SSI1 191

Unsolved History: Engaging with the Mysterious Past

Too often, history is thought of as authoritative and unified, the singular record of ?what really happened? in the past. In reality, history is complex, contested, and incomplete. Historical evidence is frequently missing, contradictory, or open to multiple interpretations. Historians? development of arguments and narratives involves as much art as science. This course uses a series of case studies?involving everything from circulating chapatis to baby-stealing dingos?to examine how historical knowledge is produced and how historians grapple with the problem of uncertainty. How much can be truly known about the past? Is it ?another country?? How certain do historians need to be in order to make responsible arguments? Are there pieces of the past that are simply lost forever? Are historians at the mercy of ?who lives, who dies, who tells the story?? Students address all of these questions as they consider how to write and speak clearly and coherently about a past that is rarely clear or coherent. Affiliate department: History.