GWP 101

T-Th 10:20 a.m. - 12:25 p.m.; Spring 2009


Professor Julie Nicoletta

GWP 418

253-692-4468; fax: 253-692-5718


Office hours: T-Th 12:30-1:30 p.m. and by appointment


For Campus Info: 253-383-INFO


Course Description:

This course introduces students to the major issues and questions addressed by historians who work in the public sphere. Central themes include the interpretation of history, the role of history in popular culture, issues and aims in exhibiting history, the politics of public history, and historic preservation.


Course Objectives:

Students will gain an understanding of major issues confronting the public historian through course lectures, readings, and field trips. Class discussion of the readings, as well as written analyses will give students training in critical thinking. In addition, students will gain essential research, writing, and speaking skills through a written research project and a final presentation to the class. Finally, students will learn how to interpret visual resources through slide lectures and field work.


Required readings:

Susan Porter Benson, Stephen Brier, and Roy Rosenzweig, eds. Presenting the Past: Essays on History and the Public, 1986.

Kenneth S. Greenberg, editor. Nat Turner: A Slave Rebellion in History and Memory, 2003.

Dolores Hayden. The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History, 2nd ed., 1997

Richard Marius and Melvin E. Page. A Short Guide to Writing about History, 6th ed., 2006.


Reserve readings are accessible at the following website: You will need a UW net id to access these readings.



This course is being taught with a corresponding website; the link to this site will be found at:


Grading and Evaluation:

Class Participation and Preparation                                        15%

Exhibition Review                                                                  20%

Project Proposal                                                                     10%

Preliminary Annotated Bibliography                                      10%

Final Annotated Bibliography                                                20%

Pamphlet                                                                                 25%


Assessment Criteria

"A" work ("Superior") shows a comprehensive and mature grasp of the material presented. It demonstrates a student's capacity to consider issues fairly but critically, in new contexts and with reference to broader insights about public history. "A" work demonstrates superior writing skills, proper citations, an aptitude for originality and flair, and an unwavering willingness to go beyond the standard arguments, cliches, etc. "A" work suffers from very few (usually no) errors relating to grammar, spelling, referencing, paragraph development and sentence structure.


"B" work ("Good") shows a solid grasp of the material presented. However, it typically lacks the originality, nuance and detail of "A" work. "B" work shows that the material has been read and studied, but it is less impressive than "A" work, specifically in terms of the level of reflection, curiosity, textual support and/or analytical insight. "B" work may also suffer from several errors relating to grammar, spelling, citations, paragraph development and sentence structure. The less solid the grasp of the material and/or the more writing errors that appear, the lower the grade.


"C" work ("Average") shows some understanding of the material but is generally marred by analytical gaps, factual inaccuracies and/or missed opportunities for greater clarity. It also suffers from frequent writing problems and/or inadequate/improper citations.


"D" work ("Inferior") shows very limited understanding of the material; very limited evidence of reading; inadequate reflection; poor writing and inadequate and/or improper citations. "D" work is poorly structured, weak and/or partial in conception and delivery.


Failure ("Unacceptable"). So limited, poorly organized or misinterpreted as to justify a clear fail. Often characterized by very poor presentation, organization and writing, and inadequate and/or improper citations.


Class Participation and Preparation:

Class participation and preparation will be evaluated by:

1. Regular class attendance.

2. The amount and quality of discussion.

3. Completion and quality of short assignments.


Attendance is extremely important for a number of reasons. Your insight and participation during discussions are a critical part of the class. We all learn from each other's perspectives; if you miss class, you will miss learning from these insights. Being clear-headed in discussion involves not just reading the assignments, but thinking about them, so allow yourself some time for reflection. Each student will have the opportunity to be a discussion leader for one class meeting, for which I will expect additional preparation. You will need to identify the author's thesis and bring in two discussion questions. Missing more than two class meetings during the quarter, regardless of the reason, will have a negative effect on your class participation grade. The class participation and preparation grade will consist of a total of 31 points as follows: 1 point per class attended (except during student presentations at the end of the quarter when attendance will count for 2 points for each day of presentations), two points for being discussion leader, two points for oral critique of a pamphlet, five points for oral presentation of final project.


Assignments: exhibition review; project on a historic site, including an oral critique of a pamphlet for a historic site, a project proposal, preliminary annotated bibliography, final annotated bibliography, pamphlet mock-up, final pamphlet, and presentation.


Note: Assignments will be graded for clarity of composition and grammar as well as content. All assignments must be typed, double-spaced (unless otherwise noted) with one-inch margins. All sources must be cited in footnotes or endnotes using The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th ed., available in the library and summarized in A Short Guide to Writing about History. Failure to do your own work or to cite the work of others properly will constitute plagiarism and result in a 0.0 for the assignment. In addition, all assignments must be turned in on time. Late assignments will be dropped one-half grade for each day late, except in extreme circumstances. No extensions will be granted except for a written medical excuse presented before the due date of the assignment. No assignments will be accepted by email. It is not acceptable to turn in what is substantially the same paper to two different courses.


