The Undergraduate Program

Undergraduate Seminars 

Please note that students who intend 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 the Undergraduate Handbook for more information on seminars and thesis requirements.


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 fall 2018, the early registration application period is open from March 5th-April 5th at 11:00 AM for priority admission. Students who apply by the priority deadline will be informed of their acceptance on April 12th. Applications received after the priority deadline will be responded to as soon as possible, but a response before early registration is not guaranteed.
  • 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 29th, 2018

The departmental seminar application period for the following fall 2018 seminars will be open from March 5th-April 5th at 11:00 AM (for priority admission). To apply, please visit this link. Students who apply by the priority deadline will be informed of their acceptance on April 12th. Applications received after the priority deadline will be responded to as soon as possible, but a response before early registration is not guaranteed.

HSCL UN3000 Ancient Persia: John Ma and Marc Van de Mieroop, R 4:10-6:00 P *NEW* [also open to graduate students via HIST GR6999]
This seminar studies the ancient Persian (Achaemenid) Empire which ruled the entire Middle East from the late 6th to the late 4th centuries BCE and was the first multi-ethnic empire in western Asian and Mediterranean history. We will investigate the empire using diverse sources, both textual and material, from the various constituent parts of the empire and study the different ways in which it interacted with its subject populations. This course is a seminar and students will be asked to submit a research paper at the end of the semester. Moreover, in each class meeting one student will present part of the readings.

 HIST GU4359 Birth of Modernity: Mark Mazower, M 2:10-4:00 P
The purpose of this course is to explore the mental horizon of the 1820s through the works of professional revolutionaries, artists, poets and writers, as well as via recent historical and literary studies. The period marked the intellectual origins of modernity and many of our key organizing principles – the very idea of socialism, liberalism and communism for instance – originated then. Readings connect political transformations in Europe and across the globe to a new sense of time and speed, history, technology and economics.

This course is intended for students interested in European, imperial, American and/or transnational history. It is especially suitable for students wishing for a more detailed treatment of the early 19th century portions of the Core Curriculum, and for students with an interest in French and English literature as well as cultural history. It aims to explore a moment of extraordinary fertility in the making of the modern world when in the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars, ideas about culture, philosophy, human agency and the natural world were transformed. It asks how Beethoven’s musical revolution and the wider impact of Romanticism in the arts were shaped by, and shaped, the politics of international revolution, the growth of a global consciousness through colonial settlement, and technological advance, and how attitudes to faith and to rationality were reconfigured as social projects for mankind’s advance into a better future.

HIST GU4961 Crime: Practices and Representations: Pablo Piccato, M 4:10-6:00 P 
This seminar is intended to introduce students to the study of crime from two perspectives: historical and cultural. On the one hand, the seminar will read introductory and representative texts on the history of crime, particularly in Europe and the Americas. Among the themes to be discussed are: the impact of urbanization and cultural change on historical patterns of crime; the role of transgression and punishment in the construction of collective identities; the everyday relationship of urban populations with the law, the police, and the judiciary, and the gendered meanings of violence. On the other hand, the seminar will work with cultural representations of crime. Movies and literature will be used to understand the themes, genres and explanations that characterize popular understandings of crime. These cultural products will be set in a dialogue with our historical knowledge of criminal practices on the premise that representations and practices of crime are mutually constitutive, although in ways that are specific of different societies.

The course will conclude with a brief research project based on primary sources and the analysis of a relevant movie or work of fiction. Students will have the opportunity to examine criminal records or other primary sources, such as journalistic and personal narratives, and published judicial reports. The final paper will analyze one case using the analytical tools and methodological examples discussed during the semester.

Last Updated: March 26th, 2018

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). For course descriptions, please click on the course number. Note that if you do not secure permission from the instructor, you may be removed from the course.

