Ask a Major: History

Sam Stevens, College ’15

 

What exactly is the History major?
Ordering a disgusting amount of books from Amazon each August and January.

Why are you majoring in History?
As a freshman and even a sophomore I was not sure of what I wanted from the next three to four-ish years. Selecting the History major was an opportunity to avoid binding myself to an inflexible path. If on Monday I am fascinated by Latin American history but by Wednesday I care only about Middle Eastern politics, it’s not the end of the world. History majors are able to tailor their educations to their needs and interests. We have the luxury of changing our minds.

What has been your favorite thing you’ve done as a History major?
More than anything I’ve done, I like what the History major has done to me. The constant reading, writing and discussion have made me a more articulate speaker and a more critical observer. I like going to a new place and realizing that it has a history about which I know nothing. There is always something new to be learned even about our most familiar places. The History major has taught me to consider my perceptions and beliefs from alternate angles.

What is the hardest part of being a History major?
Explaining to people that being a History major does not mean I know the history of everything.

What kind of career are you hoping to pursue with your major?
I’m not entirely sure, and only time will tell, but hopefully something in foreign affairs and writing. All I really want is to live abroad and fall off the grid for a few years post-graduation, maybe longer.

Does study abroad play a big part in the major? Do most majors study abroad?
I’m not quite sure about the majority of the History majors, but I do know a good few who have been abroad. Going abroad is not a necessity for the course of study, but it can be a pivotal experience in an individual’s intellectual history. Sometimes you fall in love with a place and learning its history can transform from a hobby into a thesis project.

If you could create your own class within the major, what would it be? Why?
Another attribute of history is the interdisciplinary nature of the field. Last semester I took a course on the history of violence. We read a few psychological studies to better understand how and why violence occurs but on a microscopic scale. I really enjoyed learning history from an unconventional source. I would like to see a history class listed as a PPF — the history of yoga or something … with a lab portion held in the WoodPEC actually doing yoga, of course.

If you had to give advice to someone considering the History major, what would you tell them?
Get Amazon Prime.

What is one thing every History major knows?
How to skim their readings.

If you could have lunch with any historical figure, who would it be and where would you take them?
I think every History major has been asked this question in some form or another … I would take an average 20-year-old American woman from 200 years ago to somewhere completely normal and unappreciated for its technology. Probably an airport to people watch.

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