Schedule of Readings + Assignments
Decoding the syllabus
- Regular bullet points listed under each day is what you need to READ BEFORE CLASS.
- Usually there are one or two items; occasionally there are three, like when we have short book chapters.
These indicate something you have to DO/POST BEFORE CLASS, usually by 9am.
These indicate what we’ll be discussing in class, usually with additional links for reference. If there is no blue box for one of our meeting days, there’s just a usual class discussion and no need for a special box.
These indicate something should note to make life easier, but aren’t anything you need to turn in.
23: Syllabus, Expectations, Introductions
- Introduction to the course: historiography, history, and the past. Also, the syllabus.
- Introduction to Zotero, which is how you will access all readings (minus the actual book we’re using and readings that aren’t already online).
After class, but TODAY
- Follow the Connecting to Zotero instructions on the syllabus home page.
- Make sure you can access the Southgate reading (a PDF) for next Monday.
25: MetaHistory and course tools
- Browse MetaHistory generally to get a sense of the entire site, and read through at least two essays carefully. For our discussion, be prepared to report on your impression of this resource.
- What seemed useful and/or interesting?
- What seemed a bit off?
- What were the strengths and weaknesses of the essays you read?
- What questions do you have that weren’t answered?
30: What is History For?
- Beverly Southgate, What is History For?, 31–58.
- Reminder: Reading reflections should be committed to our GitHub Repository (where you will post all work for the course) by 10AM before class.
- Please note that Beverly is a HE for your responses.
- What has intrigued you about history? Think carefully and avoid the trite ‘i dunno i’ve just always liked it’ kind of response.
- Which “professed purposes” resonated most with you? And least? In both cases, EXPLAIN WHY.
- Southgate discussion on uses of history.
1: Greek and Roman and Medieval Histories
- M. C. Lemon, Philosophy of History, 28–44 (Chapter 3: Greek and Roman Speculations on History).
- M. C. Lemon, Philosophy of History, 45–56 (read up to the last paragraph); 61–73 (Chapter 4: The Christian Challenge…).
- Reminder: Reading reflections should be committed to our GitHub Repository
- How are conceptions of time and progress important to the meaning of history (even today)?
- Does studying history imply it is to facilitate some kind of human “progress”?
- Why should we care about Augustine in a historiography course?
- How does Lemon think we should compare Greco-Roman vs. Christian histories?
- What other ideas were especially interesting?
- Don’t forget your 1-2 INFORMED questions!
6: NO CLASS (Labor Day)
8: Early Modern History
- Read through the Metahistory essays on Early Modern historiography. There is a little overlap with the Cheng reading, but mostly they cover and emphasize quite different aspects of Renaissance historiography.
- Eileen Ka-May Cheng, Historiography, 4–28 (Chap 1: Art and Science in Renaissance Historical Writing). Click the “View eBook” link to get to the actual online text.
- Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, 5-19. (These are really small pages.)
- How would you characterize history writing during the Renaissance?
- As part of your essay, be sure to mention what you consider to be the key developments in Renaissance history writing?
- How does the excerpt from The Prince illustrate what’s changing in terms of how history is being used in Renaissance Europe (esp Florence)?
- Early Modern History Reflection discussion
- How can we compare and contrast Cheng’s chapter with the Metahistory essays? Why are they so different?
13 : Enlightenment History
- Read the one Metahistory essay on Enlightenment historiography. This is particularly useful for understanding the broader historical context and legacy of historiographical change.
- Eileen Ka-May Cheng, Historiography, 29–60 (Chap 2: Enlightenment and Philosophical History).
- What was new about Enlightenment thinking in general?
- In broad terms, how did Enlightenment thinking get applied to History?
- What were the commonalities and differences between the approaches to History described in the chapter?
15: Romantic and Critical History
- Eileen Ka-May Cheng, Historiography, 61–90 (Chap 3: Romantic and Critical History).
- Wilhelm von Humboldt, “On the Historian’s Task” (1821). Read for the general characterization of history and what historians should be doing. There are some long sentences here that can be hard to follow, but just keep reading!
- What would you say are the key differences between Romantic and Critical history?
- Give a few examples from von Humboldt’s article that illustrate characterizations of history that appear in Cheng’s chapter. What’s most interesting to you about this description of a historian’s task?
