a former secret policeman is going to operate by the same rules of the game to which we are accustomed. Quite simply, what may seem sensible or rational to ourselves is irrelevant. In this public lecture, Jonathan Haslam, George F.

Remembering Patricia Crone (1945–2015)

Diana Frank, Thomas Frank, Michael Cook, Judith Herrin, Carol Bakhos, Emma Gannagé, Carmela V. Franklin, Robbert Dijkgraaf, Nicola Di Cosmo
October 24, 2015

Patricia Crone, Professor Emerita in the School of Historical Studies, helped to establish the Institute as a recognized center for the pursuit of Islamic culture and history. Crone’s insightful work shed important new light on the critical importance of the Near East—in particular on the cultural, religious, and intellectual history of Islam—in historical studies.

Ancient Human Genomes Suggest Three Ancestral Populations for Present-Day Europeans

Johannes Krause
Professor of Archaeology and Paleogenetics at the University of Tübingen and Director of the Max Plank Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena
March 19, 2015
In this lecture, Krause explores the methods used to investigate European population history about the time of agricultural transition. Using genome data, Krause explains how at least three ancestral groups, the Hunter-Gathers, the Early Farmers and the Ancient North Eurasians, contributed genetic material to present-day Europeans. Krause also discusses these three ancestral populations discovered from this data and explores their connection to present-day Europeans.

The Parthenon Sculptures: Decoding Images of Ancient Myths

Joan Breton Connelly
Professor of Classics at New York University
November 7, 2014
Joan Breton Connelly, Hetty Goldman Member (2010­–11) in the School of Historical Studies, explores how the Parthenon sculptures conveyed genealogical myths that answered for the Athenians the basic human question: Where do I come from? She shows how cosmic and epic narratives, and the great boundary catastrophes of war and deluge, established frameworks for understanding the distant past.

Climate, Conflict, and Historical Method

Nicola Di Cosmo
Luce Foundation Professor, School of Historical Studies
May 2, 2014
How can historians contribute to investigating the ­relationships between climate change, ecology, and human activity? Scientific research is making available ­volumes of data on the possible correlations between ­environmental change and social transformations over long periods of time. Yet, how strong and how precise a ­correlation one might be able to establish between ­phenomena like droughts, floods, and volcanic eruptions and the emergence of conflict, the migration of peoples, or the collapse of civilizations remain open questions.

S.T. Lee Lecture: Maiden Voyage: The Senzaimaru and the Creating of Modern Sino-Japanese Relations

Joshua A. Fogel
Professor, York University
March 31, 2014
In this lecture, Joshua A. Fogel, Professor at York University, discusses how in 1862, the Japanese government, seeing the writing on the wall of international relations and recognizing that it would be impossible to continue keeping itself from much greater foreign contacts, launched its first foreign mission. Fifty-one Japanese sailed aboard the newly purchased and renamed Senzaimaru to Shanghai where the entire panoply of Western powers could be viewed in microcosm.