Instructor:  Professor John C. Walsh

Introduction: This course surveys international and interdisciplinary literatures from the history and theory of public history and memory studies.  A central learning objective of the course is that students will wrestle intellectually with how “public” and “history” are interlaced with “memory” in the scholarship, and have a scholarly context in which to place their own research interests. Contingent on final planning details, a second learning objective for the course is for students to appreciate how public history is practiced in the field.  This will be done via a community-based research project whose goals and final outputs will be done in support of a community organization’s needs.

Class Format: For most weeks, we will meet in a 3-hr block where we will discuss assigned readings, viewings, and site visits. As well, our possible community-based research project will require time in the field, but no more than would be expected for a graduate research seminar course. In-class time will be allocated to the project as well.

Aims and Goals: As the core course for students in the M.A. in Public History Program (but open to others!), this course surveys an interdisciplinary scholarly literature in order to help students think theoretically, conceptually, and methodologically about their own research interests, and about best public history practices.

Assessment: Subject to change based on the final details of the course project, but students should expect 30% of the course grade for the weekly seminar meetings, where students are evaluated on their level of preparation and the quality of their engagement in discussions and exercises.  40% of the course grade will be allocated to the near-weekly writing of reflexive blog posts about course readings, discussions, and the project. The final 30% of the course grade is attached to all the work surrounding the class project.  More details about all of this will be provided at our first meeting in September.

Text:  Depending on its availability, we will use David Dean, ed., A Companion to Public History (Wiley Blackwell, 2018) as a core text. If not, there will be a wide range of readings assembled at the library reserve desk.

Questions? Please email