Academics

Course Catalog

GRAD > HIST > 625

The Art and Craft of Interpretation in Public History

Description:
In this course students will examine historic preservation, museum collecting, exhibition development, community cultural development, and more. In addition to lectures and discussions, the course will feature presentations from practitioners in a range of topics including museum curators, archivists, historical preservationists, historical tour guides, interpreters and docents on walking and riding tours and in historical parks and homes. This course focuses on the work that public historians do: techniques, concerns, and practical issues. Students will see what happens behind the scenes in museums and other cultural organizations in order to understand how the people who work in these institutions make decisions about content, interpretation, and presentation. The course is organized into three parts. First, students will address the fundamental question in any discussion of historical preservation and interpretation: what is worth saving, what is worth remembering, and why? How do we as individuals and as communities decide what we want to keep? What is the role of the curator or documentary maker or historic preservationist in that process? How are those desires carried out by the museums and other institutions that are the keepers of memory and the shapers of cultural historical interpretation? Second, students will consider the ways in which the things we save and remember are interpreted, presented to the public. Third, students will examine the institutions that do this preserving and presenting.

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