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Public History Course Options

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5345D - Oral History: Theory and Practice

This course will provide students with an overview of fundamental oral history research methodology, with special emphasis on questioning techniques, project planning and the role of personal memory in investigating and interpreting the past. A major component of the course will be the development of team projects that will focus on particular aspects of recent social and cultural history, while also allowing for individual expression and creativity. Designed to offer students a practical experience similar to those they may encounter as professional public historians, the course will help them develop their own style of historical investigation. It will appeal to those students interested in preserving voices of the past that might otherwise be lost or overlooked.

5345L - Public Memory and American History

In this course we will survey recent scholarly inquiries into the ways in which American society, and various groups within that society, have shaped the collective memory of diverse aspects of the American past. We will engage with literature that analyzes our memories of key eras and events in American history. We will explore the way that collective memory affects our understanding of American history, and we will examine the ways in which memory forges identity and affects power relationships in American society. We also will learn about various sites of historical interpretation – monuments, memorials, battlefields, museums, movies, books, etc. – and evaluate their impact on American memory.

5371 - The Practice of Public History (required)

Public history is the practice of history outside the classroom in diverse community and institutional settings that may include such specializations as archival management, cultural resource management, preservation, historic site management and interpretation, documentary media, museum science, editing and publishing, and heritage tourism. This class is an introduction to the field of public history and the methodological and theoretical approaches that shape its practice. The class will explore a wide range of issues and topics that inform the work of public historians through individual and group projects, case studies, oral presentations as well as guest lectures from current professionals in the field.

5372 - The Practive of Museum Studies

This course will explore the social, political and intellectual concepts that informed the establishment of the earliest museums and will further examine the ways in which museum collection and exhibition practice have been shaped by this history. We also will consider issues of representation and contestation, authority and voice in collections and interpretation. The class will include field trips and the opportunity for hands-on practice.

5373 - The Practive of Historic Preservation

A seminar addressing architectural history and preservation theory and practice, this course serves as an introduction to the field of historic preservation. It covers major aspects of the field including, the history of the preservation movement, the National Register of Historic Places, federal regulations, historic properties and districts, American architectural styles, urban preservation, landscape preservation & cultural landscapes, preservation design, preservation technology, heritage interpretation, and preservation law. Ample opportunity for class discussion will be provided.

5374 - Public History Internship (required)

The purpose of a public history internship is to provide students an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the nature of public history practice by engaging in meaningful work under the guidance of experienced and knowledgeable public history professionals. Internships which meet the Public History program degree requirements must consist of a minimum of 160 direct internship hours during the semester. The Director of the Public History program will work with students to identify internship opportunities. Students are responsible for applying to internship sites and for final internship site selection. The scope and focus of an Internship is established by the student and the host site however, the Program Director and the Chair of the History Department must provide PRIOR approval for the internship via a signed Public History Internship Approval Form.


5375A - Topics in Public History: Documentary Media

No Experience Necessary is the operative phrase for this course. This course will teach you how to record and edit audio and video footage, how to work with still images, and how to develop narrative and craft media for installations, for the Web and for mobile applications. This course will not teach you how to be a professional media producer. However, it will teach you how you can create broadcast quality or near-broadcast quality public history media using everyday Windows and Mac computers, mobile devices, and open source and low-cost software.

5375B - Topics in Public History: Archival Management

A seminar based on the history, theory, and practice of archival management.

5375C - Topics in Public History: Cultural Resource Management

Cultural resources such as historic buildings, historic sites, prehistoric archaeological sites and other tangible remains of our heritage provide us with direct links to the past. Protecting them (and the information they can provide) from the destructive nature of modern economic development is a challenging task. Preservation professionals rely on a body of federal and state laws as a guide for working with the private sector and state and federal agencies, to craft management plans that protect endangered resources and provide for mitigating research and public education. This course provides the student with an understanding of how cultural resources are preserved and managed under federal and state law, and the nature of the regulatory and compliance practice, much of which is carried out by private consultants.

5375D - Topics in Public History: Material Culture in America

This course examines the ways in which Americans have created, used, altered, and thought about material objects. Readings and research will focus on the values and attitudes embodied in the production, use, and preservation of objects. The course will include theoretical approaches to analyzing material culture, considerations of authenticity and significance, collecting and collectors, and visual display and interpretation. One component of the class will specifically address processes and standards for managing material culture in historical institutions.

