Department of History


Our history courses teach undergraduate students how societies and cultures across the world change over time. History concentrators learn to write and think critically, and to understand issues from a variety of perspectives.

There are good times to be had and there is hard work to be done learning about the origins of contemporary preoccupations, aspirations, and struggles. In an essay titled "What do we want history to do to us?" the writer Zadie Smith wrote this passage about the artist Kara Walker, words that could offer encouragement to the aspiring historian, as well:

I hope it continues to be her self-defined job to gather all the ruins of her own, and our, history—everything abject and beautiful, oppressive and freeing, scatological and sexual, holy and unholy—into one place, without attempting perfect alignment, without needing to be seen to be good, [a]nd thus stand up for the subconscious, for the unsaid and unsayable, for the historically and personally indigestible, for the unprettified, for the autonomy of an imagination that cannot escape history...

Zadie Smith


History Department courses span the globe and traverse time, from before dinosaurs had become fossils and fuels to the ongoing present, and even histories of utopian, dystopian, and imagined post-human or transhuman futures. Across time and space we seek out and find different answers to the question of "what it means to have a body, a mind, and a world." (BL)

Learn about our Courses


The department offers a wide variety of courses concerned with changes in human experience through time, ranging from classical Greek and Roman civilizations to the histories of Africa, Middle East, the Americas, and Asia.

Learn About the History Concentration

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Additional Information

The History Department Undergraduate Group (DUG) organizes events and activities to promote community among history students, concentrators, and faculty. They host panels and lunches with faculty, student-led registration advising sessions, and other events throughout the year. 
Achievement of honors in History requires researching and writing a thesis that is judged in a blind review by two History faculty.
The Brown Journal of History is a double-blind, peer-reviewed journal edited by Brown undergraduates and published annually in the spring. It features a collection of outstanding history essays written by Brown students.

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