53 Washington Square South, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10012-1098 • 212-998-8600
Chair of the Department
Director of Undergraduate Studies
History is the study of human experience of all kinds, considered in relation to particular times and places. It is also a method of thinking characterized by its attention to the contexts in which people have lived and worked. By mastering this method of thinking, students of history gain invaluable skills and knowledge. They learn to analyze and interpret many different kinds of evidence (cultural, social, economic, and political) as well as to organize it into a coherent whole and present it clearly and with style in written or oral form. In doing so, students also learn to justify and question their own and others’ conclusions, for history is always an argument about what actually happened. Indeed, rethinking and revising accepted historical conclusions is one of the most important—and most interesting—tasks of the historian.
Notable among the department’s areas of strength are American urban, social, labor, and ethnic history; medieval, early modern, and modern European history; Latin American history; sub-Saharan African history; early and modern Asian History; and American and European women’s history. The department also pays particular attention to the transnational and global aspects of the discipline.
At the core of the undergraduate experience are the workshop (HIST-UA 9XX) and the capstone seminar (HIST-UA 4XX). In the workshop, students learn about the methods and practice of history in a seminar setting. In the capstone seminar, usually taken in the senior year, students research and write an original paper (typically 20-25 pages).
Through independent study and the honors program, students find challenging opportunities for special concentrations and individual research. The internship program enables students to engage in supervised historical projects for credit. Many of the projects are at cultural institutions in New York and at the United Nations.
The University’s Elmer Holmes Bobst Library is rich in works of history, and students also utilize the collections of the New York Public Library, the historical societies and museums in New York City, and neighboring universities.