How Not to Write History - A Lecture with Dr. Chelsea Zi Wang

How Not to Write History - A Lecture with Dr. Chelsea Zi Wang

April 19, 2019
Pfau Library, PL-4005
12:00 PM to 02:00 PM
How Not to Write History: Teaching Methodology through Aliens, Conspiracies, and the Chinese Discovery of America

Dr. Chelsea Zi Wang will share her experience teaching what she calls pseudohistory—sensational arguments about the past that have been widely discredited by professional historians. This introductory undergraduate course is premised on the belief that each member of society can and should develop the skills needed to distinguish between reliable and unreliable accounts of the past. The talk will present examples of case studies, assignments, and discussion strategies adopted in the course, illustrating how the study of negative examples can help us define and analyze the basic elements of historical writing that make an argument trustworthy.

Chelsea Zi Wang is an assistant professor of history at Claremont McKenna College. Her research, focused on the interplay between communication and bureaucracy in Ming China (1368-1644), examines how technological limitations framed the Ming approach to common problems of governance such as paperwork, movement, oversight, and accountability. In addition to teaching survey and topical courses on Chinese and East Asian history, she has been teaching “Pseudohistory” since 2017.