The Catholic University of America

History 601: Historical Methodology and Analysis

This course is an introduction for students in all fields of history to the varieties of current historical research and their analysis at the graduate level. The course will survey the major historiographical schools of the twentieth century, focusing on the methods, sources, and assumptions of each. Students will analyze major historical works in depth, concentrating upon research design and philosophy.


This course focuses on methodology. Each week will explore a distinct school, but the students will notice that many of the schools bear a strong relationship to each other.

The required reading will include a monograph and two accompanying articles or texts each week. There will also be recommended reading, of intellectual landmarks that have influenced the writing of history. These are all books and authors with which graduate students in history need to be familiar, and they will likely come up in the discussion of each week. They are listed in descending order of relevance to the week's discussion. To help you learn about the interests and work of the history faculty at CUA, an article or chapter from all faculty members has also been placed on Blackboard as an accompaniment to certain weeks: this is not required reading.

Each student will be required to make two presentations of about 10 minutes each. One presentation will focus on the meta-topic of the week and will summarize main points of contention while laying out the parameters of the discussion. The second presentation will offer to the class a discussion of an alternative book in the same methodological category (drawn from the list below) and will compare this book to the main monograph of the week in order to highlight the advantages and disadvantages of the methodology under discussion.

Book reviews (no more than 900 words) are due each week. On Colloquium Wednesdays, the review should be of the paper presented, not of the book read to accompany the paper.

Each student is also expected to prepare and participate in each seminar session.


First Presentation: 25%
Second Presentation: 25%
Book Reviews: 25%
Informed Participation: 25%


Week One: Catholic History

Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars

Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, selections from chapters 15, 16, 20, 21, 28, 37, and 47

Augustine, City of God, selections from Books One-Five

Recommended: Löwith, Meaning in History; Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism; Nietzsche, On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History For Life; James, Varieties of Religious Experience


Week Two: Marxism

Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll

Wickham, "Memories of Underdevelopment: What Has Marxism Done for Medieval History, and What Can It Still Do?" in Wickham, ed., Marxist History-Writing for the Twenty-First Century

Adamson, "Marxism and Historical Thought" in A Companion to Western Historical Thought, ed. Lloyd Kramer and Sarah Maza

Recommended: Marx, Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte; Marx, Communist Manifesto; Kolakowski, Main Currents of Marxism; Gramschi, Selections from the Prison Notebooks; Aron, Opium of the Intellectuals; Milosz, The Captive Mind


Week Three: Psychohistory

Hunt, The Family Romance of the French Revolution

Marwick, "The Character of Louis XIII: The Role of His Physician," Journal of Interdisciplinary History 4, 3 (Winter 1974): 327-374

Kohut, "Psychohistory as History," The American Historical Review 91, 2 (April 1986): 336-354

Recommended: Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents; Parsons, Social Structure and Personality; Certeau, The Writing of History


Week Four: Annales

Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II

Simiand, "Historical Method and Social Science"

Iggers, "The Annales Tradition - French Historians in Search of a Science of History" in New Directions in European Historiography

Recommended: Durkheim, On Suicide


Week Five: Environmental History

Crosby, Ecological Imperialism

Colloquium Paper: Micah Muscolino, "Refugees and the Environment in Wartime China, 1937-1945"

McNeill, "Reflections on the Nature and Culture of Environmental History" History and Theory 42:4 (2003): 5-43

Cronon, "A Place for Stories: Nature, History, and Narrative"

Recommended: Thoreau, Walden and Cape Cod; Leopold, Sand County Almanac; Carson, Silent Spring;  Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek; Weimar, The Beak of the Finch; Darwin, Voyage of the Beagle


Week Six: Historical Sociology and Economic History

Tilly, European Revolutions

Carter and Cullenberg, "Labor Economics and the Historian" in Economics and the Historian

Sutch, "Macroeconomics: An Introduction for Historians" in Economics and the Historian

Recommended: Smith, The Wealth of Nations; Arendt, On Revolution; Elias, The Civilizing Process; Hayek, The Road to Serfdom; Habermas, Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere; Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class


Week Seven: Anthropology and Cultural History

Darnton, The Great Cat Massacre

John Thornton, chapters 7-9 from Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World

Recommended: Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures; Mauss, The Gift; Lévi-Strauss, The Savage Mind;  Burckhardt, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy; Frazer, The Golden Bough; Herodotus, The Histories


Week Eight: Narrative and Microhistory

Spence, The Death of Woman Wang

Stone, "The Revival of Narrative"

Ginzburg and Poni, "The Name and the Game: Unequal Exchange and the Historiographic Marketplace" in Microhistory and the Lost Peoples of Europe

Recommended: White, Metahistory; Frye, Anatomy of Criticism; Herodotus, The Histories


Week Nine: The Linguistic Turn and Discourse

Rodgers, Contested Truths: Keywords in American Politics since Independence

Skinner, "Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas" History and Theory 8 (1969): 3-53

