As historians we look for and examine what women and men of the past have left behind, what they have created, and what marks they have left on the world. We listen to the stories others have told and look at the pictures others have painted of those pasts. We shape and articulate our own narratives and understandings of historical evidence. We discern and analyze varieties of and connections among human experiences. Through departmental course offerings, the major, and participation in interdisciplinary studies, we teach students to join us in exploring the world's past. We encourage off-campus study and foreign language study, sponsor diverse speakers, and arrange formal and informal gatherings to encourage students to reflect on the human past as a way to understand their world.
The department has developed the course HIST 100, "Making of the Contemporary World," as a historical introduction to the 20th century. With an emphasis on small group discussion and the exploration of primary sources, this is an ideal course for first-year students. In addition, courses numbered between 100 and 199 are designed as introductory courses, suitable both for those who plan further work in the field and for those who intend to enroll in only one history course during their college career. The department recommends them as appropriate first courses. Nevertheless, unless otherwise noted, all courses numbered below 300 are open to any interested student. Courses numbered from 300 to 499 are seminars. Enrollment in seminars is limited and, except in unusual circumstances, first-year students will not be admitted to them.
The department believes a sound history curriculum presents the following seven elements: (1) authentic research and writing opportunities; (2) a variety of classroom interactions; (3) a blend of studies focusing on breadth with studies focusing on depth; (4) opportunities to learn about different world cultures; (5) engagement with events that occurred well before recent times; (6) an introduction to the ways historians do their work and the theoretical considerations that undergird that work; and (7) an obligation to integrate the various discrete courses that the curriculum offers. The requirements for the major are designed to ensure that all history majors experience these elements.
History majors at Kenyon must receive credit for at least 5.5 units of work in courses taught by the History Department or in extra-departmental courses approved by the History Department. No more than 1 unit may be earned outside the department by students who choose not to study off-campus. Students who choose to study off-campus may earn up to 1 additional unit of outside history credit. (For information on non-departmental courses that count for history credit, see the department chair.) The 5.5 required units must include: 2 units of work in a field within the major, the .5-unit Practice and Theory of History course (HIST 387), and the Senior Seminar (HIST 490) or the Senior Honors Seminar (HIST 497). While taking the courses that meet the requirements in the previous sentence, history majors must make sure to meet the following four distribution requirements: at least 1 unit in Asia and/or Africa, at least 1 unit in Europe and/or the Americas, at least 1 unit in premodern courses, and at least 1 unit in modern courses. The student majoring in history must also, while pursuing the program outlined above, complete at least one advanced seminar (i.e., any 300- to 400-level seminar except HIST 387, 490, 497 or 498).
The purpose of fields is to give students the opportunity to organize their history courses into a coherent thematic or geographic area of specialization within the major. When students declare a major, they will submit to the department chair and their department advisor a brief proposal that defines their anticipated field (the field proposal is part of the declaration of major form). The field proposal identifies: (1) the geographic or comparative area that the student will explore; (2) the courses that the student proposes to take to complete the field; (3) the reasons for these choices; and (4) the role, if any, that off-campus study will play in the field. Students may select their field from the list below:
The Senior Research Conference, which is held each January, usually on the first Sunday after classes begin, culminates the work that students carry out for the Senior Seminar (HIST 490). Participants are divided into panels based on common themes that emerge from their papers, and speakers present a 10 to 12 minute version of their theses, followed by a period of discussion. As a result students gain experience summarizing a larger project and giving a public presentation. All seniors are required to attend, and the conference is open to the entire Kenyon community. The Senior Research Conference, as a collaborative event, is a particularly meaningful experience for the participants because it serves as a turning point in the research process, culminating the collective work they did in the senior seminar and providing feedback as they begin the individual work of the Senior Exercise.
The Senior Exercise in history is usually conducted in the spring semester. The Senior Exercise consists of:
(1) a newly prepared and significantly revised version of the research paper completed in the Senior Seminar, along with a brief explanation of the chief ways it differs from the Senior Seminar paper.
(2) a 45-minute oral examination that will focus on prominent themes in the student's field and their relation to the student's research project.
Honors candidates are chosen by the history faculty and are invited to participate in the program based on their grade point averages (3.33 overall and 3.33 in history courses by the end of the junior year) and demonstrated ability to do high-quality independent research. Prior to their senior year, honors candidates should have completed HIST 387. In their senior year, honors candidates enroll in HIST 497 and 498. Honors seminars can be used to meet general major requirements. Senior Honors fulfills the senior seminar requirement.
A minor in history will consist of at least 2.5 units (typically five courses), which include:
Faculty members in the department believe that study in another country strengthens academic work in history. Students may meet the above requirements with courses taken off campus, but only with departmental approval. If you contemplate off-campus study, either in the summer or during the regular academic year, you should consult with your advisor to clarify whether you may receive departmental credit for off-campus work. History majors should give serious consideration to foreign-language study. Foreign-language competence not only enriches study abroad, it enhances opportunities for historical research at Kenyon.