History | Intro. to the Prof. Study of History
H601 | 3138 | Keirstead

Obtain on-line authorization for above section from graduate
H601:  For new history graduate students only

This course is intended to raise issues regarding the theory and
practice of history. We will begin by considering the relationship
of history to the past that constitutes its object of inquiry. How
do past events become “history”? What sorts of impositions does
history, as an academic discipline and as a form of writing, make
upon the past it claims to represent “as it really was”? How,
moreover, is the knowledge historians produce to be distinguished
from that arising from other sorts of engagement with the past? Such
questions form the basis for our investigation of history as a
discipline, as, that is, a profession empowered to deliver judgments
about the past. These considerations about the sorts of authority
historians claim in order to speak truth about the past will also
inform us as we engage in closer examinations of a few important
(and contested) approaches.

The primary requirement for this course is a willingness to do a lot
of reading and writing. To help focus your thoughts on the week’s
reading, you will be asked to write three brief responses to the
main texts. These are informal essays that explore the implications
of the texts. They are not meant as opportunities to show that you
can brilliantly refute Nietzsche or Geertz; rather, they should be
exercises in extending the insights of the texts: taking Sahlins in
new directions, or Marx into different areas, etc. They should, in
short, be essays that try to start conversations, not end them. In
addition, you will be asked to develop a project that leads to a 17-
20-page bibliographical essay, on a topic of your choosing. (Or
rather, not entirely of your choosing, since you must consult with
me before settling on a topic.)