Fall Semester 2011


Karl Marx (1818-1883)


Dr. George Dameron (Department of History)

Office: Library 306/ Office Hours:  Monday, 9-11; Wednesday, 2:30-3:30; and by appointment/Seminar:  Thursdays, 2:30-5:50

Phone:  x2318/Email: gdameron@smcvt.edu

Web page:  http://academics.smcvt.edu/gdameron/



This four (4)-credit upper division seminar will analyze and discuss in chronological fashion selected models of historical literature and historical thinking from Antiquity to the Modern Era. It will also fulfill the requirements for the History major or the minor in the “electives” category.  Study of these texts will focus on themes, methodologies, and approaches to the past, not on the memorization of facts and details.



"The Historian's Craft" is an upper-level seminar designed for juniors and seniors who have had at least one other History course.  In particular, the course welcomes History majors who have not yet begun their senior thesis as well as those who plan to attend graduate school.  Seminar meetings will focus on discussion of assigned readings.  Each week a student will begin discussion with a question on the reading for that week. Students will also complete a research paper associated with an historiographical or methodological topic associated with the readings, make an oral presentation of their research conclusions to the seminar at the end of the semester, and report orally and in a written form on two of the reading assignments.  Because we meet only once a week, attendance at every meeting is obligatory.  There will be a short break in the middle of every seminar session.



Junior or Senior standing and at least one History course, or permission of the




The aims of the course are the following:

         to analyze in a chronological fashion selected model texts of ancient,

medieval, and modern historiography;

         to explore by way of textual analysis some of the principal theories

regarding the nature of historical change;

         to examine various methodological approaches and historical problems;

         to investigate the manner by which historians have interpreted the

primary sources available to them;

         to improve skills in writing and critical thinking,

         to provide students who may consider graduate studies with a solid grounding in historical theory and methodology,

         to offer students a solid foundation in historiography before they take History 410,

         and to fulfill one of the requirements in the “electives” category of  the major and minor.



1) assigned readings, attendance, a short narrative about a significant event that shaped your past, and participation in seminar discussions (20% of final grade);

2) a 15 to 18-page research paper due on May 5 (a Thursday, 40% of final grade);

3) a prospectus and bibliographical essay on the research topic due March 3  (10% of final grade);

4) oral presentation to seminar of research results at end of semester on April 28 and May 5 (10% of final grade);

5) two short (2-4 page) essays on the assigned texts (20% of final grade; 10% each of the two essays on assigned texts), due on February 3 and February 17.


The Paper

The paper is due on May 5, the last seminar meeting of the semester. There will be a half a letter grade penalty (5 points) for every day the paper is late.   The paper will follow the required methods approved by the Department of History of citing primary and secondary sources (MLA or Chicago Manual of Style), and it must also include a formal bibliography.  History department policy requires students to use footnotes or endnotes in the proper format.  In-text citations (notes within parentheses inside the text) are unacceptable. For information on citing sources and creating bibliographies, see Paper Assignment Guidelines (at my web site) or “Citing and Documenting” at the library web site.


 Academic Integrity

Plagiarism is a serious academic offense.  According to the Policy on Academic Integrity included in the Student Handbook and Code of Conduct and posted online, plagiarism is the presentation  of “another person’s ideas as your own, by directly quoting or indirectly paraphrasing, without properly citing the original source. This includes inadvertent failure to properly acknowledge sources.” The penalties for plagiarism can range from receiving a failing grade for the plagiarized assignment to receiving a failing grade in the course.  In some cases plagiarism can result in suspension or expulsion from the college. 


Documented Learning Differences

Students with learning disabilities (documented by the Office of the Liaison for Students with Special Needs) will receive special accommodations where appropriate.  Please see me if you would like to request such arrangements.



Required texts for purchase:  


Arab Historians of the Crusades, editor and translator, Francesco Gabrieli (University of California, 1984).  ISBN-10: 0520052242.  ISBN-13: 978-0520052246


Natalie Zemon Davis, The Return of Martin Guerre (Cambridge:  Harvard, 1984)

ISBN:  10-0674766911


Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.  NY:  Penguin USA, 2001.  0140437649.  


