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Viewing: HI 305 : Frauds and Mysteries of the Past

Last approved: Tue, 23 Feb 2016 09:09:30 GMT

Last edit: Tue, 23 Feb 2016 09:09:30 GMT

Catalog Pages referencing this course
Change Type
HI (History)
305
011534
Dual-Level Course
Cross-listed Course
No
Frauds and Mysteries of the Past
Frauds and Mysteries of Past
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
History (16HI)
Term Offering
Fall Only
Offered Every Year
Fall 2015
Previously taught as Special Topics?
Yes
3
 
Course Prefix/NumberSemester/Term OfferedEnrollment
HON 290Spring 201420
HI 298Fall 201436
HON 290Fall 201430
Course Delivery
Face-to-Face (On Campus)

Grading Method
Graded with S/U option
3
16
Contact Hours
(Per Week)
Component TypeContact Hours
Lecture3
Course Attribute(s)
GEP (Gen Ed)
QEP (TH!NK)

If your course includes any of the following competencies, check all that apply.
University Competencies

Course Is Repeatable for Credit
No
 
 
Alicia McGill
Assistant Professor

Open when course_delivery = campus OR course_delivery = blended OR course_delivery = flip
Enrollment ComponentPer SemesterPer SectionMultiple Sections?Comments
Lecture7035YesN/A
Open when course_delivery = distance OR course_delivery = online OR course_delivery = remote

Is the course required or an elective for a Curriculum?
No
Myths, mysteries, misconceptions, and hoaxes in history and archaeology. Examination of popular fascinations with the past, fallacies invoked in historical myths, and misappropriation of the past. Students learn about and implement methods and evidence used by scholars to interpret past peoples and events, logic, skepticism, and critical thinking, interpretative, and analytical skills. Students apply these skills in discussions, in-class activities, and creative assignments to debunk and disprove inaccurate and problematic claims about the past. Case studies of topics such as: stereotypes about early humans, Atlantis, mythical beasts, pyramid alignment, conspiracy theories, art fakes and forgeries, and alien visitations.

HI 305 was designed to develop and hone skills in critical and creative thinking and historical and anthropological reasoning and analysis. Research has shown that many undergraduate students today gather information about the past from popular culture and this course capitalizes on that fact to teach students to be more active and critical consumers of popular sources of information about the past. In a previous section of this course, Dr. McGill carried out a study with Dr. Anne McLaughlin in the Department of Psychology to assess how students in the “Frauds” course think about pseudoscience and pseudohistory before and after the class. Preliminary results show that not only did students change their minds about topics they learned about over the course of a semester, they also became more skeptical of pseudoscience and pseudohistory claims they had not been exposed to in the course. In addition to introducing students to frauds and mysteries about the past and claims perpetuated by pseudohistorians and pseudoscientists, in HI 305 students will also develop a rich understanding of the contexts in which various frauds and myths have existed – this kind of examination is key to historical reasoning. Students will also apply skills in critique and evaluation as they explore frauds and mysteries of the past – such skills are important in any career and this critical thinking combined with the creativity involved in the final projects for HI 305 will integrate well with goals of the NCSU Quality Enhancement Plan. Two versions of this course will be offered in Fall 2015. There will be one Honors section and one section that will be taught as a History Topics class. The History Topics section will be taught as combination First Year Inquiry Course/TH!NK course.  


With regards to the Department of History goals and curriculum, HI 305 course will introduce non-history majors to skills in historical analysis. Program assessment has shown us the value of a course that will cultivate skills connected to the Sophomore Seminar in History (HI 300) and the senior capstone course: Seminar in History (HI 491). Such integration of course concepts reinforces a scaffolding approach to history pedagogy. HI 305 will attract students pursuing the History Bachelor of Science Degree. Additionally, although HI 305 does not solely focus on Ancient History, many examples used in the course are from Ancient societies so the course will work well for students interested in Ancient history and archaeology and it will dovetail with a broader history curriculum as well as offerings in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. HI 305 will connect with the growing Public History program in the Department of History. HI 305 focuses on heritage studies and contemporary and past interactions with and manipulations of the past, introducing undergraduates to fundamental concerns in public history and heritage studies. This course could also provide graduate students in public history with an opportunity to be a teaching assistant in a course that engages them in critical reflection about history and heritage studies pedagogy.  


