Professors: R. DALZELL, DEW*, KOHUT**, KUNZEL*, MERRILL*, SINGHAM*, W. WAGNER*, WATERS, WHALEN, WONG, WOOD. Associate Professors: BERNHARDSSON, GOLDBERG, KITTLESON, MUTONGI. Assistant Professors: AUBERT**, FISHZON, GARBARINI*, LONG, SINIAWER**, A. REINHARDT. Stanley Kaplan Visiting Professor: STOLER. Boskey Visiting Professor: BURROW. Visiting Assistant Professors: BEILIN, DUBOW. Research Associates: GUNDERSHEIMER, STARENKO, VAN DER SPUY.


The History department seeks to cultivate a critical understanding and awareness of the past and the development of our students' intellectual, analytical, and rhetorical abilities. In pursuit of the first objective, through its curricular offerings the department seeks both to expose students to the richness, diversity, and complexities of human history over long periods of time and in different geographic regions and to provide students with the opportunity to explore aspects of the past in depth. At the same time, the department endeavors to develop students' ability to think historically and to foster in them an appreciation of the contested nature and the value of historical knowledge by confronting them with the variety of ways in which historians have approached and interpreted the past, engaging them in issues that provoke historical debate, and familiarizing them with the nature and uses of historical evidence. By engaging students in the critical study of the past, finally, the department seeks to develop their ability to formulate historically informed analyses and their analytical and rhetorical skills.


The course numbering system used by the History Department reflects the different types and objectives of courses offered at each level. The different course levels are distinguished less by degree of difficulty than by the purposes that the courses at each level are intended to serve and the background knowledge they presume.

First-Year Seminars and Tutorials (102-199): These writing-intensive courses give students an opportunity to explore an exciting historical topic in-depth, learn about the discipline of history, and improve their research and writing skills. Because these courses emphasize the acquisition of skills required for the advanced study of History, they are ideal for students contemplating a major in History.

Each 100-level seminar is normally limited to nineteen students and focuses both on training in research skills (such as using the library, navigating on-line resources, formulating a research question and developing a research agenda, and learning how to use different types of evidence) and on the acquisition of reading skills (such as how to interpret different kinds of historical writing and the arguments historians make). These seminars especially emphasize the importance of writing and include varied assignments that stress the mechanics of writing and revision and focus on issues of argumentation, documentation, and style. Enrollment preference in 100-level seminars is normally given to first-year students and then to sophomores.

Each 100-level tutorial stresses the importance of interpreting historical evidence and evaluating the arguments made by historians and likewise fulfills the writing-intensive requirement. Enrollment in these courses is limited to ten students, each of whom is expected to write five or six interpretive essays and present five or six oral critiques of another student's work. First-year students and sophomores will normally be given equal enrollment preference in 100-level tutorials, although first-year students will not normally be permitted to enroll in a tutorial during the first semester.

Introductory Survey Courses (202-299): These courses are open to all students and are intended to provide a basic understanding of the history of peoples, countries, and geographic regions over relatively long time-spans. Most of all, they will provide students with the background necessary for more advanced study in history at the 300 and 400 level. They are offered in either small or large formats, depending on the individual course.

Junior Seminars (301): Junior seminars explore the nature and practice of history, are required for the degree in History, and are normally restricted to junior History majors. Although these seminars vary in topic and approach, each focuses on the discipline of history itself-on the debates over how to approach the past, on questions of the status of different kinds of evidence and how to use it, on the purpose of the study of history. Focusing on questions of methodology, epistemology, and historiography, these courses ask: What kind of knowledge do historians claim to produce? What does it mean to study the past? How do historians approach the project of studying the past? Each year several junior seminars will be offered; prospective majors must select two junior seminars at the end of their sophomore year and will then be assigned to one of their two choices. Students who plan to study abroad during their junior year may take their Junior Seminar in the spring semester of their sophomore year, and those planning to be away for the whole of their junior year are strongly encouraged to do so.

Advanced Electives (302-399): These advanced, topical courses are more specialized in focus than are the introductory survey courses (202-299) and are intended to follow such courses. Enrollment is often limited. Because these courses may presume some background knowledge, the instructor may recommend that students enroll in an appropriate introductory course before registering for an advanced elective.

Advanced Seminars (402-479): These are advanced courses normally limited in enrollment to fifteen students. Each seminar will investigate a topic in depth and will require students to engage in research that leads to a substantial piece of historical writing. All History majors are required to complete either an advanced seminar (402-479) or a tutorial (480-492). Instructors may recommend prior coursework in the area of the seminar. Preference is given to senior History majors, followed by junior History majors.

Advanced Tutorials (480-492): These are advanced reading and writing courses that offer an in-depth analysis of a topic in tutorial format. Tutorials are limited in enrollment to ten students and preference is given to senior History majors. All History majors are required to complete either an advanced seminar (402-479) or a tutorial (480-492). Instructors may recommend prior coursework in the area of the tutorial. The writing of five or six essays and the oral presentation of five or six critiques of another student's essays are central to tutorials.

Within each of these levels, courses are further divided by geographical area:

Africa and the Middle East 102-111 202-211 302-311 402-411
Asia 112-121 212-221 312-321 412-421
Europe and Russia 122-141 222-241 322-341 422-441
Latin America and the Caribbean 142-151 242-251 342-351 442-451
United States 152-191 252-291 352-391 452-471
Transnational/Comparative 192-199 292-299 392-399 472-479


Both majors and non-majors are encouraged to talk at any time with the department chair, the department administrative assistant, or any other member of the department about the History major.

