HIST 2064 - Introduction to Public History - Fall 2019

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Course Information

Instructor Information

Dr. Rebecca S. Wingo
(wingora [at] ucmail.uc. edu)

Office Hours
Tues 10-11:30AM; Thurs 3:30-4:30PM
or schedule an appointment.

Office Location
McMicken Hall, 320C

Office Phone

Course Details

Class Time & Location
2:00-3:20PM Tues/Thurs McMicken Hall 354

Important Links
Public History in the Wild Blog
Log in for PH Wild
InStall History Blog
Log in for InStall History

This syllabus has been developed in active collaboration with Lindsey Passenger Wieck. Stay tuned for our super dope chapter on the topic of this collaboration.

Course Texts

Required Books:
Lyon, Cherstin M.; Nix, Elizabeth M.; Shrum, Rebecca K., Introduction to Public History: Interpreting the Past, Engaging Audiences (2017)

All other readings:
Other readings and resources will be available through this digital syllabus or via Blackboard.

Course Description & Objectives

Some historians write long books. I’m sure you’ve read a few; they are quite the accomplishment. Some historians do not write long books. They focus instead on practicing history with the general public outside the classroom or other traditional academic contexts. This course will explore how the general public engages with history in real world settings. Translating our ideas for a broad audience does not detract from the depth of scholarship; it merely presents the material in a different way.

Throughout the semester, we will examine the historiographical and methodological underpinnings of the field. Students will learn to read their environments like a public historian; learn from public history practitioners; develop the writing, communication, and presentation skills for presenting their work to a public audience; engage with primary sources; collaborate with their classmates to put these skills into practice; and generally enhance their awareness of how history is presented in the world around them.

photograph of cincinnati's union terminal museum with people milling about the dinosaur exhibit

Photograph on Union Terminal & Cincinnati's Museum Center by Ohio Redevelopment Projects under a Creative Commons Attributions 2.0 Generic license.

Upon the successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Examine different public history specialties and debates in the field
  • Gain exposure to public history through site visits, meetings with practitioners, and current events
  • Recognize the ways public historians and the communities they serve reciprocally shape history and the field
  • Demonstrate the best practices gained and developed in class by designing, producing, and evaluating a public history exhibit based on primary sources
  • Articulate the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the public history practice, and be able to recognize when there is an absence of diversity as a result

Transferrable Skills

History classes are about the past, but they can inform your future. You can leverage many of the skills you gain in the course to your future careers both in and out of the historical discipline. Skills gained through the study of history include (but are not limited to):

  • Organizing and managing diverse and complex information
  • Expressing strong and persuasive evidence-based arguments in writing and speech
  • Building unparalleled research skills through deep and broad inquiry
  • Exploring the complexity of the human experience across time and space
  • Using the lessons of the past to understand the present


Date Topics Read & Prepare for Class Assignments Due
Week 1
Tu 08/27 Introductions
Th 08/29 Defining Public History

READ Yohann Koshy, "Hey, that's our stuff: Maasai tribespeople tackle Oxford's Pitt Rivers Museum," The Guardian, December 4, 2018.

READ Jason Farago, "Artwork Taken From Africa, Returning to a Home Transformed," The New York Times, January 3, 2019.

READ Robert Weible, “Defining Public History: Is it Possible? Is it Necessary?,” Perspectives on History, March 1, 2008.

Week 2
Tu 09/03 Defining Public History

READ Lyon, et al, Introduction to Public History, Chapter 1 (p. 1-14)

READ NCPH, Read four pages - "How Historians Work,""Evidence of the Past," "The Changing Past," and "The Challenged Past"

Th 09/05 Defining Public History

READ Daniel Blue Tyx, "Signs and Blunders: The Fight to Commemorate a Massacre by the Texas Rangers," The Texas Observer, November 26, 2018

LISTEN Debbie Elliott, "'Why Don't Y'all Let That Die?' Telling the Emmett Till Story in Mississippi," All Things Considered, August 28, 2019

QN Quote Notes #1 (Tyx)

Week 3
Tu 09/10 Interpreting the Past

READ Lyon, et al, Introduction to Public History, Chapter 3 (p. 33-55)

READ Darlene Taylor, “I, Too, Sing America: Integrating the voices of all Americans in historic preservation,” History@Work (blog), January 1, 2016

