Europe: Medieval to Modern Times

The European history division offers students the opportunity to engage in the study of both Western and Eastern Europe from the early modern period through the twentieth century.

Europe 1450-1789, or Early Modern Europe, covers a period that spans the dramatic European expansion associated with the Renaissance--economic, political, imperial, and above all cultural transformations--and the crisis of the Old Regime that culminated in the French Revolution. Graduate students may pursue specializations in national histories as well as comparative and thematically-organized transnational programs. The research interests of the early modern faculty are varied and wide ranging. Possible topics for graduate research and teaching include Renaissance and Counter-Reformation Italy; the social history of the Protestant and Catholic Reformations; the expansion of Renaissance Europe; the European encounter with the Americas and the Ottoman Empire; early modern globalization; the Scientific Revolution; the Baroque court; urban history; social and cultural history; political culture.

Graduate study in Early Modern European history is supported by our close relationship with other programs at the University of Washington, including the Center for West European Studies and other regional programs of the Jackson School for International Studies. Early modernists from across the humanities and social sciences also convene regularly under the auspices of the Early Modern Research Group, an interdisciplinary group of faculty and graduate students that hosts visiting lecturers and conferences and serves as a campus-wide forum for scholarly exchange.

Modern Europe concerns European history in its global context from the crisis of the European old regime to the present. Graduate students may pursue specializations in the national histories of Britain and France as well as in comparative and thematically-organized transnational programs of study. University of Washington faculty specializing in the history of Modern Europe pursue a variety of themes in their teaching and research, including empire and migration, ethnicity and nationalism, history and memory, modernity and globalization, religion and political culture, the rise of consumer culture, the social consequences of industrialization, violence and terror, war and revolution, and women and gender. They also participate in the History of Science and Comparative History divisions.
Graduate study of Modern Europe at the University of Washington is supported by close relationships with the Center for West European Studies, the European Union Center, and the program for Russian, Eastern European, and Central Asian Studies (REECAS), as well as the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Professorship.

The East European history component of our program covers the history of the various peoples of East Central Europe from 1780 to the present, in particular the Poles, Czechs, Hungarians and Slovaks, along with the peoples and states of the Balkans. Students also have the opportunity to pursue fields in the history of the history of Jews in Eastern Europe.

Graduate study in East European history is supported by our relationship with other programs at the UW, including the Russian, East European and Central Asian Program (REECAS) in the Jackson School of International Studies, the European Union Center, and the Baltic Studies Program in the Department of Scandinavian Languages and Literatures. REECAS sponsors a yearly conference for faculty and graduate students in the Pacific Northwest. Usually held in April, the event features a distinguished keynote speaker. The REECAS program also sponsors the publication of the Donald W. Treadgold Papers in Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies, a nationally and internally recognized series of occasional papers featuring current scholarly research on the regions that the title indicate. Of special importance is our relationship with the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, which offers 1st and 2nd year courses in Polish, Czech, and Croatian/Serbian. Bulgarian and Romanian may also be offered at times. In addition to the History Department’s funding opportunities, students East European history are eligible for FLAS fellowships, the Jackson Foundation fellowship, and several smaller grants and opportunities specific to the region.

The University’s graduate library has outstanding collections pertaining to East European history. The library’s Slavic and East European Section actively acquires books, periodicals, newspapers, microfilms, maps, photographs, video-, DVD and CD recordings, CD-ROMs, and commercial Internet resources to build versatile, rich, and coherent research collections pertaining to the Russian, East European, and Central Asian area. At present, the collection totals over 400,000 books, 10,000 periodical titles, and thousands of microforms.

Associated Faculty

Jordanna Bailkin

Jordanna Bailkin

Professor, Jere L. Bacharach Endowed Professor in International Studies
  • Graduate Studies Description

    Division: Europe--Medieval to Modern Times

    Students may work with Professor Bailkin in modern British history. A field in British history would include the social, political, and cultural history of Britain (including Ireland) and Empire from the eighteenth century to the present. Students will develop subfields on major historiographical questions such as the development of the welfare state, race and immigration, urban identity, gender and the family, "four nations" approaches to British history, and the impact of decolonization on the metropole.

    Required course work for a first field in modern British history includes completing HSTRY 590 as well as two supervised directed readings.

    For those selecting modern Britain as a second field, HSTRY 590 is required, plus one supervised directed reading.

    For those selecting modern Britain as a third or fourth field, HSTRY 590 is recommended. Depending on research and training needs, a directed reading may be substituted.

    Division: Comparative History (Comparative Colonialisms)

    Students pursuing a field in Comparative Colonialisms will examine a variety of colonial histories: typically, British, French, Spanish, Dutch, German, and American. We will consider the relationship between "white" and "non-white" colonies as part of the larger racial politics of colonialism. Although the emphasis is usually on European colonial histories, I have worked with a number of students who are interested in U.S. imperialism, and can tailor the field accordingly.

    Students who are selecting Comparative Colonialisms as a second field are required to take HSTRY 590 when available, plus one supervised directed reading.

    Students who are taking Comparative Colonialisms as a third or fourth field are strongly encouraged to take HSTRY 590, and required to undertake one supervised directed reading.



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Professor James Felak

James Felak

Professor, Newman Center Professor in Catholic Christianity
  • Graduate Studies Description

    Division: Europe--Medieval to Modern Times

    Students choosing East European History as their primary area of study will cover the lands and peoples of the region roughly comprising today's Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia from 1780 to 1989, and the Balkans from 1804. Students are required to take a graduate field course on Modern Eastern Europe, a 400 level survey on the history of Eastern Europe, and at least one quarter of directed readings. Such students must also acquire a reading knowledge of two European languages pertinent to their study, one of them an East European language not including German or Russian.

