Historiography

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George Bancroft

Historian George Bancroft in Germany

George Bancroft

The class examined historiography, the study of historical thought from its emergence in the classical world to the present. It concentrates on how history has been interpreted, rather the facts of history themselves. The course contemplates the fundamental questions about the nature of history and investigates the relationships between theory and evidence in historical writing. Also explored are the varieties of narratives historians have used to reconstruct the past and many of the major historiographical schools and ideas that have developed over time.

Required Texts

* Bentley, Michael. Modern Historiography: An Introduction. London: Routledge, 1999.
* Breisach, Ernst. Historiography: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern, 2nd Edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994.
* Green, Anna, and Kathleen Troup, eds. The Houses of History: A Critical Reader in Twentieth-Century History and Theory. New York: New York University Press, 1999.
* Marius, Richard. A Short Guide to Writing about History. NY: Longmans, 1999
* Turabian, Kate L. Manual for Writers of Term Papers, 6th Edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Web-based Readings

* Maryilyn, Bernard. “The Challenge of Modern Historiography.” American Historical Review 87 (February 1982).
* Bentley, Michael. “Herbert Butterfield and the Ethics of Historiography.” History & Theory 44 (February 2005).
* Gorman, Jonathan. “Historians and Their Duties.” History & Theory 43 (December 2004).
* Nolte, Ernst. “The Relationship Between Bourgeois and Marxist Historiography.” History & Theory 14 (January 1975).
* Zagorin, Perez. “History, The Referent, and Narrative: Reflections on Postmodernism Now.” History & Theory 38 (January 1999).

Recommended Supplemental Reading

* Bambach, Charles R. Heidegger, Dilthey, and the Crisis of Historicism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995.
* Barraclough, Geoffrey. Main Trends in History. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1979.
* Butterfield, Herbert. Man on His Past: The Study of the History of Historical Scholarship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1955.
* Charters David A., Marc Milner, and J. Brent Wilson, eds. Military History and the Military Profession. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 1992.
* Collingwood, R. G. The Idea of History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.
* Garraghan, Gilbert J. A Guide to Historical Method. New York: Fordham University Press, 1946.
* Gottschalk, Louis. Understanding History: A Primer of Historical Method. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1963.
* Hornblower, Simon, ed. Greek Historiography. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996.
* Johnson, Allen. The Historian and Historical Evidence. New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1930.
* Montagu, M. F. Ashley, ed. Toynbee and History: Critical Essays and Reviews. Boston: Porter Sargent, 1956. Powicke, F. M. Modern Historians and the Study of History: Essays and Papers. London: Odhams Press, 1955.
* Richardson, Alan. History Sacred and Profane. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1964.
* Snooks, Graeme Donald. The Laws of History. London: Routledge, 1998.
* Thompson, James Westfall, and Bernard J. Holm. A History of Historical Writing. New York: Macmillan, 1942.

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6 thoughts on “Historiography

  1. Rene,

    Another question(s):

    How would you rate the quality of the required readings in Historiography?

    Also, how helpful/involved was the Historiography instructor in providing guidance/mentorship throughout the conduct of all of the course milestones (i.e. the discussions, the papers, guidance/assistance on deciding on an approved research paper topic, etc)?

    In this same vein, how did your previous instructors fare?

    I am obviously new to online learning as I earned my Bachelor’s many eons ago from Florida State University which is why I am being so inquisitive. I do appreciate your very helpful input…

    v/r,

    Marc

  2. Rene,

    (Sent the below response to you already via my Yahoo e-mail account but was not sure if it went through). Thanks again for your previous response and input!

    How are you? I’m making the assumption that taking Historical Research Methods and Historiography first in the order of the curriculum is not absolutely essential considering you took some of your concentration classes early on. Doing so obviously didn’t hurt you academically (based on your posted grades). I may follow the same pattern; any comments on this?

    I am still on the fence about Military History vice Military Studies with a concentration in Land Warfare. I can get the Military Studies degree completed quicker due to transfer credit from the Army’s Command and General Staff College but am concerned it may be a terminal degree, particularly if AMU offers a Doctorate in Military History in the next few years.

    Also, within the scope of a MA in Military History, I am torn between American Military History, which would provide a more general historical overview, or World War II history which admittedly is, and always has been, my passion.

    My only concern on the WW II concentration is that I would not want to under emphasize other areas of Military History as well. I still want to stay well rounded, even when specializing in an area, which becomes increasingly necessary as one circumnavigates through graduate level seas. If WW II is chosen, then I would obviously, like to study it further on the Doctoral level.

    Decisions, decisions…. Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated as well.

    v/r,

    Marc

    • Hey Marc,
      Keep the questions coming. See answers below:

      Marc: I’m making the assumption that taking Historical Research Methods and Historiography first in the order of the curriculum is not absolutely essential considering you took some of your concentration classes early on. Doing so obviously didn’t hurt you academically (based on your posted grades). I may follow the same pattern; any comments on this?

      Rene: Taking the core courses is recommended but not required. I was more than a little impatient to jump into my area of focus so mixed it up a bit. My next class is Research Methods so I’ll have a better idea about when in the process I’d recommend taking that course after I spend some time in the class.

      Marc: I am still on the fence about Military History vice Military Studies with a concentration in Land Warfare. I can get the Military Studies degree completed quicker due to transfer credit from the Army’s Command and General Staff College but am concerned it may be a terminal degree, particularly if AMU offers a Doctorate in Military History in the next few years.

