Course Syllabus

History 304:  Historiography and Advanced Methods
Matthew Pinsker
Dickinson College
Spring 2011
Denny 112
Tue / Thu 130-245pm

“History is ultimately a moral art, and it is about values. It is not merely about the collection of facts. It is about the way we put those facts together and the meaning we give them. Arguments about facts are arguments about meaning.”

–John Mack Faragher, quoted in New York Times, June 20, 2002

Required Books

Wineburg, Sam.  Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001.

Available at the Whistlestop Bookshop and on library reserve

Journal Articles

Berlin, Ira.  “American Slavery in History and Memory and the Search for Social Justice. Journal of American History 90 (March 2004): 1251-1268. [JSTOR]

Blight, David W.  “For Something beyond the Battlefield”: Frederick Douglass and the Struggle for the Memory of the Civil War,” Journal of American History 75 (March 1989): 1156-1178. [JSTOR]

Cronon, William.  “A Place for Stories: Nature, History, and Narrative.” Journal of American History 78 (March 1992): 1347-1376.  [JSTOR]

Howe, Daniel Walker.  “The Evangelical Movement and the Political Culture in the North During the Second Party System.”  Journal of American History 77 (March 1991): 1216-39 [JSTOR]

Kerber, Linda K.  “Separate Spheres, Female Worlds, Woman’s Place: The Rhetoric of Women’s History.” Journal of American 75 (June 1988): 9-39.  [JSTOR]

Lepore, Jill. “Historians Who Love Too Much:  Reflections on Microhistory and Biography.” Journal of American History 88 (June 2001): 129-144. [JSTOR]

“Lincoln Studies at the Bicentennial: A Round Table.” Journal of American History 96 (Sep. 2009): 417-461.

Ogude, S.E. “Equiano’s Narrative Reconsidered.” Research in African Literatures 13 (Spring 1982): 31-43 [JSTOR]

Rodgers, Daniel T.  “Republicanism: The Career of a Concept.” Journal of American History 79 (June 1992): 11-38. [JSTOR]

“Textbooks and Teaching.”  Journal of American History 91 (Mar. 2005):1380-1415. [JSTOR]

Featured Websites

Center for History and New Media                   

Dickinson History Delicious Bookmarks          

Historical Thinking Matters                               

History News Network                                       

House Divided Project                                        

Osborne Center for Historical Methods            

Teaching History                                                  

Attendance and Participation

Under ordinary circumstances, more than two unexcused absences will result in a serious (and escalating) grade reduction.  Students are also evaluated for participation.  Good participation means contributing in the following ways: (1) Providing creative and well-designed presentations during our lab sessions on Tuesdays and (2) Offering thoughtful comments and questions during historiography discussions on Thursdays.

Research Project

Students will conduct advanced archival and digital research in association with the events of the House Divided launch / Civil War 150th weekend in mid-April.  They will select a topic from a list of six possibilities (all within Carlisle) and will then catalogue their research efforts in a series of regular entries at the course blog.  Each student will have to search at least five different types of sources: (1) manuscript collections in archives, (2) image collections in archives, (3) newspapers on microfilm, (4) newspapers (or other primary sources) in databases, and (5) relevant published sources.  Each blog entry (250-500 words) will describe the research process and append relevant materials.  The research project will begin on February 1 and must be completed by Friday, March 11.

Video Project

Students will submit a documentary short video (approx. 1 or 2 minutes) by Friday, April 1.  The video project should be conceived as a “trailer” for ONE of the six stops in the Carlisle Civil War tour.  The trailers will serve as short overviews for the stories associated with each stop.  Students should use images from the House Divided Flickr photostream for their video trailers and text or context for their material from the mobile tour demonstration site.  The video trailers might have music and sound effects but audio narration is optional.  Instead, students should use short text combined with pan-and-zoom still images to create a video trailer.  Video documentaries should be produced in software such as iMovie, Moviemaker or Photostory 3 and will use still images only.   For advice on how to create videos in these programs and where to find music and other practical details, go to the Video FAQs section of House Divided’s index page. Students must work on the trailers by themselves.  Late videos will be penalized by five points per day.

