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Reacting to the Past (HIST20081)

Undergraduate level 2Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 2
Subject codeHIST20081
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject introduces students to ‘Reacting to the Past’ historical role‐playing games. Through the use of game books students are placed in moments of historical controversy and intellectual ferment. The class becomes an historical arena; students, in role, become particular persons from the period, often as members of a faction. Their purpose is to advance a political agenda and achieve their faction’s objectives. To do so, they will undertake research and write speeches and position papers; and they will also give formal speeches, participate in informal debates and negotiations, and otherwise work to win the game. After a few preparatory lectures, the game begins and the players are in charge; the instructor serves as adviser or “gamemaster”. Outcomes sometimes differ from the actual history; a post‐mortem session at the end of the game sets the record straight. (For more information on ‘Reacting to the Past’, see https://reacting.barnard.edu/.)

This class offers one or two games, usually a game set in the modern period and in the early modern period: for example, a game about the dramatic parliamentary upheaval that took place under Henry VIII in Tudor England, and a game about the dilemmas and debates surrounding the achievement of Indian independence after World War II.

Intended learning outcomes

Students that successfully complete this subject should:

  • gain a mastery of a major event in history
  • develop skills in locating and analysing primary and secondary sources in constructing and evaluating historical arguments
  • develop skills in clear and persuasive expression and argumentation, both oral and written
  • develop skills of critical thinking, empathy, and oral expression and argumentation through participating in a multi-session role-play game

Last updated: 12 June 2019