An Introduction to History

Gateway Courses for Prospective History Majors and Good First history Courses for Anyone

Starting for the class of 2020 (highly recommended) and 2021 (necessarily), the History Department has introduced a requirement that all majors will take one of several from a gateway series of courses to introduce students to the business of historical reading, writing, and thinking, always in the context of exciting and broad-gauged subject matter, likely to stick with students for a lifetime.

Prospective majors will need to be in one of these courses by the end of their sophomore year. Minors will enjoy them at a similar stage, although they are not required for the minor.

Non-majors of all class years are most welcome and will find them a good way to learn about a specific and interesting historical topic and to learn something about the way history is made, read, and written. Some typical historical research, thinking, and writing skills will be taught in every section of the course, regardless of the particular subject. You'll learn library and Internet research skills, how to read for argument, critically examine sources, and enjoy assembling a vision of the past regardless of which course you take.

Components: Aside from good lectures and discussions of pertinent primary and secondary sources, these courses will include a suite of workshops and/or classes meant to show students how to do and understand history in this increasingly digital age, which means as well being as good with archives and antiquities as with computers and databases. We are working now to have librarians and technologists 'embedded' in the program to develop modules with the faculty for presentation in the courses.

Our particular goals include the explicit discussion and teaching of most of the following in each course:

1) how to read like a historian

2) how to research history in both primary and secondary sources

3) how to develop historical writing both in terms of argument and of style

4) how to manage historiographical informatics: library, internet, and archival searching skills, bibliographic software for an on-going career bibliography in Endnote or other software

5) introduction to archives where possible, including material culture where appropriate.

6) introduction to both digital and quantitative concepts for history