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History and Culture

  • Explores Varying Interpretations of Historic Events
  • Identifies Patterns and Trends
  • Provides Lively Discussion and Debate

To understand the present, we first must know the past. These courses focus on the origins of civilization, explore the causes and effects of world events, and debate conflicting interpretations of past events. From the world stage to New York City’s five boroughs, examine how history impacts our lives today.

Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the New York of Their Time

Learn the stories of both Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, told against the rich background of a fast-growing mercantile city with global reach.

2017 Summer
2 sections

An Afternoon with Gilgamesh

Spend an afternoon discussing key passages from the 4,000-year-old Epic of Gilgamesh, a work at the headwaters of written literature.

2017 Summer
1 section

An Afternoon with the Goddess Ishtar

Read and discuss Sumerian and Babylonian poems and hymns to the goddess Ishtar, while comparing them to the Bible’s Song of Songs.

2017 Summer
1 section

Detroit: Past, Present, and Future

Explore the key issues—including race, labor, urban politics, and law—at the heart of the urban decline of Detroit.

2017 Summer
1 section

Discovering the Architecture of New York City's Parks, Squares, and Scenic Landmarks

Study the architecture of New York City’s public spaces and examine how their designs help New Yorkers and visitors to enjoy the great outdoors.

2017 Summer
1 section

How the Other Half Lived

Learn about economic and social disparity in New York City at the turn of the 20th century.

2017 Spring
1 section

Manhattan's Great Neighborhoods

Join us for an introductory illustrated lecture about and then five walks through some of Manhattan’s great neighborhoods.

2017 Summer
1 section

One Hundred Years of Activism: Radical NYC from the Progressive Era to Today

Explore NYC’s rich history of political activism, including the fight for workers’ rights, racial justice, and gender and sexual equality.

2017 Summer
1 section

Race, Criminal Justice, and the Constitution

Explore the major constitutional issues that are involved in the administration of criminal justice, and examine how race pervades them.

2017 Summer
1 section

The English Village: A Chronicle of History

Uncover the varied and remarkable history of English villages, including Yorkshire, Devon, Finchingfield, Grantchester, Bampton, and Cornwall.

2017 Summer
1 section

Walking and Talking New York

Gain familiarity with major events and figures in New York City history through four walking tours and four lively slide-illustrated talks.

2017 Summer
2 sections

The "Greening" of NYC: Irish Immigration, Whitman's Leaves of Grass, and the Olmsted Parks

Delve into three hallmarks of 19th-century NYC: Central Park, the tides of immigration, and Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.

2017 Spring
1 section

The Gilded Age of New York

Gain an understanding of how the artistic and industrial advances of the Gilded Age helped to usher in modern New York.

2017 Spring
1 section

A Guide to the 21st-Century Universe: Particles, Quarks, and Strings

Explore the groundbreaking scientific discoveries of the 21st century that have extended and complicated our understanding of nature.

2017 Spring
1 section

A Savvy New Yorker's Guide to the City

Explore lesser known NYC attractions and opportunities, and spend two class sessions touring some of the City’s hidden gems.

2017 Spring
2 sections

A Tale of Two Palaces: Versailles and Hampton Court

Explore the lives of Louis XIV of France and William III of England through an exploration of the two monarchs’ lavish palaces and royal courts.

2017 Spring
1 section

Elena Ferrante's Naples

Discover the history and culture of Naples, Italy, through Elena Ferrante’s bestselling Neapolitan novels.

2017 Spring
1 section

Jane Austen's Regency England

Using Jane Austen’s letters and novels as inspiration, learn about Regency England, from its rigid social protocols to its fashion and culture.

2017 Spring
1 section

Manhattan History: Post-Revolutionary War to World War I

Catch the excitement of 19th-century New York City in this course, which features four illustrated lectures and four walking tours.

2017 Spring
1 section

Mannahatta: Native Ground to Federal City

Learn more about the early history of New York City, from its native people to explorers and settlers.

2017 Spring
1 section

Museum Without Walls: Public Art in New York

Explore the legacy of public art, from murals to statues and fountains, in New York City throughout the city’s history.

2017 Spring
2 sections

New York Architecture: The Last 100 Years

Survey the last century of New York architecture, from the City Beautiful era to the current trend of “starchitects.”

2017 Spring
2 sections

New York's Great Structures: Buildings, Bridges, Tunnels, and More

Through lectures and at least two walking tours, take a look at the best—and worst—of some quintessentially New York structures.

2017 Spring
1 section

The American White Working Class and Modern Conservatism

Gain a historical perspective on the white working class, a demographic whose members and political power have seen great change since WWII.

