After a long summer break Bec and I are back into the world of study and I am beginning this year with double history – two history units at the same time. Up to now I have managed to avoid doing two history units at the same time. Technically, each unit/course at university level should be equal in the amount of work required; however it is my experience that history is a bit more work than the other units I have done. Firstly, there is usually a lot more reading required and that can’t be helped. Sometimes there is a lot of history to cover, especially if you are studying world history. Secondly, the history discipline traditionally requires the use of footnotes in referencing and that is quite time consuming.
My first history course was World History to 1500CE, so that covered everything from the beginning of time up to around 1500CE. As my lecturer said, it was a gallop through history. Racing through that much history does mean a lot gets left out; you can only deal with the broad themes of history. Fortunately assignments offer an opportunity to delve more deeply into a specific time, event or issue that particularly interests you.
Other history units I have completed include World History 1500 – 1918, The Twentieth Century, An Introduction to Australian History, and Race in Australia. A lot of the history courses are only taught every second year so that has required some juggling of the schedule and means that our classes often have a blend of both second and third year students.
This semester I am continuing the journey into Australian history with a unit called Contemporary Australia. This unit starts in the middle of the Second World War in 1942 with the fall of Singapore, the treatment of thousands of allied soldiers who became prisoners of war and the changing relationship between Australia and Britain. Some of the major themes include war, of course – WWII, the Cold War, Vietnam; race relationships – the White Australia Policy (WAP), the 1967 referendum, immigration; and notable Prime Ministers – Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and John Howard. Fortunately it is not all war and politics, as we also look at some of the major social movements as well.
My other history course is called Europe: History of an Idea. This unit looks at the political, social and cultural events that both unified and fragmented Europe and Europeans. We started with one of the most devastating periods of the Middle Ages, The Black Plague and it has been quite fascinating to learn the various ways that people responded to the crisis. Some isolated themselves, a logical response. Some took the approach of eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die – better than doom and gloom I suppose. But the most shocking to me was the refusal to care for and abandonment of family and friends, even one’s own children. I suppose children weren’t exactly in short supply in those days and their life expectancy wasn’t guaranteed in the early years. In the rest of the course we will go on to look at the Renaissance, the Reformation, the persecution of witches, the Enlightenment, as well as the French and Industrial Revolutions.
With two history courses I will need to be very organised this semester and so I have created a study schedule which includes all the readings, assessment tasks and due dates, and what I need to do each week so that hopefully I do not fall behind and leave everything to the last minute. So if things do get a little quiet here from time to time, you will know that I am deep in the study of history.