Side B from an Attic black-figure amphora, ca. 570–565 BC. Original held at the
With a major in history you will study with scholars who serve as the guardians of the past. We will guide you through what has come before, what has been most essential in shaping the present, and we will help you understand what served to construct the parameters of the possible. History is about what it means to be human.
As history majors move through the curriculum, they begin to learn that the study of history is not about memorizing facts. It’s not about the recitation of names, dates, and places. Rather, history is about ideas. History is about cause and effect. To study history is to examine the human record and discover both continuity and change, and to do our best at deducing the reasons for both.
In order to conduct this practice, students of history must learn to engage and contextualize sources, examine them critically, analyze them, and synthesize them. After doing all that, students must then create something that does not actually exist: a narrative. For the historical record is at once woefully incomplete, yet far too voluminous to ever master. And so students must scramble to find sources, pick and choose wisely from the incomplete materials they encounter, and then thread them together to build a coherent and meaningful story.
This is a very complex task, but the skills required can be described succinctly as research and writing. And those skills, when well-developed, make history majors attractive prospective employees and graduate students.
If you are looking for an easy major, this is not it. We can only promise you that a Major in History will stretch you, that we will challenge you intellectually. If you major in history you will have to work harder than you might care to, but you may learn more than you might otherwise have learned. The skills you will hone in history will surely help you gain better employment, but most of all, history will increase your intellectually curiosity and fire your imagination.
Department of History
Liberal Arts Building, Room 4210 F (map)
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.