History 601 History and Contemporary Theory

Spring Term 2007 Thursdays 6:00-8:30

TLF 2108


Professor Bernard D. Cooperman    Office Hrs: TLF 2130
301-405-4271   Tu 10-11/Th 11-12
cooperma@umd.edu     or by appointment





This seminar is intended as a workshop on the use of contemporary theoretical discussions to the writing of history. We will be focusing on recent trends in historiography “after the cultural and linguistic turn”; that is, we will be looking at the way critical theories derived largely from linguistic and cultural studies have affected the terminology, themes, and structures adopted by recent historians. The aim of the workshop is for participants to actively seek out and evaluate the theoretical underpinnings in historical studies in their own fields, and to find ways to use such theories in their own writing. In each meeting we will focus on a single theme and writer, but students are expected to subsequently use the insights gained to explore the theme in current scholarship and to report back to the group on his/her findings. Exercises will be aimed at training you to discuss and use theoretical concerns. Our goal will be to evaluate whether and how theoretical discussions can advance our teaching and scholarship.


January 25, 2007.         Introduction. What is Critical Theory? Plan for the Course.


Exercise: The Dept. of History is currently searching for professors of Medieval European and Latin American History. As graduate students in the department, you will have opportunities to meet the finalists, listen to their talks, and read their files. As you do so, consider the ways and the extent to which each has used critical theory to frame and articulate his/her work and to present themselves to the search committee.


February 1, 2007.        Theorizing Historical Narrative. Hayden White.


(1) Hayden White. Tropics of Discourse. Essays in Cultural Criticism (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978). “Introduction.” and “The Historical Text as Literary Artifact.” [copy in History Dept. Lounge.]


(2) Idem, “The Question of Narrative in Contemporary Historical Theory,” in The Content of the Form (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987), pp. 26-57 (originally published in History and Theory 23:1 (1984), pp. 1-33 and available online.


(3) Idem, “Literary Theory and Historical Writing,” in Figural Realism. Studies in the Mimesis Effect (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999), pp. 1–26. [Ordered at the book store.] The paper first appeared in Ralph Cohen, ed., The Future of Literary Theory (New York: Routledge, 1989), pp. 19–43 as “’Figuring the nature of the times deceased’: Literary Theory and Historical Writing.” [copy in History Dept. Lounge.]


(3) Gertrude Himmelfarb. The New History and the Old. Critical Essays and Reappraisals. rev’d ed. (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2004): “The New New History: Postmodernism,” pp. 15–30. Appeared originally in a slightly different form as “Beyond Method” in Alvin Kernan, ed., What’s Happened to the Humanities? (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997), pp. 143-160. [ on reserve: AZ183.U5 G46 1997] [copy in History Dept. Lounge.]


(4) Larry J. Griffin, “Narrative, Event-Structure Analysis, and Causal Interpretation in Historical Sociology,”
American Journal of Sociology 98:5 (March 1993): 1094–1133. Available online through Ebsco (Academic Search Premier Publications). A sociologist confronts the issues of narrative.


February 8, 2007.      Historical Sociology and Theorizing Resistance. Michel de Certeau.


(1) Michel de Certeau. The Writing of History. (1992). pp. 19-146. On reserve at McKeldin


(2) Idem, The Possession at Loudon.  The book was ordered and a xerox copy is in the box for the course readings in FS Key.


(3) Idem, The Practice of Everyday Life. Vols. I  (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), pp. xi-xxiv [online at http://www.ubu.com/papers/de_certeau.html], 29-42, 131-176. On reserve at McKeldin; Vol II (rev’d and augmented; Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998),was out on loan. If you have a copy, please skim the first four or five chapters. I will try to xerox some sections and put them in the box for course readings in F.S. Key.


(4) Wim Weymans, “Michel de Certeau and the Limits of Historical Representation,” History and Theory 43:2 (May, 2004), pp. 161–179. Available on line through the library data bases.


