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Europe

European history at the University of Maryland combines bold scholarship and commitment to mentoring with the unparalleled resources of the Washington area.

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. 

For more information on many of these fields (including their graduate programs), see the specific descriptions of those fields below.

Related Programs and Resources

Students and faculty have the opportunity to work in the unique concentration of archival and library collections in the greater Washington area. These include of some of the world’s finest research institutions in European fields, including the Library of Congress, Dumbarton Oaks, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the National Agricultural Research Library, and the National Library of Medicine. The primary research facility of the U.S. National Archives, which houses collections of great importance for European history, is located immediately adjacent to the College Park campus. The metropolitan Washington, DC area hosts a brilliant array of institutes for advanced study, including the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the German Historical Institute, the Centre for Early Christian Studies, the Center for Hellenic Studies, and the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, among others. The diplomatic representations of individual nations of Europe and the European Union, as well as the permanent headquarters of major multilateral organizations such as the World Bank host cultural programs and scholarly talks, and many faculty and graduate students participate in informal Washington area faculty and graduate student groups. Maryland’s own European Workshop takes advantage of a constant flow of visiting scholars from around the world.

Ancient Mediterranean

In Ancient Mediterranean History the department has long enjoyed a strong reputation for graduate training and research. M.A., Ph.D., and HILS students who have earned degrees in this field hold excellent positions in colleges and universities, and in museums and other cultural institutions in the U.S. and abroad. The department cooperates in this field with eminent faculty in collateral disciplines:  in Classical Languages and Literatures, Jewish Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Art History and Archaeology, Philosophy, Architecture, and Anthropology. The Washington, D.C., area abounds in special resources for students of the Ancient Mediterranean, including the Smithsonian Institution, the Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies, the Hellenic Center, and the Library of Congress, and we cooperate with the Center for Early Christian Studies at the nearby Catholic University of America. Students in this field are eligible for all types of departmental and University-wide financial aid, including fellowships and teaching assistantships. The Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies offers targeted financial aid for students in the history of ancient Judaism.

Graduate

In Ancient Mediterranean History the department has long enjoyed a strong reputation for graduate training and research.  M.A., Ph.D., and HILS students who have earned degrees in this field hold excellent positions in colleges and universities, and in museums and other cultural institutions in the U.S. and abroad.  The department cooperates in this field with eminent faculty in collateral disciplines:  in Classical Languages and Literatures, Jewish Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Art History and Archaeology, Philosophy, Architecture, and Anthropology.  The Washington, D.C., area abounds in special resources for students of the Ancient Mediterranean, including the Smithsonian Institution, the Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies, the Hellenic Center, and the Library of Congress, and we cooperate with the Center for Early Christian Studies at the nearby Catholic University of America.  Students in Ancient Mediterranean History currently have the opportunity to participate in University- sponsored excavation projects in Greece, Israel, Turkey, and Italy.  Students in this field are eligible for all types of departmental and University-wide financial aid, including fellowships and teaching assistantships.  The Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies offers targeted financial aid for students in the history of ancient Judaism.

For admission, the program recommends familiarity with fundamentals of the field acquired in several undergraduate courses in Classical Languages and Literatures, Classical Art History and Archaeology, Biblical- or New Testament Studies, Ancient and/or Medieval History, or other related fields.  Especially important for prospective students seeking the Ph.D. is language preparation.  The degree requires competency in at least four languages, Classical Greek, either Classical Latin or Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic, modern French, and modern German.  In some cases Italian, modern Hebrew, or Classical Arabic might be added.  Students can acquire some of these linguistic skills while enrolled in the program, but applicants should present at a minimum two years of one of the Classical languages and one of the modern languages as well as a capacity for language learning demonstrated by excellent performance in language courses.  No language skills (other than English) are required for the M.A. and HILS programs in Ancient Mediterranean.

The department normally offers one reading seminar each semester in which all students are expected to enroll who have not passed the M.A. or Ph.D. comprehensive exam.  Other coursework is individual studies courses or appropriate courses in Medieval Europe, the Middle East, or in collateral departments.  Students in the M.A. or HILS programs may select either the thesis or non-thesis option.  Non-thesis M.A. and HILS students will stand for a comprehensive exam based on coursework and a reading list of 30-50 titles approved by the student’s advisor, including both ancient sources (in English translation) and modern works.  The Ph.D. minor requirement may be satisfied by examination or coursework in Medieval History, the Middle East, or in one of the collateral fields, for example in Greek or Latin Languages and Literatures. 

