History Faculty

Matt Carroll

Matt Carroll

Dean of Students, History, Head Coach - Boys Soccer, Head Coach - Girls Soccer
Matthew Edmonds

Matthew Edmonds

History, Basketball, Baseball
Grace Gahagan

Grace Gahagan

IV Form Dean, History, Basketball, Lacrosse
Terence Gilheany

Terence Gilheany

Chair, Religious Studies Department, Crew
Meghan Mulhern

Meghan Mulhern

History, Mathematics, Cross-Country, Swimming
Emily Pressman

Emily Pressman

Dean of Faculty Professional Development, Dean of Honor, Chair, History Department, Theatre
Will Robinson

Will Robinson

Dean of Student Life, Advisor to VI Form, History, Soccer
Melinda Tower

Melinda Tower

III Form Dean, History

History

The History Department introduces students to the serious study of the world's civilizations, and cultivates a perspective through which students begin to see themselves as individuals with opportunities and responsibilities in a modern, post-industrial world. With a focus on primary documents, our aim is for students to gain a particular knowledge of their own immediate culture through the study of United States history, as well as to initiate a study of the human condition in the broadest sense of the term.

By learning to evaluate and use evidence to make qualified generalizations, our students develop analytical skills that will serve them in college and beyond. All history courses require short, carefully structured papers that demand close analysis of primary sources, and longer term papers that require extensive research on a particular topic or issue.

Ultimately, we are committed to the notion that the study of history is an integral component in the general humanizing process of a liberal education. We encourage our students, as they study specific periods, cultures, and historical themes, to develop the intellectual skepticism and analytical rigor to identify demagoguery, hagiography, and the parochialisms of ethnicity and gender.

History Department News

History Requirements

Students must take a minimum of two yearlong course credits in history, including one in United States history, and two semester-long electives (one elective should be a Research Seminar taken in the junior spring or senior year). A third semester-long elective beyond these two years is also recommended but not required.

The U.S. history requirement may be fulfilled in any year, but we prefer it to be the first history course a student takes at St. Andrew's. Incoming III Form students are required to take U.S. History. Students entering the V and VI Forms may gain an exemption from this requirement if they have taken a comparable course in high school before enrolling at St. Andrew's. 


History Courses

Yearlong Courses

United States History: Research Challenges

required for all III Form Students

This course serves not only as an in-depth introduction to American history but also as an introduction to the field of history itself. Students use primary sources to answer authentic historical questions; these "research challenges" require written responses based on students primary source reading and additional research. Prepared each class period with his or her own research and arguments, each student is actively invested in and responsible for the class discussion. This method encourages students to think deeply about the past, to ask questions and interpret evidence, to develop cogent arguments, and to collaborate with their peers. By the end of the course, students will have an understanding of American history, and a well-developed ability and desire to ask meaningful questions when presented with an unfamiliar historical text, whether document or newspaper, film or book. Course readings come from a primary source reader developed by the History Department, supplemented by journal articles, excerpts from monographs, and texts, such as the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.

Advanced Study in History: History, Literature, and the Contested Past

Open to VI Form Students

DOUBLE-CREDIT COURSE; CREDIT RECEIVED FOR BOTH AS ENGLISH 4 AND two semesters of AS History

This interdisciplinary VI Form course, taught jointly by members of the English and History Departments, examines how historians, novelists, and poets have wrestled with and made sense of the past, and their own relation to it. Structured around a series of case studies at the intersection of literature, history and memory, the course explores the relationship between the documented past (historical primary sources) and the imagined one (literature). Students study novels and poems deeply shaped by the social and cultural moments from which they emerged and consider how an understanding of the historical circumstances that produced a work of literature can inform their reading of it. They also examine how writers of fiction have used history as source, inspiration and charge. Can the imaginative work of literature actually help us more fully understand the “real” past? What responsibility does the novelist have to history? Students also consider how the construction of a narrative—the storytelling—of a novelist differs from that of a historian. What might each learn from the other?

Case studies and related texts may include the following:

  • slavery and its legacy, with Toni Morrison’s Beloved or Edward Jones’ The Known World;
  • the Trujillo regime in Dominican diasporic history, with The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz;
  • war and its effects, both social and personal, with Pat Barker’s World War I novel Regeneration or Tim O’Brien’s Vietnam War novel In the Lake of the Woods; and
  • Reagan-era political and cultural identities and the AIDS crisis, with Tony Kushner’s play Angels in America.

