The Undergraduate Program


Please note that students intending to write a senior thesis are strongly encouraged to enroll in a seminar for which they will write a substantial research paper during their junior year. Students should confirm with the seminar instructor that they will be asked to write a research paper. Please see pages 6 and 14-15 in the Undergraduate Handbook for more information


Undergraduate seminars that originate from the Department of History (at Columbia or Barnard) are grouped in three categories:

  • Seminars which require a departmental application. Students must file a seminar application with the department during the seminar application window. For spring 2017, the early registration application period is open from February 28th-March 28th for priority admission. Students who apply by the priority deadline will be informed of their acceptance on April 14th. To apply after the priority deadline, please contact Sia (
  • Seminars which require instructor’s written or verbal permission (or an instructor-managed application). Students must email the instructor or visit their office hours to request permission. Many of these courses are blocked for registration; in these cases, students are required to join the waitlist in SSOL or myBarnard after getting permission. The instructor will then approve you in the course. (If you do not obtain permission for the seminars which require it, you may be removed from the waitlist or roster.)
  • Seminars which do not require instructor’s permission. Students may freely enroll until the course fills, or add themselves to a waitlist (most seminars are capped at 15).

Please note that graduate students may enroll in any 4000-level or above seminar, as well as a few 3000-level seminars with instructor’s permission.

Last Updated: March 8th, 2017

The departmental seminar application period for the following spring 2017 seminars will be open from February 28th-March 28th at 2:00pm (for priority admission). To apply, please visit this link, or contact Sia ( after the priority deadline.

HIST UN3061 Islam and Europe in the Middle Ages: Adam Kosto, M 2:10-4:00P [also open to graduate students via HIST GR6999]
This course explores the encounter between Europe, broadly conceived, and the Islamic world in the period from the seventh to the thirteenth centuries. While the Latin Christian military expeditions that began in the late eleventh century known as the Crusades are part of this story, they are not the focus. The course stresses instead the range of diplomatic, commercial, intellectual, artistic, religious, and military interactions established well before the Crusades across a wide geographical expanse, with focal points in Iberia and Southern Italy. Substantial readings in primary sources in translation are supplemented with recent scholarship.

HIST UN3326 History of Ireland, 1700-2000: Susan Pedersen, R 10:10-12:00P
This seminar provides an introduction to key debates and historical writing in Irish history from 1700. Topics include: the character of Ascendancy Ireland; the 1798 rising and the Act of Union; the causes and consequences of the famine; emigration and Fenianism; the Home Rule movement; the Gaelic revival; the Easter Rising and the civil war; politics and culture in the Free State; the Northern Ireland problem; Ireland, the European Union, and the birth of the “celtic tiger”.

HIST UN3504 Columbia 1968: Frank Guridy, R 2:10-4:00P [also open to graduate students via HIST GR6999]
This undergraduate seminar examines the social, political, and cultural transformations of the 1960s through the lens of local history. The course is centered on the student and community protests that took place at Columbia University and in Morningside Heights in 1968. Scholarly and popular histories have underscored the ways 1968 was a watershed moment in the history of the 20th century. Although the protest is one of the touchstone events from the year and the decade, reliable historical treatment is still lacking. This class encourages students to examine and recraft histories of the university and the surrounding community in this period. Modeled on the recently designed “Columbia and Slavery” course, this course is a public-facing seminar designed to empower students to open up a discussion of all the issues connected with the protests, its global, national, and local context, and its aftermath. The course aims to raise questions, elicit curiosity, and encourage students and those interested in Columbia and Morningside Heights history to continue to dig into the history of one of the most important historical events to take place on Columbia’s campus. The course aims to prompt fresh answers to old questions: What were the factors that led to the protests? How did the student and community mobilization shape, and were shaped by, national and international forces? What were the local, national, and international legacies of Columbia 1968?  This seminar is part of an on-going, multiyear effort to grapple with such questions and to share our findings with the Columbia community and beyond.  Working independently, students will define and pursue individual research projects.  Working together, the class will create digital visualizations of these projects.

HIST UN3566 Culture and Politics in the Progressive Era: Hilary Hallett, M 2:10-4:00P
This class begins during the fabled ‘Gilded Age,’ when capitalism’s expansion left the United States with the world’s largest economy.  We will explore how Americans defined, contested, and performed different meanings of American civilization through progressive social reform movements, artistic expressions, and everyday habits and customs from the fin-de-siècle through the cataclysms of World War II.  The class pays particular attention to how gender, race, and location—regional, international, and along the class ladder—shaped perspectives about what constituted American civilization and discourses about how it should be remade.  It takes the long view of Progressive reform era and pays particular attention to what cultural dynamics and artifacts can tell us about the past.

HIST UN3766 African Futures: Gregory Mann, R 2:10-4:00P
The premise of the course is that Africa’s collective past – that which has emerged since the ending of the African slave trade – might usefully be thought of as a sequence of futures that were imperfectly realized. Those “futures past” represent once-fixed points on the temporal horizon, points toward which African political leaders and intellectuals sought to move, or towards which they were compelled by the external actors who have historically played an outsized role in the continent’s affair

HIST UN3930 The Eastern Mediterranean in the Late Bronze Age: March Van De Mieroop, T 4:10-6:00P [also open to graduate students via HIST GR6999]
This course presents a comparative study of the histories of Egypt, the Near East, Anatolia and the Aegean world in the period from c. 1500-1100 BC, when several of the states provide a rich set of textual and archaeological data. It will focus on the region as a system with numerous participants whose histories will be studied in an international context. The course is a seminar: students are asked to investigate a topic (e.g., diplomacy, kingship, aspects of the economy, etc.) in several of the states involved and present their research in class and as a paper.

