Readings in U.S. and Global/Comparative Public History
HIS 603 (9984) | HIS 621 (9985) | HIS 626 (9986) | HIS 642 (9987)
Prof. Gerald Zahavi
Dept. of History, University at Albany-SUNY
Classroom: BB 003 / History Department Conference Room
Course Schedule: Tue. 2:45-5:35
Office: SS 060R
Office Hrs: Mon, 2-4 PM; Tues. 1-2:30 PM
also on-line and by appointment
This course covers methodological and theoretical issues in the
practice of Public History: how historical knowledge and historical
interpretations are shaped and communicated to general audiences in
popular narratives, media, exhibitions, memorials, and various other
forms of public displays. We’ll examine—on a local, regional, national,
and international level—the ways that specific social, cultural, and
political forces and institutions have shaped collective memory. We’ll
look at how public history is practiced in the U.S. and in other parts
of the world – Great Britain, Western and Eastern Europe, Australia,
South Africa, and Asia. Around half of the semester will be devoted to
coverage of Public History as practiced in the U.S. Once grounded in
domestic soils, we’ll spend the rest of the semester taking an
explicitly comparative approach in surveying the history, theory, and
practice of Public History abroad. We’ll examine the relationship
between academic and public history; questions and controversies that
have arisen around contested “heritage” and “patrimonial” public
histories; the cultural and political debates that have been ignited
when historians, filmmakers, and museum curators presented controversial
historical issues to a public audience; and the relationship between
history and memory in a variety of national and regional contexts. The
aim of this course is to inspire you to become imaginative and
effective public historians and scholars of public history, and to
develop a more cosmopolitan and global perspective on the field in
- Annie E. Coombes, History After Apartheid: Visual Culture and Public Memory in a Democratic South Africa (Duke Univ. Press, 2003).
- Fredrick C. Corney, Telling October: Memory and the Making of the Bolshevik Revolution (Cornell Univ. Press, 2004).
- Tony Horwitz, Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War (Vintage Books, 1999).
- Richard E. Neustadt, Ernest R. May, Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision-Makers (Free Press, 1988).
- James W. Loewen, Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong (Touchstone Press, 2007)
- Alessandro Portelli, The Death of Luigi Trastulli and Other Stories: Form and Meaning in Oral History (SUNY Series in Oral and Public History, 1990)
- Hue-Tam Ho Tai, The Country of Memory: Remaking the Past in Late Socialist Vietnam (Univ. of California Press, 2001).
- Robert Toplin, History by Hollywood, Second Edition Paperback (Univ. of Illiinois Press, 2010).
- Amy M. Tyson, The Wages of History: Emotional Labor on Public History's Front Lines (University of Massachusetts Press, 2013).
- Elizabeth Kowaleski Wallace, The British Slave Trade and Public Memory (Columbia Univ. Press, 2010).
- Mike Wallace, Mickey Mouse History and Other Essays on American Memory (Temple University Press, 1996).
- Daniel J. Walkowitz and Lisa Maya Knauer, eds., Memory and the Impact of Political Transformation in Public Space (Duke University press, 2004).
- Paul Williams, Memorial Museums: The Global Rush to Commemorate Atrocities (Bloomsbury Academic, 2008).
- Selections from: Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen, A Patriot's History of the United States: From Columbus's Great Discovery to the War on Terror (Sentinal Press, 2004), and Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States (Harper, 2007). These two books are available widely -- often heavily discounted. Check Amazon.com and other on-line source.
- Additional material on reserve or on line as specified below.
Grades will be based on:
1) Reviews of any two required books (including introducing/initiating the class discussion of one of the books): 30%. Reviews should be submitted electronically on or before the day of discussion of the reviewed book. I no longer accept paper copies, only electronic submissions.
2) Class participation: 20%
3) Final paper (20-30 pp): 50%. Submit
electronically. Due May 12th. Focus on any public history controversy --
broadly or narrowly conceived -- that crosses national boundaries and
discuss how it played out within two or more countries. Elaborate on and
analyze how various individuals, media organizations, and historical
and professional associations responded to the controversy (academic
scholars, museum and other public history professionals, newspaper and
magazine editors, politicians, heritage organizations). You might take
off from one or more of the required course texts, but you should pursue
the controversy in far more detail and bring in many other
texts/publications/media not covered in class, or you can pursue a
controversy that was not discussed in class, or only superficially
covered in class. For example, take the Arab-Israeli conflict: how is
1948 and the establishment of Israel commemorated and recalled in films,
museums, historic sites, and other forms of public historical venues in
the U.S. (by various groups), in Israel, and in one or more Arab
nations? Unless you know the appropriate languages, you will obviously
have to concentrate on English-language sources. If this is a concern,
concentrate on controversial areas that can be dealt with in comparisons
across English-language nations: England, Canada, US, New Zealand,
Australia, and so on [slavery, colonialism, war memorialization,
Euro-aboriginal conflicts, for example.]
The following statement of
policy is required by the University at Albany: “Plagiarism
is taking (which includes purchasing) the words and ideas of another and
passing them off as one's own work. If in a formal paper a
student quotes someone, that student must use quotation marks and give a
citation. Paraphrased or borrowed ideas are to be identified by
proper citations. Plagiarism will result, at the minimum, in a
failing grade for the assignment.”
Class 1 (Tuesday, Sept. 1): Course Introduction: The Range of Public History
Class 2 (Tuesday, Sept. 8): Historic Sites in the U.S.
James W. Loewen, Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong (The New Press).
"James W. Loewen on Historical Lies and Distortions."
Real Media. MP3. Time: 34:22. Gerald
Zahavi interviewed sociologist James Loewen in 2002 about
"historical lies and distortions" -- by omission and commission --
in textbooks, historical markers, and monuments. Loewen, retired
from the University of Vermont, is the best-selling author of Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong and Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong, and more recently, Sundown Towns: A Hidden History of American Racism (2005) and Teaching What Really Happened (2009).
2) ExplorePAhistory.com. A
Web site that explores and vastly expands upon the many stories only
superficially or partially told on Pennsylvania's historical markers.
"ExplorePAhistory.com provides users with three principal entry points:
"Stories from PA History," "Visit PA Regions," and "Teach PA
History." "Stories from PA History" includes histories built around
state historical markers. "Teach PA History" includes elementary,
middle, and high school lesson plans for teachers of Pennsylvania and
American history. "Visit PA Regions" provides useful information for
those who are interested in visiting historic sites associated with
ExplorePAhistory stories; it includes sample itineraries and
directions to local points of interest, hotels, restaurants, and more."
3) The Historical Marker Database: http://www.hmdb.org/
Class 3 (Tuesday, Sept. 15): Living History Museums
Amy M. Tyson, The Wages of History: Emotional Labor on Public History's Front Lines (University of Massachusetts Press, 2013).
(Tuesday, Sept. 22): NO CLASS
Class 4 (Tuesday, Sept. 29): American Memories, American Narratives
Mike Wallace, Mickey Mouse History and Other Essays on American Memory (Temple).
Sample and compare selections from: Larry Schweikart, Michael Allen, A Patriot's History of the United States: From Columbus's Great Discovery to the War on Terror (Sentinal Press, 2004), and Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States (Harper, 2007). Focus on Columbus and exploration (and its impact on
native tribes), late 18th century politics, industrialization, late
19th century expansion (Spanish American War), and McCarthyism. Copies
of these two textbooks are widely available on line for a few dollars
(they are both heavily discounted). Zinn's book is also available on
DO make sure to read the prefatory material to the Schweikart and Allen
book -- the Rush Limaugh interview with Larry Schweikart, and the
"Introduction" -- available through this link: Patriot's History - Intro pages.
"The Great Textbook War of 1974." Radio documentary produced by Trey Kay, 2009.
PART 1: Real Media. Time: 29:51 |
PART 2: Real Media. Time: 27:04.
Trey Kay won a 2010 Peabody Award for this documentary. As
described by West Virginia Public Radio, where it premiered last year:
"In 1974, Kanawha County was the first battleground in the American
culture wars. Controversy erupted over newly-adopted school textbooks.
