FYS-103 Bringing the Past into the Present

Instructor: Director of the Johnson Center for Creative Teaching and Learning Julia A. Hendon
Department: Johnson Ctr for Creative Teach

Course Description:
Archaeologists, historians, and writers of historical fiction share a fascination with the past. They use a range of methods and techniques to make the past relevant to people today. If you, too, love learning about past events, peoples, and ways of life, this seminar offers you the chance to study bringing the past into the present from multiple perspectives that are not always in agreement with one another. Presentation and interpretation of the past is not a simple matter of finding the truth or being objective. The past matters to people in the present for different reasons having to do with their own histories and experiences. How we understand our past and the past of other people, groups, and nations changes in response to present-day concerns and reflects the shifting nature of collective memory. Class discussions, writing assignments, events, and a semester-long research project provide opportunities to explore four ways of learning about the past: researching, presenting, experiencing, and imagining. The Gettysburg area is rich in places, collections, museums, and organizations that speak to the seminar’s topic. Such resources include the Gettysburg National Military Park, the Adams County Historical Society, the Seminary Ridge Museum, and the College’s own Musselman Library and Special Collections, Schmucker Art Gallery, and the campus itself. We will visit some of these places as a class (which may require you to pay an entrance fee for some off-campus tours). Research projects may center on the Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg but they do not have to and this seminar is not about the Civil War nor is it designed solely for Civil War fanatics. The College’s collections of Asian art and historic maps, for example, provide just two alternative sources of projects. Students taking this seminar should expect to spend a significant amount of time outside of class working on their project which, depending on the topic chosen, may take you off campus. Whether on or off campus, your project will require you to observe the hours of operation, rules, and regulations of the organizations whose materials you wish to study.