Darnton, chapters 6-7 of The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France

Recommended: Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico Philosophicus; Saussure, Course in General Linguistics; Derrida, On Grammatology; Barthes, Elements of Semiology


Week Ten: Political and Legal History

Colloquium Paper: Adam Kosto, "Hostageship Interpreted, from the Middle Ages to the Age of Terrorism"

Pennington, The Prince and the Law

Slavin, "Telling the Story: G. R. Elton and the Tudor Age" The Sixteenth Century Journal 21.2 (1990): 151-169

Holmes, "G. R. Elton as a Legal Historian" Transactions of the Royal Historical Society Series 6, Vol. 7 (1997): 267-279

Elton, "Henry VII: Rapacity and Remorse" The Historical Journal 1.1 (1958): 21-39

Recommended: Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War


Week Eleven: Gender

Mosse, The Image of Man: The Creation of Modern Masculinity

Smith, "Historiography, Objectivity, and the Case of the Abusive Widow" History and Theory 31:4 (1992): 15-32

Scott, "Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis" The American Historical Review 91:5 (1986): 1053-1075

Recommended: Beauvoir, The Second Sex; Foucault, History of Sexuality


Week Twelve: Postcolonialism

Chatterjee, The Nation and Its Fragments

Spivak, "Can the Subaltern Speak?" in Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg, eds., Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture

Mani, "Contentious Traditions: The Debate on Sati in Colonial India" Cultural Critique 7 (1987): 119-156

Recommended: Fanon, Wretched of the Earth; Said, Orientalism; Anderson, Imagined Communities; Hobsbawm, The Invention of Tradition; Gellner, Nations and Nationalism


Week Thirteen: Intellectual History

Colloquium Paper: Margaret Meserve, "Exemplary Lives: Muhammad and Christ in the Italian Renaissance"

Meserve, Empires of Islam in Renaissance Historical Thought

Jay, "The Frankfurt School's Critique of Marxist Humanism," "The Frankfurt School in Exile," and "Adorno in America" in Permanent Exiles

Recommended: Any of the recommended books from the other weeks


Week Fourteen: Whither Military History?

Keegan, The Face of Battle

Lynn, "The Embattled Future of Academic Military History" Journal of Military History 61.4 (1997): 777-789

Spiller, "Military History and its Fictions" Journal of Military History 70.4 (2006): 1081-1097

Recommended: Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory


Alternative Books for Presentation


Hill, The World Turned Upside Down
Lefebvre, The Coming of the French Revolution
Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism since 1780
Thompson,  Making of the English Working Class


Erikson, Young Man Luther
Demos, Entertaining Satan
Demos, Unredeemed Captive


Bloch, Royal Touch
Le Roy Ladurie, Montaillou
Bloch, Feudal Society


Cronon, Nature's Metropolis
Glacken, Traces on the Rhodian Shore
Merchant, Death of Nature
Turner, The Frontier in American History

Historical Sociology

Skocpol, Social Revolutions in the Modern World

Economic History

de Vries, The Industrious Revolution
Clark, A Farewell to Alms
Muller, The Mind and the Market


White, Metahistory
Gordon, The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction
Davis, The Return of Martin Guerre
Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms
Revel and Farge, The Vanishing Children of Paris
Tackett, When the King Took Flight
Blackbourn, Marpingen

Legal History

Bellomo, The Common Legal History of Europe
Woodward, The Strange Career of Jim Crow
Hartog, Man and Wife in America

Political History

Elton, England Under the Tudors
Ranke, History of the Latin and Teutonic Nations from 1494 to 1514
Wedgwood, The Thirty Years War
Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War

Anthropology/Cultural History

Wolf, Europe and the People without a History
White, The Middle Ground
Schorske, Fin-de-Siecle Vienna: Politics and Culture
Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory
Burckhardt, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy
Herodotus, The Histories


Baker, Inventing the French Revolution
Clark, History, Theory, Text: Historians and the Linguistic Turn


Bynum, Holy Feast, Holy Fast
Berenson, The Trial of Madame Caillaux
Scott, Gender and the Politics of History
Nye, Masculinity and Male Codes of Honor in Modern France
Pomeroy, The Murder of Regilla


Said, Orientalism
Hobsbawm, The Invention of Tradition

Intellectual History

Hofstadter, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life
Colish, Medieval Foundations of the Western Intellectual Tradition
Grafton, Forgers and Critics
Hankins, Plato in the Italian Renaissance
Soll, Publishing the Prince
Nelson, The Greek Tradition in Republican Thought
Cassirer, The Philosophy of the Enlightenment
Matthiessen, The American Renaissance
Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution
Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being

Military History

Parker, The Military Revolution
Rodgers, The Military Revolution Debate
Weigley, The American Way of War
Faust, This Republic of Suffering
Bell, The First Total War