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Microhistory and Macrohistory
HIST 315
Fall 2016
Section: 01  

Historians routinely employ shifting scales in making sense of the past: they zoom in, they zoom out. Peering through an impossible "microtelescope," historians focus on the particulars to discern local meaning and then invest those meanings with significance by setting them in a global context. To paraphrase Leopold von Ranke, historians take pleasure in the particular, but (or rather, because) they keep an eye on the universal. But recent decades have witnessed (arguably) a "scalar bifurcation" in history: Even as macrohistorical frames have gained wide appeal, whether as spatial ("world") or temporal ("deep")--or both ("global" and "big")--there has been a concurrent growth in microhistory. Not coincidentally, historians debate the precise meaning of these scalar referents. The question that animates the present seminar is whether the rise of micro- and macrohistorical narratives reflects a kind of "historiographical symbiosis." Do the two genres flourish together and even feed off one another? In exploring and (hopefully) answering this question, we will read theoretical reflections on macro- and microhistory, and we will sample key offerings in each genre. In the process, we will arrive at a sharper understanding of what, precisely, macro- and microhistory are, and we will discern the significance and value of shifting scales for the historian's craft.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS HIST
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (HIST-MN)(HIST)
Past Enrollment Probability: 75% - 89%

Last Updated on JUL-21-2024
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