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HIST104: Historical Methodology - The Art and Craft of the Historian

Unit 4: Historiography   Historians are influenced by the unique political, economic, social, and cultural contexts of their lives.  ‘Consequently, historians have looked at past events and reached very different conclusions.  The process of analyzing how historians from different time periods have interpreted the past is known as historiography.
           
Contemporary historical researchers need a basic understanding of historiography in order to comprehend how the historical profession has changed over time.  Understanding trends in history research and interpretation make contemporary scholars more aware of potential biases in secondary historical sources. 

           
In this unit, we will explore how history writing has changed over the past two millennia.  We will also evaluate modern historiographic trends and look at how these trends have changed the nature of contemporary historical research and writing.

Unit 4 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take you approximately 9.5 hours.

☐    Subunit 4.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 4.2: 2.5 hours

☐    Subunit 4.3: 6 hours

    ☐    Introduction: 0.5 hour

    ☐    Subunit 4.3.1: 0.5 hour

    ☐    Subunit 4.3.2: 1 hour

    ☐    Subunit 4.3.3: 0.5 hour

    ☐    Subunit 4.3.4: 1 hour

    ☐    Subunit 4.3.5: 1 hour

    ☐    Subunit 4.3.6: 0.25 hour

    ☐    Subunit 4.3.7: 0.25 hour

    ☐    Subunit 4.3.8: 1 hour

Unit4 Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- Define the meaning of historiography and identify important historiographic trends of the past century.

4.1 What is Historiography?   4.1.1 The Process of Writing History   - Reading: Institute of Historical Research: Professor Alun Munslow’s “What History Is” Link: Institute of Historical Research: Professor Alun Munslow’s “What History Is” (HTML)       
 
Instructions: Read this article for a brief overview of how historians address and reconstruct history.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

4.1.2 Political, Economic, Social, and Cultural Influences and Perspectives   - Reading: Dr. Adrian Worsfold's "Historiography: Introduction | Theories and Perspectives on Doing History" The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

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4.2 Why Is Historiography Important?   4.2.1 Learning How to Read and Critique Sources   - Reading: New Advent’s The Catholic Encyclopedia: “Historical Criticism” Link: New Advent’s The Catholic Encyclopedia: HistoricalCriticism” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the article on the webpage.
 
This article explains and discusses the elements of historical criticism.  While it is oriented towards students of Catholic Church history, the information in the article is relevant for any historical researcher.
 
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4.2.2 Understanding How the Study of History Has Changed Over Time   - Reading: Silvapages: Brett N. Silva’s “Historiography: How Historians Do History” Link: Silvapages: Brett N. Silva’s Historiography: How Historians Do History” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the article on the webpage.
 
In this article, Brett N. Silva, a history teacher at Pleasant Valley High School, provides a brief overview of influential historiographic trends of the past two millennia.  The author describes how each of these trends has altered how historians interpret the past.
 
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4.2.3 All History Is Current History   - Reading: The Society for French Historical Studies’ version of Michael Scott Christofferson’s “An Antitotalitarian History of the French Revolution: François Furet’s Pensar La Révolution Français in the Intellectual Politics of the Late 1970s” Link: The Society for French Historical Studies’ version of Michael Scott Christofferson’s “An Antitotalitarian History of the French Revolution: François Furet’s Pensar La Révolution Français in the Intellectual Politics of the Late 1970s” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the article. Italian philosopher Pareto once said “all history is current history.”  This review from The Society for French Historical Studies illustrates how the historiography of the past is altered by the conditions of the present.  In this review, Michael Scott Christofferson examines the seminal work of François Furet, Penser la Révolution française, in light of the changing political conditions of the late 1970’s.  François Furet has influenced the historiography of the French Revolution arguably more than any other living historian.  This is a concrete example of modern historiography in action.  The review showcases, how in this fast-paced modern world, history can be rewritten within the space of a decade.
 
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4.3 Influential Historiographic Trends of the 19th and 20th Centuries   - Reading: Answers.com: Abraham S. Eisenstadt’s “History and Historians” Link: Answers.com: Abraham S. Eisenstadt’s “History and Historians”  (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the article on the webpage. Please note that this reading covers the topics outlined in subunits 4.3.1-4.3.5. 
 
This article discusses the development and approaches of American historians.
 
