I’ve recently had conversations with several colleagues about teaching theory in history. As a discipline, we’re not as obviously theory heavy as some of our compatriots in the social sciences, and much of the theory we use is grounded, or embedded in assumptions we make about sources, voices and narrative. Given the importance, but relative invisibility of theory in history writing (and given that students – especially new majors in historical methods classes – are likely to be a little allergic to heavily theorized writing anyway) I’ve been trying to figure out how to teach students how to identify and make us of theoretical frameworks for history.
This question has been bugging me for the past year or so. It first became apparent in a class on the intertwined histories of gender and technology, and I also see it in my current undergrad historical methods and Atlantic history classes. This is not, I think, merely a consequence of mulling more on theory than I used to. By design, none of these courses clear narrative path. Gender and Technology took on several themes during the semester, often circling back to the same time, …read more