HIST2003B: Exploring History
Fall semester 2006

T Th 11:30am 12:50pm ECH G14
Instructor: Dr. F. Gebrekidan
Office: 311 Edmund Casey
Phone: (506) 452 0509
Email: fikrug@stu.ca
Office hours: WF 10 30am 12:00pm or by appointment. Should you find my office door open feel free to drop in at anytime.

Mark Gilderhus, History and Historians: An Introduction to Historiography (Englewood Cliff: Prentice Hall, 2007). John Tosh, ed., Historians on History: An anthology (London and New York: Longman, 2003).

Books on reserve
Robert C. Williams, The Historian's Toolbox: A Student's Guide to the Theory and Craft of History (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2003). Georg G. Iiggers, Historiography in the Twentieth Century: From Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern Challenge (Middleton, CN: Wesleyan University Press, 2005). Jon Wiener, Historians in Trouble: Plagiarism, Fraud, and Politics in the Ivory Tower (New York: New Press, 2005). Q. Edward Wang and Georg Iggers, eds., Turning Points in Historiography: A Cross-Cultural Perspective (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2002). E. H. Carr, What is History? (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1961).

Course description
This course is designed for students who either plan to major in history or have a strong interest in the historical profession. This course addresses four major themes: the meaning and significance of the study of history; change overtime in the study of history; contemporary perspectives on the study of history; as well as the craft of history, namely the process of thinking, interrogating, researching and writing history.

Course objectives
The course has three intertwined objectives: first, introduction to historiographical debates and concepts; second, development of analytical and interpretive skills; third, improvement of penmanship and researching skills.

Final grade for this class will depend on five factors: class attendance and participation 10 percent, group presentation 15 percent, short take-home assignments 15 percent, midterm paper 25 percent, final paper 35 percent.

Grading scale
0-49 =F
50-59 =D
60-64 =C
65-69 =C
70-74 =C+
75-79 =B
80-84 =B
85-88 =B+
89-91 =A-
92 =A

There are two major papers for this class: a four page midterm paper (25 percent) and a six page final paper (35 percent). Specific instructions about topics and expectations, etc., will be given in class. All papers including short take home assignments will be submitted electronically by email in addition to hard copies. Make sure to keep a carbon copy of each email transaction. Should you send your assignment to the wrong address or encounter an unexpected email problem, this will save you from the frustration of having to retype your assignment from scratch. Electronic papers should be turned in as word attachment, double spaced and with standard font and margins. Typically, a double spaced page with standard font and margins has an average of 250 words, which means your final paper of six pages may have about 1500 words.

Hard copies should have the following information on the top right corner of the first page: student's full name, instructor's full name, course name and number. Paper should be stapled. Paper should have a title which must be centered and underlined. Failure to adhere to any of these basic formats will adversely affect the quality of your paper. Late papers will be penalized a point per day.

Attendance and participation

Attendance and participation count for 10 percent of the final grade. Assessment is based on several factors: class activity, coming to class prepared, respect to the professor and fellow students, positive attitude, class etiquette, and arrival on time. You are allowed a maximum of three absences. Each absence beyond that will lower your grade by a percentage point. For instance, if you have eight absences, your grade for attendance and participation will be lowered by at least five points, which might mean a loss of a full letter grade. Students with obligatory campus activities that may conflict with class schedule should immediately see the professor. Extenuating circumstances such as family emergencies and health problems have to be documented through the registrar's office to be excused, and even then the student has the responsibility to turn in all assignments on time.

Class activity
Discussions, debates, asking and answering questions help sharpen students' analytical and reasoning skills as well as expose them to different perspectives. As such, they are central components of class activity. Political views have nothing to do with grades and students should feel free to express their opinions without feeling intimidated. Feel free to disagree with a particular point of view, but use a polite and formal language to assert your views. Derisive, disrespectful and spiteful comments create a hostile atmosphere and may result in an automatic zero grade for attendance and participation. If you are new to St. Thomas or have not done so already, consult STU's Academic Calendar to learn more about the policy on "mutual expectations" in the classroom.

