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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
Everyone is a commenter for today, and you need to answer two questions to which you should devote roughly equal space:
No postings for today. Focus your efforts on coming up with questions and comments (for discussion, not for posting) on the readings (esp Chakrabarty).
Write a comment (400-500 words) about your take on postmodern history, reflecting on everything we’ve read since Spring Break. Write/focus on whatever you like, but I hope you will provide at least rough answers to the following: how have our readings affected the way you think about history? Does postmodern history constitute a historiographical paradigm shift? In other words: Are late twentieth-century ways of writing about history that we’ve discussed a ‘rupture’ from previous historiographies? Or are they more on a continuum of historiographical change. Be interesting.
We have decided, in lieu of each student writing a final paper, to compile a historiography text for this course. Over the remaining weeks, each student will produce at least a 1500-word essay on a historiographical topic of their choice (in coordination with everyone else for broad coverage). You will begin your research with existing readings from the course, and also consult the literature cited in the notes and suggested reading sections of the texts. The schedule for the production of these essays will be added to the syllabus before class.
1) Write a short paragraph about what historiographical topic you’re interested in writing about and the themes you plan to address. Put these in the essays/abstracts folder on GitHub [here]
2) Post 3 items of interest from the Narrative and History assignment in the narrative1 folder. These can be questions, ideas you find inspiring, or ideas you think are dumb. Whatever. These will help facilitate our discussion of the significance of narrative. AS ALWAYS: even though your written assignment is minimal, I expect you to show your mastery of the reading assignment in the discussion. The longer posts help me know if you’re doing the reading, but now that burden shifts to your discussion performance. Be ready!!
Each will be graded on a 0-3 scale (kind of like bonus points, which can mean the difference between two grades, so take them seriously).
The general plan for the semester has shifted to completing and discussing our readings mostly on Wednesday, and using Monday to complete and discuss assignments related to your final essay. This means abnormally large reading assignments for Wednesday, but of course you’ll start reading these much earlier than you might otherwise.
No GitHub post for today, although I expect our usual quality of discussion and participation. No regrets!
For today, post a COMPLETE outline for your essay. With no reading assignment, this is obviously your focus, so DO IT WELL and save everyone (including your future self) headaches later.
Your outline should use topic points [= bullet points] as we have been practicing with previous assignments.
Note: I’m trying to eliminate gun/violence metaphors from my writing, so please pardon the following awkwardness in terminology. But notice that bullets are called that because they are short, to-the-point, and make an impact. Which should still be true for your topic points.
Your outline will be gradually expanded into your essay, so the better the topic points–WHICH WILL BECOME PARAGRAPHS LATER–the easier time you will have shifting your essay from topics (ideas) into prose (narrative).
Your topic points should include the crucial [look! emplotment!!] explanations for what’s significant about what you’re talking about–especially how it deviated from previous historiography at the time and its legacy.
Put your outlines in the essays/outlines folder
For more instructions on what to do, watch this.
As such, ask questions, makes notes to yourself and your colleagues (who will review your work later).
If you just write stuff down and don’t bother citing where you found it, you will have to eventually hunt down all the page numbers and THAT’S A HUGE WASTE OF TIME. As someone who has wasted considerable time on just that, please take my advice: take time to make accurate references THE FIRST TIME.
Please note that we (per class consensus) have flipped the assignments due today and Wednesday. They are otherwise unaltered.
Two steps for this assignment:
1) Improve your topic points according to feedback
2) Make them paragraphs (add/delete/combine as need be)
We’ll be doing a peer review session with your essays, so please bring TWO HARD COPIES of your essay to class, DOUBLE-SPACED!
Revise your essays according to peer feedback.
You’ll be paired up with ONE colleagues to review their work and offer critiques. Things you need to do, AS DISCUSSED/DEMONSTRATED IN CLASS:
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