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Rethinking History
Vol. 9. No. '1, December 2005, pp. 521-528
Herodotus Who and Annales
What? Historiography and the
History Student
Charles Johnson
This essay focuses on the teaching of historiography to first semester
graduate students and the challenges faced by both the student taking the
class and the professor teaching it. Some of these challenges and problems­
from both internal and external factors-that influence the teaching of this
course, and teaching at the university level are addressed first, The second
part of the essay focuses on the actual teaching of a historiography course.
Using my own seminar on historiography as a model I first outline the course
itself, including select goals and outcomes. I then break down the course
and highlight random sessions with their individual goals and outcomes. At
the end a summary is offered of the experience as well as some final points to
consider.
Keywords: Johnson; Charles; Herodotus; Historiography; Teaching; Student
How do we as historians attempt to teach and understand the scholarship
side of our profession and its history from the first writings of the ancient
Greeks (we are thus assuming that the discussion will focus on western
historiography) to present day themes and trends? For those of us engaged
in the historical profession this is a simple yet often never asked question or
one that is even discussed at any great length. In many instances the only
time it is ever asked is during undergraduate and graduate classes focusing
on historiography. Often times these courses are looked upon by both
faculty and students as gateway classes designed to separate potential
historians from the ribbon clerks, or from those dedicated to becoming
professional historians to those who view a history degree as a stepping
stone toward another goal outside of the historical profession. Either way,
ISSN 1364-2529 (print)/ISSN 1470-1154 (online) © 2005 Taylor & Francis
DO!: 10.1OH01l3642520500308196
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522 C. Johnson
for all involved this process a fundamental question must be addressed:
what is the purpose of studying the history of history?
For many-including myself-this question is a constant in our teaching
life and never more so than when we step into our introductory
undergraduate or graduate seminars on historiography. As a teacher this
is a challenging and at times a somewhat frustrating experience. The
challenge is to get students to approach the topic with the same enthusiasm
you have and to also get them to start thinking historically and
historiographically. The frustration is, of course, that you don't always
succeed. Many reasons account for success or failure in the classroom, one
in particular being the construct of an 'ideal type' concerning what the
teaching of history should be versus the reality of what it actually is.
The ideal type might envision an intellectual world revolving around the
'hollowed halls of academia'. Long walks down tree lined paths on a crisp
fall day; books under one's arm while engaging in some deep philosophical
discussion with either colleagues or students form a utopian aspect of this
vision. The harsh reality, however, is the pressure to publish, maintain
high marks on student evaluations, serve on an endless multitude of
committees and-in the case of small regional universities-provide service
to the community. Under such circumstances it is no wonder that many
faculty burn out or just become pawns of the machine that created them.
Such statements, while easily being perceived as negative, in many ways
reflect one of the harsher realities of academic life in the United States
today.
In some cases it was the dream of the ideal vision, rather than the realty,
of academic life that influenced many of us to enter into the professoriate.
As historians we can trace the discipline's lineage back to the beginnings of
higher education. Grounded in the humanistic tradition of philosophy, and
originally pursued as a literary art, history eventually became a discipline
unto itself in the early 19th century. No longer the poor stepchild of
philosophy departments, history emerged on its own as an academic
discipline whose sole purpose was the understanding the human past and
to train people to better understand that past within the concept of the
humanistic tradition. Looking back on these origins we can find, in part,
the origins of an idyllic version of the historical discipline that still holds
some semblance of influence today.
While this again suggests the ideal, rather than the reality of what
university teaching is (and are indeed common to all disciplines), one might •
argue that through the teaching of historiography such ideals are further
promoted as it is the one the one course that seeks to be all-encompassing
and also the one that covers the longest span of time. The basic graduate
I
Rethinking History 523
level historiography class is an attempt to get the student to grasp the
concept of change over time-essential I believe to the understanding of
any historical issue-from the ancient Greek historians to the present day
(if you approach the teaching of historiography in such a manner). Yet
in attempting to accomplish this task a number of obstacles must be
overcome.
