Speaker Series

Dr. Robert Johnston, UIC Associate Professor of History and Director of the Teaching of History Program

Uncoverage, Historiography, and Other Unnatural (Political) Acts: Innovative Trends in the Teaching of History
Friday, November 2, 2012 1:00PM to 2:30PM
LSRI 1535A

More than a decade ago, Sam Wineburg published his pathbreaking collection of essays, Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts. Wineburg transformed the field by fundamentally recasting our sense of the proper purposes of the teaching of history. In this talk I want to discuss the continuing relevance of Wineburg’s work, as well as discuss other important intellectual and pedagogical interventions in the field over the last decade. In particular, I want to focus on the radical potential of Lendol Calder’s idea of “uncoverage,” as well as the push of Calder and others toward students’ engagement with historiography (the study of changing and conflicting historical interpretations). The move toward students’ use of historiographical secondary sources, we might hope, will be the next revolution in the teaching of history, akin to the now-common use of primary sources. The question then becomes how such democratic pedagogical principles, where students are truly exploring their own historical interpretations, will fit into a political context in which some state governments legislate the teaching of “just the facts,” and The Testing Kings seek to extend their data-driven empire.