The course is divided into a lecture, mandatory for students in the 2YMA program, and a seminar (mandatory for students in the 1YMA program, elective for all others. The lecture will consist of a presentation by the instructors followed by half an hour of questions and in-class discussion.
Representing history as a branch of cognition that has been found directly relevant to the human condition since antiquity, the class highlights a number of influential, and controversial, ways of engaging with it in modern and contemporary times. It will present a critical overview of the theoretical approaches and research methods that have been conceived and practiced in academic historiography from its inception in the nineteenth century until the present. The major historiographical schools and trends will be presented from three angles, first with their context-dependent characteristics, then in their disciplinary, scientific and systemic aspirations, and finally in their possible practical use for research in the historical field under present-day circumstances. The class will start with an introduction discussing the goals and contexts of history-writing since antiquity, as well as the importance of historiographical self-reflection in source work and scholarly communication. We will then explore the influential nineteenth-century schools of historicism, positivism, and philology, the development of critical methodology regarding sources, and the ensuing emphasis on the peculiarities of times, places, and ethno-cultural traditions. We will then consider the objections to historicism and the twentieth-century turn towards the sociological, psychological and anthropological structuring of the historical field, with the use of quantitative methods. The third and most important part of the class will discuss the development of historiographical theory since the "linguistic turn". We will explore disciplinary approaches as evolving, yet recurrent ways of thinking about the relation between life conditions and history writing. From this point of view, the class will be attentive to the tension between particular histories on the one hand and cultural regularities, memory and collective representations on the other hand.