History 299 — Introduction to the Study of History
This course introduces majors to history as a discipline and a methodology. It familiarizes history majors with the skills needed to succeed in their upper-level courses. Such skills include researching, reading sources critically and analytically, identifying useful, reasonable topics and lines of investigation, and bringing together all of these skills in the composition of a research paper. The course also provides majors an opportunity to learn how to speak about history and historical subjects in formal and informal ways, and aims to aid students in achieving a basic competence in the work of professional historians. Ultimately, these exercises in methodological training help students gain research, writing, and presentation skills that will serve both their academic pursuits and also offer key skills for a professional setting beyond graduation itself.
Students are expected to attend all classes, read all assigned texts, participate in class and in the course and individual blogs, write three papers, and make three presentations. Papers must be submitted by email attachment by the start of class on the day they are due. Papers are considered late if turned in anytime after the start of class. Late papers will be penalized one full letter grade or, after 24 hours, not accepted.
History 299 is built on attendance, discussion, and exercises. Critical elements of participation include class attendance, interactions with classmates and instructors, attending out-of-class meetings, reviewing classmates’ papers and oral presentations, creating research blogs, completing ungraded exercises, and using the Writing Center. Even beyond the class participation grade, you will find that it will be very difficult to earn a grade of C or higher without attending class on a regular basis, so plan to be here.
I believe in the Honor Code as an essential, positive component of the Mary Washington experience. You should know that if you cheat or plagiarize in this class, you will almost certainly fail, and I will take you to the Honor Council, so do not do it. On the other hand, I also believe that having friends or family read and comment on your writing can be extremely helpful and falls within the bounds of the Honor Code (assuming the writing itself remains yours). If you have questions about these issues, then you should talk to me sooner rather than later.
Final grades will be determined based on class participation (25%), performance on the proposal (5%), the literature review (15%), the oral presentations (5% for the four-minute, 20% for the ten-minute presentations), and the final research paper (30%). [Unsatisfactory mid-semester reports will be reported for anyone with a grade of D or below at that time.]
Class participation includes regular and consistent contributions to online blogs. The course blog is located at http://mcclurken299.umwblogs.org/ and each of you will need to create your own blog at http://umwblogs.org/. [If you already have a blog that you’d like to use, talk to me about how to use that preexisting blog for this course.] This online space will be used in a variety of ways–a research log, an assignment location, a place to discuss your project and the projects of others–but the ultimate goal is to allow you to create a shared space where you can display your work and begin to reflect on your learning, an electronic portfolio of your time in this class, and hopefully in connections to other courses as well.
You must post on your blog at least once each week, and you must comment on two classmates’ blogs each week. In addition to specific assigned blog postings noted on the syllabus, discuss with your fellow students what it means to be an historian, successes and roadblocks in your research, learn about other projects, and help to develop an academic community in the department. [Note: I will evaluate the quality of your postings & keep postings appropriate.] Register for a blog and make your first posting (a brief description of why you became a history major) by class time on Friday, August 31, emailing me with your blog name. Comment on at least two other people’s blogs by Monday, September 3.
History Department Resource Site
More advice and additional guidelines for many of the assignments can be found under “History Department Resources” on the Department’s site (http://www.umw.edu/cas/history/history_department_resourc/default.php). This site should be useful as a reference for other classes well beyond this semester .
Foner, Eric, ed. The New American History. Rev. ed. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University, 1997.
Presnell, Jenny L. The Information-Literate Historian: A Guide to Research for History Students. New York and Oxford: Oxford University, 2007. (ILH)
Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. 7th rev. ed. Chicago, IL and London: University of Chicago, 2007. (TUR)
Other required readings will be posted on the class blog under the Readings tab.
Papers – Using standard 1-inch margins, 12-point font and double-spaced) [See the blog under the Assignments tab]
1) RESEARCH PAPER PROPOSAL (2 pages, with 20-30 item bibliography). Graded after a peer review, a meeting with the instructor, and a rewrite.
