What History Course Should I Take?

Gateways to the Major: Where to Begin?

There are two gateways to the major.

All instructors in the department teach History 101: Introduction to Historical Study. It is designed to introduce students to the study of history through a particular theme. Some of the topics taught in recent years include: The Sixties, Crime & Punishment, The Civil Rights Movement, and Hitler & the Nazi State.

In addition to the History 101, students often begin the major through the introductory surveys, 100-level courses in U.S. History (History 110 and 111), Western Civilization (History 106 and 107), Introduction to Global History (History 108), and the History of Black America (History 115). These courses will give you a broad understanding of a major field of history and prepare the way for advanced study.

But you don’t have to begin at the 100-level. First-years with good academic preparation and a strong interest in history should feel free to enroll in 200-level courses. These courses are taught at a slightly more advanced level, but—aside from the History 201 and History 202—they have no prerequisites and presume no previous knowledge.

Where Do I Go from There?

Students with an interest in history should pursue broad and deep historical studies (more on this in a moment); they should also learn the critical skills of the historian.

Toward this second aim, majors and minors in History are strongly encouraged to complete History 201: The Craft of History. The course is best taken in the sophomore year, after students have completed at least one course in history at the College but before they begin Junior I.S. This course—like the History 101—is taught by a large number of faculty members and with a wide range of themes. But all courses taught under this rubric share an emphasis on the critical skills of the historian—including the analysis of primary sources, historiography, historical research and writing, and historical argument.  Topics offered include The History of the News, The History of Education in the U.S., Slavery in the Americas, Plagues in History, and the Harlem Renaissance.  A writing- intensive course, the class is taught as a seminar.  This course is strongly recommended for majors, but it is open to students from all departments and programs.

Other courses that focus on methodology include History 202History Workshop, a quarter-credit course devoted to a particular approach to history, and History 298The Making of History, an advanced course in historical theory and methods.

Junior-Senior Seminar

Students in their junior or senior year should consider the offerings under the rubric of History 301: History Colloquium. This course provides an advanced, reading-intensive seminar, focusing on a particular historical problem or field, for students well experienced in historical study.