School buildings were hit by dynamite and Molotov cocktails, buses
were riddled with bullets, journalists were beaten and surrounding
coal mines were shut down by protesting miners. Textbook opponents
believed the books were teaching their children to question their
authority, traditional values and the existence of God. Textbook
supporters said children needed to be exposed to a wide variety of
beliefs and experiences, and taught to make their own decisions."
Class 5 (Tuesday, Oct. 6): The Contested Civil War
Tony Horwitz, Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War (Vintage).
"The Last Civil War Widows" (1998)." Real Media. MP3. Time: 11:37.
From Talking History contributing producer Joe Richman, here is a short documentary titled The Last Civil War Widows, originally produced and aired on National Public Radio's All Things Considered in 1998. "On July 1, 1863, Union troops clashed with Confederates at
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The fighting at Gettysburg would mark the
beginning of the end for the Confederacy. At that same battlefield on
July 1, 1997, Daisy Anderson and Alberta Martin first met. They had come
to Gettysburg to be honored as the last known living Civil War
widows. Both women married in their early 20s. Their husbands were
near 80. Alberta Martin and Daisy Anderson were of course not alive
during the Civil War, but they married into history. Producer Joe
Richman visited both women and put together an oral history of these
two Civil War widows."
Class 6 (Tuesday, Oct. 13): Screening History
Robert Toplin, History by Hollywood, Second Edition Paperback (Univ. of Illiinois Press, 2010).
Class 7 (Tuesday, Oct. 20: Another Side of Public History: History and Public Policy
Richard E. Neustadt, Ernest R. May, Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision-Makers (Free Press, 1988).
Class 8 (Tuesday, Oct. 27): Global Public History and the Politics of Public Sites and Collective Memory
Daniel J. Walkowitz and Lisa Maya Knauer, eds., Memory and the Impact of Political Transformation in Public Space (Duke).
Class 9 (Tuesday, Nov. 3): Holocaust Museums, Memorials, and Dark Tourism
Paul Williams, Memorial Museums: The Global Rush to Commemorate Atrocities (Bloomsbury Academic, 2008).
Peter Read, "‘The Truth that will Set us all Free’: An Uncertain History of Memorials to Indigenous Australians," in "Places of the Heart: Memorials in Australia," Special issue of the Public History Review (Australian Center for Public History). Free, on-line journal. Go to vol. 15.
Class 10 (Tuesday, Nov. 10): Great Britain - Remembering the British Slave Trade
Elizabeth Kowaleski Wallace, The British Slave Trade and Public Memory (Columbia Univ. Press).
Class 11 (Tuesday, Nov. 17): Soviet Union / Russia - Public Memory and the Russian Revolution
Fredrick C. Corney, Telling October: Memory and the Making of the Bolshevik Revolution.
Class 12 (Tuesday, Nov. 24): Oral History (Italy & US)
Alessandro Portelli, The Death of Luigi Trastulli and Other Stories: Form and Meaning in Oral History (SUNY Series in Oral and Public History).
Class 13 (Tuesday, Dec. 1): South Africa, Apartheid, and Public History
Annie E. Coombes, History After Apartheid: Visual Culture and Public Memory in a Democratic South Africa (Duke Univ. Press, 2003).
Class 14 (Tuesday, Dec. 8): Vietnam: Commemorations and Memories of Colonialism and War
READING: Hue-Tam Ho Tai, The Country of Memory: Remaking the Past in Late Socialist Vietnam.
FINAL PAPERS ARE DUE BY Monday, Dec. 14th.
Please submit electronically.
NOTE: This is a "growing" resource but, considering
the wide geographical and thematic territory covered, it must
necessarily be selective. Additional publications and media will be
added periodically. With time, I also hope to add short annotations to
each entry. Note that the bibliography is currently restricted to
English-language or translated works. This may change in the future.
Please do send along recommendations for additional books, articles, Web
resources, and media -- as well as suggestions for improvements (and corrections of any errors you might spot). Your contributions will be much appreciated. You can contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.