Historiography and Historical Practice
This course focuses on US history to examine current permutations of historiographical interests, practices, and methodologies. Over the last few decades, US history has been a particularly fertile ground for rethinking the historical, although many of these topics are applicable to the study of other nations and societies. American history has been largely rewritten by a generation of scholars who experienced the 1960s and its aftermath and have viewed America's past as a field of inquiry and contest of great political urgency. Identity politics, the culture wars, and other forms of organization and debate have also endowed history with unprecedented public resonance in a culture that has been notoriously amnesiac. We explore major trends and controversies in American historiography, the multicultural moment in historical studies, the emergence of race and gender as cardinal categories of historical analysis, the enormous preoccupation with popular culture, the impact of memory studies on historical thinking, and the recurrent agonizing over American exceptionalism and consequent recent attempts to break the nation-state mold and to globalize American history. Another focus is the intersection of analytical strategies borrowed from the social sciences and literary studies with methods and epistemologies of historicization that originated from the historical profession. This course should be taken during a student's first year in the Historical Studies program. Cross-listed with GPOL 6133.