First, our culture in general has become used to disseminating informa­
tion quickly, in short bursts and in sound-bite form-a consequence, in
part, of trends in television programming, cellular phones, and the internet
just to name some of the more influential. Another dilemma is that students
increasingly rely on the internet as their primary tool for research. For the
historical profession the internet is both a blessing and a curse. As a blessing
it allows us to access data from other libraries and research facilities that
might not have been available before without actually visiting those
locations. As a curse it sometimes serves as an alternative for historians
instead of having to visit those very same libraries and archives in the course
of their research. The consequence being that the fundamental cornerstone
of historical research is compromised as temptation increases to conduct a
significant portion of our research from the comfort of our offices. The
pressure on most professors to publish also fosters this as articles that at one
time were thoroughly researched in archives might now be somewhat
imperfect as faculty-untenured and increasingly tenured due to trends
calling for post-tenure review-find themselves in the position of having to
potentially sacrifice quality for quantity. The same can be said for students
who find themselves facing different pressures such as taking many courses
with multiple requirements and a multitude of term papers to write. The
need to maintain high grade point averages in order to maintain
scholarships and or other forms of financial aid is also a factor. To alleviate
this pressure the promise of what lies on the internet is a temping offer of
short-term gain in the face of long-term consequences that might never
manifest themselves.
Returning to the subject of historiography, a further problem is posed by
the task of asking the student to comprehend historiographical trends over
a 2,300 year period. Add to this the challenge of showing how these trends
are, in many ways, related to and built upon each other and the undertaking
challenges both the professor's teaching and mentoring ability as well as the
student's intellectual ability to disseminate and connect large amounts of
historical concepts and ideas. The questions that arise from this are: how
does one hope to get the student to grasp the complexities of historical
change over time from a humanistic and philosophical standpoint when
students tend to interact with and view their world more and more from a

524 C. Johnson
technological perspective; and how does the past remain relevant to one so
attached to the modern world and its distractions?
Finally, most first semester history graduate students are used to taking
courses that focus on specific topics or defined periods of time (usually less
than 200 years). Entering into the world of historiography they are
suddenly faced with a vast era in time, multiple topics crossing multiple
nations and time periods, the influence of political/social issues on
historical interpretation and methodology and the inevitable concept of
'change over time', to name just a few examples.
So far this essay has addressed problems while offering no solutions. The
next step is to describe the course itself and the challenges presented by the
problems discussed above. After that the results--both positive and
negative-will be offered for examination. Lastly, a summary of the
experience and what was learned from it will be discussed, all the while
keeping in mind that this piece is based upon one professor's experience
and is in no way meant to be representative of what occurs in other
historiography courses.
The seminar consists of 15 sessions meeting once a week for three hours.
It is required of all our MA students and must be taken either before or
concurrent with their first topics seminars. Depending upon the semester
the class will have between three and 10 students. The basic format of the
course stays the same from semester to semester with only minor changes
to the reading list and written assignments. Students are not allowed to use
the internet in any way (with the exception of using the online library
catalog), but instead are required to use the paper copies of any journals or
texts that they might need in their work. They are also required to submit
photocopies of this material with their essays. While the system is not
foolproof, it does provide a basic level of monitoring student work while
simultaneously forcing them to get their hands on original material as well
as learning how to better use a library.
It is a cliche to say that every journey should have a road map (or if not
that at least some sense of direction or purpose). However, that is what the
teaching of historiography is: a journey through time. In this seminar the
primary text is Ernst Breisach's Historiography: Ancient, Medieval, and
Modern. Other books include Georg Iggers' The German Conception of
History, and Peter Novick's That Noble Dream: Objectivity and the Historical
Profession. I also incorporate various shorter essays on specific historio­
graphical trends (scientific history and the Annales school to cite just two •
examples).
In Historiography, Professor Breisach's traces the evolution of western
historiography from the ancient Greeks to present trends in 'world systems
Rethinking History 525
theories' and post-modernism. Guiding the student through the evolution
of history as a discipline he focuses on a single thought:
Every important new discovery about the past changes how we think
about the present and what we expect from the future; on the other
hand every change in the conditions of the present and in the
expectations for the future revises our perception of the past. In this
complex context history is born ostensibly as reflection on the past: a
reflection which is never isolated from the present and the future.
History deals with human life as if 'flows' through time.
