Course Syllabus

Required Book

  • Wineburg, Sam.  Why Learn History: (When It’s Already on Your Phone).  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018.

Featured Resources

  • 1619 Project. New York Times Magazine. August 19, 2019. [WEB]
  • Aillon, Sarah.  “Allen Dulles.”  History 282, Spring 2019 [WEB]
  • Allison, Graham and Niall Ferguson. “Why the US President Needs a Council of Historians.” The Atlantic (September 2016). [WEB]
  • Arguing Over Slavery in the Constitution. History 404. Dickinson College. 2015.  [WEB]
  • Alterman, Eric. “The Decline of Historical Thinking.”  The New Yorker.  4, 2019 [WEB]
  • Blakemore, Erin. “James Buchanan Bought and Freed Slaves –But Not For the Reason You Might Think.” History.Com, July 26, 2017 [WEB]
  • Conway, Michael. “The Problem with History Classes.”  The Atlantic.  March 16, 2015 [WEB]
  • Cornell, Saul. “Aristocracy Assailed: The Ideology of Backcountry Anti-Federalism.” Journal of American History76 (March 1990): 1148-1172. [JSTOR]
  • Dickinson & Slavery. House Divided Project at Dickinson College. 2019. [WEB]
  • Digital Scholarship Lab. University of Richmond. 2007-2019. [WEB]
  • Donoghue, Amanda. “Discovering Joshua Lippincott.” History 204. Fall 2016. [WEB]
  • Foner, Eric. “Confederate Statues and Our History.” New York Times. 20, 2017 [WEB]
  • Grossman, James. “History Isn’t a Useless Major.”  LA Times. May 30, 2016. [WEB]
  • Historical Thinking Matters, George Mason / Stanford [WEB]
  • Huebner, Timothy B. “Roger B. Taney and the Slavery Issue: Looking Before –and Beyond—Dred Scott.”  Journal of American History 97 (June 2010): 17-38. [JSTOR]
  • Koman, Rita G. “The Supreme Court Speaks on Student Rights.” OAH Magazine of History 13 (Fall 1998) 50-55 [JSTOR]
  • Lincoln’s Writings: The Multi-Media Edition. House Divided Project.  [WEB]
  • Macfarlane, Colin. “Henry W. Spradley, Citizen.”  History 304, Spring 2011. [YOUTUBE]
  • McPherson, James M. “Politics and Judicial Responsibility: Dred Scott v. Sandford.” Great Cases in Constitution Law edited by Robert P. George (Princeton, 2000) [JSTOR]
  • Morgan, Rachel. “Mary Dillon’s Carlisle.”  House Divided Project. Summer 2017. [WEB]
  • Pinsker, Matthew. “Lincoln Theme 2.0.” Journal of American History 96 (Sept. 2009) [WEB]
  • Schuessler, Jennifer. “His Martin Luther King Biography Was a Classic.” NYT 6/4/19 [WEB]
  • Seefeldt, Douglas and William G. Thomas. “What is Digital History?” Perspectives on History. May 2009. [WEB]
  • Sinha, Manisha. “What Those Monuments Stand For.” NY Daily News. 8/18/17. [WEB]
  • Sunstein, Cass R. “Dred Scott v. Sandford and Its Legacy.” Great Cases in Constitution Law edited by Robert P. George (Princeton, 2000) [JSTOR]
  • Temkin, Moshik. “Historians Shouldn’t Be Pundits.”  New York Times, June 26, 2017. [WEB]
  • Unofficial Teacher’s Guide to Spielberg’s Lincoln. House Divided Project.  [WEB]
  • Villotti, Maria. “My Lai Massacre.”  History 211. Spring 2018. [WEB]
  • Wingert, Cooper. “Fugitive Slave Commissioner.” HIST 311. Fall 2017. [WEB]
  • Zraick, Karen. “What is Labor Day?” New York Times, September 1, 2018. [WEB]

Book Review

By Friday, September 27, students will submit a short book review (4 to 6 pages, typed, double-spaced) illustrating (or challenging) a key insight from Sam Wineburg’s Why Learn History (2018) in part by analyzing his claims in light of a personal learning experience (or experiences).  Each review should describe Wineburg as a scholar and summarize his latest work before analyzing some of his particular claims with general research and examples from your practical experience in the classroom.  Reviews should be formatted in a Word document with title page and Chicago-style footnotes.  Late reviews will be penalized up to 5 points per day.

Research Journal

Students will be required to post a total of THREE research journal entries at the course website (October 16, October 30, and November 6), describing their experiences in seeking information and insights relevant to assigned biographical subjects from the Dickinson & Slavery initiative.  The first entry should narrate the process of finding basic genealogy from (due 10/18 –REVISED).  The second entry should describe the process of researching assigned record collections at the Dickinson College Archives (due 11/1). The third entry should detail the results from collection searches at the Cumberland County Historical Society (CCHS) (due 11/8).  Each journal entry should occupy about 1,000 words (or 4-5 pages).  The narrative posts should include properly credited images and (where relevant) hyperlinks to outside sources.  Late entries will be penalized up to 5 points per day.

