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Historical Controversies Instructor Donald Ostrowski e mail don wjh harvard edu phone 617 495 4547 office hours MTF 2 00 6 00 p m office 51 Brattle St 703 Course Assistant Gail Gardner e mail gparis13 post harvard edu phone 617 492 0618 open meeting time TWTh 4 30 5 30 p m office 51 Brattle St 721 My intent in offering this course and in is to define a number of controversies that are currently exercising scholarly ingenuity and to analyze each of these controversies by means of three criteria of historical study accurate representation of the evidence logical argument and conceptually elegant interpretation As the course description says I wanted to choose controversies that were clearly dividing scholarship and especially those that were generating some emotional heat Such hot topics motivate scholars to dig deeper for more evidence and better arguments but they also often expose the weaknesses of scholarly contention My thinking is that students would find more interesting scholarly conflicts that remain open than those that have already been resolved Thus these treatments are not attempting a historiographical survey of each controversy but more a general introduction to the controversy and an analysis of the sticking points the bones of contention Nor are these lectures intended necessarily to present the debates that occurred about the most weighty issue in each area so called great problems Real life controversies even over seemingly unimportant topics are more interesting than artificially contrived academic exercises regarding important topics In the process of discussing particular controversies however I hope to introduce students to the major issues in that area of study specifically and to the nature of historical research in general I am using the word historical in the broadest possible sense to include what some scholars call the auxiliary historical disciplines although there is nothing auxiliary about them and what other scholars may say is not

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