We Asked: biased history?


On Jan. 10, the National Association of Scholars released a study that said history courses at UT focused on issues such as race, gender and class at the expense of other more traditional historical narratives such as military battles, diplomacy and religion. We asked UT students whether they thought topics of race, gender and class were overemphasized in their history courses.

Morgan Machiorlette, American Studies junior from Houston 
I think they focused on it the right amount because I think that a big part of analyzing culture is to focus on those three aspects ... I’ve taken a history class that focused [on history] from 1855 on. We analyzed a lot of aspects of culture and race and economic status was a big part of those. But I thought it was the perfect amount.

DT: So you were satisfied with your classes?
MM: Yes, I really enjoyed them all.

Kimberly Fritsch, Studio art junior from Topeka, KS
I really don’t think they kind of addressed any of it, really. I think it was just such an overview of it that they didn’t pay attention to any of it. I took the AP class in high school, and then I just didn’t take the test because I was lazy. I don’t know. It just felt really rushed over, and basic — everything I knew already. And so I didn’t feel like they really addressed race in any of it.

DT: So do you wish that they had covered more social issues?
KF: I wish they did. I would have found it more interesting, and especially since UT is such a diverse group of students, it would have been interesting to bring that into discussion in the courses.

Perri Watts, Psychology junior from Wylie
Well, since the classes I took were kind of alternative history classes they covered it really well. I took Black Power Movement, and of course that goes very deep into race, gender, class and all of that. And so I appreciated it. But I have friends who took the regular history courses, and they’re like, “We didn’t cover anything.”

DT: So in your classes did you feel like it was too much, too little, or the right amount of social issues?
PW: I think it was the right amount, because history is about social issues. I think that, anyway. You can’t really discuss history without social issues.

Dhara Lad, International relations and Hindi/Urdu sophomore from Ft. Worth
In terms of race, gender and class I feel that it more so focused on cultural aspects ... It certainly didn’t focus on gender, but the different cultures that existed around the world and how it affected the evolution of U.S. policy. I feel like my history class focused just the right amount on social issues. It’s such a broad topic that in a semester it is really hard to key in on a lot of different aspects, so it did a good job of grazing over social issues and how they affected policymaking.

Marisa Swanson, Plan II and social work freshman from Grand Prairie
I feel like race and gender and those sorts of issues were covered very well in history classes at UT. I feel like those are issues that need to be addressed, especially in this day and age, when everything is questioned. And I just feel like having those issues brought up and having the opportunity to discuss them, instead of just learning single facts about them, is one of the best parts about history classes here at UT.

DT: Were those social issues focused on too much, too little, or the right amount?
MS: I feel that in my history class the issues were discussed not enough. I feel like we should have spent more time discussing them.

DT: Ideally, how often should these issues come up in class?
MS: I feel like they should be at least a part of every lecture, because they are a part of everything around us. A history course should be more than just the facts that have happened in history, but it should be the ideas that were expressed and how it affected people. And that includes race, gender and social issues.

Stephanie Donowho, History and RTF junior from Austin
I feel like they were incorporated into whatever the main subject matter was, but I never felt like they took too much of the focus or attention. If anything, I think we could use more time on them.

DT: How often should these social topics come up?
SD: I feel like race, gender and class are intrinsically a central part of history, and they’re not necessarily a special topic or special issue to be brought up occasionally. I think that they are definitely central to any issue that you’re going to be discussing.