Multi-Media Exhibit

By December 17, students will be required to build multi-media teaching exhibit that addresses a landmark Supreme Court decision of their own choosing.  Exhibits must provide compelling biographical insight on the members of the Court and all the key litigants involved, as well as offer concise background, context and analysis about the significance of the decision.  Students may approach the topic from almost any perspective, but their goal should be to create an online learning site that can help classroom teachers at the high school or collegiate level to humanize and contextualize a landmark Supreme Court decision.  Students should begin the project by submitting an 4 to 6-page essay on the historical significance of the Supreme Court case combined with an appendix that provides concise biographical profiles of all of the key figures involved (court members + litigants).  The paper and appendix should be sent via email to Prof. Pinsker no later than FRIDAY December 6 (counting for one-third of the overall exhibit grade).  The paper should include a descriptive title, wide-ranging research, thoughtful analysis and careful use of Chicago-style footnotes to identify sources. The online exhibits should then transform a revised version of this paper into an engaging website (built on the free platform of Weebly) with various multi-media elements, such as image galleries, custom-made maps or timelines (using free platforms such as Google Maps, Timeline JS or Storymap), and / or short videos and podcasts.  Exhibits may incorporate multi-media elements from external sources, but students must acknowledge and properly credit all of those sources.  Late projects will be penalized up to 5 points per day.


Grade Distribution

Class Participation                  20 percent

Book Review                              20 percent

Research Journal                     30 percent

Multi-Media Exhibit                 30 percent


Day Date Discussion Topic Reading Assignment
Monday 9/2 Methods & Expectations Labor Day piece
Friday 9/6 Historical Profession Grossman + Alterman essays
Historical Thinking
Monday 9/9 Teaching American History //             SAMPLE: Blind Memorandum Wineburg, chap. 1-2 [VIDEO]
Friday 9/13 People’s History Wineburg, chap. 3 [ZINN VIDEO]
Monday 9/16 Historical Thinking Wineburg, chap. 4-5
Thursday 9/19 REQUIRED LECTURE:  Kwame Appiah ATS, 7pm
Friday 9/20 On Complexity Wineburg, chap. 6
Monday 9/23 Search vs. Research Wineberg, chap. 7
Friday 9/27 Heroes & Myth-Making Wineberg, ch. 8, Afterword, Schuessler
Friday 9/27 Book reviews DUE By 5pm via email
Monday 9/30 NO CLASS
Friday 10/4 NO CLASS
Research Practice: Dickinson & Slavery
Monday 10/7 Dickinson & Slavery Exhibit + report
Friday 10/11 FIELD TRIP:  College Archives
Monday 10/14 Slavery & America 1619 Project
Friday 10/18 Research Journal (Ancestry) DUE By 5pm (posted at site)
Friday 10/18 FIELD TRIP:  CCHS
Monday 10/21 FALL PAUSE
Friday 10/25 Hollywood vs. History Conway article, Lincoln guide
Monday 10/28 History vs. Memory Foner + Sinha op eds
Friday 11/1 Research journal (Archives) DUE By 5pm (posted at site)
Friday 11/1 Historians as pundits Allison, Temkin essays
Monday 11/4 Isle of Wikipedia Course post
Friday 11/8 Research journal (CCHS) DUE By 5pm (posted at site)
Friday 11/8 Future of the Past Pinsker, Seefeldt articles, DSL
Teaching & Learning: Landmark Cases
Monday 11/11 Dickinson & the Constitution Cornell article
Friday 11/15 Close reading:  Constitution & Slavery Arguing Over Constitution debate
Monday 11/18 Dred & Harriet Scott case Sunstein and McPherson chaps.
Tuesday 11/19 REQUIRED LECTURE:  Jonathan White Library, 430pm
Friday 11/22 Roger B. Taney and James Buchanan Huebner article & Blakemore article
Monday 11/25 Studying the US Supreme Court

FIELD TRIP:  Library (Classroom 2)

Koman article, Landmark cases
Monday 12/2 Carlisle Indian School and My Lai Donoghue, Villotti
Friday 12/6 Draft papers DUE By 5pm via email
Friday 12/6 Allen Dulles and Henry Spradley Aillon, Macfarlane
Monday 12/9 Benjamin Rush and Richard McAllister Morgan, Wingert
Tuesday 12/10 REQUIRED:  Honors talks (Sorcia, Wingert) Denny 317, noon to 1pm
Friday 12/13 Lessons & Legacies
Tuesday 12/17 Multi-Media exhibits DUE


By 5pm (via email link)