|Course Title||New Directions in the Writing of Historical Papers|
|Institution||Kramatorsk Economic-Humanitarian Institute|
I. AIM OF THE COURSE
This course intends to acquaint students with certain trends and new perspectives on historical writing. It will emphasize those approaches that focus on the institutional and functional foundations of the so-called "New History". Bringing together practical methods from both history and composition, this course provides students with a wealth of tips and advice on the ways that historians write.
The proposed course contains technical advice, but it is more than just a style manual. The objectives of the course are to:
It is also expected that the following skills would be gained by students: how to select a topic and formulate the title of their essay, analyze sources, make inferences, create a draft outline, build arguments and evaluate their own sentences.
II. ROLE OF THE COURSE IN THE OVERALL DEGREE CURRICULUM
Most students want to find out what history is about, or how it should be done. In this course they will find a wide range of views of what the answers to this intriguing question might be.
It is a theoretical and practical guide for 5-year advanced students, and it assists them in the writing of their final essay (research paper). This course will be taught in the fall semester. Students will have to complete their essay in the spring semester and defend it in June.
Using numerous examples from the work of cultural, political, and social historians, this course deals with the history of every continent and serves as a supplement to all history courses where writing is required.
This course will be taught in cooperation with the course "Historiography of the Modern and Contemporary History".
The approximate number of students that will take the course is 25.
III. METHODS USED
The course consists of two parts focusing on modern trends and new perspectives of historical writing in the first part and centering on practical advice in a preparation and presentation of students’ final essays. Basic theory and information are delivered by traditional lectures. Not more than half of the contact hours is the traditional lecture form. Most of the lecturing is in the first part of the course. Traditional lectures are supplemented by a variety of structured seminars, problem-oriented discussions and workshops (short reports on research resources of students’ choice). Lectures are normally delivered in blocks of two at a time i.e. two consecutive 45-minute sessions (with a short break in the middle) usually followed by a seminar.
The second part is devoted to more interactive, workshop-based activity in which students work on projects. The class meetings are based on intense interaction between the teacher and students and discussions among students.
The comparative approach, based on data about the traditional (Rankean) and "New History" paradigm, will be emphasized. Tutorial seminars will help students in a more effective preparation of their final essay and its presentation.
The mandatory and recommended readings can either be found in the Library or copies can be obtained from the teacher.
Students will get all necessary help for their individual work.
The final grade will be a composite of the following values:
in-class activity (including discussion participation and short reports) 30%;
middle semester module control 30%;
final examination (verbal or writing) 40%.
The crisis of the traditional paradigm of historical writing. Problems of the definition of the New History. What is so-called New History? Is it a temporary fashion or a long-term trend? How new is New History? Will it – or should it – replace traditional history, or can the rivals coexist in peace?
Problems of synthesis. The interdisciplinarity: learning from and collaborating with social anthropologists, economists, literary critics, psychologists, sociologists, and so on. The new fields of history.
The proliferation of these sub-disciplines. The proliferation. The discipline of history is now more fragmented than ever before. Problems of professional language. The different groups of historians are finding it harder and harder to talk to one another.
The perspectives of the reintegration of different approaches to history.
HISTORY FROM BELOW
Problems of definition. Where is "below" to be located?
Arising of history from below. The contribution of Marxist and British labour historians. Their tendency to restrict the study of history from below to those episodes and movements in which the masses engaged in overt political activity or in familiar areas of economic development. Different approaches of the history of the working-class (or the history of the labour movement) and the history of the common people (or grassroots history).
Another limitation which mainstream labour history creates for history from below is that of a restriction in period. The wrong impression that history from below can only be written for periods from the French Revolution onwards.
Problems of sources. The lack of direct testimony. The employment of the court cases, parish-register entires, wills and manorial land transactions. Oral sources. Discussion of the conceptual and methodological problems of reconstructing the culture of the subordinate classes. A picture of the material environment, household economy, stages in the life cycle, patterns of child-rearing, and other aspects of the everyday life of ordinary people.
The broadening of the chronological range of history from below, and the movement towards a wider range of historical concerns than the political actions and political movements of the masses.
As an approach, history from below arguably fulfils two important functions. The first is to serve as a corrective to top person’s history. The second is that, by offering this alternative approach, history from below opens the possibility of a richer synthesis of historical understanding, of a fusion of the history of the everyday experience of the people with the subject-matter of more traditional types of history.
History from below is most effective when it is set a context. The history of "the common people" cannot be divorced from the wider considerations of social structure and social power. History from below should be fit into wider conceptions of history. To ignore this point, when dealing with history from below or any other sort of social history, is to risk the emergence of an intense fragmentation of historical writing, perhaps even of some sort of latter-day antiquarianism.
