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People's History: Sources and Skills (HIC1007)

15 credits

People’s History complements the World History and Critical Futures: Global History modules. While those adopt a global perspective on the past here we are more interested in the small scale, the local, the individual. In setting up this contrast we touch on a fundamental difference in approach amongst those working in historical studies and the social sciences. On the one hand both past and present societies can be approached from the ‘top down’, emphasising the structures and processes that constrain individuals and groups. On the other we might start our quest to explore the past with those individuals and groups and their ability to make their own histories. This innovative module will introduce you to the study of people’s history and everyday life through engagement with primary material materials. The effective location, interpretation and critical assessment of such materials are crucial features of the professional historian’s craft. Primary sources are enormously varied – from private diaries and newspapers to oral history recordings, material culture and paintings, to manuscripts – and each variety poses different possibilities and problems to the historian, which you will explore. Drawing on staff expertise in handling a wide variety of source materials, this module introduces you to the ways in which historians engage with these questions.