HIST 5700F: Introduction to Public History
Fall 2020

Instructor: Professor John C. Walsh (@ProfWalsh2003)

Introduction: This is the core seminar course for the MA in Public History. It has three goals. First, its purpose is to introduce you to key theoretical, conceptual, and methodological aspects of the field through a critical reading (and in some cases, viewings) of international and interdisciplinary scholarship. Second, the course is intended to introduce students to the broad spectrum of public history as both a distinct profession and also as a component of other forms of work. Third, the course is intended to nurture a shared sense of purpose, commitment, and identity amongst students, and to start building relationships that will be a part of your life at Carleton (at least!).

Class Format: While the course is entirely online for Fall 2020, it is going to feature a variety of formats. To best accommodate this, we will be using Slack, a very well-used platform in cultural and heritage organizations. (You will get an invitation to join the course website in July.) We will meet via Zoom as a single group every 3 weeks (approximately) to discuss course materials and / or to spend time with a class visitor. Those meeting times will be during the 3-hour block assigned to us by the university. Some weeks students will work on their own and / or with other classmates on a small project. This dynamic course structure resembles the work experiences that public historians all over are currently practicing as they, too, adopt to life with Covid-19.

Aims and Goals: You will leave the course with a clear understanding of what public history is and how public historians work as well as an awareness of the processes, problems, and ethical considerations involved with the practice of public history in a variety of contexts. You will also have the opportunity to think through issues such as public memory, historical consciousness, critical heritage, authority and power, community and identity.

Assessment: Full details will be given at our first meeting in September, but it will involve a wide range of elements reflecting the unique structure of the course.

Text: All course readings, viewings, and virtual tours will be provided through one or both of the university library reserve system and the course website.