Histories of the Present Track
NEW OPTION FOR YOUR SENIOR CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE:
Offered as another option for senior thesis writers in the History major for Fall 2020, the Histories of the
Present (HoP) track trains students to bring historical analysis to bear on our understanding of
the present. Students will delve deeply into the historical origins and development of a
contemporary issue and experiment with different genres for communicating historical claims.
Knowledge of historical origins and analogies can help us to understand the present as well as
predict—and shape—the future. How has the history of redlining contributed to racial
inequality in the contemporary United States? Is Donald Trump a latter-day Mussolini? How
have the recent protests in Chile grown out of the authoritarian dictatorship that ended three
decades ago, and do these mobilizations reiterate, or depart from, older forms of protest? Is
coronavirus the new Spanish flu—or the Black Death?
Students will choose a contemporary issue, topic, or phenomenon of interest, research the
history of the issue, and then draw on the historical knowledge they have gleaned to analyze
the issue in a brief piece of persuasive writing directed at a general audience. They will also
share their findings at a Histories of the Present panel event.
The HoP track is limited to approximately 10 students. Please go to this Google Form if you are
potentially interested (this is not a formal commitment; we just want to gauge numbers).