Making History


  • HIST 1105-001 Spring 2021
  • Remote Arranged (fully online, no scheduled meeting)
  • 3 Credit Hours
  • Prof. Fred Gibbs (
  • No set student hours, but always happy to Zoom chat

Course Description

What does it mean to “make history”? On one hand, to do something worth recording. On the other, to interpret and write about the past. But history is never an entirely objective and accurate reflection of the past. This course explores important questions about the production of history: What is history? What is it for? Who is it for? How have historical interpretations changed over time? What’s at stake with changing narratives?

This entirely online and asynchronous course consists of short lectures, reading assignments, quizzes, and short essays that helps students learn robust research skills, particularly how to identify relevant evidence, situate it in historical context, and use it to make a convincing argument.

The core philosophy underlying the course is that historical perspective is essential for the educated citizen. We consider the difference between history and memory, how history has been used in the past to manipulate public memory, and how the study of history has been at the center of recent culture wars.

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Through readings, lectures, discussions, examinations, and writing assignments, students will be able to:

  • EXPLAIN how humans in the past shaped their own unique historical moments, constructed historical memories, and were shaped by those moments and memories over time.
  • SUMMARIZE and APPRAISE the diversity of historical experiences, interpretations, evidence in order to RECONSTRUCT past events and EVALUATE how history and historical memory can be used and misused for various purposes.
  • IDENTIFY historical arguments in a variety of sources and EXPLAIN how they were constructed, EVALUATING credibility, perspective, and relevance.
  • CREATE well-supported historical arguments and narratives that demonstrate their ability to read critically, think logically, and express themselves clearly in writing appropriate for their audience.
  • DISTINGUISH between primary and secondary sources, IDENTIFY and EVALUATE evidence and UNDERSTAND people in their historical context.

General Workload

Most weeks you will read two short book chapters (occasionally articles), the standard amount for a lower-division history course. Most weeks will have a 5-10 minute introductory video that will help provide some background and highlight important themes to look for in the readings. Most lectures and readings will have either a short reading reflection or quiz associated with them to make sure you are motivated to keep up with the lectures and reading, and to hold you accountable. Quizzes will employ a variety of kinds of questions, including short answer prompts that test your ability to synthesize information from the lecture and chapter(s).

The quizzes (about 25% of your grade for the course) are mostly straightforward, but not trivial. The goal is to make you THINK CAREFULLY and CRITICALLY about course material. You will disagree with me on some questions, which is what I want. Because this class is about interpretation and argument, you are welcome and encouraged to debate on the discussion board ANY quiz question marked as incorrect. If you make a good argument, you’ll get points for it and make up any “missed” points from the quiz.

In short, it’s very easy to get whatever grade you want in the class by just keeping up with the basic work. There is no huge midterm or final that is a large percent of your grade.

You are welcome here

I want to be VERY CLEAR: even if you have never been challenged to think about how history is made, YOU ARE WELCOME HERE! This course assumes no prior knowledge or skills. I grade quite leniently at the beginning of class and the bar slowly rises throughout the class as we dive deeper into course material and you get more comfortable with the quizzes and reading responses.

I will do everything I can do help you learn as much as you’re motivated to learn, and to help you get whatever grade you’re aiming for. If you feel the course structure or assignments isn’t facilitating success or does not represent the effort you’re putting in the course, let’s talk (virtually, of course)!

Work Requirements and Grading

Standard assignments listed here link to their own instruction page. If there is no link, the instructions are listed on the schedule page under the due date.

The little formula translates as number of assignments x possible points = total points

  • Quizzes (on lectures & reading assignments) (6x~13=78)
  • Reading Responses (9x10=90)
  • 1619 Project Reflection (1x30)
  • Maza/Midterm Reflection (1x20)
  • Architecture and Monuments Reflection (1x20)
  • Weekly Seven Cheap Things Reflections (3x20)
  • History in Seven Cheap Things (1x30)
  • Final Course Reflection (1x40)

Grade Distribution

There will be about 368 points, but that will probably change slightly over the semester. Your grade is determined by percent so you can always see in Learn how you are doing regardless of the ultimate possible point total.

Percent Grade
94+ A
90-93 A-
87-89 B+
83-86 B
80-82 B-
77-79 C+
73-76 C
70-72 C-
67-69 D+
60-66 D
59- F

Please Ask for Help

I heartily encouraged you to speak with me at any time about how I think you’re doing in the class and how you can improve your performance (if at all). If life gets overwhelming during the course (as it easily can these days), it can be tempting to drift away from a survey course like this. Rather than disappear, let’s work something out to accommodate your circumstances and thus avoid digging a huge hole from which it becomes increasingly difficult to escape.

Course Materials


  • Sarah Maza, Thinking About History (University of Chicago Press, 2017)
  • Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore, A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things (University of California Press, 2018) online
  • Jeremy D. Popkin, From Herodotus to H-Net, 2nd ed. (Oxford University Press, 2021)


We use a tool called Zotero to manage PDFs of reading assignments apart from the books. As you read the Zotero set up instructions, you will need the following links. Save yourself confusion by reading the directions FIRST.

Our Zotero Group homepage is This link is best for joining the course Zotero Group.

Our Zotero Library page is Once you are a member of our group, this link is best for accessing our Zotero Library.

Writing Help

CAPS Tutoring Services is a free-of-charge educational assistance program available to UNM students enrolled in classes. Online services include the Online Writing Lab, Chatting with or asking a question of a Tutor.

Students with Disabilities

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodations of their disabilities. If you have a disability requiring accommodation, please contact me immediately to make arrangements as well as Accessibility Services Office in 2021 Mesa Vista Hall at 277-3506 or Information about your disability is confidential.

Academic Misconduct

You should be familiar with UNM’s Policy on Academic Dishonesty and the Student Code of Conduct which outline academic misconduct defined as plagiarism, cheating, fabrication, or facilitating any such act.

Citizenship and/or Immigration Status

All students are welcome in this class regardless of citizenship, residency, or immigration status. I will respect your privacy if you choose to disclose your status. UNM as an institution has made a core commitment to the success of all our students, including members of our undocumented community. The Administration’s welcome is found on our website: