Professor Dominique Marshall

Course Description How do historians know what they know? What is it that historians do? And how do they do what they do? This course is an introduction to the way that historians work. We will look at everything from hand-written documents, to photographs, to material culture: 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. Those taking this course will leave with a good understanding of the ways in which historians explore history through a wide variety of sources, the methods that historians have used to examine them, and the various ways in which history is presented to specialists and to the wider public.

Section Theme: “Transnational Histories and Memories of the First World War  On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Great War, Carleton professors of History and their colleagues collaborate to showcase the most recent approaches to the history of the conflict. Organized around countries and themes, with Canada as a point of departure, the course provides an occasion to examine the wealth of documents, exhibitions, and publications made available to the public on this important occasion.

Format: Students will approach study of the First World War through critical study of the materials and mechanisms by which we learn about history, we remember, we manage and analyse data and we present the past to different audiences. We will study the material forms in which knowledge about the past has been recorded, preserved, and transmitted to the present. We consequently study not simply “documents,” but strive to understand, for example, how differences between inscriptional (stone-carved), hand-written, printed, or digital media shape how we know and perceive “what happened.” We will also examine non-textual media such as maps, photographic images, and objects – which all offer very different ways of learning about history. Students will also be asked to reflect critically on the cultural institutions that preserve historical media: archives, libraries, and museums. We explore the re-use and representation of the past in contemporary print, electronic, and digital media. Throughout the term, expert researchers visit the class to share their knowledge and experience with students. The class will also gain hands-on experience of manuscripts, early printed books, maps, and archival materials using the resources of the Archives and Research Collection (ARC) and the Maps, Data, and Government Information Centre (MADGIC) at Carleton University Library.

Readings: Students will read on average one article or one chapter in advance of each meeting.

Evaluation. Assessment consists of five brief practical assignments due at regular intervals through the term, two short digital essays, and a Final Take-Home Essay.