History often celebrates the victors—especially when they’re also the historians. In this course, we’ll focus on the silences in historical narratives. What is remembered and celebrated, and what is forgotten? What is the role of power in the production of history? We’ll explore these questions by looking at archives, public monuments, and museums. We’ll discuss how activist histories are recorded, who decides where monuments go, and whether or not museums are neutral. Finally, we will collectively curate our own small scale exhibition as a response to these questions.
This course invites students to grapple with questions of ownership, authority, and representation in the context of complex histories, in addition to exploring the possibilities for collaboration, creativity, and community-based engagement. We will focus on archives and the historical record, monuments and memory, and museums and exhibition.
We will take several on campus field trips to the Hay Library, Brown’s monuments and memorials, and the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology to learn from their collections and curatorial practices. We will also take the tools that we’ve cultivated throughout the course and put them into practice by curating an exhibit as a class. This exhibit will give students a chance to have a hands-on look at what it means to be a public historian. This course provides a foundation for students interested in public art, museum work, and social justice while also enhancing students’ critical inquiry skills in the discipline of history.
By the end of the course students will be able to:
- Identify the role of power in the production of history through reading responses and class discussion
- Discuss how class readings can be applied in specific case studies
- Experiment with different approaches to public history by writing an object label and collaboratively curating a small scale exhibition
- Know what the field of public humanities is through hands-on experiences
Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2020.Visit Program Page Information Sessions Learn How to Apply