2) LITERATURE REVIEW (3-4 pages, plus foot/endnotes & works-consulted bibliography). Graded after a peer review, a meeting with the instructor, and a rewrite.
3) FINAL PAPER (6-8 pages, plus foot/endnotes & works-cited bibliography). Completed after two peer reviews of the final draft and meeting with the instructor. [I will grade both draft and revision of the final paper.]
All drafts should be polished, finished versions of the paper. Failure to meet this expectation will result in a reduction in the grade for the paper.
Papers will be graded on content (including originality, analysis, and the quality and use of evidence), grammar, and proper formatting (including notes and bibliography).
Presentations [See also the blog under the Assignments tab]
1) Two-minute ungraded presentation (on topic and initial research).
2) Four-minute graded presentation (on historical debate over topic revealed by research to date).
3) Ten-minute graded presentation (upon completion of final research project).
Requirements for Writing Center and Speaking Center
WRITING CENTER – Each student must go to the Writing Center at least once during the semester. A student may go before writing an assignment, before rewriting an assignment, or after the instructor returns a graded paper. Since the Writing Center is often busy, it is best to make an appointment. Sessions must be full ones, not a quick in-and-out effort to slip by this requirement.
Failure to go to the Writing Center reduces the class participation grade by one full letter grade.
SPEAKING CENTER – Each student must go to the Speaking Center in preparation for the second or third oral presentation. Since the Speaker Center is also busy, it is necessary to make an appointment.
Failure to go to the Speaking Center reduces the grade on the final presentation by one full letter grade.
If you receive services through the Office of Disability Services and require accommodations for this class, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible to discuss your approved accommodation needs. Bring your accommodation letter with you to the appointment. I will hold any information you share with me in the strictest confidence unless you give me permission to do otherwise. If you need accommodations, (note taking assistance, extended time for tests, etc.), please consult with the Office of Disability Services (x1266) about the appropriate documentation of a disability.
Class Schedule and Assignments
It is critical that you pay close attention to the calendar and instruction sheets for due dates and times and for lists of what must be turned in to the instructor.
[There may be additional assignments for individual class workshops announced as needed over the course of the semester. Their completion will also count toward the class participation grade.]
Week 1 – beginning August 27
Aug. 27 – Introductions: To each other, to the course, and to digital tools
Aug. 29 – History and being an Historian
– Reading – ILH, 1-2; TUR, 3-11, 129-130; Kennan article on Blog
Aug. 31 – Picking a topic and starting research
– Reading – ILH, Chapter 1.
– Create blog, email title to me, make first post on blog (“Why am I a history major?”).
Week 2 – beginning September 3
Sep. 3 – Proposal discussion and a workshop on topic selection
– Comment on two classmates’ blog posts must be made by today at class time.
– Reading — TUR, 12-23
Sep. 5 – Meet with Jack Bales in the Library [Simpson 225]
Sep. 7 – Finding relevant sources and key information online and in introductions, prefaces, forewords, footnotes, and bibliographies
– Reading – TUR, 24-35, Review ILH, 19-82
– Topic due via email and blog post by start of class
Week 3 – beginning September 10
Sep. 10 – Searching for sources: meet with Jack Bales in Monroe 204 — bring laptops if you have them.
– By class time blog 1) list of potential search terms & 2) books/sites already consulted for your topic
Sep. 12 – An introduction to Turabian, The Chicago Manual of Style, and to bibliographic forms
– Reading – TUR, 133-140, Review TUR, 141-150, Ch. 17
– Bring Turabian to class
Sep. 14 – Proposal draft peer reviews
– Proposal drafts due via email by start of class—Out-of-class peer reviews due by 3 p.m.
Week 4 – beginning September 17
Sep. 17 – Primary sources (and discussion of first presentation)
– Reading and Tasks – ILH, 92-135; bring one useful and one unhelpful primary source to class
– Blog responses to form handed out in class on Primary Sources for one of your primary sources
Sep. 19 – History and the Web
– Reading – ILH, 136-156
– Post on blog links to one good web site & one bad
Sep. 21 – Informal two-minute oral presentations (10)
– Rewrite of proposal due at start of class
Week 5 – beginning September 24
Sep. 24 – Informal two-minute oral presentations (5)
– Computer Tips and Tricks — [Email me with suggestions for class participation credit.]
