Methodology

283.001 Fall 2008 Historical Method and Theory

Consider the following:

The past is a foreign country, irretrievably lost to us.
The past is not dead. It's not even past.
The function of history is to assist us in honoring our dead.
History is what historians write. It does not exist independently.
History is the child of narrative. History is defined by its type of discourse rather than its object of study.
The historian's task is ";to participate positively in the liberation of the present from the burden of history.";

283.001 Spring 2008 History and Literature

How have the oft-cited linguistic turn in historical studies and the historicist trend in literary studies unsettled the boundary between those two disciplines? What have historians learned from scholars in literature departments about reading texts? What assumptions, goals, and methodological protocols continue to distinguish the historian's approach to language, literature, and textuality?

283.002 Spring 2007 Transcendence & Immanence in History Thought

Stages of the Western debate over the meaning of history: 1) the providential idea of history (St. Augustine, Venerable Bede, Otto of Freising); 2) immanental repetition (Machiavelli); immanental evolution (Giambattista Vico, Adam Ferguson); 3) immanentalization of transcendence (G.W.F. Hegel, Leopold von Ranke, Karl Marx); 4) recovering freedom, and contigency (Jacob Burckhardt, Friedrich Nietzsche); 5) reason transcending history (Max Weber); 6) Neo-Humanism and Post-Modernism (Marc Bloch, Michel de Certeau). The readings may be changed, depending on student interests.

283.001 Spring 2007 Explorations in Comparative Historiography: Reading Foundational Texts from the East Asian and Mediterranean Traditions

In this seminar we will read some notable works of history from ancient and medieval China and Japan, and read them against equally important works from our own classical and medieval traditions. The aim is to induce students to confront their assumptions about what history is and should be by showing them how different were the assumptions of East Asian historians, especially the Chinese, who were probably the greatest writers of history of pre-modern times.

283.001 Spring 2006 Marxism and the Historical Imagination

This reading seminar has two purposes: first, to explore the impact of Marxism on the writing of history, through an examination of a selected number of protean texts by major figures in Marxian tradition, along with some important interpretive treatments. Second, since Marxism was an international movement and discourse par excellence, we will also look at its spread and impact on historiography outside its Atlantic homeland. Here we turn to Japan--home to a vital and influential Marxian tradition as well as a key medium for the transmission of Marxism to China--as the major case study.

283.002 Fall 2005 Introduction to History and Theory

This seminar is an introduction to a broad array of issues in history and theory. Instead of casting ";theory"; and ";history"; as separate. antagonistic discourses, it hopes to encourage students to theorize history and historicize theory. For a few hours each week, we are going to think carefully about ";history"; as an idea and a practice. At the same time, we will explore the various ways in which ";theory,"; even at it's most deliberately anti-historical, projects it's own histories.

283.001 Fall 2005 What is Cultural History?

Critics and practitioners speak confidently (if not always approvingly) of a turn in recent decades toward cultural history, but it remains unclear what exactly the term designates. Is cultural history a field, a subject matter, a scholarly methodology, a theory about the world, an interpretive stance toward texts and images, a rhetorical posture, a set of aesthetic preferences? Is it comparable to and neatly distinguishable from social history and intellectual history?

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