Mark Gilderhus.  History and Historians: an historiographical introduction.  7th edition.  Prentice Hall, 2009.   ISBN-10: 0205687539 ISBN-13: 978-0205687534


Herodotus, The Histories (New York:  Penguin USA, 2003). 

ISBN 0-140-44908-6


James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom (Oxford 2003).  ISBN-10: 019516895X ISBN-13: 978-0195168952



On Reserve or in “Doc Sharing” on eCollege:


George Dameron, “Becoming invisible:  the role of economic history in medieval studies and in the historiography on medieval Italy,” in Medieval Italy, Medieval and Early Modern Women:  Essays in Honour of Christine Meek, edited by Conor Kostick (Dublin:  Four Courts Press, 2010):  25-38.


Michel Foucault, “Madness and Civilization,” in The Foucault Reader, edited by Paul Rabinow (1984):  123-167.


Jill Lepore, Name of War:  King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity (1999)


Karl Marx, “The German Ideology, Part 1,” in The Marx-Engels Reader, 2nd edition, edited by Robert C. Tucker (1978):  146-200.


Available online:


Michael McCormick, Paul Dutton, and Paul Majewski, “Volcanoes and the Climate Forcing of Carolingian Europe, A. D. 750-950,” Speculum 82 (4) October 2007:  865-895.


Joan Scott, “Gender:  A Useful Category of Historical Analysis,” The American Historical Review 91 (December 1986).


Seminar Schedule:


January 20 (Week One):  Introduction

         Introduction to seminar and to historiography

         Screening (and discussion) of “The Return of Martin Guerre” (1982)


January 27 (Week Two):  How and Why We Interpret the Past as We Do

         Natalie Zemon Davis, The Return of Martin Guerre (discussion)

         Short narrative on significant historical event due (how has this significant historical event shaped your life, and has your interpretation of the significance or meaning of that event changed over time?)

o       Discussion in seminar


February 3 (Week Three):  Beginnings

         Gilderhus, preface and chapters 1 and 2 (Beginnings of historiography)

         Herodotus, books 1, 2, 5

         **Essay One** due


February 10 (Week Four):  Ancient Historiography

         Herodotus, books 6, 7, 8


February 17 (Week Five):  Medieval (Arab) Historiography

         Arab Historians of the Crusades (to page 176)

         **Essay Two** due


Feburary 24 (Week Six):  Medieval (Arab) Historiography

         Arab Historians of the Crusades (to end)


March 3 (Week Seven):  Modern European Historiography

         Gilderhus, chapter 3 (History in modern times)

         Gibbon, prefaces, chapters 1-7

         Vico, The New Science (in-seminar reading)

         Prospectus and bibliographical essay on the research topic due (draft)


March 10 (Week Eight):  Modern European Historiography

         Gilderhus, chapter 4 (Philosophical approaches:  speculative)

         Gibbon, chapters 8-21, 36-38, “General Observations,” 39

         Marx, “The German Ideology”

         **Library Visit**


March 17 (Week Nine):  No seminar (spring recess)


March 24 (Week Ten): Modern European and American Historiography

         Gilderhus, chapter 5 (Philosophical approaches:  analytical)

         McPherson, chapters 1-7

         Prospectus and bibliographical essay on the research topic due (final draft)


March 31 (Week Eleven):  Recent Historiography

         Gilderhus, chapter 6 (Recent historiography)

         Joan Scott

         McPherson, chapters 8-15


April 7 (Week Twelve):  Postmodernism

         Gilderhus, chapter 7 (Postmodernism and culture wars)

         McPherson, chapters 16-23

         Michel Foucault, “Madness and Civilization,” in The Foucault Reader, edited by Paul Rabinow (1984):  123-167.


April 14 (Week Thirteen):  Beyond Postmodernism

         McPherson:  chapters 23-28



April 21 (Week Fourteen):  New Directions in Historiography


         Lepore, Name of War:  King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity


April 28 (Week Fifteen):  Seminar Presentations


May 5 (Week Sixteen):  Seminar Presentations

         **Seminar paper due**