World Before 1800

Formerly Early Modern World

History & Literature’s World Before 1800 field gives students the opportunity to study Europe, the Americas, Asia, and/or Africa in the period before about 1800. Students define a topic of study engaging with major themes such as the transatlantic slave trade; colonization in the Americas; the Mughal, Safavid, Ottoman, Spanish, British, French, Russian, and Chinese empires; the European Reformation, Renaissance, printing revolution, and Enlightenment; and the American, French, and Haitian Revolutions. Topics of study may include those that cross the medieval/modern divide, investigate the reception of the ancient past, or focus on global movement and cultural exchange in the early modern/premodern period.

In addition to the requirements for all concentrators (5 tutorials and 1 course that satisfies the language requirement), students in the World Before 1800 field complete the following requirements:

  • 1 HL90 seminar or introductory course that takes a cross-cultural or interdisciplinary approach;
  • 4 courses that define the student’s topic of study (only one of which may be a General Education course);
  • 3 elective courses related to the topic of study;
  • Courses taken must display a balance between history and literature.

To declare the World Before 1800 as your field of study, complete the World Before 1800 Field Worksheet at the end of your sophomore year.

Then, at the beginning of junior year, complete a World Before 1800 Proposal and attach an explanation of your topic of study. The topic of study is the organizing principle of your proposal and should engage with one or more major theme or subject in early modern or premodern history. Strong proposals have straightforward topics, descriptions with specific details (places, texts, dates, etc.), cover more than one century, list pertinent courses (including courses you have already taken), and demonstrate coherence across the three parts of the proposal (topic, description, and course list). Joint concentrators should also explain what History & Literature's World Before 1800 field adds to your studies.

Unlike most fields of study in History & Literature, there is no pre-existing list of Courses That Count for concentration credit in the World Before 1800 field. Instead, students assemble their own unique list of courses that will enable them to pursue their individual topic of study and to meet field requirements. That unique list of courses that count is approved as part of the World Before 1800 proposal.

Questions about the World Before 1800 field should be directed to Assistant Director of Studies Alan Niles.