Semester-long Electives

U.S. History: Interpretations of the Past

OPEN TO V & VI FORM STUDENTS

REQUIRED FOR STUDENTS WHO ENTER ST. ANDREW'S IN THE SOPHOMORE OR JUNIOR YEAR

This is our U.S. history course for students who enter St. Andrew's in the sophomore or junior year; it can be taken in the junior or senior year. While the texts and topics in this course differ somewhat from those encountered in U.S. History: Research Challenges course, they share the same methods and objectives. Course readings come from a primary source reader developed by the History Department, supplemented by journal articles, excerpts from monographs, and texts, such as the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.

Global Studies: Current Issues in International Policies

Open to IV, V, VI Form Students

Semester-Long Half-Credit Course

What forces—cultural, economic, environmental, and political—will shape the twenty-first century? Drawing on a range of disciplines, including ethics, economics, geography, ecology and cultural and literary study, students will work to develop an intellectual toolkit for understanding some of the most pressing issues facing the world today. This work will serve as the foundation for crafting informed points-of-view, responding to the ideas of others, and attempting to articulate paths forward. Students first examine the duties and obligations of citizens in a global world, and ways in which the media and popular culture shape—and misshape—our understanding of people and events beyond our national borders. Further topics include:

  • the scope and limits of military power;
  • the emergence of the international human rights movement;
  • climate change impact;
  • world poverty;
  • the cultural and political impact of economic globalization; and
  • the debate over climate change, overpopulation and environmental collapse.

Each unit is framed around a series of readings that offer multiple perspectives on a single issue. Because the topics covered in this semester, and the Global Studies: Current Issues in United States Policies course will be different, the courses can be taken consecutively. Course readings include newspaper and magazine articles, and all students will receive a subscription to The Week. Texts include Brooke Gladstone, The Trouble with Reality; Fareed Zakaria, The Post-American World; and Paul Collier, The Bottom Billion.

Global Studies: Current Issues in United States Policies

Open to IV, V, VI Form Students

Semester-Long Half-Credit Course

What forces—cultural, economic, environmental, and political—will shape the United States in the twenty-first century? Drawing on a range of disciplines, including ethics, economics, geography, ecology and cultural and literary study, students will continue to work to develop an intellectual toolkit for understanding some of the most pressing issues facing the United States today. This work will serve as a foundation for crafting informed points-of-view, responding to the ideas of others, and attempting to articulate paths forward. Students first examine the duties and obligations of U.S. citizens, and ways in which the media and popular culture shape—and misshape—our understanding of people and events. Further examinations will focus on historic and current U.S. policy on: education, immigration, taxation, race relations, healthcare, and criminal justice. Each unit is framed around a series of readings that offer multiple perspectives on a single issue. Because the topics covered in this semester, and the Global Studies: Current Issues in International Policies—Politics, Conflicts, Economics, and Development course will be different, the courses can be taken consecutively. Course readings include newspaper and magazine articles, and all students will receive a subscription to The Week. Texts include Michael Eric Dyson, Tears We Cannot Stop; Alexandra Cox, Trapped in a Vice: The Consequences of Confinement for Young People; and Sheryll Cashin, Place, Not Race: A New Vision for Equality in America.

Advanced Study in History: American Social Reform Movements

Open to IV, V, VI Form Students

Semester-Long Half-Credit Course

Previously Offered as History of Social Reform

How is change—social, economic, political—achieved in American society? What role can individuals play in social change? In this Advanced Study course, we will seek answers to these questions through historical study of social reform movements that have created—or attempted to create—that change. The course pays particular attention to issues of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, class and power in our study, examining how these issues can both unite and divide efforts for social change. We will also examine how participation in social movements shapes the identities of the individuals involved in them. While the focus of the course is historical, in understanding how and why some efforts to create change in society have succeeded while others have failed, students may begin to see how social change may be possible today. Topics for the American portion of the class may include: utopian societies, abolition, women's suffrage, eugenics, the civil rights and black power movements, women's liberation, the conservative movement, and the environmental movement. (The interests of the students who take the class will help to shape this list.) The course approaches this history with extensive reading in primary sources (including literature, film, art and music), immersing students in the ideas, tactics and challenges of these movements. Articles and chapters from secondary scholarship supplement these readings, allowing us to consider and respond to the arguments historians have made about the movements we study.

