A Glossary for History Students

As part of my putting together the new ‘Rethinking History’ module at the University of Liverpool, I’m compiling a glossary of terms with which History students should be familiar.

We’re thinking of this second-year undergraduate module as “historiography without the isms”. That doesn’t mean there will be no theory, rather it means we won’t be using the history of History, with a succession of ‘isms’ and schools as the framework. Instead of the old-fashioned and only sometimes high-quality lectures on Marxist History or the Annales School, there will be no lectures at all. Most of the module will be two-hour seminars on different themes dealt with by historians, each led by a historian with an interest in that area. This means the different approaches to History will be met not in dry lectures, but by working through specific issues, questions and themes. All of which makes this glossary quite an important document for them to return to throughout the module and perhaps beyond.

So, what terms would you want to see in such a glossary and how would you define them?

I’ll update this post with replies I get via twitter or facebook,
but feel free to offer suggestions in the comments section below.

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6 Replies to “A Glossary for History Students”

  1. Trying my hardest not to affect an annoyingly trendy, bourgeois, elitist pose, but why ‘ditch’ Marxist history when it actually has enjoyed a noticeable revival since 2008? Everything else aside, George, good luck with this project!

  2. From a history of crime and deviance perspective, a definition of ‘Moral Panic’ would be very helpful, it gets bandied around a lot in the third year class, but is rarely properly defined. Also ‘hagiography’ would be useful, it could be wonderfully illustrated by newspaper coverage of Thatcher’s funeral. Maybe ‘paradigm shift’ as the misuse and over-use of the term annoys me no end.

  3. Thanks all. Getting some good commensts on facebook and twitter, which I’ll add here soon.

    Brian, I’ve amended the post to make it clearer that I’m not ditching Marxist approaches to History (amongst others), but not using ‘intros to isms’ as the organising framework for the module.

  4. It’s often assumed that the body, sex, gender, and sexuality are historical constants; or that there is a clear break from oppression to emancipation – two more words that require careful treatment, perhaps? Slavery is also quite complex, and you might also want to throw in colonial/ postcolonial as part of that debate.

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