Course website: www.westga.edu/~dkwillia
This class will give students an understanding of what it means to write history. Students will explore the major approaches to historical writing over the past century, and will acquire an understanding of current trends in historical writing. By analyzing and debating competing approaches to historical knowledge, they will gain the information that they need to evaluate their own approach to the past. By gaining an understanding of the way in which the writing of history has evolved over the past few decades, they will be able to assess the historiography of their own area of research, a crucial first step in the process of producing a master’s thesis or future graduate seminar papers.
Students’ final grades will be determined as follows:
Class participation 25%
Midterm exam 20%
Historiography paper 25%
Supplementary assignments 10%
Final exam 20%
There will be no opportunity for extra-credit assignments in this course.
Grading Methodology: This university does not use a plus / minus grading system, but during the course of the semester, I will use plus / minus grades, as well as split-letter grades (e.g., an A- / B+), in order to evaluate students’ written work with precision. In computing final course grades, I convert all grades into numeric scores according to the following system:
A = 95
A/A- = 94
A- = 92
A-/B+ = 90
B+ = 88
B+/B = 87
B = 85
B/B- = 84
B- = 82
B-/C+ = 80
(A similar pattern is used for grades in the C-range).
In computing final course grades, a grade average of 89.5 or higher converts to a course grade of A, a grade average between 79.5 and 89.49 converts to a course grade of B, and a grade average between 69.5 and 79.49 converts to a course grade of C.
A-range grades, including the grade of A-/B+, are reserved for work that is of exceptional quality. In order to receive an A-range grade on an essay assignment, a student’s essay must show evidence of original thinking and a thorough understanding of the relevant sources on the topic, as well as good writing technique. Papers that receive a grade of 90 or above must be cogent and persuasive in their argumentation, and they must be well written and tightly organized around a strong thesis. In short, a paper that receives an A-range grade not only meets the basic requirements for the assignment, but also demonstrates that a student has mastered the interpretative, analytical, and writing skills expected for a course at this level.
B-range grades are given to essays that demonstrate a student’s accurate understanding of the material, adequate use of the assigned documents, and competence in writing. They rarely contain the sophisticated analysis required for an A-range essay, but they meet the requirements and expectations for the assignment.
C-range grades are given to essays that contain factual inaccuracies, errors in interpretation, inadequate use of the assigned documents, or poor writing technique, even though they usually meet most of the basic requirements for the assignment.
Failing grades are assigned to work that does not meet the requirements and expectations for the assignment.
Take-home exams (midterm and final): At two points in the semester – September 28 and November 23 – I will give you an essay question related to broad themes that are covered in the class readings. You will then have one week (in the case of the midterm exam) or two weeks (in the case of the final exam) to write a 6-8 page response to each of those questions.
Historiography paper and supplementary assignments: You will be expected to write a 12-15 page historiographical analysis of a topic of your choice. This historiography paper is due on November 23 (with a first draft due on November 9), but supplementary assignments related to this paper are due on August 31, September 14, and November 23. Please see the guidelines for this assignment for additional details.
Papers that are turned in after the assigned date will be marked down 1/3 of a letter grade for each day they are overdue.
It should go without saying that all papers that you write must be your own work, and that any students who are caught plagiarizing another student’s work, a paper from a web site, a textbook, or any other source will automatically fail this course and may be subject to further disciplinary action. Plagiarism is a serious offense that will not be tolerated.
All of your written work for this class must be original; you are not allowed to submit essays that you have written for other courses or that you have completed prior to this semester.
Class participation: Since class sessions in this seminar course will consist almost entirely of class discussion, your participation in those discussions is crucial to the success of this course. It is imperative that you come to class prepared to talk about the assigned reading each week. I will determine your class participation grade at the end of the semester based on my perception of your level of preparedness for each class session, your willingness to participate in the discussion, and the perceptiveness of the comments that you make throughout the duration of this course. I understand that some students may be more inclined than others to speak up in class, but I hope to create an environment that will allow everyone, regardless of their personality or background, to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts on the readings. If you find yourself reluctant to join in the conversation for any reason, or if you feel that your class participation level does not adequately reflect your knowledge of the material and preparation for class, I would encourage you to meet with me early in the semester to discuss strategies that will enable you to succeed in earning a class participation grade that accurately reflects your work.
Assigned readings: I did not place an order at the university bookstore for the assigned monographs for this course, but you can easily order these books online. I have listed the publication information for every assigned text so that you can order the correct editions. Many of these books are also available for 24-hour loan at the UWG library reserves desk. A list of books that are available for short-term loan is posted on the library’s course reserve page for this class.
The assigned journal articles are available through the JSTOR or EBSCOhost databases, which you can access through the university library’s website. The photocopied sections of book chapters and other assigned readings are available through the university library’s online course reserves. To access those course reserves, go to the UWG library website and click on “course reserves.” The course reserves page for this class is password protected, so you will need to get the password for the class from me.
