Smolny Beyond Borders

A Liberal Arts Initiative

History of History, or How Modernity Comprehends the Past

History of History, or How Modernity Comprehends the Past


Course Schedule:

Spring 2023 | Tue Thurs 10:10 AM – 11:30 AM EST

Semester: Spring 2023 | Monday, January 30 – Tuesday, May 23
Schedule: Tue Thurs 10.10 – 11.30 New York 
Language of Instruction:
Course Prerequisites: Russian B2 / Equivalent or higher
Subject: HIS (History) | Cross-Listing(s): RES (Russian and Eurasian Studies)
Distribution Area: Social Analysis
Max Enrollment: 22
Level: 200
Credits: 4 US / 8 ECT
Course Time Zone: Eastern Time (US/NY)
Professor’s Location and Time Zone: New York, USA

Course Description
History is an important factor of the public life of Modernity, including its political aspect. Their coexistence is central to both academic and mass discourses, as reflected in such categories as “appropriation of the past”, “politics of history”, “captivity of the past,” and so on. Moreover, the contradictory position of History in modern society stems from the changing status of historical knowledge and the contemporary attempts to (re)define history in terms of scholarship as well as art. This course will set out to analyze the dynamics of historical knowledge in the 20th and 21st centuries – the era of various humanitarian and social disciplines’ questioning the academic status of history. We will address current discussions about the status of History, including their perception as “politics,” “memory,” and “narrative,” and reflect on the ambiguous status of the Humanities in Modernity in general, as well as on the ambiguity of the term “Modernity” itself. While analyzing the interaction of history with Psychology, Sociology, Literary Criticism, Linguistics, and Political Studies, we will apply the theoretical frameworks informed by the ideas of Erik H. Erikson, Norbert Elias, Immanuel Wallerstein, Ernest Gellner, Michel Foucault, among others. The aim of the course is to help students develop critical skills necessary for analyzing and acquiring facts of the past as well as distinguishing “history as the past” from “history as a narrative about the past.” Another course objective is the analysis of a revolutionary transformation within the discourse on the subject of history and the historical method.

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