600: Research Seminar


This advanced seminar for seniors will offer students the opportunity to conduct work like that of professional historians.  Students will choose a research topic, conduct primary research in available archives, and write a publishable-length original research paper (approximately 25 pages), similar to the quality of papers published in scholarly journals. For the most part, students will work independently on their own research projects. In addition to consulting primary and secondary sources available online or through the school's library, students have the opportunity to conduct archival research. Students will complete smaller assignments such as a research proposal, an annotated bibliography, a detailed outline, and a full draft of their paper prior to the completion of the final assignment. While students will be allowed to choose their own research project with the approval of the instructor,they will also engage with the research of their classmates in class meetings; in workshops, students will read the drafts of others' work and provide comments and suggestions. Prerequisite: History 430or equivalent. Students must complete an application for this course and then receive departmental approval. This course does not fulfill a history diploma requirement for three-and four-year students. Open to 11th graders who have taken a 400-level history course and to 12th graders. Limited to 10 students. Offered: winter term.

Books: Wayne Booth et al., The Craft of Research; Richard Evans, In Defense of History.  Both available in campus bookstore.

Discussions of assigned readings.

Research: in primary and secondary sources. Links to archival sources

Preliminary Assignments: Proposals; Historiographical Essay; Rough draft(s).

Final paper: 25 pages or 6,250 words not including citations.

Outline of the Course: 

Phase I: choosing a topic and finding primary sources. 

I've moved links to archives to a separate page. 

Phase 2: preliminary reading. 

Phase 3: Research.

Phase 4: Rough Draft.

Phase 5: Revision, peer editing.

Phase 6: Turn in final paper!

Assigned reading schedule: 

Dec. 7: Evans, Introduction; Booth et al., 3-5; 29-31.

Dec. 8: Evans, 15 (@ ¶ break) to 20; Booth, Chapter 1, only ¶s 1.2.2 &1.2.3 & Chapter 3, The quick tips & up to page 38.  Then work on your topic selection using suggestions in ¶s 3.1.1 & 3.1.2. 

Dec. 9: Evans, 20-27 and Booth, 38-48.  Continue to work on topic selection.  We will meet in the library on floor 2 on the Dunbar Hall side. 

Dec. 11: No new readings assigned.  Continue to look into topics, doing some reading on them, and beginning to frame questions as suggested in the last Booth reading.  Write in your journals about the practical implications of the last Evans reading.  As you think of topics look for sources you might Use.  Consider printed collections in our library and archives you might visit in the area. 

In class we will make a plan for the term with deadlines.

Dec. 13: Evans, Read the rest of Chapter 1. 

Dec. 14: Booth, Chapter 5 & Item 4c on the Paper-Writing Guide

Dec. 15: Booth, Chapter 6, & Prologue of Part III.  

Dec. 18: Last day before break.  Turn in Preliminary proposal. Answer the three questions as best as possible, give a list of sources consulted so far. Include any stray thoughts/questions. We'll share these in class. 

Over Break: Skim the rest of Booth.  Which parts seem like they'd be most useful to you.  We'll decide what to read and what to skip when you return.  Meanwhile, in Evans: In Chapter 2, read section III and the last long paragraph that begins on page 62, in Chapter 3, read pp. 65-66 and from the bottom of p. 69 to 77.  Chapters 3 & 4 discusses the "linguistic turn" and the critique of history from the post-modernists.  The most useful segments are in Chapter 4: parts III and IV.  As How does the phrase "Auschwitz was not a discourse" (107) answer the post-modern critique of history?  Pay particular attention to the "Abraham affair."  What is the take-away from that story for researchers?  What is the lesson about the use of theories like Marxism? 

On your first day back you'll finish off the film. We'll discuss the book on Friday. 

I also want to start meeting with you one-on one about your proposals.  Please shoot me an email with your free periods. 

Jan. 4: Film

Jan. 10. CRUNCH TIME. Your self-chosen DEADLINES are fast approaching, and yet you probably feel behind.  You need to great a sense of urgency for this project and that's why you've created those deadlines. I'm requited to assign midterm grades on Jan. 23, and your meeting your own deadlines will probably be the major piece of that.  Hopefully that helps you to put this research project higher up on your to do list.  Better yet, if you can come up with your own internalized strategies for prioritizing things that are important but not urgent. For more on that check out the "Eisenhower Matrix."

Meet in room 028 to answer questions about upcoming assignments. 

Jan. 5-12  Topic selection due.  Please give me a bibliography of primary and secondary sources and a description of your topic that includes topic and question (see Booth, 49), the time period the paper will cover, and the primary sources you will use to answer the question. I'll make myself available this week for individual one-on-one conferencing. I'm on duty Tuesday night in Peabody.  

Jan. 18-20 Bibliographical (aka historiographical) Essay. Some of you have never written one before.  It should be a guide to the historical literature on your topic, with the emphasis on how those sources spoke to the question(s) you want to ask of it. I've emailed you two examples, one is from a magazine of general readership and the other is the first page of a chapter from a book for historians on major fields of study in US history.  This should give you the idea.  How long should this essay be?  You should be able to write for at least two pages, I would think. 

Jan. 22.  Monday. READ Evans, 111-122.

Now that you have chosen a topic, identified a body of primary sources, and familiarized yourself with the relevant historiography, you will be reading and doing research and trying to figure out questions that the sources can actually answer.  This chapter on Evans on "Causation in History," is a good thing to read as you grapple with that problem.  Some key terms to consider: contingency, determinism, free will, categorizing, context, explanation, periodizing, human action, unintended consequences, parallelogram of forces, sequential time.  Some terms are also defined here.

Jan. 24. Wednesday. READ Evans, 122-137.

Jan. 26. Thursday. READ Evans, 139-152. Which kind of history are you doing? Very brief reading.  Most of you homework time should be working on your research

Jan. 27. Friday, READ Evans, 152-163.

Jan. 29-Feb. 2 Read, research, write

Jan. 29-Feb. 1 have 10-15 pages written

Feb. 5-12. Turn in a rough draft and get feedback

Feb. 26-March 1: final paper due