Fringe History, Pseudoscience, and Popular Culture
HIST 443: Spring 2013
Instructor: Dr. Ronald Fritze
Credit: Three semester hours
Office Hours: Unless I am in class or a meeting, I will be working in my office Monday through Friday from 8:00-4:30.
Office: Founders Hall 221
(Feel free to contact me either by phone or e-mail. Email will probably get you a prompter response.)
For website: at Planet Clio, go to: http://www.corndancer.com/fritze/invntdknwldg/invknw_home.html
This site has the syllabus posted along with instructions for assignments.
Michael Shermer, Why People Believe Weird Things
Michael Barkun, A Culture of Conspiracy
Ronald Fritze, Invented Knowledge
K. R. Hore, The Quest for Origins
Heather Pringle, The Master Plan
Course Description: This class will survey the phenomenon of fringe knowledge in modern culture. It will show how history and science are misused and twisted so that they appear to support highly speculative and often fantastical theories about the past. Examples from American, European, and World history will be investigated.
1. Students will gain a working knowledge of the main theories related to fringe knowledge about the human past.
2. Students will become familiar with the individuals who played an important role in promoting fringe theories about the human past.
3. Students will become acquainted the secondary literature and the reference materials dealing with Pseudohistory and Pseudoscience and write a critical book review.
4. Students will sample and evaluate a work of Pseudo-history or Pseudoscience and write an analytical book review about it.
5. Students will use their knowledge to evaluate and to critique films and documentaries related to Pseudohistory and Pseudoscience and write critical analyses of such documentaries.
Class Attendance: Coming to classes is an integral part of the learning experience. Students need to try to make every class meeting. If they cannot make it to class they need to inform the instructor ahead of time, if possible. They definitely need to explain their absence, after the fact, if they did not explain it beforehand. Four absences, both excused and unexcused, will result in the student being dropped from the class.
Academic Misconduct: For definitions and procedures regarding academic dishonesty and plagiarism, see the Student Handbook.
Examinations and Quizzes: The tests in this class will consist of five reading quizzes on the Shermer, Barkun, Fritze, Benite, and Pringle books and a final exam. The reading quizzes will be objective and/or short answer questions. The final will be essay and some objective questions. It will be based on the lectures and the five textbooks.
This class will consist of 750 total points.
200 : five reading quizzes at 40 points each.
200 : final
75 : book review of a scholarly book about pseudohistory
75 : book review of a work of pseudohistory
75 : major critique of Lost Civilizations documentary
175 : five critiques of documentaries at 35 points each
720 and above = A
640-719 = B
560-639 = C
480-559 = D
Class Participation: Students are expected to come to class and be prepared to discuss the various topics at the appropriate times.
Book Reviews and Critiques of Documentaries:
See separate handouts or instructional documents on the course website.
|J A N U A R Y|
Orientation to the Class: exams, papers, and projects Defining Fringe History and Pseudo-Science
Definitions and concepts of myth and legend
Methodologies of Fringe History and Pseudo-Science
Why People Believe Weird Things, book quiz
|F E B R U A R Y|
A Culture of Conspiracy, book quiz
Kennedy Assassination Theories
Moon Landing Hoaxes
Ancient Aliens dvd
Invented Knowledge, book quiz
Myth of the Moundbuilders
Lost Civilizations of North America dvd
|M A R C H|
The Quest for Origins, book quiz
Ark of the Covenant
The Master Plan, book quiz
Protocols of the Elders of Zion
Nazis and the Occult dvd
|A P R I L|
Presentations of Book Reviews with Q&A
Due dates for written assignments
(submissions to be done through Safe Assign):
14 January, Viking documentaries
4 February, Atlantis documentary
18 February, Ancient Aliens documentary
4 March, Templars in America documentary
11 March, 1421 documentary
25 March, Nazis and the Occult documentary
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