Course: The History of History

HC 231H

Professor: Tim Williams

Premodern peoples from the Ancient Greeks and Romans to early Christians to Mayas all thought about, recorded, and wrote history. This course explores historical knowledge in these and other pre-modern civilizations. In particular, we will ask several questions about past societies that remain relevant today: Why remember the past? For whom is the past important? How does the past enrich our present? What tools work best to disseminate historical knowledge? In answering the questions, we study various cultures, places, and time periods. On the one hand, we focus on the traditional canon of historical thought in "western civilization," including major historical works of ancient Greece, Rome, and China. On the other hand, we explore the periphery of this world so often neglected in the study of “western civilization.” For example, we consider historical narratives from the Americas, particularly the Mayan Popl Vuh.