Problems of translation of a social reality into the scholarly constructs of books, articles and lectures.
The work of the writer of history from below can show how the historical imagination can be applied not only to forming new conceptualizations of the subject-matter of history, but also to asking new questions of documents and doing different things with them.
The significance of history from below is deeper than merely providing historians with an opportunity to show that they can be imaginative and innovatory. It also provides a means for restoring their history to social groups who may have thought that they had lost it, or who were unaware that their history existed. The purposes of history are varied, but one of them is to provide those writing it with a sense of identity, with a sense of where they came from. On the broadest level, this can take the form of history’s role, though being part of the national culture, in the formation of a national identity. History from below can play an important part in this process by reminding us that our identity has not been formed purely by monarchs, prime ministers and generals.
The connection between women’s history and feminist politics. Feminist origins of this field of study in the 1960s. Women’s history movement away from politics in the mid- to late seventies. Enlargement of its field of questions by documenting all aspects of the lives of women in the past and acquiring a momentum of its own. The accumulation of monographs and articles, the appearance of internal controversies and ongoing interpretive dialogues, and the emergence of recognized scholarly authorities are the familiar markers of a new field of study, legitimized in part it seemed, by its very distance from political struggle. The turn to gender in the 1980s. It was a definitive break with politics and so enabled this field to come into its own, for gender is a seemingly neutral term devoid of immediate ideological purpose. The emergence of women’s history as a field of scholarship involves an evolution from feminism to women to gender; that is from politics to specialized history to analysis.
Many of those who use the term gender, in fact, call themselves feminist historians. This is not only a political allegiance but a theoretical perspective that leads them to see gender as a better way of conceptualizing politics. However, there has been increasing distance between academic work and politics. It would also be a mistake to take women’s history simply as a reflection of the growth of feminist politics. It is rather a dynamic study in politics of knowledge production.
Problems of definition and identity. Professionalism versus politics. History versus ideology. Politics versus theory.
"Gender" definition and its interpretation, connotation and use.
The emphasis changes from documenting the binary opposition male versus female to asking how it is established, from assuming a pre-existing identity of "women" to inquiring into the processes of its construction, from granting an inherent meaning for categories like "men" and "women" to analyzing how their meaning is secured.
Origins of overseas history. Problems of definition. "Colonial" or "Imperial" history. A change of name, approach and interest after 1945. "Tropical" or "Overseas" history. "History of the third world" that is economic, social, political and cultural history of the non-European peoples.
Problems of sources. Two types of sources, on the one hand European, mostly archival, sources and on the other non-European, written or, as is often the case in African history, non-written sources. The lack of traditional sources and necessity in assistance of other disciplines like archaeology, linguistics and anthropology. Overseas history therefore tends to be interdisciplinary.
Problems of a better understanding of other civilizations or societies. Demand for linguistic skills. The need to collaborate with other specialists.
The success of overseas history after World War Two. The new nations vindicated their own national past. The "people without history" finally found one and the results of this movement are impressive.
The development of overseas history. The Euro-centric approach. The opposition between change (West) and continuity (East), motherland and colony.
Rethinking of the role of Europe in world history after 1945. The impact of decolonization, decline of Europe and emergence of the new super powers. The rise of social and economic history, history of material civilization, mentalities, everyday life, common people etc. A growing influence of the Annales school and American historians in the post-war period. The neo-Marxist critique of colonialism. The former colonies began to study their own history. The emancipation movement in non-western historiography. The real challenge of overseas history is to offer a modern form of world history.
Methodological foundations of the examination of the problems of European expansion, imperialism, decolonization and underdevelopment.
What will overseas history be in the future? Necessity of new approaches.
Microhistory has a very specific location within the so-called new history. It is not simply a question of correcting those aspects of academic historiography which no longer appeared to function. It is more important to refute relativism, irrationalism and the reduction of the historian’s work to a purely rhetorical activity which interprets texts and not events themselves.
Microhistory is essentially a historiographical practice whereas its theoretical references are varied and, in a sense, eclectic. The method is in fact concerned first and foremost with the actual detailed procedures which constitute the historian’s work, so microhistory cannot be defined in relation to the micro-dimensions of its subject-matter. Microhistory, in common with all experimental work, has no body of established orthodoxy to drawn on.
Microhistory aroused in the 1970s. There is nothing particularly unusual in that since the 1970s and eighties were almost universally years of crisis for the prevailing optimistic belief that the world would be rapidly and radically transformed along revolutionary lines.
The conceptual apparatus with which social scientists of all persuasions interpreted current or past change was weighed down by a burden of inherited positivism.
Possible reactions and responses to the crisis.
Historians who aligned themselves with microhistory usually had their roots in Marxism, a political orientation to the left and a radical secularism with little inclination for metaphysics.
Microhistory has always centered on the search for a more realistic description of human behavior, employing an action and conflict model of man’s behavior in the world which recognizes his – relative – freedom beyond, though not outside, the constraints of perspective and oppressive normative systems.
The problem of finding a way of both acknowledging the limits of knowledge and reason whilst at the same time constructing a historiography capable of organizing and explaining the world of the past. Therefore the main conflict is not one between new and traditional history but rather one of the meaning of history seen as an interpretive practice.
Microhistory as a practice is essentially based on the reduction of the scale of observation, on a microscopic analysis and an intensive study of the documentary material.
Despite having its roots within the circle of historical research, many of microhistory’s characteristics demonstrate the close ties which link history with anthropology – particularly that "thick description".
The interpretive anthropology and microhistory have as much in common as have history and anthropology in general.
One of the main differences of perspective between microhistory and interpretive anthropology is that the latter sees a homogenous meaning in public signs and symbols whereas microhistory seeks to define and measure them with reference to the implicity of social representations they produce.
The microhistorical approach addresses the problem of how scholars gain access to knowledge of the past by means of various clues, signs and symptoms.
Microhistory tries not to sacrifice knowledge of individual elements to wider generalization, and in fact it accentuates individual lives and events.
The value of oral sources in reconstructing the past. Traditional definition of oral history – history written with evidence gathered from a living person, rather than from a written document – as pleasant and helpful illustration.
Ranke’s method and the implied weakness of oral sources. Under the Rankean hierarchy of data, when official, written sources are available, they are to be preferred. Where they are not, one has to put up with second best, filling one’s bucket further away from the pure source of official text. Oral data are, in this respect, without doubt, the second best or worse, so their role is to facilitate second-best histories about communities with poor sources. In another words, oral sources are useful only for the history of non-literate societies like African communities.
The battle about oral sources in contemporary history.
According to Arthur Marwick "history based exclusively on non-documentary sources may be a sketchier, less satisfactory history than one drawn from documents, but is history all the same". On the one hand, until there are documents, there can be no proper history. On the other hand, Paul Thompson wrote that "the opposition to oral evidence is as much founded on feeling as on principle. The older generation of historians … disparaging comments about young men tramping the streets with tape-recorders".
Three modes of communication:
Oral cultures where language takes a purely oral form.
Written cultures where language takes a written form only.
Composite cultures where language takes both oral and written forms.
Oral tradition and its form, and "traditional" time.
Significance of memory and oral tradition in the modern world.
Value of oral sources in modern, mass-literate, industrial societies. Such personal reminiscence is the principal data used by historians studying societies dominated by the written word. Using of oral data by social historians to give voice to those who are voiceless in the documentary record. Also, personal reminiscence can bring a freshness and wealth of detail, which is not otherwise to be found.
A long period of closure for modern high politics documents in governmental archives and the increasing significance of personal reminiscence and interview data.
The battle for control of memory in contemporary politics and education.
HISTORY OF EVENTS AND THE REVIVAL OF NARRATIVE
Confrontation between so-called "event history" and "structural history" in the twentieth century. Continuity versus change. Under the impact of the Annales school structure replaced evolution as the central preoccupation. Braudel’s definition of the history of events as the surface of the ocean of history.
Rethinking of the events by the third generation of Annales school historians. The importance of the "creative event" which destroys traditional structures and replaces them with new ones.
The shift from the analytical to the descriptive mode of historical writing in some historical works in the 1980s.
Historians in these two camps, structural and narrative, differ not only in the choice of what they consider significant in the past, but also in their preferred modes of historical explanation.
It is time to investigate the possibility of a way of escaping this confrontation between narrators and analysts. It may be possible to go beyond the two opposing positions, to reach a synthesis.
Traditional narrative versus modern narrative. According to Golo Mann, a historian needs "to try to do two different things simultaneously", to "swim with the stream of events" and to "analyse these events from the position of a later, better-informing observer", combining the two methods "so as to yield a semblance of homogeneity without the narrative falling apart". Inadequacy of the traditional forms of narrative to communicate these emergencies. Search of a new way by historical narrators.
"Thick narrative" should be dealt not only with the sequence of events and the conscious intentions of the actors in these events, but also with structures – institutions, modes of thought, and so on – whether these structures act as a brake on events or as an accelerator.
"Micronarrative". Problem of linking microhistory to macrohistory, local details to general trends. Backward-walking approach.
Possible solution of the difficult task of revealing the relationship between events and structures and presenting multiple viewpoints.