Class communication: I may send out periodic email communiqués to students in this course, so please check your UWG email account regularly. The university administration has stipulated that all email communication between faculty and students should take place on UWG email accounts, so please use your UWG email account for all electronic communications that you send me.
University policy also prevents me from disclosing grades over email, so if you would like to discuss your grade on any assignment in the class, please set up an appointment to meet with me in my office. Please do not email me with a request for your grades, since I am not allowed to email that information to you.
To protect students’ privacy rights, I will not return graded papers to any third party (e.g., a student’s friend or relative who asks to pick up a student’s work on that person’s behalf) unless a student gives me permission in writing (e.g., an email) to do so. There are occasions when I must disclose a student’s grade to university administrators or other history department faculty (e.g., the department chair, students’ advisors, or the graduate studies coordinator), but in all other cases, I will make every effort to maintain the confidentiality of students’ grades.
I would like to do whatever I can to help you succeed in this course. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have a question about any subject pertaining to this class. I make it a priority to respond promptly to emails from students, and I am happy to talk with students during my office hours, so please feel free to stop by my office anytime that you want to discuss your concerns about this course. I believe that this will be an excellent semester, and I’m pleased to welcome you to this class.
You will need to obtain copies of the following books. The prices listed are for new copies from amazon.com, but you may be able to obtain some of these books at lower prices by buying used copies through online book dealers.
David L. Chappell, A Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004). Paper. ISBN: 978-0807856604. $17.12.
Lizabeth Cohen, Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990). Paper. ISBN: 978-0521715355. $20.24. (Either the 1st or 2nd edition is acceptable).
William Cronon, Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England, 2nd ed. (New York: Hill and Wang, 2003). Paper. ISBN: 978-0809016341. $13.50.
Robert Darnton, The Great Cat Massacre: And Other Episodes in French Cultural History (New York: Basic Books, 1984). Paper. ISBN: 978-0394729275. $10.17.
Eugene Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made (New York: Vintage Books, 1974). Paper. ISBN: 978-0394716527. $13.60.
Carlo Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Seventeenth-Century Miller, trans. John and Anne Tedeschi (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1992). Paper. ISBN: 978-0801843877. $17.01. (Used copies of older editions of this work, including the paperback Penguin edition, are available online at considerably discounted prices, and are acceptable for this course).
Peter Charles Hoffer, Past Imperfect (New York: Public Affairs, 2004). Paper. ISBN: 978-1586484453. $12.21.
Joy S. Kasson, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West: Celebrity, Memory, and Popular History (New York: Hill and Wang, 2000). Paper. ISBN: 978-0809032440. $21.06.
Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error (New York: Vintage Books, 1978). Paper. ISBN: 978-0807615980. $13.57.
Edmund S. Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom (New York: Norton, 1975). Paper. ISBN: 978-0393324945. $12.89.
William H. McNeill, Plagues and Peoples (New York: Anchor, 1977). Paper. ISBN: 978-0385121224. $10.85.
James M. McPherson, For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997). Paper. ISBN: 978-0195124996. $12.89.
Kathy Peiss, Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986). Paper. ISBN: 978-0877225003. $22.23.
8/17 The stories historians tell
Hoffer, Past Imperfect, 1-130.
8/24 The Annales school
Fernand Braudel, “Personal Testimony,” J. of Modern History, 44 (1972): 448-467 (JSTOR).
H.R. Trevor-Roper, “Fernand Braudel, the Annales, and the Mediterranean,” J. of Modern History, 44 (1972): 468-479 (JSTOR).
Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error (New York: Vintage Books, 1978).
8/31 Environmental history
William Cronon, “The Uses of Environmental History,” Environmental History Review, 17 (1993): 1-22.
William Cronon, Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England, 2nd ed. (New York: Hill and Wang, 2003).
Historiography paper topic and supplementary topic essay due.
9/7 Social class: progressive history and Marxism
Phillip Schofield, “History and Marxism,” in Making History: An Introduction to the History and Practices of a Discipline, ed. Peter Lambert and Phillip Schofield (New York: Routledge, 2004), 180-191 (online course reserves).
Eugene Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made (New York: Vintage Books, 1974), 3-324.
9/14 The new social history and history from below
Laurence Veysey, “The ‘New’ Social History in the Context of American Historical Writing,” Reviews in American History, 7 (1979): 1-12 (JSTOR).
Alice Kessler-Harris, “Social History,” in The New American History, ed. Eric Foner (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1997), 231-256 (GALILEO e-book).
Lizabeth Cohen, Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990)
Bibliography for historiography paper due.
George Iggers, “The History of Everyday Life,” in Iggers, Historiography in the
Twentieth Century (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1997), 101-117, 177-180 (online course reserves).
Richard D. Brown, “Microhistory and the Post-Modern Challenge,” J. of the Early Republic, 23 (2003): 1-20 (JSTOR).
Carlo Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Seventeenth-
Century Miller, trans. John and Anne Tedeschi (New York: Penguin Books, 1976).