Sep. 26 – Research Note Taking
– Reading – TUR, 36-47
– Blog about your method of notetaking
Sep. 28 – Proper Documentation: Footnotes, Endnotes, and Content Notes
– Reading – TUR, 75, 151-157
– Bring Turabian to class
Week 6 – beginning October 1
Oct. 1 – The literature review assignment and the concept of historiography
– Reading – ILH, 212-213
– Blog responses to form handed out in class on Secondary Sources for one of your secondary sources
Oct. 3 – An overview of American historiography
– Task – Read & briefly summarize the thesis, methodology and sources used for an assigned chapter in The New American History. Post the summary on your blog.
Oct. 5 – NO CLASS
– Craft a blog post by 10 AM in which you write two autobiographical paragraphs–one completely accurate description of an experience, and one you make up. Work to make both sound real. By Monday’s class, comment on at least two classmates’ blogs as to which paragraph is real.
Week 7 – beginning October 8
Oct. 8 – Historical plagiarism and fraud, and evaluating quality and use of evidence
– Reading – ILH, 86-91; Review TUR, 82-97
Oct. 10 – Drafting your paper
– Reading – Review TUR, 48-81
Oct. 12 – Quotations, passive voice and other common writing issues
– Reading – TUR, 73-75, 102-108, 347-358
Week 8 – beginning October 15
Oct. 15 – Fall Break – No Class
Oct. 17 – Literature review draft peer reviews
– Lit review drafts due at start of class—Out-of-class peer reviews due by 3 p.m.
Oct. 19 – Revising, as well as requirements for 2nd oral presentation and speaking tips (Video on public speaking)
– Reading – Review TUR, 98-101, 109-126
Week 9 – beginning October 22
Oct. 22 – Requirements for research paper and rewrites; test-taking techniques; reading historical works for thesis and content
– Reading – Susan Glenn’s introduction to Daughters of the Shtetl on Blog
Oct. 24, 26 – Four-minute presentations on historiography for student topics (5 each day)
– Rewrite of literature review due at start of class on Friday, Oct. 26
Week 10 – beginning October 29
Oct. 29 – Four-minute presentations on historiography for student topics (5)
Oct. 31 — No Class — Work on research paper
— Post on blog a chronology of your life. Then explain why you chose to include those events. What is the role of chronology in historical narrative?
Nov. 2 — No Class — Work on research paper
Week 11 – beginning November 5
Nov. 5, 7, 9 – Discussion of The New American History [Start reading early!]
Week 12 – beginning November 12
Nov. 12 – Discuss Final Oral Presentations and visual aids
Nov. 14 – Technical research skills: paleography, eyewitness testimony, and using archives
– Readings – Article on eyewitness testimony on Blog – Readings – ILH, 211, 214-215
Nov. 16 – Research paper draft peer reviews
– Research paper drafts due at start of class on Friday, Nov. 16—Two peer reviews due by class on Monday
Week 13 – beginning November 19
Nov. 19 – Other Views of the Past: Moving toward a Digital Future
– Reading — ILH, 159-201, 216-236
Nov. 21, 23 – Thanksgiving Break – No Class
Week 14 – beginning November 26
Nov. 26, 28, 30 – Ten-minute presentations (3 each day)
– Final research paper due at start of class on Friday, Nov. 30
Week 15 – beginning December 3
Dec. 3, 5 – Ten-minute presentations (3 each day)
No class, Friday, Dec. 7 – Go to 485 Symposium
Exam Period – Monday, Dec. 10, 8:30-11 – An informal breakfast discussion of history as a major & a set of skills
— Blog reflection on what you’ve learned this semester and what you wish you’d known at the beginning.