Introduction to the discipline of history for new or prospective majors. Emphasizes the basic skills of reading, analysis, and communication (both verbal and written) that are central to the historian's craft. Each seminar discusses a different subject or problem.
THE PAST IS A FOREIGN COUNTRY: THE 1950s AND THE UNITED STATES
Historian Russell Baker criticizes that historians and students increasingly focus “on a past so recent that only a 9 year old could see it as a past.” Though Baker is no doubt correct in his assessment, the recent past presents a diverse set of obstacles for the historian to overcome, such as the problems of nostalgia and the critical distance, making it an ideal topic for historians-in-training. For these reasons, this class focuses on the 1950s.
In this seminar, we will have one goal: to acquire the skills of a historian in terms of critical thinking, writing, and research. We will accomplish this goal by learning how to analyze and assess sources through classroom discussion, writing assignments, and research projects.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
More important than knowledge of twentieth century history is the desire to attend and participate actively in classes. Students should understand that their preparation for seminars influences their learning as well as the learning of others.
Class assignments and grading
The course assignments consist of short papers; participation in class discussions; reading assignments; research workshops and projects. There will be readings on electronic library reserve and one book to purchase. Students should bring their readings with them to class.