WIN 19: History Methods

HIST 12001  Medieval History: Theories & Methods  (J. Lyon)  This course will introduce students to research methods and historical theories that are central to the field of medieval European history (500–1500 AD). The first section of the course is designed to give students a grounding in some of the most important historical narratives (political, social, economic, religious, intellectual, cultural) about the medieval period. Students will then spend the middle weeks of the quarter exploring the different types of original sources (written and non-written) that historians use to conduct research on the Middle Ages. This section of the course will include class time at the Regenstein Library's Special Collections. In the final weeks, we will concentrate on some of the scholarly debates that have shaped the modern field of medieval history. Grades will be determined on the basis of a midterm exam, a final exam, two short papers, and classroom discussion. No prior knowledge of medieval European history is required; the course is open to all undergraduates.

HIST 20210  History Lab: Migration and Mobility in Human History  (E. Osborn)  This Making History course will explore different episodes of human mobility. We will study forced and voluntary migrations by considering the earliest movements of people out of Africa, the transatlantic slave trade, the displacements in Europe produced by World War II, and the current flows of people from Africa and the Middle East across the Mediterranean. These wide-ranging topics necessarily demand that students use a variety of primary sources and methodologies; assigned readings will thus be supplemented by documentaries, audio recordings, artistic renditions, and material culture. For their final project students will be required to work individually or in teams to investigate an example of human migration. Student may present the results of this research as a formal academic essay, may create a website or video, or use some other medium. Making History courses forgo traditional paper assignments for innovative projects that develop new skills with professional applications in the working world. Open to students at all levels, but especially recommended for third- and fourth-year students.

HIST 24500  Reading Qing Documents  (G. Alitto)  This course introduces documentary Chinese of the Qing (1644–1912) and the Republican ((1912–1949) periods, with an emphasis upon critical use of these documents and the related historiography. Students read a wide variety of  genres, including imperial edicts, secret memorials, local gazetteers, newspapers, funeral essays, as well as selections from the Qing "Veritable Records" (Qing Shilu) and the Draft History of the Qing Dynasty (Qing Shigao). We first translate the documents into English and then analyze them.

HIST 24602  Objects of Japanese History  (J. Ketelaar)  The collections of Japanese objects held at the University of Chicago's Smart Museum, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Art Institute of Chicago will be examined as case studies in museum studies, collection research, and, more specifically, in the interpretation of things "Japanese." Individual objects will be examined, not only for religious, aesthetic, cultural, and historical issues, but also for what they tell us of the collections themselves and the relation of these collections to museum studies per se. This year, in particular, we will examine the major exhibition of Floating World (Ukiyo) paintings held at the Art Institute. We will make several study trips to the Smart Museum, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Art Institute of Chicago during class time.

HIST 25308  Lab, Field, and Clinic: The History and Anthropology of Medicine and the Life Sciences  (M. Rossi)  In this course we will examine the ways in which different groups of people—in different times and places—have understood the nature of life and living things, bodies and bodily processes, and health and disease, among other notions. We will address these issues principally, though not exclusively, through the lens of the changing sets of methods and practices commonly recognizable as science and medicine. We will also pay close attention to the methods through which scholars in history and anthropology have written about these topics, and how current scientific and medical practice affect historical and anthropological studies of science and medicine.

HIST 29418  Writing the Past: History as Creative Nonfiction  (P. O'Donnell)  Writing is central to the work of a historian. It is both the tangible result of our work and the way in which we communicate the importance of our work to the world. This course is focused on the writing of history. But in it we will be concerned less with historiography—the scholarly debates among historians about historical questions or problems—than with the storytelling choices of those who write history, their ideological stakes, and their rhetorical positions. We will read pathbreaking works of history on a broad range of topics, written in a variety of genres: scholarly monographs, memoir, and historically minded journalism. All are written by historians or scholars who leveraged their traditional historical training but chose to do something brave, and hard: to tell their stories in a new and different way, to write, rather than merely report, history. The goal of this course is to broaden our sense of how historical narratives might be written, and to inspire you to think carefully as you craft prose, and to take risks when you write history.