Great news for History Majors studying abroad at the Williams-Exeter Programme at Oxford! You can now take a course that will fulfill your HIST 301 requirement. The course entitled, Historiography: Tacitus to Weber, is considered a Williams course on the discipline of history.
HISTORIOGRAPHY: TACITUS TO WEBER
There are two routes commonly pursued in the study of historical writing and method: first, study of the techniques which, as of today, we hold to be most relevant, and secondly, the study of classic texts in Western historical writing. This paper takes the second road, and the student may reasonably hope to be exercised (or derive profit) in the following areas: 1. the close reading of texts which really will bear close reading – reading being still the most fundamental of all historical techniques; 2. grasp of central problems in their broadest outlines – such as the scope and proper subject matter of history; historical objectivity; the interrelation of the author’s past and present concerns; the relations of literature and history; and (not least) why we should bother with history at all; 3. the outlines of how the Western historical tradition has evolved in fact.
This paper is concerned with important historians and their works. Candidates will be required to show knowledge of at least three authors and texts. Passages for comment will not be set.
(i) Tacitus, Annals, Bks I-IV; and Agricola (both available in Penguin edns.).
(ii) St Augustine, The City of God, Bk V; Bk XII, chs. 10-28; Bk XV, chs. 4-17; Bk XVIII, chs. 1-27; Bk XIX, chs. 10-24 (available in Penguin and Cambridge paperback edns.).
(iii) Machiavelli, Discourses, Bk I, Preface, chs. 1-6, 9-19, 25-27, 55-60; Bk II, Preface, chs. 1-4, 19-22, 28-30; Bk III, chs. 1-9, 40, 43 (ed. J.&P. Bondanella, Oxford World Classics, 1997).
(iv) Gibbon, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chs. 1-3, 8, 9, 14 and 15, ‘General Observations on the Fall of the Roman Empire in the West’ (available in Penguin and Everyman edns.).
(v) Ranke, History of the Reformation in Germany, Author’s Preface; Bk II, chs. 1, 3, 4; Bk III, chs. 1, 3, 5; Bk IV, chs. 2, 5.
(vi) Macaulay, ‘Milton’ (1825), ‘History’ (1825), ‘Sir James Macintosh’ (1835), ‘Ranke’s History of the Popes’ (1840), in his Essays; The History of England, Ch. X, final section entitled ‘Peculiar Character of the English Revolution’ (available in Everyman and several other edns.).
(vii) Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, tr. Talcott Parsons (London, 1991), pp. 13-183; ‘Science as a Vocation’, tr. Michael John, in P. Lassman and I. Velody (eds.), Max Weber’s ‘Science as a Vocation’ (London, 1989), pp. 3-31.