Harvard's History Department

This is the biggest department I have analyzed to date with 197 courses on offer. It does not break out courses by areas of interests, and many courses cover multiple geographies. 


1. Let's take a look at Ph.D. Language requirements by "field of research" (other than English, which is a must):


Field # Required French German Latin Greek Regional
African 2 Preferred among European        Arabic preferred among African languages
Ancient  4 Must Must Must Ancient  
British 2 Either Or     Plus one European language
Byzantine 4 Must Must Must Byzantine  
Early Modern European 2 or 3 Must Must     One other if required for research
East Asian 2 If 1 E.Asian, then this or Russian or this     1 or 2
International 2 e.g. e.g.     E.g. Spanish, Chinese or Arabic (did not mention Russian)
Latin American 2 Or Or     Or Spanish, or Portuguese
Western Medieval / Renaissance 3 Must Must Must    
Middle Eastern 3 Must Must     One Middle Eastern
Modern Western/ Central Europe 2 Or Russian Must      
Modern Eastern Europe 3 Either  Or     Plus 2 approved languages
Modern Russian 2 Either Or     Russian
Medieval Russian 3 Either Or     Russian, and Old Church Slavonic
South Asian 2 If 1 S.Asian, then 1 other e.g. this, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Or this     1 or 2
United States 1 or 2 Either Or     or Spanish
Economic, Social, or Intellectual History of Europe and US 2 Must Must      

Just looking at the above 17 "areas of focus," it is clear that History is primarily defined as: a) European (9 areas); b) Broader Western, including Americas (3); c) other regions (4, African, East Asian, Middle Eastern, South Asian), and lastly d) International (1). Within the European / Western realm, German and French (French slightly behind) are most required. For other regions and international, Middle Eastern requires both German and French, African needs a European langage (preferrably French), while East Asian and South Asian could do without either German or French.


2. Which people's or works' names appear in course titles? Answer: Catherine the Great, Joseph Conrad, Tagore, Henry Kissinger, Heidegger, Arendt, Nietzsche, Habermas (2), Thomas Jefferson, Rush Limbaugh, Benjamin Franklin, Adorno, Adam Smith. Surprising focus on Germans - and positively so for the prominence of one of my favorite contemporary thinker Habermas!


3. Among the 109 faculty members listed, the following "(geographic) areas" have been mentioned in their titles (sometimes one person has multiple areas listed, I count by "areas" and not by person):


European (11 mentions, this in bold is my own categorization):

European Studies (1)

Classics (2)

Slavic Languages and Literatures (1)

Russian Studies (1)

Ukrainian History (2)

Civilization of the Netherlands (1)

French History (1)

Roman Catholic Theological Studies (1)

English (1)

American (16 mentions):

American History (7)

American Legal History (1)

History of American Education (1)

American Studies (1)

American Jewish Studies (1)

American Literature (1)

Latin American Affairs (2)

Latin American History (1)

Latin American History and Economics (1)

African and African American (5 mentions):

African and African American Studies (5)

Near Eastern (4 mentions):

Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (1)

Middle East History (1)

Arab Studies (1)

Turkish Studies (1)

East Asian (11 mentions): 

East Asian Languages and Civilizations (2)

Chinese and Inner Asian History (2)

Chinese History (3)

China Studies (1)

Sino-Vietnamese History (1)

Korean History (2)

Oceanic (1 mention):

Oceanic History (1)


Altogether 48 mentions, of course, as History primarily means European History - the lack of specific "European" designations do not mean it is not important. Professors with "American" and "African American" titles is also not surprising - we are talking about Harvard as a leading US institution here. What is truly striking here, of the regions outside of the "West", the dominance East Asian history, and utterly neglect of South Asian / Southeast Asian history; even the lack of faculty in Near Eastern area is quite an interesting phenomenon on its own.

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