Exhibition Review (5 pages):

Select an exhibit in the permanent exhibition area (main floor) at the Washington State History Museum and write a critical review of it. The review should include the following: a description, analysis, and evaluation of the exhibit, including your perceptions as to what goals (i.e., themes, historical information, interpretation for a twenty-first century audience, etc.) the exhibit is supposed to meet, and finally, a discussion of whether or not the exhibit successfully achieves those goals, and suggestions for improving the exhibit. For more information about writing an exhibition review, see "Writing a Review of an Exhibition," from Sylvan Barnet's A Short Guide to Writing about Art, on ereserve for the course.


Pamphlet on a Historic Site:

This project is focused on effectively interpreting local history to the public. You will select a local historic site and design and create a pamphlet for it with the public in mind as the site's audience. The final version of the pamphlet will be limited in size to one 8 ½ x 11 inch sheet of paper; both sides of the sheet must be covered. You should use both text and images to convey the most significant historical aspects of the site to your audience as clearly and as concisely as possible. We will examine and critique pamphlets of historic sites in class to determine what makes the ideal pamphlet work. By submitting your work in increments, you will be able to get feedback and improve the quality of the project before its final due date. The components are as follows:


1. Oral Critique of Pamphlet: select a pamphlet from any historic site; prepare a brief presentation for class, pointing out two positive and two negative aspects of the pamphlet; what could improve it in terms of text and visuals?

2. Proposal: see "Pamphlet Project" handout.

3. Preliminary Annotated Bibliography: see "Pamphlet Project" handout; this bibliography will include three primary and three secondary sources with annotations.

4. Final Annotated Bibliography: see "Pamphlet Project" handout.

5. Mock-up of Pamphlet: a rough version of your pamphlet will be due before the final version to get feedback from the professor and your classmates.

6. Final Version of Pamphlet: this should be a perfectly polished and copy-edited version of your pamphlet.

7. Presentation: Each student will give a 5-7-minute presentation on his or her project at the end of the quarter. The presentation should clearly address the problems and solutions your site presents. The use of visual aids beyond your pamphlet itself is encouraged.


Classroom Etiquette:

Food and drink are acceptable as long as you do not disrupt the class or bother your neighbors. Electronic devices (including, but not limited to, cell phones, pagers, blackberries, digital assistants) may not be used. Activities that are non-relevant to the course, such as checking/sending email, playing games, and surfing the web, are considered disruptive activities when class is in session. Please be respectful and attentive when others are speaking in class. Arriving late or leaving early should never happen except in exceptional cases.



If you choose to drop the course, you are responsible for reporting the change to the registrar's office. If you stop coming to class and do not contact the registrar, you will end up receiving a failing grade even if you attended only once or not at all.


If you would like me to mail your final project to you, bring a self-addressed, stamped 9½ X 12 inch envelope with you to the last day of class. I will be on sabbatical next year and will not be available to deliver papers after this spring. Remember that you need papers for the portfolio that you must complete before you can graduate, so keeping all your papers across your career at UWT is a good idea.


The Counseling Center offers short-term, problem-focused counseling to UW Tacoma students who may feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of college, work, family, and relationships. Counselors are available to help students cope with stresses and personal issues that may interfere with their ability to perform in school. The service is provided confidentially and without additional charge to currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students. To schedule an appointment, please call 692-4522 or stop by the Student Counseling Center (SCC), temporarily located in Cherry Parkes 206. Additional information can also be found by visiting

DISABILITY SUPPORT SERVICES (Student Health and Wellness - SHAW)


The University of Washington Tacoma is committed to making physical facilities and instructional programs accessible to students with disabilities. Disability Support Services (DSS) functions as the focal point for coordination of services for students with disabilities. In compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, any enrolled student at UW Tacoma who has an appropriately documented physical, emotional, or mental disability that "substantially limits one or more major life activities [including walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working]," is eligible for services from DSS. If you are wondering if you may be eligible for accommodations on our campus, please contact the DSS reception desk at 692-4522, or visit









Introduction; Framing the Questions

Marius and Page, all.



No class.

Creating and Analyzing Exhibitions

Benson, et. al., pp. 137-161.

During the next week, go to the Washington State History Museum and work on your exhibition review. The Museum is free Thursdays from 5:00-8:00 p.m.


No class.


No class.


Conducting Research




History and Memory: Nat Turner

The Confessions of Nat Turner, to be found at: and

Greenberg, pp. 3-42.



History and Memory: Nat Turner

Greenberg, pp. 45-76, 103-118.



History and Memory: Nat Turner

Greenberg, pp. 134-147, 162-176.

Film: Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property

Project proposal due.


