History 5104: Historical Methods
Dr. Kathleen W. Jones
Major Williams 421
phone: 540.231.8371 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
office hours: Thursdays 1:30-4:00
Class meets Thursday 9:00 Ð12:00
"Methods" is a class about how historians think about and do history. As an introductory class "methods" serves several functions.
It is intended to introduce students to the basics of historical research, the process of writing history, the theoretical perspectives used by historians today, and the implications of the digital turn in the researching and writing of history.It is also intended to introduce students to the work of the VT history faculty, to the work of the VT history and area studies graduate students, and to the professional culture that exists at Virginia Tech and abroad.
The overall objective of the methods course is to provide you with the information, the skills, and the tools you will need to be active members of the history profession.
Methods is a class in two parts.
9:00-11:00: two hours devoted to the readings and assignments outlined below in the syllabus
11:00-12:00: one hour for professional development, including "encounters" with faculty and thesis proposal defenses by second-year graduate students.
Assignments (and Grades)
40%: Active participation in class discussions
60% Graded Writing Assignments:Short writing assignments (10%)Short essay, due Sept. 4Miscellaneous assignments (indicated on syllabus or arising from class discussion)
Critical review of A Murder in Virginia (10%) due Sept. 18Scavenger Hunt essay and bibliography (10%) due Sept 25
Essay: is there a history to be written about the Chicago murder? (10%)due Oct. 9Five "history and theory" responses (20%) one due each week, Oct. 16-Nov. 13
Revision of critical review of A Murder in Virginia (10%) due anytime before ThanksgivingFinal Essay: putting together the story and the theory (30%) due no later than noon, December 8
Written assignments MUST be turned in as paper copy
They may NOT be submitted electronically
Ungraded assignments (But you will not pass the class if these assignments are not completed.)
Keep a portfolio of all writing assignments (to be turned in with your final paper)
Design a personal webpage (demonstrating basic knowledge ofDreamweaver and Photoshop) and link it to the History Graduate Student webpage
Use Scribe or Endnote to create a bibliography of all sources consulted for all 5104 assignments (submit file with writing portfolio)Write brief critical evaluations of 4 scholarly events attended during the semester (approx. 500-600 words)
Submit (before the defense) comments and questions for each thesis proposal defense
Schedule of Readings and Assignments:
August 28: Introduction to Course Objectives and Requirements
What do you know about history?"In order to be respected as a professional [historian] you've got to act like a professional [historian]." Or, how to be taken seriously even though you are "only" a graduate student.
The Digital Historian: How to learn Dreamweaver; campus resources; History Highway 3.0; expectations for your personal webpage, FDI, H-Net, and H-Net listservs, Chronicle of Higher Education, AHA Perspectives, classes in conjunction with the Atlantic Studies course.
September 4: What is it that historians do???
Discussion: the difference between history, memory, fiction, antiquarianism, and propaganda, and the uses of the past
Tosh, Pursuit of History, chapters 1 and 2
Agatha Christi, Murder on the Orient Express
Shama, "Death of a Harvard Man," in Dead Certainties (be sure to look at the notes on sources)
Georg G. Iggers, "The Uses and Misuses of History," Apollon;Research Magazine from the University of Oslo (English Edition), August 2000. http://www.apollon.uio.no/2000_english/focus/misuses.shtml
Leopold von Ranke, "Preface, Histories of the Latin and Germanic Nations from 1494-1514;" "A Fragment from the 1830s;""A Fragment from the 1860s" (Excerpts from Fritz Stern, The Varieties of History (1956), pp. 54-62 (photocopy)"History and the Public: What Can We Handle? A Round Table about History after the Enola Gay Controversy" Journal of American History 82 (Dec. 1995): 1029-1144. (Available through J-Stor)
Send by Wednesday evening 7PM Ð two quotes from Tosh you think worthy of discussion (and brief explanation for choices).
Written Assignment (500 words): Is Poirot's method a good model for the historian? or What might von Ranke have to say about the Enola Gay controversy? or Is Shama a "real" historian?
11:00-12:00: Dr. Bruce Pencek, VT social sciences librarian, "An Introduction to VT Library Resources and Web Research"
(Optional) September 5: Computer skills -- scanning and Photoshop (meeting with the "Atlantic World" class, Location TBA)
September 11: The Book, or necessary reading skills for the graduate student in history
How to read a book -- the theme, the thesis, the argument; how to find and use reviews; how to write a book review; how to read all the books you've been assigned and still have time to sleep (how to "bust a book"); how to categorize a historian (the importance of labeling; the drawbacks of labeling).
Readings:Suzanne Lebsock, A Murder in VirginiaTosh, The Pursuit of History, chapter 5Reviews from your favorite history journals (Goal is to identify the qualities of a "good review") Recommended journals:Journal of American History, Reviews in American History, New York Review of Books, American Historical Review, Journal of Modern History, History Workshop Journal, Radical History Review, H-Net Reviews
Send by Wednesday evening 7PM: two questions for discussion based on reading of Lebsock and Tosh.Three brief writing assignments:
Journal of American History; in what ways has the categorization of recently published articles and dissertations changed over the past 50 years? Review JAH at 5-year intervals. 2-page reaction paper
1-2 pages describing the process you used to read this book and prepare for a discussionWhat is the thesis of A Murder in Virgina -- in 2-3 sentences!11:00- 12:00: Dr. Peter Wallenstein "Using Legal Sources to Tell a Story"
September 18: How the Historian Works: What Are the Raw Materials
Discussion: what constitutes "research" for the historian Ð what are the sources; where are the sources; how should we use them? too many/too few sources; what are the benefits and drawbacks of the newspaper evidence in the documents packet? how would you test and evaluate the newspaper evidence? what other types of evidence would you search for?
Readings:Tosh The Pursuit of History, chapters 3, 4, and 11Howell and Prevenier, From Reliable Sources, Introduction and chapters 1-3.Wineburg, "Teaching the Mind Good Habits," Chronicle of Higher Education (April 11, 2003): B20.(photocopy)Documents Packet: "A Murder in Chicago, 1925"
Writing Assignment: Critical review (750 words) of Lebsock, A Murder in Virginia (prepared as if submitting to the Journal of American History)11:00-12:00: Dr. Crandell Shifflett, The Virtual Jamestown Project
September 25: Scavanger Hunt: A Bibliography of Additional Primary Sources to Investigate.
Writing Assignment: What are the raw materials you want to explore in order to make sense of the Chicago Tribune articles? For example, do you know what happens at a coroner's inquest? Do you know where the murder took place (can you map it on a Chicago, 1925 map?) What kinds of information would you like to add to verify the knowledge you gained from the newspaper stories? And why do you want that information? And where/how do you propose to get it?Present an annotated bibliography of the resources you discovered: bibliographic information; how and where you found it, and why you expect it to be a useful addition to the documents packet.In a separate essay, examine your "process" how did you approach the search? what limitations did you detect in the newspaper sources? how did you set out to enhance the newspaper sources? what bibliographic tools did you use for the search (and how useful was each one)? were you unable to locate a source for material you think critical for a history built from this murder?
11:00-12:00: Thesis Proposal Defenses (Ungraded assignment: questions and comments on each proposal)
October 2 Good Writing, Good Questions: Story, Historiography, Theory
Discussion: the historian as writer; for whom does the historian write? is "research" the basis of the historian's expertise? what are the "limits of historical knowledge?" description v. question; how do historians frame questions? general discussion of the uses of theory.
Readings:Documents Packet, "A Murder in Chicago, 1925"Tosh, The Pursuit of History, chapters 6 and 7 (and review chapters 1-5)Howell and Prevenier, From Reliable Sources, chapters 4 and 5 (review sections from these chapters when you are doing the readings for Oct. 16, 23, 30, and Nov. 6, and 13.)William Cronon, "A Place for Stories: Nature, History, and Narratives," Journal of American History (March 1992): 1347-1376 (Retrieve through J-Stor)
Writing Assignment: What question(s) could a historian ask about "A Murder in Chicago, 1925?" (1-2 page reaction based on Tosh and Howell/Prevenier)11:00-12:00: Thesis Proposal Defenses (Ungraded assignment: questions and comments on each proposal)
Writing Assignment: using the documents packet (and the bibliography of primary sources you developed for the September 25th assignment) write a 5-page analysis of the "history" possibilities presented by this murder. What, as of mid-semester, do you consider the parameters of that history? What question(s) might the historian ask based on these documents and this event? Why these questions and not others? What historical tradition (s) will you need to familiarize yourself with in order to write your history of this murder (into what category is the JAH likely to place the history you write)? What historiography will you want to read? And what are the basic categories used by this historiography? (Append a bibliography of secondary sources you think appropriate for the essay you would write about this murder, if you were going to write such an essay.)
