History Department

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DESCRIPTIONS OF MODULES

Africa:  Relevant courses within the department on Africa, and some courses taught in Music, Government, Economics, Anthropology, and Art History.

African American History:  The module examines the history of Blacks in the United States, from the origins in the colonial era to the present day. Consideration of the history and experiences of the wider Black population group throughout the Americas is also encouraged. In consultation with the major advisor, courses outside of the department that contain a sufficiently historical component can also be included in the module.

Before Modernity: The Pre-Industrial Era:  Relevant courses on pre-modern societies (dates depend on the area in question) including courses on Europe, colonial Latin and North America (including pre-1877 African-American), traditional Africa, China, South Asia, Islamic civilizations, Japan, and Russia, and the Ottoman empire; also History 215 & 268. Courses in Classical Civilization and in Medieval Studies would also count towards this module, as would those on medieval, Renaissance and Baroque art history.

Britain and the British Empire:  Courses on the history of ancient and modern Britain, Britain’s imperial past and Britain’s historical relations in Africa, South Asia, Early North America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia have direct bearing on this module.

The City:  Relevant courses that center attention on the history, fabric, and culture of cities both ancient and modern are appropriate for this module.   Suitable courses from outside the History Department suitable courses include those focusing on cities or a particular city.  

Contemporary History:  This module allows students to consider the present world in historical perspective—to examine and analyze aspects of the recent past and to provide a historical context for understanding current developments. What constitutes “contemporary” history of course varies for different times and places, and even for the same places at different times, but major forces that have shaped the contemporary world include: postwar reconstruction; decolonialization; Cold War; globalization; nationalism; revolution; new political and social movements; conflict, violence and war; wealth and poverty; gender; cultural revolution; religion and secularization; socialism and post-socialism; demography and migration; urban studies; environment; and science and technology.

Early Modern Globe (1500-1800):  This module explores a period in time when the expansion of empires and ideas impacted peoples and places in disparate areas of the world, including the imperial homelands.   With the approval of the student’s advisor, non-departmental courses that address this theme may count toward the module. 

East Asia:  This module allows students to focus on East Asia as part of their History major by taking any HIST courses related to East Asia.    Students need to include courses on at least two countries, usually China and Japan but, whenever possible, one of these and Korea. In addition, one pre-industrial course on East Asia (HIST 223, HIST 260, or an equivalent) is required.

Economy and Society:  The production of food and other goods, the division of labor and exchange have affected the health, ordered the lives and defined the social hierarchies of all human societies. New ways of organizing this production have had revolutionary consequences for the ways humans interact, where they live, their quality of life, their material culture, and their view of the world. This module offers an opportunity to explore the economic side of history and its connections to many facets of life unrestricted by timeframe or geography.

Empires and Encounters:   The Empires and Encounters module engages the regional and comparative histories that link and distinguish societies in Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Europe. With a focus on the entangled nature of imperial development and the myriad types of political, social, and cultural encounters that took place across the globe in the pre-modern and modern era, this module demonstrates how historical developments are at once locally defined and globally relevant.  Faculty in the department have a particular interest in the following topics: the Atlantic World, Global Capitalism, the Ottoman Empire, Jewish History, Colonial Latin America, Early North America, Southeast Asia, Native Peoples, the Industrial Revolution, and more.

Environment and Food:  Courses in this module examine the history of interactions between humans and their environment in varied geographical locations and across diverse spatial and temporal scales.  Thus, these courses may explore histories of ideas and knowledge about nature, whether found in scientific disciplines like ecology or geography, or in popular culture; the ways that humans and natural forces have shaped the landscapes of which we are a part, from parks and wildlife preserves to agricultural land, waterways, and cities; and the ways in which our environment has shaped our bodies and culture, inter alia, through labor, food, disease, and climate.  

Europe: The European history module embraces the long history of the European peoples from Classical Greece and Rome, through the Early and High Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Reformation, into Early Modern and Modern times. In the interests of cohesion and depth, students electing the European history module are strongly urged to focus a number of their courses in the same epoch or the same region. Of the four courses in their European history module, students must choose two courses from among History 201, History 202, and History 203.   The European history module offers surveys of periods and places in addition to those indicated above, as well as seminars devoted to specific subjects and themes.

Gender and Sexuality:  This module offers a wide range of courses that afford students the opportunity to study the history of women, gender and sexuality around the world and add depth and perspective to the curricula of all history students, regardless of their main fields of study. Courses can focus on transnational or global perspectives and encompass South Asia, Africa, and Latin America; medieval, early modern, and modern Europe; and the United States, including specialized study of Native Americans, African Americans, and the American South. Topics of special interest to our faculty include the history of science, medicine and technology; environmental history and the history of food; the gendered history of the nation, race, and ethnicities; the history of colonialism; the history of masculinity, the history of sexuality; the history of violence, the military, war and peace; and the gendered history of popular culture and collective memory. In addition, we provide opportunities to explore the discipline of Women’s and Gender History itself—that is, we regularly offer a class, “Gender and History,” that introduces students to some of the foundational theories and methodologies for studying women’s and gender history.   Prospective concentrators should expect to take the Gender and History seminar or an adviser-approved substitute.

Geographies: Space and Mapping:  Courses in this module employ geography and its visual representation to investigate political, social, and cultural developments in the pre-modern and modern eras. Major themes explored in this module include spatial categories of historical analysis, competing concepts of territory, mapping as a cultural practice, the significance of maritime routes, the historical impact of visual materials, and the use of geography to reconfigure temporal frameworks.

