History Department

The History Majors Committee is a resource for students and faculty alike to help organize events and communicate ideas to improve the History program at Wes! We organize film screenings, thesis coffee hours, and even helped shape the module system. We are a group of students who are really excited about History and are here to help!

HISTORY MAJORS COMMITTEE FOR 2014-2015

History Majors Committee: (top) Alexandra Ricks ’16, Emma Rothberg ’15, Tina Jung ’15, Orelia Jonathan ’15; (bottom) Leah Bakely ’16, Sadie Renjilian ’16, Zacko Brint ’16 (not pictured: Val Demyunck ’16, Tal Levran ’15, and Earl Lin ’15)

Why Are You Majoring in History?

Leah Bakely ’16: I am a Hispanic Literatures and Cultures and History double major. I knew I wanted to major in a social science and I had taken a class in every social science department at Wesleyan except history, but none of the departments seemed like quite the right fit. Finally, I took two history courses the second semester of my sophomore year and the major just felt right; I loved that I was given the chance analyze, deconstruct and challenge historical narratives. I also loved being able to draw connections between the experiences I was learning about in history class and my own lived experience. As a history major, I have become better at synthesizing and analyzing large amounts of information. I have also begun to look more critically at the narratives I have internalized both of my own life and of the lives of others. Modules: Religion, and Revolutions and Social Movements. 

Zacko Brint ‘16: After taking the history First Year Initiative (FYI) called Empires in Southeast Asia, I immediately developed an interest in the major. The incredible professors and the broad range of content are two main factors that finalized my decision to major in History. For me, the History Major has given me the tools to better appreciate and understand other cultures, while questioning and understanding the sources of information. Interpreting the perspectives of the authors, as well as the motivations of the historical figures helps me better interpret the actions of people in my life. I love being able to write and express my findings and thoughts. Modules: Jewish History, and Contemporary European History

Val Demuynck ’16: I am double majoring in History and French Studies, and my modules are Middle East and Jewish History, Society and Culture. Aside from my concentrations, I’m interested in public/global health, education, and foreign languages. I chose to be a History major because I wanted to make my academic experience in college as eclectic as possible. The major offers an interdisciplinary approach that encourages students to think critically, analytically, and creatively about the past and present through the study of a wide range of topics. The major has helped me develop my analytic skills, research abilities, critical thinking, and writing, which I’ve been able to apply to all areas of my life.

Orelia Jonathan ’15: I discovered my passion for history after taking the Sophomore Seminar "War and National Reformation" with Prof. Eudell. I enjoy examining patterns and trends in the past and seeing how they reflect on the present day or if they repeat themselves and why. As cliché as it might seem, the faculty within the history department have really helped me grow as a student, and more specifically as an African Historian. The faculty have helped me push myself and take chances that I don't think I would have otherwise considered, for example, taking my research trip to South Sudan to conduct oral interviews. In addition, the classes I've taken with history professors have been among these best and the most enjoyable that I've taken at Wesleyan, not just because I'm a history major, but because the faculty really know the area that they are teaching. I didn't always think I'd end up a history major, but it was because of the incredible classes and how thought-provoking the coursework was that I decided to join the history major and I haven't ever regretted my decision! Modules: Middle Eastern History, African History.

Tina Jung ’15: I became a history major to explore various regions and times. To accomplish this goal, I took history courses covering different parts of the world. By studying history with brilliant professors and peers, I developed analytical and critical thinking skills. I especially benefitted from seminars, where I developed my ideas and broadened perspectives by participating in discussions focusing on historical events and historiographical methods.

I am interested in the historiography of WWII, oral history, and memory studies. Currently, I am writing a senior thesis on children's memory during WWII in Korea and Japan using oral interviews as primary historical sources. Modules: Contemporary History, and Social Movements.

Sadie Ranjilian ’16: I haven't declared my modules yet, but my interests are German History and Social Protest Movements in the US, with an emphasis on racial conflict. I chose to be a history major because my favorite teacher of all time was a history major at Wesleyan, and it seemed like a good path to follow! I love reading and class debates so it was an easy decision to make! The best thing I'm getting from being a history major is spending time with other people who share my passion and don't shy away from an intense discussion. The professors, without fail, are committed, smart, witty, and great class presences. I've also learned to love spending time in the archives or buried in dusty old books!

Alexandra Ricks ’16: I am a History and Latin American Studies double-major.  Through my modules (Latin America, and Revolutions and Social Movements), I have been able to focus on my personal interests and bring in knowledge from other departments and disciplines. Quite frankly, I was initially drawn to history because I "liked old stuff" and "wanted to know what happened in the past." Now, as a major, I realize that the discipline of history is much more complex than I had previously believed. Because of this new understanding, I find myself thinking more critically about everything I had learned and, thus far, taken for granted; this is a perspective that translates to every aspect of my life, inside and out of the classroom. Modules: Latin America, and Revolutions and Social Movements.

Emma Rothberg ’15: I like to say my path to the history major started when I was ten years old and went to Colonial Williamsburg with my parents. Since then, I have enjoyed history as both a hobby and an intellectual pursuit. I was one of those people who upon entering college knew that I wanted to be a history major and would write a senior honors thesis. Now that I am a major, I am learning to become much more critical and to not necessarily take every argument at face value. The beauty of history is that there is always another angle, and I wanted to explore all of them before I come to my own conclusions. Modules: Race and North America. Interests: The Civil War, Reconstruction, Memory and Memorialization.