The Ph.D Program: Early Modern European History

Early Modern European history is one of the department’s best known and most successful Ph.D programs. Building on the work of the late J. Russell Major, an internationally known expert on French Renaissance government and society whose doctoral students now hold a number of major positions in the profession, the current faculty members are proud of our close, collegial cooperation and our record in guiding students individually towards successful topics and careers.

Our interests encompass many aspects of social and cultural history, including transnational exchanges. Sharon Strocchia studies women and religion in Renaissance Italy, as well as the history of health and healing in the early modern period. James Melton specializes in early modern German and Habsburg history, with a special interest in the culture and civilization of Enlightenment Europe. His interests also include transatlantic migrations and settlements. Judith Miller is an expert on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century French legal, cultural and gender history.  She remains interested, too, in the economic history of that period. We collaborate closely with Jonathan Strom from the Theology School, whose expertise on the Protestant Reformation and Pietism in Germany adds a vital dimension to our program. We draw additional strength from our colleagues studying the Atlantic world, colonial Latin America and early U.S. history, and benefit from new perspectives on global history offered by Tonio Andrade, who specializes in European-Asian exchanges in the seventeenth century. He is also well versed in early modern Dutch history. In addition, we maintain close relations with medievalists outside the department whose interests dovetail well with those of the early modernists.

Features of the program are a flexible system of field preparations tailored to the particular interests of the student; ties with other programs on campus such as the Medieval Studies program and the Art History and Religion departments; and seminars on early modern topics by invited distinguished scholars under the auspices of the Vann Seminar. Another resource for early modern students is the Major Fellowship to complete the dissertation.

The Woodruff Library has one of the finest collections in the country on early modern history. The Pitts Theology Library also has rich collections on the Reformation era. In addition to the regular departmental fellowships and awards, prospective students might note the Blair Rogers and J. Russell Major Dissertation Fellowship, a substantial grant which is awarded annually to a student for dissertation research on European history in any period from classical antiquity to the present day.

In recent years the Department has been quite successful at placing early modernists in tenure-track jobs despite a competitive job market.

Recent Graduate Students

Graduation Year PhD Recipient Dissertation Title
2019 Andrew Zonderman "Immigrant Imperialism: Germans and the Rise of the British Empire"
2013 Dana Drew Irwin "Revolutionary Histrionics: Violence and the Creation of Bourgeois Masculinity in Post-Napoleonic France"
2012 Elizabeth Bouldin "'Chosen Vessels': Protestant Women Prophets and the Language of Election in the Early Modern British Atlantic"
2011 Amanda Madden "Vendetta Politcs and State Formation in Early Modern Modena: A Case Study of the Bellencini-Fontana Vendetta, 1547-1562"
2009 Douglas Powell "Magistrates and Municipal Politics: The Bordeaux Pariementaries during the Reign of Louis XIV"
2008 Carol L. White "The Practice of Cosmopolitanism: A Transnational Study of the Enlightenment in France and Geneva, 1755-1768"
2007 Karen Bosnos "Treason and Traitors in Norman and Anglo-Norman History, c. 1066-1135"
2006 Jeffrey Houghtby "'Les Beins Communaux': Common Lands, Property Rights, and Agrarian Modernization in Early Modern Burgundy, 1550-1789"
2006 Brian Kaschak "Religion and the Search for Political Order in Early Modern Nimes: The Conseil de Ville, Confessional Conflict, and Political Culture, c. 1476-c.1715"
2005 Cynthia Johnson "Marrying and Dying in Medieval Occitania: A Case-Study Approach to Dowries, Disputes, and Devolution in Twelfth-Century Southern France"
2005 Theresa Leslie "'Orate pro Nostris': The Mortuary Roll Ritual and Its Texts"
2005 Dwain Pruitt "'Nantes Noir': Living in the City of Slavers"
2004 Darryl Dee "The Practice of Absolutism: Franche-Comte in the Kingdom of France, 1674-1715"
2004 Amy Enright "The Politics of Education Municipal Colleges and Political Culture in Early Modern Champagne"
2004 Johanna Rickman "The Aristocracy and Illicit Sexuality in Elizabethan and Early Stuart England, 1560-1630"