      Rene: This is probably worth visiting with the department about. I’m not sure the Military Studies degree would necessarily limit your access to the doctoral program.

      Marc: Also, within the scope of a MA in Military History, I am torn between American Military History, which would provide a more general historical overview, or World War II history which admittedly is, and always has been, my passion.

      My only concern on the WW II concentration is that I would not want to under emphasize other areas of Military History as well. I still want to stay well rounded, even when specializing in an area, which becomes increasingly necessary as one circumnavigates through graduate level seas. If WW II is chosen, then I would obviously, like to study it further on the Doctoral level.

      Rene: Boy I hear you on this one. I had a terrible time deciding which area to focus on when I started and there were even fewer program options than there are now. I too have a passion for WWII but also was fascinated by the Civil War. I’m also quite intrigued by the American Revolution. One thing to keep in mind is that in the military history program you do take a survey course in U.S. Military History (an excellent course) so get exposure to all major time periods. You also study key strategists which provides a more general perspective. And you have an elective to play with. So my advice is to go with the era that is your real passion. If you’re like most of us, you’ll be a voracious reader of all things military history so be able to fill in your knowledge of other areas while at the same time bringing your greatest energy and focus to the study of events that speak to you the most – WWII.

      My humble opinion… :-)

      Good luck with your decisions.

      Best,

      Rene

      • Thanks, Rene! As always, I appreciate you taking the time to respond. It will be looking forward to hearing your opinion of Historical Research Methods…

        v/r,

        Marc

  3. Rene,

    How are you? My name is Marc Blair. I’m an Army officer currently serving in Iraq as a military advisor to the Iraqi Army in Baghdad. I am set to begin graduate studies in a few months upon redeployment from Iraq and am currently on the fence about being a MA in Military History or Military Studies. I just wanted to tell you that you’ve done a superb job in the construction and maintenance of this website. It is truly second to none.

    I have a few questions for you that I think you’re more than qualified to answer:

    What did you think of Historiography? The course is required in Military History but not in Military Sudies given the differences in the scope of their curriculums.

    How time consuming is each course? I’m trying to gauge whether or not it is prudent to take two or just one course per 16 week term. I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew given that I have other commitments in life as well (family, job, etc).

    Thesis or Comprehensive Exam? That is the question… I know the Capstone Seminar is the final 16 week term, but realistically, is it prudent and/or encouraged for the student to begin the research before this time period?

    Are you planning to pursue a Doctor program upon completion of your Master’s? If so, will you continue to focus on the Civil War?

    Just trying to get some constructive information so I know what to realistically expect… I greatly appreciate any insight you may have to offer. I look forward to hearing from you.

    v/r,

    MAJ Marc Blair

    • Hi Marc,
      Great to hear from you. Thanks for the kind words about the blog. It’s always a work in progress.

      I’m glad to share with you my thoughts on your excellent questions. These are similar to questions I had so here goes…

      M: What did you think of Historiography? The course is required in Military History but not in Military Studies given the differences in the scope of their curriculum.
      R: I actually found historiography to be an interesting class. It is, in effect, a history of the study of history and as such, provided a good foundation. I had not formally studied history before so the material was new to me. I learned, among other things, that historians approach their task differently depending on the events that inform them in their own time. Intuitively that makes sense, but it hadn’t occurred to me that there were so many schools-of-though in history and why each is unique. We also had a major paper due the topic of which was about a major historian. I chose George Bancroft who was the preeminent historian of the 19th century. This fit nicely with my area of focus, the American Civil War and I learned a great deal studying his life and work.

      M: How time consuming is each course? I’m trying to gauge whether or not it is prudent to take two or just one course per 16 week term. I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew given that I have other commitments in life as well (family, job, etc).
      R: This depends on the course and the instructor. Some of the best classes I’ve taken demanded a great deal of time. “Great Military Philosophers” has more reading than can possibly be done if working full time. I finally had to resign myself to the fact that I wouldn’t be able to read every word of every assignment. But it was all great stuff. “Studies in U.S. Military History” was also incredibly time consuming because of the reading and writing. We read a large book a week most weeks. I loved it though and had a top notch teacher. The course I just finished, “Civil War Command and Strategy,” was light on reading. The instructor indicated that he was limited in how much reading he could require so I’m not sure if they’ve had a policy change or not. I like the challenge of more. That said, I work a very demanding job and found early on that I can’t handle two 16 week courses at one time. I’d recommend sticking with one unless you have a great deal of free time.

      M: Thesis or Comprehensive Exam? That is the question… I know the Capstone Seminar is the final 16 week term, but realistically, is it prudent and/or encouraged for the student to begin the research before this time period?
      R: I chose Thesis because I’d like to pursue a doctorate. I’ll know more after my next course, Historical Research Methods, on your question about how soon one can begin on a topic. I suspect that the work done could include early work on a thesis outline. I don’t think it’s ever too soon to start although the idea for a topic would need to pass some rigor with a committee.

      M: Are you planning to pursue a Doctor program upon completion of your Master’s? If so, will you continue to focus on the Civil War?
      R: Yes I’d like to. Rumor has it AMU may introduce a doctorate in Military History. I’d likely continue with the Civil War although I’d love to study about the American Revolution and World War II as well.

      Hope that helps Marc. Feel free to shoot any additional questions my way.

      Best regards,

      Rene

      Rene Tyree
      wig-wags.com