Bibliography and Book Review

On April 29, students will submit an annotated bibliography of at least six scholarly books on a single theme or topic from any era in world history up to 2001.  The bibliographies must be prepared in Chicago-style and each entry should contain descriptive annotations of about 250 words that summarize information on factors such as author, subject, argument, evidence and significance.  Students should also prepare a 750-word book review of at least one additional scholarly book on the same theme or topic. Late submissions will be penalized 5 points per day.

Historiography Essay

On Monday, May 16, students will submit a 15-20 page historiography essay that builds upon the corrected Bibliography and Book Review assignment.  The essay should contain a creative argument and demonstrate both careful analysis and clear prose while analyzing at least seven scholarly sources that address a major subject of historiographical concern.  Late essays will be penalized 5 points per day.

Grade Distribution and Learning Objectives

Participation                            30 percent

Research Project                    20 percent

Video Project                          10 percent

Bibliography & Book Review  10 percent

Historiography Essay              30 percent

In this class, students will learn about: 1) Developing historical perspectives; 2) Expressing themselves clearly; 3) Locating relevant information; 4) Identifying key historical issues and debates; and 5) Supporting plausible historical arguments.

Class Schedule (History 304)

Day Date Discussion Topic Reading Assignment
Tuesday 1/25 Methods & Expectations
Thursday 1/27 Introduction to Historical Thinking Wineburg, 3-27 (chap. 1)
Tuesday 2/1 LAB / Genealogy

Research Project topic selection
Thursday 2/3 NO CLASS
Tuesday 2/8 LAB / Visualizing Records
Thursday 2/10 The Case of Equiano Ogude article


Tuesday 2/15 GUEST / Pawley Cronon article
Thursday 2/17 Between Text and Context Wineburg, 63-112 (chap. 3-4)
Tuesday 2/22 GUEST / Soll Mosquito Empires Roundtable (see esp. pp. 2-3, 5-8, 9-13, 17-22)
Wednesday 2/23 Bell Lecture by Regina Sweeney Denny 317, 430pm
Thursday 2/24 Republicanism Rodgers article
Tuesday 3/1 LAB / Behind the Image Photo / Illustration handouts
Thursday 3/3 Women’s History Kerber article
Tuesday 3/8 LAB / Mapping, Part 1 GIS webserver
Thursday 3/10 Evangelicals and Politics Howe article
Friday 3/11 Research Project due Blog posts complete by noon
Spring Break (May 11 -21)
Tuesday 3/22 LAB / Blogging Historically Correct blog
Thursday 3/24 Slavery Berlin article
Tuesday 3/29 LAB / Reading Online Wordle and Google Books
Thursday 3/31 Exploring the Lincoln Theme Lincoln Studies Round Table
Tuesday 4/5 LAB / Mapping

Videos due in class

Google Maps / GIS
Thursday 4/7 Memory & Meaning Wineburg, 217-231 (chap. 9)

Blight article

Tuesday 4/12 NO CLASS
Thursday 4/14 NO CLASS
Friday 4/15 Civil War 150 / House Divided Film Festival Carlisle Theatre, 7-9pm
Saturday 4/16 Civil War 150 / House Divided launch

Teacher workshop / Walking Tours / Lecture by David Blight

Denny 317, 9am –noon,

Courthouse, 1-3pm /

ATS, 7-9pm

Tuesday 4/19 LAB / Reviewing Books Journal issues
Thursday 4/21 Writing Lives & Narrative Lepore article

Cronon article

Tuesday 4/26 LAB / Film & Video American History In Video
Thursday 4/28 History and Multi-Media Wineburg, 232-255 (chap. 10)
Friday 4/29 Annotated Bibliography and Book Review due Via email, By noon
Tuesday 5/3 LAB / Teaching Textbooks
Thursday 5/5 On Textbooks Textbooks & Teaching issue

Wineburg,117-72 (chap. 5-7)

Monday 5/16 Historiography Essay due Via email, By noon