For Ph.D. students the comprehensive exam consists of written exams in three historical fields covering coursework as well as a reading list for each field of 30-50 titles approved by the advisor, including both modern works and ancient sources.  At least one of the three fields must cover a broad chronological spectrum of Ancient Mediterranean History from early Greece to Late Antiquity.  Two of the three Ph.D. fields will be written as the four-hour departmental Ph.D. “general field” exam and one as the three-hour departmental “special field.”  Usually, students write the “special field” exam in the field of their likely dissertation topic.  In consultation with the adviser and other faculty in the field, each Ph.D. student will define her or his historical fields for the Ph.D.  The following list, intended to be representative rather than exhaustive, includes fields of recent Ph.D. students and others suited to faculty strengths and interests:

  • The Ancient Mediterranean economy
  • Food supply and food culture in the Ancient Mediterranean World
  • Greek and Roman military institutions and strategies
  • Greek and Roman imperialism
  • Greek and Roman historiography
  • Greek and Roman religion
  • Hellenism and the Jews
  • Jews, Christians, and other religious groups in the Ancient Mediterranean World
  • The Roman Near East
  • The Classical Mediterranean city
  • The Mediterranean World in Late Antiquity

Students write their Ph.D. dissertations on topics of diverse types employing a wide variety of ancient sources and a number of theoretical approaches, depending on the interests of the student.  All require research in sources in one or more ancient languages and use of modern scholarship in several modern languages.  In some cases experience in archaeological, epigraphic, papyrological, and/or numismatic methodologies proves to be important. 

Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact one of the faculty in Ancient Mediterranean History in advance in order to assess prospects for admission and current fields for study and research.

Resources

The Washington, D.C., area, in which the University of Maryland is located, is unusually rich in resources for graduate students of Ancient Mediterranean History.  The Classics holdings of our McKeldin Library and of other Big 10 institutions are readily available.  The collections of the Library of Congress include most of the relevant texts and monographs, as well as the full range of archaeological, numismatic, and epigraphic resources.  More specialized libraries, accessible to students engaged in dissertation research, are the Hellenic Studies Center and the Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies.  These two libraries, associated with Harvard University, are among the premier research centers worldwide for scholars in Classical Greece through the Roman period and in Late Antiquity and Byzantium.  Also very helpful for students of Late Antiquity is the Patristics collection of Mullen Library at the neighboring Catholic University of America.

The area is also home to several antiquities collections.  Dumbarton Oaks houses a small but exquisite collection of Late Antique and Byzantine objects.  The Smithsonian Institution’s Sackler Gallery specializes in the art and archaeology of the Near East and Asia.  Not far away in Baltimore the Walters Art Gallery boasts one of the leading collections of Ancient, Early Christian, and Medieval art.

Medieval and Early Modern

Until relatively recently, the historical study of what was commonly called the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Reformation was built upon a number of assumptions: that the history of western Europe was the history of progress; that historical study should be organized around the development of nation-states; and that the glorious culture of classical antiquity was lost during the “Dark Ages” but recovered as Europe moved into a more “modern” form of Christian piety, enlightened government, and secular morality.  Many factors have forced historians to rethink these assumptions and reorganize their approach to what it is now called the Medieval and Early Modern Period. Likewise, today’s more globalized world is not content with a Eurocentric approach to the study of history.  Maryland’s program in Medieval and Early Modern history aims at familiarizing students with a range of cultures that flourished in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas and then teaching the comparative and transnational methods needed to evaluate core ideas and institutions.

Graduate

Medieval and Early Modern history has become one of the most dynamic and stimulating fields of historical study. A great deal of innovative work in social and cultural history has taken place in this area, and has transformed the way history is conceived of and written. To a large extent, this dynamism is based on the premise that no radical separation should be established between the “Renaissance” and the “Middle Ages,” since no fundamental break with the “medieval“ past had in fact occurred. Thus, it makes much more sense to study these two periods together.

But what best defines Medieval and Early Modern history at the University of Maryland is that our program expands the field beyond its traditional Eurocentrism to comprise a more global perspective. Taking the study of Medieval and Early Modern history beyond the narrow and constrained borders of the modern European nation-states and the traditional European/African/Asian/American divide helps illuminate fundamental aspects and processes of the pre-modern past that are usually obscured by traditional national histories. In that regard, the study of Medieval and Early Modern history at Maryland is eminently comparative and transnational. The program is flexible enough to accommodate the differences in scope and method appropriate to different approaches (transnational, transregional, comparative) while providing depth of study to develop expertise both within and beyond the traditional national/geographic field.

The faculty brings a broad range of expertise to the field. Areas of research range from queenship in medieval Spain to female slavery in the Ottoman Empire, from sainthood and popular piety in the German lands to martyrdom in the Spanish Empire, from governance and historical writing in the Early Muslim world to the transmission of knowledge and the development of communal institutions in Jewish society both East and West. The program is especially strong in cultural history and the study of the imperial polities that developed in the Mediterranean and Atlantic worlds from Antiquity to the Early Modern period, in particular the Roman empire, the Islamic empires (including the Ottoman empire), and the Early Modern Spanish and British empires. The program is also very strong in the study of religion and gender, two of the most dynamic and innovative areas of research in the field. 

