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:

  • Andrew Daily was trained as a cultural historian of France. His research and teaching focus on the colonial and post-colonial history of modern Europe. His current work 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. He has also written on antisemitic violence in eastern Europe. He is currently working on a history of a small mountain town in southern Poland as a window into the wrenching transformations that characterize the modern history of eastern Europe.

  • 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 also offers a strong background in medieval, renaissance, and early modern history:

  • Benjamin Graham studies the early medieval Mediterranean and environmental changes that accompanied the collapse of the Roman Empire; he has written about the possibilities and constraints of exchange in the Dark Ages, following the movement of roofing beams, wood fuel, aromatic resins, and olive oil.

  • Catherine Arnold is a historian of early modern Britain and Europe. In her research and teaching she explores the development of the modern international order, the rise of the modern state, and the history of religious toleration. Her current project investigates the religious origins of humanitarian intervention in early eighteenth-century Britain and Europe.

  • Aaron Beek works closely on the Hellenistic Period of Greece and the Middle Republic of Rome (that is, the third and second centuries BCE), but I also examine pirates, bandits, and mercenaries across a much wider chronological span.

  • Gregory Mole's research examines the history of early modern European empire, with a focus on French colonization efforts in India during the eighteenth century. His works ranges across several subfields, using a series of iconic colonial scandals to recast the history of both absolutism and the Enlightenment in the final decades before the 1789 Revolution.