(Breisach 1995, p. 2)
The first seminar is devoted to discussing this statement. This in and of itself
is a challenge in that to rely on a six line phrase to dictate the focus of an entire
seminar potentially invites a very short session. Fortunately, such is not usually
the case as the question fosters discussions over just how the individual should
pursue their own attempt at understanding history. The dialogue brings out a
number of issues ranging from the relationship of time to history, how people
in general interpret history, the past as an historical construct, and the purpose
for studying history in the first place. In the end the experiment has produced
the very product it sought to generate: intellectual debate. It also provides the
students with model for how the rest of the seminar will proceed. The emphasis
is placed on their discussions and contributions rather than them relying on me
to be the sole transmitter of information.
The next class is devoted to a discussion over what exactly the task is of
the historian of historiography. At the end of the previous session the
students were given the following quote to think about from Historiography
concerning the task of the historian:
. .. it is to trace the ways in which people in Western culture have
reflected on the past and what these reflections have told them about
human life in the continuum of past, present, and future.
(Breisach 1995, p. 3)
Whereas the previous class focused on the concept of history in general, this
session is devoted to the role of the historian in interpreting and
understanding the human past. Besides treating the statement as a whole,
an exercise is conducted in deconstructing the whole into its most basic part:
a single word, the purpose being to demonstrate that the most fundamental
tool of any historian is a single word and that one must carefully select and
understand the words one uses in interpreting the past. For example, if one
removes the word continuum from the statement the very meaning of
that sentence is greatly altered. For most of the students this exercise engages
I
526 C. Johnson
them in a thought process that they had not previously engaged in to any
great extent. It also helps them understand just how important the selection
of each individual word will be in the writing of their own papers.
Another objective of the exercise is to establish within the mind of the
student the concepts of change over time, history as a reflection of the past,
the challenge for the historian to understand those reflections within the
continuum of past, present, and future, and the importance of under­
standing historiography as a the main component of the historical
continuum. In combination both sessions have established a guidepost
for the student to rely on and look back upon during the rest of the
meetings. Finally, a pattern is hopefully established in which the student
now finds themselves beginning to think historically and historiographically.
Week three is devoted to individual meetings with the students. Besides
using this as an opportunity to get to know the student, it affords me with
the chance to assess the student's knowledge of and comfort level with the
material. For the student, they are given the opportunity to ask further ques­
tions about the material, and discuss issues that might not have been covered
to their complete understanding during the first sessions of the course.
The remaining sessions-with the exception of the final meeting-are
structured along the lines of historiographic trends beginning with ancient
Greece and continuing on to the present day.' The basic format of each
meeting is the same, so a detailed discussion of each is not necessary (nor
possible given the constraints of space and length). Students are provided
with a question or set of questions designed to prepare them for the
subsequent session. They are required to formulate their responses in the
form of an interpretive essay of five pages in length. The idea behind
assigning a specific number of pages (they are also required to use set
margins and a common font) is to get them used to having to edit and
select their words carefully in order to create a coherent argument within
the confines of set parameters. Again, for most, this is a new exercise given
that in the past most of their written work was in the category of
assignments stating 'between' or 'no less than'.
Using the session devoted to the discussion of the German conception of
history in the 19th century, the following questions were posed the week
before:
• What factors led to the creation of the German historical perspective?
• How did this approach differ from its French and British counterparts?
• How did German historians approach their craft during this time and
what did they contribute to the emergence of the study of history as a
modern academic discipline?
-
I
Rethinking History 527
The first challenge is how to properly address these three questions given
the limitation of five pages. The second is to understand the influence of
past historiographic and historical trends on the formulation of a German
conception of history in the 19th century. Third is the ability to address
such issues in a comparative format. Finally, the student is asked to
contemplate the influence of 19th century German historical thinking on
future generations of historians. The process becomes an exercise in
addressing the continuum of past, present, and future within a confined
period of time--in essence a microcosm of the purpose of the entire course.
By the time we reach the last topic session dealing with trends in the 1960s
and 1970s (that is as far as I usually get) both the students and myself are
usually exhausted. However the task at hand is not complete. The course
ends with a final paper in which the student draws upon previous essays and
notes from class discussions in responding to the following question:
• How has this course influenced your understanding of history as if
flows through time within the continuum of past, present and future?
