Division of Applied Undergraduate Studies
The Historical Imagination
This course introduces students to the key issues and debates in the making of history today. A central focus is on how ideas about the past are constructed, used and disseminated, in other words, how the past is made into 'history'. By looking at the varied ways in which people encounter the past - from scholarly works to museum exhibits and films - this course analyzes how both professional historians and the public shape our ideas about history. Key questions addressed in the course include: Do we view the past as a 'foreign country?' with little relation to ourselves? Or do we view it as a 'living present,' a source of contemporary ideas and identities? What are the techniques and strategies that historians and others use to interpret evidence and narrate the past? Why have some narratives proved so enduring? This question raises the problem of social memory, hence we will also explore what, how, and why societies choose to remember and forget about the past.