HST202: Historians and History

20 credits (semester 1)

Module Leader: Professor Benjamin Ziemann



Pass in at least two of the Level One modules offered by the Department of History.


Module Summary

This module introduces students to some of the most influential and significant developments which have shaped the ways in which historians think about and write about the past. Since History became professionalised as a specific academic discipline in the nineteenth century, historians have adopted a variety of different approaches to their studies. For some, ideas about the past have been shaped by political beliefs, by the application of political ideologies and philosophies, and by the desire to produce a more inclusive version of history, focusing on the experience of the working classes, women, and groups marginalised in established accounts. Others have been influenced by different methods of research, and the opportunities offered by particular types of source material to tell different stories about the past. Others still have been inspired by intellectual theories and by borrowings from other disciplines, like literary studies and anthropology, to explore new ways of thinking about history. The module allows students to think more about the different ways in which we can study History, and to engage with the work of a number of historians whose influence can still be felt today.

It aims to equip students with the necessary background to develop a more critical approach to the secondary literature which they encounter throughout their degree course and to build bridges between the various modules they are studying at levels 2 and 3.


Teaching and Assessment

The module is taught through weekly lectures and seminars. The lectures provide an overview of some of the most important themes, supported by discussion of set readings in the seminar groups. In the second half of the semester, students will focus on a particular strand, allowing for more detailed engagement with a topic.

The general topics covered in the module include: an introduction to modern historiography, professionalisation, social scientific approaches, the Annales school of historians, the influence of Marxism, women's history and the study of gender, cultural history, narrative, and the impact of postmodernism.

Seminars strands in the second half of the module will cover topics including history and anthropology, oral history, studying material culture, microhistory, postcolonialism, and narrative.

Further guidance is provided in the module course booklet, available through MOLE.

Information on assessment can be found at: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/history/current_students/undergraduate/assessment/level2


Selected Reading

  • John H.Arnold, History. A very short introduction (2000)
  • Michael Bentley, Modern Historiography (1999)
  • Stefan Berger, et al. (eds.), Writing History: theory and practice (2003)
  • John Tosh, The Pursuit of History, 3rd edn. (1999)
  • Juliet Gardiner, (ed.), What is History Today? (1988)


Intended Learning Outcomes
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