This workshop offers an introduction to historical analysis and methods in the social sciences with a special emphasis on historical case studies. Social scientists working in different disciplines and different research programs often have varying, sometimes competing, assumptions about what it means to be historical. Rather than take sides, the workshop pluralistically surveys a wide variety of contemporary self-avowedly historical research programs that use case studies: new institutional economic history, comparative historical analysis, historical institutionalism, international history, and historical sociology. As we move across these we follow cross-disciplinary contrasts and connections to see how historical cases have been used by an array of economists, political scientists, and sociologists.
In our readings we engage reflective and prescriptive pronouncements about the substantive and methodological orientation of research programs alongside concrete examples of historical work. The aim is to examine and evaluate both the framing and the actual research practices of each program. Our workshop sessions will be seminars in which I provide an organizational outline and introductory remarks, but the bulk of class time is devoted to active discussion of the readings. The goal of the sessions is to help students to identify and understand the premises, preaching, and practices of diverse contemporary research programs in historical social science, and to spur students who wish to do historical case studies themselves to identify and articulate the particular variant of historical analysis that best fits their commitments and interests.
This workshop may be taken as a freestanding survey, or supplemented with the one-day workshop on archival research.