Fall 2018

HUM 350:   Battle Lab: The Battle of Princeton


This fall, think outside of the classroom and explore the past in your own backyard: Revolutionary-era Princeton and the physical remains of the legendary battle between American and British forces on January 3, 1777. What happened on that day? Who died? Where are their bones? Why are lawyers fighting over the land on which the battle was fought? In this course, you will undertake to answer these questions and help solve the longstanding puzzle of the Battle of Princeton. In the process, you will explore how events of the past persistently shape the present day.

For Battle Lab, Professor Nathan Arrington and Professor Rachael DeLue have teamed up to create a new kind of course that will bring the methods and tools of several disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences to bear on one of the most important episodes in American history. The Princeton Battlefield will be our laboratory, providing a space for innovative research, experimentation, and testing of theories. Students will look for the remains of the dead with ground-penetrating radar, analyze an ancient spy map, uncover musket balls with metal detectors, excavate an 18th-century house, build a virtual model of a historical site, and investigate a wide range of cultural documents, including works of art, literature, and music. Students will also explore the many stories of the Battle of Princeton, as experienced by those who fought in it as well as those it directly impacted, included enslaved persons and indigenous populations.

Supported by the Humanities Council and offered through the Program in Humanistic Studies.