Advanced Study in History: Coming of Age: America in the Early Atomic Era

Open to IV, V, VI Form Students

SEMESTER-LONG HALF-CREDIT COURSE

This reading-intensified course examines the American identity in contemporary history. It has been argued that the 1950s were a decade marked by renewed prosperity, social conformity, and political consensus. Our exploration begins once WWII ends and a new era dawns. We will examine America’s new role in the world as an emerging superpower and its relationship with, former ally, the Soviet Union. Closer to home, a sense of national pride led to a cultural and economic boom. This helped define the nation’s identity. Likewise, it has been argued that the 1960s were a decade of turbulence, protest and political disillusionment. With continued military operations in Southeast Asia, unease and anxiety around civil rights at home, and a slowly eroding trust in the government, the nation questioned what it meant to live in a free and democratic society. During these decades we witnessed some of the most compelling, most memorable and most controversial events in American history. Using an array of primary and secondary sources, our studies will allow us to hear from the history makers in these moments while also allowing us the advantage of historical hindsight. Emphasis is placed on critical reading of these sources and written work that requires careful analysis, independent thought, and compelling augmentation. Some of the text we will explore include: David Halberstam’s The Fifties; William Whyte’s “The Decline of the Protestant Ethic”; J. Edgar Hoover’s “Who Are the Communist”; Norman Podhoretz’s “The Know Nothing Bohemians”; Robert F. Kennedy’s Thirteen Days; and Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique.

Advanced Study in History: Democracy and Empire—Athens in the 5th Century

Open to IV, V, VI Form Students

Semester-Long Half-Credit Course

This course will provide snapshot of the concomitant development of Athenian democracy and empire in the 5th century BC. In particular, we will examine how democracy becomes the symbol of Athenian supremacy, particularly during the aftermath of the Persian Wars and in contrast the Spartans during the remainder of the century. Athenian excellence was built on notions of Athenian exceptionalism. Through an examination of primary sources including histories, speeches, and dramas, we will trace this development through the 5th century.

Advanced Study in History: History of Economic Thought I

Open to IV, V, VI Form students

Semester-long, half-credit course

Have you ever paused to consider what gives an object or a currency value? Or the centrality of international trade in our daily lives? Where did the economic policies and ideas central to modern life, and the field of economics itself, originate? Economists today owe a great debt of gratitude to the political and philosophical thinkers of the early modern world. In this course, students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the economic policies and theories that dominated early modern Europe in an effort to understand the origins of contemporary economic thought. We will read a variety of philosophical and political primary writing to understand early modern economists in their own worlds. Primary source material includes but is not limited to the work of John Locke, Thomas Mun and the mercantilists, John Law, Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees, David Ricardo, Adam Smith, Volatire, and Rousseau.

Advanced Study in History: History of Economic Thought II

Open to IV, V, VI Form students

Semester-long, half-credit course

History of Economic Thought I is not a prerequisite

In 1871, Austrian economist Carl Menger published his theory of marginal utility. His basic principal sparked the marginal revolution, on which some of the pillars of contemporary economic policy stand today. As anyone who has taken a basic microeconomics course can attest, it remains a central part of economic policy and thinking in contemporary policy. We will look at the economic theories and policies that sprung from the marginal revolution, including Marxist criticisms of marginalism. Primary sources covered will include, but are not limited to, the works of the Austrian School, Marxist economics, Keynesian economics, institutional and new-institutional economics, mainstream economics, and heterodox economics. We will discuss the extent to which each historical school of thought is prevalent in modern day policy discussions.

Advanced Study in History: Histories of Hate: American Racism and German Anti-Semitism

Open to IV, V, VI Form Students

SEMESTER-LONG HALF-CREDIT COURSE

As we seek to wrestle with the complex threat of racism and anti-Semitism today, we must understand the long and pervasive histories of these ideas and how they have grown and gained traction. This course will consider two parallel and occasionally intertwined histories in conversation with one another: American racism—particularly against African-Americans, focusing especially on the years described as the “nadir of race relations,” from the waning days of Reconstruction through the early 20th century—and German anti-Semitism, culminating in the Nazi Holocaust in the 1930s and 1940s. We will look at the rise and emergence of these ideologies of hate in their specific cultural contexts, tracing their codification in law and reinforcement through violence, and how these histories have—and have not—been engaged in national memory. In addition to primary and secondary historical sources, we will draw on the work of social psychologists who have sought to understand racism; the course will work from a reader of primary sources, and scholarly secondary sources, such as journal articles and excerpts from monographs. Following our shared study, in the final third of the course, students will major research paper, grounded in significant work with primary source material.

Advanced Study in History: Latin American History

Open to IV, V, VI Form Students

SEMESTER-LONG HALF-CREDIT COURSE

This course endeavors to introduce students to the history of Latin America via both primary and secondary sources. Despite being a major trading partner of and the closest geographic region to the United States, Latin America is usually one of the least studied areas of the world. While a great deal of this course will follow chronological progression, we will also track themes that thread through the experience of the region over time and transcend modern international borders, such as colonialism, independence and neo-colonialism; democracy and dictatorship; development and exploitation; and revolution and response. In addition, we will explore the distinct histories of many of the nations of Latin America, thereby gaining an appreciation for how they fit into the current global and regional systems, as well as for their individual and unique experiences.

