Welcome to the Department of History

We are a community of scholars engaged in cutting-edge research.  Our expertise spans many centuries and continents: Africa to Asia, Europe and the Americas, ancient Greece and Rome to Byzantium, and modern nation-states around the globe.  We bring different approaches, methodologies, and analytical paradigms to these various places and eras, but share a firm belief that rigorous historical analysis can give us a better understanding of our place in time. 

As a foundational discipline in the humanities and social sciences, history offers a testing ground for assumptions and propositions about human actions, beliefs, and ideas. To study history offers a means to explore our shared humanity and to learn about the particularities of the human experience.

We invite you to explore our website and learn more about our department: the subjects matters that we study, the students with whom we work, the courses that we teach, and the engaging intellectual community that faculty and students have built and share here at the University of Chicago.


Latest News and Announcements

Brenner to Lecture on Capitalism

Robert Brenner, professor emeritus of history at UCLA, will lecture on "From Capitalism to Feudalism? Economic Decline, Neoliberal Ascent, and the Rise of Finance" on Friday, March 19, at 3 PM. Sponsored by the Department of History, the lecture will be held in Harper Memorial Library, room 140, 1116 E. 59th Street, Chicago.

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Undergraduate Historians Win Prizes!

Today, Matthew Briones, faculty director of the Collegiate Affairs Committee, announced the winners of the 2017 BA Thesis Awards in History. This year, fifty-three students wrote theses and twenty were recommended by readers for prizes. The department will celebrate all of our graduating seniors' accomplishments at a reception for students and their families on Friday June 9, in the John Hope Franklin Room, 3:30 PM.  Congratulations!

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David Nirenberg Wins Laing Prize

The University of Chicago Press has awarded David Nirenberg the 2017 Gordon J. Laing Prize for Neighboring Faiths: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in the Middle Ages and Today. The prize honors a University of Chicago faculty member who writes, edits, or translates a book in the last three years that brings the most distinction to the Press.

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Tara Zahra elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Congratulations to Tara Zahra on her election to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences! Founded in 1780, the academy is one of the country’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, convening leaders from the academy, business, and government to respond to challenges facing the nation and the world.

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International Conference on Writing & Religion in Arabia

The Department of History is co-sponsoring an international group of scholars concerned with a vigorous debate about questions of writing and religion. The period and place in question, the late antique in the Arabian Penninsula, provide the background to the appearance and coalescence of the Qurʼān. “Writing and Religion in Arabia, 500–700 C.

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Ada Palmer Nominated for Two Hugo Awards

Ada Palmer's debut novel, Too Like the Lightening, is a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Novel of 2016 and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Both awards will be announced at the World Science Fiction Convention, Worldcon 75, in Helsinki, Finland, on August 11, 2017.

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Praise for Weinrib's The Taming of Free Speech

The press has praised Laura Weinrib's The Taming of Free Speech: America's Civil Liberties Compromise (Harvard, 2016). The book traces workers’ right to strike between 1910 and 1940, and the American Civil Liberties Union calculated bargain to defend their rights. The US National Archives invited Weinrib to discuss her book in conjucture with the exhibit, Amending America.

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If There is a Feminist in the World It’s the Black Woman

Ashley J. Finigan, a history doctoral candidate, discusses her research on the National Council of Negro Women.

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Johanna Ransmeier Appointed to Public Intellectuals Program

The National Committee on United States–China Relations has named Johanna Ransmeier a fellow in its Public Intellectuals Program. The program nurtures a new generation of China specialists who have the interest and potential to play significant public roles.

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New Fellowships Boost History PhD Students

The Department of History is very pleased to announced the establishment of two new dissertation write-up fellowships for History doctoral students, made possible by a generous bequest from the estate of T. Bentley Duncan, PhD'67, associate professor emeritus of history.

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Albritton Jonsson Discusses Climate Change in the Guardian

Fredrik Albritton Jonsson, associate professor of British history and the conceptual and historical studies of science, discusses Amitav Ghosh’s recent book, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, in an extensive article in the Guardian.

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A Papal Election Here on Campus

Learning about power politics in the world behind Machiavelli’s Prince.

Ada Palmer has devised a live-action role-playing simulation of a papal election circa 1490 for her course on the Italian Renaissance. Students negotiate, make alliances, trade money and titles, commission art and literature to win the love of the public, and compete to elect a pope, whose influence and military strength then determines the shape of a war, which occurs on the last day of the simulation.

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2016-17 Excellent Year for Graduate Awards

History graduate students made an especially strong showing on the 2016–17 honor roll, in both national and university-wide competitions. A full 35 students will further their research or write-up of the dissertation with support from Fulbrights, the Mellon and Quinn Foundations, and the SSRC, among others. Another 10 students will perfect their teaching skills as prize-winning lecturers and preceptors and as teaching fellows.

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Brenda Shapiro Gift Will Bring Top PhDs to Chicago

Brenda Shapiro has made an important gift to help us recruit top PhD students to the Department of History. Beginning with the Class of 2017, and continuing for 2018 and 2019, the best five students selected for admission will be named Brenda and Earl Shapiro Scholars in History. The 2017–18 Shapiro Scholars will receive a five-year fellowship, totalling $25,000, on top of the regular fellowship awarded by the Division of Social Sciences.

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John Boyer Writes a History of the University of Chicago

In the summer of 1996 John W. Boyer, AM'69, PhD'75, dean of the College, began what he thought would be a small summer research project, never imagining that his efforts would span nearly two decades and result in a history of the University of Chicago. He spent the summer investigating the university’s archives, piecing together the story of the College, its evolving size and demographics, and its ties to the wider university. Boyer presented his findings to the faculty that autumn—and even those who opposed the growth of the College were grateful for the context the report provided.

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