History 298: Junior Colloquium
In 2013-14 History 298 will be offered during fall and winter terms
All History Majors must take History 298, a six-credit reading and discussion course. The general purpose of History 298 is to help you reach a more sophisticated understanding of the methods of historians. The course will culminate in the visit to Carleton of a major historian whose work you will have read during the term.
If you will be off-campus during fall and winter term of your junior year, you can take History 298 in your senior year.
History 298 is designed to provide students with an introduction to how historians view the nature of their discipline. To that end, several fundamental and interrelated questions are addressed throughout the term:
- How do historians aim to reconstruct the lives and events of the past?
- To what extent is the past knowable?
- What is the role of "truth" in the writing of history?
- Who writes history and for whom is it written?
- What constitutes an appropriate object or subject of historical inquiry?
- What is the relationship between the historian and the past?
- What is the relationship between the discipline of history and politics, or morality?
Since the course is interested primarily in epistemological concerns, its purpose is not for students to gain an extensive mastery in the historical content of any specific geographical area or time period. The idea, rather, is for the student to come away with a clearer idea of how different sorts of historians approach the study of the past.
Usually twice each year, the Herbert P. Lefler Lectureship allows the department to bring prominent working historians to campus who have recently raised important conceptual questions relevant to the entire discipline of history.
The Lefler lecturers give a public presentation on campus and also visit one or two Junior Colloquium class sessions. In preparation, majors may read a brief recent article by the visiting scholar. These twice-a-year Lefler events are a valuable part of the history major. The aim has been to stimulate discussion among majors on a challenging subject of recent debate in the field that has potential applications for all areas of history and thus for all majors. All junior and senior majors are invited to attend the Lefler Seminar class discussion, and members of both the campus and the greater community are invited to attend the Herbert P. Lefler Public Presentations.
Consequently, historians are chosen who have recently published a book or article(s), which attempts an important reassessment with implications for the study of history across all specializations.