Instructor: Dr. Jill St. Germain


Are you drawn to History by the stories?

Have you ever read an historical novel and thought I’d like to do that?

HIST3908 Creating History is a writing course focused on two popular forms of historical writing – historical fiction and narrative history. In this workshop-oriented course, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages, promise and pitfalls of writing history for a popular audience at a practical level with each student creating their own work in one of the two genres.

The major project is a 25-page piece of original historical fiction OR historical narrative. Each class will involve a practical component directed to the development and completion of your piece of fiction or narrative. Although we will read some examples of historical fiction/narrative, the emphasis of this course will be the writing of individual projects.

In lecture and discussion segments we will examine the elements of writing historical fiction and popular narrative, including the fundamentals of research, plotting, character development, and story structure, and classes will involve an opportunity to apply these aspects. We will consider examples of both genres to identify those components which lead to “good” or “bad” fiction and narrative, compelling reads or “junk.”

Topping bestseller lists of both fiction and non-fiction, the writing of history for a popular audience has wide circulation. HIST3908 aims to help students apply skills developed and subject knowledge acquired in the study of History to these alternate forms of historical writing.

Although there will be assigned readings and discussion of the writing of others, students should expect to be writing fiction and narrative, rather than reading it.

Course Format

Creating History will meet once a week for three hours at a time and consist of small-group and all-class discussions of assigned readings and in-group peer review sessions of weekly assignments.


– Completion of short practical (weekly) written assignments related to the major project

– Participation in peer review sessions of weekly assignments in class

– Participation in discussion in a way that reflects understanding of required readings

– Production of a 25-page original work of historical fiction OR narrative popular history

– A written peer review of the final project of another student

There will be no final examination.

Precludes additional credit for HIST 3907A (offered in Winter 2019).