Why study history?

Students and professors at the University of Utah describe why a history major is the most relevant degree students can get in the 21st century. 

Bulgarian Ambassador presents Theo Christov at Library of Congress lecture

Ambassador of Bulgaria Elena Poptodorova introduced Professor Theo Christov at the Library of Congress where Christov delivered a lecture on “The 'Law of Nations' in America's Independence.” 

Professor Dane Kennedy publishes book with Oxford University Press

Professor Dane Kennedy's latest book, Decolonization: A Very Short Introduction, has been published by Oxford University Press. Congratulations, Professor Kennedy, on this recent publication!

Pulitzer Prize winner gives 2016 Kayser Lecture

Dr. Elizabeth "Lil" Fenn, winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in history for her book Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People, gave this year's highly anticipated Kayser Lecture on February 18, 2016. The acclaimed University of Colorado Boulder professor discussed Sacagawea's Capture and the History of the Early West.

Professor discusses the relationship between terrorism and civil wars

History and International Affairs associate professor Shawn McHale was published in the GW Hatchet discussing his take on the correlation between terrorism and civil wars. Read more here.

Hot off the press!

Our 2015 Department Newsletter highlights some of the academic achievements and intellectual adventures of our students and faculty over the past year.


2015 Department Newsletter

Recent faculty books

The Emotions of Justice: Gender, Status, and Legal Performance in Choson Korea

Jisoo Kim challenges the typical portrayal of premodern Korean society.

Before Anarchy: Hobbes and his Critics in Modern International Thought

Theo Christov explains how the 'Hobbesian state of nature' and the 'discourse of anarchy' came to be seen as virtually synonymous.

The Scientific Revolution in Global Perspective

William Burns places the Scientific Revolution--and its causes and effects--in a global context.

Military Force and Elite Power in the Formation of Modern China

Edward A. McCord explores the intersection of military force and elite power in the formative years of modern Chinese history.

Innovative Partners: The Rockefeller Foundation and Thailand

Bill Becker explores the century-long relationship between the Foundation and Thailand.

Citizen Strangers: Palestinians and the Birth of Israel's Liberal Settler State

Shira Robinson chronicles the paradoxical status of Israel's Palestinian Arab minority after 1948, as citizens of a formally liberal state and subjects of a colonial regime.

Iraq in Wartime: Soldiering, Martyrdom, and Remembrance

Dina Khoury's new book traces the normalization of war in Iraq during the last twenty-three years of Ba'thist rule.

The Last Blank Spaces: Exploring Africa and Australia

Dane Kennedy chronicles the challenge of opening the interiors of Africa and Australia to British imperial influence in the nineteenth century.

The Long, Lingering Shadow: Slavery, Race, and Law in the American Hemisphere

Robert Cottrol examines the impact of law on peoples of African descent in the Americas.

The Other Welfare: Supplemental Security Income and U.S. Social Policy

Edward Berkowitz and Larry DeWitt offer the first comprehensive history of Supplemental Security Income.

The Evil Necessity: British Naval Impressment in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World

Denver Brunsman explores how naval impressment helped to make an empire.

Beyond Swat: History, Society and Economy along the Afghanistan-Pakistan Frontier

Benjamin Hopkins and Magnus Marsden explore the culture, society and politics of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Frontier over a broad historical span and their relevance to wider debates about the dynamics shaping this and other comparable 'frontier' spaces.

Prove It On Me: New Negroes, Sex, and Popular Culture in the 1920s

Erin Chapman explores the gender and sexual politics of this modern racial ethos and reveals the constraining and exploitative underside of the New Negro era's vaunted liberation and opportunities.

Other faculty publications

From Shame to Pride

Recently published journal articles, book chapters, and media contributions.

History Alumna named one of the "50 Most Influential Women in America."

Shannon McGahn, BA '02, was featured on Marie Claire magazine's list of "The 50 Most Influential Women in America." Congratulations, Shannon!

GW History Alumna Shannon McGahn is featured on Marie Claire's list of "The 50 Most Influential Women in America.

Department of History

Located in the heart of Washington, D.C., the George Washington University History Department is an intellectual community of faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, and many associates and friends. With more than 40 full-time faculty, varied both in specialization and research methods, GW is an ideal place to study fields as diverse as modern Africa, early modern Europe, the history of colonialism and imperialism, modern America, and the Cold War.

Home to some of the most important research repositories and archives in the world, Washington is a unique and exciting place to study history. Studying history at GW provides students with the knowledge and analytical tools necessary for success in a wide range of careers and professions.


Christopher Klemek to deliver 2016 Trachtenberg Distinguished Teaching Lecture

As recipient of GW's Prize for Teaching Excellence, Prof. Christopher Klemek will deliver the 2016 Trachtenberg Distinguished Teaching Lecture on Thursday, October 13, 4:00pm at the George Washington University and Textile Museum (701 21st St NW).  His talk is entitled "Urban Past, Public Present, and Digital Future: Teaching Civic Engagement through DC History.” A reception will follow the event. Free and open to the public, but registration is requested

Christopher Klemek

Now accepting applications for 2017 Normandy Short Term Abroad course!