February 15, 2007.      Sociological Rationalizing. Max Weber. From Marx to E.P. Thompson


(1) Max Weber. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.


(2) Karl Marx. To be announced.


(3) E.P. Thompson. “Time, Work-Discipline and Industrial Capitalism," Past and Present 38 (Dec., 1967), pp. 56-97. Available online through JSTOR.


(4) Idem, "The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century," Past and Present 50 (Feb., 1971), pp. 76-136. Available online through JSTOR.


(5) Marc W. Steinberg, "'A Way of Struggle': Reformations and Affirmations of E. P. Thompson's Class Analysis in the Light of Postmodern Theories of Language," The British Journal of Sociology 48 (1997), pp. 471-492, available online through JSTOR.

February 22, 2007.     From the Annales to Micro-History. Carlo Ginzburg.


(1) Fernand Braudel. "History and the Social Sciences," reprinted in his On History (Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 1980), ppl. 25-54. I placed a copy in the History Dept. lounge. If you have a chance, please glance at his two-volume work, The Mediterranean....


(2) Thomas Muir, “Introduction: Observing Trifles,” in E. Muir and Guido Ruggiero, eds., Microhistory and the Lost Peoples of Europe (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. vii-xxviii. I put a xerox of this in the lounge facing the History Dept. office.


(3) Carlo Ginzburg. "Conversations with Orion," Perspectives, May 2005, Vol. 43 Issue 5, pp. 23-25. Available online through EBSCO. Professor Ginzburg and the editors of Perspectives made a preliminary copy available to us several years ago. I haven't checked this against the published text, but you can see it here: “Conversations with Orion.”]


(4) Idem, “Clues. Roots of an Evidential Paradigm,” and “The Inquisitor as Anthropologist,” in Clues, Myths, and the Historical Method (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989), pp. 96–125 and 156–164. Xerox in the lounge.


(5) Idem, Nightbattles. Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1983)


(6) Jacqueline Simpson, "Margaret Murray: who Believed Her, and Why?" Folklore 105 (1994), pp. 89-96. Available online through JSTOR. [This article will give you a sense of the background to Ginzburg's work on witches.]

March 1, 2007.          Structuralism from Linguistics to Anthropology; Theorizing Culture from Claude Levi-Strauss to Clifford Geertz


(1) Claude Lévi-Strauss. Structural Anthropology. (New York: Basic Books, 1963). “Introduction,” Parts I, III.


(2) Clifford Geertz. The Interpretation of Cultures. (New York: Basic Books, 1973). Chapters 1, 4, 8, 11, 13, 15.


(3) William H. Sewell Jr., “Geertz, Cultural Systems, and History: From Synchrony to Transformation,” in Representations (Summer 1997, no. 59); also published in The Fate of Culture. Geertz and Beyond, pp. 35-55.


(4) Victoria E. Bonnell and Lynn Hunt, eds. Beyond the Cultural Turn. New Directions in the Study of Society and Culture. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999). Part I.


March 8, 2007.        Theorizing Power. Michel Foucault and Post-Structuralism.


(1) Michel Foucault. Discipline and Punish. The Birth of the Prison [Available in the bookstores.]

(2) To be announced.


March 15, 2007.       Post-Colonialism. Dipesh Chakrabarty and Edward Said.

(1) Edward Said. Orientalism [Available in the bookstores.]

(2) Dipesh Chakrabarty. Provincializing Europe. Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. [Available in the bookstores.]


March 22, 2007.       No class. Spring Break.


March 29, 2007.       The Linguistic Turn and Beyond.

(1) Gabrielle Spiegel, ed. Practicing History. New Directions in Historical Writing after the Linguistic Turn. (New York and London: Routledge, 2005). [Available in the bookstores.]


(2) To be announced.


April 5, 2007.           No class. Passover. Please use this week to prepare your assignments.


April 12, 2007.          Theorizing the Visual (Photography).


