Course Description

This course provides an introduction to a variety of problems, practices and themes in the presentation of the past to various public audiences, utilizing varied media. The course examines the historiography as well as the practice of public history and the process of how we remember the past. We will consider how the past is defined and understood, and by whom. In the process, we will explore both the inclusion and exclusion of race, gender, and class in various public history methods and venues. We will examine the role of memory in shaping a nation’s vision of itself, who can claim to make arguments about the past, and venues for presenting the past. Students will apply their new knowledge to their own work by reconceptualizing their research projects from a traditional paper to a public history project, and assembling a grant to fund it.

Learning Outcomes

  • Differentiate between specialties in the field of public history and engage in the historiographic debates through reading and discussion
  • Examine the impact of class, ethnicity, gender, race, and politics in the formation and presentation of history to the public
  • Identify and analyze the intellectual and ethical issues in the field of public history
  • Recognize the ways in which public historians shape public perceptions of the past, and the ways in which public perceptions of the past shape public history
  • Demonstrate applied skill in public history through formal writing assignments based on the secondary literature

Professional Development & Skills

  • Public speaking and writing
  • Working collaboratively with peers
  • Networking and developing professional skills
  • Grant writing

Required Texts

  • Andrea Burns, From Storefront to Monument: Tracing the Public History of the Black Museum Movement (Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2013)
  • Dolores Hayden, The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995).
  • Amy Lonetree, Decolonizing Museums: Representing Native American in National and Tribal Museums (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012).
  • Cynthia Prescott, Pioneer Mother Monuments: Constructing Cultural Memory (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2019).
  • Nina Simon, The Art of Relevance (Sant Cruz: Museum 2.0, 2016) – Also available free online


AssignmentDue DatePoints
All A-Twitter (x10)Varies20pts
Comp Notes (x5)Varies25pts
Cemetery Assignment02/1010pts
Reading Reflections (x2)02/24, 03/0310pts
Resume / CV03/035pts
Digital History Review03/175pts
Project Grant03/31, 04/07, 04/2620pts

View all assignment descriptions.

Public History Resources


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