LEAD 345 Spring 2015 Biography as American History

Biography is easily the most widely read form of American history today; in fact, historical biography is among the most popular of all literary forms in contemporary America. Yet historians oftentimes treat the genre with suspicion; moreover, they have engaged in relatively little sustained reflection about how biographical approaches might illuminate major historical questions. For its part, leadership studies treats biography as a fundamental mode of analysis; yet the genre is problematic, for its conventions sometimes obscure the social/structural contexts within which leadership is practiced. In this course, we will view American history through the lens of biography, asking what this genre reveals about the past as well as what it conceals. We will also conduct critical inquiries into the relationship between historical analysis and biography and the practice of writing history through biography. What tensions exist between history and biography, and how have writers sought to negotiate these tensions? What have historians sought to use the biographical form to do, and how successful have they been in achieving their objectives? What do biographers' choices---their narrative emphases as well as their choices of subject---reveal about their conceptions of history? How has the writing of analytical biography changed over time? How have its practitioners sought to innovate, and toward what ends? Above all, we will seek to develop a deeper sense of the relationship between people and processes, between individual lives and history---issues fundamental to a historical understanding of leadership.
Class Format: tutorial
Requirements/Evaluation: weekly writing assignments, research proposal, research paper with presentation
Additional Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis; not available for the Gaudino option
Additional Info2:
Prerequisites: previous course in American history
Enrollment Preference: Leadership Studies concentrators; History majors
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Divisional Attributes: Division II
Other Attributes: LEAD American Domestic Leadership,LEAD Facets or Domains of Leadership
Enrollment Limit: 10
Expected Enrollment: 10
Class Number: 4010
LEAD 345 - T1 (S) TUT Biography as American History Division 2: Social Studies Mason B. Williams
TBA 4010
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