HST401 Senior Seminar: History and Interpretations
Time: Mon. 3:30-6pm
Instructor: Dr. Pingchao Zhu
Office: 315 AD (Administration Building)
Office Phone: 885-7166, or 885-6253
Office Hour: MWF 12:30-1:20pm, or by appointment
This is a course on the theories of history. The primary purpose of this course is to introduce to students major important theories in history and for students to learn how to apply these theories to the study of history. Students will be reading works from scholars of various time periods in history, learn how they examined historical developments and came up with different interpretations. It is important to know that study of history is not just about learning what happened in the past, it is about understanding and interpreting these past developments. Theories on history from the early thinkers such as Edward Gibbon, Jules Michelet, Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, Leon Trotsky, as well as some contemporary scholars are introduced to better our understanding and interpretation of history. The course is designed to a discussion forum.
1) Fischer, David Hackett, Historians’ Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical
Thought, HarperCollins Publishers, 1976.
2) Tuchman, Barbara W, The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam, Random House,
3) Toews, John, ed. The Communist Manifesto: By Karl Marx and Frederick Engels
with Related Documents, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1999.
1. 6 short response papers 40 points each
2. Comparison Essay 100
3. One book Review 100
4. One in-class presentation 60
5. Attendance Minus -10 for each class missed after the first
Short Response Papers (2-3 pages), these are writings on the assigned readings in this course. Students are expected to identify author’s approach to history and comment on such an approach, useful or otherwise, in the study of history.
Comparison Essay Students are to choose THREE articles from Academic Journals on any subject/topic of your interest and write a comparison essay: Your are required to do the following:
--compare different arguments in the articles over the same issue;
--compare how authors use different sources yet come up with similar argument, or use the same sources and come up with different conclusions;
--analyze the validity the arguments in all three articles; support or attack one view or the other.
The three articles must be from Academic Journals and discuss issues in an academic fashion. The comparison essay is expected to be 6-8 pages in length, double-spaced, and typed in 12 font.
Book Review on The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam, by Barbara Tuchman. In addition to the review of the book argument, students are required to identify how the author, as a self-trained historian, examines history. How different is her approach from other “professional historians” in terms of interpreting history and do you like her perspective?
The review must be typed in 12 font, double spaced, and between 5-6 pages in length.
Late paper without legitimate reason will receive points deduction.
Group Presentation (ca. one hour), 2 students in each group. Choose one of the topics
on the course schedule and prepare to do an in class presentation. The presentation
should include the following:
--an introduction to include lifeline of the individual(2), historical background of
--a list of question for class discussion;
--presenting possible opposing sides of opinion and use historical evidence or examples to support or attack the validity of the theories;
--prepare to answer questions from the class, based on the reading and research by
members in the group;
The presentation will be evaluated and graded by the class.
Attendance & Participation, since this class meets once a week and we will lose 3 Mondays due to holidays, it is important that students try not to miss class throughout the semester. After the first class meeting, each class missed, without legitimate reason, will cost student 10 points minus.
A=500-450 B=449-400 C=399-350 D=349-300 F=299 and below
This instructor requires the entire class to follow the Policy of Academic Honesty from the University of Idaho. Attached to the course syllabus is a copy of the UI policy on Academic Honesty. Finding of violation of this policy in student’s course assignment will result in “0” grade for the assignment, and possibly an “F” for the course. Please read the policy carefully and follow it to the letter. The instructor will not negotiate this university policy in any way.
Week 1 Jan. 15, (Class begins on Wed.)
Week 2 Jan. 20
No Class, National Holiday
Week 3 Jan. 27
Reading: Fisher, Chapter 1
Week 4 Feb. 3
Finding Truth in History
Evidence & Interpretation
Reading: Fisher, chpts 2 & 3
Week 5 Feb. 10
“The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”
Week 6 Feb. 19
No Class, Presidents’ Day
Week 7 Feb. 24
Reading: Fisher, chpts. 7-9; Package, On the Old Regime
Week 8 Mar. 3
The French Revolution
The Use & Abuse of History
Week 9 Mar. 10
Vision of Dickens & Marx
Reading: Toews, Intro., pp. 63-96, chpts. 6-9, 14, 21
Package: Adam Smith
Week 10 Mar. 17-21, Spring Recess, No Class
The Russian Revolution
Communism vs. Capitalism
Trotsky & his Theory
Reading: Toews, The Communist Manifesto, chpts. 1-5, 10-13, 15-20, 22
Package: Trotsky’s Theory
The Third Response Essay Due
The American Revolution
Features of American Democracy
Reading: Package, Constitution & Democracy
**The Fourth Response Essay Due
Week 13 Apr. 7
Ideology & Practice
Week 14 Apr. 14
Reading; Package, Totalitarianism
**The Fifth Response Essay Due
Week 15 Apr. 21
Reading: Package, Communist Revolution
Tuchman, The March of Folly
Week 16 Apr. 28
U.S. Foreign Policy
Reading: Package, The Cold War
Tuchman, The March of Folly
The Sixth Response Essay Due
Week 17 May 5
Third World issue