History and Theory:  This module allows students to consider the theoretical, methodological, and epistemological assumptions that ground both the discipline and writing of history.  Courses offered through the module encourage students to explore the relationship between history and theory through courses on critical theory; explanatory paradigms; memory; gender; time and culture; historiography; history of historiography; historical methodology; the critical or speculative philosophy of history, and related offerings.   This module is intended for students who seek a closer understanding of the theoretical foundations of history. 

Jewish History, Society, and Culture:  Relevant courses within the department, including one of the following three HIST courses:  247, 248 & 267.

Latin America:  This module explores the history of Latin America and the Caribbean from the pre-contact era to the present day.  In addition to departmental courses, the module may include up to three non-departmental courses cross listed with the Latin American Studies Program or taken abroad in Latin America.  Students selecting this module must take either HIST 296, Colonial Latin America, or HIST 245, Survey of Latin American History.      

Middle East:  Any course dealing primarily with the history of the Middle East & North Africa will satisfy the requirements for this module. In addition to the departmental courses offered on the region's history, up to 3 courses outside of the History Department, listed on the Middle East Studies Certificate Website or taken abroad in the Middle East may count toward the four courses required for this module.

Migration:  This module explores moments and places where the movement of people  - across oceans, across continents, within and between nations – is a major force in history.   Courses from other departments and programs that incorporate the theme of migration may also count toward this module.

Nation and Ethnicity:  The nation has long been a powerful form of common allegiance, and the various changing definitions of nationhood—which have included religion, culture, language, Ethnicity, and race—have been vehicles both of liberation and enslavement, and as such, catalysts for soaring achievement and destructive conflict alike. The nation-state has been the focus of much modern historical writing, though nations and ethnicities without states were long excluded from these narratives. Recent trends in historiography seek to go beyond the nation-state to recover these pasts. This module allows students to explore ethnicity and national identity unrestricted by statehood, time or geography. With the approval of the student’s advisor, courses from other departments and programs that incorporate the nation or ethnicity may count toward this module.

North America:  Courses in this module offer students the opportunity to research topics from Indigenous peoples of North America in the pre-contact era all the way to the U.S. and Canada in early 21st century. In addition to four chronological surveys (History 237, 238, 239, 240), the module can includes classes on the history of science and technology, ecology, intellectual life, religion, economy, industrialization, labor, race, ethnicity, food, politics, reform movement, gender, photography, prison systems, atomic bomb 1945, the Cold War, and local history, among other subjects.

Race:  This module examines the ideology of race, the belief system by means of which humans are classified and valued according to hereditary variations. Majors may take courses that engage the history and experiences of racially subordinated population groups as well as the theories and methods that have determined such relations. 

Religion:  This module includes History 323 (Religion and History), a general theory course taught by different instructors; and relevant courses currently taught on Indian religions, religions of the Middle East, Judaism, Christianity, Secularism , and Buddhism. The module may also include courses originating in the Religion Department and cross listed in History.  

Revolutions and Social Movements:  This module asks students to explore processes of significant political and social change, revolutionary situations, and the thought and action of revolutionaries.  What forces made possible the mobilization of peoples into movements? How do broad social grievances transform into concrete political goals? Students have the opportunity to investigate revolutions and social movements in global, national, and local contexts across time and place.

Science, Technology, and Medicine:  From university research laboratories to hospitals to electronic computers and nuclear weapons, science, technology, and medicine are highly visible features of the contemporary world.  Courses in this module naturally explore some histories of well-known bodies of scientific knowledge, gadgets, and therapies that loom so large in our lives today.  But they also examine broader histories about the production and transmission of knowledge; the interactions between science and popular culture, religion, political and institutional contexts, or the broader history of ideas; ways of making, doing, and intervening in the world, from clay tablets to recombinant DNA; and ways of conceptualizing and maintaining our bodies and our health.  

South Asia:  Any course dealing principally with the history of South Asia will meet the requirements for this module.  In addition to the departmental courses offered on the region's history (including those cross-listed in History from other departments), up to two courses outside of the History Department, listed on the South Asia Certificate Website or taken abroad in South Asia, may count toward the four courses required for this module.

Thought and Ideas:  This module offers students the opportunity to study the thought and ideas of diverse cultures, places, and times across world history.  The study of world thought highlights that there are multiple approaches to ideas even within a single geographical area, not just across continents.  Indeed, the ideas themselves could be political, religious, and/or scientific.  Students in this module will be able to address the question of the force of ideas on society.  The courses in this module are designed to train students in many of the significant written, material, and visual texts of the past, to examine the role of the intellectual in society, to pose questions concerning the philosophy of history, and to present alternative theories of reading texts.  

Visual and Material Culture:  This module offers students the opportunity to research the visual and material histories of the past, to engage current debates in this emerging historical field, and to learn how to apply new methods of historical interpretation.  Topics of special interest to our History faculty include, for example: the history of art and architecture, visual culture and commodities; newspaper illustration; political cartoons; advertisements; photography and print culture; maps and architectural drawings; scientific and medical illustration; and historical documentary film.

War and Violence:  Conflict has shaped human society for millennia, and it played a central role in the migration of people, the emergence and evolution of states, the development of politics, the rise of new technology, and the spread of empire. War and violence have also been indelible personal experiences that have shaped ethnic, religious and national identities, just as their aftermath has helped define international legal norms. This module offers history majors an opportunity to examine the history of war and violence as it affected individuals, specific groups and whole societies unrestricted by timeframe or geography.