Historiography and Historical Practice
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Division: The New School for Social Research
Department: Historical Studies
Course Number: GHIS 6133
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
This seminar engages debates about what both history and historical representation are, while exposing you to a variety of kinds of historical writing. Our inquiry addresses fundamental epistemological questions: Is the past knowable or representable in any immediate or comprehensive sense? Is "objectivity" an achievable or desirable goal for historians? Do certain facts demand particular interpretations, or is historical material open to infinite possibilities for narrativization? How do the structures of language both enable and limit representational choices? Such questions will not exist for us in a vacuum. Rather, we will explore how historians have dealt with these questions in and through the works of history they have authored. Our survey of historical texts has a second purpose: to convey something of the breadth and variety of the discipline of history in terms of both the objects and methods of historical inquiry. Special attention will be given to works of history that incorporate varieties of critical theory and are particularly resonant with other disciplines in the social sciences. Finally, we will examine the political, moral, and cultural dimensions — whether explicit or implicit — of the whole enterprise of historical research and writing. Towards what end do we study history? How can history be both used and abused? What responsibilities to the present and the future do historians have? What is the sense of mission of the historian? This course should be taken during a student's first year in the Historical Studies program and may be taken to fulfill requirements in other programs.
Course Open to: Degree Students with Restrictions
Not open to Undergraduate students.