Monday, December 16, 2013

December 2013 Major of the Month: Michael Abrams

I am pleased to announce the December 2013 History Major of the Month: Michael Abrams ('15). To learn more about Michael and his interest in history check out the interview below (continued after the link):

Q: Why did you decide to become a history major?

Michael Abrams: History was my favorite subject in school starting around the 6th grade when we learned about ancient and classical history and mythology in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, etc. I'd always been fascinated by mythology and when we learned those stories in conjunction with the history of where they came from, I fell in love. By the time I was taking AP U.S. history and AP European history I knew that I wanted to take more classes like those in college. My brother and mother were big influences too. They were both history majors in college and we've had many history conversations that helped spark and fuel my interest.

Q: What was your favorite history class?

MA: Thus far, my favorite history class has been World History with Professor Sreenivasan. It included everything I love about history: incredible stories (Professor Sreenivasan would start each lecture with an anecdote from the time/place he would be discussing), long-term trends, and connections to today. It showed me the breadth of human history, how we are the latest segment of an incredible timeline stretching far back from us. This newfound perspective deeply affected my views on the world and how connected we all are.

Q: What history area of specialization are you most interested in (for example, 20th century US history, the French Revolution, etc.) and why?

MA: I always have trouble answering this question as my favorite really is world history, because of the perspective it offers. But there are few time periods that are my favorite to learn about. I find the Thirty Years War to be a fascinating, albeit tragic, episode from European history. I also really enjoy Native American history and looking for intersectionality in history. For example, how Indian Removal in the 19th century involved issues of race, political membership (who counts as "American") and economics. I think these connections are both very interesting and helpful to informing our understanding of our history and how our past thinking still influences us today.

Q: What advice would you give to a Freshman history major about the discipline?

MA: Definitely take World History. Besides the merits of it I listed above, I think it would be particularly helpful to a Freshman history major because it is an excellent survey course. It'll help you figure out what areas of history you're most interested in, or if you're like me, that you love examining history from a macro level. I'd also suggest visiting your history professors and faculty adviser during their office hours. It is a great way to build relationships with your professors, enrich your understanding of the material, and receive guidance on how to proceed in your major.

Q: How do you plan on using your history major after graduation? What skills has your history education instilled in you?

MA: I plan on attending law school, where my studies in legal history will definitely come in handy. My history education has taught me to think more critically, apply quantitative analysis to historical data, and has improved my research abilities. I find the historical perspective to be a heartening way to confront our collective problems, as it shows how contemporary issues are the result of trends and forces we can understand and alter. I also hope to write combination historical fiction/academic history books. I think this format can very effectively convey the captivating drama of history to the public and by making it as accurate as possible and including an academic account of the events, raise awareness about a lot of history.

Congrats to Michael on this richly deserved award!

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