History 300 - Historiography
Spring 2009, MWF 2-2:50PM
Colorado State University - Pueblo
Professor Jonathan Rees
Office: Psychology 124
Office Phone: 549-2541
Office Hours: MWF 1-2PM, T 3-5PM
E-Mail: Jonathan [dot] Rees [at] colostate-pueblo [dot] edu
“History is always written wrong, and so always needs to be rewritten.”
This course is an introduction to history as a discipline and how historians do their work. It is intended to be content neutral. That means although you may learn specific factual information about particular subjects, this is comparatively unimportant. The important overall objective is for you to learn to appreciate the study of history as an academic discipline so as to prepare you for future success as a student, a reader and writer of this subject. Expect to read, to argue, to think, and to work at the craft of writing and on organizing historical ideas.
· Students will practice and become more aware of the skills of history, through analytical writing assignments.
· Students will learn how to read history written by others, to understand the historiographic approaches and historical methods being used by the authors, and to understand the assumptions and arguments of the authors.
· Students will develop a critical historian’s eye to apply to historical works, analyzing their strengths, weaknesses, arguments and assumptions.
· Students will learn more efficient research techniques, i.e. learn where and how to find primary and secondary sources of information on a historical topic, and how to use what they find.
· Students will realize the extent to which historical consciousness (or lack thereof) informs debates about important contemporary issues and how political factors influence the public presentation of history.
The taping of class lectures/discussions is not permitted unless you have my explicit permission. Please turn off your cell phones before class begins. Under no circumstances will you be permitted to take notes on a laptop computer. The reason for this restriction is too many people surfing the web with their Wi-Fi connection during class time. Even if you assure me you won't, I will not make an exception in order to maintain a consistent position.
In order to facilitate communication between you and I, having an e-mail is a requirement of this course. I will be collecting e-mails from you on the first day of the course. You will want to give me an address that you check fairly frequently because I will use it if I need to get a hold of you for course-related business. All correspondence with me should go through the university e-mail listed above. All assignments (including draft papers, but excluding final papers) should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. All final papers should be handed to me in paper format in class on the day they are due.
This University abides by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which stipulates that no student shall be denied the benefits of an education "solely by reason of a handicap." If you have a documented disability that may impact your work in this class and for which you may require accommodations, please see the Disability Resource Coordinator as soon as possible to arrange accommodations. In order to receive accommodations, you must be registered with and provide documentation of your disability to: the Disability Resource Office, which is located in the Psychology Building, Suite 232.
Brown, Callum G. Postmodernism for Historians.
Davidson, James West and Lytle, Mark Hamilton. Primary Source Investigator CD.
Gaddis, John Lewis. The Landscape of History.
Loewen, James W. Lies My Teacher Told Me, second edition.
Nelson, Scott Reynolds. Steel Drivin' Man - John Henry.
Parish, Peter J. Slavery: History and Historians.
Ward, Kyle. History in the Making.
In a few instances, you will also be asked to read materials online. URLs for those materials are linked from the Daily Topics and Readings section of this syllabus.
Grading and Attendance Policies
Although I will do some lecturing in class, much of our time will be spent discussing assigned readings. Consequently it is important that you come to class regularly and do the assigned reading BEFORE the class period. I reserve the right to call on students who do not volunteer so that everybody has a chance to participate in discussions. The quality of your contributions is as important as their frequency.
The breakdown of your final grade will be as follows:
Completing all of the assignments for the class is a requirement for passing the class. Failure to complete any of the above assignments will result in your failing the entire course. Completing draft papers by the assigned dates is not optional either. Fail to meet your obligation to provide a draft paper by a specified date and I reserve the right to fail you on that paper regardless of other performance. Do that twice and I reserve the right to fail you for the entire course.
The topic of the Ward/Loewen Paper is as follows: Using one example from Loewen and your assigned section of Ward, cite one historiographic controversy for which the interpretation has improved over time and another for which it has gotten worse. What, in each instance, might be the reasons that the quality of interpretation has changed over time. Are any of these reasons the same for both examples? The paper should be from three to five pages long.
The topic of the Nelson paper is: Has Scott Reynolds Nelson successfully argued that he has discovered the true identity of John Henry? Whether he has or hasn't, is this subject of historical importance? Why or why not? It should be five to eight pages long.
To see the questions on the Gaddis book, click here.
To see the questions on the Brown book, click here.
Your next paper will compare two historians’ arguments over a particular controversy in the study of American slavery. For more information on this assignment, click here. This paper should be from eight to ten pages long.
You historiographic research paper will be on a particular historical controversy. You will explain which side is right and why. As part of this process, you will examine at least one primary source on this subject. The final product should be from twelve to fifteen pages long. More information on this assignment is available here.
As part of this assignment, you will be summarizing the argument of two other students in the class. More information on this is at the link in the last paragraph and more will be forthcoming.
For advice on how to write a better paper, click here.
Grading for major papers will be done on an A-F scale with pluses and minuses. Smaller assignments connected to the activities of a particular class period will be considered as part of your class participation grade [If you fail to hand them in, you are not prepared for class]. I will do my best to explain the criteria by which each assignment is graded before you undertake them.
It is assumed that students will make every effort to attend each class period, arrive on time and stay for the entire class. An attendance sheet will be passed around at the beginning of each class. If you arrive late to class, make sure your name is on the attendance sheet before you leave. Otherwise, you will be counted as absent.
You will be permitted FOUR unexcused absences during the course of the semester (to account for the random mishaps, mistakes and burdens of everyday life). After that, you will fail the class participation section of this course and I reserve the right to drop you from the course or give you a failing grade regardless of other performance. All excuses must be presented to me within one week of the absence in question. If you will be missing more than two classes in a row, please inform me in advance of your absence.
Any form of academic dishonesty will result in a failing grade for the entire course. This includes plagiarism, the taking of words and/or ideas of another and passing them off as your own. If another person's work is quoted directly in a formal paper, this must be indicated with quotation marks and a citation. Paraphrased or borrowed ideas must be identified in the footnotes of the text.
Daily Topics and Reading Assignments
Week of January 12:
What is Historiography?
January 16: No Class
Week of January 19:
What is History?
On Reading, Part II (Burke Discussion).
Week of January 26:
Introduce Ward's Book and Allocate Sections.
Ward Section Presentations.
January 30: Draft Loewen/Ward Papers Due for February 2 Discussion.
Week of February 2:
Discuss Draft Ward/Loewen Papers
Introduction to Historiographic Research Papers and Topics
Nelson Discussion (Nelson's Thesis).
Week of February 9
More Nelson Discussion (Significance of the Topic)
February 13: Answers to Gaddis questions are due via e-mail.
February 13: Ward/Loewen Papers Due.
Week of February 16:
Documents and Interpretation (Part I: Vertical).
Documents and Interpretation (Part II: Horizontal).
Draft Nelson Paper Discussion.
February 18: Bring Primary Source Investigator CD. Class meets in a computer lab as yet to be determined..
February 18: Draft Nelson Paper Due for February 20 Discussion.
Week of February 23:
Library Research Presentation
Footnotes, Bibliography and Annotated Bibliographies.
February 27: No Class.
February 27: Historiographic Research Paper topic due.
February 25: Please bring all texts to class today.
February 27: A paper copy of your Nelson Paper is due in my mailbox by class time.
Week of March 2:
History and the Internet (Part 1).
History and the Internet (Part 2).
More Fun With Primary Source Investigator.
Week of March 9:
March 11: Answers to Brown questions are due via e-mail.
March 13: No Class
Week of March 16:
Public History/Museum Studies (the Enola Gay Exhibit).
The Historiography of Slavery
Week of March 30:
March 30: Summarize other student's historiographic research paper arguments (and be prepared to explain your argument to others) in small groups.
April 1 and 3: Historiographic Research Paper Meetings! (Schedule to be announced)
Week of April 6:
Historiographic Research Paper Discussion
More Historiographic Research Paper Discussion (optional)
Historiographic Research Paper Draft Due April 6 for April 8 Discussion.
Week of April 13:
April 13 and 15: Slavery Argument Comparison Paper Meetings (schedule to be announced)
Draft Slavery Argument Comparison Paper Discussion.
Draft Slavery Paper Due April 15 for April 17 Discussion
Week of April 20:
On Standardized Testing
What is Good History?
Optional Class: Yet More Historiographic Research Paper Discussion
· Wineburg, Sam. "We Need to Develop New Ways to Teach Students History."
April 25: Slavery Argument Comparison Papers Due.
Historiographic Research Paper Due at the Beginning of the Final Exam Period.
E-Mail: Jonathan [dot] Rees [at] colostate-pueblo [dot] edu
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