History, Numbers, Numeracy

History 281

Spring 2014
Day & Time: 
T 4-6P
  • 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.


Course Books

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