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History 500
The Art & Craft of History
Spring 2013

Professor: Steve Estes
Class Meets: Tuesdays 1-4:40
Office Hours: M/W: 10:45-11:15; 2-3:30
Office: Stevenson 2070 D
Phone: 707.664.2424

Course Objectives:
This graduate seminar explores the philosophical underpinnings and methodological tools of modern historical scholarship. We begin with the broad questions of why historians study the past and how it has been done over the last few centuries. Then we look at the methods employed by different historical sub-disciplines in studying regions around the world. Finally, we discuss the uses of history: museum exhibitions, historic sites, scholarly publishing, and commercial enterprises. By the end of this course, graduate students will have a solid foundation for choosing a thesis topic or research focus as well as the basic tools to execute first-rate historical research. I view history as straddling the divide between social sciences and the humanities, and so I hope that students will come to see that good historical scholarship marries the craft of research with the art of writing.

Paul Cohen, History in Three Keys
William Cronon, Changes in the Land
Eric Foner and Lisa McGirr, eds., American History Now
Trevor R. Getz and Liz Clarke, Abina and the Important Men
Martha Hodes, The Sea Captain’s Wife
Donald Ritchie, Doing Oral History
David M. Oshinsky, Polio
Nell Irvin Painter, The History of White People
… and additional articles

Course Requirements:
Classroom Participation & Reading: As a graduate history seminar, meeting once a week, students must keep up with the reading and participate in class discussions. (Participation is 10% of the final grade.)

Discussion Leading: At the beginning of the term students will choose one week to lead half of the discussion. You must come to consult with me the week before you lead the discussion, and on the day of class, turn in a 1-2 page outline of the discussion questions and activities planned for that day. (Leading the discussion is 10% of your final grade.)

Weekly Essays: There is a written assignment due almost every week in this class. For some weeks, this is simply a one page, single-spaced book review in the style of the American Historical Review or the Journal of American History.  In other weeks there is a particular research question or methodological exercise. You may choose not to turn in two of the written assignments (except for the mystery artifact assessment). If you do them all, I will drop the lowest two weekly assignment grades. (Each assignment is worth 5% of the grade for a total of 55%.)

Oral History Assignment: As a class, we are going to do an oral history interview project on the history and land-use of a nature preserve maintained by Sonoma State. The interviews that we conduct with former owners, employees, and neighbors of the property will document the ways that humans interacted with the natural environment on the property during the 20th century. Each student will conduct and transcribe an oral history interview. The transcript of the interview is due on the last regular class meeting. (The oral history interview transcript is worth 10% of your final grade.)

Public History Assignment: Throughout this course, you will be working on a public history project. This is a service learning assignment. In other words, you will be learning the skills of a public historian as you provide a service to a local community or historical institution. Internships are available at museums or historical societies in Napa and Sonoma Counties. You are also free to set up your own public history project individually or with a local institution or group (e.g. Petaluma Historical Museum, Sonoma County Museum, etc.). Each project will require 20-30 hours of work over the course of the semester (e.g. six to eight visits to the historical society). At the end of the semester, you will turn in a 5-7 page paper that explains the work you did, the relevant historical scholarship, and (if possible) the reception to your work by the public. I will also ask for a written evaluation (one-page) of your work by the supervisor or director of the historical site.  (This project is 15% of your final grade.)

Course Schedule

Week I: Introduction 1.15
Required Reading: None
Part 1: Student Introductions & Discussion of Reviews
Part 2: View Footnote; Discuss “The (Personal) Politics of Research”

Week II: American Historiography (I) 1.22
Required Reading: Foner & McGirr, eds., American History Now (Intro, Part I: Chs. 1-8)
Required Writing: Based on this chronological arrangement of historiographical essays, which eras of American history seem to be especially applicable to the present and which seem to be addressing more esoteric questions of pure research? How much do varying historical methods define different eras’ historiographies? What eras/events are left out of these historiographies? Why?
Part 1: What is historiography and why should we care about it?
Part 2: How does methodology influence the historiography of different eras?

Week III: American Historiography (II) 1.29
Required Reading: Foner and McGirr, eds., American History Now (Part II: Chs. 9-18)
Required Presentation: Favorite History Book
Required Writing: Which subfields of American history seem to have the most rigorous methodologies? How do you know? Which are most and least attractive to you as a scholar? Why? (1 page single-spaced)
Part 1: Student-Led Discussion
Part 2: Favorite History Book (and relation to a historiographical school)

Week IV: History of Whiteness 2.05
Required Reading: Painter, The History of White People
Required Writing: Book Review (1 page single-spaced)
Part 1: Student-led Discussion of Reading & Reviews
Part 2: The Future of Whiteness Discussion

Week V: The (Re)Discovered Continent 2.12
Required Reading: Joseph C. Miller, "History and Africa/Africa and History," American Historical Review February, 1999 104(1): 1-32; James H. Sweet, "Mistaken Identities? Olaudah Equiano, Domingo Alvares, and the Methodological Challenges of Studying the African Diaspora," American Historical Review April 2009 114(2): 279-306. (available through library article databases)
Required Writing: Why was Africa viewed as a "Dark" Continent for so long in the western historical record? What obstacles faced historians attempting to chronicle the region's past? What can historians of other regions learn from Africanists methods? (1 page, single-spaced)
Part 1: Student-led Discussion
Part 2: The Future of Africa and African History Discussion

