Skip to Content

Department of History


 What Can I Do with a History Major? Alumni Speak.

New Major through the Department of History!!

Program of Concentration in Law, History, and Society

As a human institution self-consciously aware of its past, “The Law” raises a complex set of issues that can be addressed historically. Legislation and jurisprudence, for example, allow historians a privileged perspective into how societies sought to define themselves, their values, and their membership. Constitutions provide maps of political power, and serve as sites of struggle over goods both real and symbolic. Records of legal practice are often well preserved, allowing access to the voices and actions of people who are usually left out of systems of political organization. To see the complete program link here.

Congratulations to the History Honors Students! Everyone did a fantastic job.  Robert Yee won the Dewey Grantham Award for best honors thesis.  Please see all the results here

Congratulations to the Prize Award winners!! The best written paper awards goes to: Zain Khera, Deling Chen, and Ellen Dement.  Honorable mention goes to Mitchell Kneeshaw.  See details here. 

Congratulations to five department faculty who won Research Scholar Grants: Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman, Brandon Byrd (received two grants), Celso Castilho, Samira Sheikh, Alistair Sponsel.  Click here to read the article about the grants and see a list of the projects.

NEW BOOK! The Turkish translation of Professor Cohen’s book Becoming Ottomans: Sephardi Jews and Imperial Citizenship in the Modern Era.

NEW BOOK! Celia Applegate , The Necessity of Music: Variations on a German Theme (University of Toronto Press, 2017). Link here.

NEW BOOK! William Caferro , editor, The Routledge History of the Renaissance (Routledge Press, 2017).  This book also contains chapters by Samira Sheikh and Katherine Crawford. Please see bio links here. link here for book description. 

NEW BOOK! Peter Lake
, How Shakespeare Put Politics on the Stage: Power and Succession in the History Plays (Yale University Press, 2016). Link here.

Congratulations! Two history professors won graduate teaching awards on December 6, 2016. Professor Jane Landers, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professors of History won the Graduate Mentoring Award. Professor Bill Caferroalso Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of History won the Graduate Teaching Award. These awards were presented by Dean Benton and Senior Associate Dean Stassun. (see the first slide above). Link to announcement here.

updated June 26, 2017

See all of the new faculty book publications here.

See many more announcements about Professors and Graduate Students here.

History at Vanderbilt

History has been an integral part of the undergraduate and graduate curriculum at Vanderbilt since the University was founded, in 1873. The first undergraduate students of the discipline immersed themselves in subjects as various as the Roman Empire, English constitutional history, the history of religion (including Islam), political economy, and contemporary American politics. Graduate study came early—in the 1880s—to Vanderbilt. Taught in weekly seminars, a new instructional form, students were expected to master the standard texts—in ancient history and in legal history, for example—while the more advanced among them engaged in innovative research on such issues as the Civil War, local government in the South and Southwest, and the tariff, Henry George and socialism. Vanderbilt’s first PhD in history was awarded in 1899, one of only three awarded in the South before 1900.

Today, the Department of History’s 43 full-time faculty members offer courses that span the globe—from Africa and Asia to Europe, Latin America and the United States—and that introduce students to a range of historical questions and methodologies. The undergraduate program attracts over 150 majors, and the graduate program annually enrolls about 10  students in a variety of fields. Department faculty are at once devoted and skilled teachers on the one hand and innovative and accomplished researchers and writers of history on the other.

updated June 13, 2017