No

Is this a GEP Course?
Yes
GEP Categories
Humanities
Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Humanities Open when gep_category = HUM
Each course in the Humanities category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:
 
 
Outcome 1: Students will identify and investigate myths, mysteries, misconceptions, and hoaxes in history and archaeology, and examine popular fascinations with the past.
 
 
For the “Presentation about a Fraud, Myth, or Mystery” assignment, students will produce PowerPoint presentations about a particular fraud or myth about the past that they are randomly assigned and for the “Research Paper about a Fraud, Myth, or Mystery” assignment students will write a 4-6 page paper about a fraud or myth about the past of their choice. In these assignments students describe the frauds/myths they research in addition to providing accurate descriptions of particular cultural groups and/or historical events or sites. Students will demonstrate their knowledge about specific cultural groups and the ways people engage with the past as well as their skills in evaluating claims about the past. In the presentations and paper students will summarize and unpack particular frauds or myths about the past, provide evidence to challenge or debunk the claims, identity motives behind them, discuss ways to interpret and evaluate various sources about the frauds, and critique these sources.
 
 
Outcome 2: Students will examine various uses, manipulations, and misappropriations of the past and implement methods and evidence used by historical and archaeological scholars to interpret particular historic people, places, or events and as well as the meanings and significance of those in various cultural contexts.
 
 
The final assignment for this class (“The Debate Activity”) is an inquiry project in which students collect information about debates about the uses and misuses of the past, the ways people connect with the past, ways to present debates in history to the public, and the economic and cultural values of history and summarize the details of these debates using specific examples, and present an argument to the class. Assignment components include: Researching a particular debate and the current context of this debate; Identifying particular stakes in a debate and researching the perspectives of people with those stakes; Learning to collect and interpret various forms of evidence including primary sources to support particular stakes; Constructing arguments from diverse perspectives about a topic to support a “side” in the debate; Presenting the debate to the class in creative ways; and Evaluating and critiquing the arguments on the other “side” before and during the debate.
 
 
Outcome 3: Students will evaluate, analyze, and debunk problematic myths, hoaxes, and misconceptions about the past, using method and evidence and reasons used by historians and archaeologists.
 
 
In classroom exercises students will examine examples of pseudoscience and pseudohistory in archaeological and historical narratives to distinguish and evaluate what does and does not count as valid historical and scientific evidence, analysis, and interpretation. In one in-class activity students will evaluate various claims about “the Lost Civilization of Atlantis.” Example questions from this activity include:
• In what ways do Ignatius Donnelly’s claims about Atlantis fail to live up to processes of scientific thinking and known historical data?
• Imagine you are a legitimate historian interested in doing a study about Atlantis. What would you put in a grant proposal to evaluate the accuracy of this hypothetical statement?: “The civilizations of the ancient Egypt and Mexico share many general cultural similarities. This is likely the result of these societies having been influenced by the civilization of the Lost Continent of Atlantis.” In other words, explain the kinds of methods you would use and evidence you would look for.
Mathematical Sciences Open when gep_category = MATH
Each course in the Mathematial Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Natural Sciences Open when gep_category = NATSCI
Each course in the Natural Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Social Sciences Open when gep_category = SOCSCI
Each course in the Social Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Interdisciplinary Perspectives Open when gep_category = INTERDISC
Each course in the Interdisciplinary Perspectives category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:
 
 
Outcome 1: Students will identify the methods and forms of evidence historians and cultural anthropologists use to study past cultures and events.
 
 
Within history, in one classroom exercise students read written and pictographic texts about the same historical event and figures (the relationship between the native Mesoamerican groups, Cortés and other European explorers, and Doña Marina/Malinztin, Cortés’ translator) composed by multiple stakeholders. In this activity they identify individual and cultural biases, utilize techniques in interpreting and evaluating primary sources, discuss the sources in context, and discuss what we can learn about historical and cultural interpretation from disparate texts. Questions from the activity include:
• What are the strengths and weaknesses of the different accounts?
• What specific aspects of Aztec and European society and history can we learn from these texts?
• What are some of the specific claims being made in your source? What kinds of evidence (if any) do they provide)?
 
