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The Princeton graduate history program seeks to train the next generation of scholars. We value an approach to scholarship grounded in the particular while retaining a sense of the whole.
Throughout the path to the Ph.D., graduate students learn to take as comprehensive a view of history as possible. In their courses the faculty encourage students to trespass outside geographic and disciplinary boundaries. Students, faculty, and outside scholars continue these conversations beyond the classroom through workshops, lectures, and conferences, all part of Princeton's vibrant intellectual community.
Students leave the program with a far-reaching understanding of the past and prepared to engage in discipline-defining research. They go on to careers writing and teaching at top universities and colleges around the world.
Students take courses or seminars for two years, sit for a general examination and, upon successful completion, write a dissertation of such scope that they can anticipate its completion within three additional years of graduate study.
Each course usually meets once a week for three hours. A course may be either the seminar type, centering on individual students preparing research papers, or the more general, reading type, aimed at having students gain a broad acquaintance with a subject, or a mixture of both.
Sample of written work.
First-year students are expected to enroll in three courses each semester (including HIS 500 in the fall). Second-year students ordinarily enroll in two courses the first semester and one course the second semester. Courses include: graduate seminars offered by the history department; graduate seminars in other departments; undergraduate courses; supervised research papers; and supervised general reading. Although much of each student's program will be aimed at preparing for the general examination, students are strongly advised to take some courses in the first two years that do not fall within their general examination fields. For most students, the first two years of graduate school will provide the last opportunity to receive systematic instruction in subjects outside their specialized interests.
The minimum requirement of the department is a reading knowledge of either French or German (or Spanish in the case of American history). Within each field, the faculty decides what additional languages are required and the degree of proficiency that is required. In rare cases when the student, the student's adviser, and the director of graduate studies all agree that the substitution of another language is reasonable, appropriate, and academically sound, some other language may be used in place of French or German. The following field requirements typically apply, although some sub-fields may require additional languages (applicants should check with the department if in doubt):
The faculty of the history department set most of the language examinations. Examinations in some languages, however, may be administered by appropriate language departments at Princeton. Normally the examination consists of two passages to be translated, one with and one without a dictionary. Language examinations will be announced at the beginning of each semester. Other examinations should be scheduled in consultation with the director of graduate studies and (if appropriate) the department involved.
Entering students should arrange one language examination early in their first term. The department expects students to pass at least one language examination before enrolling for the second year. No student may complete the general examination or enroll for a fifth term without passing all language requirements. In fields that demand more than two languages, all but one of them must be passed prior to enrolling for a third term. Second-year students who fail the language exam at the regularly scheduled time may petition the director of graduate studies and receive a second chance to take the exam in the same term, in order to fulfill the language obligation at a time that interferes less with generals preparation.
Students are required to write two research papers based on primary sources before sitting for the general examination. Students often write one of these research papers in the context of a graduate seminar, and another based on independent research. The first must be completed and certified by June 15 of the first year of enrollment, and the second by April 1 of the second year.
The general examination tests the candidate’s knowledge of three distinct fields of historical study, one to be offered as the major field, and two as minors. To be eligible to complete the general examination, a student must have fulfilled the appropriate language requirements and completed all of the work in the courses in which he or she has enrolled. No student with an Incomplete will be permitted to complete the general examination until the outstanding course work has been finished.
The general examination consists of three written papers, one in each field, and an oral examination of not more than two hours. All three fields must be completed by May of the second year of study.
Examination fields are individually defined, in consultation with the director of graduate studies. Each field must be defined closely enough to permit the candidate to show evidence of intensive study, and broadly enough to have major historical significance. Common examples of examination fields include: Europe since 1870; the Ancien Régime and the Revolution in France; Tudor-Stuart England; Colonial and Revolutionary America; the United States, 1815–1920; Modern Japan; Modern Latin America; and the Atlantic world. Students are encouraged, if they wish, to choose a minor field in a subject from a discipline other than history. In all cases, candidates submit the titles of their fields to the director of graduate studies in the spring of their second year of study.
Students enrolled in the following special programs of study should consult the requirements particular to them: African studies, African American studies, East Asian studies, Hellenic studies, history of science, Latin American studies, and Near Eastern studies.
A student who completes all departmental requirements (coursework, language examinations, and research papers, with no incompletes from the first year and first semester of the second year), but fails the general examination may take it a second time. If the student fails the general examination the second time, then Ph.D. candidacy is automatically terminated.
The Master of Arts (M.A.) degree is normally an incidental degree on the way to full Ph.D. candidacy, but also may be awarded to students who, for various reasons, leave the Ph.D. program. Students who have satisfactorily passed all required coursework (with all incompletes resolved), fulfilled the language requirements in their field of study, and completed the two required research papers may be awarded an M.A. degree.
