Hist 801: Historiography


Fall 2009: Fridays, 3:30-6:20, EH 201


Professor David Stone                                Office: Eisenhower 318

email: stone@ksu.edu                                 Phone: 532-2978


The point of this course, unlike most of the courses you will take in the graduate program, is not to introduce you to a specific field and body of literature.  Instead, I intend it to lead you to think more deeply about history and the task of the historian.  To do this, we will read classic works of history in a number of fields, as well as more theoretical and programmatic statements of what history should be.  I have my own opinions on the methodological debates we will cover, but my goal is not to convert you into thinking like me.  It is to lead you to intelligent judgments of your own on the major methodological and theoretical issues of the field.


As a result, while you should pay attention to the historical content of the works we cover, our major focus will be on approach, philosophy, and methodology.


You will note that there is little American history on the reading list.  There are two reasons for this.  First, most innovation in the research and writing of history has originated in Europe; historians of the United States have tended to follow (knowingly or not) directions begun elsewhere.  Second, the department offers a three-semester graduate survey of American history, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to deal with that literature.




I.  Attendance and participation.  Obviously, you can't intelligently discuss the issues we'll be wrestling with if you're not here.  Also, it is not enough to passively absorb the debates in the readings and in class.  Your ideas will not be fully tested and refined until you express them.  If you don’t feel comfortable talking about history with other people interested in history, then you should ask yourself why you are in the program.  I will call on students with direct questions from time to time.


Your grade will be based approximately 1/3 on daily participation, 1/3 on the reaction papers, and 1/3 on the mock prospectus.


II.  Books for purchase from your vendor of choice.  I have NOT put in an order with the Union or Varney’s, since books tend to be cheaper elsewhere.


John Burrow, A History of Histories ISBN 0375727671

E. H. Carr, What is History? ISBN 039470391X

John Demos, Entertaining Satan ISBN 0195174836

Geoffrey Elton, The Practice of History ISBN 0631229809

David Fischer, Historians' Fallacies ISBN 0060904984

Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions ISBN 0226458083

Conrad Russell, The Causes of the English Civil War ISBN 019822141X

Edward Said, Orientalism ISBN 039474067X

Lawrence Stone, The Causes of the English Revolution ISBN 0415266734

Thucydides, Peloponnesian War ISBN 0140440399

John Tosh, The Pursuit of History (4th edition) ISBN 1405823518


In many cases, there are multiple editions available, and you may find significant savings by purchasing an older edition.  Feel free to do this, EXCEPT in the case of Tosh’s Pursuit of History, where I strongly prefer that you buy the newest edition.


In addition, there will be a large packet of readings available for purchase from the copy center in the basement of Eisenhower.  These are required.


III.  Writing assignments.


There will be two types of writing assignments in this class. 


The first is ten reaction papers, each of approximately 500 words.  All weeks except week I and week IV (when the reading is essentially a textbook) are fair game for reaction papers.  That means you can take off two weeks in addition to I and IV.   When you DO turn in a reaction, I want a 500-word response to that week's reading turned in to my departmental mailbox or emailed to me by noon on the day of class. In these reaction papers, you should explain what in each week's reading you especially liked or disliked, found especially insightful or obtuse.  You do not need to comment on the work as a whole (though you are responsible for all the reading in class discussion every week).  Pay attention to your writing; I will.  500 words is not a lot of space, so it will pay to be precise.


Experience shows that in the limited space available, you are much better served by developing a single point, rather than saying something superficial about three or four points.  You should therefore feel free to focus in one particular aspect of the reading in your reaction paper, but it should be an important and significant aspect of the work.


Experience also shows that calling a point or idea "interesting" is not especially insightful.  Try to avoid using the word altogether in the reaction papers.


I intend these reaction papers to be an opportunity to force you think more about the issues raised in the reading and to work with you intensively on your writing.  I may ask some of you to read your essays to the class.


The other writing assignment is a draft research prospectus.  Rather than doing a traditional historiographical paper, your major assignment in this course will be producing a mock prospectus for an MA or Ph.D thesis.  You should feel free to choose the topic that you actually intend to do for your thesis; I hope that this may give you a jump start on your research.


For this prospectus, I expect a 5-7 page sketch of the topic, along with its importance and relevance to major issues in your field.  Be sure this answers the all-important "So what?" and "Who cares?" questions.  Part of this sketch should include the methodologies and approaches discussed over the semester that you found most relevant.


I also expect a survey of the relevant literature on your topic.  Here I am less interested in the available secondary sources than in the primary sources that should serve as the basis for your research.  So, in addition to your 5-7 page discussion of your topic, I also want lists of:


Relevant bibliographies (at least five).  This does NOT mean lists of references in the back of a secondary work.  I have in mind things like The Annotated Bibliography of Alcoholics Anonymous, 1939-1989. These are typically found in the Z section of the library.

Relevant memoirs (at least ten).

Relevant published or microfilm primary sources (at least ten).

Relevant archival collections (at least ten, from at least two archives).

Most important secondary literature (at least ten titles with brief annotation).


I expect that you will consult with the relevant professors here on your general choice of topic and for more specific guidance.  You should also consult with the reference librarians in Hale.  You will need to consult with me personally or by email over your proposed topic by no later than October 15.


Finally, let me add a note on academic honesty.  In my experience teaching graduate students, I have received one plagiarized paper.  While plagiarism is serious enough for undergrads, who can expect to fail my courses for turning in plagiarized papers, it is even more serious for graduate students, who should know much better.  If you have any questions or concerns about the rules and procedures for proper attribution, please let me know.




I.  Friday, August 28.  Intro to class.  Goals and purpose of course.  We WILL be having substantive discussion today over Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War.  Have read Books I-II, Book III (sections 1-85), and Book V (sections 26, 84-116) for the first class meeting.




II.  Friday, September 4. The Ancients.  Reading: Burrow, Introduction, Prologue, and Chaps. 1-12,  as well as

1) Herodotus, The Histories, book VII, paras. 201-233 (The Battle of Thermopylae).  Herodotus is easy to find, but there’s an online version at http://www.livius.org/th/thermopylae/thermopylae3.html

2) Tacitus, Annals of Imperial Rome, Book I, down through the start of the Pannonian mutiny: http://classics.mit.edu/Tacitus/annals.1.i.html

3) the Bible, I and II Samuel.  I recommend the Revised Standard Version; pay close attention to commentaries and footnotes with regard to the nature of the sources.

4) Eusebius, conversion of Constantine: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/conv-const.html


III.  Friday, September 11.  Enlightenment and Whig historiography.  Reading: Burrow, Chaps. 21-23; Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chaps. 15-16 (packet); Macaulay, Chap. 1 of History of England (packet).


IV.  Friday, September 18. Overview of the discipline.  Reading: Tosh, The Pursuit of History, chaps. 1-6; Burrow, Chaps. 25 and 26 up to p. 448. No reaction paper.


V.  Friday, September 25. Competing visions.  Reading: Tosh, Chap. 7, sections I-III; Carr, What is History?; Elton, The Practice of History.


VI.  Friday, October 2. Historical argument.  Reading: Fischer, Historians' Fallacies.


VII.  Friday, October 9.  An exemplary historiographical dispute:  Reading: Stone, The Causes of the English Revolution (skip first chapter on theories of revolution); Russell, The Causes of the English Civil War.




VIII.  Friday, October 16. Marxism in history.  Reading: Tosh, Chap. 8; Burrow, pp. 455-62; Marx, "The German Ideology," (packet); Hill, The English Revolution (packet); Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class, preface and Chap. 6 (packet).


IX.  Friday, October 23.  The Annales School.  Reading: Burrow, pp. 448-455; Febvre, The Problem of Unbelief, intro and pp. 335-463 (packet); Ladurie, The Peasants of Languedoc, pp. 3-50 (packet); Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, pp. 13-53, 231-275.


X.  Friday, October 30. Social science history.  Reading: Demos, Entertaining Satan


XI.  Friday, November 6. Post-modernism / History of Science.  Reading: Kuhn, Structure of Scientific Revolutions.




XII.  Friday, November 20. Post-modernism / New Cultural History and the Anthropological Approach.  Reading: Tosh, Chaps. 7 and 10; Burrow, pp. 462-485; Geertz, "Thick Description" and "Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight" (packet); Darnton, "Peasants Tell Tales" and "The Great Cat Massacre" (packet); K. Thomas, “History and Anthropology,” Past & Present # 24 (1963) (JSTOR).


Friday, November 27.  NO CLASS.  Thanksgiving holiday.


XIII.  Friday, December 4. Post-modernism / Post-Colonialism.  Reading: Said, Orientalism


XIV.  Friday, December 11. The Nature of the Profession: Employment, the Job Market, and Life as a New Professor.  Reading: assorted articles on professional life (packet and electronic distribution). 


Mock prospectuses due Friday, December 18.