History 2809A/2809B The Historian’s Craft
Fall 2020 / Winter 2021

grey picture of a program with a dove drawn on it

Street door to the office of the Student Union for Peace Action’s Anti-Draft Programme, Toronto, 1967. John F. Phillips. Wikimedia Commons.

Instructor: Professor Michel Hogue

Description: If, as some suggest, the past is a foreign country, then how do historians find their way around? What tools or methods do they use to navigate this historical terrain? This course offers a hands-on introduction to the ways that historians investigate, assess, and represent the past. Our explorations will focus on a tumultuous episode in North American history: the social protests inspired by the Vietnam War and, especially, the decisions by American war resisters to relocate to Canada. You will investigate the circumstances that shaped the antiwar activism of the draft resisters and peace activists in Canada, as well as the responses to their activism by officials and the public at large. You will be tasked with considering, up close, the varied documents—the correspondence, pamphlets, photographs, personal recollections, press accounts, and more—generated by the presence of these war resisters. Together, we will consider the stories that these documents allow us to tell about this time and place.

In short, you will be asked to do the work of an historian: you will locate and examine a wide array of primary and secondary sources and experience some of the varied methods of analysis that historians use to make sense of the past. You will also assess some of the different ways that historians craft their studies and present their findings. These are the methods and skills that you will need to thrive in your other history courses. At the same time, this course is meant to have you develop and reflect on the ways that your work in the classroom might be applied outside of it. To that end, we will keep our eye on the practical applications of the research, writing, and analytical skills that are at the core of your university course work.

 Format: This course will be delivered completely online through cuLearn. You will be required to participate in weekly online discussions and complete weekly modules. The modules will be released, one at a time, over the course of the semester. You will therefore need to manage your schedules in order to complete the various components of the course in the allotted time. Put another way, you will not be able to complete the entire course in a few days.

The shape and content of the course modules will vary from week to week. At various points in the term, you will listen to recorded lectures; complete on-line quizzes, reflections, or other activities; read and discuss the assigned readings, listen to podcasts, or watch films; and complete work on other course assignments. That said, the course is designed to ensure that its total requirements, and the time you are expected to dedicate to it, match those of in-person courses.

Evaluation: In the past, students in this course completed an applied research project. I am working to adapt some of the components of this project to an online environment. Other activities will include:

  • Weekly quizzes based on the required readings
  • Weekly contributions to the discussion group
  • Regular reflections on a subject or theme covered in class
  • Regular short writing assignments

Readings: While most readings for the course will be made available online, you will also be asked to secure a copy of Jenny Presnell’s The Information-Literate Historian (2019).

If you have any questions please contact me at michel.hogue@carleton.ca