The 'Writing History' class complements previous work done on historiography, sources and methods by exploring the making of the 'finished product' of published works of history. It explores the challenges faced by historians in terms of the framing, structuring and presentation of their work. These include:
- Scholarship and Markets: How do historians reconcile the obligation to satisfy their academic peers with the ambition to access a more general readership?
- Microscopes and Telescopes: How do historians variously ‘zoom in’ on case studies which they subject to ‘thick description’ and analysis, and ‘zoom out’ to consider historical problems in a much wider global or comparative context?
- People and Causes: How do historians relate human agency and deep-seated causes when explaining historical events? What have been the most effective kinds of individual or collective biography?
- Plots and Problems: How do historians vary their approach to historical questions between problem-solving or detective work on the one hand, and linking events through narrative plot on the other? What does historical narrative owe to other media such as literature or film?
In advance of the weekly session the class leader will provide a reading list. Students are invited to read a couple of books per week under each heading and be prepared to give a 3-4 minute presentation on ONE of them. If they wish to present books on the theme of the week that are not on the reading list, they are welcome to do so.