European History

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Konrad H. Jarausch


The strengths of the European history program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill include a distinguished faculty, a varied curriculum, a receptivity to innovative methodological approaches, a stimulating and cooperative intellectual atmosphere, and an exceptional range of research resources.

Faculty members guide an exciting and challenging academic curriculum building on a legacy of excellence in areas of Medieval and Early Modern History, French History, English History, Italian and Mediterranean History, and German and Central European history. (See also our separate field information on Russian and East European history.) The size and expertise of the faculty allow for an intellectual community capable of achieving “critical mass” in the study of European political, social, cultural, gender, intellectual, and economic history. At the same time, the existence of these discrete areas of specialization also creates possibilities for stimulating connections between fields and has led to the formation of unique clusters of expertise within and beyond the European field.

Undergraduate Program

The major concentration in modern European history covers all aspects of European history from the end of the 15th century to the to present time. Important topics of study include the Reformation and religious conflict, the rise of modern states, secularization, the French and Industrial Revolutions, modern ideologies and nationalism, mass politics and society, the first and second world wars, and European reconstruction and unification after World War II. Surveys such as “European History from 1650″ and “Twentieth Century Europe” provide a foundation for upper-level courses on topics such as the Renaissance, the French Revolution, and the Holocaust.

Classes in the field of medieval European history count towards the Ancient/Medieval major concentration that includes the ancient civilizations in the Mediterranean and Near East, especially Ancient Greece and Rome, from approximately 1000 BCE to 1500 CE; and the rise and expansion of Christian Europe and the Islamic World through the fifteenth century. In addition to broad surveys, students have the opportunity to take more specialized courses on such topics as Greek Religion, the Roman Empire, the Crusades, and the medieval nobility. Click [here] to see a list of courses that fills this major concentration.

Graduate Program

The European history program is distinguished by the willingness of faculty and students to explore such new approaches to the study of history as cultural history, gender history, and comparative history. This receptivity to innovative methods is complemented by a commitment to sound and rigorous training in the development of traditional research and writing skills. The combined resources of two fine research libraries at UNC–Chapel Hill and Duke University, with extensive special collections ranging from English local history to Napoleonic prints to National Socialism and German Unification, offer a diverse and singularly invaluable asset for graduate study. In addition, faculty-student colloquia, regular interdisciplinary seminars, and the Center for European Studies provide added extra-curricular opportunities for academic discourse.

The European history program takes great pride in the accomplishments of its graduate students. As a result of a highly selective admissions process, the department is able to fund a high percentage of graduate students. Of equal importance is the promotion of an open and supportive environment for graduate study. This includes an accessible faculty closely involved in students’ intellectual and professional development. The close cooperation between faculty and students finds expression in the success of our graduates in receiving grants and awards such as Bundeskanzler, Chateaubriand, and Fulbright, as well as in the excellent placement record achieved by graduates of the European history program.

For information on the European field graduate comprehensive exams, consult the Graduate Student Handbook.

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