Dr. Thompson is an Associate Professor in the department of History and Classics. His teaching focuses on Africa and the Atlantic World. At the lower levels, Dr. Thompson teaches a survey of precolonial African history, emphasizing the complexity of African social, political and knowledge systems. At the upper levels, his courses focus on modern southern Africa, illuminating the complex cultural and social dynamics that have reshaped societies in the region over the last two centuries. His research focuses on the colonial era in Zimbabwe; he situates his work within the broader fields of African social, cultural, and environmental history. Dr. Thompson is particularly interested in how people in southern Africa have understood themsleves in terms of race, gender, and culture, and how those understandings and practices evolved over the twentieth century.

Fall 2012 Interdisciplinary Course Seminar Grants, Cycle One

'Engaging' Material Culture: Beyond Agency. Imperial Arts, Architecture and Religions

Studies of material culture represent an emerging area of scholarly interest, with new theories of object agency, embodiment, display and seeing opening up questions about the interactions between objects, human bodies and the interfaces of identity, cultural practice, and social ideology.

This course will introduce graduate students to important recent work on the roles of material culture in imperial contexts, primarily ancient Rome, the British Empire, and the fascist states in Europe. It will pay particular attention to the dynamics of art, architecture, and monuments in their interaction with religious practices and human bodies. This course will also introduce students to contemporary social theorists whose reflection of identities to consider how physical objects and bodies shape identity, ideology, and culture. Further, it will investigate how research traditions in the different disciplines have shaped and constrained scholarship.