Historiography in Crisis? Debates, Polemics and Conversations
|SEMESTER:||6th & 8th semester|
Description – According to the schedule below, each thematic area is covered in two sessions. THAT ’70s COMING CRISIS The critical understanding of our past and present cannot be divorced from self-criticism, from the critical approach of our theories and every day academic practices; this is the call of Gouldner’s radical, reflexive sociology that is proposed as a way out of the crisis caused by the dominance of instrumental thinking and utilitarian culture in the postwar era. WHO IS Mr EVERYMAN By studying and discussing Tosh’s Why History Matters we gain an understanding of the rationale for the practical relevance of historiography and of the dangers that spring from an unreflexive advocacy of «a gross and direct utility» of history. STORIES OF BECOMING A HISTORIAN Scott’s and Gordon’s life stories on how they became historians give us the opportunity to follow their intellectual adventures and to consider passion, cognitive curiosity, love for learning, academic friendships, mutual admiration between teachers and students as motivating forces for engagement in scholarship and as antidotes to technocracy and scientism. STYLE MATTERS: ON POLEMICS AND CONVERSATIONS Under the guidance of Bourdieu’s writings on television we familiarize ourselves with some questions and problems regarding: the temporality of researching, studying, writing, re-writing and revising; the differences between the journalist and the academic culture; the connection between time pressures and critical thinking. WRITING, THINKING AND LEARNING Can one become a competent cook by reading recipes, learning the rules of cooking and consuming cookery books? Before we rush to our favourite tavern and ask the publican, we will spend the last sessions in two prominent scholars who, drawing from their personal practical experience, share their thoughts on academic research and writing.
Objectives of the course – An invitation to explore some key issues about the «crisis in humanities and social/ cultural sciences» that are of direct concern to the members of the academic community nowadays.
Expected learning outcomes – The selected texts for discussion will introduce us to a number of questions, problems and anxieties regarding the value and worth of our common interdisciplinary culture, namely, the significance of historical understanding and the importance of critical reflection, especially in today’s era marked by the growth of scientism and the dominance of technical instrumentalism.
Indicative Bibliography – Gouldner, A. «Towards a Reflexive Sociology», in The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology, Basic Books 1970.
Tosh, J. Why History Matters, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.
Andriakaina El. – R.Vasilaki. Conversations. The Promise of Humanities and Social Sciences, Pedio 2017.
Fuller, T. The Voice of Liberal Learning. Michael Oakeshott on Education, Yale University Press 1989.
Gordon, L. «History Constructs a Historian», in J. Banner–J. Gillis. Becoming historians, University of Chicago Press 2009.
Scott, W. J. «Finding Critical History», in J. Banner –J. Gillis. Becoming historians, University of Chicago Press 2009.
Bourdieu, P. On Television, New Press 1996. Chakrabarti, D. «Crafting Histories: For Whom Does One Write?», The Art of History / Perspectives on History, March 2010.
Hunt, L. «How Writing leads to Thinking (And not the other way around)», The Art of History / Perspectives on History, February 2010.
Evaluation – Students participation in classroom discussions (20%). An oral presentation of the most relevant aspects of the works chosen for the final essay (30%). Final Essay: (approximately 4000 words) on the works discussed during the course (50%).