Creating Lives in the Classroom

At the beginning of my course on German history at Stanford University last fall, each student drew an identity at random that he or she would keep throughout the quarter—creating a unique historical character who was born in 1900 and lived through Germany's tumultuous 20th century. Through weekly posts to individual pages on the course Web site, students researched the texture of everyday life, untangled pivotal events, and weighed questions of humanity. Although fictional, the lives