Historical Methods & Sources
Historical Methods and Sources is designed to orient students to historical inquiry and equip them to undertake the writing of an MA thesis on a historical topic. The course aims toward three specific learning outcomes: to develop fluency in several current models of historical practice; to develop the practical skills necessary for locating and interpreting primary historical sources; and to compose a proposal for an MA thesis. With these goals in mind, the midterm assignment is a 10-page "document collection" essay requiring students to collect, paraphrase, and contextualize five historical documents gathered from New York City-area libraries or archives. The final paper is a thesis proposal -- a 15-page document sketching out the student's topic and preliminary hypothesis, as well as the student's sources and their locations. (Note: students from other social science or humanities disciplines may write a term paper with a significant historical component in lieu of an MA thesis proposal.) Weekly readings from the instructor's area of expertise (Latin American history) have been chosen to illustrate different genres and approaches in historical practice today. The course is emphatically not intended to be a survey of the historiography of Latin America, and can only offer a limited sample of important trends in the recent historiography of Latin America. Students' written work will necessarily deal with topics from their own areas of research, which in most cases will not be Latin America. This course is the first of a pair of seminars (with a single course number) meant to be taken during a student's second year in the Historical Studies MA program. This course is also a requirement for PhD students who enter the joint doctoral program in Historical Studies without having been in a master's program at The New School for Social Research. Students register for the Fall and Spring sections of the course separately. The Fall section of the course is a prerequisite for the Spring section. The course is open to Lang seniors with the instructor's permission, and can serve as a venue in which senior history concentrators develop their thesis topics.