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History

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 Africa, the Middle East, the Americas, and Asia. While some courses explore special topics, others concentrate on the history of a particular country (e.g. China or Brazil) or period of time (e.g. Antiquity or the 20th century). By taking advantage of our diverse course offerings, students can engage in and develop broad perspectives on the past and the present. 

Prospective concentrators should visit the History site and visit the office hours of their prospective concentrator advisor (assigned according to student surname).

Concentration Requirements 

Basic requirement: A minimum of 10 courses, at least 8 of which must be courses taught by a Brown University History Department faculty member (including their cross-listed courses) and/or courses offered by the Brown History Department (such as those taught by Visiting or Adjunct Professors). Transfer students or study-abroad students who have spent a year or more at another institution must have at least 7 of 10 history courses taught by Brown History faculty or otherwise offered through the Brown History Department.

Summary
Courses in the "Premodern" era (P)2
2 Courses in 3 different geographic regions6
Field of focus4
Capstone Seminar1
Any combination of courses that fulfill the four requirments above for a total number of 10 courses*
Honors (optional) 3 additional courses related to writing a thesis (one of which, HIST 1992, can count towards your 10 concentration requirements)3
 

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.

Field of focus: In History, concentrators choose or create their own “track,” rather than having to select an existing track. The field of focus must include a minimum of four courses, and it may be: geographical (such as Latin America); geographical and chronological (such as Modern North America); or transnational (such as ancient world); or thematic (such as urban history). Students who choose North America or Europe must also choose a chronological focus (i.e. Early Modern Europe. Fields in Latin America, Africa, East Asia, or Middle East/South Asia do not require a chronological definition. All students should consult a concentration advisor early in the process about their potential field of focus.  All fields are subject to approval by the concentration advisor.

Thematic fields of focus include but are not restricted to:

  • Comparative Colonialism
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Law and Society
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Science, Technology, Environment and Medicine (STEAM)
  • Urban History

Examples of transnational foci include:

  • The Ancient World
  • The Early Modern Atlantic World
  • Africa and the Diaspora
  • The Mediterranean World from Antiquity to the Middle Ages
  • The Pacific World

Geographic Distribution: Concentrators must take at least two courses in three of the following geographic areas:

  •  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.

For details on which courses count toward which geographical distribution requirement click here.

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

For a listing of which courses count as "P" courses click here

Capstone Seminar: All concentrators must complete at least one capstone seminar (HIST 1960s and HIST 1970s series and select HIST 1980s courses).  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.

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. History courses taught by trained historians from other institutions (e.g., from study abroad or a previous institution) may be applied toward the chronological distribution requirement so long as at least 2/3 of the course content examine the "premodern" or "early modern" periods.

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 and then get approval from a concentration advisor.

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.