HIST BC3062 Medieval Economic Life and Thought
Joel Kaye, T 4:10-6:00 P (email for permission) 

HIST BC3360 London: “Great Wen” to World City
Deborah Valenze, W 12:10-2:00 P (email for permission) 

AMHS UN3462 Immigrant New York
Rebecca Kobrin, W 10:10-12:00 P (email for permission) 

HIST BC3500 Nannies, Maids, and Care Workers In a Global Economy
Premilla Nadasen, W 2:10-4:00 P (email for permission)

HSAF UN3504 Columbia 1968
Frank Guridy, T 10:10-12:00 P (email for permission) 

HIST BC3549 A History of Violence: Force and Power in Early America (sophomore seminar)
Andrew Lipman, M 6:10-8:00 P (email for permission) 

HIST UN3769 Health and Healing in African History
Rhiannon Stephens, R 12:10-2:00 P (email for permission) 

HIST BC3870 Gender and Migration (sophomore seminar)
Jose Moya, T 2:10-4:00 P (email for permission) 

HIST UN3911 Medicine and Western Civilization
David Rothman, M 4:10-6:00 P (email Prof. Rothman and Rose Bailey for permission: and 

HIST UN3972 The Ghetto from Venice to Harlem
Craig Wilder, T 2:10-4:00 P ( for permission)

HIST GU4010 The Roman World in Late Antiquity
Giovanni Ruffini, W 12:10-2:00 P (email for permission)

HIST GU4455 Transnational Migration and Citizenship
Mae Ngai, R 4:10-6:00 P (email for permission) 

HIST GU4573 (new) American Radicalism
Casey Blake, T 4:10-6:00 P (join waitlist and attend first seminar meeting to apply for permission)

HIST GR4743 (new) Manuscripts of the Muslim World
Tunc Sen, R 2:10-4:00 P (email for permission)

Course descriptions can be viewed by searching for a given course at one of the following links: 

HIST UN & HIST BC Courses:
AMHS Courses:
HSAF Courses:

Last Updated: April 12th, 2018

HIST UN3120 Censorship and Freedom of Expression in Early Modern Europe
Elisheva Carlebach, W 4:10-6:00 P 

HIST UN3335 20th Century New York City
Kenneth Jackson, M 6:10-8:00 P  

HIST UN3593 Religion & Politics in Post-War United States
Stephen Koeth, W 10:10-12:00 P

HIST UN3601 Jews in the Later Roman Empire, 300-600 CE (Global Core)
Seth Schwartz, R 12:10-2:00 P 

HIST UN3744 The Decline of Britain
Sarah Mass, W 2:10-4:00 P

HIST GU4214 Poland In Personal Accounts: The Era of the Witness
Malgorzata Mazurek, W 4:10-6:00 P 

HIST GU4235 Central Asia: Imperial Legacies, New Images
Gulnar T Kendirbai W 12:10-2:00 P

HIST GU 4240 Cultures of the Cold War
Tarik C Amar R 4:10-6:00 P

HIST GU4253 Ukraine in New York
Alexander Motyl, W 2:10-4:00 P

HIST GU 4285 Soviet Union and Russia 1953-2012
Tarik C Amar T 12:10-2:00 P

HIST UN4348 Austria in the 19th Century
Stephan Sander-Faes M 10:10-12:00 P

HIST GU4483 Military History and Policy
Kenneth Jackson, T 2:10-4:00 P

HIST GU4684 Popular Revolts in 19th Century Brazil
Monica Dantas, R 2:10-4:00 P

HIST UN4848 Pakistan in Modern South Asia: 1924 -2018
Tahira S Khan R 12:10-2:00 P

HSEA GU4860 Society of Choson Korea: 1392-1910 
Jungwon Kim M 2:10-4:00 P

HSEA GU4880 History of Modern China I 
Instructor TBA TR 10:10-11:25 A

HSEA GU4881 Gods, Ghosts, and Ancestors 
Robert P Hymes T 4:10-6:00 P

Course descriptions can be viewed by searching for a given course at one of the following links:

HIST UN & HIST BC Courses:
AMHS Courses:

HSAF Courses:


Last Updated: March 26th, 2018

The following links list courses (including seminars) which 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. 

History-East Asia: