HIST 300: Introduction to Historical Method

HIST 300-001: Introduction to Historical Method: Myths, Memes, and Urban Legends
(Spring 2020)

12:00 PM to 01:15 PM TR

Robinson Hall B204

Section Information for Spring 2020

In the era of viral memes, alternative facts, deep fakes, and fake news, it is hard to know what’s real let alone what’s true. Historians are voracious consumers of information—information Roombas, if you will—who sift, sort, categorize, and mobilize data points to make effective arguments about the past, arguments that often contextualize and influence understanding of the present. The skills students acquire as historians can be helpful in sorting fact from fiction online, and sorting fact from fiction online can make us better historians. To that end, this iteration of Introduction to Historical Methods will teach the basics of historical research and writing by examining historical myths, memes, and urban legends that appear on the Internet. We will identify and unpack the mobilization of historical content online and in the news, strategize how to fact-check and contextualize it, and learn how to be that well-liked person in the comments who says, “Welllll, actually…” before offering a nuanced and devastating takedown. Skills developed in the course include basic research methods, analyzing sources, interpreting and contextualizing historical arguments and documents, framing questions, critical thinking, historical writing and citation, being an effective discussant, and preparing and delivering an oral presentation.


Students are required to earn a C or better in HIST 300 in order to take HIST 499, the required senior seminar.

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Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3

Introduces research skills and methods, as well as historical interpretation, culminating in written and oral presentations. Notes: Topics vary according to instructor. History majors strongly urged to take HIST 300 as soon as possible after reaching 30 credits. Grade of C or better is required to graduate with BA in history. Students may repeat HIST 300 only with permission from the Department of History and Art History and repetitions are limited. Limited to three attempts.
Mason Core: Synthesis
Specialized Designation: Scholarly Inquiry., Writing Intensive in Major
Recommended Prerequisite: History majors with 30 credits or permission of instructor.
Registration Restrictions:

Enrollment is limited to students with a major in History.

Schedule Type: Lecture
This course is graded on the Undergraduate Regular scale.

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