History 490 Spring 2008 Syllabus

HST 490: The Philosophy of History

Spring 2008 -- TTH 11:00-12:15

Prof. Susan Crane

Office/Hours: Social Sciences 237a/W 3:30-4:30, TTH 3:30-4:15 and by appointment

E-mail/phone: scrane@u.arizona.edu/621-1113

            What does it mean to study the past?  The philosophy of history addresses both the methodology of studying the past, and the production of meanings about the past.  In this class, we will read primarily twentieth-century western authors (and a few of their nineteenth-century antecedents) who have been influential in shaping historical practice and thought.  We will also consider how images and film shape historical consciousness.  Success in this course absolutely depends upon doing the reading: these texts are the primary sources for an intellectual history of historical thought, and students will learn how to critically assess them for what they can tell us about the past, as well as how they can help us think about history in the present.  We will devote class sessions to discussion of the texts as well as visual primary sources.


Required books are available at the UA Bookstore:

Marc Bloch, The Historian’s Craft

Friedrich Nietzsche, The Use and Abuse of History

Carolyn Steedman, Landscape for a Good Woman

Access all other required readings on ERes (Main Library, Sabio website): http://eres.library.arizona.edu/

Password for the course: history



Students are expected to have read each reading assignment in advance of the class meeting for which it is assigned, and be prepared to discuss the contents in detail.  To assist preparation for discussion, students will regularly write one-page reading responses.  

Reading responses are limited to one typed page (12 pt font) of comments, questions and reflections on the assigned reading.  Do not summarize the reading; a better response will focus on one aspect or issue that interested you.   Use quotes from the text as examples or evidence to support a point. 

Attendance: If you know you will have to miss a class for legitimate reasons, you are expected to inform the instructor in advance.  Only students who have excused absences on reading response due dates may make up the assignment by writing a response for another day’s reading and handing it in on the day that reading is assigned.  Late papers will be assessed a letter grade reduction penalty.


  1. Two 6-8 page papers will be written on the assigned readings and will not require additional research. 
  2. Group Project Paper and Presentation: each student will contribute to an 8-10 minute class presentation about one of the assigned authors, and to an accompanying 4-5 page paper, due in class the day of the assigned reading
  3. Final Project (5-7 pages or alternative format): Students will choose a topic that they can associate with collective memory (for themselves, or for their families) and discuss it in relation to the relevant assigned readings.

**Failure to credit the source of any statement which is not the result of your own creative endeavor is plagiarism, which is a violation of academic integrity and personal honesty and will result in a failing grade for the courseIf you have any questions about what plagiarism is, consult the instructor or the Sabio page on plagiarism (http://www.library.arizona.edu/help/tutorials/plagiarism/plagiarism-resources.html#student).**


2 Papers: 20% each

Oral Presentation and paper: 20%

Class participation (reading responses, active participation in discussion): 20%

Final Project: 20%

**You must complete all writing assignments and the presentation in order to receive a passing grade for the course**

Oral Presentation and Paper Guidelines

The paper and bibliography are due in class on the day that the presentation is made.

You do not need to complete a reading response for that day if one is due on the day of your presentation.

  1. Presentation

Provide your classmates with information about the author assigned for that day: personal background, notable intellectual contributions, contemporary or later controversies about them or their work, significant influences on their work.  All group members must speak, within the 8-10 minute time frame.  Speak clearly, use visual aids and/or handouts if appropriate, and be prepared to respond to questions.

  1. Bibliography

Do preliminary library research and then meet as a group with the instructor for approval of the bibliography.  The final bibliography should include 2-3 scholarly books and 2-3 scholarly articles.  No uniquely online (Internet-only) sources will be allowed.

  1. Paper

The 4-5 page paper should replicate the content of the oral presentation in a coherent narrative.