DO Bring your laptops to class

QN Quote Notes #2 (Lyon)

Th 09/12


Historic Landmarks

READ "The Civil War at Spring Grove," Spring Grove: 150 Years, 74-79

READ "Victorian Commemoration in Stone," Spring Grove: 150 Years, 80-89

READ Courtis Fuller, "Family, cemetery at odds over pair of granite SpongeBob headstones," WLWT5, October 21, 2013

READ Courtis Fuller, "Family, cemetery reinstall SpongeBob headstones, but with changes," WLWT5, February 14, 2014

NONE But you'll need to take notes for your first PH Wild assignment on Spring Grove Cemetery

*Sat 09/14* FIELD TRIP

Meet at Spring Grove Cemetery at 9am.

Park in the lot northeast of the historic gate by the cemetery chapel.

Week 4
Tu 09/17

American Memory & Monuments

WATCH Mitch Landrieu, "Address on Removal of Four Confederate Statues," May 19, 2017 (OR read transcript of this speech from The New York Times)

READ AHA Statement on Confederate Monuments, American Historical Association, August 2017

READ David Lowenthal, "Response to the 'AHA Statement on Confederate Monuments,'" Perspectives, November 1, 2017

READ Eric Foner, "Opinion | Confederate Statues and 'Our' History," The New York Times, August 20, 2017

READ Karen Finney, "I'm black. Robert E. Lee is my relative. His statues can’t come down soon enough," The Washington Post, August 15, 2017

READ Michael Edison Hayden, "Fight over Confederate Monument in Ohio has Led to Death Threats," Newsweek, October 3, 2017

THINK As you read, consider the following questions: What is the historian's role in the Confederate monument debate? What role do / should historical sssociations play? Why is the debate important? Why is it more commonly in the media today?

DO Find an article about a Confederate monument not covered here. Be prepared to discuss it in class.

Th 09/19


READ Lyon, et al, Introduction to Public History, Chapter 4 (p. 57-78)

READ Ashley Farmer, “Archiving While Black,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 22, 2018.

PH Wild Public History in the Wild #1

Week 5
Tu 09/24

Collecting History



READ Susan Yee, “The Archive,” in Evocative Objects: Things We Think With, edited by Sherry Turkle (MIT Press, 2011), 31-36.

READ Michelle Moravec, “5 Questions to Ask Before You Use a Digital Archive,” Medium (blog), July 19, 2018.

READ Mark Auslander, “Slavery’s Traces: In Search of Ashley’s Sack,” Southern Spaces, November 29, 2016.

RR Reading Response #1

Th 09/26

InStall History Planning

Classroom & Individual Group Project Planning

DO Bring three ideas for InStall History

Week 6
Tu 10/01

Guest: Michelle Delaney


READ Amy Lonetree, “Collaboration Matters: The Minnesota Historical Society, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, and the Creation of a ‘Hybrid Tribal Museum,” in Decolonizing Museums: Representing Native Americans in National and Tribal Museums (University of North Carolina Press, 2012), 29-72. [PDF on BB]

QN Quote Notes #3 (Lonetree)

DO Bring a question you'd like to ask Dr. Delaney

Th 10/03


READ Patty Limerick, “Prodding a Historic Friend to Do Better,” The Denver Post, July 13, 2018.

READ Bob Beatty, “What Should a History Organization’s Main Goal Be?,” Medium (blog), July 27, 2018."

PH Wild Public History in the Wild #2

InStall History Set up group meeting with Sue Reller

Week 7
Tu 10/08


Field trip to Taft cancelled

DO Email me with a list of your InStall History group members and topic

Th 10/10


Fall Reading Days

Attend Universities Studying Slavery for extra credit

Week 8
Tu 10/15

Interpreting & Exhibiting History

READ B Erin Cole, "I Have to Write the Labels," Medium (Blog), December 2, 2018

READ Beverly Serrell, Exhibit Labels: An Interpretive Approach, Introduction, Chapter 2

READ Lyon, et al, Introduction to Public History, Chapter 5 (p. 83-90 only)

READ “Excellence in Exhibition Label Writing Competition 2017," American Alliance of Museums.

THINK What are exhibit labels, why are they important, and what makes them good?

