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Honors Program

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Director: Darcy Buerkle

History 430d Thesis
8 credits
Full-year course; offered each year

History 431 Thesis
8 credits
Offered fall semester each year


The Departmental Honors program is a one-year program taken during the senior year. If admitted, students write a thesis in both semesters of the senior year, or they may propose to write the thesis in one semester. Admission requires a grade-point average of 3.5 inside and outside the major.

The central feature of the History Honors program is the writing of a senior thesis with the guidance of a faculty adviser. Each Honors candidate defends the thesis at an oral examination which relates the thesis topic to the historical scholarship of the chosen field. The internal honors deadline for a complete polished draft suitable for review by a second reader is the Monday after spring break. Those drafts will then be evaluated by both the first and second readers.  Readers will give comments that allow students to incorporate feedback so that they can turn in the final version by the College deadline, (the first week of April). A fall-semester thesis is due the first day of the spring semester, with the oral defense normally falling before spring break.

If you would like to be considered for the Honors Program, meet with a faculty member in the History Department to discuss your ideas and develop a proposal with the assistance of the potential thesis supervisor, during the spring semester of your junior year. Your proposal should include a full description of your topic, your planned research methodology (the breadth of sources you will use and how), a brief description of how your project fits into the historical scholarship on this topic, and a preliminary bibliography (including primary and secondary sources). The college requires that the faculty supervisor for the thesis be a member of the department, although you may have a second reader in another department or program. Submit your proposal to the Director of Honors in the History Department before the end of classes in your junior year, with the thesis supervisor’s signature.

Detailed information and the official application for Honors are available at the class deans' website under guidelines and forms for academic procedures.

See "Apply to Enter the Departmental Honors Program" at https://www.smith.edu/classdeans/honors.php

The History Honors major comprises 11 semester courses, at least six of which shall normally be taken at Smith, distributed as follows.

  1. Field of concentration: four semester courses, at least one of which is a Smith history department seminar. Two of these may be historically oriented courses at the 200–level or above in other disciplines, approved by the student's adviser.
  2. The thesis counting for two courses (8 credits)
  3. Five History courses or seminars, of which four are outside the field of concentration
  4. No more than two courses taken at the 100–level may count toward the major
  5. Geographic breadth: among the 11 semester courses counting towards the major there must be at least one course each in three of the following geographic regions
  • Africa
  • East Asia and Central Asia
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East and South Asia
  • North America

Courses in the field of concentration and outside the field of concentration may be used to satisfy this requirement. AP credits may not be used to satisfy this requirement.

Courses cross–listed in the history department section of the catalogue count as History courses toward all requirements.

A student may count one (but only one) Advanced Placement examination in United States, European or World history with a grade of 4 or 5 as the equivalent of a course for 4 credits toward the major.

The S/U grading option is not allowed for courses counting toward the history honors major.


Recent honors thesis titles include:

"Sacral King to Augural Emperor: Transformations in Perspectives of Divination from Numa to Augustus"

"Between Russian and United States: Concepts and Conflicts of Jewish Citizenship and Subjecthood in the Early Twentieth Century"


"When I Need You, I Shall Send For You: An Analysis of Aksumite and Himyarite Authority in an East Roman World"


"Are You Not Entertained? Gladiatorial Munera and the Making of Roman Imperial Careers"


"The Girl Behind the Man behind the Gun": Class Distinctions Among British Women Munitions Workers During the First World War

Specters from the Nursery: Issues of Legitimacy and the Impact of Rumor on the Glorious Revolution of 1688/89

Sixth-Century Italy: Crisis and Change, Reconciling Frankish Annals with Their Sources

"we enjoyed Mrs. Woolf but felt her Cambridge was not ours"

Merit-Based Admissions to Kosher Kitchens: Changing Demands of Jewish Students at Smith College, 1887 to Present Day

Caught with their Pants Down: Clausewitz versus Sun Tzu in Light of Hitler's Military Collapse in Normandy

From Active Cathar to Passive Dominican: The Evolution of Women's Spirituality in Medieval Southern France

The Presentation of a Queen [Elizabeth I of England]

The White Woman’s Burden [in India under the British Raj]