COURSES BELOW 1000
LECTURE COURSES
150's: Thematic Courses that Cut Across Time and Place
History of Capitalism
The Philosophers' Stone: Alchemy From Antiquity to Harry Potter
Locked Up: A Global History of Prison and Captivity
Refugees: A Twentieth-Century History
Pirates
History of Law: Great Trials
Foods and Drugs in History
Gateway Lecture Courses
African Experiences of Empire
Modern Africa: From Empire to Nation-State
Histories of East Asia: China
Histories of East Asia: Japan
Modern Korea: Contending with Modernity
The Making of Modern East Asia
War and Peace in Modern Europe
Clash of Empires in Latin America
Colonial Latin America
Modern Latin America
Understanding the Middle East: 1800s to the Present
Civilization, Empire, Nation: Competing Histories of the Middle East
American Exceptionalism: The History of an Idea
The American Civil War in Global Perspective: History, Law, and Popular Culture
Religion, Politics, and Culture in America, 1865 - Present
Modern American History: New and Different Perspectives
From Fire Wielders to Empire Builders: Human Impact on the Global Environment before 1492
From the Columbian Exchange to Climate Change: Modern Global Environmental History
A Global History of the Atomic Age
Science and Capitalism
Modern Genocide and Other Crimes against Humanity
History of Medicine I: Medical Traditions in the Old World Before 1700
History of Medicine II: The Development of Scientific Medicine in Europe and the World
SEMINAR COURSES
First-Year Seminars
Shanghai in Myth and History
Athens, Jerusalem, and Baghdad: Three Civilizations, One Tradition
Christianity in Conflict in the Medieval Mediterranean
The Holy Grail and the Historian's Quest for the Truth
An Empire and Republic: The Dutch Golden Age
Reason, Revolution and Reaction in Europe
The Enlightenment
The Holocaust in Historical Perspective
State Surveillance in History
The First World War
Atlantic Pirates
Conquests
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
Inequality and American Capitalism in the Twentieth Century
Slavery and Historical Memory in the United States
Slavery, Race, and Racism
Narratives of Slavery
Culture and U.S. Empire
Asian Americans and Third World Solidarity
The Silk Road, Past and Present
The Arctic: Global History from the Dog Sled to the Oil Rig
The Chinese Diaspora: A History of Globalization
The Age of Revolutions, 1760-1824
Making Change: Nonviolence in Action
Animal Histories
Science and Society in Darwin's England
Sophomore Seminars
The Search for King Arthur
Fractious Friendships: The United States and Latin America in the Twentieth Century
Welfare States and a History of Modern Life
American Patriotism in Black and White
Culture Wars in American Schools
Walden + Woodstock: The American Lives of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Bob Dylan
The Chinese Diaspora: A History of Globalization
The Social Lives of Dead Bodies in China and Beyond
COURSES WITH NUMBERS 1000-1999
LECTURE COURSES
Entangled South Africa
Africa, c.1850-1946: Colonial Contexts and Everyday Experiences
"Modern" Africa
Humanitarianism and Conflict in Africa
Chinese Political Thought from Confucius to Xi Jinping
Imperial China/China: Culture and Legacy
China's Late Empires
The Modern Chinese Nation: An Idea and Its Limits
China Pop: The Social History of Chinese Popular Culture
Imperial Japan
Modern Japan
Japan's Pacific War: 1937-1945
Postwar Japan
The Fall of Empires and Rise of Kings: Greek History to 478 to 323 BCE
History of Greece: From Alexander the Great to the Roman Conquest
Roman History I
Roman History II: The Empire
Formation of the Classical Heritage: Greeks, Romans, Jews, Christians, and Muslims
The Long Fall of the Roman Empire
The Viking Age
Crusaders and Cathedrals, Deviants and Dominance: Europe in the High Middle Ages
The Paradox of Early Modern Europe
Modern European Intellectual and Cultural History: Revolution and Romanticism, 1760-1860
Modern European Intellectual and Cultural History: The Fin de Siecle, 1880-1914
The Search for Renewal in 20th century Europe
Politics of Violence in 20C Europe
Living Together: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Medieval Iberia
Truth on Trial: Justice in Italy, 1400-1800
Cultural History of the Netherlands in a Golden Age and a Global Age
English History, 1529-1660
British History, 1660-1800
The Rise of the Russian Empire
Russia in the Era of Reforms, Revolutions, and World Wars
The Collapse of Socialism and the Rise of New Russia
German History, 1806-1945
The French Revolution
Death from Medieval Relics to Forensic Science
History of Brazil
Brazil: From Abolition to Emerging Global Power
Brazilian Biographies
Rebel Island: Cuba, 1492-Present
The Rise and Fall of the Aztecs: Mexico, 1300-1600
Reform and Rebellion: Mexico, 1700-1867
The Mexican Revolution
The United States and Brazil: Tangled Relations
Latin American History and Film: Memory, Narrative and Nation
The Ottomans: Faith, Law, Empire
The Making of the Ottoman World, 15th - 20th Centuries
