History

Students must know how to ask questions, seek
answers, and communicate their findings. That is,
they must be their own historians.

In teaching history, Brooks trains students to think for themselves. The role of a secondary school in a democratic republic is to prepare students for citizenship. Students must know how to ask questions, seek answers, and communicate their findings. That is, they must be their own historians. Our curriculum is built on the notion of steadily increasing responsibility and skill so students can take charge of their own education. The History Department believes in the writing of research papers and encourages students to embark on independent study.

The sequence of required courses constitutes world history from late antiquity to the present. However, once students have demonstrated the ability to ask, seek, and communicate on a sophisticated level, they are encouraged to step up to the challenge of Advanced Placement courses or to explore another culture, preferably in a non-Western tradition.

History Courses

Pre-Modern World History I/II

In Pre-Modern World History, students learn how to read and annotate both primary and secondary history texts for understanding, and how to take effective notes. They learn to work collaboratively and practice presentation skills through different mediums. Students receive instruction on information literacy and scholarly reliability in cooperation with the school librarians. They learn how to craft thesis statements, topic sentences and form paragraphs. They work on multi-paragraph essays and familiarize themselves with Chicago citation practices before transitioning into a larger research paper project process. In this process, students learn to draft topic proposals, annotated bibliographies and outlines before completing a six-to-seven page research paper in the spring semester.

Elective descriptions below:

  • Death and Disease in the Ancient World
    Did you know cat fat and fly droppings were remedies in Ancient Egypt? Or that Babylonian doctors thought sleeping next to a human skull for a week would end nightly teeth grinding? In this course, students examine how people of the ancient world came to view sickness and health. Studying doctors such as Hippocrates and Galen, students gain an understanding of the changing role of both physician and patient. This course also examines the roots of various medical methods, including the four humors of Western medicine and the importance of Yin and Yang in Chinese medicine. Ultimately, the course uses death and disease as a lens in which to better understand ancient culture.
  • Discovering Women of the Ancient World
    Empires have been ruled by them, cults have idolized them and mythological wars have been fought over them: women in the ancient world. The veneration of fertility and importance of motherhood has long provided for the recognition and celebration of half the world’s population. However, patriarchal societies have also marginalized women in the public sphere and limited their legal rights and ability to wield power. This course examines the lives and legacies of women across a number of early civilizations, both eastern and western, such as ancient China, India and Mesopotamia.
  • Explorers in the Ancient World
    Before planes, trains and automobiles, people navigated the world by foot, horseback and boat. This course focuses on the travels of people from centuries BCE and consider geography, trade and the concept of globalization as students gain a window into ancient multicultural interactions. Students examine the motives for exploration, the means of transportation, and the challenges posed by ancient travel. The legacies of explorers, such as Pytheas of Greece and Nehsi of Egypt, are debated as their discoveries led to both prosperity and conflict. Students connect the past and present as they understand the impact that exploration, innovation and imperialism have had on the world.
  • Heroes and Villains of the Ancient Mediterranean
    From Odysseus to Caesar, from Hannibal to Attila the Hun, the period from 1500 BCE to 500 CE was filled with warriors, thinkers and leaders who would go on to represent both the best and the worst of the worlds from which they came. In this course, students examine the civilizations that gave birth to some of the most infamous historical figures of the Ancient Mediterranean world and debate whether they should be remembered as heroes or villains. By examining the political, cultural and economic legacy of key individuals, students gain a greater understanding of the interplay between individuals and their larger civilizations. (Not offered in 2017-2018).
  • Journeying the Silk Roads
    Spanning more than 5,000 miles from China to the Mediterranean world, the Silk Roads linked pre-modern Eurasia for more than two millennia. This course focuses on the movement of trade, religions, cultural practices, art, technology, disease and people along the Silk Roads and considers how the natural environment shaped these exchanges. We explore Eurasia both through ancient travel narratives and the accounts of contemporary travelers. Along the way, we virtually visit great Silk Roads cities like Chang An, the oases of the Taklamakan, Samarkand, Baghdad, Damascus and Constantinople. So pack your bag, grab a map and put on your traveling shoes.
  • Making of the Muslim World
    The 7th century saw the prophet Muhammad give voice to what would become a dominant world religion, Islam. His word, and that of Allah, extended into Asia, Africa and Europe and exerted significant social, political and cultural influence across continents. Spanning five hundred years, this course considers the life and work of Muhammad, the Islamic caliphate and the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties, the Sunni and Shia schism, and the Crusades in the 11th and 12th centuries.
  • Uncovering Ancient Africa
    The Nile River gave birth to one of the earliest, longest-lasting and most influential civilizations on earth: Ancient Egypt. This course examines the power of the Nile, Egypt’s emergence, unification and history under pharaonic rule, and its trade and conquest with, or at the hands of, Nubians, Hyksos and Assyrians. Sleuthing mummy mysteries, examining ancient engineering and deciphering hieroglyphs helps us to understand Egyptians’ henotheistic worship and fixation with the afterlife. We progress beyond the New Kingdom to investigate Greek, Roman and Arab occupation of Egypt during the early Common Era.
  • Unlocking Ancient Mesoamerica and South America
    How important were ritual human sacrifices to the Aztecs, Maya, and Inca? Why did the Mayans believe the world was going to end in 2012? What was the cultural significance of Machu Picchu for the Incas? Ancient Mesoamerican and South American civilizations were some of the most developed and complex in the ancient world; however, much history has been lost due to European conquest. Using current findings from archaeologists, anthropologists and historians, this course rebuilds the histories of these complex civilizations. We examine the political, cultural, and economic developments of Mesoamerica and South America and also uncover the latest discoveries to help understand the long-term significance of these ancient cultures.