For many this is a twist given that each previous essay has asked them to
respond to statements based on defined historiographic periods. Now they
are faced with a challenge to utilize that information but in a way that
forces them to think about how they interpret history within the continuum
of past, present, and future. In essence the exercise affords them with
the opportunity to define their own historical perspective based on the
influence of past historians and historical trends in combination with the
influence of their own present day perspective of that past.
So what are the results ofsuch an approach? In manyways the entire course
served as an exercise in overcoming the external and internal problems stated
earlier in this essay, as well as the goals outlined for the course. These are the
challenges faced by those involved with the result being that some students
concern themselves more with the end result of the process (a high grade)
rather than attempting to understand the process itself (learning some of the
skills necessary to become an historian), In such instances it would be easy to
place the burden for any failures in this regard on the shoulders of the student
by simplysaying that: 'Well, I guess they really were not prepared to devote the
time an effort into learning the material and developing their skills in writing,
critical thinking, and oral presentation', In a very rare instant this is
unfortunately the case. In many instances the burden lies with both parties.
For my part that might be an inability to get these students to approach the
topic as enthusiastically or with the same sense of purpose that I would like
them to. It also demonstrates that what works for some students in terms of

I
528 C. Johnson
the teaching and mentoring process does not work for others-a cliche, but
one that must be constantly thought about. This then becomes a constant
exercise in self reflection as a professor of history, one that causes me to
continually re-evaluate my methods and approach to teaching.
The positive aspects are, of course, overcoming the problems stated at
the beginning of the paper and working with students that embrace the
subject with enthusiasm and a strong sense of purpose. For these students
the class not only reinforced their desire to become professional historians
or teachers of history, but through their own efforts provided them with
some of the basic skills to do so. In essence the 'ideal type' of what
university teaching should be is manifested in a small way.
In this essay an attempt was made to discuss the teaching of histo­
riography using one course as a model. It also attempted to define some of
the problems-both direct and indirect-that influence the teaching of the
history of history. It was by no means meant to be all inclusive nor all
conclusive. The reader is, of course, free to draw what conclusions they
wish from this discussion. In the end some final points, however, can be
offered. First, the teaching and learning of historiography is at the core of
the discipline of history. It serves as a continuum connecting past, present,
and future that links all aspects of the discipline. Second, historiography
trains the student to think historically over broad spans of time-a tool that
can then be applied in their other courses and in their own research. Third, it
challenges students to link themes, trends, methodological approaches over
the breadth of time to see cause and affect within the spectrum of historical
writing. Finally, it helps to give historians a sense of identity and to ground
them with their own past. In the end, if all this can be accomplished then
maybe the vision of the ideal type is reached in that small way.
Note
[1] The weekly topics are: Greek historiography; Roman historiography; early
Christian historiography; the Renaissance and Reformation; the 18th century
and the emergence of nationalism; the German conception of history in the 19th
century; scientific and economic history; Progressive history; the Annales school;
modem trends in historiography.
References
Breisach, E. (1995) Historiography: Ancient, Medieval and Modern, 2nd edn, University
of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Iggers, G. (1983) The German Conception of History: The National Tradition ofHistorical
Thought jimn Herder to the Present, University Press of New England, Hanover, NH.
Novick, P. (1988) That Noble Dream: The 'Objectivity Question' and the American
Historical Profession, Cambridge University Press, New York.
-
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FACULTAD DE HUMANIJADES
UNIVERSIDAD DE PUERTC
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No longer the poor stepchild of philosophy departments. Looking back on these origins we can find. one in particular being the construct of an 'ideal type' concerning what the teaching of history should be versus the reality of what it actually is.522 C. Long walks down tree lined paths on a crisp fall day. history emerged on its own as an academic discipline whose sole purpose was the understanding the human past and to train people to better understand that past within the concept of the humanistic tradition. in part. one might • argue that through the teaching of historiography such ideals are further promoted as it is the one the one course that seeks to be all-encompassing and also the one that covers the longest span of time. serve on an endless multitude of committees and-in the case of small regional universities-provide service to the community. Grounded in the humanistic tradition of philosophy. books under one's arm while engaging in some deep philosophical discussion with either colleagues or students form a utopian aspect of this vision. in many ways reflect one of the harsher realities of academic life in the United States today. however. Many reasons account for success or failure in the classroom. The challenge is to get students to approach the topic with the same enthusiasm you have and to also get them to start thinking historically and historiographically. while easily being perceived as negative. that you don't always succeed. As historians we can trace the discipline's lineage back to the beginnings of higher education. of academic life that influenced many of us to enter into the professoriate. The ideal type might envision an intellectual world revolving around the 'hollowed halls of academia'. Johnson for all involved this process a fundamental question must be addressed: what is the purpose of studying the history of history? For many-including myself-this question is a constant in our teaching life and never more so than when we step into our introductory undergraduate or graduate seminars on historiography. is the pressure to publish. Such statements. As a teacher this is a challenging and at times a somewhat frustrating experience. The basic graduate . The harsh reality. maintain high marks on student evaluations. In some cases it was the dream of the ideal vision. rather than the reality of what university teaching is (and are indeed common to all disciplines). The frustration is. While this again suggests the ideal. and originally pursued as a literary art. Under such circumstances it is no wonder that many faculty burn out or just become pawns of the machine that created them. of course. history eventually became a discipline unto itself in the early 19th century. rather than the realty. the origins of an idyllic version of the historical discipline that still holds some semblance of influence today.

