History

Academic Department Introduction

Courses in the history department cover almost every region and era of the human past. Students learn to think in broadly humanistic ways about subjects such as government, war, culture, race, and economics. In gaining historical knowledge, students understand societal developments and contradictions as part of long processes with deep-rooted origins. Our faculty study and teach a wide range of subjects. What unites our work is a rigorous shared methodology. We closely analyze primary sources, engage in dialogue with existing scholarship, and share our findings and ideas in a variety of media, including scholarly journals, academic conference papers, public lectures, and podcasts.

Learning goals

  • Understand the process of change over time.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with the histories of a range of cultures and chronological periods.
  • Gain specialized knowledge about selected regions or about problems that span various cultures and times.

Programs of study

History major and minor

Students recognize the relationship between past and present, especially the differences.

International relations – history major

This interdisciplinary field examines global interactions, past and present. Students are exposed to a wide range of viewpoints and methodologies in their study of fields such as foreign policy, war, security, international political economy, development, and human rights.

Course Highlights

  • Investigates the origins and aftermath of one of the most improbable events in American history: the American Revolution. What pushed colonists to rebel, rather suddenly, against Britain? And what social struggles followed in the war's wake? We will explore the experiences of ordinary Americans, including women and slaves; examine the material culture of Revolutionary America; trace the intellectual histories of the founders; and witness the creation of a national identity and constitution. Those who lived through the rebellion left behind plenty of material: letters; pamphlets; teapots; runaway slave advertisements; diaries. We will consider these and more. Visits to Boston historic sites will take you back in time and space to the besieged, volatile city that led the colonies into war.
  • No one history reflects the multiple paths followed by “Latin American” countries to develop medical and public health national infrastructures. New public health programs in nineteenth-century Latin America transformed debates about national culture, the state, and the role of the environment, race and disease in achieving modernity and progress. Among others, this course examines: the professionalization of medical practices; how foreign immigration and internal migration shaped health-related institutions and understandings of disease, race and modernity; the role of local innovative research in parasitology, herpetology, and tropical disorders in countering assumptions about racial and cultural inferiority; how a foreign funding institution (i.e. Rockefeller Foundation) and U.S. health officials facilitated U.S. intervention; how Cuba’s national health system today exports scientists, doctors, and epidemiologists to a world in crisis.

Research highlights

  • Guy M. Rogers sits and reads a book.

    Professor Guy M. Rogers’ book For the Freedom of Zion: The Great Revolt of Jews against Romans, 66–74 CE (Yale University Press, 2022) was named an outstanding academic title in 2022 by Choice.

  • Valerie Ramseyer shows a student a book of maps.

    Professor Valerie Ramseyer contributed a chapter to the forthcoming book Brill Companion to the Beneventan Zone. The chapter examines medieval southern Italy/Sicily as a place of mobility, diversity, and international connections, and considers groups often seen as peripheral to the study of Italian history—such as Muslims, Jews, Africans, and Slavs—as central to the region’s historical developments.

  • Nikhil Rao looks off camera thoughfully while sitting at his desk.

    In 2023, Professor Nikhil Rao was on sabbatical in Mumbai, India, as a senior research fellow of the American Institute of Indian Studies. He was researching his new book project, which focuses on the enterprise of cooperative housing in post-independence Bombay and the implications of this enterprise for notions of property and urban citizenship.

Beyond Wellesley

Beyond Wellesley

The study of history provides excellent preparation for a wide range of careers. Many of our graduates work in journalism, publishing, law, business, finance, and education.

For more

Published annually, our department newsletter features recent or upcoming classes, students’ first-hand accounts of summer internship experiences, interviews with faculty and alums, and more.

Our newsletter

Published each May, the History Department's annual newsletter describes the past year's new courses, department events, and news about faculty, students, and alumnae.

Department of History

Address
Founders Hall
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481
Contact
Nikhil Rao
Department Chair