Welcome to the Department of History!
We are a community of scholars engaged in cutting-edge historical research. Our expertise spans many centuries and continents: from Africa to Asia, Europe, and the Americas; from Ancient Greece and Rome to Byzantium; to 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 both 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 subject 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
From Archives to Court: Historians and Human-Rights Abuses
Ann Schneider, PhD'08, recently finished five years of archival research. The results were not destined for an academic press but a court house. Schneider's subject is Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova. Vides was head of the Salvadoran National Guard and later its defense minister during El Salvador's civil war of the 1980s, a bloody decade that saw the deaths of over seventy-five thousand civilians, including the rape and murder of three US nuns and a Catholic laywoman by members of the guard.
A Desire for History: Students Build a Queer Archive
An ambitious research project, "Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles," aims to make visible the contribution of LGBTQ people to the intellectual life of the University of Chicago. The project is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality and organized by Monica L. Mercado, PhD'14 (history), and Lauren Stokes, PhD candidate in history. It will culminate in an exhibition curated by Stokes at the Special Collections Research Center this spring (March 30–June 15, 2015). The exhibition will trace LGBTQ life from the early twentieth century to the present, with a strong focus on the period from the Stonewall riot in 1969 through AIDS activism in the 1980s and 1990s.
Make It Work: Career Prospects for Professional Historians
The Department of History has received $300,000 out of a $1.6 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the American Historical Association. The aim is to help PhD students succeed as professional historians, both in the academy and in other fields that routinely hire and benefit from the expertise of historians.
What Comparative History Brings to Political Science
The role of the state is in flux. Eastern European states vacillate between confederation with the European Union and Russia’s growing nationalism; religious caliphates roil the Middle East and parts of Africa; and China mixes a one-party system with a free-market economy.
A group of scholars at the University of Chicago seek to understand the paradoxes of modern state organization and power by combining the disciplines of history, law, political science, and sociology. “The State as History and Theory” is a multiyear project directed by Professors Elisabeth Clemens in Sociology, Bernard Harcourt in Law and Political Science, and James Sparrow in History.
Betsy Wood Brings Historian's Perspective to Op-Eds
As a senior economic policy associate at the Institute for Policy Studies, D.C.’s first progressive think tank, Marjorie E. Wood, PhD '11, focuses on income and wealth inequality, minimum wage and worker justice, and higher education reform.
Writing a History of Passing Is Writing a History of Loss
Allyson Hobbs, PhD '09, speaks about the history of racial passing for TEDx Talks and on NPR. Using the Emersonian idea of "coming up with the emphatic facts of history in our private experience," Hobbs tells the story of a cousin who passed for white, and how that story set her research in motion.