Critiquing Pamphlets


Oral critique of pamphlets.


Marketing the Past

Benson, et. al., pp. xv-49



Historic Preservation and Cultural Resources Management

Benson, et. al., pp. 165-199.

Exhibition review due.


Feminism, History and Film

Benson, et. al., pp. 293-304.

Film: The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter


The Power of Place

Hayden, Chs. 1, 2 & 3.

Preliminary annotated bibliography due: 3 primary sources and 3 secondary sources.


The Power of Place

Hayden, Chs. 4 & 5.



The Power of Place

Hayden, Chs. 6 & 7.

Mock-up of pamphlet due; group critiques.


The Urban Economics of Museums


Film: Downside Up


Politicizing the Past: Oral History; Local History

Benson, et. al., pp. 249-263; 267-277.



Student Presentations




Student Presentations




Student Presentations




Student Presentations


Final version of pamphlet due (turn in two copies of pamphlet). Final Annotated bibliography due.


Selected Bibliography


Belcher, Michael. Exhibitions in Museums. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991.


Benson, Susan Porter, Stephen Brier, and Roy Rosenzweig, eds. Presenting the Past: Essays on History and the Public. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986.**


Burns, John A., ed. Recording Historic Structures. Washington: American Institute of Architects Press,



Butcher-Younghans, Sherry. Historic House Museums: A Practical Handbook for Their Care, Preservation, and Management. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.


Chitty, Gill, and David Bakers, eds. Managing Historic Sites and Buildings: Reconciling Presentation and Preservation. London and New York: Routledge, 1999.


Clifford, James. “Four Northwest Coast Museums: Travel Reflections.” In Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display, edited by Ivan Karp and Steven S. Lavine. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991, pp. 212-254.


Corrin, Lisa G., ed. Mining the Museum: An Installation by Fred Wilson. Baltimore: The Contemporary in cooperation with the New Press, Distributed by W.W. Norton, 1994.


Dean, David. Museum Exhibitions: Theory and Practice. London and New York: Routledge, 1996.


Evans, Poppy. Graphic Design Makeovers: How to Redesign for Maximum Impact. Cincinnati, Ohio: North Light Books, 2001.**


French, Scot. The Rebellious Slave: Nat Turner in American Memory. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004.


Goodman, Allison. The 7 Essentials of Graphic Design. Cincinnati: HOW Design Books, 2001.**


Greenberg, Kenneth, S., ed. Nat Turner: A Slave Rebellion in History and Memory. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.**


Handler, Richard, and Eric Gable. The New History in an Old Museum: Creating the Past at Colonial Williamsburg. Durham: Duke University Press, 1997.


Harwit, Martin. An Exhibit Denied: Lobbying the History of Enola Gay. New York: Copernicus, 1996.


Hayden, Dolores. The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History. Cambridge, Mass.:The MIT Press, 1995.**


Howe, Barbara J., and Emory L. Kemp, eds. Public History: An Introduction. Malabar, Florida: Krieger, 1986.


Karamanski, Theodore, ed. Ethics and History: An Anthology. Malabar, FL: Krieger, 1990.


Karp, Ivan, and Steven S. Lavine, eds. Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991.


Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara. Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums and Heritage. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.


Kulik, Gary. "Designing the Past: History Museum Exhibitions from Peale to the Present." In History Museums in the United States, edited by Warren Leon and Roy Rosenzweig. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989, pp. 3-37.


Leffler, Phyllis K., and Joseph Brent, eds. Public History Readings. Malabar, Florida: Kreiger, 1992.


Leon, Warren, and Roy Rosenzweig, eds. History Museums in the United States. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989.


Linenthal, Edward T., and Tom Engelhardt, eds. History Wars: The Enola Gay and Other Battles for the American Past. New York: Henry Holt, 1996.


Loewen, James W. Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong. New York: New Press; Distributed by W.W. Norton, 1999.


Morgan, Murray. Puget's Sound: A Narrative of Early Tacoma and the Southern Sound. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003.**


Pearce, Susan M., ed. Museum Studies and Material Culture. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991.


Pizer, Laurence R. A Primer for Local Historical Societies. Nashville: AASLH, 1991.


Schwantes, Carlos A. The Pacific Northwest: An Interpretive History. Rev. and enl. ed. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996.**


Serrell, Beverly. Exhibit Labels: An Interpretive Approach. Walnut Creek: Alta Mira Press, 1996.


Tacoma, the Union Depot District: Tacoma, Washington, 1979 Rehabilitation Study. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service, 1981.**


Wallace, Mike. Mickey Mouse History and Other Essays on American Memory. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996.


Ward, Kyle Roy. History in the Making: An Absorbing Look at How American History Has Changed in the Telling Over the Last 200 Years. New York: New Press, 2006.


Wineburg, Samuel S. Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001.





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*on Ereserve

**on reserve at the UWT Library