History 3122

Preview: History 3122 (332), Community in America: 1600-1900

Questions: present-day perspective

  • What is your experience of community? What perspectives about community do you bring to this discussion?
  • What insight does your experience of community give you toward an understanding of the “fabric” of historical, “horizontally-oriented” communities—face-to-face interaction; extended family oriented; and ancestrally imbedded? What experiences and assumptions do you need to let go of in order to understand the historical experience of community?
  • What messages about community—and community values—do we hear today? To what extent can these help us understand historical communities?

Questions: definitions

  • What is “community”? What constitutes community (what is required of community)?
  • What do the inhabitants of a community—in a particular place, at a particular time (era)—expect and understand?
  • What determines the particular values, sets of associations, systems of hierarchy within a community, and how do these shape the experience of community?
  • What causes values, expectations, and structures to change over time?

Questions: historical perspective

  • Why study community?
  • What interests you about this topic (or what do you hope will interest you)?
  • Reflect on your experience as historians (or apprentice historians): what are the advantages—and disadvantages—of a community perspective for examining history? as a way of looking at the past? What community studies have you read? What did you think of those?
  • What measures do scholars (historians, sociologists, anthropologists) use to gain an understanding of community?
  • What can historians bring to the discussion and analysis of community?

General questions to consider as you do the readings for the course:

  • How did the author construct the account, and why?
  • What secondary sources did the author use to frame the topic, problem, question and thesis?  How does the author locate the study in its historiographical context?
  • What research design did the author follow (why are present-day historians generally so explicit about this)?
  • What primary sources did the author(s) use? what questions did the author ask about the sources? Why?
  • What is the author's agenda? What is the author trying to show?
  • What did you learn from the study? how did it change your understanding—of an event, a process, the process of historical inquiry?