The Making of the Modern Middle East
Modern Turkey: Empire, Nation, Republic
Legal History in the Middle East
The American Revolution
Antebellum America and the Road to Civil War
Making America Modern
American Politics and Culture Since 1945
Sinners, Saints, and Heretics: Religion in Early America
First Nations: The People and Cultures of Native North America to 1800
U.S. Cultural History from Revolution to Reconstruction
Capitalism, Slavery and the Economy of Early America
The Intimate State: The Politics of Gender, Sex, and Family in the U.S., 1873-Present
Political Movements in Twentieth-Century America
Black Freedom Struggle Since 1945
American Urban History, 1600-1870
American Urban History, 1870-1965
Empires in America to 1890
American Empire Since 1890
American Legal and Constitutional History
The Intellectual History of Black Women
Resisting Empire: Gandhi and the Making of Modern South Asia
Inequality + Change: South Asia after 1947
"Cannibals", "Barbarians" and "Noble Savages": Travel and Ethnography in the Early Modern World
Slavery in the Early Modern World
A Global History of the Reformation
Environmental History
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
Science and Capitalism
From Medieval Bedlam to Prozac Nation: Intimate Histories of Psychiatry and Self
Unearthing the Body: History, Archaeology, and Biology at the End of Antiquity
SEMINAR COURSES
Non-Capstone Seminars
World of Walden Pond: Transcendentalism as a Social and Intellectual Movement
Thinking Historically: A History of History Writing
Rites of Power in Modern China
SEMINAR COURSES
Capstone Seminars
Southern African Frontiers, c. 1400-1860
Medicine and Public Health in Africa
South Africa Since 1990
North African History: 1800 to Present
Cities and Urban Culture in China
Knowledge and Power: China's Examination Hell
Life During Wartime: Theory and Sources from the Twentieth Century
State, Religion and the Public Good in Modern China
Japan in the World, from the Age of Empires to 3.11
Barbarians, Byzantines, and Berbers: Early Medieval North Africa, AD 300-1050
Charlemagne: Conquest, Empire, and the Making of the Middle Ages
Sex, Power, and God: A Medieval Perspective
Age of Impostors: Fraud, Identification, and the Self in Early Modern Europe
The Enchanted World: Magic, Angels, and Demons in Early Modern Europe
Women in Early Modern England
The English Revolution
Early Modern Ireland
Spin, Terror and Revolution: England, Scotland and Ireland, 1660-1720
Descartes' World
Slavery in the Early Modern World
City as Modernity:Popular Culture, Mass Consumption, Urban Entertainment in Nineteenth-Century Paris
Fin-de-Siècle Paris and Vienna
Stalinism
The USSR and the Cold War
Politics of the Intellectual in 20C Europe
Appetite for Greatness: Cuisine, Power, and the French
The Crisis of Liberalism in Modern History
Making Revolutionary Cuba, 1959-Present
In the Shadow of Revolution: Mexico Since 1940
The Maya in the Modern World
Politics and Culture Under The Brazilian Military Dictatorship, 1964-1985
History of Rio de Janeiro
History of the Andes from the Incas to Evo Morales
Approaches to the Middle East
History of Capitalism: The Eastern Mediterranean and the World Around
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
Palestine versus the Palestinians
Nothing Pleases Me: Understanding Modern Middle Eastern History Through Literature
Colonial Encounters: Indians, Europeans, and the Making of Early America
Enslaved! Indians and Africans in an Unfree Atlantic World
Problem of Class in Early America
Early American Money
From Emancipation to Obama
American Legal History, 1760-1920
Theory and Practice of Local History
Consent: Race, Sex, and the Law
Lesbian Memoir
U.S. Human Rights in a Global Age
The Silk Roads, Past and Present
War and Peace: A Global History
Nonviolence in History and Practice
Decolonizing Minds: A People's History of the World
Maps and Empires
A Global Idea: Civilization(s)
Early Modern Globalization
The Nuclear Age
Native Histories in Latin America and North America
The History of Extinction
Powering the Past: The History of Energy
The Anthropocene: Climate Change as Social History
Fueling Change: A Global History of Energy
Animal Histories
Environmental History of Latin America 1492-Present
Imperialism and Environmental Change
Topics in the History of Economic Thought
Histories of the Future
Feathery Things: An Avian Introduction to Animal Studies
Gender, Race, and Medicine in the Americas
Undergraduate Reading Courses
History Honors Workshop for Prospective Thesis Writers
History Honors Workshop for Thesis Writers, Part I
History Honors Workshop for Thesis Writers, Part II

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.”  HIST 1992 can count 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.”  HIST 1993 and HIST 1994 do not count towards the 10 courses required for graduation in history; they are an additional two courses to the minimum of 10 required history courses. 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.