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4.3.1 Empiricism and Positivism   - Reading: BBC’s “H2G2”: “Historiography—The Rankian School of Thought” Link: BBC’s “H2G2”: “Historiography—The Rankian School of Thought”  (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the article on the webpage.
 
This article discusses the 19thcentury historiographical school of thought founded by Leopold von Ranke. Please note most of the content on the encyclopedia project “H2G2” is developed by the public.
 
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4.3.2 Progressive Historians   - Reading: University of Groningen’s “From Revolution to Reconstruction”: Selections from Mike Crane’s “Progressive Historiography of the American War for Independence:” “Introduction,” “Charles Beard,” “Of These Men, How Shall I Speak?” and “Conclusions” Link: University of Groningen’s “From Revolution to Reconstruction”: Mike Crane’s “Progressive Historiography of the American War for Independence”:

<span>“</span><span>[Introduction](http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/E/progr_histo/histo01.htm),</span><span>”  (HTML)</span>  
 <span>“</span><span>[Charles
Beard](http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/E/progr_histo/histo06.htm),</span><span>”  (HTML)</span>  
 <span>[“Of These Men, How Shall I
Speak?”](http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/E/progr_histo/histo09.htm)</span> <span> (HTML)
and</span>  

<span>[“Conclusions”](http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/E/progr_histo/histo11.htm)</span> <span> (HTML)</span>  
    
 <span>Instructions: Read the following subsections of Crane’s
article: “Introduction,” “Charles Beard,” “Of These Men, How Shall I
Speak?” and “Conclusions.”</span>  
    
 <span>In this article, Mike Crane discusses the Progressive School
of American historiography and focuses on how Progressive Historians
interpreted the American Revolution.</span>  
    
 <span>Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.</span>

4.3.3 The Annales School   - Reading: H2G2: “Historiography—The Annales School of Thought” Link: H2G2: “Historiography—The Annales School of Thought” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the article on the webpage. This article discusses the Annales school of thought in regards to research methods. This school of thought was first founded by Lucien Febvre and Mark Bloch in 1929.
 
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4.3.4 Consensus School   - Reading: Answers.com: “Historiography, American” Link: Answers.com: Historiography, American”  (HTML)
 
Instructions: Focus on the section of the article that discusses “Consensus History.”
 
The entire text discusses different eras of American historiography and schools of historians. Remember that consensus history in America defines the time when historians focused on the unifying elements of social and political values held by Americans as a whole.
 
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4.3.5 Social History   - Reading: The Institute of Historical Research’s version of Professor Emeritus Eric Evans’s “Social History” Link: The Institute of Historical Research’s version of Professor Emeritus Eric Evans’s “Social History”  (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the article on the webpage.
 
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4.3.6 The “Linguistic Turn” in Historical Studies   - Reading: California State University at Long Beach: Sharlene Sayegh’s “The ‘Linguistic Turn’” Link: California State University at Long Beach: Sharlene Sayegh’s The ‘Linguistic Turn'"  (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the article on the webpage.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

4.3.7 Postmodernism and the Search for Truth   - Reading: Suite101.com: Lito Apostolakou’s “Postmodernism and History Writing: Methodologies and Archival Research” Link: Suite101.com: Lito Apostolakou’s “Postmodernism and History Writing: Methodologies and Archival Research”  (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the article on the webpage.
 
This article provides a brief explanation of how postmodern literary criticism has influenced historical research and writing.  Some historians have begun to question whether historical texts can really tell us anything about past events.  If we accept the premise, as stated by the webpage’s author Lito Apostolakou, that “language does not describe reality but constructs reality,” then we can never truly understand the past.  Apostolakou worries that such a perspective may undermine the historical profession and make history largely irrelevant as an academic subject.
 
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4.3.8 Atlantic World: An Emerging Modern Historical Trend   - Reading: Michael Jiménez and Marcus Rediker’s “What Is Atlantic History?” Link: Michael Jiménez and Marcus Rediker’s “What Is Atlantic History?” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the article for an overview of historical scholarship on Atlantic history.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

End of Unit Assessment   - Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “HIST104: Unit 4 Quiz” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “HIST104: Unit 4 Quiz” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Complete the linked quiz above.  When you are done, check your work against The Saylor Foundation’s “HIST104: Unit 4 Quiz Answer Key.” (PDF)