11:00- 12:00 : Thesis Proposal Defenses (Ungraded assignment: questions and comments on each proposal)
October 16: History and Theory: Marx and Gramsci
Guest Discusssant: Dr. Robert Stephens
Readings:Tosh, The Pursuit of History, chapters 8 and 9Marx, "Theses on Feuerbach" http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/theses/theses.htm or , in Karl Marx: Selected Writings, 2nd ed., David McLellan, ed. pp. 171-174.Marx, Excerpts from The German Ideology, in Karl Marx: Selected Writings, 2nd ed., David McLellan, ed. pp. 175-208.T. J. Jackson Lears "The Concept of Cultural Hegemony," American Historical Review 90 (June 1985): 567-595. (retrieve from J-Stor)Hay, Linebaugh, Rule, Thompson, and Winslow. Albion's Fatal Tree; Crime and Society in Eighteenth-Century EnglandDouglas Hay, "Property, Authority, and Criminal Law" (pp. 17-64)Peter Linebaugh, "The Tyburn Riot Against the Surgeons" (pp. 65-118)E. P. Thompson, "The Crime of Anonymity" (pp. 255-305)
Writing Assignment: Reaction paper, What questions would be asked in a Marxist study of "A Murder in Chicago, 1925?"11:00-12:00 : Thesis Proposal Defenses (Ungraded assignment: questions and comments on each proposal)
October 23: History and Theory: Foucault and the Post-Structuralists
Guest Discussant: Dr. Ann Laberge, Science and Technology Studies
Readings:Foucault, "Foreward to the English Edition," and "Preface" in The Order of ThingsFoucault, Discipline and Punish (1977)
Writing Assignment: Reaction paper Ð What questions would be asked in a Foucauldian study of the murder?11:00-12:00 : Dr. James I. Robertson, "About Researching and Writing"
October 30: History and Theory: Gender as a Category of Analysis
From Joan Wallach Scott, ed., Feminism and History (1996)Denise Riley, "Does a Sex Have a History?"Bonnie Thornton Dill, "The Dialectics of Black Womanhood"Joan Scott, "Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis"Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, "African-American Women's History and the Metalanguage of Race"
Judith Walkowitz, et.al. "Patrolling the Borders: Feminist Historiography and the New Historicism," Radical History Review 43 (1989)Ava Baron, "On Looking at Men: Masculinity and the Making of a Gendered Working-Class History" in Shapiro, Feminists Revision History (1994), pp.146-171.
Kristin Hoganson, Fighting for American Manhood (1998)
Writing Assignment: Reaction paper Ð How would a gendered approach address the history of this murder?11:00-12:00: Professor Jack Davis, "About Publishing"
November 6: History and Theory: Cultural Anthropology and Microhistory
Guest Discussant: Dr. E. Thomas Ewing, history
Readings:Tosh, The Pursuit of History, chapters 10 and 11Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures (1973)"Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture" pp. 3-32"Deep Play:Notes on the Balinese Cock Fight" pp. 412-454E. Thomas Ewing, "Personal Acts with Public Meanings: Suicide by Soviet Women Teachers in the Stalin Era," Gender & History 14 (2002) pp. 117-137.
Natalie Zemon Davis, The Return of Martin Guerre (1983)
Writing Assignment: Reaction paper: What questions would Clifford Geertz ask about the murder?
November 13: History and Theory: Postmodernism
Guest Discussant: Dr. Robert Stephens, history
Readings:Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (1985)Frederic Jameson, "Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism" New Left Review 146 (July-August 1984): 52-92.Gumbrecht, In 1926, Living at the Edge of Time (1997) Follow author's instructions for reading this book. You are not expected to read the entire book.
Writing Assignment: Reaction paper: How would you construct a postmodernist study of murder,1925?9:00-10:00 Dr. Richard Hirsh, "The History of Technology"
November 20: research break
November 22-30: Thanksgiving Break
December 4: Digital Turn: Does the Internet Change History
Readings:Carl Smith, "Can You Do Serious History on the Web? AHA Perspectives Online (February 1998) http://www.theaha.org/perspectives/issues/1998/9802/9802COM.CFM
American Quarterly, special digital issue. Look at all 4 articles, read one thoroughly. http://chnm.gmu.edu/aq"Forum on Hypertext Scholarship: AQ as Web-Zine: Responses to AQ's Experimental Issues" American Quarterly (June 1999) http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/american_quarterly/toc/aq51.2.html#cluster2
Final Assignment, due no later than December 8, noon: Major Research and Writing assignment: use one of the theories to design a research proposal based on the murder documents.
Identify the question you want to ask and your thesis. Explain why the question is historically significant.
Situate the question and answer within one of the theoretical perspectives.
Explain how and why this theoretical perspective would be useful and how the question and your thesis are shaped by the theory.
Identify the research steps you will take Ð what is the historiography for your question? (append a revised bibliography), and what are the primary documents, the raw material you would use to carry out your research design.
Finally, as an epilog, address briefly how you believe this project might be changed if you were to choose a digital framework for the study.