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Research Fields for Graduate Study

Faculty and graduate stuents in the Department of History conduct research across a number of fields of historical study that include a range of geographic, cultural, and thematic areas.

Research Fields for Graduate Study

PhD Research Fields

Ph.D. students should choose from among these research fields. For information about the Ph.D. and other graduate programs, please visit the graduate programs page. Information about each research field, including faculty and recent research, is below, or follow the links in the box on the right. 

  • Europe
  • Global Interaction and Exchange
  • Jewish History
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Technology, Science ,and Environment
  • United States

MA Research Fields

MA and HiLS students can choose any of the PhD Research Fields as their major field and write a thesis or take examinations in that field. In addition, MA and HiLS students can also choose one of the following fields currently not available to Ph.D. students: 

  • Africa
  • Early modern and modern Britain
  • Early modern and modern East Asia

Research Fields

Europe

The members of our European faculty work together, crossing chronological, geographical and thematic boundaries, to train undergraduate and graduate students rigorously to rethink European history and Europe’s historical role in all its dimensions.

At both the undergraduate and graduate level, the faculty specialize in many fields:  Ancient Mediterranean history; Medieval and Early Modern Europe; Modern Europe (18th – 20th centuries); Britain and British Empire; Russia and Eurasia; Jewish history; women and gender; military history; science, technology, and the environment; and Europe and the world.  Eclectic in their interests, many members of the faculty are social and cultural historians; others are interested in politics and political culture; while still others focus on intellectual developments. 

To learn more, visit the Europe research field page.

Global Interaction and Exchange

The Global Interaction and Exchange field (GIE) engages topics that transcend nations, regions, and single civilizations. By disciplinary convention, most of the History Department’s graduate fields are defined by region and geography. In 2010 the Department introduced the GIE field in order to enhance the graduate program’s curriculum and to foster a collaborative learning environment for graduate students whose research interests span beyond the traditional frameworks of nation and region. A number of our faculty conduct research, publish works and teach courses that investigate processes that cross boundaries and seek to make connections between and across far-flung locales.  

The GIE curriculum is flexible by design. It seeks to accommodate the differences in scope and method appropriate to global, transregional, and/or comparative scholarship while providing the depth of study to demonstrate expertise both within and beyond traditional national/geographic fields. At the same time, the GIE curriculum requires specific seminars that train students in the major works, methodologies, and theories related to transnational, transregional, global, comparative, international, borderlands and transoceanic approaches.

To learn more, visit the Global Interaction and Exchange research field page.

Jewish History

The study of the social, political, cultural and religious history of the Jewish people is one of the most dynamic areas of modern historical research and teaching.  At the University of Maryland, our courses range chronologically from biblical to rabbinic, from medieval to modern and contemporary.  Faculty specialties include the Land of Israel in late antiquity, Italy in the early modern period, the Jews of Central Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth century, and the Holocaust.  Both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, students can study such issues as the relationship of Jews and non-Jews, the changing nature of Jewish identity, how Jews have functioned as a minority group in diverse cultures in the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas, and how Jews have transformed Jewish culture in response to the challenges posed by the societies in which they have lived.  Students can draw on the rich resources of the University’s Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies (to which Jewish history faculty also belong) and the Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies, which offer courses on the Hebrew Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls, medieval and modern Jewish philosophy, Hebrew and other Jewish literatures and film, and Israeli society, culture and politics.  Rich library holdings at the University, as well as libraries, archives, and research centers in the Washington area, make the University of Maryland an exciting place to study and do research in Jewish history.

To learn more, visit the Jewish History research field page.

Latin America

The graduate program in Latin American history has emerged as one of the top programs in the United States, led by nationally-ranked faculty who have attracted highly qualified students from throughout the Americas.  Our faculty is large and diverse in scope and area of interests, covering the most important aspects of the history of Latin America since the conquest and establishment of the Iberian empires to the most contemporary issues and from the Southern Cone to the Caribbean. The program also benefits from close connections with faculty and students from other fields such as global interaction and exchange; the medieval and early modern world; women, gender and sexuality; and U.S. history.

To learn more, visit the Latin America research field page.

Middle East

The Middle Eastern field at University of Maryland offers instruction in the history of the region stretching from Islamic Iberia in the west through North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean basin to Iran in the east from the period of late antiquity (fourth-seventh centuries) to the present day. Permanent faculty consists of Antoine Borrut (late antique and early Islamic), Ahmet T. Karamustafa (medieval and early modern), Madeline Zilfi (early modern), and Peter Wien (modern Middle East), with special research strengths in early Islamic history, historiography and cultural memory; social and intellectual history of medieval and early modern Islamic piety; social and religious movements in urban contexts; law and legal practice; slavery and freedom; women's experience; and the role of nationalism and religion in the cultural and political transformation of modern Arab societies. In line with the focus of the Department on trans-regional and global themes and questions, the Middle East faculty offers expertise in exchanges between various regions of Europe, the Mediterranean, Iran and South Asia.

To learn more, visit the Middle East research field page.

Technology, Science and Environment

Graduate students may concentrate in this field while pursuing an M.A. or Ph.D. in history. Undergraduates may choose this field as their history major area of concentration while working toward a B.A. in history.

Ours is a lively and flourishing community of students, distinguished faculty members, affiliated scholars within the university, visiting fellows and guest speakers. Institutional resources in the field, both on campus and in the greater Washington/Baltimore area, are outstanding.

The key strengths and interests of the College Park group are in 19th and 20th-century developments, particularly in the United States and Europe. We also encourage interests that extend beyond this range, both geographically and chronologically, although instructional offerings may be limited.

To learn more, visit the Technology, Science and Environment research field page.

United States

Our curriculum serves many different communities, from students wishing a single introductory course, to undergraduate majors seeking seminar work and a chance to do guided research and writing, to M.A. and  Ph.D. students desiring advanced study and preparation for professions in historical inquiry.  Many of our doctoral graduates have gone on to careers in university teaching, government service, and business.  American history is also a particularly significant component of the joint history and library science M.A. program, and many of our graduates now occupy positions in libraries and archives across the country.

While students may explore any era of American history and virtually any issue, the department has traditionally been strong in cultural, political, and legal history.  It has established noteworthy concentrations in the study of slavery, African-American history, diaspora atudies, labor, women, gender and sexuality, early America, and the history of business and technology.  Scholars in our department have pioneered the emerging transnational study of the early modern Atlantic world as well as twentieth-century labor relations and cultural exchange.

To learn more, visit the United States research field page.