Teaching Thursday: Diversifying my Graduate Historical Methods Syllabus

This past semester, I taught a revised version of History 501: Historical Methods. This class was initially a very basic introduction to our department and the broad range of historical methods. As many of our graduate students had a rather narrow training as undergraduates that focused on conventional narratives, as opposed to methodology, this class provided a transition to a more rigorous and self-aware study of history.

I will admit that my typical syllabus for this class (and it’s sister class History 502) included the usual white male suspects. I went to the Twitters to diversity my bonds, so to speak and produced a new syllabus for the class that wasn’t entirely successful. The students and I have discussed adding a five more weeks of reading to bolster some gaps in my earlier syllabus.

In keeping with my efforts to diversify, decolonized, and transform, here are my ideas.

Week 1: Historical Thinking

Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt, and Margaret Jacobs, Telling the Truth About History. New York 1995.

(Maybe also, R.G. Collingwood, The Idea of History. Oxford 1946.)

Week 2: History of the Discipline

Bonnie Smith, The Gender of History: Men, Women, and the Historical Practice. (Harvard 2001).

(Maybe also: P. Novick, That Noble Dream: The “Objectivity Question” and the American Historical Profession. Cambridge 1988.

Week 3: Postcolonial History

Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe : postcolonial thought and historical difference.  Princeton 2000.

(Maybe also: David Scott, Conscripts of Modernity: The Tragedy of Colonial Enlightenment. Durham, NC 2004.)

Week 4: The Ontological Turn

Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Durham, NC 2007.

(Maybe also: Greg Anderson, The Realness of Things Past: ancient Greece and ontological history. New York 2018.)

Week 5: Academic Life

Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Generous Thinking: a radical approach to saving the university. Baltimore 2019.

(Maybe also: L. Menand, The Marketplace of Ideas. New York 2001.)


As always, I’m open to thoughts and suggestions!

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