Introduction by eminent historian and educator Dr Bruce Dennett
“As anyone who can remember struggling with their first attempt at a university essay will tell you, it can be a challenge,” Dr Dennett said.
“Dr Jenny Lawless, the former Chief Inspector of History in NSW has repeatedly pointed out that NSW is the only educational jurisdiction anywhere in the world that offers a course in historiography like History Extension.
Students’ work ‘sophisticated and insightful’
“Dr Lawless also asserts that it is the only University level course taught in high school. My own experience as an academic and a view shared by colleagues at Macquarie University, Sydney University, Notre Dame, the University of NSW is that the material addressed and the skills developed in History Extension normally feature in second year undergraduate History courses.
“All of this makes the essays that have been produced by the IGS History Extension class of 2019/2020 all the more impressive. The essays are obviously well researched.
“They are however more than that, they are sophisticated, insightful and at times passionately argued. The topics are as varied as the class. It is an example of engagement, disciplined thought and purpose.”
Major Work: How and why has the American representation of the conflict in Vietnam changed over time?
Gabi has loved history since she was a little girl, and has always had an inquisitive and curious nature.
“I have always done well in History, so when I heard History Extension was an option, I thought I would give it a try, and I’m so grateful I did,” Gabi said.
“Rather than studying history, you more learn about the way history is formed and documented and the debates that have occurred and continue to occur about what is history, and how it should be produced.
“It’s been really interesting to broaden my views of history, as I now not only consider the past but how and why it has been documented for me to understand.”
Gabi said she will take the lessons from History Extension with her for the rest of her life.
Major Work: Montgomery: Image vs Reality: An investigation into changing representations of Bernard Montgomery’s generalship.
Morley’s fascination with the past and in particular, the study of WWI and WWII is what inspired him to select History Extension for the HSC.
“I have had an eagerness and curiosity to learn more and more about the past,” he said.
“I chose to study History Extension because I felt that this course could further extend my understanding of the study of history as well as continue my love for the subject.
Major Work: The concept of witch hunts and how they’ve been used and abused over time.
“For a long time I’ve had an interest in ancient history and how it’s possible for us to know events that happened thousands of years ago,” Katya Greenup said.
“Since I found the year 11 ancient course so interesting, I figured I would give History Extension a go. I ended up adoring the class! It is so much fun and we’re always focusing on really interesting topics. I’d never thought about how a historian, or history producer, can effect the history they produce until now, but it all makes so much sense and it is all so engaging!
Katya’s Major Work, a historiographical inquiry, investigates the witch hunts carried out in 15th Century Europe, in which several thousand women were tortured and, in numerous cases, killed for making supposed deals with the Devil.
Major Project: To what extent did bombing by United States Armed Forces during the Vietnam War constitute a war crime?
In his essay, Harry examines the extent to which US aerial bombing campaigns disregarded these conventions in respect of the conflict in Indochina (including Vietnam) and will consider the question of whether these actions constituted a war crime.
Major Work: The evolution of revolution and its causes throughout modern history.
Harry Keller has always found critical analysis interesting.
“I have enjoyed learning about the way history has been written, particularly the flaws of the writers and their history is quite interesting to me. Learning that often historians are wrong and biased has changed the way I consume most history and media,” he said.
His essay covers revolutionary France in the eighteenth century, analysing its causes and comparing it with other future revolutions.
Major Work: Why have authorities lied about their reasons for declaring war?
Oscar said the skill of being able to interpret information is more important than ever before and felt it was important to learn and practise critical thinking.
“I’ve enjoyed learning about how interpretations of John F Kennedy have changed since his death, and why they have changed,” Oscar said.
Major Work: The denial machine
India Pardoel chose History Extension to add depth to her understanding of the past and how the context of historians impact the history they produce.
India said she was hooked on History Extension from the first lesson.
“At the beginning when Dr Dennett was getting to know us, we had lots of fun with some very thought-provoking moral dilemmas,” India said.
“I also love all the personal insight Dr Dennett injects into the course – entertaining but also very relevant.
“My Major Work focuses on how the fossil fuel company has continuously prevented action on climate change, through the puppeting of start-ups, and purposefully misconstruing and undermining climate science throughout the media.”
Major Project: Who was involved in the conspiracy to assassinate JFK, and why did the Warren Commission fail to tell the truth?
“I chose Extension History because I wanted to challenge myself,” said Maximus.
“I was very nervous to begin an extension course but history has always been one of my strongest subjects. It entertains and excites me.
“Dr Dennett was definitely a big reason as to why I persevered with the course. From the very first lesson he helped me when I doubted myself or had any extra questions, no matter how many there were, leading to long debates.”
Major Work: How and why have ideas about (Marxist) Communism changed over time?
“History and historiography are very interesting topics, and I feel they an integral to developing a reasonable view of the world,” Maximilian said.
In his Major Work, Maximilian focuses on the evolution and unfolding of Marxist theory historiography, the different ways and criticisms of the ways in which pieces of history are produced.