9/28 Comparative history, global history, and “big history”
Carl N. Degler, “Comparative History: An Essay Review,” J. of Southern History,
34 (1968): 425-430 (JSTOR).
David Christian, “The Case for ‘Big History,’” J. of World History, 2 (1991):
William H. McNeill, Plagues and Peoples (New York: Anchor, 1977).
10/5 Postmodernism, the new anthropology, and the new cultural history
Lynn Hunt, “Introduction: History, Culture, and Text,” in The New Cultural History, ed. Lynn Hunt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), 1-22 (online course reserves).
Robert Darnton, The Great Cat Massacre: And Other Episodes in French Cultural History (New York: Basic Books, 1984), 1-106.
Midterm exam essay due.
10/12 Gender history
Joan W. Scott, “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis,” American Historical Review, 91 (1986): 1053-1075 (JSTOR).
Joanne Meyerowitz, “A History of ‘Gender,’” AHR, 113 (2008): 1346-1356 (EBSCOhost Academic Search Complete).
Kathy Peiss, Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986).
John Hope Franklin, “On the Evolution of Scholarship in Afro-American History,” in The State of Afro-American History: Past, Present, and Future, ed. Darlene Clark Hine (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1986), 13-22 (online course reserves).
James D. Anderson, “How We Learn about Race through History,” in Learning History in America: Schools, Cultures, and Politics, ed. Lloyd Kramer et al. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), 87-106 (online course reserves).
Peter Kolchin, “Whiteness Studies: The New History of Race in America,” J. of American History, 89 (2002): 154-173 (JSTOR).
Edmund S. Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom (New York: Norton,
Kevin M. Schultz and Paul Harvey, “Everywhere and Nowhere: Recent Trends in American Religious History and Historiography,” J. of the American Academy of Religion, 78 (2010): 129-162 (EBSCOhost Academic Search Complete).
Jon Butler, “Jack-in-the-Box Faith: The Religion Problem in Modern American History,” J. of American History, 90 (March 2004): 1357-1378 (EBSCOhost Academic Search Complete).
James D. Tracy, “Believers, Non-Believers, and the Historian’s Unspoken Assumptions,” Catholic Historical Review, 86 (2000): 403-419 (JSTOR).
David L. Chappell, A Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004).
11/2 New techniques applied to old subjects: the new military history and the study of
Peter Karsten, “The ‘New’ American Military History: A Map of the Territory,
Explored and Unexplored,” American Quarterly, 36 (1984): 389-418.
Martin van Creveld, “Thoughts on Military History,” J. of Contemporary History, 18 (1983): 549-566 (JSTOR).
Paula Baker, “The Domestication of Politics: Women and American Political Society, 1780-1920,” American Historical Review, 89 (1984): 620-647 (JSTOR).
Robert J. Norrell, “Modern Conservatism and the Consequences of its Ideas,” Reviews in American History, 36 (2008): 456-467 (ProQuest Research Library).
James M. McPherson, For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil
War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).
11/9 The individual in history
Philip Pomper, “Historians and Individual Agency,” History and Theory, 35 (1996): 281-308 (JSTOR).
Alice Kessler-Harris, “AHR Roundtable: Why Biography?” American Historical Review, 114 (2009): 625-630 (online course reserves).
James M. McPherson, “Who Freed the Slaves?” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 139 (1995): 1-10.
First draft of historiography paper due.
11/16 Cultural history and the history of memory
Paula S. Fass, “Cultural History / Social History: Some Reflections on a
Continuing Dialogue,” J. of Social History, 37 (2003): 39-46.
David Thelen, “Memory and American History, J. of American History, 75 (1989): 1117-1129 (JSTOR).
Stuart McConnell, “The Civil War and Historical Memory: A Historiographical Survey,” OAH Magazine of History, Fall 1993: 3-6 (JSTOR).
Joy S. Kasson, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West: Celebrity, Memory, and Popular History (New York: Hill and Wang, 2000).
Statistical review of current historical literature due.
11/23 Bias, objectivity, and the uses of history
E.P. Thompson, “Agenda for Radical History,” Critical Inquiry, 21 (1995): 299-304 (JSTOR).
John Hope Franklin, “The Historian and Public Policy,” The History Teacher, 11 (1978): 377-391 (JSTOR).
Peter Novick, “(The Death of) The Ethics of Historical Practice (And Why I am Not in Mourning),” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 560 (November 1998): 28-42 (JSTOR).
Adam Hochschild, “Practicing History without a License,” Historically Speaking, 9 (March / April 2008): 2-5 [http://www.bu.edu/historic/_hs_pdfs/Hochschild_Mar_Ap_2008.pdf].
Gordon S. Wood, “The Lessons of History” and “Presentism in History,” in Wood, The Purpose of the Past: Reflections on the Uses of History (New York: Penguin Press, 2008), 62-72 and 293-308 (online course reserves).
Peter Charles Hoffer, Past Imperfect (New York: Public Affairs, 2004), 131-261.
Historiography paper due.
12/7 Final exam essay due.