Studying history allows you to explore a wide range of topics, periods, and geographical locations. The history major is designed with this breadth in mind: you are free to take courses in those areas that you are most interested in. However, there are some advantages to pursuing more depth in specific themes or areas as you proceed. This is possible as well and is something to discuss with your advisor.
To help in this process, the department offers several thematic tracks (open to students who enter Loyola Fall 2022 and beyond). These are clusters of courses (at least three courses) that center around a set of related themes, that speak to particular interests, and that provide context and grounding for a variety of fields and careers.
The thematic tracks are entirely optional. Students do not need to choose or even finish a track to complete their major. Rather, these tracks are meant to offer guidance and structure as you navigate the major and explore your interests.
Thematic Track Descriptions and Courses
Gender and Sexuality Track
The history of gender and sexuality is the history not only of our most intimate sense of selves, but the ways gender and sexual identities, practices, regulations, and representations have shaped and were shaped by political, social, economic, and other forces. The gender and sexuality track will introduce students to the wide variety of ways human beings have ordered their intimate lives and relationships between women and men. Common themes in this track include, but are not limited to: the family and patriarchy, LGBTQ+ identities, women’s rights, politics, and feminism, moral, legal, and religious approaches to regulating sex and gender, and changing meanings of masculinity and femininity. Classes in the track also take an explicitly intersectional approach, emphasizing the ways that gender and sexual histories intersect with those of class, race, disability, and religion. Students anticipating careers in nonprofit work, political advocacy (especially related to women’s and LGBTQ+ rights), healthcare, law, education, or business will find the gender and sexuality track particularly useful.
Health, Environment, Science, and Technology Track
This track explores the history of medicine, science, technology, and the environment by integrating interdisciplinary approaches and local/global contexts. It is designed to give students an overview of some of the key historiographical debates and research in these fields and to provide a basic familiarity with the forms that these fields of historical interdisciplinary inquiry have taken in recent years. These courses will consider how gender, race, ethnicity, class, and sexuality shaped the historical development of technology, science, medicine, and the natural world. Among other themes, students will explore the role of empire building in shaping medical, scientific, environmental, and technological knowledge; how indigenous, African, Asian, Latin American and mixed-race healers, artisans, activists, and scientists innovated, developed, and recreated their practices and societal roles under colonial and post-colonial rule; interactions between global processes of Western knowledge production and local-level multiethnic knowledge production; how historical change in human-technology-nature interactions reveals both how people have affected the environment and how nature has shaped human actions; the impact of technological advances, political ecology, conservation, and environmental science and movements; political, social, economic, technological, environmental, and cultural factors that have shaped individual well-being and public health.
Law, Politics, and Society Track
Law and politics have long been key components of traditional historical narratives. At their core, these topics help us to discuss the ideals, attempts at self-definition, and power structures of societies over time. Although legal and political institutions may at times appear as (or may be presented as) imposing, impersonal, and static structures, they are often important points of interaction between the ideas individuals and groups have about their societies and the difficulties of realizing those ideas. The skills practiced in the study of law and politics help us to contextualize, examine, and engage with the issues confronting society today. Especially those who wish to pursue careers in law, business, advocacy, and public service would benefit from this track. Some general topics covered in courses of the law, politics, and society track include: the formation and exercise of law, political structures and imbalances of power, especially involving gender, sexuality, race, and disability, the effects of colonial and post-colonial discourses, political advocacy and agency, ideology, and the formation of identity.