"It's hard to avoid history."
As IU-Bloomington history professor Amrita Myers notes in a recent news-blog, the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina had known adversity long before the massacre that shocked Americans this June. Nearly two centuries ago, the church’s cofounder was hanged for his role in planning a rumored slave revolt. Its original building was destroyed by arsonists. Later congregants fought against long odds in twentieth-century Civil Rights struggles.
It’s at self-conscious moments—tragedies, anniversaries, celebrations—that everyday Americans want to know “what happened” in places like Charleston. For students of history, that desire is constant. Every moment prompts questions: How did we arrive at our predicament? How have others before us fixed similar problems? What were the unexpected consequences of their actions?
Each year, thousands of IU history students learn how to ask such questions—and where to find their answers. Whether exploring Ancient Greece or Contemporary Africa, they discover people not unlike themselves—women and men trying to make good choices amid circumstances not of their own choosing. In classes on the history of law, business, and medicine, our students relate those discoveries to potential future careers. Finding unpublished letters, or hearing a familiar pop song with fresh ears, they develop confidence in their ability to conduct research and to appraise critically. Sharpening classroom arguments or polishing written essays, they practice persuasive skills they’ll draw on for years to come.
If you’re not in Bloomington, use this website to learn about the more than 40 scholars who make IU one of the nation’s most exciting places to study history. You can also explore our classes, our internship opportunities, our graduate programs, our internationally recognized journals and research centers. If you’re already here on campus, I hope that the things you discover on this site will lead you to take a class or have a conversation with us.
Regardless of the occasion, regardless of your plans, I hope you’ll find History hard to avoid.
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