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AP/HIST 4840 6.0: Public History

AP/HIST 4840 6.0: Public History

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AP/HIST 4840 6.00

Public History

Course Director: Prof. J. Bonnell -

This course examines the forms, goals, and practices of making history in museums, archives, historic sites, and other institutions of public history. It enables students to learn the meaning and methods in the production of memory and introduces them to the practical skills for the public presentation of historical knowledge. The course combines analytical study with a part-time placement in a public-history site. Course credit exclusion: GL/HIST 4310 6.0
Note: Priority is given to History Honours Majors and Minors who have successfully completed at least 84 credits.

This course is required for completion of the History department’s cross-disciplinary undergraduate Certificate in Public History:

Expanded Course Description (expanded from course calendar description):

Public history investigates the ways that history is understood by and interpreted for the public. This course examines the history, theory, and practice of public history in a wide variety of venues, including museums, archives, historic sites, the internet, and film. In addition to class readings and discussions, skills workshops throughout the course will introduce students to the practical skills for the public presentation of historical knowledge, including oral history interview techniques, communication and presentation skills, and digital tools for public history. Students will meet practitioners in the field and visit several public history-related sites. The course combines analytical study with a part-time placement with a public-history site.

Organization of the Course:
Class meetings in the fall semester will include discussions of readings, skills workshops, guest speakers, and several field trips.

In the Winter semester, students will be placed with a museum, archives, heritage institution, or digital history initiative for the placement portion of the course. Students will submit rationale statements for their top three placement picks; the professor will endeavour to place students at one of their selected sites. Students will provide 120 hours of service (10 hours/week) to their public history placements over the winter term. They will negotiate their schedules directly with their on-site supervisor and keep track of their weekly activities in a logbook. At the end of the winter term, students will present their projects at an annual Student Public History conference attended by history department faculty, placement supervisors, and fellow students.

There are no weekly class meetings in the Winter term. Instead, the class will meet roughly once per month, mostly over zoom, to discuss upcoming assignments and check in on placement progress.

Course Learning Objectives:
Students who successfully complete requirements for History 4840 will be able to:
• identify key debates within the scholarly literature on public history and describe how those debates have changed over time
• identify, describe, and evaluate distinct scholarly approaches to historical questions about public history
• analyse and critique concrete experiences of public history practice, from monuments to films, websites, and heritage site visits
• conduct independent research on a specific topic using primary sources in archives, libraries, and heritage sites
• read original evidence, scholarly arguments, and relevant popular depictions closely and critically
• devise a public history project, exploring and synthesizing a wide range of sources, crafting a narrative about the past, and presenting it in an accessible and creative manner (podcast, journalistic news article, walking tour, short film, etc.)
• collaborate and communicate in a professional manner with institutions and/or community organizations
• explain and evaluate themes, concepts, and approaches relevant to public history