Spring 2018 • HIST 491-001
This syllabus is a guide, not a contract. As a living document that changes frequently depending on what’s going on with our group, you’ll want to bookmark and consult the online version of this syllabus frequently. Important links to online assignment guides and other instructions will appear throughout the course, and I will always announce important changes in class. No significant changes will be made to the overall workload. If you print out the syllabus, be sure you keep your paper version up to date with the online version.
1: Course Introductions
15: NO CLASS (MLK Holiday)
2: Historiographical Introductions
22: What is Historiography?
- Resolve GitHub and Markdown confusion
- FHTH “What is Historiography?”, 1-24.
- William H. McNeill, “Mythistory, or Truth, Myth, History, and Historians”, 1–10.
3: Premodern History
29: Ancient History
Preparing for Multiple Readings
When there are multiple readings paired together like today, treat the readings as a whole in your preparatory assignment (whichever group you’re in). There’s no need to divide up your summaries/questions/comments strictly by the two selections. You can (probably should) make comments about each reading, but please feel free to have more or less to say about one or the other, depending on what you find most significant. You might also generalize about both at the same time. There certainly isn’t any rigid number of summary points or questions you need to have for each reading. Similarly, comments don’t have to give each reading equal space, but they should address elements of each reading.
More broadly, remember that each type of response should reflect your engagement with the entire assignment. So, if you don’t say much of anything about one of the readings, it will be hard for me to know you spent any time with it.
- FHTH, 25-35.
- Faces of History, “Roman foundations”, 48-69. Don’t get lost in the copious detail provided (skim when necessary). But do think about how much this description of Roman history supports or contradicts the much more condensed version from FHTH—and feel free to write about it in your posts.
31: Medieval History
- FHTH, 35-45.
- Faces of History, “History in the medieval mirror”, 99-124. Ditto from last time.
4: Historiographical Revolutions
5: Early Modern Historiographical Revolutions
- FHTH, “The historiographical revolution of the early modern era”, 47-67.
- Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, 5-19. (These are really small pages.) As a primary source, don’t worry about integrating Machiavelli into your responses—focus on FHTH. However, everyone should come to class prepared to discuss: How does Machiavelli use history in his text? How does it draw from previous historiographic traditions?
7: Historical Professionalization
- FHTH, “The 19th century and the rise of academic scholarship”, 68-96.
- Thomas Gil, “Leopold Ranke”, 383-92.
5: Scientific History
12: Historiography in the Early 20th Century
- FHTH, “Scientific history in an era of conflict”, 97-124.
14: The Annales School
- Houses, “The Annales”, 87-109.
6: Marxist / Sociological History
19: Marx and History
- Tom Rockmore, “Marx”, 488-96.
- Houses, “Marxist Historians”, 33-58.
- Houses, “Historical sociology”, 110-140.
New Comment Assignment
For today (as last time), everyone will write a comment-type post that addresses the following questions: What are the crucial differences between history and sociology? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? Is it possible to combine them, or are they incompatible systems? How does the excerpt in Houses for this week provide any insight into these questions?
You don’t have to give each question equal attention (you might prefer to focus on one or two), but be sure that you at least touch on each question.
Remember, don’t make your thesis too vague, like ‘history and sociology are different.’ In this case, you should make a more specific argument about how they are different. Of course, you can argue whatever you want.
Lastly, as much as you can, draw in previous readings and historiographical ideas to support your argument. Now that we’ve got a few weeks of readings under our belts, such synthetic work is now required for top scores on your assignments.
7: (post)Modern Histories
26: A 20th-century overview
- FHTH, “Glorious Confusion”, 127-65.
New Summary Assignment
For today, everyone will write a summary post (of the whirlwind Popkin chapter) that highlights the key historiographical changes in the second half of the 20th century. Be comprehensive (as a good summary is) AND selective (as a good summary is).
Explain very briefly (as you have been doing in summaries previously), why and how the change is significant. Unlike last time, you DO NOT need to explicitly cite previous readings, but when you’re explaining why something is significant, you’ll do well to mention how it’s deviating from historiographical tradition.
Its very important to keep your writing both informal and sharp! (he he)
28: Quantitative History
- Houses, “Quantitative History”, 141-50; skim 151-71.
- Margo Anderson, “Qualitative History”, 246-59.
Come to class prepared to discuss whether quantitative history has a more rosy future (as claimed on p. 258) in 2018 than it did in 2007 (when Anderson was writing) or in 1967 (after initial forays into cliometrics).