2017 Spring
1 section

The English Country House: Residents, Reminiscences, and Memoirs

Trace the history of the English country house by drawing on the wealth of written perspectives by owners, visitors, and residents.

2017 Spring
1 section

The European Balance of Power: Diplomacy of the Modern Age, 1789-1900

Learn about the major diplomatic events in this period that changed Europe and the world—and that continue to influence us today.

2017 Spring
1 section

The History of the United States Supreme Court

Examine American economic, political, religious, and social history through the prism of influential and controversial Supreme Court cases.

2017 Spring
1 section

American Jews and Liberalism

Explore how scholars and community leaders try to answer the question posed by neoconservative Norman Podhoretz: “Why are Jews liberal?”

2017 Spring
1 section

Gilded Age New York and "The Other Half"

Gain an understanding of how the artistic and industrial advances of the Gilded Age helped to usher in modern New York.

2017 Spring
1 section

Rediscovering New York City's Forgotten Memorials and Monuments

Examine the contemporary issues associated with memorials and monuments in New York City, and investigate their historic significance.

2017 Spring
1 section

The Italians: Shapers of Western Civilization

Explore Italians’ cultural heritage, which stretches from ancient Rome to present day and from science and architecture to art and writing.

2017 Spring
1 section

Women as Creators of Culture

Discuss female artists, writers, scientists, and architects and their contributions to culture that have changed the world.

2017 Spring
1 section

A College Refresher: A Sampling of the Humanities at CALA

Immerse yourself in dynamic lectures, captivating readings, spirited debate, and socializing with peers, without the pressures of tests and papers.

A History of Rome: From the Founding of the City to the Death of Emperor Justinian

Explore ancient Roman history and trace its evolution from a city-state monarchy to a republic and then to an empire.

Ancient Near East: Religion and Culture

Explore the history and culture of the ancient Near East, including its cultural legacy as birthplace of the Judeo-Christian religious traditions.

Belle Epoque Paris

Learn about the architecture, music, and art that fostered the Belle Époque in Paris.

City Life in Fact and Fiction: More Short Fiction About New York

Through works by New York’s finest writers, examine how the City’s diverse population has experienced urban life.

Great Medieval Cathedrals of Europe

Explore the cathedrals—extraordinary masterpieces in stone—that reflect the unique splendors of the medieval period in Europe.

Imperial London

Examine London around 1900—a period of time whose implications resounded around the world and throughout the 20th century.

Making Meaning of HIV: Constructing an Ethical AIDS Historiography

Evaluate the distinction between the story of HIV/AIDS and the “storytelling” that has colonized its meaning.

Manhattan History: Pre-European to Post-Revolutionary War

Discover how New York City’s fascinating past illuminates its vibrant life today.

New York Behind the Scenes

Gain valuable insights from New York’s movers and shakers, who will help you take full advantage of the City’s cultural resources.

Sicily: A Cultural and Historical Guide

Explore Sicily and its contributions to the arts, its cuisine, and the unique characteristics that distinguish it from the rest of Italy.

Significant and Controversial Presidential Elections and Campaigns in American History

Analyze the electoral process, including the anger and venom that have been part of US presidential elections since 1796.

Stars, Planets, and Cosmology

Learn about the new era of astronomy that includes discovering thousands of planets, finding water on Mars, and landing space probes on comets.

The Design and Architecture of New York City's Public Transportation System

Join us for an eight-part lecture series to discover the aesthetic treasures of NYC’s public transportation system, both present and past.

The Empire City: Art, Architecture, and Social Geography in New York, 1825-1861

This course will depict how modern New York came into being.

The Evolution of American Free Speech

Explore the key free speech debates that have demarcated the boundaries of what can—and cannot—be said in the United States.

The Italian Response to the Holocaust

Explore the complexities of Italian history before and during the Holocaust, and examine why so many Italians risked their lives to help Jews.

Travels in France with Henry James

Using his book A Little Tour in France as a guide, follow Henry James’s footsteps during his travels from Versailles to Avignon.

US Religion and Politics

Examine sermons, Supreme Court decisions, and other primary sources to explore the connection between religion and politics in the United States.

Victorian and Edwardian England: Spectacle, Scandals, and Insights

​Gain rare cultural insights into the latter years of Queen Victoria’s reign and the reign of her son, Edward VII.

Vienna Fin-de-Siecle

Learn about turn-of-the-century Vienna, birthplace to one of the most dramatic cultural moments in modern history.

Walk on the Wild Side: Music, Poetry, and Theatre of the 1970s

Immerse yourself in the art of 1970s New York, while exploring the ways that this period continues to influence creativity and culture today.