Are you passionate about history research?
The Department of History's Honors Program is open to undergraduate majors who have demonstrated intensive interest in the study of history and who have mastered the skills necessary for independent work. It provides selected students with a high level of faculty and peer support, and offers them numerous opportunities to present their work in public and to be recognized for excellent scholarship.
- Completed HIST 200: Intro Hist Interpretation
- Minimum 3.5 GPA in History, minimum 3.25 overall GPA
- Interview with the Director of Undergraduate Studies by the term before honors coursework begins (usually by the end of sophomore year and at the latest fall semester junior year)
- Students may be admitted in the fall of junior year on a probationary basis, pending completion of HIST 200 or improvement in GPA during the junior year
Two Ways to Complete the Honors Program
- The preferred method is to complete the Honors Senior Thesis. Students choosing this option need to complete HIST 498 and HIST 492 in their junior year (see Required Coursework in Preparation for the Honors Senior Thesis below). In the senior year, students writing the thesis will enroll in HIST 493: Honors Senior Thesis and HIST 499: Thesis Seminar in both the fall and the spring. HIST 493 constitutes independent research and writing under the supervision of the student’s faculty advisor, who will be responsible for assigning the grade for this course at the end of the academic year. HIST 499 is a seminar and workshop run by the Director of Undergraduate Studies, required of all thesis writers; it carries a maximum of 3 credit hours for the entire academic year and is graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U). The Honors Senior Thesis itself is evaluated by the advisor and by a second faculty reader, who will decide whether the finished project should be designated worthy of distinction, high distinction, or highest distinction in the major. A thesis may also be judged unworthy of distinction, in which case the student will still receive full credit for the completion of the History 493 – assuming that the student’s performance has been satisfactory to the faculty advisor. So, the typical course sequence would be:
Fall Junior Year – HIST 498 (3 hrs)
Spring Junior Year – HIST 492 (3 hrs)
Fall Senior Year – 493 (3 hrs) & 499 (1 hr)
Spring Senior Year – 493 (3 hrs) & 499 (2 hrs)
- Alternatively, students may opt to complete a sequence of two independent projects under the supervision of two different advisors, on two different topics. These students will be eligible to graduate with distinction in the major, but will not be eligible for high or highest distinction (designations carried only by the Honors Senior Thesis). Even though students are not expected to write the Honors Senior Thesis, they are still required to complete HIST 492 and HIST 498 (see below).
Required Coursework in Preparation for the Honors Senior Thesis
- HIST 498: Research and Writing Seminar
- Students admitted to the Honors Program will enroll in History 498. In addition to completing all the requirements for HIST 498, Honors students are expected to prepare a critical self-assessment of their past work in consultation with the DUS. Ideally, students will complete History 498 in the fall of the junior year.
- History 492: Historiography and Methodology
- A designated seminar (offered every spring) for all students in the Honors Program, to be taken no later than the spring of the junior year. Students will study the development of the historian’s craft and will be exposed to new research methods and techniques. The course will culminate in the preparation of a research proposal for the Honors Senior Thesis, developed in consultation with an individual faculty advisor. The instructor of History 492 and the DUS will assist students in the selection of an appropriate mentor. Even those students who may not be planning to write the Honors Senior Thesis must enroll in this course and prepare a research proposal.
Waiver text : The department offers one section of HIST 492 each spring. If you are in a year-long off campus program, like study abroad, or in back-to-back semester-long off-campus programs or if for other reasons you are not able to take an honors seminar, you may seek a waiver of this junior honors course requirement. To do so you should complete HIST 498 and at least one other 400 level HIST class with grades of B+ or better and then work with your proposed senior thesis advisor to write a research proposal for your Senior Honors Thesis. This proposal, typically five to fifteen pages in length, should include a review of related scholarship, a discussion of your proposed topic, method, and sources, and an explanation of the question you hope to answer and its significance. Your proposed senior thesis advisor should submit a letter approving this proposal and affirming her/his willingness to advise your Senior Honors Thesis. You may develop this proposal outside of your regular coursework, as a regular course assignment (if the instructor approves), or as an independent study course under the HIST 199 rubric. Your application must be submitted to the Director of Undergraduate Study no later than two weeks before the start of the fall semester in which you would like to start the HIST 493/HIST 499 Honors Thesis sequence.