Professor Tom Long is now accepting applications for participation in the 2017 Price of Freedom: Normandy, 1944 course. This is a short-term study abroad course in which students learn about the D-Day landings in the Second World War and each research soldiers from their hometowns who died during the campaign. During Spring Break students travel to France to visit the landing sites and present eulogies for their soldiers at the Normandy American Cemetery. More information here

Deadline - Wed. Oct. 26!
2014 class at the Normandy American Cemetery

Professor David Silverman publishes book with Harvard University Press

Thundersticks: Firearms and the Violent Transformation of Native America by David Silverman

Congratulations to Professor David Silverman whose book, Thundersticks: Firearms and the Violent Transformation of Native America, was just published by Belknap Press (Harvard University Press). The book "reframes our understanding of Indians’ historical relationship with guns, arguing against the notion that they prized these weapons more for the pyrotechnic terror guns inspired than for their efficiency as tools of war." Congratulations, Professor Silverman!

Congratulations to our 2016 Undergraduate Departmental Prize Winners!

The 2016 Special Departmental Honors for Undergraduate Seniors in History are awarded to:

Peri Buch
James Fondin
Olivia Franklin
Nicholas Holy
Matthew Maresca
Michael Paganelli
William Roche
Caroline Sandri
Robert Wasserstein
Jacob Weber
Chance Williams


The Jesse Fant Evans Prize for Excellence in Contemporary History is awarded to Madeline Crispell, Robert Hansen, Emily Niekrasz, and Jennifer Sherman.

The Gardiner G. Hubbard Memorial Prize for Excellence in American History is awarded to Nicholas Holy, Matthew Maresca, and Edward Rickford.

The Thomas F. Walsh Prize for Best Essay in Irish History is awarded to Ross Berry and Caley Donovan. 

The Deixler/Swain Prizes for Best Undergraduate Theses are awarded as follows:

  • Honors Thesis in an American History topic - Olivia Franklin and Robert Wasserstein
  • Honors Thesis in a Non-American History topic - Caroline Sandri
  • Senior Thesis in an American History topic - Charlotte Prenn and Farieha Shah 

Congratulations, students!

Fall 2016 Courses in History

Check out the Fall 2016 graduate and undergraduate history course offerings here. Students can now browse syllabi and course descriptions for upcoming classes.

Jisoo Kim earns GW a major grant from the Korean government

Five-Year grant will establish the GW Institute for Korean Studies

Professor Jisoo Kim's tireless efforts have resulted in GW's being awarded a major five-year Core University Grant by the Academy of Korean Studies (AKS), a division of the Ministry of Education, Republic of Korea. This grant will enable the university to establish the GW Institute for Korean Studies (GW-KIS). It will also fund conferences, workshops, lecture series, graduate fellowships, adjunct teaching, summer programs, Korean collection cataloging, staff support, and outreach. The new institute will be housed at the Elliott School. Thank you for making this incredible opportunity possible, Professor Kim!

History professors recognized at GW Faculty Honors Ceremony

Professors Denver Brunsman and Christopher Klemek were recognized at the GW Faculty Honors Ceremony on April 20. Professor Brunsman received the Bender Teaching Award while Professor Klemek received the Writing in the Disciplines Distinguished Teaching Award and the Trachtenberg Prize for Teaching Excellence. The annual Honors Ceremony recognizes a diverse group of talented GW faculty who have shown extraordinary dedication to teaching, scholarship, and the university. Congratulations to Professors Brunsman and Klemek on their outstanding achievements!

Joel Blecher Joins History Faculty

Professor Joel Blecher will be joining the department in Fall 2016 as our new specialist in the History of Early and Medieval Islam.  Professor Blecher's current research focuses on the social and intellectual life of hadith commentary.  His book project, In the Shade of the Hadith: Islam and the Politics of Interpretation across a Millennium, finds that the meanings of hadith (the collected sayings of the prophet Muhammed) were shaped as much by commentators’ political, cultural and regional contexts as by the fine-grained intellectual debates that developed over long periods of time.  His next project, Profit and Prophecy: Islam and the Spice Trade from Venice to India, will explore how Muslim scholars and merchants in the Mamluk period (13th-15th centuries) mixed religion and business along trade and pilgrimage routes that stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Arabian Sea and beyond. In the fall, he will be teaching History 3801: The Formation of Islam to 1500. Welcome, Professor Blecher!

Read more about Professor Blecher's work here

Marcy Norton receives Guggenheim Fellowship

Congratulations to Marcy Norton, who received the 2016-2017 Guggenheim Fellowship! The fellowship will support the completion of her upcoming book about the history of human-animal interactions in Western Europe and indigenous America between 1500 and 1800. Read more here.

Professor Edward Berkowitz contributes to Medicare and Medicaid oral history project

Professor Edward Berkowitz's collection of 23 interviews is the centerpiece of an oral history project entitled "Insights from the Top: An Oral History of Medicare and Medicaid." Professor Berkowitz was recently on hand to present the interview transcripts to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). Read more here.

