History is . . .
the cornerstone of a liberal arts education. The study of history contributes to an understanding and appreciation of cultures and traditions that have shaped the present. As an academic discipline, its mastery imparts critical awareness and abilities as well as a recognition of the essential value gained from pursuing greater knowledge.
Historians analyze the development, functioning, and interactions of myriad societies in the past. Thus, historical study takes many forms. Among the most common thematic approaches to historical analysis are social history, cultural/intellectual history, military history, diplomatic history, political history, economic history, and environmental history. While the faculty members of WIU's History Department have individual fields of research and teaching specialization, we all incorporate many diverse approaches into our teaching. Our Department offers specialists and courses relating to many kinds of historical analysis, across a wide range of chronological and geographical emphases.
U.S. History specialist Dr. Roberts offers a lecture on President Lincoln
Thematic Approaches to History
Social historians study history "from the bottom up." Among the areas of social history that WIU's historians specialize in are women's history, African-American history, Native American history, labor history, the history of marriage and the family, and the history of sexuality. Western's historians of women include Dr. Boynton (U.S.), Dr. Chamberlin (Germany), and Dr. Pamonag (Japan). Western's labor historians include Dr. Cole (U.S. and South Africa), and Dr. Hall (U.S). Our historian of marriage and the family is Dr. McNabb (England).
Cultural and intellectual historians study the cultural and intellectual contributions of different societies, including law, religious customs, and technology. Western's cultural historians include Dr. Woell (revolutionary French religious history), Dr. McNabb (English legal/constitutional history), and Dr. Roberts (American legal/constitutional history).
Military history focuses on the history of military strategy and tactics, weaponry, the lives of military leaders and ordinary servicemen and women. Western's military historian is Dr. Brice (ancient Greece and Rome).
Diplomatic historians analyze the history of the relations between nations. Our diplomatic historians are Dr. Roberts (early U.S. and transnational) and Dr. Filipink (U.S. Cold War).
Political history studies the history of institutions and individuals related to government. Western's political historians include Dr. Filipink (modern U.S. presidency) and Dr. Chamberlin (twentieth-century Germany).
Economic historians focus on the development of economies and their impact on societies. WIU's economic historian is Dr. Brice (ancient world).
Environmental history examines the impact of humans on the natural environment as well as the ways in which the environment has shaped human history. Our environmental historian is Dr. Hall (U.S.).
The WIU History Department faculty's areas of geographical specialization (with geographical research sub-specializations, where appropriate, in parentheses) are as follows:
Africa: Dr. Cole (South Africa);
Asia: Dr. Pamonag (Japan);
Atlantic world: Dr. Boynton (colonial Latin America), Dr. Roberts (nineteenth century), Dr. Cole (twentieth century);
Europe: Dr. Brice (ancient Greece and Rome); Dr. Chamberlin (Germany), Dr. McNabb (England), Dr. Woell (France);
United States: Dr. Boynton (Midwest), Dr. Cole (East and West Coasts), Dr. Filipink (national), Dr. Hall (West), Dr. Roberts (East).
The Department's faculty members specialize in different periods of history as well:
Ancient: Dr. Brice (Europe);
Medieval: Dr. McNabb (Europe);
Early Modern: Dr. McNabb (Europe);
Modern: Dr. Woell (mid-seventeenth- through early-nineteenth-century Europe), Dr. Roberts (eighteenth- and nineteenth-century U.S.);
Twentieth century: Dr. Chamberlin (late nineteenth- and twentieth-century Europe), Dr. Pamonag (late nineteenth- and twentieth-century Asia), Dr. Cole (late nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S.), Dr. Boynton (twentieth-century U.S.), Dr. Hall (twentieth-century U.S.), and Dr. Filipink (Cold War U.S.).