Roots, 1943 by Frida Kahlo

Disciplines of History 1: Issues in Historical Thought

Convenor: Tom Johnson

Module code: HIS00112I

Term: Spring

Credits: 10

Disciplines of History 1 is a required module for both Single Subject History and Combined Degree students in Year Two of the History programme. It provides a concise history of the historical discipline, a targeted selection of key developments in historical practice, and opportunities for students to reflect critically in seminar settings on their own historical practice.

Students in this module will encounter tightly focused snapshots of historical practice and theory from antiquity to the present. Each week’s lectures will build on a foundation of individual staff expertise, combined with core readings across a wide array of historical eras (classical, medieval, early modern, and modern) and theoretical/critical traditions (historical materialism, social science, natural science, postmodernism, feminism, race theory, etc.).

Students will also have opportunities to integrate this material into focused discussions of their own historical practice over the course of three two-hour seminar sessions held in weeks 5, 7, and 9. These integrated seminars, which will include collective source-analysis exercises, will also help prepare Single Subject History students for more focused explorations of sub-disciplinary approaches in Disciplines of History 2.

Students will attend weekly 1-hour lectures in weeks 1-9 of the spring term and a 2-hour seminar in weeks 5, 7 and 9.

Lecture topics may include:

Week 1: Briefing
Week 2: Predecessors and Purpose
Week 3: Usable Pasts
Week 4: Emerging Approaches
Week 5: Historical Materialism and its Discontents
Week 6: Historicizing the Language of History
Week 7: History, Social Science, and Silences
Week 8: History and Natural Science
Week 9: Abuses of History

The students will meet for three 2-hour seminars for synthetic discussions of the lectures and readings. Seminars in weeks 5 and 7 will include a collaborative source workshop exercise, during which students will break into small groups to perform a collective close reading of a text or texts in relation to the lectures and week’s themes. Small groups will then workshop those collaborative close readings in open discussion.

The provisional seminar programme is as follows:

Week 5: History’s Purposes
Week 7: History’s Limitations
Week 9: History’s Dangers

To find out more

You might like to look at the following:

  • Arnold, John H. History: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.
  • Scott, Joan Wallach ed. Feminism & History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
  • Rolph-Trouillot, Michel. Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History. Boston: Beacon Press, 1995.


For more detailed information on the module, please visit the module catalogue.