History, Numbers, Numeracy

Spring
2014

Instructor:

Location:

225 DWINELLE

Day & Time:

T 4-6P

CCN:

39876

Units:

4

*Note new room.*

Quantitative history, as it is currently practiced, exists almost entirely outside of history departments—in economics and, to a lesser extent, political science and sociology. At the same time, scholars in history and the humanities have developed new and innovative ways of close-reading quantitative documents. This graduate seminar, a broad based numerical methods course, will explore the rise and fall of quantitative history and the new ways historians are putting numbers to use. In addition to reading both histories of numbers and quantitative histories, you can expect to review or learn basic statistical practices and to increase your familiarity with major historical databases.

The course will be divided into three sections. During the first weeks of class we will discuss the historiography of quantification during the second half of the twentieth century, including a case study of the reception of Robert Fogel and Stanley Engerman’s Time on the Cross. In the second module we will review basic quantitative skills and critique econometric studies. In the final third of the course, we will read an array of recent historical work on the history of numbers.

No prior quantitative background is required for this course. However, students should expect to conduct research drawing on numerical or partially numerical sources.

The Institutional Framework of Russian Serfdom by Tracy Dennison |
Cambridge. ISBN: 978-1107661707 | Required |

Measure of Reality by Alfred Crosby |
Cambridge. ISBN: 978-0521639903 | Required |

Fortune Tellers by Walter Friedman |
Princeton. ISBN: 978-0691159119 | Required |

A Calculating People by Patricia Cline Cohen |
Routledge. ISBN: 978-0415925785 | Required |

The Averaged American by Sarah Igo |
Harvard University Press. ISBN: 978-0674027428 | Required |

Taming of Chance by Ian Hacking |
Cambridge. ISBN: 978-0521388849 | Required |

Trust in Numbers by Theodore Porter |
Princeton. ISBN: 978-0691029085 | Required |

Time on the Cross by Robert Fogel and Stanley Engerman |
Norton. ISBN: 978-0393312188 | Required |