Ideas for an online course on Pseudo-History


It's all Aaron Gulyas's (@firkon's) fault. He presented at the Midwest Popular Culture's Association conference recently a very interesting paper about pseudo-history in the United States media, which prompted me to read Ethan Watrall's (@captain_primate's) pseudo-archeology course at Michigan State. This revived in my funny little head a course project I had played with years ago but had given up on because of the resistance to any innovation on my part in my department. Considering that the current Department Head is in favour of not only my ideas but online teaching, I think I might just propose this to Continuing and Distance Studies. The History deadline is past, but I don't think CDS's deadline is.

Here we go, my quick concept: 

Pseudo-history: Ancient Vikings, Chinese and Aliens in Canada
In this 12-week online course, students will explore the prevalence of pseudo-history and pseudo-archeology in Canadian popular media (books, television, web) and to provide students with the critical tools to identify and debunk these attractive and pervasive modern myths.
Students will become familiar with the most common of these theories and unpack the real, evidence-based ones from the fabulatings of pseudo-historians: the numerous purported Viking, Welsh and Irish landings on the Eastern sea-board, the purported extra-terrestrial influence on First Nation cultures, the "secret" histories of various Canadian political entities, the supposed Chinese colonization of Cape Breton, among others.
Using critical, analytical tools commonly weld by historians, anthropologists, archaeologists and ethnologists, students will better understand  the ways in which these ideas emerge and evolve in popular culture and public consciousness. More importantly, students will explore the many reasons why these hoaxes and pseudo-mysteries become and remain prevalent. More importantly, this course aims to explain why pseudo-science can so easily disguise itself as scholarly work in popular media.
a) Myth Summary (5th week): Pick one theory from set list and present its original inception and origins.
b) Create-a-Myth (12th week): create a pseudo-historical theory and explain the process and details needed to make it fully believable in popular media.
c) Online discussion (from 3rd week to 12th week): One entry per week minimum


1. Introduction to the course: concepts and caveats

2. A history of pseudo-histories I: National narratives

3. A history of pseudo-histories II: History before professionalization

4. Ancient Explorers? St. Brennan and the like

5. Ancient Explorers? Vikings, the real and the fake

7. Ancient Explorers? The Chinese and The Island of Seven Cities

8. Secret History? Secret Societies and Government 

9. Secret History? Oak Island

10. Ancient Aliens? Influencing First Nations

11. Ancient Aliens? Mysterious Ruins, or not

12. Wrapping up. Why all the bunk?

Comments, ideas, thoughts?

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