Walnut Hill School for the Arts

History Program & Faculty

The study of the past and of human culture is essential to the creation of an educated mind. History courses are intended to give students a rich understanding of the past, an empathy for other cultures and peoples, and a civic awareness of the catalysts for—and consequences of—social, political, economic, and cultural change. Students explore and examine these ideas at the same time that they develop and refine their reading, writing, synthetic, and analytical skills.

Requirements in History

The Walnut Hill diploma requires two years of study in history, one of which must be United States History. Incoming 9th graders are also required to take World History I. It is strongly recommended that students enroll in additional departmental offerings.

Courses in History


The Humanities call on us to think deeply about our experiences, the world we live in, as well as the art we see and create. To support the development of engaged scholar-artists, this yearlong course immerses students in the skills of close observation, writing, and critical and creative thinking. We will examine the history and culture of past civilizations in combination with a mix of historical and contemporary texts. Through these encounters with history and literature, students will be challenged to think deeply about the past and about the world in which they live. This course conveys 1 English and 1 history credit. This course is required for all 9th graders who are not in ELL classes.


This course examines the early modern history of a number of places around the world, including the Americas, Oceania, and Europe. With a special focus on interaction across political, cultural, and economic boundaries, the course is organized into thematic units that progress roughly chronologically from the 16th to 20th centuries. Our work includes examining primary sources in context, critiquing secondary sources, and collaborating on group presentations. What are the stories we tell, and who gets to tell them?
Prerequisite: International students must have completed or placed out of Intermediate ELL.


How have American culture and identity been shaped through the years? Is there such a thing as a true American identity? In United States History, students will explore these questions and the many dimensions of the American experience from the colonial period through the 20th century. Our studies of American identity will be richly informed by close readings of primary and secondary texts and careful attention to select images and film.
Prerequisite: This course is for domestic students and international students not placed in ELL or American Literature.


This course is designed for international students with little or no background in the History of the United States. Exploring essential questions, students will examine a range of factors that shaped America’s economy, politics, and culture. In addition to providing a rich introduction to America’s past, this course focuses on developing skills of reading comprehension, academic writing, and classroom participation that will support students as they pursue further study in mainstream English-speaking settings.
This course is required for students who are scheduled for, or have completed, American Literature. International students not in American Literature or ELL classes may also take this course with permission.


How did Americans understand, shape, and participate in their society in the 20th century? Students in this course will examine 20th-century U.S. history through the lens of art and media, discovering how these reveal vital information about American culture across different decades. Careful consideration will be given to the power of the arts and the media to both influence and reflect upon social movements, politics, and the shaping of various American identities.
This course is open to seniors and juniors by permission of the department. This course does not fulfill the U.S. History requirement.


This course is designed to provide a foundation of understanding of art and art making post-Renaissance. Each week will focus on a particular, iconic artist to explore the role of artist identity and to analyze artistic evolution. The course aims to explore a wide range of media and aesthetics, and expose students to artists of diverse cultures, gender identities, and backgrounds. Works of art will be examined in relation to their function, artistic expression, and cultural impact—all of which are tied to their social, political, and technological contexts.
This course is open to seniors and to juniors with permission of the department.


What do we mean when we say something is—or is not—a “religion”? Religions are not only important to how people define themselves and others, but also have political and social implications. This course will examine how religions relate to national policies, cultures, and social identity from the 19th to the 21st century. Religions studied will include Afro-Caribbean religions, Buddhism in East Asia, and Native religions in North America. We will give particular attention to how these religions relate to colonialism and democracy movements in the modern era.
This course is open to seniors and to juniors with permission of the department.

History Faculty