The Department of History tries to provide part-time teaching experience for most of the advanced graduate students who desire it. Teaching assistantships generally involve two to four classroom hours a week and should not interfere with progress toward completing the dissertation. Appointments are made by the department chair, according to the needs of the undergraduate teaching schedule, to third-, fourth-, and fifth-year graduate students.
Following the general examination, all students are expected to attend a two-day seminar on the Responsible Conduct of Research.
After passing the general examination, the qualifying candidate prepares a written dissertation. During the summer months between the second and third years, students are expected to attend a special dissertation writer’s seminar. Here students begin intensive work on and prepare a preliminary prospectus. On or before December 1 of the same year the student has taken his or her generals in May (or within six months of generals if taken at another time), the candidate must submit a finished version of the prospectus for the approval of the faculty adviser. Students are expected to complete the research and writing of the dissertation by the end of their fifth year of graduate study; earlier completion is certainly feasible in many cases.
The scope and length of the dissertation should be defined so that the dissertation can be completed in no more than three years of research and writing. The scope of the dissertation and its length varies from student to student; the decision, reached in consultation between the student and the supervisor, is based on the nature of the problem and the documentation. The completed dissertation may be as short as 75 pages or as long as 300. Only in exceptional circumstances should it exceed 300 pages. Whatever the scope or length, the dissertation must be capable of being developed for publication as a book or a series of articles in scholarly journals.
When the dissertation is completed, it is read by three readers in addition to the adviser; one of these three readers is normally not a faculty member of the Princeton history department. After the dissertation has been accepted, the candidate must pass a final public oral examination, which normally is conducted by a board consisting of the student’s adviser and the three readers.
The Ph.D. is awarded after the candidate’s doctoral dissertation has been accepted and the final public oral examination sustained.
William C. Jordan
John F. Haldon (History)
Angela N. H. Creager (History of Science)
Jeremy I. Adelman
David A. Bell
D. Graham Burnett
David N. Cannadine
Linda J. Colley
Thomas D. Conlan, also East Asian Studies
Angela N. H. Creager
Benjamin A. Elman, also East Asian Studies
Sheldon M. Garon, also East Asian Studies
Michael D. Gordin
Anthony T. Grafton
Molly Greene, also Hellenic Studies
Jan T. Gross
John F. Haldon, also Hellenic Studies
Hendrik A. Hartog
Tera W. Hunter, also African American Studies
Harold James, also Woodrow Wilson School
Stephen M. Kotkin, also Woodrow Wilson School
Emmanuel H. Kreike
Kevin M. Kruse
Regina Kunzel, also Gender and Sexuality Studies
Michael F. Laffan
Nancy Weiss Malkiel
Philip G. Nord
Willard J. Peterson, also East Asian Studies
Anson G. Rabinbach
Marina Rustow, also Near Eastern Studies
Martha A. Sandweiss
Emily A. Thompson
Keith A. Wailoo, also Woodrow Wilson School
R. Sean Wilentz
Julian E. Zelizer, also Woodrow Wilson School
Vera S. Candiani
Janet Y. Chen, also East Asian Studies
Yaacob Dweck, also Judaic Studies
Joshua B. Guild, also African American Studies
Erika Lorraine Milam
Clare Teresa M. Shawcross
Max D. Weiss, also Near Eastern Studies
Adam G. Beaver
He Bian, also East Asian Studies
Jacob S. T. Dlamini
James A. Dun
Eleanor K. Hubbard
Robert A. Karl
Matthew J. Karp
Rosina A. Lozano
Federico Marcon, also East Asian Studies
M'hamed Oualdi, also Near Eastern Studies
Jennifer M. Rampling
Rebecca A. Rix
Jack B. Tannous
Stefan Kamola, also Council of the Humanities
David L.M. Minto, also Council of the Humanities
Mira L. Siegelberg, also Council of the Humanities
Wallace D. Best, Religion, African American Studies
Michael A. Cook, Near Eastern Studies
M. Şükrü Hanioğlu, Near Eastern Studies
Bernard A. Haykel, Near Eastern Studies
Eileen A. Reeves, Comparative Literature
Courses for Fall 2015
Courses listed below show only regular graduate-level courses for the term; undergraduate courses and graduate-level independent reading and research courses, which may be approved by the Graduate School for individual students, are not listed.
A colloquium to introduce the beginning graduate student to the great traditions in historical writing, a variety of techniques and analytical tools recently developed by historians, and the nature of history as a profession.
This seminar offers a history of global interactions roughly since the 1850s, combining an analytical framework with an overarching narrative. It singles out geopolitics, political economy, empire, networks and exchange, warfare and welfare, and oil. Key themes include the Anglo-German antagonism, the U.S.-Japan clash, the rise and fall of global communism, the German story and the European Union, the fall and rise of China, and America's global predominance and partnerships.