All incoming majors will choose a faculty advisor in the spring of their sophomore year. All majors must meet with their advisor in the beginning of the fall semester, to develop their Concentration (see below), and at the time of the spring semester registration period in order to have their courses and plans for the History major approved. Students who are interested in the senior honors program or graduate school should contact the faculty director of the Honors Program. Prospective study abroad students should contact the department's administrative assistant.


Students receiving a score of 5 on any AP history examination will be given preference in the 100-level History seminar of their choice.


The major consists of at least nine semester courses as follows:

Required Courses in the Major

One Junior Seminar (History 301)

At least one Advanced Seminar (History 402-479) or Tutorial (History 480-492)

Elective Courses

Seven (or more) additional semester courses in History, at least one to be chosen from among three of the following groups:

Group A: The History of Africa

Group B: The History of Asia

Group C: The History of Europe and Russia

Group D: The History of Latin America and the Caribbean

Group E: The History of the Middle East

Group F: The History of the United States and Canada

In addition, students must take at least one course dealing with the premodern period (designated Group G in the catalog); this may be one of the courses used to fulfill the group requirement (Groups A-F).

A single course can meet the requirement for no more than one of Groups A through F.

Concentration in the Major

All students are required to adopt a concentration within the History major. Students are responsible for designing their own concentration, in consultation with a faculty advisor, in the fall semester of their Junior year. Each student's concentration will be formally approved by the Department's Curriculum Committee. A concentration will consist of at least three courses linked by common themes, geography, or time period; only one of those courses can be a 100-level seminar while at least one must be a 300- or 400-level course. Courses in the concentration may be used to fulfill the group requirements. In the Concentration Proposal, the student must list a minimum total of six courses that could satisfy the requirements of the concentration, from which they can select three to fulfill the concentration requirement (recognizing that not all courses are offered every year); courses taken abroad may be included in the concentration with the approval of the chair.


The History Department offers a thesis route to the degree with honors in History. This involves a ten-course major as well as an independent WSP. Students wishing to undertake independent research or considering graduate study are encouraged to participate in the thesis program and honors seminar.

Application to enter the honors program should be made by spring registration in the junior year and should be based on a solid record of work of honors caliber, normally defined as maintaining at least a B+ average in courses taken for the major. Students who intend to write an honors thesis must submit a proposal to the History Department at this time. Students who will be away during the spring semester of their junior year should make arrangements to apply before leaving. Normally, it is the responsibility of the individual student to procure the agreement of a member of the department to act as his or her thesis advisor, and the student must therefore consult with a member of the department about a thesis topic and a possible thesis advisor prior to submitting a proposal to the department. A student who is uncertain of which member of the department might be an appropriate advisor, or who otherwise is unable to find an advisor, should contact the chair of the honors committee. An honors thesis proposal must be signed by a member of the History Department. Normally, the thesis topic should be related to course work which the student has previously done. Students should be aware, however, that while the department will try to accommodate all students who qualify to pursue honors, particular topics may be deemed unfeasible and students may have to revise their topics accordingly. Final admission to the honors program will depend on the department's assessment of the qualifications of the student and the feasibility of the project.

Once the student has been notified of admission to the honors program, he or she should register for History 493, Senior Honors Thesis Research Seminar, in the fall semester, for History 031 during winter study, and for History 494, Senior Honors Thesis Writing Seminar, in the spring. In addition to doing the research for and writing a thesis of approximately 75-100 pages, students will attend special presentations under the History Department's Class of 1960 Scholars Program.

During the fall, students should work regularly on their research and consult frequently with their advisors. Throughout the semester, honors candidates will also present written progress reports for group discussion to the seminar (History 493). Performance in the seminar will be evaluated on the basis of class participation and completed written work and will determine if a student will continue in the thesis program. For students proceeding to History 031 and History 494, performance in the fall semester will figure into the thesis grade calculated at the end of the year.

Students who are deemed to be making satisfactory progress on their research and writing at this point will be allowed to continue with the thesis. They will devote the entire winter study period to thesis work. They should conclude their research during winter study and complete at least one chapter of their thesis for submission to their advisor before the end of winter study. At the end of winter study, the honors committee will formally consult with advisors and make recommendations to the department concerning which students should be allowed to proceed with the thesis. During the early weeks of the second semester, students will present a draft chapter of their thesis to the honors seminar.

Completed theses will be due in mid-April, after which each student will prepare and make a short oral presentation of his or her thesis for delivery at the departmental Honors Colloquium. Another student who has read the thesis will then offer a critique of it, after which the two faculty readers of the thesis will offer their own comments and questions. Finally, there will be a general discussion of the thesis by students and other members of the department.


Study of a foreign language is basic to the understanding of other cultures. Particularly those students who might wish to do graduate work in History are encouraged to enroll in language courses at Williams.


The History Department considers immersion in and familiarity with a foreign culture not only to be valuable in themselves, but also to provide an important way of understanding the past. Students who major in History therefore are encouraged to study a foreign language and to consider studying abroad during their junior year. History courses taken as part of a study abroad program that is recognized by the college normally can be used to satisfy departmental distribution and general requirements, up to a maximum of three courses (this limit does not apply to tutorials taken as part of the Williams-Exeter Program; no courses taken abroad, even at Oxford, can be used to satisfy the junior seminar and advanced seminar/tutorial requirements). Students who plan to study abroad during their junior year may take their Junior Seminar in the spring semester of their sophomore year, and those planning to be away the whole of their junior year are strongly encouraged to do so.

Students interested in studying abroad during their junior year should discuss their plans with a member of the department as well as with the department's administrative assistant. Approval of departmental credit for courses taken abroad normally must be obtained from the chair or from the study abroad advisor prior to the commencement of the study abroad program.