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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Linda S Watts
HUM 595
Seattle Campus

Public Culture, Engaged Scholarship

Explores relations among cultural research, public practice, and diverse forms of engagement. Topics vary by instructor.

Class description

This course serves as an introduction to the field of public history for students exploring career options int he field of hisotry, as well as for others whose interests intersect with theis field. We will explore what public historians do,a s well as anaylze 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 hostirans 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 hisotirans have done and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these efforts.

3. Students will evalaute 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.

4. Students will demonstrate their knowledge of what public historians do by developing public history projects, both individually and in collaboration.

5. Students will build communication skills as they articulate issues, recommendations, and plans to various publics.

6. Students will refine their abilities for reflective writing and reflective practice.

General method of instruction

Seminar format

Recommended preparation

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,a nd complete a course project/portfolio.

Assessment of student learning combines a variety of student performances and classroom contributions: spoken, written, visual, and multi-modal.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Linda S Watts
Date: 02/22/2009