Modern World History

The first course of the required history sequence is a comparative study of political, economic, social and cultural history focusing on Europe, East Asia and Africa. The emphases are cultural interactions as well as autonomous and distinctive developments. In the second semester, students explore the more recent past, paying particular attention to the nature of and bases for Western hegemony as well as reactions to that domination. Students learn to analyze source materials and construct historical arguments based on those sources.

AP World History

This course follows a similar syllabus to that of Modern World History but prepares students for the Advanced Placement examination in World History.

Building the American Republic

This course is a survey of U.S. history from the colonial period to Reconstruction. The focus is on the political and economic development of the American Republic. Major topics include colonial America, the American Revolution, the Constitution, slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction.

The American Century

This is a continuation of U.S. history from the Gilded Age to the present. Political and economic development and the modernization of the United States are emphasized. Major topics include industrialization, imperialism, progressivism, the Great Depression, the World Wars; the Cold War; and the Civil Rights Movement. The required sequence of the two electives prepares students for the SAT subject test in United States history.

AP United States History

This course is taught as an introductory-level college course. Students are challenged to read and write intensively, with understanding and skill. Much self-discipline and dedication is required to stay abreast of the daily assignments, review regularly and prepare a substantial research paper. Students must be facile with both facts and ideas. The course culminates with the Advanced Placement U.S. History examination.

AP Art History

This course is an introduction to the development of painting, sculpture and architecture from the ancient world to the modern period. Students build from the course text, Gardner’s "Art Through The Ages," with supplementary readings and visits to the Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Students take this course to prepare for the Advanced Placement examination in Art History.

AP European History

This course develops an understanding of the main themes in modern European history including political and diplomatic, intellectual and cultural, and social and economic history. Analyzing historical evidence and reading critical literary narratives are integrated into the course from 1450 CE to present. The course begins with the Renaissance and concludes with the demise of communism in Eastern Europe, the reunification of Germany, and the crisis of global terrorism. A significant amount of time is spent exploring the impact of intellectual and ideological history on culture, art, class, and state politics. Students take this course to prepare for the Advanced Placement examination in European History.

AP United States Government and Politics

This course introduces students to the institutions and procedures of the American political system, the roles of the three branches of the federal government, the operation of state and local systems and the interrelationship of government at its various levels. This course culminates with the Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics examination.

The Middle East

This course examines the history of the Middle East from the post-colonial era to the present. We focus on ten countries (case studies) from Morocco to Iran as well as look at the recent political and military situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Arab-Israeli conflict is also part of this curriculum and plays a central role in understanding the current political and economic status of the region. (Not offered in 2017-2018).

