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Aims and Assessment

Aims

Students will be able to...

  • ...demonstrate an understanding of the developments in research on the Global History of Human Rights.
  • ...demonstrate a critical and systematic knowledge of the development of human rights in Latin America.
  • ...discuss issues of the development of human rights in Latin America in an informed manner.
  • ...analyse and assess primary sources.
  • ...devise and sustain arguments about human rights in Latin America.
  • ...summarise and critically evaluate alternative views and interpretations.
  • ...write for academic audience and the general public on Human Rights in Latin America.

Assessment

This is a Final Year Advanced Option 1 (Applied) and the assessment model is as follows:

  • Assignment 1: Oral presentation/ Workshop convening (10%)

  • Assignment 2: 1,500 word essay (10%)

  • Assignment 3: Practical written assignment 3,000 words (40%)

  • Assignment 4: 3,000 word essay (40%)

You will find a lot of useful information about essay writing, marking and assessment, eithical approval for research, plagiarism etc. in the History Undergraduate Handbook

All assignmnets will be marked using the University Marking Criteria and History Specific Descriptors. You can find the marking criteria here.

Assignment 1: Oral presentation/ Workshop convening (10%)

This can be a formal 15 minute presentation followed by questions from the class and a class discussion. Here is a handout with presentation preparation tips.

If you are not so keen on formal presentations and would like to convene a workshop and design some activities and worksheets that will help the seminar group work through the issues for the week, that is also an option.

If you want to do a formal presentation then the maximum time would be around 15 mins (there'll be some leniency with that if you're a group of 3 or more and also, due to tech issues of online seminars for groups of any size.) The idea is that you read the core readings and some of the further readings, as you would for an essay, and you develop an argument, as you would for an essay.
For the workshop, you would need to prepare something equivalent, perhaps a handout (electronic format) that summarises some arguments, includes some relevant extracts from primary and secondary sources and suggests some interesting questions for the students in the seminar to discuss. As a rule of thumb, a transcript for a 15-minute presentation (if you wrote it out) would be about 1500 words and slides would include source extracts, images, key concepts, questions for discussion and references. So, the workshop should include something equivalent that shows you've done that research, but it can be less led from the front with a speech and more about the convening of an open discussion. An informal discussion like this might last longer than 15 minutes and that's not a problem but you're not expected to keep it all going for two hours!
I suggested the workshop format as an option since I know that not everyone is a fan of public speaking.
In terms of how to do presentations or workshops on Teams, you can share your screen and/or upload documents in the chat. You can share handouts and/ or presentation slides this way. If you're doing a formal presentation, you can either do it live in the seminar by sharing your screen and flicking through the slides yourself (or sending the slides to your tutor or a peer and asking them to be 'slide monitor') Alternatively, for formal presentations, you could prerecord using the "insert sound" and "record" options on PowerPoint (like the Liberation Theology talk I recorded). You could pre-circulate that by uploading it on your group's Teams page and writing comments and instructions in the chat.
Assignment 2: 1,500 word essay (10%)

This can be a short essay or a source analysis. You will draw up your own question based around the theme of one of the seminars. Here is a handout with essay writing tips.

If you prefer to do a source analysis this is also a possibility. Here is a handout about writing a source analysis.

Assignment 3: Practical written assignment 3,000 words (40%)

Information about the Practical Written Assignment (40%)

Part 1. Reflecting on public history and the use of history in a human rights context

You may not knowingly have encountered much ‘public history’ but if you have ever spotted a blue plaque on a building, or been on a school trip to a museum, historic site, or National Trust property or landscape, you saw it in action! Similarly, you may have seen historical dramas or factual programming on the television, or heard podcasts or broadcast radio programmes covering historical topics. Of course, you will have heard politicians and activists mobilising history in relation to human rights legislation, human rights activism, international development, US-Latin America relations, Brexit and the EU, global trade, migration patterns, the environment and virtually every other topic currently informing the zeitgeist. As we have seen, history is often used in human rights discourses and in the construction of arguments to make claims about human rights. But what have HISTORIANS contributed to this public history and to the development of ideas about human rights?

