Instructor: Doug Sackman
Office: Wyatt 138
Office Hours: MW 11-11:50 a.m. Th 1-1:50 p.m. (or by appointment)
Course Meetings: MW 3-4:20 p.m.
History 400, the research seminar, is meant to be the culmination of your career as a history major at UPS. It should be both challenging and rewarding. The process of writing a research paper is difficult, and can be daunting. But there are rewards as well: being able to come up with an original interpretation, seeing new insights in old documents, crafting a sophisticated paper that represents your best writing.
Using both primary and secondary sources, you will write a 20-30 page paper advancing an original thesis on the topic you have selected. For this research seminar, I will strongly encourage you to select a topic that falls within the range of Western History (broadly defined). Within that area, you are free to select from any period, and to look at a whatever area within that engages your interest (e.g. you may want to deal with issues of gender, politics, class, environment, race, culture and so on). I say "strongly encouraged." In part, this encouragement takes the form of steering you to a set of local archives as well as internet sites that make primary sources in Western history readily available. That said, I am open to other topics within U.S. history, so long as you can obtain access to primary sources. (It may be possible for you to do a non-U.S. topic, or a U.S. topic that combines with some other world area you are interested in.)
The writing of the research paper will be approached as a process; assignments are designed to facilitate completing the necessary groundwork needed to write a research paper. Perhaps it would be helpful to speak of the research paper in the language of archeology (which historical scholarship in some ways parallels). Archeologists dig and then they display what they have found. We will do some digging, looking for ways that we can penetrate the layers of time which have covered up the past. How do we find the objects (aka, "facts" or "sources") that we are looking for? How can secondary sources help us look for and uncover primary sources, and how do such sources carry to us chunks of the past that can help us understand the ideas and experiences of by-gone peoples?
After having created holes in the ground and collecting an array of oddly shaped objects, we will have to work on the display. What do the objects mean (or if they mean more than one thing, what are the important meanings for your topic)? How can the objects best be arranged and displayed to convey those meanings in an interesting and engaging fashion? What are the professional standards of such display? What needs to go where and how does it need to be set up in order to enable the reader to easily walk through your gallery of the past? Your final paper will be your own museum of interesting artifacts interpreted in the light you think best suits them; ideally, through your hard work and creativity, you will write a paper that offers new insights into the past.
The process is in part individual and independent—you will be pursuing your own research and becoming the most expert person on campus on that subject. But you will also be sharing your work with others in the course, and giving input into their own projects as well. As such, you might think of the research seminar is a collaborative workshop. If everyone is able to encourage other participants and constructively engage their work, we will end up with an excellent collection of papers at the end—which is my goal for the course.
The research seminar is the culmination of your journey as a history major at UPS: it is your write of passage. The course will be challenging, but success is well within everyone's grasp. You have all developed your knowledge, skills, and talents as historians in the classes you've taken in this department. You will also be able to draw on the knowledge, skill and insights you've gleaned from other courses.
Recommended Methodological Readings
Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995)
Thomas Mann, The Oxford Guide to Library Research (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998)
Carole Slade, Form and Style: Research Papers, Reports, Theses, 11th ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000)
No texts are required for the course, though you will need to have ready access to a good general guide to research and proper form and style. Many of you will own a copy of Slade, Form and Style. if you don't have it, I recommend you purchase it, or plan to make use of the library's copy, which is in the reference section. For more information and ideas on dealing with research and writing issues, you may wish to consult Booth, et. al, The Craft of Research. Mann's The Oxford Guide to Library Research is a detailed and helpful guide to conducting library research.
Even though there aren't required texts for the course, you may find it useful to set aside a budget for this class. There may be books related to your topic that you wish to purchase or aren't yet available through our library or Summit. You may find yourself doing a lot of photocopying as well.
(1) Annotated bibliography entry + paragraph (20pts)
(2) Prospectus (40pts)
(3) Outline and list of sources (20pts)
(4) Historiographic discussion paper (50pts)
(5) Preliminary report of findings (20pts)
(6) Draft of intro, thesis + 5-page subsection (50pts)
(7a&b) 1st drafts + peer editing (100pts)
(8) Research presentation (50pts)
(9) Second draft (80pts)
(10) Final paper (490pts)
(11) Participation & attendance (80pts)
1000 points possible
Explanation of Course Requirements
(1) Annotated bibliography of two sources (one primary, one secondary) and one paragraph using them
An annotation of a source (either primary or secondary) is a concise description and evaluation of it. It should begin with the citation of the work (following Chicago style. For more information on bibliographic style, see Slade, Form and Style or Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 6th ed. [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996]). It should be followed by three or four sentences describing the nature of the source. For the secondary source, you might include a description of its argument and the evidence the author uses as well as an evaluation of it (is the argument or writing new, solid, unpersuasive, sketchy, does it offer rare insights, etc.?). For the primary source, you may wish to contextualize it by indicating who the author is and how the document sheds light on some topic. Annotations may also include the intended audience and the author's qualifications. You may find the description in a supplemental handout useful. You are not required to strictly follow this form, though it does offer a good formula for writing annotations.
Please also draft a paragraph in which you make use of both sources. Though you need not quote directly from each source, you must make a citation to each source in your paragraph (e.g. you can paraphrase the argument of the secondary source if you wish).
(2) Prospectus (3-5pgs)
The prospectus is essentially a proposal for the research paper; it is an introduction and an explanation of what a paper on a particular topic might look like. The organization and presentation of your prospectus is up to you, but it should include the following (and you may want to present them in roughly this order):
A. A preliminary title
B. An introduction to and description of your topic.
The topic should be as clearly defined as possible. You may want to pose a question or questions you hope to be able to answer, or hypotheses about what you expect to find, though you need not present a specific thesis.
C. A discussion of how this topic is significant to either U.S. Western history or some other field of history
(i.e. why should other historians care about what you're researching and how you are approaching it). You might briefly discuss how the historiography in the field presents models, methods or ideas that may be useful in developing your paper topic. How might your approach be similar to that of other scholars? How might your interpretation or methods differ?
D. A short discussion of the feasibility of the project, in which you identify six sources you might use.
E. A preliminary bibliography.
This must include at least three primary and three secondary sources.
(3) Outline and list of sources
A reasonably detailed outline of your final paper. The outline should identify at least three subsections for the paper as a whole, and include a sentence (or two) for each in which you describe the purpose of the subsection and the sources that will be used.
Please also include a list of sources, correctly formatted in Chicago Style (see Slade, Turabian or another manual).
(4) Preliminary report of findings
An informal in-class presentation, in which you discuss what youÕve turned up in your research thus far and suggest some of the questions that those findings raise as well as outline some possible ways you might interpret the significance of those findings as well as put them together in your larger paper.
(5) Historiographic discussion paper
A three-to-five page paper in which you situate your own paper topic within the relevant historiography. The paper must include references to at least two books and two scholarly articles. The paper should identify and explain the findings and significance of these other works of history, and indicate how you intend to build on them—or propose alternatives to them—in developing your own paper. The paper should include citations in Chicago Style and a bibliography.
(6) Draft of introduction (including a thesis statement) and five-page subsection
A draft of your introduction to your paper and a draft of one of the subsections of the larger paper. In the introduction, you should include a formulation of your thesis statement. Please put your thesis statement in bold (or clearly identify it in another way).
(7a&b) 1st drafts and peer editing
First drafts are due on Monday of Week 12. You will turn in a copy of the 1st draft to me and provide copies for the members of your editing group. You will read the other paper(s) in your editing group, and give the writers both oral and written feedback. For the written feedback, you will make use of an editing sheet I will distribute. You will be responsible for meeting with the members of your group and going over each others' papers by Friday at 3 p.m. of Week 12. Failure to turn in the 1st draft on time will result in the forfeiture of all points for this assignment, and you will not be able to participate in the peer review process.
(8) Final presentation
This is an opportunity for you to present the fruits of your research and writing to the class in whatever way you think would be the most engaging, informative and/or entertaining. You may also solicit suggestions on how to deal with any issues in your research and papers you still are working on. These will be done in "panels" of three or four beginning in Week 13. All students are expected to attend. We may also have to schedule additional time for some of these sessions.
(9) Second draft
Making judicious use of the suggestions of your peer editors, you will revise your 1st draft. The resulting "second draft" you will turn in to me at the end of Week 13. I will return the second draft to you with comments the following week.
