Thanks to your many fantastic suggestions way back at the beginning of the summer, I’ve finally made some decisions (and perhaps more importantly, submitted my book orders) for my fall 2013 Introduction to Historical Practice, which all of our incoming M.A. students must take. Here’s the book list I’ve settled on for my focus on “history scandals:”
- Michael Bellesiles, Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture (2000), either the Knopf original hardcover or paper editions or the 2003 Soft Skull Press edition.
- Contesting Archives: Finding Women in the Sources, eds. Nupur Chaudhuri, Sherry J. Katz, and Mary Elizabeth Perry (2010)
- Shelley Ruth Butler, Contested Representations: Revisiting Into the Heart of Africa (1999; 2007)
- Anthony Grafton, The Footnote: A Curious History (1997)
- Saidiya Hartman. Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route (2008)
- Peter Hoffer, Past Imperfect: Facts, Fiction, Fraud—American History from Bancroft and Parkman to Ambrose, Bellesiles, Ellis, and Goodwin (2004)
- NEW–Ari Kelman, A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek (2013)
- Bonnie G. Smith, The Gender of History: Men, Women, & Historical Practice, 2nd edition (2000)
- Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1997)
- Deborah Gray White, Telling Histories: Black Women Historians in the Ivory Tower (2008)
In the end, I went with Heather’s suggestion to include Hartman’s Lose Your Mother. Providentially, Jill Lepore just published this week in the New Yorker a moving essay about losing her mother before she could finish the only book her mother really wanted her to write, so of course I’ll assign that, too, since the subject that week is the historian’s relationship to her subject. I also decided that LLB and C were entirely correct that Trouillot’s book really must be on this syllabus, too. Finally, although I had been considering Contesting Archives for this course since I had seen editors Nupur Chaudhuri and Sherry Katz, and others on a panel at the recent Western Association of Women Historians conference talking further about the relationship between historians and archivists, Kathie’s comment prompted me to pull the ripcord and go with it.
In addition to the topics and subjects suggested here, we’ll be exploring some public history scandals or controversies such as the demolition of Richard Neutra’s Gettysburg Cyclorama alongside the decision to destroy a great deal of nineteenth-century Philadelphia in the service of creating Independence National Historical Park, and the controversy over the history and memory of the Boston Tea Party in the modern Tea Party movement, which also has some public history implications.
Plus, always: Ambition! Plagiarism! Scandal! Infamy! Now doesn’t that sound like more fun than a hogshead full of saltpeter?