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Department of


History Students in Action

Zach Barr

Zach Barr (BA ’09)

a history and Spanish double major, has recently been accepted to, and will attend the PhD program in history at the University of Chicago, where he will concentrate on modern central European history. Specifically, Barr plans to study topics in late-Imperial Austria and related themes in the history of science and history of medicine. Barr’s interest in Austria, initially sparked by a class on European art and architecture, was furthered in an independent study course he did his senior year. Through the independent study, and with the guidance of Dr. Clara Oberle, he was able to design and execute a curriculum on Austrian history and narrow his research interests in a way that, as he describes it, “was extremely useful in preparing for graduate school.” Although Barr credits a large part of his intellectual and historical development to the classes he took at USD, he posits that an equally large part of his historical education took place in the office hours and discussions he was able to have with the history faculty. While at USD, Barr was also a 4-year rower on the USD Men’s crew team. “Being able to row for USD was a great opportunity and asset,” Barr mused, “I credit the history department’s willingness to accommodate students all the more for tolerating the bleary-eyed and half-conscious rowers in their classes.”

Hilary Coulson

Hilary Coulson (BA ’10)

was recently accepted to a PhD program in history at the University of California, San Diego.Coulson graduated as an Interdisciplinary Humanities major and History minor from USD in May 2010 and took a year off to apply to graduate programs and has been doing research assistance on San Diego history for Dr. Molly McClain.Coulson will study American History at UCSD and is targeted to complete the program in 2017.

Matthew Field

Matthew Field (BA ’09)

has recently been accepted to the PhD program in History at Princeton University where he will continue his study of Early Medieval Europe. He will focus on questions of ethnic and cultural identity, looking specifically at the role that economics and material goods played in the spread of cultures. Matthew began his time at USD as an accounting major, but decided in his last year to pursue his passion for history.In his words, “there is no better time to follow your interests than when you are young and have all the time in the world to go back and become practical.” Matthew completed his degree under the guidance of Dr. Jonathan Conant and Dr. Thomas Barton, but is clear to point out that he gained perspective and insight from all of the faculty members he worked with. “I took course with Drs. Molly McClain, Kathryn Statler, Clara Oberle, James Gump, and Yi Sun. Of course not all of them were directed at my area of interest, but one thing I have come to realize is that no matter what your focus, you are in the end studying an aspect of human history.Perhaps Apartheid South Africa or Early Modern Japan may not seem obviously relevant to 6th-century Europe, but the oppression of many by a few in South Africa, or the struggle of a people to adapt to new and alien cultures in Japan are human tales to which one can easily find parallels in any period or region, including in our world today.”After two years spent working on languages and traveling, Matthew is looking forward to graduate school. “It will certainly be a major challenge, but a challenge that I feel well prepared for thanks to my time at USD and the advice and instruction of the faculty in the history department."