 
Outcome 2: Students will identify, evaluate, analyze, and debunk problematic myths, hoaxes, and misconceptions about the past using historical, archaeological, and anthropological evidence and arguments.
 
 
For the “Presentation about a Fraud, Myth, or Mystery” assignment, students will produce PowerPoint presentations about a particular fraud or myth about the past that they are randomly assigned and for the “Research Paper about a Fraud, Myth, or Mystery” assignment students will write a 4-6 page paper about a fraud or myth about the past of their choice. In these assignments, using sources of known historical and archaeological knowledge, students describe the frauds/myths they research in addition to providing accurate descriptions of particular cultural groups and/or historical events or archaeological sites. In the presentations and paper students will summarize and unpack particular frauds or myths about the past, by identifying cultural motives behind the false interpretation and providing evidence to challenge or debunk the claims.
 
 
Outcome 3: Students will collect, evaluate, and interpret sources about particular historic people, places, or events and will articulate the meanings and significance of those in various cultural contexts.
 
 
In the final assignment for this class (“The Debate Activity”) students will collect information about debates about the uses and misuses of the past, the ways people connect with the past, ways to present debates in history to the public, and the economic and cultural values of history, summarize the details of these debates, and present an argument to the class. This assignment will involve the interpretation and summary of various sources related to their debate as well as the context of this debate to identify why debate surrounds their topic and explain specific perspectives about their topic. Students will also interpret various forms of evidence to support particular stakes, analyze the implications of actions related to this debate, and construct arguments from diverse perspectives about a topic to support a “side” in the debate. Students will present the “sides” of this debate in a creative class presentation that will involve role-playing and may also involve a PowerPoint presentation and/or video-clips.
 
 
Cultural Anthropology, Archaeology, History
 
 
The instructor is a historian, with a doctorate in anthropology, who works on heritage archaeological sites. She brings methods and evidence from all three disciplines to the particular case studies. Students will complete a series of readings from the disciplines listed above so that they develop an understanding of the writing styles, forms of evidence (especially material culture and written primary sources), and interpretative and analytical techniques used in these disciplines. They will learn how various scholars (especially in archaeology and history) have challenged common misconceptions, myths, frauds and mysteries in history. Classroom exercises and discussions will be structured to help students develop and implement skills in scientific and humanistic analysis including analysis of writing, interpretation, critical thinking, rational skepticism, and the scientific method to interpret and analyze various claims about the past. Students will use approaches from history and anthropology in this assignment by seeking out historical evidence and anthropological interpretation regarding how and why a particular debate exists and its meanings within a contemporary societal context.
Visual & Performing Arts Open when gep_category = VPA
Each course in the Visual and Performing Arts category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Health and Exercise Studies Open when gep_category = HES
Each course in the Health and Exercise Studies category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
&
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Global Knowledge Open when gep_category = GLOBAL
Each course in the Global Knowledge category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to achieve objective #1 plus at least one of objectives 2, 3, and 4:
 
 

 
 

 
Please complete at least 1 of the following student objectives.
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

US Diversity Open when gep_category = USDIV
Each course in the US Diversity category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to achieve at least 2 of the following objectives:
Please complete at least 2 of the following student objectives.
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Requisites and Scheduling
100%
 
a. If seats are restricted, describe the restrictions being applied.
 
N/A
 
b. Is this restriction listed in the course catalog description for the course?
 
N/A
 
List all course pre-requisites, co-requisites, and restrictive statements (ex: Jr standing; Chemistry majors only). If none, state none.
 
None.
 
List any discipline specific background or skills that a student is expected to have prior to taking this course. If none, state none. (ex: ability to analyze historical text; prepare a lesson plan)
 
None.
Additional Information
Complete the following 3 questions or attach a syllabus that includes this information. If a 400-level or dual level course, a syllabus is required.
 
Title and author of any required text or publications.
 