Class etiquette
Food is not permitted in class. Cellular phones must be turned off before entering class and should stay off until the class is dismissed. Portable CD and cassette players should be put away before entering class. Falling asleep or snoring in class, besides being embarrassing, disrupts learning. Ask permission to leave the class if you cannot keep yourself awake. Bathroom trips, although understandable under critical circumstances, are generally discouraged and should never become a pattern. While communicating with your professor in person or by email, address him or her by the last name and the proper title unless you are told otherwise. Do not start to pack up before the class is over.

Policy on accommodation
Students with disabilities and in need of special accommodation are encouraged to talk to the director of student affairs and the professor to make the necessary arrangements in accordance with STU guideline on accessibility and accommodation. Let the professor know how he or she can be of help. It is more likely that you know more than the professor about the nature of your disability. It is therefore up to you to try to enlighten the professor about your classroom needs. Such information is confidential and is not shared with any other person without your knowledge.

Students are expected to honor principles of truth and honesty in their academic works. Academic honesty entails, among other things, that students will not plagiarize. This means that students will not submit someone else's work as their own, nor will they hand in a paper copied from the web or any other published or unpublished source. Academic honesty also means students will acknowledge any borrowed ideas (be it in the form of quotation, summary, or paraphrase) using the proper citation format. Plagiarism is a serious academic offense that can result in a failing grade for the course. Consult the STU Academic Calendar (pp. 237-38) for a detailed discussion on plagiarism and its consequences.

Weekly Readings

Sep. 7. Overview of course and syllabus.

Sep. 12-14. What is history? E. H. Carr (reserve) chapter 1.

Sep. 19. Early historical consciousness. Gilderhus preface to chapter 2. Half the class meets in library for library tour.

Sep. 21. Early historical consciousness. Gilderhus preface to chapter 2. The remaining half of the class meets in the HIL library for library tour.

Sep. 26-28. Modern historical consciousness and the historical profession. Gilderhus 3 and 7.

Oct. 3-5. Philosophizing history. Gilderhus 4 5.

Oct. 10-12. Researching and writing history. Gilderhus 6; Williams (reserve) 10; Wiener (reserve) 8.

Oct. 12. Take-home midterm due.

Oct. 17. Twentieth century historical perspectives. Tosh introduction.

Oct. 19. Studying history for its own sake. Tosh 1 4.

Oct. 20. Last day to drop fall semester courses without academic penalty.

Oct. 24. History as progress. Tosh 5-8.

Oct. 26. Class in history: Marxist perspectives. Tosh 10-12.

Oct. 31. Peoples' history: race and ethnicity. Tosh 13, 18-19, 24.

Nov. 2. Peoples' history: gender perspectives. Tosh 15-17, 34.

Nov. 7. Peoples' history: Third World talks back. Tosh 9, 14; Wang and Iggers (reserve) 10-11.

Nov. 9. Disability history as part of peoples' history. Catherine J. Kudlack, "Disability History: Why We Need Another Other" in American Historical Review 108 (June 2003), pp. 763-93.

Nov. 14. Turning points in Islamic history: al Tabari, Ibn Khaldun, and Edward Said (Class handouts).

Nov. 16. History and the social sciences. Tosh 26-27, 29-31.

Nov. 21. History and postmodernism. "The Linguistic Turn: The End of History as a Scholarly Discipline" in Iggers (reserve) pp. 118-134.

Nov. 23. History and postmodernism cont. Tosh 33, 35-36, 38.

Nov. 28. Learning from history. Tosh 19-22, 24-25.

Nov. 30. Controversies in the profession. Gilderhus 8; Tosh 40; Iggers (reserve) pp. 134-41. Final paper due.

Note about the syllabus
This syllabus is not a binding legal contract. Rather, it is meant to serve as a road map for both the students and the professor. Should the need arise, the professor maintains the right to modify the course by adding, subtracting, or rearranging reading assignments and course requirements.

History 3573 - African History in Global Context
History 4516 - Themes in African History

Fikru Gebrekidan / History / Faculty / St. Thomas Homepage