20: Review so far
- No new reading for today. Instead, you need to do one, longer synthetic reflection on what we’ve covered so far as a way of tying everything together and preparing for the Wednesday reading and reflection.
Write a ~1000 word reflection on the continuities and discontinuities in historical thinking and writing so far. Be sure to provide some SPECIFIC examples that are representative of the point you are trying to make. Also, include 1-2 big picture questions that we should address in class. These are due by 10am like all other reflections, and we’ll be discussing everyone’s thoughts and questions in class.
- Be careful of using words like truth, objective, fact, progress, better, etc. I don’t mean that you shouldn’t use them, but that they should be used deliberately and carefully and with nuance that our readings have collectively given us.
- You know all those posts in our GitHub Repository? They are a great way to review the material, especially since y’all tend to have great ideas and different perspectives.
- This review is a great time to do some thinking about what you’d like to write about for Metahistory. Keep an eye out for people, topics, themes, ideas, etc, that you might want to learn more about and explain to a general audience.
22: Postmodern History
- Eileen Ka-May Cheng, Historiography, 112–132 (Chap 5: Social History, Fragmentation, and the Revival of Narrative).
- Skim super fast: Michel Foucault, Archeology of Knowledge, 3-17; 21-30; 31-39. What’s the main point here? How does it illustrate what Cheng is talking about?
Two rather contradictory questions for today that I hope encourage you to think about BOTH continuities and discontinuities, as you did for the review assignment.
- How does postmodern history constitute a fundamental historiographical paradigm shift?
- Why should we see postmodern changes in historical practice as more evolutionary than revolutionary?
27: Gender Histories
- Joan Scott, “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis”, 1053-1075.
This is a classic article, meaning it is recognized has having helped make a real difference in the practice of history (and frequently read in classes like ours). Precisely because of its success, it seems a bit dated now. But it still makes a number of useful points that are still relevant, and it is a perfect example of how historians can directly shape the way history is written.
Many students assume this article is trying to argue that historians should pay more attention to the role women in history. It doesn’t dispute that, but the main point is actually much more interesting and nuanced? What is it?
29: Postcolonial Histories
- Dipesh Chakrabarty, “Postcoloniality and the Artifice of History: Who Speaks for ‘Indian’ Pasts?”, 1-27.
This is another classic article that can also feel a bit out of date, yet another example of how historians can directly shape historiography by asking profound questions and offering new perspectives that were too easily unnoticed or ignored. What is the premise of postcoloniality as described here? What are the main challenges to a postcolonial history?
4: Archival Power
- Joan M. Schwartz and Terry Cook, “Archives, Records and Power: The Making of Modern Memory,” 1–19. This article is a little repetitive at times, but in a good way, as it makes it easy to understand the main points. It is shorter than it looks in terms of page count because many pages are almost entirely footnotes (which you can peruse if you’re interested).
- What are the key ways archives manifest their power?
- Before this article, how much have you thought about how archives help shape the future as much as they represent the past?
6: Archival Silence
- Rodney G. S. Carter, “Of Things Said and Unsaid: Power, Archival Silences, and Power in Silence” Archivaria, September 25, 2006, 215–33.
- Softball question as we wind up the first half: What ideas in the article were most and least intersting?
13: NO CLASS: Enjoy Fall Break!!!
It’s a busy week, but especially with the long weekend, it’s a great time to start reading AHEAD in our next book and reduce what you have to do on Sunday night (when you won’t want to do anything). Obviously there is a chunk of reading for Monday, but any additional reading you can do will make life much easier when we reconvene.
This week we’re starting our one book for the course. It’s can be a bit theoretical and abstract at times (most of the time, TBH), but that challenge for us is by design. One of the aims of the course is that you can think abstractly about key issues in history and broaden your ability to think abstractly about ANYthing. That’s what senior-level capstone seminars should do, in my opinion. There will be paragraphs or even pages where you will be confused about what the author is trying to say. It’s true for me, too! Don’t be discouraged if you feel you’re not “getting it”. It’s not easy and it’s not meant to be. We’ll work through the main points in our discussion and I think you’ll agree that once we work through it together, it gives us powerful new tools for interpreting not only history, but any kind of text (any everything is a text as we learned from postmodernism).
18: Historical Theory I
- Historical Theory, 3–11 (Ch. 1: Introduction).
- Historical Theory, 12–30 (Ch. 2: The Contested Nature of Historical Knowledge).
- Historical Theory, 31–50 (Ch. 3: Historical Paradigms and Theoretical Traditions).
20: Historical Theory II
- Historical Theory, 53–73 (Ch. 4: Beyond Metanarrative: Plots, Puzzles, and Plausibility).
25: Historical Theory III
- Historical Theory, 74–97 (Ch. 5: Labelling the Parts: Categories and Concepts).
- Historical Theory, 98–121 (Ch. 6: Looking for Clues).
27: Historical Theory IV
- Historical Theory, 122–140 (Ch. 7: Satisfying Curiosity).
1: Historical Theory V
- Historical Theory, 143–163 (Ch. 8: Representing the Past).
- Historical Theory, 164–184 (Ch. 9: History and Partisanship).
3: Historical Theory VI
- Historical Theory, 185–196 (Ch. 10: Conclusion).
- Peruse the Metahistory site again to remind yourself of the essays, their style, strengths and weaknesses. Pick an essay you want to edit according to the Metahistory guide.
- Historical Theory Wrap up discussion
8: Metahistory Review and Historiographical Research Methods
Essay revisions due
Complete, commit, and create a pull request your edits. Please make sure you are following the revision guide.
What questions do we need to be asking to make Metahistory most usable for students learning the basics of historiography?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of what’s already there?
- What you find to be lacking?
- What kinds of topics aren’t there that should be?
- Where did you get confused in class and wished you had an essay to help you?
- What topic do you want to write about?
10: Public History + Historiographical Research
- Challenges and necessity of public history
- Basic research process that you should use for your essays. This ensures you will be selecting appropriate sources, and using and citing them appropriately.
Don't procrastinate with citations!
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 AS YOU WRITE.
15: History as Data
- Is quantitative history fundamentally different from ‘regular’ history?
- To what extent will all history gradually become quantitative history (as sources are born-digital or become digitized)?
- How does this suggestion problem solving through history conflict with uses of history as we’ve seen them so far in the course?
17: Digital History
- No new readings, but you need to post your annotated bibliographies to GitHub for class discussion
Annotated Bibliographies Due
Your bibliographies should include a minimum of 10 sources relevant to your topic. You should aim for a range of both very specific and broader sources. They should be published in the last 20 years, unless you are citing a “classic” work.
Presentation on Digital History Projects: Past, Present, and Future
22: NO CLASS: Work on your essay drafts!
24: NO CLASS: Happy Thanksgiving!
COMPLETE Drafts Due
No class today, but you must post by the end of the day a COMPLETE draft for your essay, which should be around at least 2000 words (with the final being 2500). With no reading assignment, this is obviously your focus, so DO IT WELL and save everyone (including your future self) headaches later.
‘Draft’ does not mean some half-baked sketch hastily thrown together so you have something to post. It means a COMPLETE FIRST VERSION that we can all respond to in a meaningful way. If your post is too hastily thrown together, you will need to revise and resubmit it immediately to get credit for completing the assignment.
Your essays will undergo peer review over the weekend, so you should have a TOTALLY COMPLETE and REASONABLY POLISHED draft following the writing guide.
29: NO CLASS: Happy Post-Thanksgiving!
- Find your essay review assignments for Wednesday’s assignment HERE (link TBP).
1: Reader Reports
- No new readings. Today we read through and go over reader reports and general revision strategies.
Reader Reports Due
Bring your TWO ~500 word critiques on TWO different essays. Review assignments are posted in our repository. Focus on the big picture: framing, historiographical significance, and accessibility for the intended audience. Be sure you are thinking about the points raised in the writing guide.
6: Publishing your essay
- Review the steps necessary to publish your essay on the official Metahistory site. This process is basically the same as when you committed your revisions a few weeks ago. There are a few additional concerns since you’re making a NEW essay this time. Your final version must be posted by December 13.
- Course Retrospective
- What I hope you can do with historiography
- Final essay revision advice
- Final course reflection advice
All revisions due by Dec 15!