HIST 5003F: Historical Theory and Method
Fall 2021-Winter 2022
Instructor: Professor Paul Nelles
This course offers a thematic exploration of approaches to the past. The course is intended to help students transition to graduate school by focusing on both ways of thinking about history and on the everyday practices of doing history. Thinking and doing history means being engaged in a range of scholarly and public conversations about the past, about how we know what we know about the past, and what it means to do historical research. Themes include the history and theory of archives, approaches to visual and material culture, micro-history and global history, and post-colonialism and decolonization. The purpose of this seminar is not to be comprehensive but to become acquainted with some of the the ideas that inspire historians and explore how theory can be used productively to shape and inform historical inquiry. In thinking about approaches to doing history, students are invited to reflect on their own assumptions and methods. The course should serve as a launching pad for a deeper engagement with critical thinking about the discipline of history and with contemporary currents of historical scholarship.
This is a 0.5 credit course that will meet every other week for the duration of the 2021–22 academic year. Class meetings will occur primarily via Zoom, with arrangements made for occassional smaller, in-person sessions. The ‘whole-class’ synchronous on-line segment of the class will be around two hours every other week on Mondays.