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History

Department Overview

The courses and seminars offered by the History Department attempt to give students a sense of the past; an acquaintance with the social, cultural, and institutional developments that have produced the world of today; and an understanding of the nature of history as a discipline.

The discipline of history is a method of analysis that focuses on the contexts in which people have lived and worked. Our courses and seminars emphasize less the accumulation of data than the investigation, from various viewpoints, of those ideas and institutions--political, religious, social, economic, and cultural--by which people have endeavored to order their world. The History Department's curriculum introduces students to historical methodology and the fundamentals of historical research and writing.

With strong analytical, writing, and research skills, history majors are prepared for a wide range of occupations and professions. Swarthmore College history majors can be found pursuing a broad range of career paths, ranging from government service to the world of medicine, from elementary and high schools to trade unions and public interest foundations, from journalism and publishing to consulting, and from the private to the public sector. Many find that studying history is excellent preparation for law school and business. And others have gone onto graduate school in history and now teach at universities and colleges in the United States and overseas.

Fall 2021 Courses

MLK marching peacefully with other leaders, with a placard behind them reading, "If we kill men with whom shall we live" in both English and Vietnamese.

HIST 005B Modern American History is an introductory survey of U.S. society, culture, and politics from Reconstruction to the present. 

Air Algérie tourism poster promoting travel to Algeria from France.

HIST 031. France in Algeria, France and Algerians, 1830-present: Examining the complex relationship between France and Algeria, this course is a deep dive into empire, with a focus on one of the most consequential settler colonies of the modern era, the war that ultimately liberated Algeria from French rule, and the ongoing contact between the two states and their peoples.

A promotional poster that reads "Help him build Palestine," with a man, shovel in hand, working the land.

HIST 034. Varieties of Zionist Thought: Judaism, Nationalism, Antisemitism, and the Jewish Question focuses on political and cultural expressions of Jewish identity since the late nineteenth century through an exploration of the central texts of Zionist thought. Cross-listed as RELG 060.

The 33rd USCT Infantry

HIST 051. Black Reconstruction recounts the struggle for freedom and national citizenship rights in the post-Civil War era.

Still from Disney's film, Pocahantas, where Pocahantas is over a prone John Smith, about to kiss him.

HIST 057. History v. Hollywood is focused on analyzing the narrative of American History as imagined and created by cinematographers. 

A smoking prevention poster from Mexico, where cigarettes stand in for candles in a scene with a casket.

HIST 067T. Digging Through the Big U.S. Tobacco Archives: Public Health, Corporate Deception, and Cigarette Smoking in Modern Latin America aims to research American tobacco corporations’ efforts to expand cigarette consumption and confront recent medicalization of the cigarette smoking habit worldwide.

A political cartoon featuring two white male oversized arms wrestling, with tattoos seeming to represent the liberal left on one arm and tattoos seeming to represent the conservative right on the other, while figures of women with children and people of color scatter below.

HIST 090X. Divided America: History of the Culture Wars examines the origins of divisive cultural politics in the United States since the 1970s surrounding race, religion, gender & sexuality, and popular culture.

Political cartoon depicting Napoleon hanging onto a two-headed eagle with a broken sword falling beneath him over his empire.

HIST 003A. Modern Europe, 1789 to 1918: Revolutionaries, Citizens, and Subjects in Europe's Long 19th Century surveys European history from the French Revolution to the aftermath of World War I, exploring topics such as empire, nationalism, revolution, and industrialization.

Political cartoon of an eagle with its feet planted in the US and its wings outstretching the globe, captioned "Ten thousand miles from tip to tip.—Philadelphia Press"

HIST 005B. Modern American History is an introductory survey of U.S. society, culture, and politics from Reconstruction to the present. 

A family takes a photo under an Algerian flag.

HIST 031. France in Algeria, France and Algerians, 1830-present: Examining the complex relationship between France and Algeria, this course is a deep dive into empire, with a focus on one of the most consequential settler colonies of the modern era, the war that ultimately liberated Algeria from French rule, and the ongoing contact between the two states and their peoples.

A Lowcountry fisherman tends to his nets.

HIST 051. Black Reconstruction recounts the struggle for freedom and national citizenship rights in the post-Civil War era.

Smoking prevention from the US, but in Spanish, where a rooster is pictured smoking but hunched over and seemingly unhealthy.

HIST 067T. Digging Through the Big U.S. Tobacco Archives: Public Health, Corporate Deception, and Cigarette Smoking in Modern Latin America aims to research American tobacco corporations’ efforts to expand cigarette consumption and confront recent medicalization of the cigarette smoking habit worldwide.

An image of a commune. Flags are tattered but flown in the dilapidated streets flanked by buildings in a smoky scene.

HIST 003A. Modern Europe, 1789 to 1918: Revolutionaries, Citizens, and Subjects in Europe's Long 19th Century surveys European history from the French Revolution to the aftermath of World War I, exploring topics such as empire, nationalism, revolution, and industrialization.

HIST 005B Modern American History is an introductory survey of U.S. society, culture, and politics from Reconstruction to the present. 

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Indian Country: A History of Land 1790-Present

The student-run course organized by Daniel Orr '16 and overseen by Professor Bruce Dorsey, Indigenous Communities and the Lands They Belong To (HIST099SR) created a website documenting the allotment of tribal lands in the United States with help from Nabil Kayshap in the library. The website is now housed in Swarthmore's digital scholarship collection online.

View the website