History Department

About the Major

Department/Program Description.


Why History?

History is a way of understanding the whole of the human condition as it has unfolded in time. Without history, nothing makes sense, from the meaning of words to the formation of identities, to institutions, states, and societies. History straddles the boundary between the social sciences and humanities. Like the other social sciences, it has established methods of investigation and proof, but it differs from them in that it encompasses, potentially, every area of human culture from the beginning of recorded time. Like the other humanities, it uses ordinary language and established modes of telling its stories, but it is constrained by evidence left us from the past.

Majoring in History will help you develop valuable skills valuable skills transferable beyond the classroom: critical thinking and interpretation, persuasive writing, as well as analytical and research skills for tackling complex questions. History is inherently complex and requires the ability to generate knowledge from large amounts of information and assess evidence and conflicting interpretations of the past. As a history major you will learn to make sense of complexity and tell a good story.

Admission to the Major.


How do I join?

First find a faculty you would like to serve as your advisor.  Then go to your portfolio and declare the History Major.  After you do that, fill out a form that can be obtained from the History web site at http://www.wesleyan.edu/history/forms/histmajorapp.html.  Any history faculty member may serve as an advisor by agreement with the student.


 

Major Requirements.


What next?

Take History courses! The breadth of topics covered by the History Department allows students to create geographic, thematic, or chronological unity in their own unique course of study.   A history major will develop two concentrations by choosing four courses from each of two thematic modules (the full list of modules is provided below).

To be a History Major you need eleven credits, at least eight must be History credits, in two modules. There are no prerequisites to declare a History major.

There is only one required course for all History majors: HIST 362 “Issues in Contemporary Historiography” (it is offered only in the fall, and should be taken in your junior year).

What counts?

  • At least eight of the eleven courses must be History courses; but courses taken outside of Wesleyan, for example during the semester abroad, may be included among these eight courses. 
  • Up to three courses in other departments, programs, or colleges may be counted towards the total of eleven required courses, but they must be approved by the student’s advisor. 
  • You may also count one first-year seminar, and one senior research tutorial towards the major.
  • One of the courses must deal with the pre-industrial era.

Is there a senior research project? 

All History Majors try out their skills in a senior research project. It can be a senior thesis, or a senior essay, written in a tutorial or in a 300-level seminar.  The Senior Research Project gives all History majors an opportunity to explore a topic they are passionate about.

What are the modules?

Modules are fields of concentration that provide a thematic, geographic, or chronological unity for the courses you take for the History major. Any one course may belong to several modules, but for the major it may be counted only toward one module; any non-history course counted toward the eleven courses required for the major must be within a module.  History 362 cannot be included in any module, but the two additional seminars required for the major must be.

The modules reveal the richness and depth of the History curriculum. The Department offers modules in the flowing subjects:

  • Religion
  • Nation and Ethnicity
  • Race
  • Thought and Ideas
  • East Asia
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • War and Violence
  • Europe
  • Empires and Encounters
  • Revolution and Social Movements
  • Jewish History, Society, and Culture
  • Science, Technology, and Medicine
  • North America 
  • Before Modernity:  The Pre-Industrial Era
  • Africa
  • Geographies:  Space and Mapping
  • Migration
  • South Asia
  • The City
  • Environment and Food
  • History and Theory/Historiography
  • Economy and Society
  • Contemporary History:  (1945  - )  
  • Middle East
  • African-American History
  • Britain and the British Empire
  • Visual and Material Culture
  • Early Modern Globe (1500-1800)
  • Latin America

 

Honors.


Is there a senior research project? 

All History Majors try out their skills in a senior research project. It can be a senior thesis, or a senior essay, written in a tutorial or in a 300-level seminar.  The Senior Research Project gives all History majors an opportunity to explore a topic they are passionate about.

Language Requirement.


Is there a foreign language requirement?

There is no foreign language requirement for history majors, but the department strongly advises all history majors to learn at least one foreign language.

Students consult with their advisors to identify the modules and the courses needed to complete the major. With advisor approval, students may occasionally create their own coherent module.

Transfer Credit.

Transfer of credits does not automatically mean the credits will be accepted towards the major; history majors must consult their advisors in advance. Upon return to Wesleyan students should provide their advisor with syllabi and other materials, such as exams and papers, from the course(s) taken elsewhere. Wesleyan credit for work done away from Wesleyan is assured only when the arrangements for study are made through Wesleyan, for instance, through the Office of International Studies for certain formal exchange programs. In all other cases, a student must petition for transfer of credit before going away to take the course(s). Transfer of credits does not automatically mean the credits will be accepted toward the major; history majors must consult their advisors in advance.