Academic year
2023/2024 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
FM0489 (AF:448479 AR:257768)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
1st Semester
Course year
Go to Moodle page
The course of Public History is part of the Master’s Degree Programme in ‘Digital and Public Humanities’ and is connected to the Venice Centre for Digital and Public Humanities (VeDPH) in the Department of Humanities.
The course Public and Digital History Mod. 1 (FM0489-1) is a course on Public History. It can be combined with the second part of the homonymous course (FM0489-2), centred on Digital History, with a total credit weight of di 12 CFU, or chosen as single course, with a weight of 6 CFU (Public History, FM0490).
The objectives of the course are the acquisition of Public History’s tools and methodologies and the understanding of the issues related to the production and consumption of history in public, with the public, and for the public.
1. Knowledge and understanding:
• Knowledge of the evolution of the Public History from the twentieth century to the present.
• Knowledge of the relevant theoretical and intellectual debate.
• Knowledge of the main techniques and methodologies of historical research carried out with the public and in public.
• Knowledge of the main techniques and methodologies of historical dissemination carried out with the public and in public.

2. Ability to apply knowledge and understanding:
• Ability to apply the practice of Public History to a specific case of popular dissemination of history.
• Ability to solve the problems connected to the dissemination of historical studies in non-academic contexts.

3. Judgement skills:
• Ability to critically analyse a historical source.
• Ability to develop critical thinking skills with reference to the issue of the public use of history and the alteration of historical memory in non-scholarly contexts.

4. Communication skills:
• Ability to interact with the peers and the professor and communicate the outcomes of the student’s work.
A basic knowledge of history is, if not required, desirable.
The course of Public History will allow the students to see history with different eyes. At the core of the course are the different ways history meets the world and we can meet history, from dissemination to entertainment, from applied history to participatory historical research. Many concrete examples will be made, but the most problematic theoretical and methodological aspects will also be stressed, such as the relationships between education and entertainment, history and memory, simplification and trivialization, or between broadening of participation and acknowledgement of competencies. All the forms of communication and understanding of the past in contexts other than the traditional ones (such as universities, schools, and research institutes) will be considered. Through practical activities the students will experience in person advantages and disadvantages of the history made in public.

The contents of the course will include the main topics related to the theory and practice of Public History, such as:
• Public sources
• Public memory and historical sites
• Museums, archives and heritage centres
• Community and family history
• Oral history
• Public History writing
• History in the media and the web
• History and fiction
• Re-enactments and commemorations
• History games
• Public engagement
• Applied history
• Shared authority and crowdsourcing
Attending students:
• National Council on Public History, 'About the Field'.
• Jill Liddington, ‘What is Public History? Publics and their Pasts, Meanings and Practices’, Oral History, 30 (2002), pp. 83-93.
• Thomas Cauvin, ‘New Field, Old Practices: Promises and Challenges of Public History', magazén - International Journal for Digital and Public Humanities, 2 (2021), pp. 13-44.

Additonal texts for non-attending students:
• Thomas Cauvin, Public History: A Textbook of Practice, New York-London, Routledge, 2022.
• Roy Rosenzweig, ‘Everyone a Historian’, in The Presence of the Past. Popular Uses of History in American Life, ed. by Roy Rosenzweig and David Thelen, New York, Columbia University Press, 1998, pp. 177-189.
• Natalie Zemon Davis, ‘Movie or Monograph? A Historian/Filmmaker's Perspective’, The Public Historian, 25 (2003), pp. 45-48.
• James B. Gardner, ‘Contested Terrain: History, Museums, and the Public’, The Public Historian, 26 (2004), pp. 11-21.
• Roy Rosenzweig, ‘Can History Be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past’, The Journal of American History, vol. 93 (2006), pp. 117-146
• Grant Rodwell, ‘Understanding the Past through Historical Fiction’, in Whose History? Engaging History Students through Historical Fiction, Adelaide, University of Adelaide Press, 2013, pp. 151-170.
• Shawn Graham, Guy Massie and Nadine Feuerherm, ‘The HeritageCrowd Project: A Case Study in Crowdsourcing Public History’, in Writing History in the Digital Age, ed. by Jack Dougherty and Kristen Nawrotzki, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 2013, pp. 222-232.

All the articles and other didactic materials will be made available through the Moodle e-learning platform.
The textbook, needed only by non-attending students, can be bought either in the paper or the electronic form.
For attending students:
Assessment will be based on the following components:
1) Development and completion of a project (video, blog-post or podcast).
2) Class presentation.
3) Participation to class discussions and all the activities.
4) Final oral exam mostly revolving around the project and the topics discussed in class.

For non-attending students:
Final oral exam with a different reading list including a greater number of texts (see the full list in the ‘Referral texts’ section).

Please note that if you take the teaching module on Digital and Public History (FM0489) your Public History exam will not be registered until you have also taken the Digital History exam (and the other way round).
The students can choose between two different options: attending and not attending the classes, even if attendance is strongly recommended.

1) Attending students have to be present at at least 11 out of 15 classes and, regardless of the possible absences, complete their project work and all the given assignments (if you have to miss a class please contact the professor beforehand to explain and ask how to make up). The final oral exam will mostly revolve around the project and the topics discussed in class.

2) Non-attending students will only take a final oral exam, but with a different reading list including a greater number of texts (see the full list in the ‘Referral texts’ section).

For attending students, didactic methodologies will include:
Lessons with activities, presentations, discussions, and interaction between professor and students.
When possible, also a guest lecture and/or a field-trip will be included.
Accessibility, Disability and Inclusion.
Accommodation and support services for students with disabilities and students with specific learning impairments:
Ca’ Foscari abides by Italian Law (Law 17/1999; Law 170/2010) regarding support services and accommodation available to students with disabilities. This includes students with mobility, visual, hearing and other disabilities (Law 17/1999), and specific learning impairments (Law 170/2010). If you have a disability or impairment that requires accommodations (i.e., alternate testing, readers, note takers or interpreters) please contact the Disability and Accessibility Offices in Student Services:

This subject deals with topics related to the macro-area "Human capital, health, education" and contributes to the achievement of one or more goals of U. N. Agenda for Sustainable Development

Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 02/10/2023