Department of History

Welcome to the Department of History at the University of Pennsylvania. Over thirty historians in the standing facultywith a broad range of research specialties advance our understanding of the past. Penn's graduate program trains the next generation of scholars and teachers. The Department's strong commitment to undergraduate education can be seen in the prominence of the history major, one of the largest on campus, in the numerous teaching awards earned by both standing faculty and graduate students, and history's strong presence in general education. History faculty direct and participate in many interdisciplinary centers on the Penn campus, and edit a number of scholarly journals.

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 258
  • Publication
    From the Editor
    (2008-04-01) Omansky, Rachel J.
    The Editorial Board is pleased to present the second issue of the fifteenth volume of the Penn History Review, the Ivy League’s oldest undergraduate history journal. The Review continues to publish outstanding undergraduate papers based on original primary research. The Board is proud to feature scholarship that maintains our tradition of insightful and diverse historiography. These papers span not only centuries and geographic regions, but also across disciplines in the study of history. The authors published in this issue approach their historical inquiries with a particular respect to the larger theme of exploration. In addition to providing four exemplary student essays, this issue of the Review also offers a special section entitled ‘The Study of History.’
  • Publication
    Letter from the Editor
    (2013-12-11) Taichman, Elya
  • Publication
    Memories of Captivity in the Great East Asian War (1592-1598)
    (2022-01-01) Baik, Junyoung
    This thesis studies how the piroin, or enslaved Koreans, during the Great East Asian War (1592-1598) remembered and understood their experiences of captivity. It further explores how these findings help us understand Korean society during the late-16th and early 17th centuries as it underwent rapid social change in the aftermath of the devastating war. This is accomplished by exploring the various writings that emerged in the postwar period regarding experiences of the war as well as captivity, and comparing the various normative language and rhetoric within them. A close reading of the Korean royal court’s interpretation of Neo-Confucianism was compared with experiences of the piroin from both elite and popular perspectives. This thesis adds a new understanding of the Great East Asian War by bringing to light the varied social responses to it, and how these stories of captivity fit into the larger landscape of diverse opinions and perspectives within a dynamic postbellum Korea.
  • Publication
    All the Pope's Men: Vatican Diplomacy and Espionage in Tudor England, 1534-1570
    (2022-03-16) San Pedro, William A
    This thesis examines the diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of England and the Holy See from 1534 to 1570. Its novel approach is characterized by both its reevaluation of the traditional motives ascribed to the various popes who reigned throughout the period by historians up to the present day and by its focus on studying the period from the perspective of the Holy See. Although access to primary source material was limited, this project ultimately found that the Catholic approach to dealing with the English Reformation was much more generous and much less sinister than historians have written throughout the past several centuries.
  • Publication
    John Knox and the Role of the Commanality
    (2007-10-01) Van Vliet, Janine
    Since his death in 1572, the works of Scottish reformer John Knox have been analyzed unceasingly by historians. Historiography has deemed Knox an inflammatory, tactless preacher who is best remembered for his work The First Blast Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women (1558), in which women are characterized as unfit to rule.1 To concentrate on the gender issue alone in his First Blast, however, is merely to skim the surface of Knox’s true intentions. His ideas regarding gender were neither new nor radical; in fact, even his enemies agreed with him.What was unique was Knox’s solution to the problem of ungodly, Catholic monarchs. Instead of depending passively on the will of God, he believed that the nobility and commonalty had a responsibility to depose of such rulers.Although he was not alone in his political theories to strip power away from the monarchs, Knox’s theory is by far the most radical in its insistence that the commonalty of a nation is to assist the nobility in determining its political and religious proceedings. In examining the works of Knox in the context of his contemporaries’, as well as its immediate effects on the Scottish Reformation of 1559-1560, it will become evident that Knox’s proposed involvement of the commonalty was unheard of at the time, provoking a visibly reduced role of the monarch and new ideas regarding egalitarianism.
  • Publication
    From the Editor
    (2008-10-01) Minta, Kojo
    The Editorial Board is pleased to present the first issue of the sixteenth volume of the Penn History Review. The Review continues to publish outstanding undergraduate papers based on original primary research. This issue of the Review will be different from previous ones, in that its focus is on the intersection of Postcolonial, Subaltern and Transnational Studies within the study of History.
  • Publication
    A Tax on Light and Air: Impact of the Window Duty on Tax Administration and Architecture, 1696-1851
    (2008-04-01) Glantz, Andrew E
    It is not at all uncommon for readers of eighteenth and nineteenth century British history to stumble across references to the Window Tax buried within accounts of more notable measures and events of the period. Descriptions of the tax are often trivial, inserted to provide color and context, to demonstrate the peculiarity—at least from a modern viewpoint—of the earlier English tax system and its cultural repercussions. Historians writing about this period frequently include a sentence or two relating the grievances of British homeowners who boarded or bricked up windows to evade the tax. Few bother to enumerate, however, the larger, indirect consequences of the Duty on Lights and Windows, or even explain why it was imposed in the first place.1 There are only a handful of scholarly articles on the subject and hardly anything original written on theWindow tax within the last fifty years. W.R. Ward’s lone article, “The Administration of the Window and Assessed Taxes, 1696-1798,”2 published in The English Historical Review in 1952 and a chapter from Stephen Dowell’s A History of Taxation and Taxes in England, printed as early as 1884, remain the two most important secondary sources on the tax for modern scholars.
  • Publication
    Unity in Identity, Disunity in Execution: Expressions of French National Identity at the 1937 Paris World's Fair
    (2007-10-01) Feldman, Peter
    France, the world would eagerly await the latest rendition of the annual World’s Fair, a massive celebration which basked in the rapid advancements that signaled the transition into modernity. The event would tout the cultural, national, and technological advents of each participating country, but would importantly While each visiting country was commissioned a limited space to construct its own national pavilion, France, as the host country, was not limited to a single expression or parcel of real estate. Instead, French fair planners constructed multiple pavilions not only for every region, but also for “every conceivable French trade and industry,”1 thereby raising an important question: how could France project a single, unified image of national identity amidst the seemingly infinite number of possibilities? By examining three examples of French architecture at the Fair—the Palais de Chaillot, the Regional Pavilions, and the Pavilion de Temps Nouveaux—a consistent theme emerges: the idealized intentions of the architects and planners were significantly undermined by the execution of each building. As a result, France projected an image of itself that was far more authentic: a scattered, diverse country still unsure of its identity during the inter-war period.
  • Publication
    Letter from the Editors
    (2012-09-06) Zhang, Alex; Kern, Emily