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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: Making Histories: Theories and Practices in Writing History (PGHC11514)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course raises questions about the 'givens' of the discipline of history and its relationship to society. It will move through a series of developing fields and approaches, with a constant effort to connect theory, methodology and epistemology to actual application, to ground the abstract in research. The intent is to open discussions, to explore possibilities and improve critical analysis rather than to promote uncritical acceptance.
Course description The purpose of the course is to explore and assess a selection of current philosophies of history and their application. In particular, it is intended that the students should obtain through the seminars: (a) an understanding of what tends to be taken as 'givens' in much of the discipline and how there is no 'theory-free' practice of history; (b) a familiarity with some of the cogent philosophical debates pertinent to history and the ways in which they have an impact on how history is researched and written; (c) an ability to engage with these debates, assessing their pros and cons; (d) throughout, there is an intention to connect theory and practice, to assess how the questions raised and methodologies studied, have potential impact on the accounts of the past produced.

The essays supplement the seminar programme and allow students to explore various aspects of the programme further or develop other directions not fully covered in the programme. In particular, it is intended that students should obtain through the essays: (a) a deeper understanding of a particular topic related to the overall framework of the course; (b) a greater capacity for assessment and critical analysis of a particular methodology or outlook; (c) an opportunity to develop essay writing skills.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 History courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Critically engage with, assess and appraise different approaches to the past.
  2. Develop arguments for the foundational bases of ontological and epistemological structures within the writing of history.
  3. Assess the usefulness of, and the different perspectives given by different forms of researching and representing the past.
  4. Assess the relationship between ways of researching history, the subjects identified as 'worthwhile' and the credibility of the justifications for such work.
  5. Evaluate the possibilities and dangers of ways beyond the straightforward academic text for presenting the past, whether they be through different media, genre, style or (re)construction.
Reading List
Frank Ankersmit, Meaning, Truth, and Reference in Historical Representation (2012)

Keith Jenkins (ed.), The Postmodern History Reader (1997)

Joan Wallach Scott (ed.), Feminism and History (1996)

Sherry B. Ortner (ed) The Fate of 'Culture': Geertz and Beyond (1999)

Kevin Passmore, Heiko Feldner and Stefan Berger (eds), Writing History: Theory and Practice (2003)

Ben Highmore, Ordinary Lives: Studies in the Everyday (2011)

David Couzens Hoy, Critical Resistance: from poststructuralism to post-critique (2004)

Jörn Rüsen, History: Narration, Interpretation, Orientation (2006)

James R. Barrett, History From the Bottom Up & the Inside Out: ethnicity, race, and identity in Working-Class History (2017)

Patricia Hill Collins and Sirma Bilge, Intersectionality (2018)

Stefan Berger & Bill Niven (eds), Writing the History of Memory (2014)

Keith Jenkins, Sue Morgan and Alun Munslow (eds), Manifestoes for History (2007)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - A willingness to become aware of and put assumptions about the discipline of history, its practices, means of assessment and presentation on hold, and ask why these 'givens' are there.
- A willingness to both read and engage with unfamiliar areas, both in terms of subject and in terms of modus operandi, and to independently assess their relative success or failure.
- A willingness to contribute to conversations about these different fields by raising questions and exploring possibilities, contributions that build critique upon rational and perhaps emotional investment rather than the attractive security of the familiar.
- A willingness to explore possibilities and opportunities in a way that leaves little as unquestionable, where there is no assumed orthodoxy, but to do so in a way that respects the similar investment of other contributors and the difficulty of clearing the table of assumptions.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Tom Webster
Tel: (0131 6)50 3763
Course secretaryMs Cristina Roman
Tel: (0131 6)50 4777
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