The Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of History Department of History
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HIST2002B Historiography (Advanced)

Semester 2 (2021-2022)

Lecture TimeThursday 10:30am - 12:15pm

VenueBasic Medical Sciences Building (BMS), Room 1


Lecturer James MORTON (

Teaching Assistant WONG Kang Shing, James (

Course Description

What is history and why do we study it? More importantly, how do we study it? This course will lead you through a ‘history of history’, introducing you to the major trends in modern historical scholarship. The first few weeks will begin with some important basics, from conceptual questions about the study of history to useful skills like how do to your assigned course readings in the shortest time possible. We will then turn to the main subject of the course, starting with the emergence of university history education in the 19th century and covering the most significant developments in historiography up to the present day.

The course will meet each week in a seminar format. While there will be a lecture element to each class, there will also be an emphasis on lively discussion about each topic.

Learning Goals

This course has three main goals:

  1. To familiarise you with some of the most important intellectual trends in historical scholarship from the 19th century to the present day.
  2. To explore how and why these historiographical trends have emerged and to understand their significance for the academic study of history.
  3. To prepare you for your future courses and research in history at CUHK.

13 Jan

1. Introduction: The Study of History

Allan Megill, Historical Knowledge, Historical Error: A Contemporary Guide to Practice (Chicago, 2007), ch. 1: ‘History with Memory, History without Memory’.

20 Jan

2. Workshop: Reading Historical Scholarship

Timothy Burke, Staying Afloat: Some Scattered Suggestions on Reading in College

How to Read an Academic Book (Reddit)

27 Jan

3. Origins and Development of Historical Writing

Herodotus, Histories 1.1–5.

Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War 1.1–23.

Livy, The History of Rome, 1.1–8.

Burton Watson, Ssu-ma Ch’ien, Grand Historian of China (New York, 1958), Appendix A: ‘Selected Translations from the Shih chi’.

3 Feb

Public Holiday – No Class!

10 Feb

4. The Beginnings of Academic History

Leopold von Ranke, The Theory and Practice of History, ed. and trans. Georg G. Iggers and Wilma A. Iggers (London, 2011), Introduction; Part I: ‘The Idealistic Theory of Historiography’.

Tutorial 1 (Weeks 1–3)

17 Feb

5. Marx, Weber, and the Social Sciences

Karl Marx, Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), 14–27.

Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904), ch. 2: ‘The Spirit of Capitalism’.

Anthony Giddens, ‘Marx, Weber, and the Development of Capitalism’, Sociology 4.3 (1970): 289–310.

24 Feb

6. The French Annales School and Historical Anthropology

Fernand Braudel, ‘History and the Social Sciences: The Longue Durée’, trans. Immanuel Wallerstein, Review (Fernand Braudel Center) 32.2 (2009): 171–203.

Robert Forster, ‘Achievements of the Annales School’, The Journal of Economic History 38.1 (1978): 58–76.

3 Mar

7. Cliometrics: Quantitative and Economic History

R.W. Fogel, ‘The New Economic History. I. Its Findings and Methods’, The Economic History Review 19.3 (1966): 642–656.

Roger E. Meiners and Clark Nardinelli, ‘What Has Happened to the New Economic History?’, Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics 142.3 (1986): 510–527.

Robert A. Margo, ‘The Integration of Economic History into Economics’, Cliometrica 12.3 (2018): 377–406.

Tutorial 2 (Weeks 4–6)

10 Mar

8. New Social History

E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class, rev. ed. (Harmondsworth, 1968), 9–14.

Eric J. Hobsbawm, ‘From Social History to the History of Society’, Daedalus 100.1 (1971): 20–45.

Peter N. Stearns, ‘Social History and History: A Progress Report’, Journal of Social History 19.2 (1985): 319–334.

Shuo Wang, ‘The “New Social History” in China: The Development of Women’s History’, The History Teacher 39.3 (2006): 315–323.

17 Mar

9. The Cultural Turn

Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays (New York, 1973), ch. 1: ‘Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture’.

Alon Confino, ‘Collective Memory and Cultural History: Problems of Method’, The American Historical Review 102.5 (1997): 1386–1403.

Paula S. Fass, ‘Cultural History/Social History: Some Reflections on a Continuing Dialogue’, Journal of Social History 37.1 (2003): 39–46.

24 Mar

10. Comparative, World, and Global History

Philip D. Curtin, The World and the West: The European Challenge and the Overseas Response in the Age of Empire (Cambridge, 2002) [skim only!]

