Course Description

This subject is designed to give 21H majors and minors an introduction to the methods that historians use to interpret the past. We will focus on two areas: archives and interpretation. In our work on archives, we will ask what constitutes an archive. We will visit one or two local archives, speak with archivists, and assemble our own archive related to life at MIT in 2003. Once we have a better understanding of the possibilities and limitations of historical archives, we will turn to the task of interpreting archival findings. We will discuss a series of readings organized around the theme of history and national identity in various parts of the world since the end of the eighteenth century. Students will also be asked to write a 15-page research paper, and present their work orally to the class.

Subject Requirements

Active class participation is central to our work together. Attendance is mandatory, and students are expected to arrive in class on time and prepared to discuss common readings. A student who misses two or more class sessions will automatically fail the subject. Students will write a five-page paper, due in its final version in week #9, and a fifteen-page research paper due in week #14, the final day of classes. Students will make two oral presentations in class, in week #4 and week #14. Before some class sessions, students will submit electronic responses to questions regarding the week's readings; these questions will be distributed in advance. There will be no exams and no final. Each assignment will be weighted as follows in the calculation of the final grade, although these calculations will also take into account improved performance during the course of the semester:

Class Participation:                         10 points
Homeworks (6, 5 pts each):           30 points
Fifteen-Page Research Paper:        80 points
Five-Page Paper:                            40 points
Oral Presentations:                        20 points each, total of 40 points
TOTAL:                                            200 points

Required Reading

Hegel, G. W. F. Reason in History.

Braudel, Fernand. The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II.

Foucault, Michel. Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison.