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HIST 217 Fall Semester 2011

Fall Semester 2011
History H-217: The Nature of History (15471)
Tuesdays 3:00PM-5:40PM
Cavanaugh Hall 215
Professor Modupe Labode
Office: 420 Cavanaugh Hall
Telephone: 317-274-3829
Office Hours: Tuesdays, 1-2; Thursdays 1-3, and by appointment. Mailbox: 504M Cavanaugh Hall

Course Description: This course is an introduction to the study of history. Readings and discussion will explore the sources that historians use to interpret history and construct narratives. The course introduces students to the concepts, methods, and problems, associated with “doing history”; philosophies of history; and competing interpretations of the past. The course is a regular offering of the History Department and is required for the Museum Studies Certificate and by the School of Education for those pursuing secondary education degrees with a social studies concentration.

The first section of the course will examine the elements of history: its development in the western tradition; shared assumptions which make history “history,” and the nature of historical sources. The second section of the course will look at case studies of historical interpretation and sources. The third section of the class looks at alternative ways of presenting history— particularly public history—and history’s meanings in broader society. Course Objectives: At the end of the course, students will be able to discuss the shared assumptions on which historical analysis is based, including causality (cause-effect); chronology; objectivity as a contested ideal; and interpretation. Students will be able to describe the basic types of sources on which historical research is based and evaluate these sources. Students will also be able to trace the growth of specialized fields of historical research; explain some of the shared assumptions of public history; describe the basics of historical research and writing; and analyze ethics of historical writing and interpretation.

Texts: Texts are available at local bookstores. Electronic versions of the texts may be available. Please finish the reading before the class begins.


Oncourse Readings: Check the “Resources” section of Oncourse for posted readings.

HIST 217 Fall Semester 2011

John H. Arnold, History: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). ISBN: 978-0-19-285352-3

James West Davidson and Mark Hamilton Lytle, After the Fact: The Art of Historical Detection, 6th Edition (New York: McGraw Hill, 2010) ISBN: 978-0-07-336548-8

Course Requirements: Students are expected to:

Complete assigned reading and web visits

Attend class Participate in class discussions

Complete assignments and exams on time. Late assignments may be penalized.

In order to complete the course successfully, you must finish all of the assigned work by the last day of the semester. If you do not complete all of the required work, I reserve the right to give you an “F” for the semester.

Principles of Undergraduate Learning: This course, like all IUPUI history courses, focuses on the following Principle of Undergraduate Learning (PUL):

Understanding Society and Culture: “The ability of students to recognize their own cultural traditions and to understand and appreciate the diversity of the human experience: a.) compare and contrast the range of diversity and universality in human history, societies, and ways of life; b.) analyze and understand the interconnectedness of global and local communities; and c.) operate with civility in a complex world.” This class also emphasizes the “Critical Thinking” PUL:

Critical Thinking: “The ability of students to engage in a process of disciplined thinking that informs beliefs and actions. A student who demonstrates critical thinking applies the process of disciplined thinking by remaining open-minded, reconsidering previous beliefs and actions, and adjusting his or her thinking, beliefs and actions based on new information.”

In this class, the PULs will be addressed through the assignments. The Understanding Society and Culture PUL will be the focus of the essays “The critical thinking PUL is addressed through all the assignments, which require students to analyze historical texts and sources and make distinctions among the data.

Oncourse: This class is supported by Oncourse. All class notices and assignments will be posted to Oncourse. You are expected to check Oncourse regularly.
Email: I will respond to your email within 48 hours. If you do not receive a response within that time, do not hesitate to email me again. You may get in contact with me through Oncourse or my  

HIST 217 Fall Semester 2011

IUPUI account. I will communicate with you through your IUPUI account and Oncourse. If you do not regularly check your IUPUI email, make arrangements to forward your IUPUI email to the account your regularly use.

Cancellation of Class: As long as the university is open, assume that the class will be held. To be notified of closures, sign up for the JagAlert system: If I need to cancel or delay the class for any reason, I will post a notice to Oncourse.
Classroom Courtesy: Please arrive on time. I will do my best to start and end the class on time. Please turn off mobile phones and other similar device prior to the beginning of class. Interruptions by these devices during the class are cause for dismissal from the classroom for that period.

I do not mind if you use laptops or other electronic devices (such as iPads) to take class notes. However, if I discover that you are using the devices to play games, surf the web, text, or other non-class related activities, I will ask you to either turn off the device or leave, as this is inappropriate for and disruptive to a good learning environment. Likewise, I do not mind if you record my lectures so long as you are using those recordings only for personal use to supplement your own note-taking.

I expect students to conduct themselves in a courteous and civil manner in interactions with professors and fellow students. Examples of discourteous behavior during class include doing homework for other classes, listening to headphones, talking or laughing with others, using computers to surf the web, allowing cell phones to ring or sending text messages, or other nonclass activities. Academic Misconduct: No form of academic misconduct (including, but not limited to cheating, plagiarism, resubmitting work form another class) by a student in this course will be tolerated. Any student who is found guilty of such misconduct by the instructor will receive an “F” on that assignment, and may receive an “F” for the course grade, and have the infraction recorded as a permanent part of his/her academic record.

For IUPUI’s Student Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct, see:
For a detailed explanation of university policy on academic misconduct, see:
I reserve the right to use the “Turn It In” software, which may help identify plagiarism and other forms of academic misconduct.
Incompletes (I) are rarely given, and then only if at least 75% of the work has been completed at a passing level, and extreme circumstances prevent completion of the remaining work. It is the student’s responsibility to arrange for an “I” grade. For more information, see


HIST 217 Fall Semester 2011

Special accommodations: If you need special accommodations, or have concerns about any aspect of this course, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me. Also contact the Office of Adaptive Educational Services at Joseph Taylor Hall (UC). Tel: (317) 274-3241; Video phone: (317) 278-2052 or 1-866-379-8823; Fax: (317) 278-2051; Email: Website:

Computer Liability: Students are reminded that ultimately, they are responsible for activity on their computer accounts. Protect your password and be certain you are logged off when you leave a public computer.

Counseling and Psychological Services: During the semester, if you find that life stressors are interfering with your academic or personal success, consider contacting Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). All IUPUI students are eligible for counseling services at minimal fees. CAPS also performs evaluations for learning disorders and ADHD; fees are charged for testing. CAPS is located at Suite 220, Walker Plaza, 719 Indiana Avenue and can be contacted by phone (317-274-2548). For more information, see the CAPS web-site at:

Disruptive students may face disciplinary action according to University policy. For more information, see: Administrative withdrawal: A basic requirement of this course is that you will participate in class and conscientiously complete writing and reading assignments. Keep in touch with me if you are unable to attend class or complete an assignment on time. If you miss more than half our class meetings within the first four weeks of the semester without contacting me, you will be administratively withdrawn from this section. Administrative withdrawal may have academic, financial, and financial aid implications. Administrative withdrawal will take place after the full refund period, and if you are administratively withdrawn from the course you will not be eligible for a tuition refund. If you have questions about the administrative withdrawal policy at any point during the semester, please get in contact with me. For more information, see:

Student Advocate Office: The Student Advocate Office will answer your questions, direct you to the appropriate departments and people, familiarize you with university policies and procedures, and give you guidance as you look at ways to solve problems and make choices. For more information, visit them in 350 Campus Center, or contact them at 278-7594, at, or at


HIST 217 Fall Semester 2011

Grading Scale






















Below 59


Course Requirements



Due Date

Midterm Exam



Oct. 4,
3:00 p.m.

Final Exam



Dec. 13,
5:00 p.m.





Exhibit Review



Nov. 22,
3:00 p.m.

Assignment 1



Sept. 13

Assignment 2



Nov. 1

Midterm and Final Exams: The exams are take-home. The questions will be posted to Oncourse the week before the due date. Please submit your paper electronically via Oncourse or hand in a hard copy at class.

Attendance: Regular attendance is important for success in the class. Attendance will be taken each day through a sign-in sheet. Excessive unexcused absences (missing more than two classes) may affect your grade. In the event of an emergency or illness that keeps you from  

HIST 217 Fall Semester 2011

attending class, please send me an email as soon as possible so that I have a record of your excused absence.
Assignments: More complete descriptions and grading rubrics will be provided at a later date. Late assignments may be penalized.
Writing: All written work should be word-processed, double-spaced, and follow conventions of academic writing, including proper citations and bibliography. You may use any of the conventional style guides (such as MLA, APA, or Chicago) as long as you use it consistently. I will be happy to review essays, but cannot give line editing. Please consider consulting the IUPUI Writing Center if you need help. The Writing Center’s website also has helpful information in its “links” and “handouts” section: Class Schedule * Subject to Revision

1. August 23: Course Introduction
2. August 30: Changing meaning of history in the western tradition; objectivity v. subjectivity; chronology; causality; the nature of historical sources and historical “facts”; historiography READINGS:

 Arnold, Chapters 1,2, 3;
 The Historian’s Toolbox, Chapter 11, Glossary [Oncourse] 3. September 6: *MEET IN University Library UL 1130*
Guest Speaker Kristi Palmer, who will discuss researching primary and secondary sources. Topics: comparing historical sources; Writing history; historical conventions READINGS:
 Arnold, Chapters 4-6
 Jill Lepore, “His Highness: George Washington Scales New Heights,” New Yorker (September 27, 2010): 80-86. [Oncourse]
4. September 13: Interpretation; When historians disagree; Ethics of history; Speculative history; Individual and History;
 After the Fact, Chapter 3
 Arnold, Chapter 7
 The Historian’s Toolbox, Chapter 12-13 [Oncourse]


HIST 217 Fall Semester 2011

5. September 20: Environmental History; Native American History; Historical problems: New World Demographics and the origins of African Slavery
 After the Fact, Chapters 1, 2
 Peter H. Wood, Strange New Land: Africans in Colonial America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996). [Oncourse]
6. September 27: Documentary Sources; Material Culture
 After the Fact, Chapters 4, 5
 Jerome S. Handler, “The Old Plantation Painting at Colonial Williamsburg: New Findings and Some Observations,” African Diaspora Archaeology Network Newsletter, (December 2010). [Oncourse]
 The Old Plantation [Oncourse]
ASSIGNMENT: Midterm Exam posted to Oncourse at 6:00 p.m.
7. October 4: Ethics in History Case Study; Film: Holocaust on Trial ASSIGNMENT: Midterm Exam due; please submit to Oncourse by 3:00 p.m. 8. October 11: Visual and Oral Sources for History
 After the Fact, Chapter 9
 Oral History Sources [Oncourse—Read one of the posted excerpts from an oral history transcripts]
 Edward T. O’Donnell, “Pictures vs. Words? Public History, Tolerance, and the Challenge of Jacob Riis,” The Public Historian, Vol. 26, no. 3 (Summer 2004): 7-26. [Oncourse]
9. October 18: No class—Fall Break
10. October 25: National History; Radical Movements and History READINGS:
 After the Fact, Chapters 6, 11
11. November 1: History of Social Movements: The example of sit-ins READINGS:
 After the Fact, Chapter 15
ASSIGNMENT: Assignment 2 due


HIST 217 Fall Semester 2011

12. November 8: Women’s History; History of the Body
 After the Fact, Chapter 14
 Chapter 3 from The Body Project, Joan Jacobs Brumberg (NY: Vintage Books, 1997) [Oncourse]
13. November 15: Public History;
 The Tenement House Museum (focus on the “History” section):
 Baltimore ’68: Riots and Rebirth:  Elizabeth Nix, “Constructing Public History in the Classroom: The 1968 Riots as a Case Study,” The Public Historian, Vol .31, No. 4 (November 2009): 28-36. [Oncourse]  Kenneth Foote, Shadowed Ground: America’s Landscapes of Violence and Tragedy, Revised and Updated (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003), Chapter 1 [Oncourse] 14. November 22:

ASSIGNMENT: Exhibit Review Due
15. November 29: The Case of the Enola Gay; Critiques of History READINGS:
 After the Fact, Chapter 13
 TBD [Oncourse]

16. December 6: Summary
ASSIGNMENT: Final exam posted to Oncourse at 6:00 p.m.
Due Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 5:00 p.m.


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