For this part of the assignment, you need to locate and analyse at least one and no more than three examples of ‘public history’ or history used in a human rights context related to your topic and produced by, or in collaboration with professional historians or human rights academics and their scholarly work. It could be a television or radio programme, an exhibition, a website, a blog or podcast, a popular history book, a website or an example in another genre. (Evan Smith has pulled together a list of interesting sites here: https://hatfulofhistory.wordpress.com/radical-online-collections-and-archives/).

For examples of public-facing journals, magazines, news programmes, websites and NGOs with considerable participation from historians of human rights in Latin America (many of them from the course bibliography) see below and the suggested primary sources on the course bibliography:

NACLA

The Conversation

Democracy Now

The National Security Archive

Amnesty International, Latin America

You will also find some examples of writing about rights for a general audience in Warwick's online magazine, Lacuna:

Warwick Writing Wrongs Lacuna Magazine

Steps:

  1. Choose your general topic.
  2. Select a ‘public history’ source (or up to 3 sources) related to your topic. Look for sources via Box of Broadcast, on the websites of major broadcasters and production companies, or on the website of major archives, museums, heritage sites, and other knowledge-producing institutions, OR look and see whether historians whose work relates to your subject have blogs or websites themselves.
  3. In between 1000 and 1500  words (not including footnotes or bibliography), reflect on what makes your source(s) good –or, potentially, bad-- history: is it accurate?; nuanced?; well-supported? Reflect also on whether it is good public history: is it appealing and easy to understand? Exciting? Did it inform you about new things and/or change your point-of-view? Did it inform public discussions or debates? What role did the historian play in creating this source?

 

Assessment Criteria Part 1.

This part of the ‘Practical History’ assignment will be assessed in accordance with the following criteria:

  1. Choice of source(s). Sources that genuinely address the history of human rights broadly construed.
  2. Contextualisation:Reflect on the context in which, and the purposes for which each source was created. This means reflecting on the historical moment in which the source was produced, thinking about authorship and planned (and unplanned) audiences, and considering whether the source fulfils its role of bringing historical knowledge and analysis to bear on its subject/content.
  3. Quality and depth of your critical assessmentof the source(s). Marks will be awarded for appropriate reference to the history and historiography that informs the source(s) as ‘public history’, and your critique of each source’s strengths and weaknesses as a piece of history and as a tool for reaching wider audiences.
  4. Bibliography:This reflective portion of the assignment will be researched in just the same way that you would research a short paper, since you will need to know about the history, historiography, and context of your source’s topic if you are to assess it critically. Your bibliography will demonstrate this.

 

Part Two: Being a Public Historian

Having looked at and critically assessed existing sources in ‘public history’, the second half of this assignment will give you a chance to do some yourself. Building on what you have learned in Part 1, refine your topic and think about what style of public history best suits both the topic and your own strengths as a historian and a communicator.

Steps:

Once you have chosen your topic and critically explored what ‘public history’ looks like and how it works, I want you to put it into practice. First, please think about how YOU would choose to address wider publics yourself: what kinds of sources and approaches do you enjoy? Do you think in terms of debating contemporary concerns, reflecting on their historical roots, or opening up new perspectives for others to consider and incorporate? For this module you can choose ONE of the three options below:

 

Option 1: Write an article for a public audience (see Lacuna Workshop notes):

Many historians and academics researching on human rights in Latin America contribute to public-facing journals aimed at an audience with a keen interest in political processes in Latin America and beyond. NACLA and The Conversation are just a few examples. Their aim is to present the findings of their ongoing research in a way that expresses the main message and appeals to people who are not researchers in the field, who may be interested in the main arguments but who probably have limited time to do extensive further research. When writing for a public audience you need to think carefully about the story and why it is important to write now. Is there an anniversary? Is this a human impact piece or an investigative piece? You also need to have in mind a particular reader and think carefully about how to attract and hold their attention. The article should be between 1000 and 2000 words long.

Examples of historians’ articles:

Matthew Brown’s Article on the Quipu Project, University of Bristol,The Conversation

Article about Chile from NACLA

Article about Bolivia from NACLA

Option 2. Write a 1000-1500 word blog intended for a specific, clearly identified (non-academic) readership to interest them in your topic and expose them to some of the complexity and debates that surround it. So you might want to inform school children in the UK Latin American community about rights claims in Latin America; or you might want to inform a UK audience who know very little about Latin America about contemporary Human Rights issues. Your blog must be written in clear and colloquial English, it must be illustrated, and most of all it must be good history (and for us that means with linked citations and a brief bibliography, which will not be included in word count).

