21H.931 | Spring 2002 | Undergraduate

Seminar in Historical Methods


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session


This course is designed to introduce students to fundamental issues and debates in the writing of history. It will feature innovative historical accounts written in recent years. The class will consider such questions as the words historians use, their language, sources, methods, organization, framing, and style. How does the choice of each of these affect the historian’s work? How does the author choose, analyze, and present evidence? How effective are different methodologies?


Students will be asked to develop a major research paper (15-20 pages in length). For departmental majors this project can serve as a pilot study for the senior thesis. In addition each student will write a one- to two-page response paper most weeks discussing the major arguments and methods used in that week’s readings. There will also be three shorter assignments due on Lecture 5, Lecture 7 and Lecture 8. For the first students will prepare a research proposal of the principal questions and sources for the paper. The second will consist of a detailed bibliography of primary sources to be used. The third will discuss the sources and arguments in more depth.


Participation in the course will be evaluated as follows:

  1. Class Participation and Response Papers: 20%
  2. Research Preparation (bibliography of sources and discussion of sources): 20%
  3. Research Paper: 40%
  4. Class Presentation: 20%

Attendance each week is absolutely mandatory.

Required Texts

Appy, Christian. Working-Class War. Chapel Hill, 1993.

Cronon, William. Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists and the Ecology of New England. New York, 1983.

Davis, Natalie Zemon. Fiction in the Archives. Stanford, 1987.

Demos, John. Unredeemed Captive. New York, 1994.

Kolchin, Peter. Unfree Labor. Cambridge, 1987.

Maza, Sara. Private Lives and Public Affairs. Berkeley, 1993.

Thompson, E. P. The Making of the English Working Class. New York, 1963.

Williams, Raymond. Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. New York, 1976, 1983.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2002
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments