Linda S Watts
Explores theories and practices of public history and culture. Offered: AWSpS.
This course serves as an introduction to the field of public history for students exploring career options in the field of history, as well as for others whose interests intersect with this field. We will explore what public historians do, as well as analyze ethical and theoretical issues in the field of public history. Participants will learn to identify and critique the theories, concepts, terms, and assumptions that historians have used to create coherent and compelling interpretations of the past. We will also consider how historians work with and for various constituencies (or publics) to craft and disseminate those interpretations. In our work, we will address multiple public methodologies, which might include: museum education; living history, reenactments and dramatizations; historic preservation, reconstructions, and historic districts; heritage tourism; public history and popular entertainment; photo-documentation; feature films and documentaries; community studies and oral history.
Student learning goals
1. Students will be able to identify and critique the theories, concepts, terms, and assumptions that historians have used to create coherent interpretations of the past and how history has been presented to the public.
2. Students will demonstrate the ability to think and write critically about what public historians do. Through our readings, we will examine what historians have done and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these efforts.
3. Students will evaluate and analyze the ethical and theoretical issues in the field of public history both in class discussion and in writing assignments. Our readings will address these issues, and during class discussions we will explore current issues that public historians face.
Students will demonstrate their knowledge of what public historians do by developing public history projects, both individually and in collaboration.
Students will build communication skills as they articulate issues, recommendations,and plans to various publics.
Students will refine their abilities for reflective writing and reflective practice.
General method of instruction
While there are no formal prerequisites for this course, class members should possess a high level of intellectual curiosity, a passion for dialogue, and a willingness to challenge themselves.
Class assignments and grading
Class members will be asked to participate in seminar-style discussions, write in and across rhetorical forms, make individual and group presentations, and complete a course project/portfolio.
Assessment of student learning combines a variety of student performances and classroom contributions: spoken, written, visual, and multi-modal.