Instructor: Dr. B. Robertson

Course Description

How do historians know what they know? What is it that historians do? Why do they want to do it? How do they do what they do? The theme of this year’s Historian’s Craft will be “Media – Artifact – Script” and is intended to help students grapple with the mechanisms, materials, stories and methods that historians use to make sense of the past and the world around them. This course is one of two compulsory courses for History majors, and one that is open only to them.  It provides an introduction to the way that historians work and the methods they use. We will look at everything from hand-written documents, photographs and artwork, to artifacts, objects and oral histories. This is a practical, hands-on course that will encourage students to explore and experience the actual materials and methods of analysis used by historians, and the various ways in which history is represented to specialists and to the wider public. Those taking this course will gain a good understanding of the ways in which historians explore and understand the past, the methods that historians have applied to examine a wide range of sources, and the various media that historian’s use to organize, visualize and present their findings.  They will a meet several guest lecturers, and hold some classes outside a formal classroom, to become familiar with some of the various laboratories used by historians: archives, museums, libraries, digital platforms, etc. Students will leave the course with a strong sense of why history does indeed matter and the practical ways they, as historians, can engage and bring a valuable perspective to the society in which they live.

This course will consist of two class sessions per week, many of which will be workshop focused and dedicated to hands-on and active learning. Students will complete a selection of practical activities, reflective exercises and digital assignments throughout the semester. These assignments will contribute to and culminate in a larger cuPortfolio project at the end of the year that they will present to one another in the final classes of the semester.