Fringe History, Pseudoscience,
Credit: Three semester hours
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 Pseudo-history 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 Pseudo-history 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.
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.
1 June, Viking documentaries
8 June, Atlantis documentary
15 June, Ancient Aliens documentary
22 June, Templars in America documentary
29 June, 1421 documentary
6 July, Nazis and the Occult documentary
20 July, book review of a scholarly work
27 July, book review of a work of pseudo-scholarship
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