|Junior Seminar: Studying History
HY 399--Carol Neel, Block 2, 2011-12
The image to the right is of one of the most famous and politically significant of the late eighteenth century. Here the painter-chronicler David portrays an incident from ancient history of Rome in which three brothers pledged to defend the Roman Republic with their lives. Is this painting about the Roman past or David's French present? How does it represent the commitment of the relationship of the individual and the state? How does David here read the past into the present to reframe both the history of ancient Rome and the politics of modern France?
In this course we will penetrate the picture plane of historical writing by asking, in a fashion analogous to interrogation of David's painting, why and how the past has been differently constructed by various historians, including ourselves.
And look to the bottom of this syllabus for a similarly challenging visual image of the American past. Of what is the latter painting of Daniel Boone on the way west, trying to convince you? Do you believe it?
Jacques-Louis David, Oath of the Horatii (1784)
This course will raise two questions central to the activity of all students of the past and all professional historians: how can we know the past? how can we use that knowledge? In exploring possible responses, the course's readings and discussions will address the contemporary shape of the historical discipline as well as earlier models of historical study. Because "Studying History" is designed for history majors--although other students are welcome--students will be expected to use their prior experience in historical studies both to contribute to class discussions and to evolve their own points of view about history in general and individual research projects in particular. In so doing they will be entering a historical community widely extended across space and time, and including the several groups of HY 399 students still on campus who have completed this syllabus annually revised by the Colorado College History Department.
Throughout this exploration of historiography (that is the relationship between the material of the past and how we write and think about it) "Studying History" will call upon the active contribution of all students in reading assigned texts, presenting individual responses to common readings and establishing connections to outside readings. The group will proceed as a seminar; the instructor will endeavor to support discussion rather than lecture. Heavy responsibility will thus be placed upon all class members to be prepared, to express informed arguments and to respond attentively to each other's comments. Readings will generally be discussed on the day for which they are assigned and should always be completed before that day's meeting. Teams of students will be assigned to initiate and facilitate each day's conversation.
By the end of the first week of the course all students will, in consultation with the instructor and other department members, choose a special topic. Development of this topic will require the reading of several sources, monographs or articles embracing sources and criticism on a topic of clear historiographical interest. In the course of the block each student's research projects will develop into a substantial paper (4000-5000 words, text and notes); workshops on these papers will effectively present work in progress to groups of peers. Papers may treat a wide range of topics, but all will address the central questions of this course: what, for the historian(s) at issue, is history for? Why, from her/his/their theoretical perspective and from the student critic's point of view, should we do history? What arguments and sources are presented in the historiography? Successful papers will not narrate events but rather discuss interpretive structures, setting their respective topics in the context of the course's common discussion of the background of contemporary historical thought. Further suggestions for the framing and completion of this major paper are available on the PROWL website.
Paper prospectus will identify research problems, sources and conclusions, each offering an annotated bibliography of the primary texts and scholarly discussions to which students' respective analyses respond. Outlines will clarify the way the way in which respective students intend to present historiographical problems, outline scholarly commentary and offer their independent analysis. Papers developing these essential aspects of any historiographical study will be due at the final breakfast meeting, and will be constructed according to the standards for style, references and bibliography of the University of Chicago Manual of Style.
Assessment of student work will be evenly balanced between written work and class participation (seminar contributions and final oral exam, weighted equally).
Caution and exhortation
Completion of this course requires serious commitment to both common readings and individual research, weighted equally in final assessment. Engagement in discussion is essential throughout; leadership assignments will be evaluated as an important part of seminar participation. Reading assignments are arranged throughout the course's three and a half weeks for optimal discussion, not for balance of page assignments; students need to manage time carefully, reading ahead on lengthier and more difficult works. The paper is due on the last day of the block and it is a big paper; it will be wise to begin earnest work on it during the first week. Hence, the instructor has set aside time early on and throughout the block for students to devote exclusively to paper development.
Sometimes students in Junior Seminar: HY 399 wish to clarify the relationship between their work in this course and the other elements of the exit experience (Advanced Seminar/HY 410 and Senior Essay/HY 420 OR Thesis/HY 415. All should be aware that work in "Studying History" may be connected to those final elements of the major, but that their papers here are fundamentally different. If students in this class have a clear idea about their senior research, they are welcome to treat the research paper here as a bibliographical and historiographical exploration of their eventual essays'/theses' material. What they write here cannot, however, be recast as a part or chapter of the final essay/thesis. Here the questions are chiefly theoretical; in the senior research project, the central requirement is that the student grapple with primary sources in critical context. Thus, the conclusions of the HY 399 paper may be a springboard for further research in HY 410-420/415, but its text may not be recycled as either an Advanced Seminar paper senior research project.
All work for this course is subject to the Honor Code; each paper must include a signed statement affirming compliance.
