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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.

Two (2) Courses in the "Premodern" era (P)
One (1) Course in Africa OR Middle East - South Asia
One (1) Course in East Asia OR Latin America
One (1) course in Europe OR North America
One (1) course designated Global
Students may take a maximum of 5 courses in any single geography
Field of Focus (FF) - Students must take four courses in the field of focus. These courses may be used to satisfy different requirements (geography and field of focus, etc.).
Capstone Seminar: All concentrators must complete at least one capstone seminar (HIST 1960s and HIST 1970s series and select HIST 1980s courses), ideally, in the field of focus.
Honors (optional) 3 additional courses related to writing a thesis (one of which, HIST 1992, can count towards your 10 concentration requirements)

Note: Courses can fulfill more than one of these requirements at a time. For instance, HIST1963Q “Sex, Power, God: A Medieval Perspective” would count as “Premodern,” a "Europe" class, and a capstone seminar. It could also count towards a field of focus in premodern Europe or the history of sexuality or the history of religion, etc.

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).  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 a at least four courses defined by geography as follows:

  • One course in Africa or Middle East-South Asia
  • One course in East Asia or Latin America
  • One course in Europe or North America
  • One course in Global

Maximum of five courses in a single geography

 “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).  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.  Students considering writing a senior honors thesis are advised to take an advanced seminar in their junior year. First-Year students are not advised to take these courses. 

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.

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
History of Law: Great Trials
Foods and Drugs in History
The Making of the Modern World
The Ocean in Global 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, Tyranny, and Peace in Modern Europe
Clash of Empires in Latin America
Colonial Latin America
Modern Latin America
Modern Middle East Roots: 1492 to the Present
Understanding the Middle East: 1800s to the Present
Civilization, Empire, Nation: Competing Histories of the Middle East
'Neither of the East nor West': The Ottoman Empire
Mexican American History
Introduction to Latinx History
Labor, Land and Culture: A History of Immigration in the U.S.
The First Globalization: The Portuguese in Africa, Asia, and the Americas
American Exceptionalism: The History of an Idea
The American Civil War
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
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
What is Enlightenment?
The Holocaust in Historical Perspective
State Surveillance in History
History of Fascism
The First World War
Atlantic Pirates
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
A Textile History of Atlantic Slavery
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
World of Walden Pond: Transcendentalism in the Age of Reform
History of American Feminism
Latinx Social Movement History
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 US-Mexico Border and Borderlands: A Bilingual English-Spanish Seminar
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
The Russian Revolution
Americans in the USSR
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
History of Intercollegiate Athletics
Early American Lives
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
Entangled South Africa
Colonial Africa
"Modern" Africa
Humanitarianism and Conflict in Africa
Chinese Political Thought from Confucius to Xi Jinping
Imperial China/China: Culture and Legacy
Women and Gender Relations in China
China's Early Modern Empires
China's Late Empires
At China's Edges
The Modern Chinese Nation: An Idea and Its Limits
China Pop: The Social History of Chinese Popular Culture
Japan in the Age of the Samurai
Imperial Japan
Modern Japan
Japan's Pacific War: 1937-1945
Postwar Japan
Mediterranean Culture Wars: Archaic Greek History, c 1200 to 479 BC
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
Migration in European History
Living Together: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Medieval Iberia
After Empire: Modern Spain in the 20th Century
Women, Gender, and Feminism in Early Modern Italy
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
Paris: Sacred and Profane, Imagined and Real
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
History of the Andes from Incas to Evo Morales
Amazonia from the Prehuman to the Present
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
Bankrupt: An Economic and Financial History of the Middle East in the 19th and 20th Centuries
History of the Palestinians
Modern Turkey: Empire, Nation, Republic
Legal History in the Middle East
The American Revolution
The Early Republic United States
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
American Slavery
The Intimate State: The Politics of Gender, Sex, and Family in the U.S., 1873-Present
Movement Politics in Modern 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, Domestic and International
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
Religion and Power in North America to 1865
Environmental History
Environmental History of East Asia
Nature on Display
Nature, Knowledge, Power in Early Modern Europe
Science, Medicine and Technology in the 17th Century
History of Artificial Intelligence
The Roots of Modern Science
Science at the Crossroads
Science and Capitalism
Politics and the Psyche from Sigmund Freud to QAnon
From Medieval Bedlam to Prozac Nation: Intimate Histories of Psychiatry and Self
Unearthing the Body: History, Archaeology, and Biology at the End of Antiquity
Non-Capstone Seminars
History of Jews in Brazil
World of Walden Pond: Transcendentalism as a Social and Intellectual Movement
Thinking Historically: A History of History Writing
Rites of Power in Modern China
History of Artificial Intelligence
Archives of Desire: Non-Normative Genders and Sexualities in the Hispanophone World
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
Heaven Above, Suzhou and Hangzhou Below: Urban Culture in Early Modern China
Colonization and Ethnicity in East Asian History
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
Print and Power in Modern Southeast Asia
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
Race and Empire in 18th Century France
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
The USSR and the Cold War
Politics of the Intellectual in 20C Europe
Europe and the Invention of Race
Industrial Revolution in Europe
Double Fault! Race and Gender in Modern Sports History
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
Gender and Sexuality in the Modern History of Latin America
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: Histories of Connection and Exchange
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
Captive Voices: Atlantic Slavery in the Digital Age
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
Loss, Political Activism and Public Feelings: Between Fact and Affect
Racial Capitalism and U.S. Liberal Empire
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
Early Modern Globalization
Modernity's Crisis: Jewish History from the French Revolution to the Election of Donald Trump
The Nuclear Age
Moral Panic and Politics of Fear
Native Histories in Latin America and North America
The History of Extinction
Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Environmental Histories of Non-Human Actors
Powering the Past: The History of Energy
The Anthropocene: Climate Change as Social History
Animal Histories
Environmental History of Latin America 1492-Present
Imperialism and Environmental Change
Earth Histories: From Creation to Countdown
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
War and Medicine since the Renaissance
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 the Honors Program (DHP), who serves as the honors advisor.