What We Study
The areas of study described below reflect the research interests and expertise of History faculty. Both the Undergraduate major and Graduate program have their own official concentrations and fields of study that overlap with the defined research interests of the faculty.
The Department of History offers a range of classes on African history from the pre-modern period to the present. While all classes treat the political, economic, and cultural forces that have shaped sub-Saharan Africa from within, Africanist faculty members place an equal emphasis on the fundamental ways such internal processes have affected patterns of global history. Subjects such as the Atlantic slave trade, twentieth-century colonialism, and the rise and decline of apartheid in South Africa underscore the diversity of historical connections Africa has had with the rest of the world.
Focusing especially on the civilizations of Greece and Rome, Ancient History encompasses a chronological span at its broadest from the Minoan and Mycenaean periods in Greece (pre-1000 B.C.) to the rise of Islam in the early seventh century A.D.
The research and teaching interests of the Asian history faculty include the region’s premodern histories, its transformation in more recent times, business and economic developments, social and cultural formations, gender relations, experience with colonialism and nationalism, and relations with the United States and other parts of the world.
Our department builds on a legacy of excellence in areas of German and Central European history, French history, Italian and Mediterranean history, English history, Early Modern history, and Medieval History. Faculty specializations range across political, social, cultural, gender, intellectual, religious, imperial, and economic history.
Global History emphasizes the study of processes that transcend regions, nations, and civilizations, including colonialism and imperialism, nationalism, international relations, environment, religion, ideologies, labor, migration/diaspora, industrialization, peace and war, science and technology, slavery, gender, commerce, popular culture, and demography.
The Department of History has great strengths in South American, Central American, and Caribbean history, stretching from sixteenth-century Peru to modern and contemporary Cuba, including issues of cross-cultural relations, race and ethnicity, national and regional identity, and popular and political culture.
Military History is conceived broadly, from battlefield to ballot box, from home front to high altitude bombing. Students taking military history as a field will study the full range of the human experience of conflict, from the ancient world to contemporary problems in counterinsurgency. Graduate study of military history at UNC is part of a collaborative program with Duke.
Our department offers a broad look at modern Russian history of the Imperial and Soviet eras. Subjects include Russia’s Eurasian Empire, the Russian Revolution, nineteenth-century culture and identity, the Soviet Union since 1929, women in Russian history, and a variety of other topics.
The Department of History is strong in virtually all periods of American history. Our broad strength in social and cultural history is complemented by specializations in African American history, Native American history, military and international history, constitutional history, economic and business history, and gender and women’s history. The history of the U.S. South has long been a particularly vital focus at UNC, not only in terms of course offerings and faculty research, but also because of the archival riches at UNC’s Southern Historical Collection and other nearby resources.
This field offers students the opportunity to study the history of women and gender around the world. Courses focus on transnational or global perspectives and encompass China, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America; medieval, early modern, and modern Europe; and the United States, including the specialized study of Native Americans, African Americans, and the American South. Foundational theories and methodologies in women’s and gender history are also explored systematically.