MA Workshop

William H. McNeill (1917-2016)

posted Dec 4, 2012, 5:26 AM by Professor Katz   [ updated Mar 9, 2018, 3:17 AM ]

A number of his books are online: The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community (Chicago, 1963), published in an an enlarged edition in 1991; and Mythistory and Other Essays (Chicago, 1986).

Watch him in action on You Tube (the guy sitting next to him actually is alive: he moves slightly):

Carl Lotus Becker (1873-1945)

posted Nov 6, 2012, 11:59 PM by Professor Katz

Is it just me, or does Carl Becker remind you too of Phil Collins?

Just to be sure, here is some rare footage of Carl Becker appearing before the American Historical Society....I think:

Mr. Everyman Buys Coal

posted Nov 6, 2012, 10:29 AM by Professor Katz

Professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (b.1938), professor of history at Harvard, MacArthur Fellow, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and an active Mormon, was president of the American Historical Association in 2009.  In September 2009, she wrote a column in the AHA magazine, Perspectives on History about what happens in 1931 when
Mr. Everyman Buys Coal.

Moshe Arens: How many narratives?

posted Nov 6, 2012, 10:01 AM by Professor Katz   [ updated Nov 12, 2013, 12:07 AM ]

...and in Hebrew:

משה ארנס | אין נרטיב, יש אמת היסטורית

Moshe Arens, a trained engineer, writes thusly:

'The "narrative " mode of history is something of recent vintage, a fad not likely to persist. It is the facts that we want our children to be taught in history lessons. There may be different interpretations of certain events that may need to be elaborated, even when the events themselves have been established beyond doubt. It is only when the actual course of events has been difficult or impossible to ascertain that there is room for presenting different versions.'

...and in the original Hebrew:

החשיבה "הנרטיבית" על ההיסטוריה היא סוג של טרנד עכשווי, שכנראה לא ישרוד זמן רב. העובדות - זה מה שאנו רוצים שילדינו ילמדו בשיעורי ההיסטוריה. לאירועים מסוימים ייתכנו פרשנויות שונות ואפשר להרחיב את הדיון עליהם גם אחרי שהעובדות בוססו ללא צל של ספק. רק כשמהלך האירועים בלתי ניתן לביסוס אפשר להקדיש יותר מקום להצגת גרסאות שונות 

Well, actually no.  As it happens, there are far fewer absolute facts than one might think.  Some facts there are: someone murdered Arlozoroff, for example.  But the issue is far more complicated than that.  And the discussion is not recent, not a fad.  For a preliminary bibliography, Mr Arens could start with two articles by past presidents of the American Historical Association, no less, both written in the early 1930s.  He could read
an article I wrote about 'fuzzy thinking'.  Or come to a first year, first semester history targil.

Narratives? Actually, yes, Professor Avineri

posted Nov 6, 2012, 9:44 AM by Professor Katz   [ updated Nov 6, 2012, 10:13 AM ]

The truth should be taught about the 1948 war

Just as nobody, even in German schools, would dream of teaching the German 'narrative' regarding World War II, the 1948 war should also not be taught as a battle between narratives. In the final analysis, there is a historical truth.

by Shlomo Avineri 

                             ...or in the original Hebrew:

שלמה אבינרי | אמת, לא נרטיב

Professor Shlomo Avineri (a political scientist) asks the same question as the engineer Moshe Arens: How many narratives?  Two men from opposite sides of the political spectrum, even from opposite sides of (our) campus...and they both get it wrong.  Click the Arens link to find out what historians really do.

The True Confessions of Top Historians

posted Oct 21, 2012, 6:00 AM by Professor Katz

As the Yiddish saying goes, 'it's good to talk of overcome troubles'.  There is a wonderful series of Haskins Prize Lectures under the auspices of the American Council of Learned Societies, in which the lecturer is asked 'to reflect on a lifetime of work as a scholar and an institution builder, on the motives, the chance determinations, the satisfactions (and dissatisfactions) of the life of learning, to explore through one’s own life the larger, institutional life of scholarship.'  Since the speakers have all been very successful in their chosen fields, they are often willing to reveal a good deal about the rocky path that leads to the top.  Some of these lectures are downright inspiring.

We will be reading and discussing at least two of these, all by historians:

Final Assignment

posted Apr 19, 2012, 1:18 AM by Professor Katz   [ updated Apr 19, 2012, 1:26 AM ]

Write an essay of no more than 12 pages (not including title page, bibliography and footnotes) discussing the development of one of the historical journals.  You must choose the journal ahead of time and clear your choice with me.

The purpose of this exercise is to allow you to explore and consider the nature of one major history journal.  Your essay should cover the following issues: chronology, location, sponsorship, editors, contents, purpose, changes over time, first & last issues.  You may, however, discuss other aspects that appear to you pertinent or relevant.  You are not expected to research the journal extensively in other publications, but if you have the time and inclination, you may do so.

Please submit your essay in hard copy, no 'classaire', just a single staple holding the pages together, placed in the corner at a 45-degree angle.  :)

Note also some technical specifications:
  • If you are writing in Hebrew, please use David Font 14
  • If you are writing in English, please use Times New Roman 12
  • Text should be double-spaced
  • Leave two spaces between sentences
  • Paragraphs need to be indented on the first line by about five spaces
  • There is no need for an extra line between paragraphs
  • Footnotes and bibliography: please refer to Notes Biblio 100418.doc  or even Trevor-Roper D.Phil. c.1966.pdf

Here is a partial list of possible journals:
  • American Historical Review
  • Annales (you'll need French for this one)
  • Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • Economic History Review
  • English Historical Review
  • Historical Journal
  • History and Theory
  • International Review of Social History
  • Isis
  • Journal of Economic History
  • Journal of Interdisciplinary History
  • Journal of Modern History
  • Journal of Social History
  • Journal of the History of Sexuality
  • Journal of Women's History
  • Journal of World History
  • Past and Present
  • Social History of Medicine
  • Speculum


posted Jan 3, 2012, 2:40 AM by Professor Katz   [ updated Mar 12, 2016, 11:36 PM ]

Being a graduate student means not only walking the walk, but talking the talk.  There are many terms that you will hear (especially in the Gilman cafeteria), and you should know what they mean.  Many people get them wrong...  Here is a partial list.  Choose one, and try to tell the rest of us what it means (in no more than TEN minutes), and then we'll all work together to come up with a more precise (and useful) definition:

  • imagined communities
  • Orientalism
  • the invention of tradition
  • narrative 
  • linguistic turn 
  • multiculturalism 
  • cultural relativism 
  • epistemology
  • Counter-Enlightenment 
  • anarchism 
  • collective memory
  • semiotics 
  • gender
  • symbolism 
  • discourse
  • epigraphy 
  • queer theory 
  • historicism
  • agency
  • deconstruction 
  • post-colonialism
  • anarchism
  • structuralism and post-structuralism
  • discipline
  • rhizomes
  • generationism 
  • hermeneutics
...and other terms that you can suggest.

The Historian's Noble Dream

posted Nov 22, 2011, 3:18 AM by Professor Katz   [ updated Dec 27, 2013, 2:34 AM ]

Time to contemplate the 'Historian's Noble Dream'.  We will read three articles in turn, attached below: Becker (1932), Beard (1935) and McNeill (1986).  The articles are listed below in alphabetical order, but we will be reading them in chronological order: please note.

1-9 of 9