Craft of History


Spring 2017
141 Giannini
Day & Time: 
M 5-6:30
Class Number: 

History 104 is a course about how to read and write history. There is no particular geographic, temporal, or topical focus. Instead, we will concentrate on craft: on how to critically read, and how to successfully write history essays. By taking this course, you will improve your ability to meet the challenges of upper level history courses and prepare yourself for the advanced research and writing expected in History 103 and 101, the senior honors thesis sequence. More generally the class will be of use to anyone who wants to learn to be a better reader, a better thinker, and a better writer. Unlike other courses in the department, History 104 is taught in one lecture and two section meetings per week, emphasizing hands-on learning. There will be no exams, and the reading assignments are relatively light. The hard work in this class will be in reading closely and carefully, and in preparing the various writing assignments with great care. The first part of the class will be dedicated to reading historical essays: interrogating historical questions and arguments; dissecting the structure of effective essays; scrutinizing the use of historical evidence; and critically evaluating claims to significance. In part two of the class, students will use common primary sources to craft and refine their own history essays, and will write a prospectus exploring a possible senior thesis topic.