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Department of History and Classical Studies


Alternatives in history. Throughout antiquity, the conduct of affairs at Athens and Thebes often took opposite directions.

Hans Beck

Altar of Domitius Arhenobarbus, late 2nd century BC.

John Serrati

Recently excavated from large Western Han royal tomb in Jiangsu, 2nd century BCE.

Griet Vankeerberghen

Eastern Han banquet scene, 1st or 2nd century CE.

Griet Vankeerberghen

A syzygia elementorum. To see a digital edition of and commentary on this manuscript, Oxford St John's College 17 (England, ca 1110 CE), visit http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/ms-17/.

Faith Wallis

"Scene from the Indigenous Guachichile resistance to the incursion of Spanish soldiers and settlers along Mexico's northern frontier in the sixteenth century." Image courtesy of Real Academia de Historia Madrid.

Daviken Studnicki-Gizbert

Old map of the Indian Ocean.

Gwyn Campbell

Part of “Plant de la mission de la Montagne” (1694). Round towers depicted here are still standing at the Collège de Montréal on Sherbrooke St.

Allan Greer

An early eighteenth-century fan featuring Doctor Henry Sacheverell, c. 1710.

Brian Cowan

The record of a court case involving a Jewish wine merchant in the 18th century.

Gershon Hundert

18th century playing card money, New France.

Catherine Desbarats

A rendering of tarring and feathering, which hot-headed Americans were fond of doing to hapless/irritating British officials just before the American Revolution.

Jason Opal

A political pamphlet from 1800, the first contested election in US history.

Jason Opal

Ad for Lever Brothers' soap.

Brian Lewis

Budapest, 1900.

Judith Szapor

Canadian troops at Vimy Ridge, April 1917 (Public Archives of Canada).

Desmond Morton

"Children Playing at the Halifax Relief Commission Playground, 1918" by Jane B. Wisdom.

Suzanne Morton

Budapest, 1920.

Judith Szapor

"Athens, Greece, 1932: Students of the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Apparition: Gymnastics." INRP Archives, Rouen, France

Anastassios (Tassos) Anastassiadis

George Ives (1867-1949), British sexologist, criminologist and pioneering "gay rights" activist.

Brian Lewis

"Men hang around union headquarters in Asbestos, Que., playing cards and waiting for strike bulletins." Spring 1949 (Public Archives of Canada)

Desmond Morton

The art of Persian rugmaking, mid-20th century.

Malek Abisaab

Many of Montreal’s best-known museum philanthropists have been women, to wit from the left, Isabel Dobell, Mrs. Walter Stewart, and Mrs. T.H.P. Molson (Notman Photographic Archives at the McCord Museum of Canadian History).

Brian Young

A refugee camp—Camp Tevrekzena—in Mauritania, 1970s.

Malek Abisaab

Profound changes in the demography and land use in the countryside can be observed near Montreal: abandoned Presbyterian Church in the County of Huntingdon.

Brian Young

A dhow off Zanzibar (2008).

Gwyn Campbell



Welcome to the website of the Department of History and Classical Studies! You will find here a wealth of information about the department, its programs, and its course offerings.

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 39 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. Within this breadth, the Department has developed particular strengths in Canadian history, British & European history, East Asian history, the history of medicine, and the history of science, and it is building up newer fields, such as the history of gender and sexuality, the history of the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds, and global history. 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.

The department takes its commitments to undergraduate and graduate teaching to heart. Students benefit from learning from scholars who conduct cutting-edge research in their fields. Our professors have won many prizes for their books and articles and their on-going investigations are supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the FQRSC, CFI, the Killam Trust, and the Mellon Foundation. Our involvement in research adds immediacy and excitement to our teaching through both lectures and seminars, and we hire students to participate as research assistants in our investigations.

Our department is also known within the Faculty of Arts for its teaching excellence. The standards are high and the readings are extensive, but over the years students in History classes have consistently appreciated the high quality of instruction they receive. Over the years, members of the History Department have taken numerous H. Noel Fieldhouse Awards for Distinguished Teaching, and the department's teaching evaluations rank amongst the highest in the university.


What's happening in History and Classical Studies

Professor Hans Beck (Ancient History) has won the Anneliese Maier Research Prize 2015, one of the major European prizes in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Conferred by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany, the prize recognizes excellence in research and leadership in international collaboration. Valued at EUR 250,000, it supports research initiatives with colleagues in Germany over a period of up to five years. Research collaborations are designed to include graduate students. This is the first time the prize went to a historian in Canada.

Hans Beck learned about the award at the end of a lecture tour in Australia. “The return flight to Montreal felt much shorter. I was genuinely excited to receive the news, and I’m feeling tremendously honored and grateful.” The prize money will be used to bolster Beck’s most recent research initiative on the force of localism in the ancient world, which will be carried out in conjunction with his partners in Münster (Germany) and a wide network of scholars in Europe and North America. “Our incoming cohort of graduate students, MAs and PhDs, already participates in the localism project,” says Beck, who is also planning several research events to be held at McGill and abroad. The first of these is scheduled for this May in Delphi, with a robust cohort of McGill graduate students in the lineup of speakers. Another international symposium will be held at McGill in May 2016. For more information, see www.hansbeck.org.

We are delighted to welcome Professors Shanon Fitzpatrick and Giancarlo Casale to the department of History and Classical Studies.

Professor Shanon Fitzpatrick holds a PhD in History from University of California Irvine. She works on the history of American mass media in the first half of the 20th century. Her first edited volume, Body and Nation: The Global Realm of U.S. Body Politics in the Twentieth Century, was published this year.

Professor Giancarlo Casale holds a PhD in History and Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University and taught at the University of Minnesota from 2005-2014. He serves as the executive editor of the Journal of Early Modern History. His primary area of research is the early modern Ottoman Empire and the history of its interactions with the world around it. His first book, The Ottoman Age of Exploration, was published in 2010.