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 Social Life of Information. We will investigate the rise of systems of classification from the Age of Enlightenment to the present, focusing on France, Britain, and the United States. In particular, we will consider the proliferation of public and private endeavors to categorize words, bodies, numbers, and spaces. What has it meant at different times to be an information society? Our texts will include Charles Darwin's Origin of Species, the Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso's writings on the physical measurements of prostitutes, and Durkheim's classic account of statistics on suicide in France. We will conclude with a segment on information and identity in our own age, with Simson Garfinkel's Database Nation.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
There is no official prerequisite for the course, but History 113 or another modern European history class would be helpful. Most important, however, is an interest in the topic and a commitment to participation in the seminar.
Class assignments and grading
We will meet once a week to discuss the readings. Active participation is a MAJOR component of the course. Students are expected to complete the readings (around 150 pages per week) before each class meeting, and to come to class prepared to engage in lively debate. Students will also be asked to submit questions for discussion prior to each class meeting, and will write two short (5-7 pp.) papers.