and the internet just to name some of the more influential. To alleviate this pressure the promise of what lies on the internet is a temping offer of short-term gain in the face of long-term consequences that might never manifest themselves. For the historical profession the internet is both a blessing and a curse. Another dilemma is that students increasingly rely on the internet as their primary tool for research. related to and built upon each other and the undertaking challenges both the professor's teaching and mentoring ability as well as the student's intellectual ability to disseminate and connect large amounts of historical concepts and ideas. in many ways.300 year period. our culture in general has become used to disseminating informa­ tion quickly. in part. The same can be said for students who find themselves facing different pressures such as taking many courses with multiple requirements and a multitude of term papers to write. in short bursts and in sound-bite form-a consequence. As a curse it sometimes serves as an alternative for historians instead of having to visit those very same libraries and archives in the course of their research. Returning to the subject of historiography. cellular phones. First. The need to maintain high grade point averages in order to maintain scholarships and or other forms of financial aid is also a factor. Add to this the challenge of showing how these trends are. Yet in attempting to accomplish this task a number of obstacles must be overcome. The questions that arise from this are: how does one hope to get the student to grasp the complexities of historical change over time from a humanistic and philosophical standpoint when students tend to interact with and view their world more and more from a I • . As a blessing it allows us to access data from other libraries and research facilities that might not have been available before without actually visiting those locations. The pressure on most professors to publish also fosters this as articles that at one time were thoroughly researched in archives might now be somewhat imperfect as faculty-untenured and increasingly tenured due to trends calling for post-tenure review-find themselves in the position of having to potentially sacrifice quality for quantity. of trends in television programming. The consequence being that the fundamental cornerstone of historical research is compromised as temptation increases to conduct a significant portion of our research from the comfort of our offices.Rethinking History 523 level historiography class is an attempt to get the student to grasp the concept of change over time-essential I believe to the understanding of any historical issue-from the ancient Greek historians to the present day (if you approach the teaching of historiography in such a manner). a further problem is posed by the task of asking the student to comprehend historiographical trends over a 2.

Medieval. So far this essay has addressed problems while offering no solutions. After that the results--both positive and negative-will be offered for examination. However. that is what the teaching of historiography is: a journey through time. Professor Breisach's traces the evolution of western historiography from the ancient Greeks to present trends in 'world systems . most first semester history graduate students are used to taking courses that focus on specific topics or defined periods of time (usually less than 200 years). it does provide a basic level of monitoring student work while simultaneously forcing them to get their hands on original material as well as learning how to better use a library. and how does the past remain relevant to one so attached to the modern world and its distractions? Finally. a summary of the experience and what was learned from it will be discussed.524 C. In this seminar the primary text is Ernst Breisach's Historiography: Ancient. and Modern. The basic format of the course stays the same from semester to semester with only minor changes to the reading list and written assignments. They are also required to submit photocopies of this material with their essays. the influence of political/social issues on historical interpretation and methodology and the inevitable concept of 'change over time'. Entering into the world of historiography they are suddenly faced with a vast era in time. While the system is not foolproof. Depending upon the semester the class will have between three and 10 students. multiple topics crossing multiple nations and time periods. It is required of all our MA students and must be taken either before or concurrent with their first topics seminars. The next step is to describe the course itself and the challenges presented by the problems discussed above. all the while keeping in mind that this piece is based upon one professor's experience and is in no way meant to be representative of what occurs in other historiography courses. The seminar consists of 15 sessions meeting once a week for three hours. Other books include Georg Iggers' The German Conception of History. It is a cliche to say that every journey should have a road map (or if not that at least some sense of direction or purpose). to name just a few examples. Lastly. I also incorporate various shorter essays on specific historio­ graphical trends (scientific history and the Annales school to cite just two • examples). but instead are required to use the paper copies of any journals or texts that they might need in their work. In Historiography. Johnson technological perspective. Students are not allowed to use the internet in any way (with the exception of using the online library catalog). and Peter Novick's That Noble Dream: Objectivity and the Historical Profession.