PH Wild Public History in the Wild #3

Th 10/17


InStall History Attend your meeting with Sue Reller this week (or before)

Week 9
Tu 10/22

A Shared Authority

Oral History

READ Nina Simon, “Participatory Design and the Future of Museums,” in Letting Go?: Sharing Historical Authority in a User-Generated World, edited by Bill Adair, et al, (The Pew Center for Arts & Humanities, 2011), 18-33.

READ Kathleen McLean, “Whose Questions, Whose Conversations?,” in Letting Go?: Sharing Historical Authority in a User-Generated World, edited by Bill Adair, et al, (The Pew Center for Arts & Humanities, 2011), 70-79.

RR Reading Response #2

Th 10/24

Research / Writing Day

Please work with Sue Reller to set up a time in the archives

Week 10
Tu 10/29

Digital Public History

READ Andrew Hurley, "Chasing the Frontiers of Digital Technology: Public History Meets the Digital Divide," The Public Historian 38, no. 1 (February 2016): 69-88

READ Lara Kelland, "Digital Community Engagement Across the Divides," History@Work (blog), April 20, 2016

READ Sharon Leon, "Access for All," History@Work (blog), March 2, 2016

READ Mary Rizzo, "Every Tool is a Weapon: Why the Digital Humanities Movement Needs Public History," History@Work (blog), November 2, 2012

QN Quote Notes #4 (Hurley)

Th 10/31

Digital Public History

Community Engagement

READ Jeff Robinson, "Thinking Like a Community: Beyond Shared Authority," History@Work (blog), June 15, 2012

READ Kerry Hannon, "Museums, the New Social Media Darlings," New York Times, October 28, 2016

READ Jennifer Hijazi, "Is Instagram Killing Museum Culture or Reinventing It?" PBS Newshour, November 17, 2017

READ Rebecca S. Wingo and William G. Thomas, III, “Building Communities, Reconciling Histories: Can We Make a More Honest History?,” in The Oxford Handbook of Digital Public History, edited by Mark Tebeau and Serge Noiret (De Gruyter Press, 2021) [PDF on BB]

DO Come prepared to work on your first blog post with your classmates

RR Reading Response #3

DO *Optional* Historical Halloween Costume Contest: Be prepared to present your costume

DON'T Whatever you do, don't click on this link

Week 11
Tu 11/05

In-Class Peer Review

DO Bring copies of your blog post for peer-review and presentation

InStall History Draft #1a
Blog post (for peer-review)

Th 11/07


WATCH Who knows? I'll come up with some options and maybe we vote.

InStall History Draft #1b
Blog post (incorporating peer-review)

InStall History Poster Draft #1
(for peer-review)

Week 12
Tu 11/12

Engaging Audiences

READ Lyon, et al, Introduction to Public History, Chapter 6 (p. 113-137)

InStall History Final Poster #1

QN Quote Notes #5 (Lyon)

Th 11/14

In-Class Peer Review

DO Bring copies of your blog post for peer-review and presentation

InStall History Draft #2a
Blog post (for peer-review)

Week 13
Tu 11/19

In-Class In-Stall

DO Wear your comfy shoes -- we're going to plaster this campus!

InStall History Draft #2b
Blog Post (incorporating peer-review)

InStall History Poster Draft #2
(for peer-review)

Th 11/21

Flex Day

By this time, we'll likely be behind on the syllabus because we're having so much fun. This gives us some wiggle room to stay on track.

InStall History Final Poster #2

PH Wild Public History in the Wild #4

Week 14
Tu 11/26

In-Class In-Stall

DO Wear your comfy shoes! Round Two!

Th 11/28


DON'T I would never recommend that you listen to this horrible Thanksgiving song by Nicole Westbrook

Week 15
Tu 12/03

Historic Preservation

Course Evaluations

READ Nothing. Do nothing. Just come hear about a cool thing.

InStall History Final Reflections Due

Th 12/05

Pizza Party

Resume Day

READ Lyon, et al, Introduction to Public History, Chapter 8 (p. 163-170)

DO Bring copies of your resume if you have one

If you need assistance making a first draft of your resume, use these guidelines

Which In-Stall History post got the most hits? Come to class and find out!