(1) Walter Benjamin. "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reporduction," in idem, Illuminations. Essays and Reflections, ed. by Hannah Arendt. New York:Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1968. In the paperback version published by Schocken Books in 69, the essay appears on pp. 217-251.


(2) Susan Sontag. On Photography. New York: Picador, 1977.


(3) Idem, Regarding the Pain of Others. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003. Selections


(4) Martha A. Sandweiss. Print the Legend. Photography abnd the American West. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002


(4) Paul S. Landau. "Empires of the Visual: Photography and Colonial Adminsitration in Africa." in idem and Deborah D. Kaspin, Images and Empires. Visuality in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), pp. 141-171.


Please bring to class a volume of photographs that you feel is illustrative of the historical signficance of photography.


April 19, 2007.              Theorizing the Urban Experience/The City as Memory. Georg Simmel. Walter Benjamin.


(1) Walter Benjamin. ""The Paris of the Second Empire in Baudelaire," in his Selected Writings Vol. 4: 1938-1940 (Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 1996), pp 3-94; and skim also "On Some Motifs in Baudelaire," pp. 313-355. [I will xerox these and put them in the usual place.] The latter essay is also avaialble in a slightly different form in idem, Illuminations. Essays and Reflections, ed. by Hannah Arendt. New York:Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1968. In the paperback version published by Schocken Books in 1969, the essay appears on pp.155-200. Xeroxed in the usual place.


(2) Georg Simmel. "The Metropolis and Mental Life." An abridged translation is conveniently available in The Blackwell City Reader, ed. G. Bridge and Sophie Watson ((2002), and you can view it online. If you want to see fuller versions, just search for the essay title using Google.


(3) Manuel Castells. The Urban Question. 1972. Parts I & II. (These are xeroxed and available in the usual place.) They can be conveniently found also in Ida Susser, ed., The Castells Reader on Cities and Social Theory(Blackwell, 2002), as part I.


(4) Louis Wirth, "Urbanism as a Way of Life," The American Journal of Sociology 44 (July, 1938), pp. 1-24. Available through JSTOR.


April 26, 2007.              Theorizing Memory and Monumentality.


(1) Maurice Halbwachs. On Collective Memory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992. [Available in bookstores.]


(2) Pierre Nora. "Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Memoire." Representations 26 (Spring 1989), pp. 7-24. Available online through JSTOR. [I believe that this is the same text that appeared as the introduction to Nora's Realms of Memory: Rethinking the French Past, vol. 1 (originally published in French in 1984), pp. 1-12.]


(3) Yael Zerubavel. "The Historic, the Legendary, and the Incredible: Invented Tradtiion and Collective Memory in Israel," in John R. Gillis, ed., Commemorations. The Politics of National Identity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), pp. 105-123. Xeroxed in usual place.


(4) Stephen J. Whitfield, "'Sacred in History and in Art': The Shaw Memorial," New England Quarterly 60 (Mar. 1987), pp. 3-27. Available online through JSTOR.


(5) Constructions of Memory. A special issue of Harvard Design Magazine, Fall 1999, Number 9. Available online. Read, in particular, Daniel Abramson."Make History, Not Memory. History's Critique of Memory" and skim the articles by James Young, Jay Winter and Kirk Savage in the same issue.]


(6) Ira Berlin, "Introduction: Slavery as Memory and History," in Remembering Slavery (New York: New Press, 1998), pp. xiii-xlvii. Xeroxed in the usual place.


(7) Andreas Huyssen. Present Pasts. Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 2003), pp. 1-48.


(8) Alon Confino and Peter Fritzsche. "Introduction," pp. 1-21, and Peter Fritzsche, "How Nostalgia Narrates Modernity," pp. 62-85 in Confino and Fritzsche, The Work of Memory. New Directions in the Study of German Society and Culture (Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press, 2002). [The "Introdcution" is available online at the University of Illinois Press website. Search for the book title. The second reading will be xeroxed and placed in the usual place.]