The following works are available for purchase in the Colorado College Bookstore:
Finley, Moses (ed. and trans.). The Portable Greek Historians: The Essence of Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Polybius. Penguin 1977. ISBN 014015065X
Ibn Khaldun. Muqadimmah. Princeton 2004. ISBN 0691120544
Marx, Karl. Capital: An Abridged Edition. Ed. and Trans. Daviod McClellan. Oxford 2008. ISBN 01995357o1
Said, Edward. Orientalism. Vintage. ISBN 039474067X
All further required readings
are accessible on the PROWL website (https://prowl.coloradocollege.edu/user/view.php?id=24305&course=147)
for this cooperative course. They are:
Robert A. Rosenstone, "History as Images/History in Words: REflections of the Possibility of Really Putting History onto Film," American Historical Review 93 (1988): 1173-1185.
Genesis 1-22 (Revised English Bible)
Guibert de Nogent, Deeds of God through the Franks, trans. Robert Levine (Woodbridge: Boydell, 1997), 23-39, 165-166.
Carl Becker, Everyman His Own Historian, 2nd ed. (New York: Quadrangle Books: 1966), 191-255, 299-325..
Marc Bloch, Feudal Society, trans. L. A. Manyon (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961), Vol. 1, xvii-xx; Vol. 2, 448-452.
Marc Bloch, The Historian's Craft, trans. Peter Putnam ( New York: Vintage, 1953), 3-47, 190-197.
Ulrich B. Phillips, " Plantations with Slave Labor and Free," AHR 30 (1925): 738-753.
Kenneth M. Stampp, "The Historian and Southern Negro Slavery," AHR 57 (1952): 613-624.
Barbara Jeanne Fields, "Slavery, Race and Ideology in the United States of America," New Left Review 1/181 (1990): 95-118.
James F. Brooks, Captives and Cousins: Slavery, Kinship and Community in the Southwest Borderlands (Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 2002), 1-40.
Joan Wallach Scott, "Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis," AHR 91 (1986): 1053-1075, repr. in Scott (ed.), Feminism and History (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1996), 152-180.
Judith Bennett, "Lesbian-Like and the Social History of Lesbianisms," Journal of the History of Sexuality 9 (2000): 1-24.
Robert Darnton, ""Film: Danton and Double Entendre," in The Kiss of Lamourette: Reflections in Cultural History (New York: W. W. Norton, 1990), 37-52.
Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World, trans. Héléne Iswolsky (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1984), 1-24, 53-58.
François Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel, trans. M. A Screech (New york: Penguin, 2008), 27-29, 129-133.
Caroline Bynum, "Curriculum Vitae: An Authorial Aside," Common Knowledge 9 (2003), 1-12.
The following films will be the subjects of critical discussion:
Alan Parker, Mississippi Burning (1989)
Andrzej Wajda, Danton (1982)
Schedule of class meetings and assignments
Class will meet at 9:30am in Palmer 217, the Barton Seminar Room, unless otherwise noted.
Week 1 (October 3)--Organizing the past
Introduction 9am, film 12:30pm
Discussion: Seeing, believing, and history
Afternoon film: Mississippi Burning
|Tuesday||Discussion: Choosing stories to tell||Reading: Rosenstone|
|Wednesday||Discussion: Ancient paradigms, I||Reading: Herodotus in Finley 29-62; Thucydides in Finley 218-232, 265-290|
No class meeting
|Identification of possible paper topics||Individual research and consultation with departmental faculty|
|Friday||Discussion: Ancient paradigms, II||Reading: Genesis 1-22|
Week 2 (October 10)--Finding historical truth
Discussion: God and mankind in medieval East and West
|Reading: Guibert de Nogent, Ibn Khaldun 3-63, 421-431, 459|
|Tuesday||Discussion: Historical change and
Afternoon library session: Research in historiography (Darryl Alder)
|Reading: Marx 3-12, 93-100, 363-380|
|Wednesday||Discussion: History for everyone||Reading: Becker|
No class meeting
|Individual meetings with instructor
Paper prospectus due 2:30 pm
|Development of paper topics|
|Friday||Discussion: History of everyone||Reading: Bloch, Feudal Society; Bloch, Historian's Craft|
Week 3 (October 17)--Doing history/making historiography
|Monday||Discussion: Slavery as a historiographical problem||Reading: Phillips, Stampp, Fields, Brooks|
|Tuesday||Discussion: Men and not-men
Paper outlines due 1pm
|Reading: Scott, Bennett|
Film and discussion: Danton
Development of paper drafts
Afternon paper workshops
Paper drafts (at least 3000 words) due 9:30am in multiple copies
Paper workshops 1 pm
|Peer criticism and response|
Discussion: Other others
|Reading: Bakhtin; Rabelais; Said 31-110, 166-197, 226-254, 284-328|
Week 4 (October 24)--Doing history/making historiography
Class breakfast 9:30am at 2404 Constellation
|All-class review discussion
Full paper drafts due in class
|Individual review and completion of drafts|
|Tuesday||All-class oral examination|
Reading toward oral exam: Bynum
|Wednesday||Final paper drafts due noon||Final revision of papers|
The instructor will be available after class and Tuesday/Thursday 1-2:20pm (or by appointment) in Palmer 233E for continuing discussion and help with individual projects. Students may contact Carol at 389-6527 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
George Caleb Bingham, Crossing the Gap (1851)
Onward through the wilds of historiography!