Professor Euraque, Chair; Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of History Greenberg∙, Charles A. Dana Professor of History Hedrick, Charles H. Northam Professor of History Kassow, Borden W. Painter, Jr., ’58/H’95 Professor of European History Kete; Hobart Professor of Classical Languages Reger; Associate Professors Antrim, Bayliss, Cocco, Elukin, Figueroa, Gac, and Lestz∙; Assistant Professors Markle, Regan-Lefebvre, and Wickman; Visiting Assistant Professor Brito; Visiting Lecturer Rodriguez
The history major—Historians examine the past to form a meaningful image of events previously hidden, partially understood, or deliberately misinterpreted. History is based on a foundation of documents, novels, maps, archival materials, memoirs, numbers, artifacts, and factual data combined with scholarly writings and analysis. It is a field of study that is part social science, part poetry, and always a humane quest for understanding. To know what is true about the past may be impossible, but the effort has its own rewards. The facility gained by students in interpreting the world historically can transform their consciousness and their lives. Propicit qui respicit: One who looks back looks forward.
Many approaches to history are introduced within the department’s program. Courses on the ancient world, the Middle Ages, contemporary Europe and America, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean form the core of a curriculum designed to encourage a wide range of historical explorations. Social, cultural, intellectual, political, and transnational histories carry students across various areas and time periods.
Majors master the skills of critical reading, analysis, interpretation, and writing and are introduced to mutually reinforcing approaches to the past. Graduates go on to successful careers in academia, law, business, government, social service, and many other fields since the tools and worldview transmitted through the study of history creates a springboard for endeavors in many realms that rely on the skills a historian learns.
Courses at the 100 and 200 level are the foundation for the advanced seminars and writing courses of the major. Each is a portal that introduces fundamental historical perspectives, chronological ordering schemes, and the secondary literature that defines the fields surveyed. There are also methodology courses at this level that introduce ways of studying history and methods of engagement with primary-source materials.
One cardinal emphasis of the history major is original research based on primary-source materials and the creation of essays or theses that represent a synthesis of evidence and relevant historiographical materials. The upper tier of our major—the 300-level seminars—consists of small seminars whose goal is to foster original projects based on primary sources. Primary materials are also available in abundance on the Web and when not available locally can be obtained readily through the Library’s Reference Department.
While not required, the capstone of intellectual achievement in history is a two-semester thesis. The thesis may be elected by any history major following a process of application described on the department’s Web page. Successful completion of a thesis is a prerequisite for honors in the major.
Majors are required to complete 12 approved history courses with grades of C- or better. Those who select the thesis option must complete 10 approved history courses and a 2-credit thesis with grades of C- or better. At least eight of these courses, including the senior thesis, HIST 299, and HIST 300, must be completed at Trinity or in academic programs taught or sponsored by Trinity faculty. In the interest of shaping a trajectory from lower-division to higher-division courses, students may apply a maximum of two courses at the 100 and 200 levels taken during their senior year toward the major. The award of departmental honors will be based on superior performance in history courses and in a senior thesis.
Distribution Courses (5 credits)
Students must complete five distribution courses at any level (100, 200, or 300) in order to acquire thematic, geographical, and chronological breadth in the discipline. Each requirement must be fulfilled with a distinct course:
Common Courses (2 credits)
These courses constitute the common experience of all history majors. They develop methodological sophistication and research skills.
300-level seminars (4 credits)
Students are required to take a minimum of four 300-level seminars. All 300-level courses approved for the major are designated seminars and consist of intensive reading, discussion, and writing, either in the scholarly literature or the primary sources of a certain field, or in some combination of both. All 300-level courses fulfill the Writing Part II requirement.
Elective (1 credit) or Thesis Option (2 credits)
Students may apply to pursue a two-semester two-credit thesis during their senior year. They must have a minimum History GPA of 3.0 and submit a proposal and bibliography following departmental guidelines in the spring of their junior year. Students not pursuing the thesis option must take one additional elective course at any level.
Senior Thesis Application Procedure—Schedule for Spring Term of Junior Year
The Thesis Application form is on the History Department home page.
The history minor—The history minor is composed of six courses:
Students must also demonstrate competence in the historian’s craft by satisfactorily completing a major research paper based on both primary and secondary sources. This is normally completed in the 300-level seminar but may also be completed by taking HIST 300: History Workshop, and one of the four electives. Each student minoring in history will be assigned a minor adviser, who will assist the student in choosing an appropriate course of study.
Students wishing to minor in history normally must declare their intention by the second semester of their junior year. Normally all courses must be taken at Trinity. Only courses in which the student has received a grade of at least C- can count toward the minor in history.
The coordinator of the history minor is the chair of the History Department.
Study abroad—History majors are strongly encouraged to study abroad, during the academic year, summer, or both. Over 60 percent of Trinity College students take part in foreign study, and the College sponsors its own global learning sites or summer institutes abroad in many parts of the world. The Office of Study Away and its staff offer detailed information about such programs. History faculty members participate in guiding students to appropriate programs and lead such study efforts, which bear history credit, in many parts of the world.
Undergraduates intending to pursue graduate work in history should develop a reading knowledge of two foreign languages.