Junior Honors, Practice and Theory

HIST 397.00, Jeff Bowman, Fall 2002

Tuesdays, 7-10, Timberlake Seminar

There are no natural or intrinsic disciplines. All knowledge is interdisciplinary. Thus, disciplines define and redefine themselves interactively and competitively. They do this by inventing traditions and canons, by consecrating methodological norms and research practices, by appropriating, translating, silencing, and holding at bay adjacent perspectives.

--- James Clifford, "Spatial Practices"

~ ~ ~ ~

Many twentieth-century historians have been inspired and influenced by the work of scholars in other fields including literature, psychology, sociology, and anthropology. The influence of anthropological research is partly responsible for a dramatic shift in the very idea of what historians can or should study. Historians have expanded the range of legitimate topics of historical inquiry. Folklore, childhood, time, food, witches, crowds, and rituals, to name only a few, have been added to the list. This interdisciplinary borrowing has introduced new possibilities and new methodological problems. This course traces the fertile intersection of two disciplines, and tries to mark the benefits and pitfalls of such interdisciplinary borrowing. We will examine where the goals of the two disciplines are compatible and where they diverge. On the most general level, we will question the function of academic disciplines: does knowledge conform itself neatly into departments? How do the boundaries of a discipline shift? Ultimately, these are questions about how we can know anything about other cultures and other people.









Course Requirements

Research Paper

10-12 pages, due December 14 (30%)

Your research paper is not due until the end of the semester, but throughout the term you will be responsible for preparing preliminary exercises and assignments related to your final paper. These exercises will help you find a topic, identify relevant sources, formulate an argument, and pursue that argument persuasively and elegantly. You will submit these preparatory assignments (noted on the syllabus below) with your final paper. Your timely, thorough, and engaged completion of preparatory assignments will be considered in grading the final paper.

Class Participation (30%)

Attendance is mandatory. After two unexcused absences, your grade will drop rapidly and irrevocably. Students must have completed assigned readings by class time. Energetic, frequent, and thoughtful participation in discussion is a vital element of this seminar and constitutes a significant portion of your grade.

Six Response Papers (30%)

Over the course of the semester you will write six response papers of around 2-3 pages. In these papers, you should undertake a critical evaluation of the week's reading. You are not to summarize the arguments of other historians and anthropologists, but rather to assess. Think of these papers as forming a springboard for in-class discussion.

You may choose on which weeks you wish to write, but you must follow these guidelines:

1. Everyone submits a response paper for September 3.

2. You must submit three response papers by October 15.

One Short Paper (10%)

4-5 pages, due September 10, on an assigned topic.

Readings and Assignments

  1. - at the bookstore
  2. - copy in Seitz House
  3. - on reserve at the library

August 27 Introduction

September 3 Changing Histories

Joan Scott, "History in Crisis: The Others' Side of the Story," AHR 94 (1989), 680-692.

Gertrude Himmelfarb, "Some Reflections on the New History," AHR 94 (1989), 661-670.

Jim Clifford, "Spatial Practices: Fieldwork, Travel, and the Disciplining of Anthropology" /

September 10 Symbols

Clifford Geertz, "Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight" )

_____, "Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture" )

  1. Marcus and Fischer, Anthropology as Cultural Critique, chapters 1 and 2

September 17 Peasants in Trouble I

Emmanuel LeRoy Ladurie, Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error

(skip chapters 5, 6, 13, 17) )

Renato Rosaldo, "From the Door of His Tent: The Fieldworker and the Inquisitor " /

The Inquistorial Register of Jacques Fournier /

September 24 Peasants in Trouble II

Carlo Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms )

James Wilkinson, "A Choice of Fictions: Historians, Memory, and Evidence" /

Documents relating to the Albigensian and Waldensian heresies /

October 1 Peasants in Trouble III

James Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance )

October 15 Convicts in Trouble

Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, 1-194 )

October 22 Complete and Austere Institutions

Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, 195-308 )

October 29 Cats in Trouble

Read: Robert Darnton, The Great Cat Massacre, Introduction, chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, Conclusion.)

Roger Chartier, "Text, Symbols, and Frenchness" /

Robert Darnton, "The Symbolic Element in History" /

Harold Mah, "Suppressing the Text" /

*** Paper topic and preliminary bibliography due

November 5 Students in Trouble?

Caroline Walker Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast )

*** One-page paper proposal due (5 copies)

November 12 Belief and Practice: Food and the Body

Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast )

From the life of Catherine of Siena /

November 19 Reassessments

Clifford Geertz, "Religion as a Cultural System" )

Clifford Geertz, "Ritual and Social Change: A Javanese Example" )

  1. Marcus and Fischer, Anthropology as Cultural Critique, chapters 5, 6, concluding note
  2. Lynn Hunt, "Introduction: History, Culture, Text" in The New Cultural History

December 3 Research Presentations

Assigned Readings

December 10 Research Presentations

Assigned Readings

December 13 Research Paper Due in my office, 4 p.m.