Thinking Through History

History 283.001

Spring 2010
Day & Time: 
Wed 4-6

In the west, history has always been part of very large debates about the nature of society, the powers and limits of government, the capacity of individuals, and the role of religion. It is less a matter of writing history than of thinking with history â€_Ä" thinking about the present through the past. The questions are why we do history this way and whether we should continue doing it. Because this habitus is distinctively (and originally) European, the readings are entirely European. They are, however, quite broad: from Thucydides and Machiavelli to Marx, the British Marxists, the Annales, Foucault, and Hayden White. Also, given the influence of European historiography, this reading is important background for non-Europeanists. In fact, one of our recurring questions will be the extent to which these European-derived questions have been or should be applicable to non-European historiographies. And the final paper topic is quite ecumenical, simply asking students to interrogate the historiographies of their own fields with that discussed in the class. NB: Only the first weeksâ€_Äô readings, required translations, or books of limited availability will be made available for purchase at the bookstores (or as PDFs, or at a copy center). For most readings, students should make their own direct purchases. Email the instructor to learn which books to order oneself and which to purchase at the bookstore.