School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics

MHY7035 - Debates in History

MHY7035 - Concepts in History

What is this course about?

'Concepts in History' is concerned with historiography ie the disciplinary attempt to recover and reconstruct a meaningful and truthful version of the past. In this course we will encounter the philosophical and practical issues confronting modern historians in this endeavour and consider the range of theoretical responses they have adopted in response to both the inherent methodological problems of their own discipline, the challenges posed from other (often hostile) disciplinary perspectives, and the difficulties arising from relating ‘the story of the past’ to the social, political and ideological demands of the present.
Part 1 of this team-taught course introduces some of the main themes in contemporary historiography and new directions in modern historical thought, including memory, Marxism, new cultural histories, postcolonialism and postmodernism.

In Part 2 of the course the different MA strands separate to concentrate on 20th- and 21st-century historiographical developments of specific relevance to their fields of interest. These will include themes such as gender, race, nationalism, imperialism and revisionism.

How is this course taught and assessed?

The course is taught through weekly seminars of two hours each; part 1 is taught collectively by members of the course team; part 2 in pathway groups.

Assessment is by two research essays of 3,000-3,500 words each; one on a part-1 topic, the second on a part-2 topic. Each is worth 50% of overall assessment.

What can I read in advance?

You are strongly recommended to undertake some advance reading for this challenging course. For part 1 the best general introductions to themes in modern historiography are:

• Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt and Margaret Jacob, Telling the truth about history (New York: Norton, 1995)
• Michael Bentley, Modern historiography: an introduction (London: Routledge, 1999)
• Richard J. Evans, In defence of history (London: Granta, 1997)
• Mary Fulbrook, Historical theory (London: Routledge, 2002)
• Georg G. Iggers, Historiography in the twentieth century: from scientific objectivity to the postmodern challenge (Hanover: Wesleyan UP, 1997)
• Keith Jenkins, On ‘What is History’: from Carr and Elton to Rorty and White (London: Routledge, 1995)
• John Tosh, The pursuit of history: aims, methods and new directions in the study of modern history (Harlow: Longman, 2006 edn.)

Strand convenors can advise on advance reading for part 2.