Department of History

  • Chair

    Keith A. Wailoo

  • Associate Chair

    Molly Greene

  • Departmental Representative

    Margot Canaday

  • Director of Graduate Studies

    John F. Haldon (History)

    Erika Lorraine Milam  (History of Science)



  • Professor

    Jeremy I. Adelman

    David A. Bell

    D. Graham Burnett

    David N. Cannadine

    Linda J. Colley

    Thomas D. Conlan, also East Asian Studies

    Angela N. H. Creager

    Sheldon M. Garon, also East Asian Studies

    Michael D. Gordin

    Anthony T. Grafton

    Molly Greene, also Hellenic Studies

    John F. Haldon, also Hellenic Studies

    Hendrik A. Hartog

    Tera W. Hunter, also African American Studies

    Alison Isenberg

    Harold James, also Woodrow Wilson School

    William C. Jordan

    Stephen M. Kotkin, also Woodrow Wilson School

    Emmanuel H. Kreike

    Kevin M. Kruse

    Regina Kunzel, also Gender and Sexuality Studies

    Michael F. Laffan

    Yair Mintzker

    Philip G. Nord

    Willard J. Peterson, also East Asian Studies

    Gyan Prakash

    Ekaterina Pravilova

    Anson G. Rabinbach

    Helmut Reimitz

    Marina Rustow, also Near Eastern Studies

    Martha A. Sandweiss

    Emily A. Thompson

    Keith A. Wailoo, also Woodrow Wilson School

    R. Sean Wilentz

    Julian E. Zelizer, also Woodrow Wilson School

  • Associate Professor

    Margot Canaday

    Vera S. Candiani

    Janet Y. Chen, also East Asian Studies

    Yaacob Dweck, also Judaic Studies

    Katja Guenther

    Joshua B. Guild, also African American Studies

    Federico Marcon, also East Asian Studies

    Erika Lorraine Milam

    Clare Teresa M. Shawcross, also Hellenic Studies

    Max D. Weiss, also Near Eastern Studies

  • Assistant Professor

    He Bian, also East Asian Studies

    Divya Cherian

    Jacob S. T. Dlamini

    Katja Guenther

    Eleanor K. Hubbard

    Robert A. Karl

    Matthew J. Karp

    Beth Lew-Williams

    Rosina A. Lozano

    M'hamed Oualdi, also Near Eastern Studies

    Jennifer M. Rampling

    Jack B. Tannous

    Wendy Warren

    Xin Wen, also East Asian Studies

    Peter Wirzbicki

    Natasha G. Wheatley

  • Lecturer

    Joseph M. Fronczak

    Igor Khristoforov

    Janet Kay, also Council of the Humanities

    Bernadette Pérez, also Council of the Humanities



  • Associated Faculty

    Wallace D. Best, Religion, African American Studies

    Michael A. Cook, Near Eastern Studies

    M. Şükrü Hanioğlu, Near Eastern Studies

    Bernard A. Haykel, Near Eastern Studies

    Eileen A. Reeves, Comparative Literature

    Nigel Smith, English

Information and Departmental Plan of Study

The plan of departmental study encourages the student to gain further knowledge of the major developments in, and problems of, history; to do independent historical research and writing; and to develop an authoritative knowledge of one particular field of history.  The department's website, describes the program and requirements in detail.

The department encourages students to master at least one language in addition to English. Knowledge of another language is invaluable for senior thesis research especially that on topics in the history of continental Europe or the non-Western world.


Students are required to take and pass at least two departmental courses before they enter the department. Students who wish to enter the department but who have not taken two departmental courses before their junior year must consult with the departmental representative. At least one of these two prerequisite courses must be selected from the following: HIS 201, 207, 208, 210, 211, 212, 241, 267, 277, 278, 280, 281, 282, 290, 291, or 292. Students who have not fulfilled the 200-level prerequisite must take one of the appropriate courses in the fall of their junior year. (HUM 216-17 or 218-19 may be used as a 200-level prerequisite but cannot be counted as one of the departmental requirements.)

Program of Study

On joining the history department, each student elects to concentrate in one of the following fields: Africa; Ancient Greece and Rome; Asia; Europe since 1700; Gender and Sexuality; Intellectual and Cultural History; Latin America; Middle Ages; Modern Imperialism and Colonialism; Near East; Russia; Science and Technology; United Kingdom; United States; and War, Revolution, and the State. The senior thesis will ordinarily be written in the field of concentration, and the senior departmental examination will always be written in the field of concentration. Students should select courses so as to create a coherent program in their field.

Course Advising. Before preregistration each term, each history student must consult with one of the department's designated undergraduate advisers.

Departmental Distribution Requirements. University regulations stipulate that undergraduates may not take more than 12 departmental courses. Departmental regulations stipulate that undergraduates must pass at least 10 courses, including HIS 400, in order to receive the A.B. degree. History courses taken in the freshman and sophomore years are numbered among the 10 to 12 required for graduation. Of the departmental courses, one must be a course in European history (including Russia); one a course in United States history; one a course in non-Western history; and one a course in premodern history. No one course may satisfy more than one of these distribution requirements. In addition, concentrators in the history of the U.S. are required to take at least two courses in pre-20th-century U.S. history. Courses fulfilling the European, non-Western, premodern, and pre-20th-century U.S. history requirements are listed on the department's website under "Distribution Requirements."

Cognates. The history department encourages students to take courses in other departments when they add depth and variety to their selected program of concentration. For example, a student concentrating in Russian history might identify an appropriate course in politics to take as a cognate; a student concentrating in intellectual history might take an appropriate course in philosophy as a cognate. Two such courses may be taken during the junior and senior years and counted as departmental courses provided they contribute significantly to the student's plan of study. Cognates cannot be used to fulfill departmental distribution requirements. Cognates can only be approved by the departmental representative during the course enrollment period and prior to attending the class. Courses may not be designated as cognates retroactively. Cross-listed courses (for example, CLA 217, also listed as HIS 217) are automatically considered departmental courses, not cognates.

History of Science. History majors wishing to concentrate in the history of science need not meet the departmental prerequisites or distribution requirements. But they must take 10 courses that satisfy the following pattern of requirements (note: an asterisk indicates a one-time-only topic or course):

1. Two courses in science, engineering, or mathematics in addition to those used to fill the University's science distribution requirement.

2. Four of the following courses:

*277 Technology and Society (see EGR 277)
290 The Scientific Worldview of Antiquity and the Middle Ages
291 The Scientific Revolution and European Order, 1500-1750
292 Science in the Modern World
293 Science in a Global Context: 15th to 20th Century
*294 What is the Scientific Revolution?
*295 Making America: A Technological History of the United States
*391 History of Contemporary Science
*392 History of Evolution
 393 Race, Drugs, and Drug Policy in America
*395 History of Medicine and the Body
 396 History of Biology
*397 Translation in the History of Science
398 Technologies and Their Societies: Historical Perspectives
*399 In the Groove: Technology and Music in American History, from Edison to the iPod (see AMS 399)
*472 Medicine and Society in China: Past and Present
489 Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities (see HUM 470)
490 Perspectives on the Nature and Development of Science
*491 History of Ecology and Environmentalism
492 Problems in the Development of the Life Sciences
*493 Science and Religion: Historical Approaches
*494 Broken Brains, Shattered Minds: Disease and Experience in the History of Neuroscience
*495 The Soviet Science System
*496 History of Neuroscience
*498 History of Pseudoscience
*499 Things

With the permission of the departmental representative, one of these courses may be replaced by a cognate course from another department, for example, in philosophy or sociology of science.

3. Four other history courses.

4. The independent work and comprehensive examination requirements are the same as for all other departmental majors.

Independent Work

Junior Year. In the fall term of the junior year students are required to enroll in HIS 400 Junior Seminars. Work in the junior seminars involves exercises in defining a topic for historical research and in identifying and evaluating a body of historical literature. Each student may expect to gain experience in the use of the library and bibliographical sources, to learn the correct technical form for presenting evidence clearly, and to develop a historical presentation convincingly. Students in HIS 400 will have the opportunity to choose from a number of seminars devoted to historical events or themes of wide importance, such as "Origins of World War I," "Comparative Revolutions," "The United States and Latin America," and "Marxist Social Analysis and Historical Interpretation."

In the spring term of the junior year, in consultation with his or her adviser, the student selects a topic and writes a research paper on an independent basis. Written work equivalent to that submitted in the first term is required. The two semesters of junior independent work must be focused in two different geographical fields and in two different time periods. Students should consult their advisers about this requirement.

Senior Year. The independent work consists of writing a thesis on an approved subject of the student's choice. The thesis usually relies on research in original source materials, but it may also involve reinterpretation of familiar materials.

Senior Departmental Examination

The senior comprehensive examination is given during the University examination period (after submission of the senior thesis). The exam is a set of take-home essays in the field of concentration designated by the student.

Study Abroad

Students in the department are encouraged to participate in those programs for foreign study recognized by the University (for further information, consult the Office of International Programs). The department has the following policies:

1. Juniors majoring in the department may receive credit for up to four courses in history taken while abroad for either a full year or semester. These courses will require the prior approval of the departmental representative, and to secure that approval, students will be expected to produce some evidence of the work load and the material covered by the courses.

2. Sophomores intending to major in history may count one history course taken abroad toward the requirement to enter the department. The course cannot be used to substitute for the 200-level prerequisite (see above).

3. Recognizing the difficulties of doing research without Princeton's many resources, the department will try to be flexible regarding the deadlines for submission of independent work conducted abroad. Students will have to make arrangements for extensions with the department representative before leaving.

4. The department's spring HIS 400 junior seminar will be open to sophomores intending to go abroad in the fall of their junior year, thus enabling them to do their first junior paper in the spring of their sophomore year and preparing them to write the second while abroad or in the resident semester of their junior year (if they elect to spend only one semester abroad). Students who meet the requirements of junior independent work while at Princeton will still be expected to undertake a full course load while abroad. Moreover, to take full advantage of the international experience, study abroad should include some research work, and we urge students to take seminars that include a research component.

5. As opportunity arises, the history department will seek to identify former students and colleagues abroad willing to act as junior advisers for Princeton students studying in their region.

Interdepartmental Programs. Interdepartmental programs of particular interest to history department students are the Programs in African Studies, American Studies, Classics, East Asian Studies, European Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Hellenic Studies, History and the Practice of Diplomacy, Judaic Studies, Latin American Studies, Medieval Studies, and Near Eastern Studies. Students should consult the departmental representative and the director of the relevant program.