History is the study of how societies and cultures across the world change over time. History concentrators learn to write and think critically, and to understand issues from a variety of perspectives. The department offers a wide variety of courses concerned with changes in human experience through time, ranging from classical Greek and Roman civilizations to the histories of Europe, the Americas, and Asia.  While some courses explore special topics, others concentrate on the history of a particular country (e.g. Russia or France) or period of time (e.g. the Middle Ages or the Renaissance). By taking advantage of our diverse course offerings, students can engage in and develop broad perspectives on the past and the present.

Concentration Requirements (for students graduating after spring 2015)

1. Basic Requirement: A concentration in History consists of a minimum of ten semester-long courses; of these, at least eight must be offered by the Brown University History Department, including cross-listed courses. (Students who spend more than one semester at another institution, must take at least 7 HIST courses - see “Transferring Courses” below.)

2. Courses below 1000: Students may count no more than four courses numbered below 1000 toward the concentration requirements.  Students considering a concentration in History are encouraged to take First Year and Sophomore seminars, as well as courses in the HIST 0150 and 0200 series, for an introduction to historical reasoning, discussion, and writing.

3. Field of Focus: Upon declaring a concentration in History, students must define the area that will be the primary focus of their program.  The primary field of focus must include a minimum of four courses.  Students who choose a geographical focus must provide a thematic or chronological rationale for the coherence of courses with a broad chronological span. Students who are interested in a thematic or transnational focus (such as Science, Technology, Environment and Medicine or the Ancient World) may include courses from different geographic areas. All students should consult a concentration advisor early in the process.  All fields are subject to approval by the concentration advisor.

4. Geographical Distribution: Concentrators must take at least two courses in three different geographic areas.  These are:

  • Africa
  • East Asia
  • Europe
  • Global
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Middle East and South Asia
  • North America

“Global” courses are defined as those that deal with at least three different regions of the world. 

5. Chronological Distribution: All concentrators must complete at least two courses designated as “P” (for pre-modern).

6. Capstone Seminar: All concentrators must complete at least one capstone seminar (these will be HIST 1960s and HIST 1970s series courses in the new numbering system.) These seminars are designed to serve as an intellectual culmination of the concentration. They provide students with an opportunity to delve deeply into a historical problem and to write a major research and/or analytical paper which serves as a capstone experience.  Ideally, they will be taken in the field of focus and during the student’s junior or senior year. Students considering writing a senior honors thesis are advised to take an advanced seminar in their junior year.

7. Transferring Courses: The History Department encourages students to take history courses at other institutions, either in the United States or abroad, as well as history-oriented courses in other departments and programs at Brown. Students may apply two courses taken in other departments/programs at Brown to the ten-course minimum for the History concentration. Students who spend one semester at another institution may apply to their concentration a maximum of two courses from other departments or institutions, and those who spend more than one semester at another institution may apply to their concentration a third course transferred from another institution.

Students wishing to apply such courses must present to their concentration advisor justification that those courses complement some aspect of their concentration. Courses from other Brown departments may not be applied toward the chronological distribution requirement; courses transferred from other institutions may be applied toward the chronological distribution requirement so long as they clearly are history courses.

It is normally expected that students will have declared their intention to concentrate in History and have their concentration programs approved before undertaking study elsewhere. Students taking courses in Brown-run programs abroad automatically receive University transfer credit, but concentration credit is granted only with the approval of a concentration advisor. Students taking courses in other foreign-study programs or at other universities in the United States must apply to the Transfer Credit Advisor.

Final transfer and concentration credit will not be granted until the student successfully completes the course(s) and returns to Brown. Approval by the department advisor for transfer credit will be contingent on satisfactory course content and performance (to be demonstrated by documents such as a transcript showing the grade, syllabi, notes, papers, exams, etc.).

8. Regular Consultation: Students are strongly urged to consult regularly with their concentration advisor or a department advisor about their program. During the seventh semester, all students must meet with their concentration advisor for review and approval of their program.

