Historical Methods

HIST 24513  Documentary Chinese  (G. Alitto)  This course guides students through critical readings of primary historical documents from approximately 1800 through 1950. These documents are translated sentence by sentence, and then historiographically analyzed. Most of these documents are from the nineteenth century. Genres include public imperial edicts, secret imperial edicts, secret memorials to the throne from officials, official reports to superiors and from superiors, funereal essays, depositions ("confessions"), local gazetteers (fangzhi), newspapers, and periodicals. To provide an introduction to these genres, the first six weeks of the course will use the Fairbank and Kuhn textbook The Rebellion of Chung Jen-chieh (Harvard-Yanjing Institute). The textbook provides ten different genres of document with vocabulary glosses and grammatical explanations; all documents relate to an 1841–42 rebellion in Hubei province.  Assignments: Each week prior to class students electronically submit a written translation of the document or documents to be read; a day after the class they electronically submit a corrected translation of the document or documents read. A fifteen-page term paper based on original sources in documentary Chinese is also required. A reading knowledge of modern (baihua) Chinese and some familiarity with classical Chinese (wenyan) or Japanese Kanbun. Other students may take the course with permission from the instructor.

HIST 29527 The Spatial History of Nineteenth-Century Cities: Tokyo, London, New York  (S. Burns)  The late-nineteenth century saw the transformation of cities around the world as a result of urbanization, industrialization, migration, and the rise of public health. This course will take a spatial history approach; that is, we will explore the transformation of London, Tokyo, and New York over the course of the nineteenth century by focusing on the material "space" of the city. For example, where did new immigrants settle and why? Why were there higher rates of infectious disease in some areas than in others? How did new forms of public transportation shape the ability to move around the city, rendering some areas more central than others? To explore questions such as these, students will be introduced to ArcGIS in four lab sessions and asked to develop an original research project that integrates maps produced in Arc. No prior ArcGIS experience is necessary, although students will be expected to have familiarity with Microsoft Excel and a willingness to experiment with digital methods. Assignments: Discussion posts, homework (mapping), and a final research project.

HIST 29530  Introduction to Digital History I  (F. Hillis)  What is digital history and how do we do it? This lab-based experimental class will devote two sessions each week to questions of theory and methodology, considering what digital approaches can offer to the field of history; we will also examine and critique recent work by historians engaging with digital methods. In the third meeting of the week, a mandatory Friday lab session, students will learn the basics of digital mapping, network analysis, text mining, and visualization. (No prior technical knowledge is needed or expected.) By the end of the quarter, students will be asked to reflect on the advantages and limits of digital approaches in the historical field and to develop a proposal for a digital project of their own. Students who wish to see this work to fruition are invited to enroll in "Introduction to Digital History II," which will offer students more advanced technical training and will coach them toward completion of their projects.

HIST 29801  BA Thesis Seminar I  (P. O'Donnell)  History students in the research track are required to take HIST 29801–29802. BA Thesis Seminar I provides a systematic introduction to historical methodology and approaches (e.g., political, intellectual, social, cultural, economic, gender, environmental history), as well as research techniques. It culminates in students' submission of a robust BA thesis proposal that will be critiqued in class. Guidance will also be provided for applications for research funding. All third-year history students in the research track and in residence in Chicago take HIST 29801 in spring quarter. Those who are out of residence take it in autumn quarter of their fourth year. You must receive a B grade in BA Seminar I to continue in the research track and enroll in BA Seminar II.

HIST 29803  Historiography  (P. O'Donnell)  The course provides a systematic introduction to historical methodology and approaches (e.g., political, intellectual, social, cultural, economic, gender, environmental history), as well as research techniques. Students will gain analytical, research, and writing tools that will assist them in their research colloquia and their BA theses. Historiography is required for all majors beginning with the class of 2021, but open to all students.