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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Purnima Dhavan
HIST 388
Seattle Campus

Colloquium: Introduction to History

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.

Class description

Historians writing during the colonial period described the eighteenth century in South Asia as a dark age of political chaos and cultural decay. More recent historical studies have represented it as a period of extraordinary economic opportunity, social mobility, and cultural productivity. We will focus on a critical reading of several primary and secondary sources in order to understand why so many divergent historical accounts of the eighteenth century emerged in later periods. Was this period a time of colonization and violence or an exciting period of social mobility and economic growth? Our class will focus on understanding how history is produced through the gathering and analysis of evidence and why interpretations of that evidence can produce such different accounts.

Student learning goals

discern strong historical evidence from weak historical evidence

Distinguish between different types of primary and secondary sources

identify intellectual influences, methodological constraints, biases, distortions in historical arguments

Formulate solid historical critiques and arguments of your own in written and oral work

General method of instruction

Discussion-oriented seminar, instructor will provide a brief context for the readings at the begining of each class

Recommended preparation

none required

Class assignments and grading

Class assignments consist of graded written work (3 short papers), evaluations of student-led discusions, and participation. Each of these is based on a close reading and analysis of texts.

3 short 5-page analytical papers on class readings—25% each (75% total) Student led discussion—10% (Handout+questions to be posted the week before, ½ of this grade) Classroom participation—15%


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 Purnima Dhavan
Date: 01/22/2008