(Breisach 1995. This in and of itself is a challenge in that to rely on a six line phrase to dictate the focus of an entire seminar potentially invites a very short session. and future. (Breisach 1995. At the end of the previous session the students were given the following quote to think about from Historiography concerning the task of the historian: . it is to trace the ways in which people in Western culture have reflected on the past and what these reflections have told them about human life in the continuum of past. . For most of the students this exercise engages . 2) The first seminar is devoted to discussing this statement. Besides treating the statement as a whole. such is not usually the case as the question fosters discussions over just how the individual should pursue their own attempt at understanding history. Guiding the student through the evolution of history as a discipline he focuses on a single thought: Every important new discovery about the past changes how we think about the present and what we expect from the future. In this complex context history is born ostensibly as reflection on the past: a reflection which is never isolated from the present and the future. the past as an historical construct. For example. The emphasis is placed on their discussions and contributions rather than them relying on me to be the sole transmitter of information.. Fortunately.Rethinking History 525 theories' and post-modernism. In the end the experiment has produced the very product it sought to generate: intellectual debate. It also provides the students with model for how the rest of the seminar will proceed. 3) Whereas the previous class focused on the concept of history in general. the purpose being to demonstrate that the most fundamental tool of any historian is a single word and that one must carefully select and understand the words one uses in interpreting the past. if one removes the word continuum from the statement the very meaning of that sentence is greatly altered. and the purpose for studying history in the first place. History deals with human life as if 'flows' through time. an exercise is conducted in deconstructing the whole into its most basic part: a single word. on the other hand every change in the conditions of the present and in the expectations for the future revises our perception of the past. p. present. p. how people in general interpret history. The next class is devoted to a discussion over what exactly the task is of the historian of historiography. this session is devoted to the role of the historian in interpreting and understanding the human past. The dialogue brings out a number of issues ranging from the relationship of time to history.

In combination both sessions have established a guidepost for the student to rely on and look back upon during the rest of the meetings. Week three is devoted to individual meetings with the students. The remaining sessions-with the exception of the final meeting-are structured along the lines of historiographic trends beginning with ancient Greece and continuing on to the present day. The idea behind assigning a specific number of pages (they are also required to use set margins and a common font) is to get them used to having to edit and select their words carefully in order to create a coherent argument within the confines of set parameters. for most.526 C. Another objective of the exercise is to establish within the mind of the student the concepts of change over time. They are required to formulate their responses in the form of an interpretive essay of five pages in length. Besides using this as an opportunity to get to know the student. Again. the challenge for the historian to understand those reflections within the continuum of past. this is a new exercise given that in the past most of their written work was in the category of assignments stating 'between' or 'no less than'.' The basic format of each meeting is the same. Johnson them in a thought process that they had not previously engaged in to any great extent. It also helps them understand just how important the selection of each individual word will be in the writing of their own papers. Finally. present. history as a reflection of the past. Students are provided with a question or set of questions designed to prepare them for the subsequent session. and discuss issues that might not have been covered to their complete understanding during the first sessions of the course. and the importance of under ­ standing historiography as a the main component of the historical continuum. For the student. so a detailed discussion of each is not necessary (nor possible given the constraints of space and length). it affords me with the chance to assess the student's knowledge of and comfort level with the material. they are given the opportunity to ask further ques­ tions about the material. and future. the following questions were posed the week before: • • • What factors led to the creation of the German historical perspective? How did this approach differ from its French and British counterparts? How did German historians approach their craft during this time and what did they contribute to the emergence of the study of history as a modern academic discipline? I - . Using the session devoted to the discussion of the German conception of history in the 19th century. a pattern is hopefully established in which the student now finds themselves beginning to think historically and historiographically.