Double faculty book launch

On January 14, the Department of History co-hosted a double book launch in honor of Professor Jisoo Kim and Theodore Christov's two new faculty books, The Emotions of Justice and Before Anarchy, respectfully.  The event was cosponsored by the Elliott School of International Affairs, the Sigur Center for Asian Studies and the Universtiy Honors Program. Congratulations, Professor Kim and Professor Christov! 

Featured Department News

Caitlyn Borghi

Caitlyn Borghi ('15) wins Gilder Lehrman Scholar Award

April 09, 2015

Caitlyn Borghi ('15) has won a Gilder Lehrman Scholar Award, which covers an all-expense paid trip to New York City to participate in a week of seminars and archival visits with leading American historians. The prestigious national award "recognizes outstanding college juniors and seniors who have demonstrated academic and extracurricular excellence in American history or American studies as well as a commitment to public service and community involvement." Congratulations!

Eric Arnesen

Eric Arnesen installed as Hoffa Teamsters Professor in Modern American Labor History

February 12, 2015

On February 10, Prof. Eric Arnesen was installed as the James R. Hoffa Teamsters Professor in Modern American Labor History.

Erin D. Chapman

Erin Chapman receives fellowship from the Global Women's Institute

February 11, 2015

Prof. Erin Chapman received a fellowship from GW's Global Women's Institute for her book project, Making Freedom Real: Gender and Emancipation in the African American Imaginary, 1865-1965. The book will investigate the thought of five exemplary black feminists and argue that the prevailing definition of freedom in patriarchal terms functioned at odds with black feminist critique.

Dane Kennedy

Dane Kennedy named head of the National History Center

February 11, 2015

Professor Dane Kennedy was appointed to a two-year term to head the National History Center. Founded in 2002 by the American Historical Association, the Center aims to reinforce the critical role that history and historical knowledge play in public decision-making and civic life. Among its many programs are its Congressional Briefings, its International Seminars on Decolonization, and its Washington History Seminar. Congratulations!

Meet the Chair

Professor Katrin Schultheiss specializes in the history of modern France, gender and women's history, and the history of medicine.  She is currently finishing a book on the nineteenth century French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, whose research on hysteria and hypnosis deeply influenced the work of Sigmund Freud.

PhD student Ben Young receives 2016-17 Fulbright Fellowship

PhD student Ben Young has been awarded a 2016-17 Fulbright Fellowship to conduct research in South Korea for his dissertation on "Globalizing the Korean Conflict: North and South Korean Competition in the Third World, 1965-1992." Congratulations, Ben!

PhD student Kate Densford receives 2016-17 Fulbright Fellowship

PhD student Kate Densford has been awarded a 2016-17 Fulbright Fellowship to conduct research in Austria and the Czech Republic for her dissertation on "The Collapse of Provincial Austria in the First World War." Congratulations, Kate!

Alumna Farah al-Nakib publishes book

Farah al-Nakib (BA '01) just published a book entitled "Kuwait Transformed: Oil and Urban Life" with Stanford University Press. Farah is Assistant Professor of History and Director of the Center for Gulf Studies at the American University of Kuwait.  She was recently profiled in Bazaar magazine where she credits her experience writing her senior History thesis with setting her on her course to becoming a professional historian. There will be a book launch at GW on April 4. Congratulations, Farah!

2016 Phi Alpha Theta National Conference in Orlando, Florida


Four members of the GW chapter of Phi Alpha Theta presented research at the 2016 Phi Alpha Theta National Conference in Orlando, Florida. Also in attendance were Professors Tom Long and Denver Brunsman...and a colonial-clad Mickey Mouse!

Charles Kraus co-edits volume on the Cold War

Congratulations to PhD student Charles Kraus on the publication of his co-edited volume Sino-European Relations during the Cold War and the Rise of a Multipolar World, published by the Woodrow Wilson Center. The volume combines critical oral history with newly translated documentary sources to provide insights into the dynamics of Sino-European relations, past and present, and recent and ongoing global power shifts.

To download the entire volume in PDF format, click here.

The 2015 Kylan Jones-Huffman Lecture

The department was delighted to welcome Ussama Makdisi, Professor of History and the Arab-American Educational Foundation Chair of Arab Studies at Rice University, to present the 2015 Kylan Jones-Huffman Memorial Lecture on the American and Ottoman Civil Wars. Read more.

Prof. Ussama Makdisi

Ben Young on the Black Panthers in North Korea

Ben Young article

Congratulations to Ben R. Young, a current doctoral student in East Asian History, who published his first peer-reviewed article in the scholarly e-journal, The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus. A revision of his MA Thesis, "Juche in the United States: The Black Panther Party’s Relations with North Korea, 1969-1971" examines how their shared principle of self-reliance, their common commitment to Third World revolution, and their mutual antagonism to US intervention around the world gave birth to a relationship between the Panthers and the North Korean leadership.