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Department of History and Classical Studies

Welcome to History and Classical Studies!

The teaching of history at McGill began in 1855, although the department itself was only formally founded at the turn of the twentieth century by Charles William Colby in association with Stephen Leacock and C.E. Fryer. In 1997 the Department of Classics was merged into the Department of History, and in 2010 the name was formally changed to the Department of History and Classical Studies.

Today the department is composed of 44 full-time faculty members, as well as a strong complement of visiting professors, faculty lecturers, and post-doctoral fellows. This array of dedicated teachers and scholars supports high quality instruction and research across the periods of history and regions of the globe. The department is also home to programs in Classical Studies, which offer training in Greek and Latin languages and literature as well as a stimulating array of courses in ancient history. A minor concentration in Neo-Hellenic Studies has recently been added to the programs administered by the department.

Department News

Prof. Tassos Anastassiadis, in collaboration with colleagues from York University, Simon Fraser University and the University of Patras (Greece), has received a major grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation to develop a Centre for the Study of Greek Immigration and Diaspora at McGill. The scope of the project is global, but Canada will be the focus of the pilot studies. The size and diversity of Montreal's Hellenic community will allow the team to map patterns of settlement, gather oral histories, and study the impact of the Canadian milieu on the Greek language and culture.  A major goal of the Centre is a Virtual Museum for Greek Immigration.

Sarah Ghabrial, a student of Prof. Malek Abisaab, has won the prestigious John Bullen Prize of the Canadian Historical Association for her doctoral dissertation “Le Fiqh Francisé? Modernizing Personal Status Law in French Algeria, 1870-1930.” The John Bullen Prize honours the outstanding PhD thesis on a historical topic submitted in a Canadian university by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. See more here.

Prof. Bill Gladhill, newly appointed Director of the Classics program, has just published Rethinking Roman Alliance: a Study in Poetics and Society with Cambridge University Press. Foedus is the Latin term for the ritual event that cements an alliance, but its cultural resonance extends beyond  law and politics to encompass private life, friendship, the relation of humans to the gods, and even the coherence of the material cosmos. Foedus is about poetic imagination as much as social ideology, and serves as a unique lens for understanding Roman culture. For more on Rethinking Roman Alliance, click here.

Subho Basu, professor of South Asian history, was interviewed on CCTV about the recent threats to Bangladeshi bloggers. You can see the interview here.

Gavin Walker, professor of Japanese history, launched his new book  The Sublime Perversion of Capital: Marxist Theory and the Politics of History in Modern Japan (Duke University Press, 2016): https://www.dukeupress.edu/the-sublime-perversion-of-capital.

In The Sublime Perversion of Capital, Gavin Walker examines the Japanese debate about capitalism between the 1920s and 1950s, using it as a "prehistory" to consider current discussions of uneven development and contemporary topics in Marxist theory and historiography. Walker locates the debate's culmination in the work of Uno Kozo, whose investigations into the development of capitalism and the commodification of labor power are essential for rethinking the national question in Marxist theory. Walker's analysis of Uno and the Japanese debate strips Marxist historiography of its Eurocentric focus, showing how Marxist thought was globalized from the start. In analyzing the little-heralded tradition of Japanese Marxist theory alongside Marx himself, Walker not only offers new insights into the transition to capitalism, the rise of globalization, and the relation between capital and the formation of the nation-state; he provides new ways to break Marxist theory's impasse with postcolonial studies and critical theory.

Prof. Walker also received the IPLAI (Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas) Faculty Fellowship, which he will hold from 2016-2018.

James Krapfl, professor of Eastern European history, is the recipient of two awards honouring his book Revolution with a Human Face: Politics, Culture and Community in Czechoslovakia, 1989-1992 (Cornell University Press, 2013). The most significant award is the George Blazyca Prize for best work in East European Studies, awarded by the British Association for Slavonic & East European Studies.  Additionally, the book won the Czechoslovak Studies Association Book Prize. For more on Revolution with a Human Face visit here.

Max Hamon, a doctoral student, working with Professors Elsbeth Heaman and Elizabeth Elbourne, has published an article in the March 2016 issue of Canadian Historical Review entitled "Contesting Civilization: Louis Riel's Defense of Culture at the Collège de Montréal." McGill friends of Max can access the article through the Library here (use the Project Muse archive). If you are not at McGill, click here.

Luke Ryder, a doctoral student working with Professor James Krapfl, is a visiting fellow at the United States Holocaust Museum and Memorial. See his profile page here.