Hands-on Public History
Public History is history that is delivered to a popular audience of non-scholars, often at historic sites, museums, and, more recently, via digital tools and websites. This course will introduce students to the issues and goals that have shaped public history as a scholarly discipline, but the focus of the course will be on the contemporary practice of public history. The topic this semester will be the history of slavery and Reconstruction. A diverse set of scholarly readings will be augmented by primary sources from a range of written and visual sources; 2-3 required field trips to nearby historic sites; and panel discussions with professionals in the field of public history. Students will learn to analyze the presentation of American history at historic sites, museums, and digital archives. Special Collections librarians will work with students to produce their own public history exhibits, which will include a digital component, for presentation at a public event at the end of the semester. Students will write weekly blog posts about the assigned readings and reflections on field trips taken by the class. The core of this class is discussion; there are no lectures in the traditional sense. This course is most appropriate for students who have taken one or more previous courses in American history, African-American history, or American Studies, but any student motivated to dissect the public history of slavery is encouraged to enroll.