HIST 4345:  May Term 2002
Introduction to Living History


This course offers an overview of the history, theory and practice of living history -- a means of historical interpretation by which individuals wearing period clothing and using period tools and implements, recreate the past for the educational benefit of visitors and patrons of historic sites, homes, and museums, and may apply the same skills for their own enjoyment and edification at living history events or historical reenactments.  In this class, you will not only develop a familiarity with the history of interpretation, interpretational theory, appropriate jargon, and the methods, tools, and skills used by the living historian, but you will have the opportunity to discuss the living historians' craft with professional living history interpreters.  To test what you have learned during the course, you will also have the opportunity to apply what you have learned in a practical setting.


GRADING:  Graded assignments will consist of the following:
 
QUIZ:  On 17 May, there will be an examination over the history and some of the major theoretical concepts associated with Living History.  Questions will be based upon the lectures and assigned readings offered during the first week of class.  This assignment will be worth 100 points.
TEXAS LIVING HISTORY: To help you familiarize yourself with what is available in the living history community, not only in Texas but around the world, you are required to surf the world wide web for living history groups, sites and organizations which offer living history on Texas subjects.  These may range chronologically from the Spanish Colonial Period through the Vietnam era.  While sites offering living history opportunities relevant to Texas history will naturally be concentrated in Texas, there are organizations portraying Texas that exist as far away as Russia.  For each individual, organization or site that you find, you will need to answer a series of questions to help others locate the site as well as to encourage you to think critically about Living History.  An evaluation template is provided in the course package.  Keep track of what you discover, particularly when you encounter individuals and organizations portraying the 1850s period, as well as sites providing clothing and equipment for living historians, as these locations may come in handy on other class assignments.  This assignment will be graded on a competitive basis.  Points will be awarded for each evaluation form you submit, although duplications within the class will result in that site being worth less.  Thus, the more submissions you make the higher (potentially) your grade will be.  A maximum of 100 points will be awarded.
EVENT PLANNING WORKSHOP: On 22-23 February 2003, the Public History Program at McMurry University will be hosting an 1853 Camp of Inspection in which the reorganized Co. C, 5th U.S. Infantry Regiment will play a major role.  Working with the class, you will prepare an event plan as a group exercise.  The event plan will consist of the following:
-- an appropriate historical scenario based upon primary sources
-- a determination of which impressions would be appropriate for such an event, and the development of standards for these impressions
-- a participant package to relay the scenario, possible impressions, and standards to be mailed to potential participants
-- a determination of the event needs, be they resources, manpower or facilities
-- a preliminary inventory of organizations whose impressions might be appropriate for such an event (based upon your search of appropriate Texas-based Living History groups and those located elsewhere that might be appropriate)
-- appropriate public service announcements for the event
As this plan is a group exercise, grades will be determined for the group in class, through a means to be announced when the event plan is completed to the satisfaction of the instructor.  The completed event plan will be worth 200 points (per student).
BUFFALO GAP PERSONA: On 20 May, the class as a whole will tour the Buffalo Gap Historic Village and discuss the interpretational strategy employed there, as well as the site plan for future development.  In an attempt to put all that you (hopefully) will have learned in this course into practice, each student will be assigned one building in the Buffalo Gap Historic Village.  After this assignment has been made, you will be charged with developing an individual character to interpret this structure.  This may be based upon an actual historic figure or may be a composite of several individuals known to have frequented similar sites at the same approximate time period.  This assignment is worth 200 points, and is composed of four parts:
1)  Interpretational Strategy -- Everyone has a personal history.  Based upon the theories of interpretation offered during the course of the semester, you must develop a brief (4-5 page) biographical sketch of the individual who will interpret your building, and explain how that individual contributes to interpreting the history of the structure.  Preliminary material to assist you in this process is included in the course notebook.  To assist others who might be interpreting Buffalo Gap in the future, an annotated bibliography must be attached to this biographical sketch which includes at least ten sources relevant to your interpretational strategy.  Five sources must relate specifically to the personal history of the individual you have created.  The annotations must illuminate how the work in question provides information about his (or her) appropriate background.  The remaining five works must relate to the period in question, with the annotations instructing potential readers how this work assists them in developing a more effective first person interpretation for the individual in question.  This portion of the assignment will be worth (100 points).
2)  Clothing Plan -- Based upon research into period correct clothing styles, you are to determine what this individual would have worn at the time he or she was working/living in the structure in question.  Using a theoretical budget of $300, you are to provide a list of sources as to where to procure historically accurate (and preferably documented) clothing, headgear and footwear to outfit this individual in a manner suitable to the structure you are inhabiting (25 points).
3)  Resources Plan -- What resources are needed for the individual you have created to successfully interpret his or her structure?  Working in conjunction with the staff of the Buffalo Gap Historic Village, you will need to evaluate the current items present in your structure, and determine which items are appropriate for your character, and what (if any) additional items would be needed for educational interpretation to be more readily possible.  As with the case of the clothing plan, you will be operating on a theoretical budget, yet in this case the amount is only $100 (25 points).
4)  Class presentations -- Each student will then take advantage of the interpretational strategy and develop a short, 10-15 minute first-person program on the individual they have created.  These short presentations will be given in the appropriate structure in the Buffalo Gap Historic Village.  HINT:  This presentation should be more than simply a recitation of your individual's biography, and should be interactive with either the public and/or other members of the class. (50 points)


PARTICIPATION:  As this class is conducted during May term, it is by definition a time intensive course.  There will be a lot of information that will be covered in a short period of time.  While you will not be tested over all of it, as much of it is experiential, Living History by definition is a participatory exercise, not only with the public, but with other interpreters.  That being said, this class demands participation and discussion from all students.   100 points will be awarded for exemplary participation, though the instructor reserves the right to deduct points for lackluster performance.


ATTENDANCE:  Much of what has already been stated regarding participation applies here.  In this course, one day is equal to approximately one week of a regular semester-long course.  Attendance is mandatory, save illness, dire emergency, or University-approved absence.  Otherwise, due largely to the abbreviated time schedule for this course, absences from any class meeting (be they regular lecture, field trip, or other exercises) will be penalized at a cost of ONE (1) letter grades per class day missed.



READING LIST:
Jay Anderson, "Living History:  Simulating Everyday Life in Living Museums," American Quarterly 34 (Fall 1982): 290-306.
Carol C. Deakin, "Re-Enactors and History,"  History News 41 (May/June 1986): 14-20.
Warren Leon and Margaret Piatt, "Living History Museums," chapter in Warren Leon and Roy Rosenzweig, eds., History Museums in the United States:  A Critical Assessment (Urbana:  University of Illinois Press, 1989), 64-97.

Edward Hawes, "The Living Historical Farm in North America:  New Directions in Research and Interpretation," in Jay Anderson, ed., Living History Reader:  Volume 1 -- Museums (Nashville:  American Association for State and Local History, 1991), 79-100.

"Interpreting Special Situations:  Conflict, Controversy and Heightened Emotion," chapter in Stacy Roth, Past into Present:  Effective Techniques for First-Person Historical Interpretation (Chapel Hill:  The University of North Carolina Press, 1998), 161-177.
Mike Wallace, "Visiting the Past:  History Museums in the United States," in Mickey Mouse History, and Other Essays on American Memory (Philadelphia:  Temple University Press, 1996), 3-32.



Inspection 1853