Bruce Mazlish, ‘Comparing Global History to World History’, The Journal of Interdisciplinary History 28.3 (1998): 385–395.

Philippa Levine, ‘Is Comparative History Possible?’, History and Theory 53.3 (2014): 331–347.

Richard Drayton and David Motadel, ‘Discussion: The Futures of Global History’, Journal of Global History 13.1 (2018): 1–21.

Tutorial 3 (Weeks 7–9)

31 Mar

11. Critical Theories: Race, Gender, Sexuality, and More

Joan W. Scott, ‘Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis’, The American Historical Review 91.5 (1986): 1053–1075.

Kimberlé Crenshaw, ‘Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color’, Stanford Law Review 43.6 (1991): 1241–1299.

7 Apr

Reading Week – No Class!

14 Apr

12. Public History

Marko Demantowsky (ed.), Public History and School: International Perspectives (Oldenbourg, 2018), ch. 1: ‘What Is Public History?’

John Tosh, ‘Public History, Civic Engagement and the Historical Profession in Britain’, History 99.2 (2014): 191–212.

21 Apr

13. Class Symposium

No assigned readings

Tutorial 4 (Weeks 10–12)

6 May

Historiographical Essay Due

Assessment & Assignments

Your performance in the course will be assessed on the cumulative basis of different types of assignment (described in more detail below) and your attendance. There will not be an exam or quiz component. The weighting of the different factors is as follows:

Historiographical Essay             30%
Symposium Presentation           20%
Participation                 `              20%
Reading Summaries                    20%
Attendance                                    10%

Your final letter grade will be determined by your overall course percentage. You will not be graded on a curve. Grades will be assigned according to the following set thresholds:

A      90%                     C+  65%
A-     85%                     C    60%      
B+    80%                     C-   55%
B      75%                     D    50%
B-     70%                     F     >50%

Historiographical Essay

The main assignment of the course will be a historiographical essay (2,000–2,500 words) at the end of the semester, due on 6th May. For this essay, you should select a prominent historian of the 20th or 21st century and write a historiographical analysis of their major works. You should show how your chosen historian’s work relates to the wider scholarly field and make an argument about what you think their most important contribution to historiography is/was. You will be free to choose your own subject and title, on two conditions:

  1. The essay must focus on the works of a single historian and their historiographical significance.
  2. You must come to my open-door hours at least once before Reading Week to discuss your idea for your final paper.

The essay should be written to academic standards with a central thesis, reference to relevant academic literature, and appropriate citations in footnotes. You are free to follow any accepted academic citation style such as Chicago, Harvard, or MLA. If you are not sure about how to write citations, I recommend looking at the Chicago Manual of Style quick citation guide:

If you have any questions about the essay, let me know and I will be happy to answer.

Symposium Presentation

In the last week of term, we will hold a class symposium in which each student will give an oral presentation to the rest of the class about the subject of their historiographical paper. Depending on student numbers, you will have approximately 10–20 minutes to present your research to the other students. There will be a Q&A session after each presentation in which other students will have the chance to ask you questions about your subject. Your symposium presentation (and questions to other students) will be 20% of your final grade.

If you want, you can supplement your presentation with a short PowerPoint slideshow or use other kinds of visual/audio accompaniment as appropriate. Feel free to get creative – remember, the goal is to spark the most interesting symposium discussion that you can!

New Approaches to World History Seminar

This term, the History department will be holding a new seminar on ‘New Approaches to World History’. This will meet in-person once a week from 10th February to 21st April to hear a lecture (with Q&A to follow) from a leading world historian. At the end of the lecture, members of the audience will have the chance to engage in a Q&A with the speaker. A complete schedule of events, with topics, dates, and times, will be released soon.

Since this seminar has a clear relevance to our historiography course, I would like you to attend no fewer than three meetings of the New Approaches to World History Seminar. You should also ask at least one question of the speaker during a Q&A session. Your attendance and participation in the seminar will form part of your overall attendance and participation grade for this course.

Reading Summaries

Before each class, you will complete that week’s readings and then write a short summary (max. 500 words) describing the content of what you have read. This is a reading comprehension exercise that will help to develop your skills in analysing and explaining academic texts in a short space. You should submit your reading summary to me in hard copy at the end of that week’s class. You should describe both the content of the readings (what they are about) and the authors’ central arguments. Sample reading summaries will be available on the course Blackboard site to give you a clear idea of what to aim for.