Advanced Study in History: The Mediterranean World 500-1500

Open to IV, V, VI Form Students

SEMESTER-LONG HALF-CREDIT COURSE

Globalism is a powerful feature of today’s world, but it is not the first time different cultures have come into sustained contact. This course will examine the interaction of the many peoples around the Mediterranean basin from the fall of the Western Roman Empire to the fall of al-Andalus. We will ask: How did people of differing faiths negotiate their beliefs? How did commerce, conflict, and conquest inform cross-cultural relations? What were some experiences of religious minorities, ethnic minorities, sexual minorities and linguistic minorities under various majorities? How did some individuals bridge identities or cross borders—pirate/trader, ruler/exile, plutocrat/pauper, infidel/convert, pilgrim/holy warrior?

Advanced Study in History: The Modern Middle East

Open to IV, V, VI Form Students

SEMESTER-LONG HALF-CREDIT COURSE

How did the people of the Middle East negotiate their various identities under the pressure of modernization? How did the involvement of outside powers shape the region? What can the recent history teach us about paths toward a more stable and prosperous Middle East? This course introduces the students to the political, religious, and social history of the Middle East from the late 19th century to the present day. We will examine the late Ottoman Empire, the colonial period, the establishment of nation-states, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the rise of political Islam, the Iranian revolution, and the Arab Spring of 2011. We will discuss issues of colonization, nationalism, religious and ethnic identity, security and physical resources. Students will examine primary sources and write an in-depth research paper.

 

Advanced Study in History: Victorious Rome—The Creation of a National Identity through Conflict

Open to IV, V, VI Form Students

SEMESTER-LONG HALF-CREDIT COURSE

Previously offered as Ancient Greece & Rome

Beginning with the murder of Remus at the hands of his brother Romulus, Romans took great pains to celebrate glorious victors of their culture such as Romulus as well as to commemorate those whom they defeated, like poor Remus. Starting with this myth and tracing the development of Rome as a city and then an empire, we will examine who and what the Romans glorified as well as how the depicted those they defeated. In particular, we will examine how the Roman reaction to civil conflict such as Romulus and Remus, the murder of Julius Caesar, and even the persecution of Christians led to major changes in the government and daily lives of Roman citizens. In this course, we will focus on primary documents from Rome including poems, histories, and inscriptions as well as material evidence such as buildings and statues. Following our in-depth study of the Roman identity, we will spend the final portion of the course on a major research paper.

Advanced Study in History: A World at War

Open to IV, V, VI Form Students

SEMESTER-LONG HALF-CREDIT COURSE

Previously Offered as 20th Century History

The dawn of the 20th Century was filled with great promise. Innovation and industrialization redefined society and suggested that progress would be bountiful for individuals and nations alike. Soon after the turn of the century, however, greed, corruption and arrogance made waste of this promise and ushered a somewhat reluctant world into war not once, but twice. In this course, we will look at the reasons the wars started, the way they were fought, and the way these wars were ended. To best understand the first half of a century marred by catastrophe and loss, we must also carefully study genocide. We will try to understand the motivations behind these events, as well as the international response. Our examination will require us to dig deep to better understand nationalism, militarism, fascism, communism, republicanism and other “isms” at play. Students will work to gain a better understanding of each wars’ unique narrative. In short, we will examine the causes and consequences of the world wars. Discussions questions include: When should a country go to war? How should a nation best apply the lessons from the past? How should a nation respond to a country it has identified as its enemy? Emphasis is placed on critical reading of primary and secondary sources and written work that requires research, careful analysis, independent thought, and compelling argumentation. Some of the text we will explore include: Modris Eksteins’ Rites of Spring; Vera Brittain’s Chronicle of Youth; and Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

Advanced Study in History: Research Seminar

Open to V and VI Form students

Prerequisite: at least one AS History course

This course is an immersion in scholarly research. We begin the semester with a brief study of some examples of the best historical writing, examining these historians' use of evidence and how they have crafted and constructed their arguments, and working to hone and refine students' historical research skills. Students then pursue a major, independent study on a topic of each student's own choosing, deeply grounded in the primary source material, and in conversation with the historiography on that topic. The course culminates with students' completion of the research paper, which should constitute a meaningful contribution to the scholarly conversation.

All students must take this course as a graduation requirement, but the course can be taken more than once for those who are passionate about research and writing.