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Introduction to Historiography

Image of a painting of a young lady holding a large book.

This seminar is designed to introduce history majors and medials to the idea of historiography, taken as both the writing of history and the study and analysis of that writing. Topics will include the following:

  1. The different meanings of the term historiography
  2. The history of the practices of researching and writing history both in the Western world and globally
  3. Seminal ideas about historical processes
  4. How present-day issues and concerns affect the writing of history
  5. The work of select prominent historians from antiquity to the twentieth century
  6. Key concepts in historical thinking
  7. Historical errors and fallacies
  8. The use of counterfactual thinking
  9. How historical works come into existence
  10. Alternative approaches to the past

The course will include what may be described as practical elements, and discussions of how the historical “discipline” or profession is organized institutionally. Students will learn how to develop a bibliography, search for sources, evaluate and criticize a historical article, differentiate among historical arguments and positions, write a book review, use an archive, the limitations of course, and the process of peer review.  
A great deal of emphasis will be placed on clear writing. To that end, the course requires multiple shorter assignments of graduated length, rather than the conventional full-length research paper you might expect in other courses.  


Department of History, Queen's University

49 Bader Lane, Watson Hall 212
Kingston ON K7L 3N6




Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.