There is nothing to post for today, but BE SURE you are ready to contribute to class discussion.
8: Micro/Macro Histories
5: Historical Scales
- Georg Iggers, “From Macro- to Microhistory: The History of Everyday Life”, 101-117.
- Houses, “Anthropology and ethnohistorians”, 172-180; 183-203 (skim).
- Remember that we’ll dedicate half of class to discussing quantitative history, based on the question posed for last time, especially noting pros and cons of such an approach.
- More specifically, be prepared to discuss the following:
- Is history well served by models? (also: do you need math to have models?)
- Will all history gradually become quantitative history (as most sources become born-digital or digitized)?
- Is quantitative history fundamentally different from “regular” history?
- Everyone is the question group for today.
- Prepare a set of questions (per usual question guidelines) that explores the historiographical precedents for (and therefore the novelty of) macrohistory and ethnohistories (not that they are the same thing) as developed in the later 20th century.
- You should draw and cite from previous readings.
7: Historical Significance
- Kieran Healy, “Fuck nuance”, 1-13.
- Langdon Winner, “Do artifacts have politics?”, 121-35.
- Come to class prepared to discuss the following two questions (one from each reading):
- Besides making for a good story, is there significant value in historical work that simply adds nuance to widely accepted understandings of the past?
- Can history can really be about artifacts rather than the people that make them or are affected by them?
- There is nothing to post for today, but BE SURE you are ready to contribute to class discussion.
9: Spring Break (12 + 14)
19: Intro to Postmodernism
- Houses, “The challenge of postmodernism/poststructuralism”, 297-306; 308-25.
- Review everyone else’s summaries posted for February 26th. Pay attention to bullet length, formatting, how ideas are described and paraphrased, citations, etc.
- REVISE your own summary to improve any aspect you find lacking (add points important points you missed, tighten prose, improve formatting, etc)
- ADD 1-3 bullets at the end that describe your changes.
- Everyone should have a 10 at this point; make sure you can justify that your summary is as good as anyone’s.
- There is nothing to post specifically on the readings for today, but:
- BE READY to discuss how the historiographical changes in your summaries reflect the notion of postmodernism.
- BE READY to discuss how the excerpt embodies (or doesn’t) a postmodernist approach to historical writing.
21: Discursive History
- Foucault, Archeology of Knowledge, 21-39.
- Foucault, The Birth of the Clinic, 3-20.
Everyone is a commenter for today, and you need to answer two questions to which you should devote roughly equal space:
- Tranlsate Foucault’s main points (readers choice!) into clear and concise language.
- What did you find most interesting about the selections, and Why? Note that what you found most interesting may or may not be what you consider the main point.
11: Histories of Others
26: Postcolonial Histories
- Houses, “Postcolonial Perspectives”, 263-76.
- Henrietta Whiteman, “White Buffalo Woman” [= Houses, 288-96] (skim).
- Dipesh Chakrabarty, “Postcoloniality and the Artifice of History: Who Speaks for ‘Indian’ Pasts?”, 1-27.
28: Gender Histories
- Houses, “Gender History”, 253-62.
- Catherine Hall, “Gender Division and Class Formation in the Birmingham Middle Class, 1780-1850” [= Houses, 263-76].
- Joan Scott, “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis”, 1053-1075.
12: Narrative and History 1
2: The imperative of Narrative
NAH, “Introduction”, 1-15.
NAH, “Narrating the Past”, 16-28.
NAH, “History as Content/Story”, 29-43.
4: Narrative Baggage
NAH, “Narrating and Narration”, 44-79.
13: Narrative and History 2
9: The Past and History
NAH, “The Past, the Fact, and History”, 80-93.
NAH, “Understanding [in] History”, 94-110.
11: Beyond Narrative
NAH, “The Oar in Water”, 111-122.
NAH, “Conclusion”, 123-129.
14: What is History For? 1
16: Why do we study history?
- WIHF?, “History for its own sake”, 10-30.
- WIHF?, “Professed purposes”, 31-58.
18: Historic Motivations
- WIHF?, “Hidden agendas”, 59-84.
15: What is History For? 2
23: Postmodern History 1
- WIHF?, “Life and needs in Postmodernity”, 85-106.
- WIHF?, “Histories in Postmodernity”, 107-32.
25: Postmodern History 2
- WIHF?, “Histories for Postmodernity”, 133-53.
16: Looking Forward and Back
30: Futures of History
- FHTH, “History in a new millennium”, 166-85.
2: Conclusions and Hints for the Final
All course work due by May 11!