Public history describes the many and diverse ways in which history is put to work in the world.

NCPH

Every historical marker by the roadside, every war memorial, every historical article in a magazine, every exhibition at a historical society is an act of public history.

  • How does public history differ from — but grow out of — academic history?
  • How can we communicate ideas about history effectively to a broad audience?
  • What is the purpose?

Look for these questions throughout the History department’s public history “threads.”

What is a thread?

A thread lets you knit together courses on a wide array of topics that share a common interest in the problems and techniques of public history. Lower key than a formal field, this is a purely optional way of pursuing public history that introduces you to an exciting range of issues, analysis, and assignments, all of which connect to the common theme.

Public History courses:

HIST 116 Intro to Indigenous Histories, 1887-present
Many Americans grow up with a fictionalized view of Indigenous people (sometimes also called Native Americans/American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians within the U.S. context). Understanding Indigenous peoples’ histories, presents, and possible futures requires moving beyond these stereotypes and listening to Indigenous perspectives. In this class, we will begin to learn about Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island and the Pacific through tribal histories, legislation, Supreme Court cases, and personal narratives. The course will focus on the period from 1887 to 2018 with major themes including (among others) agency, resistance, resilience, settler colonialism, discrimination, and structural racism.

HIST 200 Historians for Hire Fall ’22 and Spring ’23-Tony Adler, Winter ’23-Serena Zabin
A two-credit course in which students work with faculty oversight to complete a variety of public history projects with community partners. Students will work on a research project requiring them to identify and analyze primary sources, draw conclusions from the primary source research, and share their research with the appropriate audience in an appropriate form. We meet once a week at Carleton to ensure students maintain professional standards and strong relationships in their work. Potential projects include educational programming, historical society archival work, and a variety of local history opportunities. Fall, Winter, and Spring.

HIST 216 History Beyond the Walls
This course will examine the world of history outside the walls of academia. Looking at secondary-school education, museums, and public policy, we will explore the ways in which both general and specialized publics learn and think about history. A central component of the course will be a civic engagement project.

HIST 231 Mapping the World Before Mercator Winter ’23- Victoria Morse
This course will explore early maps primarily in medieval and early modern Europe. After an introduction to the rhetoric of maps and world cartography, we will examine the functions and forms of medieval European and Islamic maps and then look closely at the continuities and transformations in map-making during the period of European exploration. The focus of the course will be on understanding each map within its own cultural context and how maps can be used to answer historical questions. We will work closely with the maps in Gould Library Special Collections to expand campus awareness of the collection.

HIST 238 The Viking World
In the popular imagination, Vikings are horn-helmeted, blood-thirsty pirates who raped and pillaged their way across medieval Europe. But the Norse did much more than loot, rape, and pillage; they cowed kings and fought for emperors, explored uncharted waters and settled the North Atlantic, and established new trade routes that revived European urban life. In this course, we will separate fact from fiction by critically examining primary source documents alongside archaeological, linguistic and place-name evidence. Students will share their insights with each other and the world through two major collaborative digital humanities projects over the course of the term.

HIST 245 Ireland: Land, Conflict, and Memory
This course explores the history of Ireland from Medieval times through the Great Famine, ending with a look at the Partition of Ireland in 1920. We examine themes of religious and cultural conflict and explore a series of English political and military interventions. Throughout the course, we will analyze views of the Irish landscape, landholding patterns, and health and welfare issues. Finally, we explore the contested nature of history and memory as the class discusses monuments and memory production in Irish public spaces.

HIST 301 Indigenous Histories at Carleton
Carleton’s new campus land acknowledgement affirms that this is Dakota land, but how did Carleton come to be here? What are the histories of Indigenous faculty, students, and staff at Carleton? In this course, students will investigate Indigenous histories on our campus by conducting original research about how Carleton acquired its landbase, its historic relationships to Dakota and Anishinaabeg people, histories of on-campus activism, the shifting demographics of Native students on campus, and the histories of; Indigenous faculty and staff, among others. Students will situate these histories within the broader context of federal Indian policies and Indigenous resistance.

HIST 338 Digital History, Public Heritage, & Deep Mapping Spring ’23 Austin Mason
How do new methods of digital humanities and collaborative public history change our understanding of space and place? This hands-on research seminar will seek answers through a deep mapping of the long history of Northfield, Minnesota, before and after its most well-known era of the late nineteenth-century. Deep mapping is as much archaeology as it is cartography, plumbing the depths of a particular place to explore its diversity through time. Students will be introduced to major theories of space and place as well as their application through technologies such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), 3D modeling, and video game engines. We will mount a major research project working with the National Register of Historic Places, in collaboration with specialists in public history and community partners.

Additional Academic Civic Engagement (ACE) courses can also be found here: ACE Course List

Public History / Digital Humanities Resources

Questions?

Please contact Victoria Morse or Serena Zabin.