Week VI: Africa: Illustrated, Archived, and Taught 2.19
Required Reading: Getz & Clarke, Abina and the Important Men
Required Writing: How do Getz and Clarke use a graphic format to tell the story of Abina? How do they use the primary documents to tell this story? How might you use this book to teach a world history class? Briefly describe questions and activities? (1 page, single-spaced)
Part 1: Student-led Discussion of Reading & Reviews
Part 2: College Pedagogy Discussion

Week VII: Environmental History 2.26
Required Reading: William Cronon, Changes in the Land
Required Internship: By this week, you must have started your public history internship.
Required Writing: How does Cronon use the methods and sources of an environmental historian to re-envision the landscape of colonial North America and revise the history and historiography of this place and time? How might we use these same sources and methods to chronicle the relationship between people and the environment in Sonoma County? (1 page, single-spaced)
Part 1: Student-led Discussion of Reading & Reviews
Part 2: Planning the Oral History Project on the Sonoma State Preserve 

Week VIII Oral History 3.05
Required Reading: Ritchie, Doing Oral History
Required Writing: Come up with a topic and plan for a local oral history project. What era, place, events, etc. would you focus on? Who would you interview? What would you do with the interviews once they are completed (archives, performance, museum exhibit, scholarly research, popular publication, etc.)? (1 page, single-spaced)
Part 1: Student-Led Discussion
Part 2: Brainstorm Oral History Questions & Practice Oral History Interviews

Week IX: Social History and the Atlantic World 3.12
Required Reading: Martha Hodes, The Sea Captain’s Wife
Required Writing: What methods and sources do social historians like Martha Hodes use to write the histories (and even biographies) of everyday people from the 19th century? How successful is Hodes at depicting the worlds that her characters inhabit? How successful is she at capturing the characters themselves? (1 page, single-spaced)
Part 1: Student-led Discussion of Reading & Reviews
Part 2: Comparison of Hodes’ sources to those in Ulrich’s A Midwife’s Tale

Week X: Spring Break 3.19
No Class

Week XI: Myth and Meaning in Asian History 3.26
Required Reading: Paul A. Cohen, History in Three Keys
Required Writing: How have historians in America and China chronicled the story of the Boxer Rebellion? How and why do historians mythologize the Rebellion? Does Cohen himself mythologize the Rebellion or the writing of history more generally? (1 page, single-spaced)
Part 1: Student-led Discussion of Reading & Reviews
Part 2: Nationalism, Politics, and History Discussion

Week XII: Public History (I) 4.02
Required Reading: Leon & Rosenzweig, History Museums in the U.S. (Intro, Chapter 1, Chapter 7—On-reserve at the library) and Randolph Starn, “A Historian’s Brief Guide to New Museum Studies” American Historical Review February 2005, 110(1): 68-98 (Available in on-line library databases)
Required Writing: What is the role of museums in educating the public about the past? How do museums balance education and entertainment? What is the relationship between academic scholarship and public history? (1 page, single-spaced)
Part 1: Student-led Discussion of Reading & Reviews
Part 2: Internship Update/Brainstorming Session

Week XIII: Make-Up/Research Day 4.09
No Class 

Week XIV: History of Science 4.16
Required Reading: David M. Oshinsky, Polio
Required Writing: Book Review (1 page, single-spaced)
Mystery Artifacts Assigned
Part 1: Student-led Discussion of Reading
Part 2: Discussion: Polio and AIDS

Week XV: Public History (Part II) 4.23
Required Reading: Robert R. Weyeneth, The Architecture of Racial Segregation: The Challenges of Preserving a Problematic Past” The Public Historian (Fall 2005): 11-44; Reiko Hillyer, “Relics of Reconciliation: The Confederate Museum and Civil War Memory in the New South,” The Public Historian (November 2011): 35-62; and Blain Roberts and Ethan J. Kytle, “Looking the Thing in the Face: Slavery, Race, and the Commemorative Landscape in Charleston, South Carolina, 1865-2010 The Journal of Southern History (August 2012): 639-684.
Required Writing: Museum Exhibit Review (1 page, single spaced)
Visit a museum in the Wine Country or the Bay Area and pick a historical exhibit in the museum on which you will write a review.  How does the exhibit use historical research, sources, and material culture? How does it engage viewers from different age groups, education levels, and cultural backgrounds? Be prepared to present your exhibit critique to the class.
Part 1: Student-led Discussion of the Readings
Part 2: Presentation of Museum Exhibit Critiques

Week XVI: Material Culture & Historical Sleuthing 4.30
Required Research: Determine the provenance of your mystery artifact. When was it made, by whom, and for what purpose? What does it tell us about the society and era in which it was made? In other words, what is its historical significance?
Required Writing: Artifact Research Report (1 page, single-spaced)
Required Writing: Oral History Transcript
Part 1: Student-led Discussion of Reading
Part 2: Oral History Interview Presentations
Part 3: Student Presentations of Artifacts and Their Historical Significance

Final Exam (TBA)