The course examines the processes of environmental change and the causes and effects of change. Class readings expose participants to different models and approaches to the study of environmental change. The class readings draw from different historical periods and different parts of the world, including Europe, Africa, the Americas, and Asia. The course critically assesses the paradigms and models underlying the analysis and description of environmental change and explores alternative ways of understanding and narrating environmental change.
A seminar that examines theoretical and historical literature on urban modernity as a process of colonization of space - colonization both in the sense of territorial conquest and as an exercise of power to colonize and configure social space.
A survey of important work in the history of sexuality, seeking to understand sexuality not only as a topic of historical inquiry but as a category of analysis. Seminar focuses on U.S. history (from colonial period to the present), but some of the readings address contexts outside of the United States, as well as interdisciplinary and/or theoretical approaches to questions of gender/sexuality.
A survey of major issues in the historiography of early modern Japan and Meiji Japan (1600-1890).
Readings in Japanese political, social, and economic history. Topics include transwar continuity and change, political economy, labor, gender issues, culture and state, religion, Japanese expansion and colonialism, the Allied Occupation of Japan and "social management," and transnational-historical approaches to studying Japan. Some readings in Japanese (optional for those who do not specialize in Japanese history).
The littoral of the Mediterranean Sea has long been viewed as a major place of contact, conflict and exchange for groups belonging to the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This course approaches the encounters of different religions and ethnicities in such a manner as to introduce students not only to the classic historiography on the subject, but also to the main controversies and debates current in scholarship. Our discussions involve forays into the fields of transnational and global history.
A survey of some of the main themes of British and French history in the eighteenth century. Topics will include nationalism, forms of government, the age of revolutions, comparative empires, and warfare.
Reading and research seminar on thirteenth-century France.
The course examines financial innovation and its consequences from the early modern period to present: it examines the evolution of trading practices, bills of exchange, government bonds, equities, banking activity, derivatives markets, securitization. How do these evolve in particular state or national settings, how are the practices regulated, how do they relate to broader processes of economic development and to state formation? What happens as financial instruments are traded across state boundaries, and how does an international financial order evolve? What are the effects of international capital mobility?
This seminar covers major topics of Russian history from the late 17th century to 1917: political cultures and the institutions of autocracy; Russia in the age of Enlightenment; Nationalism and the policy toward non-Russian nationalities; Russian Empire in comparative perspective; Church and State in Imperial Russia; Russian village before and after the emancipation of peasants; social, legal, and cultural reforms; revolutionary movement and the development of Russian political thought.
This graduate seminar explores the postcolonial world in the aftermath of World War II ¿ a period convulsed by the aftereffects of wartime upheavals, nationalist insurgencies, imperial retreat, and the onset of the Cold War. Focusing on this tumultuous period from the end of World War II to Bandung and treating it as a distinct and bounded historical conjuncture, this seminar examines the possibilities and limits of the emergent postcolonial world.
This course explores shifts in the basis of American equality and liberty from sovereign family and corporate franchises, to individual citizenship. Interdisciplinary readings address: household government and corporate society in the nineteenth-century polity; Reconstruction's disruption of this social order and political economy; and its reconstitution by intellectuals, social networks, and constitutional amendments and laws for and against woman suffrage, labor regulation, the social welfare state, public health and education, the income tax, and Prohibition.
This graduate readings course surveys classic and recent works on the history of capitalism, exposing students to different methodological and interpretive traditions, while focusing on the theme of "capitalist transformations." Readings focus on the Anglo-American context, but will also take into account global and comparative perspectives. Students will finish the course familiar with the basic outlines of capitalism's history, and the course should be of relevance to those interested in the relationship between history and social theory.
This course is designed to introduce graduate students to the literature of African-American History, from the colonial era up to more recent times. Major themes and debates will be highlighted. The course should help students to define interests within the field to pursue further study and research and also to aid preparation for examinations.
This course introduces students to historical literature on American technology from the Colonial Era through the Twentieth Century. A chronological survey of technological development highlights the variety of ways scholars have understood technology from a historical perspective.
This course explores the role of science and technology in the material culture of late imperial China in the Qing (Ch'ing) era, roughly 1550-1900.
This course offers an historical survey through the medicine and science of the brain - from psychoanalysis (and a little before) to modern neuroimaging. It pays particular attention to the ways in which the mind and brain sciences have played a role in "making up people" (Hacking). Amongst others, it examines the birth of the asylum; the psyche in the secularizing politics of 19th c. France; how a discourse of nerves fed into a discourse on modernity; the role of the laboratory in the formation of 19th c. psychological sciences; the origins and reception of psychoanalysis; and the various cultures of contemporary neuroscience.
What counts as an experiment and how did experiment become the arbiter of scientific discovery? This course will draw on ancient, medieval and early modern sources, as well as the modern historiography of experiment, to explore the theoretical and practical challenge of observing and testing nature. As far as possible, we will attempt to recreate experiments in class, from medieval Arabic alchemy to Elizabethan cookery and Newtonian optics.