(9) Avishai Margalit. The Ethics of Memory (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Pr., 2002). Chapter 2: "Past Continuous," pp. 48-83. [Available at the bookstores.]



May 3, 2007.               Trauma and Memory: Literature, Film, Judicial Theory, and Cultural Practice. Hannah Arendt.


(1) Hannah Arendt. Eichmann in Jerusalem. A Report on the Banality of Evil. Penguin, 1994. Please read especially the Epilogue and Postscript. Xeroxed in the usual place.


(2 ) Theoretical Inquiries in Law 1, No. 2 (July 2000): "Judgment in the Shadow of the Holocaust." See Liora Bilsky, "Introduction" to part III Arendt on Eichmann. A Reappraisal), pp. 237–243; José Brunner, "Eichmann's Mind: Psychological, Philosophical, and Legal Perspectives," pp. 429-463; Shoshana Felman, "Theaters of Justice: Arendt in Jerusalem, the Eichmann Trial, and the Redefinition of Legal Meaning in the Wake of the Holocaust," pp. 465-507; Leora Bilsky, "In a Different Voice: Nathan Alterman and Hannah Arendt on the Kastner and Eichmann Trials," pp. 509-547. All of these are available through Lexis Nexis. Search on the title of the journal through Research Port in the Library. A revised version of Felman's essay is available online in Critical Inquiry 27 (Winter 2001), pp. 201-239 and is reprinted in her The Juridical Unconscious. Trials and Traumas in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), pp. .106-130.


(3) “The Specialist.”Available on DVD. I have placed a copy in Hornbake Library's Non-print Media Room. Ask for it at the desk.


(4) Benjamin Robinson, “’The Specialist’ on the Eichmann Precedent: Morality, Law, and Military Sovereignty,” Critical Inquiry 30 (Autumn, 2003), pp. 63–97. Available online.


(5) Ilan Gur-Ze’ev and Ilan Pappé, “Beyond the Destruction of the Other’s Collective Memory: Blueprints for a Palestinian/Isrraeli Dialogue,” Theory Culture & Society 20:1 (February 2003), pp. 93–108.



May 10, 2007.            Review and Class Presentations.


(1) Barbara Weinstein,“History without a Cause? Grand Narratives, World History, and the Postcolonial Dilemma,” International Review of Social History 50:1 (2005), pp. 71-93. Offprint available in the usual place.





(1) Regular Attendance and Participation in the workshop. This includes being ready to talk about, and hand in copies of, the assignments that will be given out in several classes. Each student will be asked to present an introduction to the issues of one week's discussion.


(2) Journal Survey. A report on the incidence and impact of theoretical concerns in a major historical journal over the past five years. Your paper should emphasize change or direction of theoretical conerns. Five pages.


      Museum Analysis. A report concerning the theoretical underpinnings of a major exhibit at a local museum. Your report should include reference to scholarly literature about the framing of the exhibit, the museum, or the topic.


(3) A 10-minute talk aimed at an upper-level undergraduate history class on an aspect of critical theory. Your presentation must include a definition, a reading list, and a sample application of the theory.

(4) An introduction to, or rewrite of, one of your own papers taking theoretical concerns into consideration. Hand in both the original paper and an introduction/rewrite. Three to five pages.


(5) A comparative analysis of the theoretical underpinning of any two of the scholarly talks at the university this semester dealing with the historian and religion. Your analysis should not only describe the use of theory by the speakers but also evaluate that use in terms of the development of critical theory generally. For a list of talks, go to the History Center’s website: http://www.history.umd.edu/HistoryCenter. Ten pages. [Please note: I hadn't noticed when I posted the course syllabus that this assignment was geared to last year's seminar topic: the historian and the visible. You are free to open up your paper topic to a theme that interests you especially, but please let me know in advance what you are intending to do.]