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HSY3060 - The Uses of the Past

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Marina Larsson


Clayton First semester 2007 (Day)


The unit examines contemporary uses of history through a critical examination of current literature, Australian and international case studies and fieldwork excursions. It is designed to strengthen links between academic and 'public history' and to enhance appreciation of the vocational applications of history. Among the issues discussed are history and nation-building; the concept of heritage; the uses of the past in enhancing personal and group identity; the role of history in the efforts of oppressed groups to throw off the burden of the past. Case studies will include national museums, German war-guilt, the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Ayodyha dispute.


Students successfully completing the unit at third year level are expected to gain a critical understanding of the uses of history and of theoretical approaches to public discourse about the past and to develop analytical and research skills for a project or fourth-year thesis. In addition, they will also be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an ability to formulate research projects and acquire independent research skills.
  2. Demonstrate an ability to present a sustained argument, based mainly on substantial primary sources.
  3. Place secondary sources in their cultural, ideological and epistemological context by showing where they fit into the current state of historical knowledge.
  4. Demonstrate an acquaintance with some of the ongoing debates about the philosophy and practice of history.
  5. Consider some of the more 'public' uses of history.
  6. Analyse critically the nature of historical memory and the role of history in society


Essay (2,500 words): 45%;
Project proposal (1,000 words): 25%;
Test (1 hour): 20%;
Tutorial participation (text): 10%

Contact hours

1 lecture + 1 tutorial per week and 3 x 2-hour field excursions per semester


A first-year sequence in History or permission


HSY2060, HYM4065