Spring 2023

Proseminar in History: Writing the Past

Listed in: History, as HIST-301


Francis G. Couvares (Section 02)


This course offers an opportunity for history majors and students intrigued by the past to reflect upon the practice of history. How do we claim to know anything about the past at all? How do historians construct the stories they tell about the past from the fragmentary remnants of former times? What is the connection between the past as it was lived and the narratives that historians write? How do we judge the truth and value of these histories and memories? The course explores questions such as these through readings and case studies drawn from a variety of places and times. A central aim of the course is to give students a sense of how the discipline of History has developed over time, as new theories and agendas have emerged, and as earlier versions of the past have been reevaluated in light of changing circumstances and commitments. Requirements include active participation in class and multiple graded and ungraded written assignments. Two meetings per week.

Not open to first-year students. Limited to 25 students. Fall semester: Professor Boucher. Spring semester: Professor Couvares.

How to handle overenrollment: Preference given to History majors.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Exploration of methodological and theoretical debates about the writing of historical scholarship. Extensive reading, several argumentative papers, intensive in-class discussions.

HIST 301 - LEC

Section 02
Tu 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM CHAP 101
Th 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM CHAP 101

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
In Defense of History Norton, 1997 Evans, Richard Amherst Books TBD
The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story Onw World, 2021 Hannah-Jones, Nikole Amherst Books TBD
The Death of Woman Wang Penguin, 1978 Spence, Jonathan D. TBD
Hitler's willing executioners : ordinary Germans and the Holocaust Knopf, 1996 Goldhagen, Daniel Amherst Books TBD
Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, with a new afterword Harper Perennial 2017 Browning, Christopher Amherst Books TBD
Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History Pantheon 1986 Spiegelman, Art Amherst Books TBD
War without mercy : race and power in the Pacific war Pantheon Books, [1986] Dower, John Amherst Books TBD
Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire Penguin, 1999 Frank, Richard B. Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Fall 2024, Spring 2025