Thematic Tracks Homepage


All incoming students select one of the following major tracks, which represent mainstays of the human experience. Each track transcends time and space, inviting students to ask thematic questions and to build connections between courses and historiographies. At the end of the program, students prepare a synthetic essay for their written portfolio building connections between courses.

A hyperlink associated with each title listed below will take you to pages devoted to individual thematic tracks. These pages include a description, course list, and bibliography for the track, and should be consulted when preparing final portfolios.

Rights and Identity: Classes in this track explore how individuals and collectives have defined themselves at different times and places around the world. Students will examine how such matters as social order, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, national origins, and other factors have shaped personal identity and group consciousness. In addition, classes in this track will explore how custom, rights, citizenship, and belonging have been negotiated and contested by various states and non-state actors around the world.

War and Violence: War and violence have been mainstays of human history. Students examine how various societies throughout history have experienced, conducted, and remembered military conflict, mass killing, and genocide. How has the conduct of war changed over time? What are the human, emotional, and cultural consequences of war? When and why do societies resort to armed conflict?

Encounters and Exchanges: Students examine the themes of encounter and exchange throughout history. Cross-cultural encounters have been central to the human experience since antiquity and have sometimes manifested themselves on the large scale, as is event with the Silk Roads, the Atlantic Slave Trade, and, most recently, globalization. Trade, missionary activity, and imperialism are other avenues by which the world’s diverse peoples have interacted.

When selecting courses, please consult the appropriate degree plan (thesis, non-thesis, or MA in History with a Concentration), as well as the lists of courses within each thematic track.