Assignment Descriptions

Component (click on labels for assignment overviews) Points per Assignment Number of Assignments Total
QN Quote Notes helps you develop note-taking skills to better comprehend class readings, to help jog your memory in class discussions, to find quotable quotes to cite and reference in class and your writing, and to connect class readings to your own experiences and ideas. Each quote note assignment will be completed on a template provided by the instructor, and may also include at-home and in-class writing assignments completed on the back of the page. Quote note assignments must be submitted in class, and cannot be submitted if you missed class (except in the case of excused absences). 5 5 25
RR When we have more than one primary reading, I will ask you to do a Reading Response. Instead of selecting quotations from a singular source like the Quote Notes, you will discuss the themes that thread all the assigned readings. These should make an argument about the topic using the texts, while also giving you the freedom to include your own take on the topic. Reading Responses must be submitted in class, and cannot be submitted if you missed class (except in the case of excused absences). 5 3 15
PH Wild Public History in the Wild allows you to document public history artifacts / exhibitions / interpretations / methods that you encounter in your daily life. You will use our WordPress blog to upload a photograph of your “wild” public history moment and include a brief description of its significance. This assignment will help you practice writing for a public audience, practice writing concisely in preparation for your exhibit and label text, learn to read your environment like a public historian, and familiarize your with local history. 5 4 20
In-Stall History Throughout the semester, we will work on a project in conjunction with UC's Archives & Rare Books to create "In-Stall History," or history snippets in bathroom stalls. Students will divide into groups to examine an aspect of UC's history under the guidance of Sue Reller in the archives. Then students will create two blog post (500 - 750 words) and two posters for "installation" in bathroom stalls across campus. We will have a lighthearted competition over whose post gets the most views by the end of the semester. varies multiple 40
Attendance Penalty Attendance and participation in this course are mandatory. There is no reward system in place for showing up to class. However, there is a penalty if you don't. If a student misses more than three classes, there will be a -1pt penalty per missed class (beyond the first three classes missed). Missing even three classes may impact your engagement in this class. The penalty for attendance applies in all cases if group work and group presentations are missed.

Grading Scale

Letter Grades are comprised of points earned.

Grade Points
A 93-100
A- 90-92
B+ 87-89
B 83-86
B- 80-82
C+ 77-79
C 73-76
C- 70-72
D+ 67-69
D 63-66
D- 60-62
F 59 or less

Related Policies

Due Dates
Late work will not be accepted. Assignments submitted late will automatically receive no credit/zero points. Exceptions to this policy may occur in very rare cases (e.g. personal emergency or severe medical situations). These cases must be documented to my satisfaction and you must contact me before the due date.

Shit Happens Clause
Once per semester, you may invoke the Shit Happens Clause. This clause grants you a three-day extension on your assignment with no questions asked. However, you can not use this clause on your final project deadline or any group work. To invoke the clause, email me before the assignment is due, letting me know you are using it.

Extra Credit
You may earn up to 6pts of extra credit by attending local public history exhibits or lectures. Each event is worth 2pts, provided you show proof of attendance and write a one-page summary of your main takeaways.

Classroom & University Policies

Classroom Etiquette

Courtesy & Respect
My goal is for us to create a constructive learning environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing ideas and participating regularly. Therefore, I expect you to come on time and stay for the entire class period, listen attentively while others are speaking, and respect opinions other than your own. I encourage discussion and healthy disagreements, so long as the disagreements are factual, constructive, and free from harassment. Unprofessional or disrespectful conduct will result in an absence for the day. Please contact me if you feel unsafe or have suggestions for improving the classroom environment.

Controversial Content
During this course you may encounter a range of topics to which you may experience strong reactions. It is important to keep an open mind and be respectful of others, as this will help to facilitate the discussion about content, audience, and purpose. If you feel uncomfortable with certain materials (such as references to violence or sex), please let me know and we can make accommodations or discuss other learning opportunities.

Name and Gender Identity
I am provided a class roster with students’ legal names. I will gladly honor your request to address you by an alternate name or your preferred gender pronoun. Please let me know your preference early in the semester. Please be aware that this will not affect your official university records, but I can help you with that process if you'd like.

Laptops & Mobile Devices
Please feel free to use any device that makes your participation in class discussions easier. It is expected that students of this class will use technology during class to take notes, experiment / work (during appropriate class times), refer to digital readings, show examples, etc. It is also expected that these technologies will not be used during class for purposes outside the scope of the class, including instant messaging (including with classmates), e-mail, social media (outside of the use as examples to particular arguments), etc. Please do not leave your cell phones on audible ring, and barring emergencies, do not take or make phone calls during class. The right to use such technologies in the classroom may be revoked at any time by the professor. Additionally, tech-free or screens-down classes will be employed throughout the semester during which time no technology may be used in the class. Headphones are prohibited from this classroom unless a student requires them for accomodations and has documentation.

