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What is power? Is it the ability to command? To set the agenda? Or does it lie deeper, in unseen forces that structure our lives and shape our consciousness? 

The History program at ASU New College helps you understand the exercise of power in human history. Our faculty study power in its different forms, modes, and expressions, tracing how the nature of power has changed across times and cultures. 

Who held power in ancient Rome: the general Julius Caesar, or the thousands of nameless soldiers who made up his unconquerable legions? What did it mean for the citizens of ancient Athens to exercise democracy, "people power"? What power backed a Pope's edict in the Middle Ages: his personal authority, or the vast system of faith that underlay it? Who or what gave a small number of conquistadors the power to conquer the Aztec and Inca empires? How has the prison system shaped modern history? What does its specter signify in terms of power and resistance, and what can it tell us about our social values and commitments?

Exploring these questions in History courses at the New College will prepare you to navigate the corridors of power in today's globalized, changing world. A History degree helps you to understand how present-day structures of power developed and where we stand within them.

History degree information

Meet the History Faculty


ASU John Gilkeson

John Gilkeson, Jr.

Ph.D., Brown University

Dr. Gilkeson’s research focuses on fields that straddle the humanities and the social sciences: American studies, anthropology, folklore, geography, linguistics, and material culture studies.           


  • HST 110: United States since 1865
  • HST 320: U.S. Urban History since 1850
  • HST 413: Contemporary American History
  • HST 494: History of the American Middle Classes

ASU julia Sarreal

Julia Sarreal 

Ph.D., Harvard University

Dr. Sarreal is working on a book that uses yerba mate (an energy drink sold at Walmart and Safeway) to study the history of Argentina. Her first book is about Catholic missions among the Guaraní Indians of Paraguay. 


  •  HST 305: Studies in Latin American History - Food
  •  HST 375: Colonial Latin America
  •  HST 376: Modern Latin America
  •  HST 404: Conquest & Encounters in Colonial Latin    America
  •  HST 441: Latin America and the World Economy 


ASU Matt Simonton

Mathew Simonton 

Ph.D., Stanford University


Dr. Simonton is an Ancient Historian specializing in the political history and institutions of ancient Greece. He has published work on oligarchy, civil war, collective memory, and the material culture of the ancient world. 


  • HST 347: Ancient Greece I
  • HST 348: Rome
  • HST 394: Archaemenid Persia
  • HST 439: Athenian Democracy

ASU Stefan Stantchev

Stefan Stantchev 

Ph.D., University of Michigan

Dr. Stantchev's research focuses on religious and economic factors that shaped power relations within Europe and throughout the Mediterranean, circa 1000 to circa 1500. His work engages topics often treated separately, such as economic and church history, foreign policy and religious identity, family structures and economic networks. 


* HST 350: Later Middle Ages

* HST 360: Crusades

* HST 430: The Ottoman Empire

ASU Stephen Toth

Stephen Toth 

Ph.D., Indiana University

Dr. Toth is a historian of modern Europe with a research specialization in the history of crime and punishment in France and the Francophone world. His primary focus is on the history of incarceration, most particularly the evolution of the prison in theory and practice, issues of social control, and historical patterns of violence. 


* HST 355: Total War and Crisis-Modernity

* HST 356: Europe Since 1945

* HST 454: History of Genocide

* HST 494: Fascism in Europe, 1900-1945