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Focus Area on Modern European History

Europe has played a central role in shaping the world in which we live, and European historiography continues to influence how professional historians approach the study of the past. Our European program emphasizes the social and cultural history of the modern era and considers Europe in a global context. We also offer a wide variety of courses on the medieval and early modern periods. The diverse research and teaching interests of the faculty range across ever-changing political boundaries and include the following: state and society; religion; art and politics; enlightenment and revolution; industrialization; nations and nationalism; imperialism; racism and antisemitism; gender and family; leisure and consumption; war and genocide.

Our three modern European historians focus on questions of state and society, nations and nationalism, and race and empire. Trained as a cultural historian of France, Andrew Daily’s research and teaching focus on the colonial and post-colonial history of modern Europe. His current research explores the cultural and intellectual history of French citizens from the Caribbean, arguing that their experiences provide a privileged lens for viewing France’s transformation from a colonial to a postcolonial state. Daniel Unowsky’s research and teaching grapple with the tension between national and dynastic loyalties in Habsburg central Europe. His current work considers local incidents of antisemitic violence in the context of the arrival of mass politics in rural regions in what is now southern Poland. Andrei Znamenski’s research has focused on Russian and Soviet history, and more broadly, on state, society, and religion in northern Eurasia. Among particular topics he explores are indigenous populations and religions of Inner Asia, Siberia and Alaska, history of modern esotericism, and the rise of modern state.

Our European program offers a strong background in medieval, renaissance, and early modern history. James Blythe has written several books on medieval and renaissance intellectual history. His work has explored European political thought, millennial movements, religion, and gender. Courtney Luckhardt writes and teaches on medieval cultural and religious history. Her work offers new insights into life in the early Middle Ages and Late Antiquity through the study of travel and communication across the continent. She uses hagiographical sources, material culture, and GIS technology to understand the role that religious travel played in the diffusion of ideas, objects, and people. Walter R. Brown is a scholar of early modern Europe, with special emphasis on French and English cultural, social, and political history. His research focuses on material life as seen through the fine and decorative arts.