History is large and vibrant field with the College. At any one time, St Catherine’s has about thirty undergraduates reading History, or the joint degrees of History and Modern Languages, History and Politics, History and Economics, and History and English.
St Catherine’s does not limit the choice of its History undergraduates, and students are able to study any of the very wide chronological and geographical range of papers made available by the History Faculty.
The two History Fellows between them teach a large number of papers ranging from the end of the ancient world to the present day. Marc Mulholland is a historian of international socialism, the history of political thought, revolution and modern Ireland. He has recently published The Murderer of Warren Street: The True Story of a Nineteenth-Century Revolutionary. He is particularly interested in the idea of human nature in history. He is thinking about what remains constant in human psychology across centuries and cultures and how human nature might have changed in important ways.
Amanda Power is a historian of medieval religion, power and intellectual life, and has been involved in developing the new field of global medieval history. She is working on a book called Medieval Histories of the Anthropocene, which examines the building of medieval states across Eurasia in the context of the contemporary environmental crisis. She is tracing how these centralising processes consciously dislocated humans from local ecosystems and specific and sustainable practices, while creating powerful and enduring narratives about civilisation, barbarism, public rationality and the use of resources.
Other historians in the college include William Booth, who is a historian of Mexico and the Cold War, with interests in global strands of socialism, anarchism and communism, and in literature and the left; and Eve Morrison, a historian of modern Ireland with particular expertise in oral history and personal testimonies. She works on the struggle for independence and the Civil War period (1913-1923). History undergraduates can also work with the Fellow in History of Art, Gervase Rosser, who teaches the classical tradition, medieval and Italian Renaissance art.
The college tutors co-teach theoretical and methodological papers. St Catherine’s tutors organise tuition for students wishing to take other papers with experts at other colleges.
The Library is especially well stocked with history books relating to the many options within the BA History course. Indeed, it is one of the best of all Oxford college libraries in the field.
History undergraduates run the Dean Kitchen History Society, organising a range of termly events that include themed discussions, papers from distinguished historians, walks and other social events.
First year students have informal sessions as a group with the tutors, which introduce them to the underlying skills and methodologies of the discipline and give the opportunity to explore and debate new ideas at the cutting edge of the historical field – for example, current thinking on environment and climate issues, race, gender, class, and other approaches to the past.
In their final year all students are invited to ‘exam labs’ run by the tutors, which help them to hone their examination technique and academic writing.
History students have the opportunity each year to present their work to other students in the form of brief papers at the popular interdisciplinary college ‘Catz Exchange’ event. A College Essay Prize for History offers an opportunity and an incentive for undergraduates to pursue a topic in history that interests them and to develop their historical writing.
Close and supportive collaboration with College Fellows in related disciplines means that the joint degrees of History and Politics, History and Modern Languages, History and English, and History and Economics are well looked after in St Catherine’s. In addition, St Catherine’s has a vibrant community of Art Historians, and while they take a separate degree course, they participate alongside the Historians in a number of social and academic events.