You will only need to write reading summaries for ten out of the thirteen weeks. This means that you get to skip three reading summaries; you can choose which ones. These summaries will form 20% of your overall course grade.

Attendance and Absences

You are expected to attend all seminars and tutorials. This will comprise 10% of your overall course grade. If you have a valid reason for being absent from a seminar or tutorial (such as a doctor’s appointment, a family emergency, or similar), please contact me as soon as possible to ask for permission.


In addition to regular seminars, there will be a total of four tutorial sessions during the semester. These will serve as opportunities for broader discussion of the course’s themes. They will also be a chance to discuss course assignments (particularly the final historiographical essay) and for you to ask any questions that you might have. Remember that active participation in both seminar and tutorial discussions is expected and will be 20% of your overall course grade – so don’t be shy!


Each week you will be assigned approximately 40–50 pages of reading. This will be a mixture of primary sources and academic literature that explore important aspects of the week’s theme. All required course readings will be posted on the Blackboard course website at the beginning of the semester. You will not need to purchase or acquire any course materials yourself.

For a general introduction to the subject, I can recommend the following (non-compulsory) books, all of which are available in the CUHK library system or online:

John H. Arnold, History: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2000).

E.H. Carr, What Is History? (London, 1962).

Mark T. Gilderhus, History and Historians: A Histriogrpahical Introduction, 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2010).

Georg G. Iggers, Historiography in the Twentieth Century: From Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern Challenge, rev. ed. (Middletown, CT, 2005).

Daniel R. Woolf, A Global History of History (Cambridge, 2011).


Assignment Submission, Extensions, and Lateness Penalties

You will be expected to submit your historiographical essay by 11:59pm on the specified date by uploading it to the relevant section of the Blackboard course website along with a signed declaration of academic honesty from VeriGuide.

Scheduling conflicts and unforeseen circumstances can sometimes make it difficult to meet deadlines. If you are unable to submit your work on time, please contact me as soon as possible and I will be happy to grant you an extension if you have a legitimate reason to require one.

If you fail to submit work on time and I have not granted you an extension, you will incur a daily lateness penalty of 1 percentage point. For example, if you submit your historiographical essay (worth 30%) 3 days after the deadline, you will lose 3 of the 30% available; if you submit it 5 days late, you will lose 5 of the 30%, etc. I will not accept any further submissions after 7 days have passed unless I have granted special permission.

Grade Descriptions

A                     Exceptional: Exceeds expectations. Demonstrates impressive knowledge, clarity, analytical ability, and a firm grasp of course material.

A-                    Strong: Has most of the qualities of A-grade work but has some minor areas for improvement.

B (+/-)             Good: Shows a solid understanding of course material. Has some flaws in writing or argumentation and may contain minor errors or misunderstandings.

C (+/-)             Satisfactory: Demonstrates an acceptable level of knowledge but suffers from lack of clarity, misunderstandings, historical errors, or weak argumentation.

D                     Unsatisfactory: Achieves the minimum passing grade but fails to meet most expectations of knowledge and argumentation.

F                      Failed: Does not meet basic expectations of knowledge, understanding, and/or timeliness in submission.

Honesty in Academic Work

Attention is drawn to University policy and regulations on honesty in academic work, and to the disciplinary guidelines and procedures applicable to breaches of such policy and regulations. Details may be found at

With each assignment, students will be required to submit a signed declaration that they are aware of these policies, regulations, guidelines and procedures.

  • In the case of group projects, all members of the group should be asked to sign the declaration, each of whom is responsible and liable to disciplinary actions, irrespective of whether he/she has signed the declaration and whether he/she has contributed, directly or indirectly, to the problematic contents.
  • For assignments in the form of a computer-generated document that is principally text-based and submitted via VeriGuide, the statement, in the form of a receipt, will be issued by the system upon students’ uploading of the soft copy of the assignment.

Assignments without the properly signed declaration will not be graded by teachers.

Only the final version of the assignment should be submitted via VeriGuide.

The submission of a piece of work, or a part of a piece of work, for more than one purpose (e.g. to satisfy the requirements in two different courses) without declaration to this effect shall be regarded as having committed undeclared multiple submissions. It is common and acceptable to reuse a turn of phrase or a sentence or two from one’s own work; but wholesale reuse is problematic. In any case, agreement from the course teacher(s) concerned should be obtained prior to the submission of the piece of work.

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