HIST UN3938 America and the Natural World: William Leach, W 2:10-4:00P [also open to graduate students via HIST GR6999]
This seminar deals with how Americans have treated and understood the natural world, connected or failed to connect to it, since 1800. It focuses on changing context over time, from the agrarian period to industrialization, followed by the rise of the suburban and hyper-technological landscape. We will trace the shift from natural history to evolutionary biology, give special attention to the American interest in entomology, ornithology, and botany, examine the quest to save pristine spaces, and read from the works of Buffon, Humboldt, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Darwin, Aldo Leopold, Nabokov, among others. Perspectives on naming, classifying, ordering, and most especially, collecting, will come under scrutiny. Throughout the semester we will assess the strengths and weaknesses of the environmentalist movement, confront those who thought they could defy nature, transcend it, and even live without it.

HIST GU4357 History of the Self: Tocqueville: Mark Lilla, M 12:10-2:00P [also open to graduate students via HIST GR6999]
This seminar is one of a series on the history of modern conceptions of the self. Previous semesters were devoted to Montaigne, Pascal, and Rousseau. This semester we will be studying Alexis de Tocqueville’s analysis of the democratic human type (l’homme démocratique) with his or her distinctive passions, fears, aspirations, prejudices, and self-image. We will focus less on America than on democracy.

Last Updated: April 6th, 2017

Please email professors or visit during their office hours to request permission. After receiving permission, you may enroll yourself during your next registration period (or join the course wait list in SSOL or myBarnard, if applicable; the instructor will then approve you). Note that if you do not secure permission from the instructor, you may be removed from the course.

HIST BC3119 Capitalism and Enlightenment: Carl Wennerlind, T 2:10-4:00P ( for permission)

HIST BC3327 Consumer Culture in Modern Europe: Lisa Tiersten, W 2:10-4:00P ( for permission)

HIST UN3335 20th Century New York City: Kenneth Jackson, W 6:10-8:00P ( for permission) [also open to graduate students via HIST GR6999]

HIST BC3360 London: From Great Wen to World City: Deborah Valenze, T 12:10-2:00P ( for permission) [also open to graduate students via HIST GR6999]

HIST BC3904 Introduction to Historical Theory and Method: Joel Kaye, W 4:10-6:00P ( for permission)

HIST UN3911 Medicine and Western Civilization: David Rothman, M 4:10-6:00P ( for permission)

HIST GU4217 Women as Cold War Weapons: Victoria Phillips, W 12:10-2:00P ( for permission)

HIST GU4331 Modern German History, 1900-2000: Volker Berghahn, W 4:10-6:00P ( for permission)

HIST GU4532 Civil War and Reconstruction: Stephanie McCurry, W 10:10-12:00P ( for permission)

HIST GU4800 Global History of Science: Marwa Elshakry and Kavita Sivaramakrishnan, F 2:10-4:00P

Last Updated: June 5th, 2017

HIST UN3111 Environmental History of the Ancient Mediterranean: William Harris, M 12:10-2:00P [also open to graduate students via HIST GR6999]

HIST UN3233 From Liberalism to Illiberalism? Economic Ideas and Institutions in Central and Eastern Europe during the Past Two Centuries: Janos Kovacs, T 6:10-8:00P

HIST UN3401 Does American Poverty Have a History?: Christopher Florio, W 12:10-2:00P [also open to graduate students via HIST GR6999 with permission]

HIST UN3410 Food and Inequality in 20th Century U.S.: Lindsey Dayton, M 4:10-6:00P

HIST UN3490 Global Cold War: Paul Chamberlin, M 10:10-12:00P

HIST UN3500 John Jay and the American Revolution: Benjamin Lyons, T 10:10-12:00P

HIST UN3516 US Labor History: Jarod Roll, W 2:10-4:00P

HIST UN3603 Jewish Migration: Rebecca Kobrin, M 2:10-4:00P

HIST UN3645 Jews and Early Modern Europe: Elisheva Carlebach, T 10:10-12:00P [also open to graduate students via HIST GR6999 with permission]

HIST UN3807 Walking in and Out of the Archive: Shahid Amin, R 12:10-2:00P

HIST UN3796 Global Health in Africa: Sarah Runcie, W 2:10-4:00P

HIST GU4233 Reforming Communism – Crafting Capitalism: Writing History of Collectivist Economic Thought and Practice in Eastern Europe and China: Janos Kovacs, R 6:10-8:00P

HIST GU4250 Cinema Under State Socialism: Tarik Amar, T 10:10-12:00P

HIST GU4285 Soviet Union and Russia, 1953-2012: Tarik Amar, R 10:10-12:00P

HIST GU4756 Istanbul: Places, People, and Everyday Life: Zeynep Celik, R 4:10-6:00P

HIST GU4904 Writing Lives – A Survey of Historical Approaches and Techniques: Mark Mazower, M 10:10-12:00P


Last Updated: 6/5/17

The following courses were approved to count towards the history major and concentration but do not originate from the department. Please consult the Directory of Classes for enrollment instructions.

  • AMST UN3930 Gender and History in American Film (Hilary Hallett)
  • CSER UN3928 Colonization/Decolonization (Natasha Lightfoot)
  • CSER UN4701 Troubling the Color Line (Karl Jacoby)
  • HSEA GU4027 Issues in Early Chinese Civilization (Feng Li)
  • HSEA GU4844 Global Hong Kong (Peter Hamilton)
  • HSEA GU4893 The Family in Chinese History (Robert Hymes)