Historiography may not be a common word to all college students, but it is a familiar term to college students who are majoring in history. History majors will more than likely be required to take some form of historiography and method course. Historiography is the study of various approaches to understanding historical method, writing history, and interpreting historical events. Students working towards a degree in this field can look forward to utilizing critical thinking, research, and writing skills in this class.
Historiography literally means the writing of history. In as far as a history student is concerned; the term refers to the study of the way history has been written. Method refers to the various approaches used to pursue the writing of it. Put them together, and you have a course that is research-oriented and packed with tons of reading and writing assignments. But if you are a student of history, this class will be a pleasure to undertake.
Students who are unfamiliar with historiography should know what it is not. It is not necessarily about studying history. The main objective of the subject is to study the history of historical writing. For example, as a history major, you may come across various interpretations of the Civil War. The assorted methods used to report on this historical event are prime examples of historiography.
It is not necessary to study source materials about the historical subject because historiography is only concerned about what has been written about historical events in relation to the techniques employed by the historian to report on the event and the various schools of thought and interpretation associated with a particular historical occurrence. The sources from which the historical facts were derived are inconsequential.
The purpose of this course is for students to explore why and how historians study the past. In order to master historiography, students must ask and answer central questions that can lead to revelation about how history was written. Questions like, “Is there such a thing as historical truth?” and “What intellectual limitations do scholars face as they reconstruct or deconstruct the past?” are of great importance.
There are several learning methods students can use to effectively learn this subject. Students can gain understanding through analytical and critical readings of primary texts. They might also interpret historical documents and examine historical evidence. Use of these learning methods acquaints students with the history of the discipline, as well as promotes critical thinking and interpretation skills in this particular field of study.
Students who take this type of class should be prepared to utilize oral and written communication skills. This is a writing intensive course; consequently, students will not only think about ways in which history was recorded, they will also read, write, and report on it. This type of class encourages class participation, and in some instances, you may be required help lead class discussions. Writing may come in the form of an end of the term research summary on historiography methods.