Chair, Professor DENNIS C. DICKERSON

Professors: R. DALZELL, DEW, DICKERSON, FROST**, KOHUT, OAKLEY, PAYNE, TRACY, W. WAGNER, WOOD*. Associate Professors: KUNZEL, SINGHAM**, WATERS, WONG*. Assistant Professors: BERETZ, R. JOHNSON*, KITTLESON, MUTONGI, PAGÁN**, REEVES, WILDER*. Mellon Post-doctoral Fellow: WATENPAUGH. Research Associate: LEGG.


The course numbering system used by the History Department reflects the type and level of course. 100-level courses are First-Year Seminars on relatively focused topics, enrollment limited to 20 participants, with preference given first to first-year students and then to sophomores. They are intended to help students develop skills needed in the study of history. 200-level courses are introductory courses open to all students, and offered in either small or large section formats, depending upon the individual course. These courses are intended to introduce students to the history of a particular area, country, or epoch, but may also be useful to students who would like more background in an area they already have studied. Courses 300-349 are advanced topical courses, generally enrollment limited to 25-30 students but sometimes taught in a larger format. Because these courses may presume some familiarity with the general field in which the 300-level is located, instructors may recommend that students take an appropriate introductory course before registering for the elective. Courses at the 350-399 level are seminars which will be taught with enrollment limited to 15 students. Each seminar will investigate a relatively focused topic in depth and will require that students engage in some form of historical research and/or produce a substantial piece of historical writing. Instructors may recommend that students take one or more courses (designated in the Catalog) before registering for the seminar. However, enrollment priority must be given to senior history majors and to history majors generally.


The curriculum in History for the first year a student is at Williams is designed to teach students the skills they will need to study history and to introduce them to a wide variety of the historical experience. It consists, therefore, of two types of courses: first-year seminars (100-level) and introductory courses (200-level).


Both majors and non-majors are encouraged to talk at any time with Professor Wood, the department chair, Mrs. Swift, the department secretary, or any other member of the department about the history major.

All majors will be assigned a faculty advisor. All majors must meet with their advisor, or the department chair, during the first week of classes during the fall semester 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 Professor Tracy. Prospective study abroad students should contact Mrs. Swift.


Students will be granted one semester course credit toward the course requirement in the History Major for each Advanced Placement examination on which they have received a 4 or a 5. Such credit may not be used to satisfy the Group Requirements.

All first-year students with Advanced Placement Credit are encouraged to enroll in history courses at the 200 or 300 level, or, with the permission of the instructor, a 350+ seminar, thus taking advantage of their opportunity to do more advanced work in their first year at Williams.


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

Required Courses in the Major

One course from the History 301 series*

At least one 350+-level seminar

*Required of all History majors, History 301 will be a series of courses, grouped under the title "Reflections on History." Each course will consider the different approaches historians have taken and take to the past. Majors will normally take a 301 in their junior year or, if abroad their junior year, in their senior year. Students who declare as History majors in the spring of their sophomore year will be asked to pick two different 301 courses from among those to be offered in their junior year. The department will then assign majors to one of the two 301 courses for which they have indicated their preference.

Elective Courses

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

Group A: American History, Canadian History

Group B: European History (including Russian History)

Group C: African, Asian, Latin American History

In addition, at least one of the courses used to satisfy the group requirement must be a pre-modern course, which will be labeled Group D in the catalog.

A single course can meet the requirement for no more than one of Groups A through C. First-Year Seminars (100-level courses) and History 301 cannot be used to meet the Group Requirement. Only one 100-level course can count toward the major.

Concentration in the Major

All students are required to develop a concentration within the History major. A concentration will consist of three courses linked by common themes, geography, or time period. It is strongly recommended that one of these courses be a 350+-level History seminar. Courses in the concentration may be used to fulfill the group requirements. The concentration should be tentatively designed in consultation with a faculty adviser at spring registration during the sophomore year. Students are encouraged to consult with a faculty member who works in their proposed area of concentration. The final version of the concentration should be submitted to the faculty adviser for approval at the time of registration in spring semester of the junior year.


The History Department offers a thesis route to the degree with honors. This involves a ten course major as well as an independent WSP. Application to enter the thesis 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 will be away during spring semester of their junior year should make arrangements to apply before leaving to study away. In addition to doing the research for and writing a thesis of approximately 75-100 pages, students will participate in the Department's honors seminar (History 493) and will participate in special presentations under the History Department's Class of 1960 Scholars Program.

Senior Thesis and Honors Colloquium

Students wishing to undertake independent research or considering graduate study are encouraged to participate in the thesis program and honors seminar. In addition to researching and writing a thesis of 75-100 pages, students will take History 493 Senior Thesis Research/Writing Seminar in the fall semester of their senior year and will enroll in W031 during Winter Study and History 494 in the spring.

Students who intend to write an honors thesis must submit a proposal to the History Department at the time of spring registration in their junior year. Normally it is the responsibility of the individual student to procure the agreement of a member of the department to act as her or his thesis adviser, and the student therefore must consult with a member of the department about a thesis topic and a possible thesis adviser prior to submitting a proposal to the department. A student who is uncertain of which member of the department might be an appropriate adviser, or who otherwise is unable to find an adviser, 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 thesis program will depend on the department's assessment of the qualifications of the student and the feasibility of the project. No student should enroll in HIST 493-W031-HIST 494 until notified of admission to the honors thesis program.

Successful applicants will enroll in History 493-W031-494. During the fall, students should work regularly on their research and consult frequently with their advisers. Throughout the semester, honors candidates will also present progress reports to the Seminar (HIST 493), discuss problems, and share solutions. At the end of the term, each student will submit copies of written work to the seminar for group discussion. 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 W031 and HIST 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 WSP 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 adviser before the end of WSP. At the end of WSP, the honors committee will formally consult with advisers and make recommendations to the department concerning which students should be allowed to proceed with the thesis. During the first week of the second semester, students will present a draft chapter of their thesis to the final meeting of the honors seminar. Completed theses will be due in mid-April, following which each student will prepare and present a short oral presentation of his or her thesis. Another student who has read the thesis will then give a critique of the thesis, which will be followed by a general discussion by students and 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.