About The Course

This seminar focuses on the history of New York’s radical communities, with special attention to feminism; racial, health and economic justice movements; and the struggle for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights. Our work for the semester  will focus on each student, or team of students, producing a well-researched creative project by the end of the semester. [If you are joining the class in its second week please fill out this survey.]

We will emphasize the opportunities and responsibilities attendant to the practice of community history and will provide an introduction to archive-based work. Readings will address research methods, ethical approaches to writing about living subjects, the use of secondary sources, and strategies for making our research available to the public. Our text for the course will be Claire Bond Potter and Renee Romano, Eds., Doing Recent History: On Privacy, Copyright, Video Games, Institutional Review Boards, Activist Scholarship, and History That Talks Back (University of Georgia Press, 2012). All other readings will be available on the course pages of this website.

We will also consider the question of what it means for history to be an ongoing, contemporary project that no one of us can complete alone. How do we represent the history of an event, phenomenon, or political movement that is not yet complete? What does it mean to produce a history through creative response: in other words, one that is not “written,” but rather performed, exhibited, mapped, or presented as a series of  images rich with citations?

This course is part of a pilot civic engagement initiative at NSPE intended to make historical materials at the New York Public Library Manuscripts and Archives Division more accessible to a non-academic audience. Some projects may be published on our partner web site, OutHistory.org.