The Medieval and Early Modern program also works closely with the faculty of the Ancient Mediterranean field. This collaboration is a reflection of recent historiographical developments that tend to blur the traditional separation between Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Thus, historians have introduced the terms Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages to convey the sense that there was no radical divide between the two epochs. Likewise, studying Antiquity and the Early Modern period in conjunction can lead to illuminating connections. After all, the culture of Classical Antiquity was still very much alive in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Courses

The program’s particular emphasis on a global, transnational, and comparative perspective is reflected on its signature seminar on The Medieval and Early Modern World, a requirement for all students entering the field. This seminar lays the foundations for the study of medieval and early modern history on a comparative and transregional vein. The seminar is taught by various members of the History faculty, thus enabling students to get acquainted with a variety of theoretical, methodological, regional, and thematic approaches that greatly enrich their understanding of the period.

Modern Europe

The strengths of the graduate program in Modern European history at the University of Maryland, College Park, include a distinguished faculty offering a variety of approaches together with the remarkable resources of the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

The department offers M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Modern and Contemporary (post-1945) Europe.  We are especially strong in Modern, and Contemporary Germany; Modern and Contemporary France; Spanish and British Colonialism; Modern and Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe, especially the Habsburg Monarchy and Poland; Jewish history; the Ottoman Empire; and the history of Roman Catholicism. 

Graduate students in Modern European history have won prestigious fellowships, including the Fulbright-Hayes Doctoral Fellowship and the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies Dissertation Fellowship.  Our graduates go on to academic jobs at such universities as George Washington University, Ohio University, and Framingham State University, and to jobs in government agencies including the National Archives, the State department, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Graduate

Requirements for the Ph.D. in Modern European History

Graduate students in Modern European history do a “general field” in Modern Europe, which typically includes continental Europe, not including Russia.  The “general field” can be modified to suit the specific interests of a given student.  In addition, Ph.D. students in Modern Europe chose a “special field” which can be a particular country (Germany, France, Habsburg Monarchy, for example), a particular century, or a special theme (women and gender, technology, military history, the Catholic Church, for example). 

Language Requirements:

For admission: students must know the language of the country or region in which they are interested.  All Ph.D. students must demonstrate proficiency in the language of the country/region in which they are interested plus another European language

Resources

Russia and Eurasia

Russian and Eurasian history is a dynamic and growing field within the history department at the University of Maryland.  We regularly offer courses in Russian history, culture and civilization, with particular attention to Russia in its multi-ethnic, multi-confessional context.  Geographically, faculty expertise extends across the former Soviet space—from the Baltics and Eastern Europe to Russia and to Central Asia.

Prof. Mikhail Dolbilov regularly offers courses on imperial Russia, as well as courses on comparative European empires and ethnic violence.  Prof. Sarah Cameron teaches courses on modern Russian and Soviet history, as well as courses on environmental history, the Soviet Union’s relationship with the world, and the history of Central Asia.  We encourage students to collaborate with faculty working in neighboring fields, such as Prof. Piotr Kosicki, who offers courses on modern Central and Eastern Europe, among other offerings. 

The study of Russian and Eurasian history at Maryland is also enriched by inter-disciplinary collaboration.  Through the Maya Brin residency program, the Russian department at the University brings a leading Russian artist or cultural figure to campus for a short-term stay each year.  The University’s Roshan Institute for Persian Studies is one of the United States’ leading centers for the study of Persian language and culture.   More broadly, the University’s location in the Washington, DC metro area offers an unparalleled array of resources for students in Russian and Eurasian history (detailed further in our “resources” tab).

Graduate

Russian and Eurasian history is a dynamic and growing field within the history department at the University of Maryland.  We regularly offer courses in Russian history, culture and civilization, with particular attention to Russia in its multi-ethnic, multi-confessional context.  Geographically, faculty expertise extends across the former Soviet space—from the Baltics and Eastern Europe to Russia and to Central Asia.

Prof. Mikhail Dolbilov regularly offers courses on imperial Russia, as well as courses on comparative European empires and ethnic violence.  Prof. Sarah Cameron teaches courses on modern Russian and Soviet history, as well as courses on environmental history, the Soviet Union’s relationship with the world, and the history of Central Asia.  We encourage students to collaborate with faculty working in neighboring fields, such as Prof. Piotr Kosicki, who offers courses on modern Central and Eastern Europe, among other offerings. 

Special field offerings for graduate students include: the Russian empire; imperial reforms; nationalism and religion; Soviet history; Soviet modernization and nation-building; modern Central Asian history; and Russia’s interactions with Central and Eastern Europe.

If you are interested in applying to our program, we encourage you to contact us well before the application deadline.  Successful applicants to our Ph.D. program generally have a strong command of Russian (in addition to other relevant languages), as well as a compelling statement of application and excellent academic track record.

Resources