Rural History (HIST*6550) | College of Arts

Rural History (HIST*6550)

Code and section: HIST*6550*01

Term: Winter 2021

Instructor: Catharine Wilson


Method of Delivery:

Each week one scheduled seminar will be held remotely in a synchronous environment, which you can access through courselink.
Thursdays 2:30-5:30 pm

Course Synopsis:

The countryside was not the city in overalls; it had its own complex trajectory intersecting with the rest of society in interesting and surprising ways.  This seminar introduces you to the social, cultural, and economic themes of rural history.  You will explore the environment, gender, cultural traditions, material artifacts, consumption, and production – and how these relate to community and identity. You will write a research paper, create your own mini-documentary, and participate in seminars.  As such you will learn to communicate your findings in a variety of formats and engage the public.
In weekly seminars you will engage in the field’s finest literature. You will take your reading skills to new levels as you probe how authors develop their thesis and make their case studies relevant to larger historical narratives. These are valuable skills that you can apply to your essay assignment, mini-documentary, and take with you into your MRP or MA.

Your research paper and mini documentary are based on old diaries available at the Rural Diary Archive website, some of which were written 150 years ago. The power of these sources is their immediacy, and their ability to provide an intimate encounter with daily life.  You will learn the skills and value of micro-historical analysis and test previous interpretations. The essay is designed to heighten your detective and analytical skills and increase your critical assessment of diaries.  You will reveal the meanings found within these texts and creatively relate diarists’ lives to the themes found in the seminar readings.  In creating a mini documentary, you will imaginatively share aspects of your research paper with the public. The best shows will be displayed at the international Rural Women’s Studies Association virtual conference in May 2021.

Learning Outcomes:

By the successful completion of this course, an assiduous student will have learned to:

  1. identify and explain the key factors that define rural life and changes over time;
  2. lead a seminar using stimulating and thought-provoking questions and effective integrative communication skills;
  3. identify the perspectives and contributions of various scholars to Rural History and the historiography;
  4. question and listen supportively to fellow students and provide helpful comments;
  5. plan a research project and propose it in a convincing manner proving its significance and do-ability;
  6. critically evaluate the reliability, strengths and weaknesses of primary evidence;
  7. perform narrative and textual analysis;
  8. mine meaning in diary texts and relate it to larger themes in the scholarly literature; 
  9. present research in progress to the class and critically reflect upon it;
  10. martial the above evidence to support and clearly communicate an independent, original piece of scholarship grounded in an explicit historical literature and context;
  11. develop skills of script writing, videography, and editing; 
  12. imaginatively engage a public audience. 

Methods of Evaluation and Weights:

Seminar participation - 40% 
Research Essay - 30%  
Mini Documentary Script & Sample - 5%    
Final Mini Documentary - 25%   

Texts and/or Resources Required:

There are no required texts.  Seminars are based on readings that come from a variety of sources available online.

*Please note:  This is a preliminary web course description only.  The department reserves the right to change without notice any information in this description.  The final, binding course outline will be distributed in the first class of the semester.