The Uses of History (HIST*3450) | College of Arts

The Uses of History (HIST*3450)

Code and section: HIST*3450*01

Term: Winter 2020

Instructor: Alan Gordon


Course Synopsis:

Recent disputes over public presentations of History have been heated and sometimes violent.   This course offers an introduction to these uses of History in public life and public debate.  The particular focus of this course will be the application of historical context to current debates about the place of the past in public life.  We will apply a critical examination of past uses of History to the assessment of present-day uses of History.  We will inspect public history and memory through the activities of governments, corporations, and voluntary associations. History as political propaganda, marketing strategy, and ideological support in a global and historical context is examined.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  1. intensively analyze historical themes, facilitating investigation in some depth (both in terms of factual material and of theoretical approaches)
  2. explain the temporal dimensions of constructing historical inquiries, and particularly understand the diversity of historical perspectives that proceed from the different framing of historical inquiries by place, culture, and time.
  3. evaluate and differentiate historical and political narratives grounded in cultural contexts
  4. read and analyze primary sources, and explore secondary material at an advanced level
  5. use advanced skills associated with bibliographic research beyond basic bibliographic search resources
  6. produce original research that reflects not only a synthesis of scholarship, but an original interpretation
  7. demonstrate skills in written communication through the completion of written assignments
  8. understand how cultural similarities and differences, and historical, geographical, and political  contexts can affect the construction of historical knowledge.
  9. describe the variety of uncritical media through which contentious historical arguments have been presented and consumed by the public.
  10. recognize the importance of integrity and accuracy in the communication of historical interpretations in the public sphere.
  11. develop a critical understanding of how historical knowledge can be and has been used in the public sphere to support a variety of ideological positions.

Methods of Evaluation:

There will be a midterm exam, a short written assignment, and a major assignment.  The major assignment will involve presenting recommendations to resolve current public debates about how History is used in public.

There is no required textbook.  Weekly readings will be assigned through course reserve.  Expect to read an average of 3 journal articles per week.

*Please note: This is a preliminary website 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.



PDF icon HIST 3450 Course Outline Gordon W20.pdf443.89 KB