Dimensions of History
Roger Williams University
Fall, Semester, 2001
Michael R. H. Swanson, Ph. D.
Office: Feinstein 111
Hours: M, T, Th, F 9:00-10:00
Phone 401 254 3230
After the Fact: The Art of Historical Detection
James Davidson and Mark Lytle
New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000
For Tuesday, September 11
Before we begin our work in Davidson, I'd like to have you read a few things about the nature of reading and writing history. Click on the icon to the right, which will take you to the appropriate section of the Internet Medieval source Book. When there, locate the section on "uses of history". Follow the links to...Gerald W. Schlabach: A Sense of History: Some Components, and The Nature of History: A Debate between Marc Trachtenberg and James M. Banner, Jr., 1998 Download and print these two articles and bring them with you to class.
As the author of this page suggest, the "10 Commandments" are worth looking, too. And when it comes time to write in this class, I'll remind you of them.
Assignments for the week of September 11, 2001
For Thursday, September 13
Read, in Davidson
Introduction, pp. xiii - xv
Prologue: The Strange Death of Silas Deane,
xvii - xxxiii
This purpose of the Silas Deane chapter is outlined in the second and third paragraphs of the first page. You will succeed with it if you understand the difference between what the "man on the street" thinks history does and what historians actually do (or "between 'what happened in the past' and what history really is.". Be aware that your authors are using this "strange death" to illustrate principles larger than those concerning the story of Silas Deane. Each chapter in the book will follow a similar format, so make sure you understand the difference between the theses of the authors of this book and the illustrations they use to prove their points.
A descendant of Silas Deane has compiled an extensive website related to him and the controversies which swirled around his career. Visit it by clicking on his image, above.
Sometimes events break in to our ordered lives and disorder them. The terrorist attack on New York City certainly was one of those events. Class was cancelled on Tuesday, September 11, and discussion of the assigned readings postponed until Thursday, September 13. Thursday's discussion focussed exclusively on Schlabach's "A Sense of History" I made "on the fly" adjustments to the reading schedule, accordingly, postponing the discussion of Silas Deane into the following week, and adding an essay by Lord Acton to the papers introducing philosophy of history to the class discussion. For detailed changes consult the notes for the week of September 18