(10) Final paper
A research paper making use of both primary and secondary sources, presenting and developing a central argument about a particular topic, demonstrating the significance of the topic as well as your approach to researching and writing about it, placing that topic and argument in a larger historical context, displaying careful attention to style and clarity of expression, and including a bibliography. Papers will be approximately 20-30 pages in length (5,000-7,000 words), typed and double-spaced.
(11) Participation and attendance This class is a collective endeavor, and so everyone's participation is vital to its success. Please come to class prepared to contribute. Absences, of course, will affect your participation grade. Asking questions and making comments on your peerÕs presentations in class is part of participation, and expected.
Recommended: Keeping a Research Journal Entry
In addition to taking notes on the sources you read, you may find it useful to keep a "research journal" for this project. The purpose of the research journal is to give yourself a place to reflect on the questions reading a particular source might raise in you mind, and a place to begin working out how each source might relate to your larger project. For more description, and an example of a research journal entry, see the handout.
Your research journal can be a notebook, or you can keep it on the computer if you wish. I hope that the keeping of the journal becomes a habit that you maintain throughout the course. A fuller explanation of the rationale for such a journal appears in the supplemental handout.
All oral assignments must be completed on the day they are scheduled for. For written assignments, ten points will be deducted if the assignment is turned in late up to one day. An additional ten points will be deducted for every day (or portion thereof) after that.
Exceptions: If the first draft is turned in late, you will lose all points for the assignment. Five percent will be deducted for every day that the final paper is late.
1.23: Historiography of the West
Patricia Limerick, "Something in the Soil"
William Cronon, George Miles, and Jay Gitlin, "Becoming West: Toward a New Meaning for Western History"
Please think of a potential research paper topic (not necessarily one that you will pursue), and be prepared to relate that topic to an idea or category presented in at least one of the articles.
1.25: Library session with Peggy Burge
1.30: Roundtable topics and primary sources
Annotated bibliography of two sources and a draft of a paragraph in which you use them. Due in class on Monday.
2.1: Individual meetings, section 1
2.6: Individual Meetings, section 2
2.8: Prospectus due, section 1
Roundtable for section one students only
2.13: Prospectus due, section 2
Roundtable for section two students only
2.15: Independent research/No meeting
2.20: Independent research/No meeting
2.22: Independent research/No meeting
2.27: Reading: William Cronon, "A Place for Stories"
(JSTOR): everyone meets
3.1: Independent research/No meeting
Outline and list of sources due in my office by Friday, 3 p.m.
3.6: Preliminary reports of findings (oral), Section 1
Historiographic discussion paper due, Section 2 (turn them in to the folder next to my office by 4 p.m.)
3.8: Preliminary reports of findings (oral), Section 2
Historiographic discussion paper due, Section 1 (turn them in to the folder next to my office by 4 p.m.)
3.20: Independent research/writing
3.22: Independent research/writing
Draft of introduction (including a thesis statement) and five-page subsection due Friday by 3 p.m. in my office
3.27: Independent research/writing
3.29: Individual conferences on subsection draft, section 1
4.3: Individual conferences on subsection draft, section 2
4.5: Individual research/writing
4.10: First drafts due. [Meet in class to distribute copies.]
4.12: Meet with peer editing group (or arrange to meet at another time).
Peer editing of first drafts due by 5 p.m. Friday of Week 12
4.17: No class/work on drafts
4.19: Presentations, panel 1
Second drafts due at my office by noon on Monday of Week 14
4.24: Presentations, panel 2
4.26: Presentations, panel 3
5.1: Presentations, panel 4
5.3: Presentations, panel 5
Thursday, 5.11: Final drafts due at my office by 3 p.m.
Supplemental Handout/History 400
1. Primary Sources in Western History
2. Research Journals
3. Annotated Bibliographies
1. Internet sites and some local archives for primary source materials and bibliographic information in U.S. Western History
2. Keeping a Research Journal
(Adapted from a handout of Patrick Rael, Bowdoin College)
The function of the journal is to set down on paper your thoughts about the primary and secondary source material you are reading. It is a record of your questions about the material and your tentative answers to those questions. It documents the connections you make between the materials you read, and provides a place to record the questions this material raises.
