Hale Woodruff, The Mutiny on the Amistad, 1939

Writing History

“Writing History” explores how knowledge of the past is constructed, and contested, in texts. Building on the theoretical training introduced in “History and Textuality,” students are invited to study the archival materials of four historical case studies—the Black Atlantic in the Age of Revolutions, India in 1857, the Harlem Renaissance, and 9/11 in Global Context. In the process, we consider the techniques that have been employed to represent these cases as cohesive and meaningful events in history, to widely varying intellectual and political ends. Students will develop newfound abilities to historicize and critically evaluate historical and literary texts; consider the bases, nature, and limitations of historical knowledge; and enhance their understanding of how the practices of narrative and artistic representation, and the intellectual and political traditions within which they are undertaken, shape our conception of historical knowledge and “truth.”