Course Spotlight

A page dedicated to courses designed for or especially relevant to the Provost's Year of Proof.

Writing History
CLST 312: Writing History with Cynthia Damon, Professor of Classical Studies –  Spring 2013 

The pull of the past, and of the devotions it exacts, and the yearning to escape from it into a more vital and unencumbered future, produce a tension in the life of every generation, and complicate its choices. This course will examine the historian's work as s/he creates the narratives that make the past intelligible and therefore capable of being acted on or against. Our focus will be the classical historians, who were intensely conscious of the artistry and artifice (in a word, the rhetoric) required by their genre. We will attend to the truth claims they make for their work and for themselves as historians, their methods of narration, and their systems of explanation—their play with the entanglements of myth and fact, their use of sources and other voices, and the patterns they discern in, or impose on, their chosen events. We will read passages of Herodotus, Thucydides, Livy, Tacitus, and Plutarch in translation, as well as ancient and modern theoretical and practical discussions of the historiographical genre. 

Requirements for the course: concurrent and intelligent reading and discussion of the passages set for each class, leading a discussion on one passage for each historian, writing four 3-page papers on assigned topics in the four major historians, and constructing a historical narrative from primary sources for the final project (8-10 pages). 

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