This seminar will focus on writing history, on how historians express themselves as writers. For decades the Newberry has hosted seminars on a range of historical subjects, approaches, and eras. But this one will stretch across such categories to examine how we tell historical stories, how writers communicate with readers. This is not a seminar to “workshop” manuscripts. Rather, it is a series of meetings on historical writing as genre, craft, even literature drawing mainly on published work. Or to put it concretely, what makes X a good writer? How might Y think more about her audience? How might Z write clearer, more compelling history?
During the academic year 2018-2019 we will invite writers, editors, even agents to meet with us. We will focus discussions on university presses, trade presses, academic journals, more popular venues, and public history outlets. Topics will include narrative, experimental approaches to history, prose style, new venues for historical writing, the relationship between story and interpretation, or the relationship between “popular” and “academic” history. Above all, our focus will be on historians as writers.
Co-ordinators: Kevin Boyle, Northwestern University; Deborah Cohen, Northwestern University; and Elliott Gorn, Loyola University Chicago.