    Students doing East European History as a secondary area of study may choose one of the following:

    • East Central Europe from 1780 to 1989
    • the Balkans from 1804 to 1989
    • Eastern Europe in the 20th Century
    • Poland from 1772 to 1989
    • Nationalism in Eastern Europe
    • Communism in Eastern Europe
    • Religion in Eastern Europe

    Such students must take a graduate course on Modern Eastern Europe and a 400 level survey on the history of Eastern Europe.

    It may be possible to negotiate additional sub-fields as they suit student needs and interests.

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Liora Halperin--headshot

Liora Halperin

Professor , Joint Appointment: Jackson School of International Studies
  • Graduate Studies Description

    Division: Africa and the Middle East

    Students may work with Prof. Halperin to develop a field focused on the history of Modern Israel/Palestine. This field will situate Palestine/Israel within both Middle East and Jewish historiography, with the particular emphasis depending on the student’s research and teaching objectives. It will draw together works in both Israel Studies and Palestine Studies, pertaining to cultural, economic, social, political, and intellectual history.

    Division: Europe, Africa and the Middle East, or Russia

    Students may develop a field with Prof. Halperin on Jewish history during the Medieval, Early Modern, and Modern periods. This can be structured as primarily a Europe or Russia field or as primarily a Middle East field, but will in any case explore interrelations between these fields and, secondarily, between these fields other world regions. This field may examine the evolution of relations between Jews, Christians, and Muslims; Jews and the state; forms and challenges of emancipation; commercial networks; cultural, linguistic, and social history; the history of anti-Judaism and antisemitism; and Jewish contact with and entanglements with colonial and imperial projects.

    Division: Comparative History (Comparative Colonialisms)

    Students may develop a field with Prof. Halperin that explores variants of modern colonialism in global perspective; the interplay of colonialism, civic nationalism, and ethnonationalism; the economic history of empire; and the emergence of the field of settler colonial studies.

    Division: Comparative History (Ethnicity and Nationalisms)

    Students may develop a field with Prof. Halperin exploring modern ethnonational movements in comparative perspective with particular emphasis on Europe (including Eastern and South Eastern Europe), the Middle East, and South Asia. This field may integrate readings on language revival efforts, cultural movements, anti-imperial nationalisms, and the emergence of the nation-state system and concepts of autonomy, minority rights, partition, and migration.

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Raymond Jonas

Raymond Jonas

Professor, Jon Bridgman Endowed Professor in History
  • Graduate Studies Description

    Division: Europe--Medieval to Modern Times

    Europe and the Modern World

    This field aims to provide a familiarity with some of the great themes, problems, and events in the history of modern Europe, including but not limited to Europe’s larger global engagements. It offers a foundation for advanced study of a thematic or regional nature, a basis for comparative historical study within Europe and beyond, and preparation for the teaching of entry-level and advanced undergraduate surveys in the field.

    Course work for a primary field in Europe and the Modern World includes HSTEU513 and at least two graduate level courses or directed readings under my supervision, along with appropriate language training.

    Course work for a field in Europe and the Modern World that is not a primary field includes HSTEU513 and at least one graduate level course or directed reading under my supervision.

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L. Marhoefer headshot, Seoul, Korea, 2023

Laurie Marhoefer

Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies
  • Graduate Studies Description

    A note to prospective graduate students: I will not be accepting new students as primary advisor for the 2022-23 academic year. 

    Division: Europe--Medieval to Modern Times

    Students preparing this field with Professor Marhoefer will study the social, cultural, and political history of Germany, German-speaking Europe, and Germany’s global colonial empire from the late eighteenth century to the present.

    Division: Comparative History--Comparative Gender & Comparative Ethnicity and Nationalism

    A field in comparative gender directed by Professor Marhoefer will examine the transnational histories of gender and sexuality, as well as the closely related histories of class, race, and empire, especially within modern Europe and its colonies.

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Devin Naar with Ladino artifact

Devin E. Naar

Associate Professor, Isaac Alhadeff Professor of Sephardic Studies, Sephardic Studies Program Chair, Joint Appointment: Jackson School of International Studies
Benjamin Schmidt

Benjamin Schmidt

Professor, Jon Bridgman Endowed Professor in History
  • Graduate Studies Description

    Division: Europe--Medieval to Modern Times

    Professor Schmidt offers a field covering the social, political, and especially cultural history of Europe from around the mid-fifteenth century through the mid-eighteenth century. Topics vary from year to year, and students tend to play a considerable part in shaping their own programs of study. Recent graduate seminars have examined courts and court culture; habits of collecting and the practice of early modern "science"; Europe's encounter with the Americas; the expansion of early modern geography and the culture of curiosity; the history of reading, literacy, and the book; visual culture in early modern Europe. Europe's engagement with the non-European world is also included in the field: early modern expansion, colonialism, and globalism.

    Division: Comparative History (Comparative Colonialisms)

    Students may work with Professor Schmidt to develop a field in Comparative Colonialisms that focuses on the early modern world.  This field might focus on the West--the history of the Atlantic World and the colonial (and imperial) enterprises that commenced from ca. 1492--or the to the East, in the latter case considering how European interventions in Asia fit into broader, early modern colonial and imperials trends.  This field would be done from a European perspective, to be sure, yet in a manner that explores how European colonial programs and golbal engagements fit into larger cultural and political developments of the period from ca. 1450-1750.


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