Approaches to Historical Study
This course is designed as an introductory seminar for graduate students in all fields and periods of history. It is required of all first-year doctoral students in the History Department. Our primary goal is to develop critical perspectives on the art and science of historical writing. We will pursue this objective through close reading of a number of carefully chosen monographs, all of which represent first books written by a wide range of professional historians. In the process, we will discuss various disciplinary methods, theoretical issues, narrative techniques, empirical questions, and thematic topoi. In our class discussions, we will explore these books as models of historical inquiry, professional scholarship, and nonfiction writing. Our conversations will open outwards into larger reflections on the process of choosing research topics and structuring long-form historical writing.