Overview of Courses

A Brief Guide to History Courses 

Do you want to take a history course but don’t know exactly where to begin?  The history department offers a number of different options for all Brown undergraduate students, whether they are interested in exploring beyond their usual comfort zone or are potential concentrators.  This page provides you with a brief guide to some of the history department’s course offerings for the Fall 2015 semester.  For a full list of our courses for this year, see Courses.


Over the past year, the History Department has begun to introduce a series of lecture courses numbered HISTORY 0150.  These are thematic courses on topics that cut across time and space and are open to all Brown undergraduates.  They introduce students to methods of historical analysis, interpretation, and argument.  We will be offering two in the fall of 2015:

HIST 0150A:  History of Capitalism
Professor Seth Rockman, 11:00 - 11:50 am M-W-F.

Capitalism didn't just spring from the brain of Adam Smith. Its logic is not encoded on human DNA, and its practices are not the inevitable outcome of supply and demand. So how did capitalism become the dominant economic system of the modern world? History can provide an answer by exploring the interaction of culture and politics, technology and enterprise, and opportunity and exploitation from the era of the Atlantic Slave Trade to the 2008 Financial Crisis. HIST 0150 courses introduce students to methods of historical analysis, interpretation, and argument. This class presumes no economics background, nor previous history courses.

 HIST 0150C: Locked Up: A Global History of Prison and Captivity
Professor Amy Remensnyder, 1:00 pm - 2:20 pm T-R.

A long history lies behind the millions of men and women locked up today as prisoners, captives and hostages. Beginning in antiquity and ending in the present, this course draws on materials from a variety of cultures across the world to explore incarceration's centuries-old past. In examining the experience and meaning of imprisonment, whether as judicial punishment, political repression, or the fallout of war, the class will ask fundamental questions about liberty as well. History 150 courses introduce students to methods of historical analysis, interpretation and argumentation. This course presumes no previous history courses.


History Department first-year seminars (FYS) and sophomore seminars (SYS) (restricted to first-years and sophomores) provide freshmen and sophomores an introduction to a topic and to historical methods in a small class setting.  In the Fall Semester of 2015, we will be offering the following first-year and sophomore seminars:

First-Year Seminars

HIST0521A: Christianity in Conflict in the Medieval Mediterranean
 T-R 02:30 pm - 03:50 pm
Professor Conant

HIST0522N: Reason, Revolution and Reaction in Europe
 T-R 06:40 pm - 08:00 pm
Professor Richards

HIST0522O: The Enlightenment
R 04:00 pm - 06:30 pm
Professor Revill

HIST0535A: Atlantic Pirates, Primary Meeting
M 03:00 pm - 05:30 pm
Professor Cope

HIST0537A:  Popular Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean
R 04:00 pm - 06:30 pm
Professor Lambe

HIST0540F: Women in the Middle East, 7th-20th C.: Patriarchal Visions, Revolutionary Voices
T 04:00 pm - 06:30 pm
Professor Brummett

HIST0551A: Abraham Lincoln: Historical and Cultural Perspectives
M 03:00 pm - 05:30 pm
Professor Vorenberg

HIST0556A: Sport in American History
T-R 09:00 am - 10:20 am
Professor Chudacoff

HIST0580M: The Age of Revolutions, 1760-1824
W 03:00 pm - 05:30 pm
Professor Mumford

HIST0582A: Animal Histories
W 03:00 pm - 05:30 pm
Professor Jacobs

Sophomore Seminars

HIST0658D-S01: Walden + Woodstock: The American Lives of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Bob Dylan
W 03:00 pm - 05:30 pm
Professor Sacks

HIST0685A-S01: The Social Lives of Dead Bodies in China and Beyond
W 0:5:30 - 8:00 pm
Professor Nedostup


History lecture courses address topics of broad interest chronologically, geographically and thematically defined. These courses are designed for History concentrators and non-concentrators alike.  Please see courses for a complete list of our courses for Fall 2015. To clarify our course offerings, our courses over 1000 are organized as follows:

  • 1000-1099 courses on Africa
  • 1100-1199 courses on East Asia
  • 1200-1299 courses on Europe
  • 1300-1399 courses on Latin America
  • 1400-1499 courses on Middle East
  • 1500-1599 courses on North America
  • 1600-1699 courses on South Asia
  • 1700-1799 Global courses
  • 1800-1899 Thematic courses


Courses numbered from 1960A to 1979Z are capstone seminars that provide students with an opportunity to delve deeply into a historical problem and to write a major research and/or analytical paper. These seminars are designed to serve as an intellectual culmination of the concentration.   First-Year students are not advised to take these courses and only rarely are sophomores allowed to enroll.


Students seeking to graduate with honors must complete three additional courses. These are:

History Honors Workshop for Prospective Thesis Writers (HIST 1992). Offered in fall and spring semesters. Recommended for juniors, although open to seniors who have been away during their junior year.

History Honors Workshop for Thesis Writers (HIST 1993/94). Offered in fall and spring semesters. Limited to seniors and juniors who have been admitted to the History Honors Program. All students admitted to Program must enroll in in HIST 1993 for one semester and then HIST 1994 in the subsequent semester.

Click here to download a complete outline of the new numbering system.