 
Major topics to be covered and required readings including laboratory and studio topics.
 

 
List any required field trips, out of class activities, and/or guest speakers.
 

College(s)Contact NameStatement Summary
College of Humanities and Social SciencesJohn MillhauserIn the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, both the Department of History and the Department of Sociology & Anthropology house archaeologists. In developing her courses, Prof. McGill has consulted with prof. John Millhauser to avoid overlap of archaeological and anthropological coverage.
No new resources will be required or requested for this course. Dr. Alicia McGill is a new hire who developed the course as part of her standard load rotation.

  1. Students will engage the human experience through the interpretation of culture by being introduced to myths, mysteries, misconceptions, and hoaxes in history and archaeology and examining popular fascinations with the past

  2. Students will become aware of the act of interpretation itself as a critical form of knowing in the humanities by examining  various uses, manipulations, and misappropriations of the past as well as implementing methods and evidence used by historical and archaeological scholars to interpret past peoples and events

  3. Students will make academic arguments about the human experience using method and evidence and reasons used by historians and archaeologists to interpret past peoples and events and to challenge and debunk misconceptions about the past

  4. Students will distinguish between the distinct approaches of history, cultural anthropology, and archaeology

  5. Students will identify and apply authentic connections between history, cultural anthropology, and archaeology

  6. Students will explore and synthesize the approaches or views of history, cultural anthropology, and archaeology


Student Learning Outcomes

1. Students will identify, evaluate, analyze, and debunk problematic myths, hoaxes, and misconceptions about the past


2. Students will identify and apply the methods and forms of evidence scholars use to study past cultures and events


3. Students will collect, evaluate, and interpret sources about particular historic people, places, or events and will articulate the meanings and significance of those in various cultural contexts


4. Students will develop scholarly methods necessary to identify problems, explore issues, and debate ideas that reflect ways of knowing across multiple disciplines to challenge misconceptions about the past


Evaluation MethodWeighting/Points for EachDetails
Participation15Class Participation
Because discussion and class engagement are such important components of this course, you will be evaluated on your participation. Participation will be assessed based on 1) your verbal interactions in class (e.g. comments and questions in class lectures and discussions), and 2) your participation in and work produced for class activities (evaluated on a check, check plus, check minus scale, with feedback).
Here are some guidelines for class participation: 15-14 points will be given to students who actively participate in all discussions and activities by trying to answer questions from the professor, TA, or other students; sensitively critiquing and challenging ideas presented in readings or in class; posing questions about class material; and contributing information, answers, and innovative and creative ideas to class activities. 13-12 points will be given to students who actively participate in less than all discussions and activities in the ways described above. 11 points or less will be given to students who miss several in-class activities and/or do not say much in class or when they do talk their comments are not original, do not demonstrate knowledge of the materials and are disrespectful or reactionary.
Quizzes10Logical Fallacies Quiz
You will take a quiz on Moodle to test your knowledge about logical fallacies. Readings and additional resources listed the day we discuss logical fallacies will be helpful in preparing for this quiz.
Midterm20Midterm
The midterm will be taken outside of class on Moodle and you will have a week within which to take the exam. Midterm questions will be drawn from lectures, readings, and class activities.
Essay20Research Paper about a Fraud, Myth, or Mystery
You will research and write a 1,000-1,500 word paper (this is ~4-6 pages) about the topic you presented on in class. The research paper is due on Moodle. Your paper will address the background and current state of the fraud/myth, the misuses of science and history involved, evidence that could support or disprove any frauds involved, responses to the topic, implications of the fraud, myth, or mystery, your own perspectives about your topic, and how the topic relates to our class discussions.
presentation10Presentation about a Fraud, Myth, or Mystery
You will randomly choose a topic related to a particular historical or archaeological fraud or myth listed in the syllabus. These topics are loosely related to the materials covered in readings, lectures, and activities but may or may not be discussed in class.