Mother or Devil: Interpreting the Mistress-Slave Girl Bond [in the United States]

From Intransigence to Consensus: A History of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland

The Intersection of Public Policy and Social Movements: A Study of Black Power Student Movements at Two Northern Urban Universities 1966-1972

The British in Ireland: The Ulster Plantation

Stalking a Lost Deed: The End of Democracy in Postwar Czechoslovakia

Horsemen of the Apocalypse: German Expressionists and the Process of Political Radicalization

A United Front for Peace and Freedom: Anti-Fascism, Activist Politics, and their Impact on Political Culture, 1922-1939 [in the United States]

Two Aspects of the Medieval Soul: Medieval Sexuality and the De Amore of Andreas Capellanus

Too Jewish? Ethnicity and Assimilation in American Vaudeville 1880-1930

The Right to Resistance: The Development of Constitutional Theory in Sixteenth-Century France

The Desert with No Walls: Reassessing the Historical Portrayal of Early Egyptian Monasticism

Avant-Garde with Mass Appeal: Potemkin and Mother as Popular Cinema

National Political Awareness in the Localities Before and During the English Civil Wars

Anne Boleyn and the Politics of Religious Reform

"Excuse me, but did you hear a piercing scream?": British Foreign Policy 1935-38, and the Failure of Collective Security in the Political Cartoons of David Low

Blest Be the Tie that Binds: Mennonites, Conscientious Objectors, and the American State, 1917-1947

The Constitutions of Clarendon: Their Role in the Dispute between Thomas Becket and King Henry II

To Bear, or not to bear...: The marital and maternal choices of Mary and Elizabeth

The Propitious Problem of Shell Shock: World War I as a Turning Point for Psychiatry in Britain and Germany

Laquelle était la vraie France? Vichy France, Free France, and the International Labour Organisation during World War II

An Exploration of the Alta California Presidios as Agents of Colonialism With a Special Focus on the Chumash Revolt of 1824

Imperial Insanity: The Role of Imperial Ideology in the Understanding and Treatment of Shell-Shock in the First World War

Gendering Reform: Aristocratic Vice, Old Corruption, and the Mary Anne Clarke Affair in the Story of English Reform, 1763-1820

The Evolution of Greek Identity in the Roman World: Understanding, Accepting, and Supporting Roman Rule

Carriers of the Nation: Changes in Women’s Reproductive Power in the AIDS-era: A Case Study of Botswana

The Lobo-Cabernite Affair: A Close Look at the Case Study as History and Historical Problem

“She’s Not There”: Beyond the Vilifications of Norma Khouri’s Honor Lost 

Defining Rites: Parliamentary Discourse on the Kenyan Female Circumcision Crisis 1929-1931

Swells, Men of the World, and Gentlemen: The Construction of Masculinities in London High Society, 1850-1880

“Our Republic”: St. Enda’s College 1908-1916

Warwick the Queenmaker: John Dudley and the Succession Crisis of 1553

The Tenishev School Experiment: Pedagogy and Poetry

How Personal Crisis Made the Risorgimento: Mazzini and Cavour Before and After 1836

“A Very Threatened and Nervous Group of People”: Public Scrutiny of Sexuality at Smith College in Two Historical Moments

Ambiguous Selves: Madeleine Pelletier’s Interwar Autobiographical Writing

Revival in Uganda: Church, State, and the Mukono Crisis of 1941

On Our Backs With a Bad Attitude: A History of the First Lesbian Sex Magazines

When the 'Brown Pest' Showed up at the Party: St. Pauli under the Nazi Regime

Remembering and Misremembering Louis Antoine Saint-Just

"I defy anyone to take from me this independent like which I have given myself in the centuries and in the skies': Louis Antoine Saint-Just, Between Man and Myth"

Stalinist Orientalism: Images of Soviet Central Asians and Deterritorialized National Identities in USSR in Construction

Let Us Sing Our Victory Long Live Sound
Popular Music in the American and French Revolutions

Legend and Myth-making during the Duke d'Enghien Affair

The Interim Solution: The Nazification of Hamburg's Germanistik and the Existence of the German University under National Socialism

Constructions of Islamic Identity: What is the Role of Islamic Institutions in Response to the Challence of Laicite in France