(Hi)Story: Telling Stories of Culture
1) *DUE week 2: to set up your weekly assignments, write between 250 and 500 words describing your historical epoch and the problematics which most interest you -- that is, the area of study in which you will most likely specialize. This means that you will have to research how historical eras or specializations are described in your field (and append a photocopy from one of your standard reference books that describes these fields -- for literary studies, the Oxford Companions or MLA volumes are good places to start). The purpose of this assignment is to set a baseline for what kinds of research are conventionally done in your field.
2) *Due as indicated on syllabus: weekly precis on one of the essays read; follow appended format.
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENT: For the conclusions/implications, be sure you discuss explicitly how this approach would help or hinder research in your field, and ALWAYS specify what your data set would be -- what documents, primary data, etc. would you need to do this approach?
3) Due as indicated on sign-up sheet that will be passed around in class:
One introduction to class discussion per student. Spend no more than 7 minutes setting the text for the day into the context being discussed, defining important terms, and then concluding by introducing the issues/questions which you think need to be discussed. No grade, just credit, but serious time overrun will result in a no-credit for the assignment. Rationale: too many conferences are ruined because paper presenters do not have the discipline and manners to do precisely what is required of them.
4) One take-home test, due as indicated on syllabus
This will be a timed essay (one or two topics) -- you will have an hour to write your answer. The point of this will be to simulate examination situations, and to check your command of timed short-response-writing in the area of intellectual/cultural history. Probable topic: how a certain historiography would further the area of cultural studies in which you are engaged , or how you could offer a corrective "view" of a problem in your area of study by comparing the received view with a rethought theoretical basis.
5) final project, due on date & time of official final examination (NO LEEWAY):
**for cr/nc, a 5-pp essay (no more) describing what kind of historiography would help your area of historical research, what kind of problems it would introduce or elucidate that conventional research in your field, and what kind of historical data you could draw on.
**for grade, you have a choice of three final projects:
CHOICE A) A review of the literature on one subfield of historiography, of the kind that could be part of the "theory/project set-up" initial chapter of a dissertation; parts can be an annotated bibliography, but this must be organized more carefully than a simple bibliography, and all notes and references must be in impeccable form. This project would be a good choice for students who are looking for a dissertation topic in an area, and who are trying to get a handle on how to approach a body of primary materials in an interesting, interdisciplinary, cultural-studies sort of way. Usually 15-20 pp. Special note on grading: the materials found must be broken into clusters, and evaluated against each other and against the area of proposed research -- if it's not coherent, you're in trouble. This does NOT need to be for an actual dissertation, but this project simulates what meticulous interdisciplinary scholars do to synthesize out novel points of view; it is good for people who need practice in working things out (in asking "how to ask the question") rather than concluding.
CHOICE B) A grant proposal (ca 15 - 20 pp., or a little longer than a conventional one, because I am going to ask you to be explicit about some things that usually come up in Fulbright interviews, rather than in the grant proposal itself) on a project that you would like to do, something that sounds like your possible dissertation topic, but which is methodologically more complex in terms of interdisciplinarity. This grant proposal is of the type to get you travel or full-stipend money to a particular library or archive (e.g. Fulbright, Continuing University Fellowship).
This would be a good project for any student planning to apply for a grant (e.g. for everyone), because it always happens that one has to write a proposal for the grant, months before one has actually settled on an actual research project. It would also be good for someone trying to figure out how to actually DO research on an interdisciplinary field. Special note on grading: the pothole here is the match of your perspective on methdology to precise historical and bibligraphical research -- your chance to figure out how to FIND primary data (orignal texts, archives, special collections) AND how to DO A BIBLIOGRAPHY SEARCH (note: HOW to do it, not necessarily the full performance of it).
CHOICE C) A course proposal (any level, any audience, theoretical or practical, but involving PRIMARY TEXTS OR DATA in a coherent historical framework -- some learning goal that joins macro to micro, not a standard literary, political, or economic history course).
Appended find two versions of what I mean: a handout used in the Dept of Germanic Studies to solicit lower-division courses, and an article I wrote about one upper-division course. You may, however, design a course for any level, including a graduate seminar on one national historiography &/or history-writing.
This is a good choice for anyone who wants an academic job, able to integrate innovative research with the praxis of teaching in the humanities -- a chance to work out a justifiable package for an innovative interdisciplinary course in a particular historical era, or for a re-thinking of an extant core course that would be more in line with a cultural studies or humanities focus than most extant core courses are (and I am including both literary and historical core courses in that assertion, to say nothing of art or music history).
**LATE ASSIGNMENTS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED UNLESS ARRANGED IN ADVANCE (and lack of planning on your part will not be grounds for such an arrangement), OR WITHOUT MEDICAL REASON.