In consultation with the concentration advisor, students may choose from the following courses:
Locked Up: A Global History of Prison and Captivity
Refugees: A Twentieth-Century History
Modern Africa: From Empire to Nation-State
Modern Korea: Contending with Modernity
Clash of Empires in Latin America
Modern Latin America
Understanding the Middle East: 1800s to the Present
Civilization, Empire, Nation: Competing Histories of the Middle East
Religion, Politics, and Culture in America, 1865 - Present
The American Civil War
Modern American History: New and Different Perspectives
A Global History of the Atomic Age
History of Medicine I: Medical Traditions in the Old World Before 1700
Shanghai in Myth and History
Christianity in Conflict in the Medieval Mediterranean
Popular Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean
Tropical Delights: Imagining Brazil in History and Culture
Object Histories: The Material Culture of Early America
Abraham Lincoln: Historical and Cultural Perspectives
Robber Barons
Sport in American History
Asian Americans and Third World Solidarity
The Chinese Diaspora: A History of Globalization
The Age of Revolutions, 1760-1824
Science and Society in Darwin's England
Welfare States and a History of Modern Life
American Patriotism in Black and White
Walden + Woodstock: The American Lives of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Bob Dylan
The Romans
Evil: The History of an Idea
South African History
Africa, c.1850-1946: Colonial Contexts and Everyday Experiences
Chinese Political Thought
Imperial China/China: Culture and Legacy
The Modern Chinese Nation: An Idea and Its Limits
China Pop: The Social History of Chinese Popular Culture
Samurai and Merchants, Prostitutes and Priests: Japanese Urban Culture in the Early Modern Period
Modern Japan
Roman History II: The Empire
The Shaping of the Classical World: Greeks, Jews, and Romans
The Viking Age
Crusaders and Cathedrals, Deviants and Dominance: Europe in the High Middle Ages
Charlemagne and the Making of Medieval Europe
Revolution and Romanticism in 19th century Europe
The Search for Renewal in 20th century Europe
English History, 1529-1660
British History, 1660-1800
The French Revolution
Brazil: From Abolition to Emerging Global Power
Brazilian Biographies
Rebel Island: Cuba, 1492-Present
The Mexican Revolution
Latin American History and Film: Memory, Narrative and Nation
The Ottomans: Faith, Law, Empire
Antebellum America and the Road to Civil War
American Politics and Culture Since 1945
Sinners, Saints, and Heretics: Religion in Early America
Capitalism, Slavery and the Economy of Early America
American Urban History, 1600-1870
Empires in America to 1890
American Empire Since 1890
HIST 1735
Slavery in the Early Modern World
Capitalism, Land and Water: A World History: 1848 to the present
Nature on Display
Nature, Knowledge, Power in Renaissance Europe
Science, Medicine and Technology in the 17th Century
The Roots of Modern Science
Science at the Crossroads
From Medieval Bedlam to Prozac Nation: Intimate Histories of Psychiatry and Self
Medicine and Public Health in Africa
Knowledge and Power: China's Examination Hell
North Korea: Past, Present, Future
HIST 1962B
Life During Wartime: Theory and Sources from the Twentieth Century
Crisis and Social Justice at the End of Antiquity
Sex, Power, and God: A Medieval Perspective
Age of Impostors: Fraud, Identification, and the Self in Early Modern Europe
HIST 1964B
The Enchanted World: Magic, Angels, and Demons in Early Modern Europe
The English Revolution
Spin, Terror and Revolution: England, Scotland and Ireland, 1660-1720
City as Modernity:Popular Culture, Mass Consumption, Urban Entertainment in Nineteenth-Century Paris
Anti-Semitism, Anti-Judaism, Anti-Zionism: Historical Connections and Disconnections
The Maya in the Modern World
Politics and Culture Under The Brazilian Military Dictatorship, 1964-1985
History of the Andes from the Incas to Evo Morales
Approaches to The Middle East
America and the Middle East: Social and Cultural Histories in Tandem
Israel-Palestine: Lands and Peoples I
Israel-Palestine: Lands and Peoples II
Debates in Middle Eastern History
HIST 1969D
Palestine vs the Palestinians
Problem of Class in Early America
Theory and Practice of Local History
HIST 1974A
Silk Roads, Past and Present
War and Peace: A Global History
Decolonizing Minds: A People's History of the World
Histories of the Future
Urban History of Latin America

Honors (OPTIONAL):

History concentrators in the 5th or 6th semester may apply for honors. To be admitted, students must have achieved two-thirds “quality grades” in History department courses.  A “quality grade” is defined as a grade of “A” or a grade of “S” accompanied by a course performance report indicating a performance at the “A” standard.

Students who wish to enroll in honors are recommended to takeHIST 1992, “History Honors Workshop for Prospective Students.”  Students who complete honors may count HIST 1992 as one of the 10 courses required for graduation in history.  HIST 1992 students who prepare a prospectus that receives a grade of A- or above will be admitted to the honors program.  Students in their 7th semester who have not taken HIST 1992 (including but not limited to those who are away from Brown during that semester) may apply to the program by submitting a prospectus no later than the first day of that semester.  All honors students must complete one semester of HIST 1993 “History Honors Workshop for Thesis Writers, Part I” and one semester of HIST 1994 “History Workshop for Thesis Writers, Part II.”  Students who contemplate enrolling in the honors program in History should consult the honors section of the department website. They are also encouraged to meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, who serves as the honors advisor.