As a contribution to the second installment of the Common Knowledge symposium “In the Humanities Classroom,” this essay describes a four-hour meeting of an undergraduate seminar on historiography at Tel Aviv University. The students and instructor alike are enabled, by analyzing together the work of ancient and medieval historians, to examine their own positions vis-à-vis the discipline of history and to reflect on its political and rhetorical aspects. The seminar, titled “Jews, Pagans, and Christians Write History in Antiquity,” was meant to question, through self-reflexive discussion, common assumptions about how a discourse of study emerges. At the class meeting described, the students argue that all teaching is and should be an exposure to the instructor’s own political viewpoint and methodology. To the instructor’s dismay, the conversation turns to and cannot be diverted from discussion of current Israeli politics and the power relations between teachers and students.
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Youval Rotman; The Politics of an Apolitical Seminar. Common Knowledge 1 August 2018; 24 (3): 415–429. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-6939817
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