21/2 – Primary Sources

Module Leader:
Adrian Matus
Status:
Confirmed
Year/Term:
2021-2022 Autumn
Level:
Immersion 1
Division:
Arts and Humanities
Credit:
8

Can novels be considered a primary source? Why do historians go to the archives and how do they select their documents? Can we work with digitized versions of documents?

This module offers a detailed introduction into the various methodologies of working with primary sources. Primary sources do not necessarily mean only written archives, but as this module will show, the conversations, Whatsapp talks, funny letters and diaries can equally be considered as valid sources for historians.

We will cover a broad range of questions related to thinking in historical narratives (e.g. how to contextualize, contrast and colligate sources; what are the possible forms of relationship between events; why it is important to reflect upon our own biases etc.). Students will have to prepare for the close reading and analysis of selected source texts for each session. These texts and the problems of interpretation emerging from them will serve as the basis for our discussions about the nature and difficulties of interpretation and the nature of thinking about history.

The course focuses on the development of the students’ ability of treating and analyzing sources and forming arguments about events of the past or the present. Students are not expected to have an expertise in any historical discipline, but a broad understanding of related high school curricula is important for participating in discussions and orderly accomplish in-class and at-home assignments.

The module primarily covers various contemporary topics. Students with an ambition to study history, classics, archaeology, anthropology, literature, theater or theology are highly advised to take up this module. At the same time, this course is highly relevant for those who want to pursue a career in sociology, law, political studies, or digital humanities.