The object of the journal is to record your thoughts about the primary and secondary material at hand. You want to do this as close to the moment of having the thought as possible, and you want to minimize anything that hampers this objective. Make your journal accessible and easy to use. Use a special computer file devoted to the purpose, or a spiral-bound notebook, or whatever device works best for you. Don't worry about correct spelling or punctuation. The journal should document the ways you are thinking about the material and connecting it up with other things you've thought about. What surprises you about what you are reading? For example, one journal entry might merely be an expression of personal disgust that anyone had ever held slaves:
How could anyone have ever done this? How could they have ever considered it ok to hold human beings as property? And the weird thing is that some of these slaveholders look just like normal people -- they have families, they seem concerned about other humans elsewhere. How do I understand this!!!?
Such thoughts are extremely valuable. At first, they might seem like "non-academic" thoughts because they are personal feelings. But every historian relies upon such feelings at some level; they tell us what is important to consider. In this case, the thought above suggests a thesis question: "We tend to vilify slaveholders as inhuman monsters, yet in many ways they looked just like people we do not vilify. How did slaveholders reconcile the practice of slaveholding with their own humanity?" The journal is not a place to take notes on your sources. A journal entry may begin with, contain references to, or discuss notes, but the notes themselves should be kept elsewhere. The function of the journal is to discuss your notes, not record them. Take your notes elsewhere; if you use the journal to take them, the journal will be of less value. Before and while writing your paper draft, go back over the journal. How has your thinking evolved on specific issues? By keeping in mind the intellectual journey you have made through the material, you are reminded that your readers will be making a similar journey, through which you must guide them. Oftentimes, properly-edited journal entries may even form the basis of paragraphs. Editing and expanding journal material may help you make the difficult transition from researching to writing. Here is an example of one of Patrick Rael's journal entries:
11.9.95: reading No Chariot Let Down intro (p. 11). speak of respectability demanded of free blacks in the south. check also black masters for this, as well as Berlin. idea of respectability common to free blacks North and South. free blacks of charleston, when faced with resentment of white workers who competed against them, fell back upon personal relationships with white elites. placed them among white aristocrats, because associating with slaves was dangerous. in North, blacks often Federalist, then Whig. (that Clay etching/cartoon demonstrates this.) piersen mentions it, too. black elites had closer ties to white elites than to white working class. this is the claim, anyway. difficult to test, especially at the lower level. was the boy in the clay etching representative of anything else? also, I can see former slaves maintaining their whig alliances with old masters, but what about the free elite who sought to distance themselves from associations with slavery? would this desire change things?
A few comments on this entry:
(1) I start with the date. This is the only kind of formatting rule I am concerned with, and I do it only because it helps me trace how I thought about an idea. Other than that, I am totally unconcerned with making the entry look good. I'm just thinking thoughts on paper.
(2) There are many references here that no one but me will understand. That's fine -- the important thing is that I will understand later what I was talking about. In the present case, I'm thinking about other sources that apply to my argument.
(3) In the entry, I'm making connections. I wrote the entry because I was reading a book about free blacks in antebellum Charleston, SC, and it triggered some thoughts about free blacks in the antebellum North. My entry thus makes connections between the kinds of material I've read. Ask yourself, how does what I'm reading bear on the work I'm doing?
(4) The entry also raises questions that are left unanswered. This is the most important thing I can stress about the journal. Good historical writing is the result of a process of asking questions and pondering answers (even if it looks like the historian had all the answers from the start). You simply cannot develop good papers without engaging in this process. The journal is a way to record these internal conversations, and use them to develop your paper. You probably engage in this process anyway. Whenever you read, you ask yourself questions ("why are they representing slave speech like they are," or "what the heck was the Nullification Crisis, anyway?"). Most of us, however, don't respect our internal questions; we are taught that if we have to ask them we must be deficient, and we therefore ignore them.
The journal process is about becoming comfortable with our own questioning. It is about respecting our internal (and external) discussions about what we read, and elevating our trained intuitions to the center around which we build our writing. The point behind all of this is to develop interesting and worthwhile papers. Too many papers focus on simple, easy-to-answer, "fact"-based questions, such as "How did slaves escape their masters?" These are valid questions, but they tend not to lead to interesting papers. Rather, they produce rather dry narratives or recitations of facts. In the above case, the paper might merely relate the different ways that different slaves escaped.