and future. present. The second is to understand the influence of past historiographic and historical trends on the formulation of a German conception of history in the 19th century. Finally. and oral presentation'. These are the challenges faced by those involved with the result being that some students concern themselves more with the end result of the process (a high grade) rather than attempting to understand the process itself (learning some of the skills necessary to become an historian). The process becomes an exercise in addressing the continuum of past. By the time we reach the last topic session dealing with trends in the 1960s and 1970s (that is as far as I usually get) both the students and myself are usually exhausted. the student is asked to contemplate the influence of 19th century German historical thinking on future generations of historians. For my part that might be an inability to get these students to approach the topic as enthusiastically or with the same sense of purpose that I would like them to. as well as the goals outlined for the course. I guess they really were not prepared to devote the time an effort into learning the material and developing their skills in writing. present and future? I • For many this is a twist given that each previous essay has asked them to respond to statements based on defined historiographic periods.Rethinking History 527 The first challenge is how to properly address these three questions given the limitation of five pages. It also demonstrates that what works for some students in terms of . critical thinking. However the task at hand is not complete. In such instances it would be easy to place the burden for any failures in this regard on the shoulders of the student by simply saying that: 'Well. Third is the ability to address such issues in a comparative format. In many instances the burden lies with both parties. present. In a very rare instant this is unfortunately the case. So what are the results ofsuch an approach? In many ways the entire course served as an exercise in overcoming the external and internal problems stated earlier in this essay. and future within a confined period of time--in essence a microcosm of the purpose of the entire course. Now they are faced with a challenge to utilize that information but in a way that forces them to think about how they interpret history within the continuum of past. In essence the exercise affords them with the opportunity to define their own historical perspective based on the influence of past historians and historical trends in combination with the influence of their own present day perspective of that past. The course ends with a final paper in which the student draws upon previous essays and notes from class discussions in responding to the following question: • How has this course influenced your understanding of history as if flows through time within the continuum of past.

can be offered. P. Finally. G. 2nd edn. the teaching and learning of historiography is at the core of the discipline of history. Cambridge University Press. In the end. In essence the 'ideal type' of what university teaching should be is manifested in a small way. (1983) The German Conception of History: The National Tradition ofHistorical Thought jimn Herder to the Present. University Press of New England. The reader is. the Annales school. (1995) Historiography: Ancient. Third. Hanover. This then becomes a constant exercise in self reflection as a professor of history. it helps to give historians a sense of identity and to ground them with their own past. It serves as a continuum connecting past. the German conception of history in the 19th century. methodological approaches over the breadth of time to see cause and affect within the spectrum of historical writing. early Christian historiography. In this essay an attempt was made to discuss the teaching of histo ­ riography using one course as a model. For these students the class not only reinforced their desire to become professional historians or teachers of history. however. . free to draw what conclusions they wish from this discussion. trends. one that causes me to continually re-evaluate my methods and approach to teaching. University of Chicago Press. present. The positive aspects are. It was by no means meant to be all inclusive nor all conclusive. In the end some final points. Progressive history. and future that links all aspects of the discipline. It also attempted to define some of the problems-both direct and indirect-that influence the teaching of the history of history. the Renaissance and Reformation. Novick. but through their own efforts provided them with some of the basic skills to do so. scientific and economic history. modem trends in historiography. Note [1] The weekly topics are: Greek historiography. overcoming the problems stated at the beginning of the paper and working with students that embrace the subject with enthusiasm and a strong sense of purpose. Johnson the teaching and mentoring process does not work for others-a cliche. of course. Chicago. Second. but one that must be constantly thought about. NH. I - References Breisach. of course. New York. Iggers. if all this can be accomplished then maybe the vision of the ideal type is reached in that small way. Medieval and Modern. E. First. (1988) That Noble Dream: The 'Objectivity Question' and the American Historical Profession. historiography trains the student to think historically over broad spans of time-a tool that can then be applied in their other courses and in their own research. Roman historiography. the 18th century and the emergence of nationalism.528 C. it challenges students to link themes.

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