You will research your topic and give a ~10 minute engaging presentation on the day it is listed in the syllabus. You will collect background information about the topic, address what makes it a fraud or myth, discuss the agendas of people who perpetuate this topic, consider how it relates to class topics, and evaluate reliable and non-reliable resources you found on the topic. For your in-class presentation, you should put together approximately five PowerPoint slides with information. Be creative and have some fun with your presentation! Include images and even videos.
Oral Presentation25Debate Activity
Dialogue, debate, and student input are integral parts of this course. Towards the end of the semester you will begin preparing for in-class debates centered on topics that address essential course themes. You will be randomly assigned debate groups. Each group will be split into two sides of an issue and each side will have time to present its “case.” In order to present your “case,” you will do outside research, critically analyze a variety of resources, and articulate arguments in support of your “case” using what you have learned in this course and evidence you have found in you research. Everyone will evaluate their group members and themselves and write a description of what they contributed and learned about the material and about working as a group. The presentations will be made during the final exam period.
TopicTime Devoted to Each TopicActivity
Introduction to Frauds and Mysteries 3 classesReadings:
▪ Feder pp. xiii-xiv, xvii-xix, Chapter 1: Science and Pseudoscience
▪ Holtorf Chapter 1: Archaeology and Popular Culture
▪ Feder Chapter 3: Anatomy of an Archaeological Hoax
▪ Radford “Introduction”
How We Perceive the Study of the Past, Fascinations with Archaeology and History, Significance of the Past2 classesReadings:
▪ Everyone: Holtorf Chapters 3: The Archaeologist in the Field
▪ Last name starting with A-M: Holtorf Chapter 2: Below the Surface (16-34)
▪ Last name starting with N-Z: Holtorf Chapter 4: Interpreting Traces
▪ Holtorf Chapter 6: Contemporaneous Meanings
▪ Hollowell “Moral Arguments on Subsistence Digging”

Deadline to choose presentation topic
How We Know What We Know?, Skepticism, Ways of Thinking in Science and History, Logical Fallacies3 classesReadings:
▪ Feder Chapter 2: Epistemology – How You Know What You Know
▪ The Book of Bad Arguments: bookofbadarguments.com/?view=flipbook
▪ Carl Sagan Excerpts (The Baloney Detection Kit)
For Review: For help learning logical fallacies look at: McGraw Logical Fallacies Resources
▪ Nickell “Principles of Authentication”

Logical Fallacies Quiz Due at the end of the week
Frauds, Myths and Misconceptions about Human Nature, Human Origins, and Early Humans4 classesReadings:
▪ Fuentes Excerpts from “Busting Myths about Human Nature”
▪ Horgan “Quitting the Hominid Fight Club”
▪ Stanford “5 Cherished Myths of Humans Origins”
▪ Feder Chapter 4 “Dawson’s Dawn Man”

Student Presentations:
▪ The Aquatic Ape Theory
▪ Samuel Morton and theories about brain size and intelligence (can also look at Stephen Jay Gould’s claims about Samuel Morton)
▪ Phrenology
▪ Bigfoot aka Sasquatch
Exploration, Discovery, Diffusionism, Lost Civilizations, and Lost Continents2 classesReadings:
▪ Feder Chapter 6: Who’s Next? After the Indians, Before Columbus

Student Presentations
▪ Claims about early Africans in the Americas (choose 2-3 to focus on, see for example: Ivan Van Sertima and/or Paul Alfred Barton)
▪ Thor Heyerdahl’s and theories of diffusionism
▪ Menzies and the Chinese “Discovery” of the New World
▪ Claims and evidence of Viking/Norse populations in the Americas (choose 2-3 to focus on Kensington Runestone, L’Anse aux Meadows)

▪ Atlantis (choose 2-3 claims about Atlantis to focus on)
▪ Graham Hancock’s claims (choose 2-3 to focus on e.g. Lost Civilization, books: Supernatural, Talisman, Fingerprints of the Gods
▪ The Lost Continent of Mu and/or The Lost Continent of Lemuria
Myths, Mysteries, and Misconceptions about the Americas: Denials of history, European exploration, U.S. History, Ancient civilizations in the Americas5 classesReadings:
▪ Feder Chapter 7: The Myth of the Moundbuilders pp. 162-182
▪ Archaeologists’ commentary about Lost Civilizations of North America video
▪ Columbus readings

