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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 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 

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:  The field of focus must include a minimum of four courses and serves as a "track" determined by the student concentrating in History. The field of focus my be geographic or thematic.  Students who choose a geographical focus  in Europe or North America must also provide a chronological focus (such as Early Modern Europe, Early North America, or Modern North America). Students who are interested in a thematic or transnational focus (such as  Comparative Colonialisms, Law & Society, Science & Technology, Environment & Medicine or the Ancient World) may include courses from different geographic and chronological areas. 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.

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. 

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

5. 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

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. 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.

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.

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
HIST 0150G
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
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
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
The First Globalization: The Portuguese in Africa, Asia, and the Americas
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
Africa and the Transatlantic Slave Trade
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 Academic as Activist
Atlantic Pirates
Popular Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean
Tropical Delights: Imagining Brazil in History and Culture
Women in the Middle East, 7th-20th C.: Patriarchal Visions, Revolutionary Voices
Object Histories: The Material Culture of Early America
Abraham Lincoln: Historical and Cultural Perspectives
Robber Barons
Sport in American History
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 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
British Social History
Becoming French: Minorities and the Challenges of Integration in the French Republic
Welfare States and a History of Modern Life
Walden + Woodstock: The American Lives of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Bob Dylan
The Social Lives of Dead Bodies in China and Beyond
Empire and Everyday Life in Colonial Latin America
Entangled South Africa
Africa, c.1850-1946: Colonial Contexts and Everyday Experiences
"Modern" Africa
Chinese Political Thought from Confucius to Xi Jinping
Humanitarianism and Conflict in Africa
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
Samurai and Merchants, Prostitutes and Priests: Japanese Urban Culture in the Early Modern Period
Imperial Japan
Modern Japan
Japan's Pacific War: 1937-1945
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
Revolution and Romanticism in 19th century Europe
Modern European Intellectual and Cultural History: The Fin de Siecle, 1880-1914
The Search for Renewal in 20th century Europe
Making A "Second Sex": Women and Gender in Modern European History
Politics of Violence in 20C Europe
Living Together: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Medieval Iberia
Truth on Trial: Justice in Italy, 1400-1800
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
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity? The History of Modern France
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
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
Women in 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
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
Capitalism, Land and Water: A World History: 1350-1848
Capitalism, Land and Water: A World History: 1848 to the present
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
Capstone Seminars
Medicine and Public Health in Africa
South Africa Since 1990
North African History: 1800 to Present
Zionists Anti Zionists and Post Zionists: Jewish Controversies in the 20th Century (JUDS 1752)
Cities and Urban Culture in China
Medieval Kyoto - Medieval Japan
Korea: North and South
North Korea: Past, Present, Future
Outside the Mainstream
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
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
Appetite for Greatness: Cuisine, Power, and the French
Double Fault! Race and Gender in Modern Sports History
"Furies from Hell" to "Femi-Nazis": A History of Modern Anti-Feminism
'Naturally Chic': Fashion, Gender, and National Identity in French History
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
From Emancipation to Obama
American Legal History, 1760-1920
Theory and Practice of Local History
Consent: Race, Sex, and the Law
Settler Colonialism + US Military Empire in the Pacific
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
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
The World of Isaac Newton
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
Modern Southeast Asian History, 18th Century to Present: A Reading Seminar
Reform and Revolution in Latin America
Women's Work: Gender and Capitalism in American History
Empire and Everyday Life in Colonial Latin America
Putin, Stalin and "Friends": Understanding Eurasia Today through its History and Personalities
Ruined History: Visual and Material Culture in South Asia
Wise Latinas: Women, Gender, and Biography in Latinx History
Sex, Gender, Empire
The Unwinding: A History of the 1990s
Prostitutes, Mothers, + Midwives: Women in Pre-modern Europe and North America
Race and Inequality in Metropolitan America from Urbanization to #blacklivesmatter
London: 1750 to the Present
The Indian Ocean World
Urban History of Latin America
Piracy, Patents and Intellectual Property
American Charters
Comparative Black Power
History of Chinese Medicine
Japanese Film and Animation of the 20th Century
Scientific Controversies from Creationism to Climate Change
History of Life Itself: Biopolitics in Modern Europe
Modernism and Its Critics
The Business of Empire: History of Capitalism and U.S. Foreign Relations, 1900 to the Present
Technologies of the Soul: The History of Healing
Debates on the Holocaust
Modern Enchantments: Science, Religion, and Magic in Modernizinig America
Peace, Justice and Human Rights in a Global Age
The World in Revolution: America and the Global South during the Long 1970s
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.