Division of Social Studies

Historical Studies

Overview
The Historical Studies Program focuses primarily, but not exclusively, on political, social, economic, and cultural aspects of history. The program encourages students to examine history through the prism of other relevant disciplines (sociology, anthropology, economics, philosophy) and forms of expression (art, film, literature, drama, architecture). The program also introduces a variety of methodological perspectives used in historical research and philosophical assumptions about men, women, and society that underlie these perspectives.

Areas of Study
Study plans can be divided into the following categories: national, regional, or local history (for example, American, European, Asian, Russian); period-oriented history (ancient, medieval, early modern, modern); and topical specializations (environmental history, urban history, diplomatic history, ethnic history, African American history, history of gender and sexuality, history of ideas, history of science and technology). Individual study plans may be further subdivided into specific areas of concentration.

Requirements
In the Lower College, students are expected to take three or four history courses covering different regions and time periods and using a variety of research methodologies. Students are required to take a global core course before graduation, and preferably before Moderation. For Moderation, students are required to submit the standard two short papers and a paper responding to an assigned reading. By the time of their graduation, students must have completed between six and eight history courses covering at least three world regions and one period prior to 1800. These should include one course focused on issues of historiography. As part of the preparation for their Senior Project, Upper College students should take two 300-level seminars; one of these should be a Major Conference taken in the junior year that culminates in a substantial research project.

Recent Senior Projects in Historical Studies

  • “Filiki Etaireia: The Rise of a Secret Society in the Making of the Greek Revolution”
  • “From New York to Hollywood: Advertising, Narrative Formats, and Changing Television Space in the 1950s”
  • “Michael Faraday’s ‘Lines of Force’ and the Role of Heuristic Models in Early Electromagnetic Field Theory”
  • “Reframing the Ofrenda: An Analysis of Material Culture through the Death Cult of Mexico”
Courses
The course descriptions that follow are presented numerically, beginning with 100-level introductory classes and continuing through 300-level seminars, and represent a sampling of offerings from the past four years. Tutorials and Major Conferences are also offered regularly; recent examples include Anarchism, Critical Geography, and The Decision to Drop the Bomb.