Online Etiquette
On all social media accounts used in this course (blogs, Twitter, etc.), students are expected to uphold professional standards that meet university and professional codes of conduct. No bullying or disrespect will be tolerated. If you are experiencing any problems, please let me know and we will work together to resolve the issue.

University Policies

A student who is discovered plagiarizing on any assignment will automatically receive a grade of zero (0) for that assignment and the assignment cannot be redone to obtain a different grade on the plagiarized assignment. A student who has been found guilty of plagiarizing shall not be allowed to withdraw from the course unless the student withdraws with a semester grade of "F." A second incidence of plagiarism will result in automatic failure of the course. For further details on the issue of academic misconduct, including plagiarism, see the Student Code of Conduct available on the UC website.

Americans with Disabilities Act
Students desiring a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act must contact the instructor immediately to discuss their needs. Failure to notify the instructor in a timely manner of the need for a reasonable accommodation may hinder the college’s ability to assist students in successfully completing the course.

Religious Holidays
UC / A&S students, who, because of their sincerely held religious beliefs, are unable to attend classes, take examinations, participate in grade activities, or submit graded assignments on particular days shall, without penalty, be excused from such classes and be given a meaningful opportunity to make up such examinations and graded activities or assignments provided that advance written notice of their absence is given to faculty members during the first two weeks of the semester.

Title IX
Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of your actual or perceived sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Title IX also covers sexual violence, dating or domestic violence, and stalking. If you disclose a Title IX issue to me, I am required forward that information to the Title IX Office. They will follow up with you about how the University can take steps to address the impact on you and the community and make you aware of your rights and resources. Their priority is to make sure you are safe and successful here. You are not required to talk with the Title IX Office. If you would like to make a report of sex or gender-based discrimination, harassment or violence, or if you would like to know more about your rights and resources on campus, you can consult the website or contact the office at 556-3349.

Counseling Services
Clifton Campus Students have access to counseling and mental health care through the University Health Services (UHS), which can provide both psychotherapy and psychiatric services. In addition, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) can provide professional counseling upon request; students may receive five free counseling sessions through CAPS without insurance. Students are encouraged to seek assistance for anxiety, depression, trauma / assault, adjustment to college life, interpersonal / relational difficulty, sexuality, family conflict, grief and loss, disordered eating and body image, alcohol and substance abuse, anger management, identity development and issues related to diversity, concerns associated with sexual orientation and spirituality concerns, as well as any other issue of concerns. After hours, students may call UHS at 513-556-2564 or CAPS Cares at 513-556-0648. For urgent physician consultation after-hours students may call 513-584-7777.


Food & Housing Security
Students experiencing food insecurity (difficulty affording groceries or accessing sufficient food to eat), or who lacks a safe and / or stable place to live, and believes this may affect their performance in the course, is urged to contact Student Affairs (513-556-4119) for support. Furthermore, please notify me if you are comfortable, so I can help connect you to those resources.

Child Care
Parenting should not restrict your access to class. If there is an emergency that causes an immediate change to your child care plans for that day, you are invited to bring your child to class. Please be prepared to step out with your child if needed.

If you have any questions or concerns throughout the semester, please see or call me immediately. I am here to help you learn, but it is your responsibility to address any issues you have concerning course content, assignments, and classroom dynamics. Do not risk your grade; if you are having problems, please come and talk me before it is too late.

Syllabus Modifications
This syllabus will serve as our guide throughout the semester, but may change, particularly as we identity digital skills we would like to pursue throughout the semester. I will alert you to any major changes made.

Acknowledgments & License
This syllabus has been developed in active collaboration with Lindsey Passenger-Wieck. It also borrows ideas from other history classes, including those taught by Leisl Carr Childers, Jason Heppler, Denise D. Meringolo, and Amanda Hill.

This syllabus and all assignments are copyrighted © 2019 Rebecca S. Wingo and licensed CC-Non-Commercial BY 4.0. You are free to use or modify this syllabus for any non-commercial purpose, provided that you attribute it to the author, preferably at the course website listed above.