Latin America and the Caribbean

This course explores the conquest, colonization and development of Latin America and the Caribbean. From initial encounters between Iberians and indigenous peoples, through the destruction of European colonial bonds, to the cultural legacy left behind, this class examines how this region of the world defines its independence. Art, music, literature and film are discussed in an effort to familiarize students with a rich and diverse cultural heritage. (Not offered in 2017-2018).

History of Human Rights

This course explores the history of human rights at both the national and international level. This course begins by discussing what it means to be a human and considers what rights should be universal and inalienable. Using case studies, students also explore violations of human rights where discrimination has been based on stereotypes, race, minority groups, gender, disability, and ethnicity. Within these case studies, we discuss the development of human rights theories and practices, early efforts at an international response, and the creation of a modern human rights agenda. Students examine humanitarian interventions in Rwanda, South Africa (Apartheid), Darfur, Nazi Germany (Holocaust/ Nuremberg Trials), and the United States (Civil Rights). Each of these places has undergone a violation of human rights in regards to either wars of aggression, war crimes, or crimes against humanity. In addition, students examine globalization, terrorism, and the role of the United States and the United Nations in the current human rights debate.

African-American Studies

This discussion-based course looks at the African-American journey towards emancipation. Beginning with the early stages of enduring slavery, Jim Crow, and full citizenship by the 1960s, the course analyzes the emergence of African-American religion, literature, poetry, music, and art. Students critique this journey through the lens of literary works by Ellison and Morrison, the music of Tupac Shakur, conversations regarding the Harlem Renaissance, and the rise of “black is beautiful” during the 1960s as well as a field trip to the African-American History Museum in Boston.

Microeconomics

An introduction to product and factor markets, this course covers such core economic concepts as supply and demand, elasticity and efficiency. Focused on the operation of particular markets, the course examines both competitive and less competitive market structures and explores the causes and consequences of market failure. Students consider topics ranging from Wal-Mart's economic power to the salaries of professional athletes. As we explore how markets operate, we pay particular attention to governmental policies that affect markets, such as minimum wage laws, rent control, and environmental regulations. Later in the semester, students participate in a labor-management contract negotiation simulation. Text readings are complemented with current articles of economic interest.

Macroeconomics

An introduction to the national economy, this course covers such core concepts as gross domestic product, economic growth, unemployment, inflation and trade. Students explore economic models characterizing GDP growth, fiscal policy and monetary policy. In considering the U.S. economy, we focus on income distribution, public goods and externalities, government regulation, and international trade and trade policy. The course culminates with students presenting an oral and written summary and forecast of the U.S. economy including recommendations for discretionary policies.

Honors Economics

Honors Economics will provide students a more in-depth approach to the study of economics. With an extra meeting each week, students will explore supplementary units to the traditional micro and macro courses. Additionally, each student will independently research a specific topic of interest with the goal of creating a project by the end of the course. This project could be in an area such as environmental economics, international trade, labor economics, or economic history, to name a few. Some topics may also help those who are interested in independently preparing for the AP Micro and Macro exams. Overall, the course seeks to provide a more intensive study for those students who are passionate about economics.

Psychology

How do we become who we are? This course helps students explore the relationship between biology and experiences and how each combine to shape the personality. Students also explore the differences between humans, apes and other animals. Students are introduced to the history and current scientific study of human thought and behavior by exploring the foundations of our brain function and the psychological theories of experience. Class discussion considers how we learn, what makes us responsible, why we behave differently in groups, what the interplay is between our emotions and our actions, and what happens when we become stressed, injured or ill. Students are asked to develop their critical thinking skills on these topics through readings, discussions, group work and independent writing assignments.

Independent Study

Students may propose projects at or away from the School under the supervision of a member of the department.

History Faculty

Dan Callahan

Director of Communications

Eddie Carson

History Teacher

Ashley Johnston

Assistant Dean of Students, History Teacher, Director of Community Service

Alexander Konovalchik

History Teacher

Lance Latham

Associate Head for Academic Affairs, History Teacher

Andrew McLean

History Teacher, Director of Exchange Program

Michele Musto

Chair of History Department

Amanda Nasser

History Teacher

Susanna Waters

Academic Dean, History Teacher

William Waters

Dean of Students, History Teacher