Power and the Production of History

Course Description

History often celebrates the victors—especially when they’re also the historians. But how is history made? This course invites you to grapple with questions of ownership, authority, and representation in the context of complex histories. We will also explore the possibilities for collaboration, creativity, and community-based engagement as strategies for expanding the historical record and what counts as "history." We will focus on archives and knowledge production, monuments, and public memory, and museums and exhibitions, emphasizing American history while also drawing connections both hyperlocal and globally.

In addition to foundational readings in archival studies, memory studies, and museum studies, this course also incorporates podcasts, documentaries, and conversations with practitioners to explore the process of producing history. Through discussion posts, conversations in seminars, and writing assignments, students will connect the material with their own personal experiences while learning more about how historians make history. By gaining greater insight into this process, students can advocate for more inclusive historical narratives that confront complex histories with critical attention to truth, accountability, and preservation.

We will take the tools that we’ve cultivated throughout the course and put them into practice by curating an exhibit as a class. This exhibit will give students a chance to have a hands-on look at what it means to be a public historian. This course provides a foundation for students interested in public art, museum work, and social justice while also enhancing students’ critical inquiry skills in the discipline of history.

During this course, you will learn to:

• Identify the role of power in the production of history by reading and analyzing course materials, including primary and secondary literature, through reading responses and class discussion.
• Clearly communicate how class readings can be applied in specific case studies related to archives, museums, and memorials. • Experiment with different approaches to public history by writing a monument proposal and object label and collaboratively curating a small-scale exhibition.
• Develop strategies for effecting change in their community through public humanities methodologies and hands-on experiences.

This course will expose you to history as a process—how historians draw on archival sources to construct historical accounts, how the material in archives shapes those narratives, how memorials reinforce or counter how history is remembered, and how museums operate as educational spaces to disseminate those histories. After completing this course, you will be well prepared for a college-level introductory history course, academic research experience, or a community-engaged project on local history.


Prior knowledge of U.S. history is helpful but not required.


Two Sections Available to Choose From:

Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.

Dates: June 27, 2022 - July 01, 2022
Duration: 1 Weeks
Meeting Times: M-F 12:15P-3:05P
Status: Open for Registration
Format: On-Campus
Instructor(s): Istifaa Ahmed
Course Number: 10010

Dates: July 11, 2022 - July 22, 2022
Duration: 2 Weeks
Meeting Times: Online - Blended with required live sessions every Friday from 10:00AM - 11:00AM Eastern Standard Time (EST)
Status: Waitlisted
Format: Online
Instructor(s): Margaret Goddard
Course Number: 10248