Examples:

The Latin American Bureau, LAIO Blog

LSE blog on Latin America and the Caribbean

The Americas Blog, CEPR

Option 3. Design an online exhibition or gallery exploring your topic. You must include at least 8 objects. These might be cartoons, images from the media, works of art, video clips, oral history snippets, historical objects, or perhaps other digitised items (check with me if you use other ‘exhibits’). You must include a textual introduction to your exhibition or gallery, setting it into historical context and explaining it to a general audience – imagine that your whole extended family, some friends from Uni, and a few of your neighbours were coming along to view it – and you must fully identify, introduce and explain the importance of every object in your exhibition. The text content should add up to between 1000 and 1500 words. Again, you must also include a bibliography (not included in word count). See an example here:

Online Exhibition Examples:

Spanish American Independence, British Library online exhibition, 2010

University of Warwick, To the Barricades

You can look at the way museums do this:

Museum of Memory, Chile

Option 4. Make an audio or video podcast. Using clips or readings from existing interviews or primary sources, news footage, images, etc., and/or material you create yourself, you must explore your topic aloud, in your own words. Your podcast should be between 7 and 15 minutes long, should address a contemporary political, social, cultural or public policy question related to human rights and should bring historical knowledge to bear on that question. You must also prepare a bibliography indicating your research sources and the sources of all included material. If you generate your own interviews, you must complete the oral history approval procedures and form. You can find the Ethics review form on this page, under the heading ‘Undergraduates’.

Examples:

Greg Grandin on Democracy Now.

Option 5. The historical context for a report or policy document:

Write the introduction or historical context for a report on your chosen subject or theme. Most NGO or government reports about human rights or those drawn up by international institutions will start with a section providing some historical context or setting the scene for the history of human rights issues in the region or area discussed. This section will indicate how the historical record and recent events have led to the current situation and provide some analysis. The text of the introduction should be between 1000 and 2000 words. Again, you must also include a bibliography (not included in word count).

You can find examples of reports in the Amnesty International collection in the MRC or on the websites of the following organizations and NGOs among others:

Amnesty International

The UN

Washington Office on Latin America

Huma Rights Watch

Assessment Criteria Part 2.

This part of the ‘Practical History’ assignment will be assessed in accordance with the following criteria:

  1. Quality of the historical scholarship underpinning your work: a key aspect of good public history is that it shows just the same level of accurate, nuanced and sophisticated historical knowledge as any scholarly work. So you will have to research your topic just the way you would a long essay assignment. I will look for this both in the bibliography that you submit and in the underpinning secondary sources that you mention, link, or otherwise identify in your piece.
  2. Quality of the primary sources that you include. Again, this part of the assessment is no different from a standard history essay: sources should be well-chosen to support your argument; carefully explained and interpreted.Remember, they cannot speak for themselves, and in public history you can’t use the short-cut of referring to a great secondary source! You need to tell your audience what they mean, as well as what they are.
  3. Accessibility: is your language clear and appropriateto your chosen audience? Is your topic well-chosen for that audience (will it be relevant to them)? Is the format you have chosen effective for the argument you want to make?
  4. ‘Curb appeal’: are you presenting your piece of public history in a way that invites your audience to engage with it?Here, think about what might encourage your chosen readers/listeners/viewers to spend their time exploring your work. Run your idea past family and friends to see how they react. Have you made it easy for them to see ‘what’s in it for me?’ What’s your ‘click-bait’ or the opening ‘hook’ of your argument? What new and exciting content are you giving them that they can get nowhere else?
Assignment 4: 3,000 word essay (40%)

For this essay you need to devise a question that talks to the themes of the course. You will research from both primary and secondary sources. Take feedback from previous assignments into account when preparing your essay.

You will find a lot of useful information about essay writing, marking and assessment, eithical approval for research, plagiarism etc. in the History Undergraduate Handbook

You can find the marking criteria here.