During Weeks 2–9, there will be student-led discussions of main themes and discussion questions (two discussion questions will be submitted to the instructor by the night before class).
During Weeks 2, 4, 6, and 9, students will complete analysis papers that close-read the primary source indicated in the readings due for that week (see the Readings and Videos section).
The objective of this exercise is to analyze the primary source / other readings in the context of the readings assigned in that particular week and critique historiographical writing in weeks when the assigned reading is a primary source. The aim is to introduce you to the method of historical research, analysis and writing. A good starting point to writing the response paper would be to contextualize the document, i.e. who has written the document and when, who is the intended audience and, most importantly, what do you think the main purpose / argument / intent of the writer / speaker is. Next try and analyze the document and explain how it relates to the week’s readings. Think of the primary source as “evidence” and the readings as the “conclusions,” and apply your analytical skills to judge whether the evidence and conclusions match up. Are the main arguments of the assigned readings confirmed by the source or does that particular source contradict the conclusions drawn in the readings? Finally is there anything that strikes you as particularly interesting in the source that relates to the week’s theme that has been missed in the readings? Based on the document how would you, as a historian, interpret the main event/theme of that week? Feel free to include in your response references to class discussions or readings from earlier weeks (however, this is not a requirement).
These are some questions you should keep in mind while writing the response paper. However, treat these guidelines as very general and depending on your particular writing style, research interests and analysis you can cover all or any one of the approaches suggested, and emphasize any of the aspects listed above. The hope is that the very directed analysis of the selected primary documents in the response papers will give you a small glimpse into what makes history really interesting - analyzing primary sources, relating them to existing histories (to either criticize or support other historians) and interpreting events/themes in an original and new way.
Response papers should be 2 pages, double spaced, and are due in class during the weeks indicated in the Calendar section.
Students are required to complete a research paper on a topic of their own choosing.
- During Week 7, a one-paragraph research question is due.
- During Week 8, a one-page paper proposal including at least 2 primary sources is due.
- During Week 11, a 15-page (double-spaced) research paper is due.
- During Week 12, students will be paired up to present their research paper (10 minutes) and comment on another student’s paper (5 minutes) in class.
- During Week 13, a revised research paper is due.