The Department of History offers both the MA degree and the PhD. The master’s degree is awarded in Premodern Europe, Modern Europe, or United States. PhDs are awarded in specialized fields in US History and European History.
Pre-Modern European History
The UT history department offers an MA and PhD concentration in European and Mediterranean history before 1600, working closely with the Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Candidates receive their degrees in history, but are encouraged to participate widely in the interdisciplinary life of the institute, which brings together faculty and graduate students from eight different UT departments. Within the Medieval and Renaissance History concentration, students are encouraged to focus in one of the department’s areas of strength: Mediterranean History, Late Antiquity, the Early Middle Ages, Medieval Religious and Cultural History, the Later Middle Ages, and Continental Reformation.
Our faculty have won numerous national and international research awards, including the NEH, ACLS, and Fulbright Fellowships, the Rome Prize, and the National-Humanities Center Fellowship. We publish widely and actively encourage graduate participation in the scholarly world. We are supported by faculty in other departments who serve on graduate committees and take part in training students in the technical, linguistic, and methodological tools that are necessary to study late antique, medieval, and Renaissance history. There are presently about twenty students working on graduate degrees on Late Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and Renaissance in the history department.
Recent and Ongoing Dissertation Topics
- Jordan Amspacher, “Troya Victa: Empire, Identity, and Apocalypse in Frankish Chronicles of the Fourth Crusade”
- Kelsey Blake, Healing and Suffering in Early Medieval Francia
- Joshua Durbin, “Inherited Masculinities: Noble Fathers and Sons Early Modern England, 1530-1630”
- Alexandra Garnhart-Bushakra, “If Life Were Verse: Masculinity and Memories of Violence in the First Crusade Narratives, 1095-1200 C.E.”
- Stefan Hodges-Kluck, “Ascetic Bodies: Philosophical Self-Presentation in Late Antique Cappadocia”
- Amy Huesman, “Supernatural Encounters: Mystical Experiences with the Demonic and the Divine among Italian Holy Women of the Quattrocento.”
- Kathryn Kleinkopf, “Second Skin: Ascetics as Body-Places in Late Antique Christianity”
- Michael Lovell, Rationality and Religious Exclusion in Merovingian Gaul and the Carolingian Empire
- Jeremy Pearson, “The Islamic World and the Latin East: William of Tripoli and His Syrian Context”
- Brittany Poe, “Beyond Paris: Alan of Lille and the Reception of Scholastic Theology in Occitania and Iberia.”
- Laura Roesch, “A Fine Spray of Blood”: Martyrial Violence, Sacred Landscapes, and Christian Identity in the Late Antique West”
Pre-Modern European History Faculty
Distinguished Professor in the Humanities, Department of Religious Studies
Publications: Performance, Memory, and Processions in Ancient Rome: The Pompa Circensis from the Late Republic to Late Antiquity
Distinguished Professor in the Humanities
Publications: Acts of Care
Publications: Natural Things in Early Modern Worlds
Modern European History (Modern Europe + Modern Germany)
Modern European history, especially modern German history, is an area of special strength in UTK’s history department. The department boasts four historians of Germany, a constellation rare among American universities, and historians of France and Eastern Europe. Robert Bast (formerly director of the MARCO Institute at UTK) is a specialist in late Medieval and Reformation Germany, with an emphasis on the politics of religion. Monica Black specializes in Germany during the era of the World Wars; a cultural historian, her work focuses thematically on religion, folklore, the rituals and practices surrounding death, and the history of sickness and health. Denise Phillips is an historian of science with research interests in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Germany. Her past work has explored the interactions between science and public culture in German-speaking Europe; she also has interests in the history of natural history, the history of agriculture, and the role of science in the Enlightenment. Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius specializes in modern German history (nineteenth and twentieth centuries), especially German relations with Eastern Europe, and European diplomatic history.
Specialists in French and Eastern European History fortify the department’s Modern European concentration. Margaret Cook Andersen is a specialist in the history of Modern France and its colonial empire, with special interests in anxieties about political power and population, and in the French pronatalist movement. Victor Petrov specializes in modern Balkan history and the Cold War era in a global perspective. Thematically, his work deals with histories of technology and the information society, as well as wider questions about utopian projects and techno-politics.
Our graduate students have continued an amazing streak of winning major outside fellowships for research on their dissertations. These include three Fulbright fellowships, three DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) research fellowships, three fellowships at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, a Harry Frank Guggenheim Dissertation Writing Fellowship, and a fellowship in the Berlin Program at the Free University. Other awards include research fellowships from the Central European History Society, the German Historical Institute, and the Hoover Institution; DAAD summer language study fellowships; and a series of FLAS awards for summer language study. Bradley Nichols’ 2016 PhD thesis won the prestigious Fritz Stern Prize of the Friends of the German Historical Institute.
Our graduate students have gained much from working with scholars outside our department, including Dan Magilow, Maria Stehle, Sarah Vandegrift Eldridge, and Adrian del Caro of World Languages and Cultures, and Helene Sinnreich, Director of Judaic studies and faculty member in Religious Studies.
