Description of Course Goals and CurriculumThe goal of the course was to develop an understanding of European, Greek, Balkan and Ottoman history through the unique vantage point that is the city of Thessaloniki. The time period ranged from the arrival of the Romans in Thessaloniki all the way up till modern Greece. Apart from studying history, students were expected to gain awareness about historiography and being vary about different narratives presented about a particular historical topic, especially regarding invisible pasts.
Learning From Classroom InstructionThe foremost challenge is that Global Seminars although a unique opportunity in terms of travel and class size, are truly research-oriented courses. The final paper was expected to be a research paper on a topic of interest relevant to the course material. For this the Professor guided us to go out in the city and explore relevant material (monuments, museums, artifacts) and use the information learnt in class to do an analysis of the narratives presented by various sources. The task is two folded (1) Identifying different narratives and examining them (2) Analyzing the different narratives and accounting for differences and similarities. These tasks were of particular importance since it was an HA course. An effective way to approach this is to start ahead of time. Even though students were given a week after the seminar is finished to submit the papers, the main resources lie in the city and it is best to take advantage of them. The other approach is to make the most of the guided tours and visits as exhibitions and museums serve as great resources to identify the mainstream narrative present in the city/country. Lastly, visiting professors are also great sources that help locate resources and can share valuable information relevant to the topic.
Learning For and From AssignmentsThere was a midterm, a final and a research paper. Several visiting lecturers spoke to us and lectures were accompanied by tours and visits to historical monuments and neighborhoods. Professor Greene decided the weekly readings on a week-to-week basis depending on the speed with which we covered the course material and the relevance of historical events to the course.
External ResourcesSince we were away from campus we had limited access to libraries and research journals. Our main external resources were either guest lecturers, local students, museums and local Greeks who spoke English.
What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course SelectionIt is a great way to fulfill a course deficiency. However, it must be kept in mind that since it is a Princeton course compressed in six weeks it can also move very quickly and there are new concepts/theories discussed regularly. One adjustment that I had to make not being a history major was to be able to decipher the relevance and subtle differences between the multitude of narratives that we were presented by different sources. The visiting professors, our tour guide, local students, textbooks and the museums were in some way different to each other and it can get extremely confusing to keep track of them. Professor Greene was extremely helpful with this and her lectures clarified everything and she was also available for office hours to answer questions. A learning strategy that my colleagues and I employed was to share our notes and keep track of the different sources we read. Organized note taking after doing the readings and then double-checking it with the Professor’s lectures and other students’ notes was extremely helpful. After the course, students are definitely more vary when reading history books and different historical narratives. Students are also more equipped to handle research papers and make the most of sometimes, limited material due to language barriers or other hindrances. The course also is a great exposure of studying in foreign lands and getting out of ones comfort zone to meet academic requirements. Our seminar also included three local Greek students and interacting with them and listening to locals and their perspectives on history was fascinating. I learnt a lot about research methodology and historical analysis. I believe this is a tool that will be really helpful come Junior Papers and Senior Thesis. Being aware of the sort of different analyses and strategies required while building causal relations is an extremely helpful tool while writing academic papers and understanding them. To top it all, Global Seminars are a great opportunity to get to know other Princeton Students in a new environment and make friends.
Thessaloniki: 2,000 Years of a City in History