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Teaching the Methods Course

18 July, 2007

Teaching the Methods Course

I’m teaching Historiography and Methods for the first time this coming term. It’ll be interesting, as I’ve never formally taken a class in the stuff. Fortunately, Ancarett came up with a great list of suggestions last year; based on her recommendations and those of a couple of other colleagues, I’m using John Tosh’s The Pursuit of History for the main text. My goal in this course, which is a requirement for majors and usually taken in the third year or beginning of the fourth, is to build on what I’ve taught them about reading primary sources and analysing secondary sources in the survey courses, and prepare them for the only real research paper they have to do, their senior thesis.

So anyway, I’m starting the Methods course with Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time. Well, not exactly. I suppose I should give them the more accepted historical accounts first — suggestions from the Late MA people would be helpful here (hint hint please!)– because they will none of them have had a course that covers the period. It isn’t history, but I like the way Tey deals with authorial POV and the idea of a particular version of history becoming the norm, even when that version really doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny. Today, I found this really cool blog post by Errol Morris at the NY Times site. I hope it’s still accessible when term starts! Anyway, Morris has written a very good essay on the use of photographic evidence that I thought all the history folk would appreciate and possibly want to use themselves.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. 19 July, 2007 3:43 am

    Interesting hook to reel them in with “The Daughter of Time” — I will think on what might be a good conventional introduction to the controversy over the princes in the Tower. I do something similar with my Western Civ students at the start of the course when we work through two two sources describingAnne Boleyn as, variously the virtuous champion of Protestantism and a nasty, twelve-fingered whore.I would also recommend you snag a copy of Partner’s edited collection “Writing Medieval History” — that could give you some more fun topics and themes to touch upon.

  2. 19 July, 2007 4:01 am

    Thanks! I’ll look for it. LDW also suggested Winks’ The Historian as Detective, which I might look at for next time. And I’ve got the Blackwell Companion to Western Historical Thought as backup …

  3. 20 July, 2007 3:23 pm

    I teach Historiography for our university, and it’s one of my favorite classes. I’ve used DOT regularly, and the students have always enjoyed it. If your students can handle it, Telling the Truth About History (Appleby, Hunt, et al) is great, and can engender some wonderful discussions.

  4. 24 July, 2007 10:03 am

    An assignment I give students in a historiography course is to write a narrative of a day in their life. (I usually also give them the option of writing a history of a day from a Sunday newspaper.) It’s a great assignment because it forces them to see the choices that are made in narrative, which they all think is “true”.

  5. 30 July, 2007 7:16 pm

    Hi ADM,OK, rank self-promotion, but I got nominated for a Cliopatria Award back in 2005 for my blog series “Introduction to Historical Method.” (Nate Robinson won for an even better series!) I also used portions of Tosh’s Pursuit as well as his Historians on History as well as Gilbert Garraghan’s classic A Guide to Historical Method (may be a bit ol’ fashioned, but this is an Intro). Anyway, you may find some of it useful…

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