Syllabi

History 235 – History of Canada: Moments that Matter
History 236 – Public History in Canada: Memory, Representation, and Interpretation
History 305 – History of British Columbia
History 420 – Topics in Canadian History – Gender and Sexuality in Canada


History 235 – History of Canada: Moments that Matter

History 235 is an unconventional team-taught introduction to Canadian history. Rather than a broad survey, the course investigates different interpretations of a number of “defining moments” that have shaped northern North America. More specifically, the course revolves around the question – what “moments” have mattered in Canada’s history, and why? – and the wide range of ways in which we might answer this question. Lectures are delivered by different Canadian historians from the UBC Department of History, who each draw on their particular areas of expertise in order to answer the question posed by the course. Readings, assignments, and tutorial discussions and activities then give students further opportunity to assess lecturers’ answers, to understand each “moment” in its broader historical context, to make connections between different “moments,” and to explore other possible responses to the question. Like other 200-level courses in the department, History 235 is also designed to introduce key areas of historical practice including primary source analysis, historical writing, library and media skills, and public history. The wide range of students and instructors offer new perspectives every time I walk into the classroom, and overall, the course really reveals the vibrancy, creativity, and rich diversity of Canadian history.

History 236 – Public History in Canada: Memory, Representation, and Interpretation

History 236 is an introduction to public history in Canada. It explores how and why Canadian history gets interpreted or represented in public (ie. outside of academia), and considers why it matters. This involves engaging with Canadian history in a wide range of media and contexts. We reflect on museum exhibits and city murals. We watch films and look at comics. We debate statues, state apologies, and place names. We think about how history has been represented in beer advertisements and music, banknotes and Wikipedia, skateboards and even animals. And in the process, we develop our own ideas about what kinds of Canadian history should be told in public, how and where they should be represented and interpreted, and why. Students even get an opportunity to put these ideas into practice and plan your own original public history project! From this course, you can expect to learn about some important topics in Canada’s past, major issues in its public representation today, and (like all 200-level courses in the department) key methods of historical practice including primary source analysis, historical writing, library and research skills, and public history. These are things that you might find useful in future courses and careers, or even just conversations across the dinner table. In the process, History 236 aims to provide food for thought on some important questions: Why study history? Can historical understanding make a difference in the world? Why are historical topics so hotly and publicly contested today? What role do you want to play in those debates, if any? And for what might a History degree prepare you?

History 305 – History of British Columbia

History 305 is an exploration of the history of British Columbia. I begin from the premise that the history of this place is all around us: in its rivers and its roads, its buildings and its property boundaries, its politics and its people. The course examines the diverse processes that have shaped this place, with a particular focus from the late eighteenth century to the present. In so doing, we investigate how the history of British Columbia have been told and re-told, and continues to shape the ways we live here – whether we call this place home, consider ourselves visitors, or something in between. Through assignments and activities, students have the opportunity to expand on particular areas of interest; to conduct original research in the archives; and to connect class materials with issues in the present. In other words, students not only develop an understanding of key events and issues in British Columbia’s past – in this course, they also become historians of British Columbia. This history matters here, and in this course, we have an opportunity to conduct original research that really pushes our understanding of British Columbia in new directions. I am particularly grateful for the incredible support of archivists and curators, without whom this work would not be possible.

The syllabus for 2015-16 was for a two-semester course. The syllabus for 2018-19 is for a one-semester course.

History 420 – Topics in Canadian History – Gender and Sexuality in Canada

In History 420, we investigate the changing meanings, lived experiences, and central roles of gender and sexuality in the history of northern North America, with a particular focus on the past two centuries. At its heart, the course explores two key ideas: 1) gender and sexuality have histories—that is, their meanings and experiences have changed across contexts and over time; and 2) gender and sexuality have not only been part of Canada’s history, but they have been fundamental to it—that is, we cannot understand Canada without taking seriously its histories of gender and sexuality. Through lectures, discussions, and assignments, we examine how gender and sexuality have shaped people’s lives, social institutions, popular culture, political policies, and the very meanings of Canada itself. In so doing, the course aims to build students’ critical understandings of a history that has been—and continues to be—intimately lived, urgently debated, and politically charged.

Stay tuned for more.