TA Guest Lecture: Misconceptions about gender in U.S. history

Student Presentations:
▪ Barry Fell’s claims (choose 2-3 to focus on, some of his books: Saga America, America BC, Bronze Age America) OR Claims of Lost Tribes of Israel in the Americas
▪ The Lost Colony and “The Dare Stones”
▪ Mark William Hofmann

▪ The Maya Calendar, 2012, and Doomsday Prophecies
▪ “The Maya Collapse”
▪ Myths about Christopher Columbus (choose 2-3 to focus on)

▪ Michael Bellesiles and his book Arming America
▪ The Willie Lynch Letter
▪ An assassination conspiracy theory (e.g. Lincoln, Kennedy)
▪ Moon Landing Denial OR The Lost Cosmonauts
▪ Free-Mason Conspiracy Theories

Midterm Due.
Weird “History”: Beasts, Mythical Creatures, Ancient Aliens, Curses, and Strange Disappearances2 classesReadings:
Look up a mythical creature and briefly research the history behind it. Come to class prepared to talk about what you found. Examples: Wampus Cat, Loch Ness Monster, Yeti, Vampires, Vodoo Shark, Chimera, Dragons, Grendel, Mothman, New Jersey Devil, Unicorn.
▪ Feder Chapter 9: Prehistoric E.T.: The Fantasy of Ancient Astronauts
▪ Von Daniken Excerpt from “Chariots of the Gods”

Student Presentations:
▪ Claims about the Nazca lines
▪ Vile Vortices (choose 1 or 2)
▪ Claims about the Egyptian Pyramids (choose 2-3 to focus on; e.g. pyramid alignment, pyramid magic, slaves built the pyramids)
▪ A Curse on King Tut’s Tomb
Manipulating the Past: Denials of History, Using the Past to Construct Identity, Nationalism and History2 classesReadings
▪ Benavides “Narratives of Power, the Power of Narratives”
▪ The Use of Myth in History
http://www.history.org/Foundation/journal/summer12/myths.cfm

Student Presentations:
▪ Nazi manipulations of history and archaeology
▪ James Macpherson's 'Ossian' poems
▪ Holocaust Denial
▪ Denial of African heritage in Zimbabwe
Religion and Myths, Mysteries, and Pseudoscience and Final Project Preparation2 classesReadings:
▪ Feder Chapter 12 “Old Time Religion, New Age Visions, and Paranormal Predictions”
▪ Read over debate assignment and prepare to meet with your group
▪ Do some research about your debate topic

Student Presentations:
▪ Shroud of Turin or James Ossuary
▪ Ark of the Covenant
▪ “Jesus in the Snow” and other popular claims of divine sightings
The Concept of Authenticity, History and Entertainment, Heritage Tourism, Forgeries and Fakes2 classesReadings:
▪ Holtorf Chapter 7 “Authenticity”
▪ Gable and Handler, "Deep Dirt: Messing Up the Past."
▪ Goodman “How Fake Art Is Created and Discovered and Why”
▪ Choose a few Fakes, Mistakes, Discoveries, or Secrets to read about www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/research/close-examination/

Student Presentations:
▪ Elmyr de Hory OR Han van Meegeren
▪ Shaun Greenhalgh
▪ The Hitler Diaries

Research Paper Due.
The Past and Popular Culture and Final Project Preparation2 classesReadings:
▪ Holtorf Chapters 8
▪ Bring a laptop to class if you have one.
▪ Do some readings and research about your debate topic
▪ Prepare to meet with your debate group

despain (Thu, 26 Feb 2015 20:16:11 GMT): GEP outcomes: Generally we have one outcome and one assessment per objective, with limited description and scope. Syllabus: need S/U and Audit grading information; statement on rounding for grading scale or use traditional grading scale.
n51ls801 (Thu, 02 Apr 2015 21:54:10 GMT): Some minor corrections in 5476_HI 305_Syllabus-2R.doc
gmneugeb (Tue, 07 Apr 2015 11:27:14 GMT): Rollback: Rollback to add additional info.
Key: 7169