Introduction to Public History

Most Americans encounter history outside of the college classroom. They visit museums, memorials, and historic sites, watch documentaries, and visit websites. In this course, we will examine the challenges of doing history in public – What is the role of history in the public sphere, and how does it contribute to broader debates in U.S. culture? How do historians use objects, images, and other media to convey historical narratives to a population that is often visiting for entertainment? How can complicated topics be accessibly presented? How should historians approach controversial issues in public settings? What ethical issues surround public history? The course will involve readings, site visits, guest speakers, and group work on a public history project.