History 333C (001) Third year seminar: Historiography
Historiography, or what does it take to be a historian - If history is about the past which is dead, why does it keep changing, and so unpredictably, for every generation? This course, designed for all third-year honours students in history, will introduce them to the evolving nature of historical scholarship and to various genres, uses, and abuses of histories. We will explore for this purpose a series of classic studies, some old and some recent ones that provide models and illustrate different, and not necessarily compatible, approaches to writing and thinking about history. We will also read and discuss some basic theoretical works that debated methodological questions: What is history and what is a historical myth? Can history become a science? What is historical criticism and howand~
one can question sources and witnesses? Which methods can and cannot be used by historians? What key concepts and topics belong to their toolkit? Is consensus or objectivity attainable among historians? Is the public understanding of history different from professional views, and why? What are the major challenges - moral, political, and methodological - faced by practicing historians today? Students will be asked to write short weekly think pieces as responses to the assigned readings and two longer papers at the end of each semester.