From Source to Public: The Historian's Flowchart through Imperial Eyes


Course Objective

From Source to Public aims (1) to provide an introduction into
historical research on MA level, with a hands-on overview of all the
components of historical research (research question, historiography,
source selection and analysis, concepts, methodology, publication,
valorization), and how they connect. (2) Students get acquainted with
the sources, methodology and research possibilities of the
specializations of the Master's programme embedded in a focused
introduction into research approaches in the various historical
disciplines and specializations. They will (3) deepen their knowledge of
the historical research process, and (4) practice skills to position
themselves in the academic and social fields historians operate in.

Course Content

In this course we will unravel the historian's flowchart by analyzing
and taking all the possible steps of the historical research process
from source to public. Starting from the umbrella topic 'Tensions of
Empire', we will discuss the building blocks a historical study is made
of. What is the role of the individual historian, can one reshuffle
these building blocks, for instance by experimenting with different
sources, concepts, methods, perspectives, target groups? The theme
“tensions of empire” deals with approaches to the history of empires
through questions like tensions between nation/empire,
universality/difference, distinction/ exchange,
discipline/transculturation, power/knowledge,
representation/manifestation, etc. A specific focus is on the concepts
historians employ in their work and the possible contested aspects of
those concepts.Together we will explore the analytical power of
traditional and perhaps less familiar historical sources for global
history of culture and power. How can texts, objects, or even senses
unravel the past for us and help us analyze the relation between
individual lives, the dynamics of empires and power in history? Students
will set up their own research project and write a paper in which they
analyze sources and position themselves in current historiographic
debates on imperial history.
During this research process we will also incorporate and discuss what
is often called "valorization" of research. What is the value of
humanities research? What is the role the public plays in the
historian's process? How are historical studies streamlined by their
interaction with various publics? Students will explore the public role
of the historian by taking part in public events, such as lectures,
masterclasses or academic conferences, and by training their skills in
scientific journalism like in writing blogs or reviews.

Teaching Methods

Weekly seminars, mandatory participation in academic and/or public

Method of Assessment

Participation, Presentation and Weekly Assignments (30%)
Assignment Self Reflection connected to 'Historians and Public' (10%)
Assignment Self reflection connected to 'Research proposal' and
presentation of Research Proposal (10%)
Final Research Paper (50%)

Entry Requirements

BA in History or other relevant disciplines.


Lisa Lowe, The Intimacies of Four Continents (Duke University Press,
Other literature and primary sources will be announced at Canvas.

Target Audience

Students MA History and Humanities Research Master (History
specialization), Students MA Educatie in de Mens &
Maatschappijwetenschappen, Students MA Curating Art and Cultures
(History specialization); Open as elective for other Master students in
Humanities and Social Sciences

Additional Information

The introductory course From Source to Public has both a scholarly
purpose and a social function. It provides an introduction to historical
research on Master's level and to the six specializations of the MA
History programme that are embedded in the research context at
VU.The course aims to unite students of History with various interests
and specializations at the beginning of their Master's and Research
Master's programme, developing a 'community of learners' by discussing
all aspects of the historian's practice and challenging the students to
reflect on the type of historian they aspire to be.

General Information

Course Code L_GAMAGES022
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinator prof. dr. S. Legene
Examiner prof. dr. S. Legene
Teaching Staff prof. dr. I.B. Leemans
prof. dr. S. Legene
dr. T.A.E.R. Vanneste

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar
Target audiences

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