Such papers lack interest. Your paper is not primarily an opportunity to relate the "facts" about something; it should be a chance for you to explore interesting questions. These are the kinds of questions that don't have simple answers; they are the ones historians and other scholars deal with constantly. With such questions, you may not arrive at the "right" answer, because there is no right answer. Instead, your paper will focus on helping us understand how we might think about a particularly troublesome issue. Students often shy away from considering such questions because they think they cannot "prove" their point. Yet it is precisely this ambiguity which makes the questions worth asking in the first place; if the answer was easy, it wouldn't be worth asking.
In the above case, it is fine to start with the question, "how did slaves escape their masters?" but at some point the issue should get more complicated. For instance, what was the meaning of slave escape? Did it reflect a revolutionary challenge to the system? Or in some ways did it actually support the slave regime? What were the causes of escapes, and what do these causes have to do with the meaning of escape in a larger sense? The list of possible questions is nearly endless; formulating and asking them is one of your first and most important task! This process of honing-in on a good thesis question can only take place when you listen to your own thoughts about the material you read. For instance, you might start with one of those straight-forward, "fact"-based questions, like "How did masters control their slaves?" In the process of finding out how, you look up slave narratives published in the North in the 1850s. And what you find there -- among many other things -- is tale after tale of female slaves being beaten savagely, often after being stripped of their clothing. You wonder about this, but don't really know what to make of it, so you move on, ignoring it in your search for "real" answers to your question. You have just missed a golden opportunity. Instead of ignoring your thought, you might have pulled out your journal and jotted a quick note: on reading solomon northups narrative: All this violence in the slave narrative -- it seems also lurid, so sexual. was this a kind of entertainment as well as antislavery propaganda? What's going on here?? The mere act of writing down this question gives credibility and substance to your thought. Once it is on paper, you may see it again later. Perhaps you will read a similar passage in another narrative, and something will click in your head. You are on your way to developing a fascinating thesis question: What is the role of violence and sexuality in the antebellum slave narrative?
Note: You are not required to strictly follow this form for your annotations.
An "annotated bibliography," as Writing A to Z explains, describes or evaluates the subject and scope of a bibliographical research source, that is, a book, article, newspaper report, or whatever, that you might con. A structured four-sentence paragraph based on one first advocated by Margaret K. Woodworth, in her article, "The Rhetorical Precis," in Rhetoric Review 7:1 (Fall 1988): 156-63, advocated the use of a highly structured four-sentence paragraph for annotations. Please note the different kind of information that goes into each of these four sentences. Study the pattern outlined below, and then study the student draft and revision.
The Four-Sentence Pattern
Each annotated bibliography entry should begin by identifying the source being annotated in correct Chicago Style. Then each entry should include these four sentences, in the following order. Put within quotation marks any exact words that you extract from the source.
Example: Draft and Revision
Please study the following two examples. The first is a student's draft annotated bibliography entry. It is on the right track, but it has problems. Double-check your understanding of this four-sentence pattern by finding the problems; match up each of the student's sentences with the appropriate pattern.
Miles, Jack. "Black vs. Browns." Atlantic Monthly Oct. 1992: 41-47.
Jack Miles explores the racial relationship between Blacks and Latinos as they were intensified by the L.A. riots. He supports his essay by giving relevant immigration statistics and by integrating his own personal experiences. The author's purpose is to question the attention given to problems between blacks and whites in order to correctly identify the underlying race relations between blacks and latinos, especially the way in which immigration has added to the problem. Mr. Miles speaks to policy makers and voters who grapple with the racial and immigration situation in Los Angeles.
And here is her excellent revision:
Miles, Jack. "Black vs. Browns." Atlantic Monthly Oct. 1992: 41-47.
Jack Miles grapples with the intricacies of race relations in Los Angeles and suggests that the L.A. riots were improperly portrayed as a "Watts II" or black/white issue, when in fact African American hostilities are more likely to be fueled by the recent influx of Latino and Asian immigrants who undermine the job market for blacks. As a longtime L.A. resident and author, he supports his argument by juxtaposing his own personal experiences and observations against what is being projected in the media, using a variety of statistical and interview information for confirmation. The author's purpose is to question the attention given to the black/white paradigm in order to shift the focus to the real underlying employment threat that immigrants pose to blacks. Mr. Miles speaks largely to a white upper middle-class audience who increasingly feel a greater affiliation with recent Latino immigrants than to black Americans.