Recent Honors Senior Theses
The following Honors Senior Theses were completed by students from the class of 2020:
Spenser Bailey - "Tower Town: Chicago's Bohemia and the Realities of Urban Life, 1906-1936"
Rubab Hyder - "Inside and Outside the Archive: New Histories of Women in Indian Anti-coloniality During Twentieth Century Germany"
Corbin Kakac - "Eyes on an E'er Retreating Prize: Understanding Evolution in the War-making Strategy of Alexander the Great"
Broderick Khoshbin - "The Hidden War: Injustice in the Wake of the Philippine-American War"
Kavi Naidu - "Administrators and Acid: Mid-level Administrators Moderate Highs in Higher Education, 1967-1974"
Jensen Rehn - "Envisioning Emancipation in the Land of Lincoln: Contextualizing Commemorations in Illinois, 1863-1963"
Zhuohun (Tom) Wang - "Roman Cistophori: Economic Policy and Political Message in Asia Minor, 133 B.C.E - 18 B.C.E"
The following Honors Senior Theses were completed by students from the class of 2019:
Zain Al-Khalil, "History, Memory and the Integrity of the Law in Postwar France"
Brandon Nakashima, "From the Shadows of Hickory Hill: An Archeological and Historical Analysis on the Lives of the Enslaved Laborers of the United States Saline"
Grant T. Neal, "Mind the Gap: An Analysis of the Merging Relationship Between Irish Republicans and the Catholic Clergy, 1976-1981"
Terrell Spurlock Jr., "'And You say Chi-City!': Chicago's Untold Hip-Hop History."
The following Honors Senior Theses were completed by students from the class of 2018:
Joshua Altshuler, "Eluding the Panel: Jewish American Identity and Memory through Graphic Life Writing"
Andrew Dawkins, “The Inquiry: Understanding United States Involvement in the Aftermath of the Fall of the Ottoman Empire in the Near East”
Thomas Dowling, “The Last Machine: Mayor Daley, the Cook County Democratic Party, and the Collapse of the Chicago Political Machine”
Nick Goodell, “The Experience of the Working Class in the German Revolution of November 1918”
Payton Heyen, “The Refusal of the Tired, Poor, and Huddled Masses”
Caitlin Manwaring, “Slow-burn Christianization: Post-Conversion Social Transition in Anglo-Saxon England and Iceland”
Rebeca Martínez, “Afro-Mexican Sexuality in New Spain, 1720-1789”
Julie Reschke, "Shaping Public Opinion: The Los Angeles Times, ‘Operation Wetback,’ and the Manipulation of Media Power”
Mary Elizabeth Schiavone, "An Unnatural and Detestable Crime: Accusations of Sodomy in the British Royal Navy, 1680-1830"
Bennett Stewart, “Labor Activism and Community Organizing in the Quad Cities: Reimagining Latino Lives in the Midwest”
Maria de la luz Valenzuela, "Remaking the Southwest Side: Race, Space and Neighborhood Stability in the Aftermath of the Chicago Freedom Movement"
The following Honors Senior Theses were completed by students from the class of 2017:
Thomas Hendrickson, The Column of Arcadius: A Fallen Conduit of a Triumphal Legacy
Alexandra Jaeckel, Queenship During Crisis: Four Influential Women in England During the 11th-12th Century
Brian Kite, Masters of Their Own Fate: The Kurdish Rebellion in 1974
Peter Miles, Continuities and Change in Women’s Political Action: The October Days and the French Revolution
Connor Monson, Patronage and Party: The Spoils System and Reconstruction Era South Carolina
Stephen Nye, The Graduate Level of Warfare: Compromise and Continuity in the Counterinsurgency Field Manual
William Ringhofer, Red and Black in Bronzeville: The Civil Rights Congress in Chicago, 1946-1956
Miguel Suárez Medina, The Institution of the Palenque in Colonial Colombia: Military, Economic, and Political Mobilizations
Lisa Van, The Making of Kett’s Rebellion During the English Reformation
Mindi Zhang, The Patriots Far Away: A History of Chinese Students in the United States During the Early Twentieth Century