Comparative Empires

The Thematic Minor in Comparative Empires

Empires have provided the political contexts for much of human experience from the Iron Age to the present day. As political systems ruling over vast territories and diverse peoples, empires created new cultures, social hierarchies, and mechanisms of exploitation that changed the very nature of power. Long after their disappearance, empires such as those of the Ottomans, Romans, and Chinese continue to shape the histories of the regions they once incorporated. The ability of the United States to project its power across the globe leads some to believe that imperial systems have hardly ceased to function.

In a curriculum that often privileges nations and nation-states, the thematic minor in Comparative Empire introduces students to a variety of imperial ventures. It also introduces them to a variety of analytical tools. Faculty contributors from various disciplines will help students develop the scholarly dispositions needed to cross disciplinary and chronological boundaries, to explore the emergence, development, and decline of imperial systems from a perspective as wide as the imperially-structured human experience itself.


  • The Gateway Course (History 250/ Politics 253: Introduction to Comparative Empires) This 200 level course is open to sophomores and juniors; first-years with permission of instructor. Multicultural credit.
  • at least three additional 4-credit courses, chosen in consultation with a faculty member in the thematic minor, from the approved list below. The courses must span at least two disciplines or programs, must include at least 3 courses at the 200 level or above, and must include at least one course at the 300 level. No more than one of the required 4 courses may be taken off campus.

Courses that count toward minor include

  • Anthro 216 The Inca and their Ancestors
  • Asian Studies 272 Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore: Nonviolence, the Nation, and the World
  • Classics 128 Ancient Rome
  • Classics 232 From Hoplites to Legions: Warfare in the Ancient World
  • CST 254 Post-Colonial theory: Postcolonialism/Poststructuralism
  • English 232 Global Diversity/European Modernity
  • English 349 Globalization and Culture
  • Gender Studies 333 Race, Gender and Empire
  • History 108 Middle East History from the Rise of Islam to the Ottomans
  • History 124 History of Modern South Asia, 1700-the Present¬†¬†
  • History 130 Introduction to Chinese Civilization: Traditional China
  • History 150 Europe Expanding
  • History 161 British Empire and Commonwealth
  • History 170 American History, Precolonial through the Civil War
  • History 214 History of Global Inequality
  • History 216 Romans, Persians, and their Barbarians
  • History 219 The Byzantine EmpireHistory 223 Religion and Politics in Modern India
  • History 232 Nomads, Merchants, and Monks: Medieval Silk Roads
  • History 242 Colonial Worlds: Africa and India
  • History 272 European Dynasties and Empires in the Age of the Sun King
  • History 273 The Inheritance of IranHistory 301 States and Sovereignty in the British Empire
  • History 301 Nationalism and Nation Building in East Asia
  • History 324 late Antiquity: the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  • History 331 Imperial Japan
  • History¬†335 Conquerors and Conquered: Early Islamic Imperialism
  • History 341 The Meaning of Colonial rule
  • History 390 South Asian Nationalisms
  • International Relations 211 Middle East Politics
  • International Relations 270 American Foreign Policy
  • Latin American Studies 175 Historical Emergence of the Caribbean
  • Latin American Studies 287 US-Latin American Relations
  • Latin American Studies 289 Slavery in the Americas
  • Latin American Studies 387 The Era of the Cuban Revolution


  • Independent study (295 or 395) with any faculty member on the minor committee.