Curriculum Overview

The public history concentration for the History MA combines graduate-level training in historical research and analysis with applied courses in public history theory and methods. Students work with their academic advisor to build a specialized curriculum that reflects scholarly and professional goals.

The Public History MA program is a 33-credit program designed to be completed over the course of two academic years. The program is flexible: students may take two or three courses in a semester, and can take classes during the summer. Students pursue two sets of requirements: the History Core courses taken by all graduate students, as well as dedicated courses in the Public History Core. Students also take elective courses in the Department, elsewhere on campus (such as in the Arts Management program or in the Game Lab), or through the Consortium.

Public History Core

A two-course seminar-practicum series is taken in the first year of study (6 hours). The Public History Seminar gives students a historical and theoretical context for their work and covers leading paradigms in the field of public history. The Practicum is a project-based course that pairs students with local organizations and builds professional knowledge and skills in collaborative work, project management, interpretation, and outreach. Skills learned in the Seminar and Practicum are then put to use in the Internship.

History Core

All graduate students in the department take The Historian’s Craft in their first semester of the program. Students then take two Colloqia courses designed to familiarize them with the field of study. Finally, students complete original research projects in two Graduate Research Seminars.

HIST 744: The Historian's Craft, required, offered every fall.

Two colloquia from these four offerings:

  • HIST 727: Colloquium in United States History I: to 1865
  • HIST 728: Colloquium in United States History II: since 1865
  • HIST 720: Colloquium in Modern European History, 1789-1900
  • HIST 721: Colloquium in Modern European History since 1900
  • HIST 751: Graduate Research Seminar, offered every semester and summer
  • Capstone: A second Graduate Research Seminar or MA Thesis.

Electives Overview

In addition to required courses, students take four elective courses, including one that fulfils the Tool of Research requirement (see next section below). Elective courses are chosen in consultation with advisors and are an opportunity to explore and expand both scholarly and professional interests. They are taught by core faculty in their areas of expertise, as well as by Public Historians in Residence. Elective courses may be taken within the History Department, with programs like AU’s Game Lab or Arts Management, or through the Consortium.

Recent Electives

  • HIST 467/667: Oral History, offered every fall.
  • HIST 477/677: History and New Media, offered every spring.
  • HIST-668 Museums Inside Out (offered summers, taught onsite at the National Museum of American History)
  • HIST 470/670 Visual and Material Culture
  • HIST 468/668: History of Museums in the United States
  • HIST 468/668: Engaged Community History

HIST 612 Cities and Politics of Memory

This course investigates how modern turmoil and traumas have transformed urban spaces into commemorative battlegrounds. Focusing especially on post-1945 European urban transformations, students explore the intersection of cities with modernism, nationalism, forced migration, and memory.

HIST 619 The Holocaust

This course traces the history of anti-Semitism and the development of racism that led to the Holocaust. It examines the historical development of the Final Solution and considers the variety of responses to Jewish persecution by the Nazi perpetrators, the Jews, and the nations of the world.

HIST-643 History of Israel

This course traces the development of modern political Zionism in nineteenth-century Europe; the historical background leading to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948; and the history of Israel since then, including patterns of Jewish immigration and its relationship to the Arab world.

HIST-645 The Cold War and the Spy Novel

This course explores the history of the Cold War, introducing students not only to relevant historical documents, but also to spy novels and films to analyze the relationship between history, ideology, literature, and film. The course deconstructs the Cold War's most important ingredients--smokescreens and stereotypes

HIST-648 Amer Culture in Nuclear Age

This course examines the evolution of American culture in the nuclear age, with particular emphasis on how the threat of nuclear war and annihilation have shaped American thought and behavior. Central to this study is an exploration of the history of the nuclear arms race in the context of the politics, culture, and diplomacy of the Cold War.

HIST-653 Civil War and Reconstruction

This course covers Civil War history from the compromise of 1850 to the final withdrawal of federal troops from the South in 1877. It includes Antebellum reform, sectional conflict, black slavery, secession, and post-war racial and political problems. Political and social issues are emphasized, rather than a narrative of battles and skirmishes.

HIST-673 American Jewish History

Today American Jewry constitutes the preeminent diaspora Jewish community. This course traces its historical development by examining the waves of Jewish immigration to the United States and the institutions that American Jews created to sustain their community.

Tool of Research Electives

Tool of Research

The following courses fulfill the Tool of Research requirement.

HIST 467/667: Oral HistoryOffered every fall

This course presents the theory, practice, legal and ethical issues, and uses of oral history. Through field work, students gain interviewing, transcription, and analysis skills and study the advantages and limitations of oral history as source material. Readings and case histories are drawn from modern U.S. history.

HIST 477/677: History and New Media Offered every spring

This course explores the impact of new information technologies on historical practices, focusing on research, teaching, presentations of historical materials, and changes in professional organization and discourse. Explore previous projects students produced in this class by visiting the course blog!