In recent years, we have placed our Ph.D.s in tenure-track jobs at Alabama A&M, West Virginia Wesleyan College, Brevard College, and the University of Missouri.
Modern European History Faculty
Associate Professor, Associate Head, Director of Undergraduate Studies
Publications: Regeneration through Empire: French Protonatalists and Colonial Settlement in the Third Republic
Distinguished Professor in the Humanities
Publications: A Demon-Haunted Land and Death in Berlin: From Weimar to Divided Germany
Publications: Balkan Cyberia: Cold War Computing, Bulgarian Modernization, and the Information Age Behind the Iron Curtain
The History Department’s staffing and resources are strong in American history. Current American history faculty include Robert Bland in African-American, southern, and Reconstruction history, Kristen Block in slavery and the Atlantic World, Ernest Freeberg in nineteenth and twentieth century cultural history, Luke Harlow in the antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction eras, the U.S. South, and in religion, Susan Lawrence in the history of medicine, Christopher Magra in early America and the Atlantic World, Robert J. Norrell in southern history and race relations, Tore Olsson in twentieth-century U.S., southern, transnational, and agrarian history, Brandon Winford in African-American and civil rights history, and Michael Woods in nineteenth-century political and cultural history.
Current and recent doctoral dissertations include such topics as the origins of American religious camp meetings, tea and global cultural transfer in early America, Jacksonian political culture and patronage networks, the production and consumption of cut flowers across the twentieth-century Americas, American missionaries and empire in nineteenth- and early-twentieth century Japan and Okinawa, and radical counter-geographies in early Arkansas. Our graduate students have a strong record of winning external fellowships to facilitate their research. In recent years, students have won funding from the Social Science Research Council, the American Philosophical Society, the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, among others. Many have also been successful in securing year-long writing fellowships from the UT Humanities Center.
The department hosts both The Papers of Andrew Jackson—a major historical editing project—and the Center for the Study of Tennesseans and War, which conducts an active program of scholarship and public education. Campus library resources are particularly strong, including original manuscript collections, extensive monographic and microfilm holdings, and full access to searchable electronic archives such as Early American Imprints, the American Periodicals Series, the US Serial Set, Sabin Americana, Readex’s Early American Newspapers, and Cengage’s Nineteenth-Century US Newspapers. UT is one of only a few institutions in the country to have acquired all these databases.
Students in the program produce publishable scholarship both before and after earning their degrees. Recent student publications include articles in Civil War History by William Hardy and in The Journal of East Tennessee History by Jason Mead and Jason Yeatts.
Books by recent department graduates include:
- William K. Bolt, Tariff Wars and the Politics of Jacksonian America (Vanderbilt University Press, 2017)
- S. Jonathan Bass, He Calls Me by Lightning: The Life of Caliph Washington and the Forgotten Saga of Jim Crow, Southern Justice, and the Death Penalty (Liveright, 2017)
- Kent T. Dollar et al., Border Wars: The Civil War in Tennessee and Kentucky (Kent State Univ. Press, 2015)
- Steve Ash, UT Emeritus Professor, A Massacre in Memphis: The Race Riot That Shook the Nation One Year After the Civil War (Hill & Wang, 2013)
- John Kvach, De Bow’s Review: the Antebellum Vision of a New South (University Press of Kentucky, 2013)
- John D. Fowler et al., Breaking the Heartland: The Civil War in Georgia (Mercer University Press, 2011)
- F. Suzanne Bowers, Republican, First Last and Always: A Biography of B. Carroll Reece (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2010)
- Victoria E. Ott, Confederate Daughters: Coming of Age During the Civil War (Southern Illinois University Press, 2008)
- John C. Pineiro, Manifest Ambition: James K. Polk and Civil-Military Relations during the Mexican War (Westport: Praeger, 2007)
- Ben H. Severance, Tennessee’s Radical Army: The State Guard and its Role in Reconstruction (UT Press, 2005)
- Vicki Rozema, Footsteps of the Cherokees: A Guide to the Eastern Homelands of the Cherokee Nation (John F. Blair, 2007)
- Nineteenth-Century America: Essays in Honor of Paul H. Bergeron (2005), containing chapters by seven UT PhDs
- John D. Fowler, Mountaineers in Gray (University of Tennessee Press, 2004)
American History Faculty
Publications: Becoming Catawba: Catawba Indian Women and Nation-Building, 1540–1840
Publications: A Traitor to His Species: Henry Bergh and the Birth of the Animal Rights Movement
Professor & Bernadotte Schmitt Chair of Excellence
Publications: Alex Haley and the Book that Changed a Nation
Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies
Publications: Agrarian Crossings: Reformers and the Remaking of the US and Mexican Countryside and Red Dead’s History: A Video Game, An Obsession, and America’s Violent Past
Publications: John Hervey Wheeler, Black Banking, and the Economic Struggle for Civil Rights
Professor, Director of the Andrew Jackson Papers
Publications: Arguing until Doomsday and Bleeding Kansas: Slavery, Sectionalism, and Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border
“History is a kind of introduction to more interesting people than we can possibly meet in our restricted lives; let us not neglect the opportunity.”