Introduction to Historical Studies
| Fall 2005
Office
Room 121, North Building
Office Hours:
Tuesdays, 8:00-10:00AM
Contact
phone: 905-569-4959
E-mail: m.tavakoli@utoronto.ca
Course Description

This writing-intensive course introduces students to historical thinking and writing in the humanities and social sciences and explores the emergence of Classics, History, and Religion as fields of academic inquiry.

Writing is an integral component of critical historical thinking skills. Both historical description and historical explanation involve the interrelated tasks of learning to write and writing to learn. Critical evaluation of historical writing is likewise intimately related to the ability to write critically and historically, skills that could be acquired only in a writing intensive course. By learning to reason and to write historically in Introduction to Historical Studies, students will acquire the foundational skills that are essential for their educational success in higher level courses in the Classical Civilizations, History of Religions, Womenís/Gender Studies, and History programs.

To enhance the utility of Introduction to Historical Studies as a writing intensive course each class session will be organized around fundamental issues as: "what is history and historicity," "what is time and time-distancing," "what is historical reasoning," "what is historical evidence," "what is historical description and explanation," and "how does one write historically?" Additionally students will learn about the significance of gender as a historical category and the importance of the "historical turn" in various disciplines in the humanities. By learning the significance of historical reasoning in other disciplines, students in this course will acquire skills that can be easily applied to courses in other disciplines.

In this writing-intensive course, prior to each class session students will be required to write a micro-essay of approximately 500 words on the central question of the week. These micro-essays will be critical summaries/reflections on the assigned readings, which will introduce students to the works of prominent historiographers and philosophers. For instance, the assigned readings on "what is history" will include passages from Immanuel Kant, Georg W.F. Hegel, Karl Marx, Edward Carr, and R. G. Collingwood. Through such assignments students will learn about both the diversity of perspectives on the explored questions and the significance of their prominent authors. Students will be required to post their micro-essays on the course website at least 48 hours prior to the class meeting. These postings will be accessible to other students and to the writing associate for responses and feedback.

To create a collaborative learning environment, students in this course will be divided into online writing communities of approximately 7 individuals. In addition to writing a micro-essay on the critical question of the week, each student will be required to write a brief 100-word critical reflection on micro-essays written by other students in their writing community. In this assignment students are asked to treat their peers as scholars and to ascertain how their perspectives relate to the views of the authors of the assigned readings. These critical comments will be also posted online and will be available to all students and to the writing associate for the course.

To contribute to the development of an active intellectual community on campus, students in this course will be also required to attend at least 4 out-of-classroom lectures and/or conferences. They will be asked to write a brief summary of no more than 100 words describing the fundamental argument of each speaker. In addition to engagement in campus-wide intellectual activities, this assignment will enable students to learn how to summarize elaborate arguments, skills that are essential to historical writing.

At the end of the semester each student is required to write a coherent final essay of approximately 5000 words addressing all the questions that were explored during the semester. In this assignment each student will be able to revisit her/his own weekly postings and to rewrite them into a coherent historigraphical essay embodying the scholarly tools of historical objectivity and evidentiary support. For their final grade, students will be asked to compile all of their written assignments into electronic portfolios.

Course Requirements

1. Biweekly summaries/analyses for a total of 6 one-page papers (approx. 500 words each). These analyses should be made available to other students via the Internet at least 24 hours prior to each class meeting.

2. Biweekly critiques of your peers' position papers for a total of 6 one-page papers (approx. 100 words each). Your critiques should be made available to other students via our discussion list.

3. Small groups will lead online discussions on assigned readings. All students are expected to participate regularly and actively in these discussions. Failure to do so will have a detrimental effect on your grade!

4. Students registered for this course are also required to participate in at least 4 sessions of university-wide seminars and/or public lectures related to Historical Studies. A short report (approx. 400-500 words) of these sessions should be sent to the Teaching Assistant assigned to your group.