SELECTION OF TOPIC
Exploration of students’ own scientific interests. Movement from a historical interest to a research topic. Using general references in the library. Search of reference works that are specific to a selected topic. Conversation with a librarian. Using other guides to discover more sources (Academic index. Books in print. Dissertation abstracts. The Internet). Start of the exploration of a library’s catalogue. Approach to a selected topic from a particular angle. Background reading in the library. Formulating of a hypothesis. Crafting of a proposal. Writing of an annotated bibliography. Discussing a selected topic with teachers and other students.
INTERPRETING SOURCE MATERIALS
Importance of systematic work. Distinguishing of primary sources from secondary works. Refining of hypothesis with questions Who, What, Why, Where, and When. Search of the biases of selected sources. Selection of the most important source materials. Choosing of method of taking notes.
THE RULES OF FAITHFUL REPRESENTATION OF THE PAST
Careful collecting and reporting of selected sources. Incorporating ideas of others with care and respect. Summary and paraphrasing. Direct quotation is the best way to make a point. Limitation of using quotations. Using ellipses and brackets in quotations. Using quotation marks. Problem of plagiarism. Direct, indirect, and inadvertent plagiarism. Problem of unnecessary citations. Choosing a citation system. Formatting footnotes and endnotes. Citing different kinds of books, articles from newspapers and magazines, unpublished secondary works, interviews, lectures, oral presentations, archival sources, and Internet. How to repeat a citation without using Latin abbreviations. How to place a superscript note in the main text. Citing a quotation of a quotation.
USING OF SOURCES FOR MAKING INFERENCES
Examination and comparison of evidences. Recognizing facts. Transformation of facts into evidence. Checking selected facts. Checking internal consistency of primary sources. Checking primary sources against each other. Comparison of primary sources with secondary works. Role of the interview. Interpretation of oral sources. Juxtaposing of sources for making inferences. Making inferences from material sources. Movement from inferences to arguments. Making reasonable inferences from selected sources. Making inferences that are warranted. Deductive and inductive reasoning. Avoidance of unwarranted comparisons. Avoidance of anachronistic inferences.
BEGINNING OF WRITING
Making the transition from research to writing. Consideration of narratives and analysis. Creation of a draft outline of an analytical essay. Completion of analytical outline. Completion of narrative outline. Choosing a framework for the essay.
BUILDING OF ARGUMENTS
Writing a first draft. Grabbing the reader’s attention. Statement of writer’s intellectual interests. Building an essay with good paragraphs. Making a transition from the previous paragraph. Statement of the argument of the paragraph. Presentation of evidence to support the argument of the paragraph. Defining key terms. Defining uncommon terms. Redefining common terms. Setting an appropriate tone. Avoidance of the first person singular. Treating other writers with consideration. Counter-argumentation. Leading of readers to an interesting conclusion.
SIGNIFICANCE OF NARRATIVE TECHNIQUES FOR HISTORIANS
Writing a narrative to tell a story. Writing a narrative to support an argument. Combining chronology with causation. How to get a sense of change and continuity. Selection of the key participants in the story. Finding a student’s own voice as a narrator. The omniscient and uncertain narrator. Choosing writer’s own beginning and end.
WRITING SENTENCES IN HISTORY
Skill to choose verbs that are precise. Making passive sentences active. Writing in the Past Tense. Avoidance of split infinitives. Putting verbs in sentences. Putting ideas in an intelligible order. Keeping related words together. Keeping subjects and verbs close together. Beginning a sentence on common ground and gradual building of a new point. The emphasis comes at the end. Constructing of parallel forms for emphasis. Possibility of the breaking of rules if necessary.
CHOOSING OF PRECISE WORDS
Significance of words. Problem of using unnecessary words. Writing in a language clear for a wider audience. Problem of professional jargon and overspecialised language. Avoidance of pretentious and colloquial language. The politics of diction. Gender-specific language. Avoidance of euphemisms. Careful choosing of figurative language. Judicious using of metaphors and similes. Avoidance of clichés. Using foreign words. Common diction problems.
REVISING AND EDITING OF PAPER
It is important to watch out for weaknesses of one’s own work. Necessity of putting some distance between writer and his/her writing. Revising of a first draft. Writing another draft that incorporates the changes. One basic strategy of revising is to begin to work on broad revisions to the arguments and narratives, and then work on smaller problems, such as sentences and diction.
Evaluation of one’s own arguments and narratives. Evaluation of sentences and word choices. Proofreading of the final draft. Proofreading for spelling and punctuation. Reading aloud.
New kinds of sources and problems of its using.
Interpretation of oral sources.
PRELIMINARY PRESENTATION OF PAPER
SUBMITION, PRESENTATION AND DEFENCE OF PAPER. ITS ADVANCED DISCUSSION AND EVALUATION