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HIST 301
Approaching the Past: Practices of Modern History Fall 2020 (also offered Spring 2021)
Division II

Class Details

What is history? What is it that historians do? In this course, students will explore how and why we historians practice our craft. The first section of the course will examine how historians think about and come to know the past. Issues of historical truth, fact, and objectivity will be considered. And we will discuss what questions to ask of different types of evidence, from material objects to oral histories. Next, we will explore how historians attempt to make sense of the past. We will consider the perspectives, scale, and categories of analysis that historians can bring to bear on the past, and how history can be written. Finally, the third section of the course will pose questions about the purposes, uses, and misuses of history. We will ask how historians might engage with those outside of academe; what moral and political responsibilities historians should assume; how history is related to memory making; and why history education has been so contentious. Each week, we will focus on some theoretical material as well as readings on a broad range of topics, across time and geography, that concretely illustrate the methodological issues at stake.
The Class: Format: seminar; remote
Limit: 15
Expected: 10-15
Class#: 2849
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: class participation, response papers (500 words), two practicums/short essays (5 pages), and a final project (10 pages)
Prerequisites: restricted to HIST majors and sophomores planning to major in HIST
Enrollment Preferences: senior, then junior, History majors
Distributions: Division II

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