Comparative Approaches to Historical Research

Course Description: 

The purpose of the course is to familiarize students with the aims, rationale, methods, and various cases of comparative studies in the social sciences and in historiography, with a focus on recent criticism of the comparative approach and the innovative “paradigms” proposed to overcome its shortcomings. In order to fully exploit the comparative method's potential, the course employs an interdisciplinary approach that overcomes the rigid division between history and social sciences. Due to unavoidable time and space limitation, the course cannot provide an exhaustive treatment of all fields of macro-social comparative studies; its aim is not to equip students with a full complete set of tools, but rather to stimulate their interest and develop their sensitivity to the comparative method.

Learning Outcomes: 

The format of the course is that of informed class discussion of issues and case studies. Students are required to write three essays, related to part I, II and III of the course. Each essay should be up to ten pages long (2,500 words, including notes and the final bibliography). The essays are due on the day of the last class dealing with the given topic. Late assignments will result in the reduction of the grade. In these essays, students are expected to discuss critically the readings, using concepts and perspectives acquired in the methodological part of the course. Students are encouraged to go beyond the assigned readings and to collect additional bibliography. Each paper will count for the 25% of the grade, and the students' class participation for the remaining 25%.