Seminar in Historical Methods

A black and white print with red tinting of people on a hill over-looking a city with aurora above it.

Artist's rendering of a medieval aura, originally from NASA's Poker Flat Research Range in Fairbanks, Alaska. (Image courtesy of NASA.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Spring 2004



Cite This Course

Course Description

Course Features

Course Highlights

This course features examples of student work and videos from two class sessions: one featuring a discussion of "The Middle Ages as Fantasy," and another on "The MIT Mix - or How Does a History Department Work?" This course also features archived syllabi from various semesters.

Course Description

This course is designed to acquaint students with a variety of approaches to the past used by historians writing in the twentieth century. The books we read have all made significant contributions to their respective sub-fields and have been selected to give as wide a coverage in both field and methodology as possible in one semester's worth of reading. We examine how historians conceive of their object of study, how they use primary sources as a basis for their accounts, how they structure the narrative and analytic discussion of their topic, and what are the advantages and drawbacks of their various approaches.

Other Versions

Other OCW Versions

This subject examines the distinctive ways in which historians in different parts of the world have approached the task of writing history. Details vary as it is taught by different faculty from year to year.

Related Content

Anne McCants. 21H.931 Seminar in Historical Methods. Spring 2004. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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