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Department of History
Old Horticulture
506 E. Circle Dr
Room 256
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
Main: 517.355.7500
Fax: 517.353.5599
Email: history [at] msu [dot] edu
Hours: 8:00-5:00 M-F

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Graduate Field in the Atlantic World

In the past few years, the historical profession has come to recognize the importance of pursuing the early history of the Atlantic World across national and even continental boundaries. The graduate field in our department in Atlantic history recognizes and promotes this welcome approach. Its focus is on the interconnected history of the Americas, Africa and Europe from the beginnings of European expansion (c. 1450) through the end of plantation slavery in the “New World” and the concurrent rise of European imperial interests in other parts of the globe. Students in the Atlantic World field work with advisers who provide them with a “home” in a classic field, such as Latin American/Caribbean, European, United States, or African history. Yet they also receive training enabling them to work across traditional fields and become effective teachers and scholars of the broad history of the Atlantic world. The department has a strong range of scholars working on various aspects of the Atlantic World, and this program helps to crystallize connections among them. As part of the program, we have developed a graduate course in the History of the Atlantic World. The course topics vary, covering the history of Native American Civilizations before, during and after contact with Europeans; the creation and expansion of the Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French, and English (later British) empires; the history of West and Central Africa and the effect of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade on it, and the circulation of political and religious ideas between Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

Requirements

The Graduate field in the Atlantic World is intended to provide Ph.D. students with training in methods and historiography in Atlantic history as well as in-depth knowledge in the relevant regional fields. The student must do a field in Atlantic History, which will includes material on all regional areas of the Atlantic World and focuses on the methodologies specific to the field. Ideally, students will prepare for this field by taking the Seminar in the History of the Atlantic World offered in the department. In addition to this primary field, the student will also do another major field in their area of regional focus, chosen from among the following: African, Colonial America and/or U.S., European, Latin American and Caribbean. The specifics of this field will, of course, vary according to the particular interests of the student. Finally, the student is required to do minor fields in two of the remaining regional areas, again tailoring these fields according to their teaching and research interests.