Historical methods

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Rowan University, Fall 2008 TH 4:45–7:15

Dr. Melissa Klapper klapper@rowan.edu x3982
This course is an introduction to historical writing and to historiography. It is designed to give students practical experience in the researching and writing of historical papers and to provide a survey of the discipline of history as practiced by a wide variety of historians. Students will undertake supervised research projects that will culminate in a clear and persuasive historical paper (10-12 pages) based on both primary and secondary sources. Course work will focus both on the mechanics of writing research papers and on exemplary historical literature focused on particular topics and/or methodologies. Progress reports on the research projects will be shared on a regular basis in class. We will structure the class as a writers’ workshop, regularly conducting peer reviews.
Typically, each class meeting will be divided into two parts. During the first part we will discuss the assigned readings for the day, focusing on the form and structure as well as the content of the readings. During the second part we will focus on the research projects, taking into account both process and product. Writing assignments throughout the semester are designed to integrate these programs of reading and writing, providing a literature-based program of historical methods. There will be reading and writing assignments for most class meetings. You are expected to complete each day’s reading before coming to class. In most cases the writing assignments are based on the reading. No written work will be accepted late.
Attendance is mandatory. Please contact me in advance if you must be absent. More than one unexcused absence will result in an automatic reduction of your final grade of one grade point per absence (e.g., from B+ to B). Participation in classroom discussions and in-class activities will form an important part of your grade.
Honesty and accountability in research are basic to the historian’s craft. Plagiarism of any kind constitutes grounds for immediate failure.
Required Texts

Carr, Edward Hallett. What is History?

Davis, Natalie Zemon. The Return of Martin Guerre.

Paludan, Philip Shaw. Victims: A True Story of the Civil War.

Rampolla, Mary Lynn. A Pocket Guide to Writing in History. 5th edition.

Spence, Jonathan D. The Death of Woman Wang.

Streissguth, Thomas, ed. The Sinking of the Titanic.
In this section of Historical Methods, we will be focusing our research on the decade of the1930s in the United States. You may pick any specific topic you like (subject to approval), but it must address some aspect of American history during the 1930s, an exciting decade that will provide ample possibilities for exploration.

Your final grade will be calculated according to the following plan. Please note that no student who fails to hand in the research proposal, rough draft, or final research paper will pass the course.

Participation 15%

Research proposal 10%

Rough draft 15%

Final paper 25%

All other assignments (7 x 5% each) 35%

Course Schedule (subject to change)

All writing assignments are due at the beginning of the next class meeting unless otherwise indicated. We will discuss each writing assignment in more detail in class.
Thursday, September 4

Anti-plagiarism workshop

reading assignment: Rampolla, Chapter 1; What is History?, first three chapters

writing assignment: paraphrasing and documentation exercise

Thursday, September 11

Constructing an argument, writing a thesis statement, drafting an outline

reading assignment: Rampolla, Chapter 2; What is History?, last three chapters

writing assignment: 5-paragraph essay

Pick any argument Carr makes and defend or oppose it.

3 ideas for research topics due
Thursday, September 18

Historical sources and historiography

Library research workshop

reading assignment: The Sinking of the Titanic

writing assignment: 5-paragraph essay

What have different historians and observers concluded about the sinking of the Titanic? What kinds of sources led them to draw this conclusion?

Preliminary bibliography of 10 items due. Include at least 4 primary sources, no more than 2 internet sources, and no more than 4 sources of the same kind (e.g., books, journal articles). This assignment will help you determine your final choice of research topics.
Thursday, September 25

Research proposals, note-taking systems

reading assignment: Rampolla, Chapter 3; The Return of Martin Guerre

writing assignment: mock research proposal for The Return of Martin Guerre

Final research topic due

Thursday, October 2

Peer review of mock research proposals

Narrative and history, microhistory

reading assignment: The Death of Woman Wang

writing assignment: 5-paragraph essay

Which of Spence’s sources seems the most reliable and/or useful to you?

Thursday, October 9

no class–Yom Kippur
Thursday, October 16

Book reviews and review essays

reading assignment: Victims: A True Story of the Civil War

writing assignment: book review of Victims

Thursday, October 23

Individual consultations

writing assignment: research proposals
Thursday, October 30

Peer review of research proposals

Oral history

reading assignment: Rampolla, Chapters 4 and 5

Research proposal due
Thursday, November 6

Faculty presentations on research methodology

Conventions of historical writing, use of quotations

reading assignment: Ellen Gruber Garvey, “Reframing the Bicycle: Magazines and Scorching Women,” Chapter 4 in The Adman in the Parlor: Magazines and the Gendering of Consumer Culture, 1880s to 1910s (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).

writing assignment: thesis statement and outline
Thursday, November 13

Women’s and gender history, prescriptive vs. descriptive sources

writing assignment: rough draft

Thesis statement and outline due
Thursday, November 20

Film: The Return of Martin Guerre

Rough draft due

Thursday, November 27

no class–Thanksgiving
Thursday, December 4

Peer review of rough drafts

reading assignment: Karin Calvert, “Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth,” Chapter 4 in Children in the House: The Material Culture of Early Childhood, 1600-1900 (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1992).

writing assignment: final papers

Thursday, December 11

History and material culture

Oral presentations of research topics
individual consultations to be scheduled
TUESDAY, December 16

Final papers due by 5 p.m.

Rowan University has a licensing agreement with Turnitin, an online service to help prevent student plagiarism. As part of this course, I will be using Turnitin at my discretion to determine the originality of your work. If your work is submitted to Turnitin, it will be stored in the Turnitin database. You have the right to refuse either to submit your work to Turnitin or have the university do so; availing yourself of this right will not negatively impact your success in the course. If you do not wish to use Turnitin, you must notify me by email within two weeks of today’s date. If you object to the use of Turnitin, I will use other procedures to assess originality.

You will need to first enroll in Turnitin, following the simple steps on the website, and then enroll in this class. Below is the information you need to enroll in our class. Please make sure you are enrolled by the time we have our second session of class on September 11.
Turnitin Class Name: Historical Methods 4:45

Class ID: 2340195

Class Enrollment Password: klapper445

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