5375E - Topics in Public History: Management and Administration in Historical Organizations

This course provides an introduction to the non-profit based management, leadership and administration issues and practices for historical and cultural heritage organizations. The goal of this course is to provide students who will be entering the public history field with the background knowledge and tools to be effective managers and leaders in their institutions. Students will be introduced to the complexity of issues in historical management and administration as reflexive practitioners and will engage a wide variety of case studies, issues analysis and 21st century examples from historical institutions.

5375F - Topics in Public History: Education Programs in Historical/Cultural Institutions

This course will examine the role of education within historical and cultural institutions. Examples of programs and materials will be presented as well as opportunities to engage in conversations with historical and cultural institution personnel. Students will have opportunities to create, evaluate, and discuss programs and materials for a variety of audiences.

5375G - Topics in Public History: Amateur Media: Private Films and Public Histories

Home movies and amateur motion pictures have been a prominent part of the personal documentation of many individuals and families since the development of moving image
technologies. This course explores how privately produced home movies and amateur motion pictures contribute to public histories on local, regional, and national levels.

5375H - Topics in Public History: Heritage Preservation in South Asia

In this participatory seminar, members will explore the fashioning of social memory through the conservation of the built environment in East Asian societies from Korea to Cambodia. After an initial unit presenting an overview of East Asia’s history and introducing the group to common patterns of historic preservation in the West, in- depth readings and participant-directed research projects will serve to bring seminar members into contact with the dynamics of remembering and forgetting expressed in recent and current preservation efforts in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

5375I - Topics in Public History: Theory and Methods for Site-Based Management in Public History

Heritage management can be defined as the interdisciplinary approach toward the preservation, protection, and public use of the historical record whether tangible or intangible. This course examines the various definitions and aspects of heritage within the field of public history, placing heritage work within a global context dealing with multiple disciplines and stakeholders. Theory and approaches to managing heritage will be analyzed through case studies and real world examples from a wide variety of regions and sites, as well as current issues and sustainability. Emphasis will be placed on applying this understanding within frameworks for managing a variety of sites in different areas of the world, in which global heritage and public history will be examined through different lenses of practitioners in other countries. Specific focus on maritime heritage issues and practices will be included.

5375J - Topics in Public History: American Architectural History

An analysis of the historical development of American architecture, examining architecture as evidence of America's cultural, social, economic, and technological evolution from 1607 to the present. Focus will be placed on the role of historic American architecture in the practice of public history.

5375K - Topics in Public History: Interpreting and Evaluating Historic Sites

Every year millions of tourists flock to historic sites large and small, famous and obscure, to commune with “real” history and to “feel” the past. This course will introduce students to methods that public history professionals use to interpret the past at these historic sites and that scholars use to examine critically these interpretations from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. It prepares students to interpret and assess historic sites both as consultants or site administrators.

5375L - Topics in Public History: Controversy, Power, and Politics in Public History

This seminar explores how controversy, power relations, and politics are embedded in the practice of public history.

5376 - Local and Community History

This course will provide students with an overview of local history research methodology, with special emphasis on such investigative measures as courthouse records, special collections, census records, genealogy, personal records, newspapers, oral history, maps and aerial photography, and historical archeology. Major components of the course will include the development of broad historical contexts followed by the exploration of more focused research projects based on students’ individual interests. The work will involve best practices procedures as set up by the Texas Historical Commission (THC) and the U.S. Department of Interior, the fundamental guidelines for a wide range of public history projects in the state. Class projects will culminate in the completion of in-depth, site-based histories that explore a local sense of place. The course will appeal to students interested in how local history fits into broader contexts, as well as to those who want to contribute to the preservation of often neglected or under-told elements of the past.

5377 - Public History Project (required)

Prerequisites: History 5371 - The Practice of Public History and/or History 4343D Oral History: Theory and Practice

A team project focusing on one or more aspects of public history - museum exhibit, historic site interpretation, historic resources survey, etc.  Repeatable with a different emphasis.  Graded on a credit (CR), no credit (F) basis.