Slavery and Public History (L90 AFAS 4008)
Public history, or applied history, encompasses the many and diverse ways in which history is put to work in the world and applied to real-world issues. This course teaches public history practice with particular emphasis on engaging in the public history of slavery through research and interpretation on the regional histories of enslavement within St. Louis and at Washington University. Students will learn by engaging critical scholarship on public history, debates about how public history is practiced, and learning core tenets of public history interpretation, museum best practices, oral history, preservation, and material culture and their particular application to public history interpreting slavery. This includes grappling with the politics of memory and heritage that shape, limit, and empower public history practice on slavery, and how white supremacy has shaped what histories we absorb in the public. Students will learn established and emerging ethics, standards, and best practices within the field of public history, especially as they relate to the public interpretation of slavery.
The format of the course is lecture combined with seminar-style discussion with immersive participatory activities that engage students in the real-world practice of public history by applying the methods and theory they have learned. Students will apply their learning by completing one of two well-researched, relevant, engaging, and creative group public history projects that interpret the history of slavery in St. Louis. The projects will model professional public history practice as students will complete projects requested by two clients from public history institutions in the St. Louis area.