5. A final take home essay exam (approximately 2500 words) on key Historiographical concepts, due 6 December 2005.

6. A weblog consisting of your weekly summaries, critiques, lecture reports, and the final take-home exam.

Grades

Students will be evaluated by attendance, quality participation in the course, and by the quality of their written works. Percentages will be assigned on this following basis:

1. Biweekly summaries/analyses, 20%
2. Biweekly critiques, 20%
3. Online group discussions and discussions with TAs and or instructors: 10%
4. Participation in university-wide seminars and public lectures: 10%
5. Substantive revision of writing assignments, 5%
6. Final take-home exam: 25%
7. Writing portfolio/weblog, 10%

Required Texts:

Week I:

Introduction to Historical Studies
Tuesday, September 13
Suggested Readings:

Writing about History 
Horace Samuel Merrill, Basic Rules For Writing Narrative History
Patrick Rael, Reading, Writing, and Researching for History: A Guide for College Students
 

Week II:

History, Historiography, and Historicity
Tuesday, September 20

Historiography

Paul Newall, Philosophy of History

Allan Megill, Relativism, or the different senses of objectivity, Academic Questions, Vol. 8 (06-01-1995), pp 33.

Theron F. Schlabach, Ten Commandments of Good Historical Writing
 

Week III:

Universal History
Tuesday, September 27

Immanuel Kant, "Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose," in Kant: Political Writings, ed. Hans Reiss (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), 41-53.

Immanuel Kant, An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment? In Practical Philosophy (Cambridge University Press, trans. and ed. Mary J. Gregor, 1996)
 

Week IV:

Hegelís Philosophy of History
Tuesday, October 4

G. W. F. Hegel, THE PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY, trans. J. Sibree (New York: Prometheus Books, 1991)
Introduction

Some books and hints on Hegel's Philosophy of Histor
 

Week V:

Marxist Philosophy of History
Tuesday, October 11

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party, trans. Samuel Moore (London: 1888; Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library).
Chapter 1: Bourgeois and Proletarians

Karl Marx, Introduction to A Contribution to A Critique of Political Economy
Part I: Production

Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon
Part I

Week VI:

Darwinian History
Tuesday, October 18
Required Readings:
Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (London: John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1859).
Preface
Introduction
Recapitulation and Conclusion

Robert M. Young, Darwinian Evolution and Human History
 

Week VII:

The Decline of the West
Tuesday, October 25
Required Readings:
Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West" An abridged edition by Helmut Werner. English abridged edition prepared by Arthur Helps from the translation by Charles Francis Atkinson. (New York: oxford University Press c199 [1926, 1928, 1932]).
 

Week VIII:

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
Tuesday, November 1
Required Readings:
Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) publ. University of Chicago Press, 1962.
Introduction
Chapter IX

"Thomas Kuhn," in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Frank Pajares, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: Outline and Study Guide

Malcolm R. Forster, Guide to Thomas Kuhnís The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, March 19, 1998
 

Week IX:

Gender and History
Tuesday, November 8
Required Readings:
Joan W. Scott, "Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis," The American Historical Review, Vol. 91, No. 5. (Dec., 1986), pp. 1053-1075.
 

Louise A. Tilly, "Gender, Women's History, and Social History," Social Science History, Vol. 13, No. 4 (Winter, 1989), pp. 439-462
 

Emily S. Rosenberg, "Gender," The Journal of American History, Vol. 77, No. 1 (Jun., 1990), pp. 116-124
 

Ann-Louise Shapiro, "Introduction: History and Feminist Theory, or Talking Back to the Beadle," History and Theory, Vol. 31, No. 4, Beiheft 31: History and Feminist Theory (Dec., 1992), pp. 1-14
 

Week X:

Classical Studies
Tuesday, November 15
Gregory Nagy, Classical Studies Programs as a Paradigm for the Humanities and Social Sciences
 

James J. O'Donnell, Late Antiquity: Before and After
 

Steven J Willett, "Postmodernist Classics," Academic Questions (Spring 2004), 59-66
 

Week XI:

History of Religions
Tuesday, November 22
Required Readings:
Robert D. Baird, "Interpretative Categories and the History of Religions," History and Theory, Vol. 8, Beiheft 8: On Method in the History of Religions. (1968), pp. 17-30.

Sam Gill, "The Academic Study of Religion," Journal of the American Academy of Religion > Vol. 62, No. 4, Settled Issues and Neglected Questions in the Study of Religion (Winter, 1994), pp. 965-975
 

Week XII:

Art History
Tuesday, November 29
Required Readings:
Graham McFee, "The Historicity of Art," The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 38, No. 3. (Spring, 1980), pp. 307-324.
 

Whitney Davis, When Pictures Are Present: Arthur Danto and the Historicity of the Eye
The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 59, No. 1 (Winter, 2001), pp. 29-38


Week XIII:
Tuesday, December 6


 

 

copyright © 2004 Mohamad Tavakoli Targhi