Thursday, December 20, 2012

Theory and Practice Syllabus

Below is my current syllabus for my department's gateway methods course. One thing I've started doing is making students learn to navigate resources for themselves rather than just posting links to readings in course management software.

HIS 203-02: Theory and Practice of History
205 Dauphin Humanities Center, MWF 10:00 a.m.
Dr. Brian J. Ulrich

Office: 201 Dauphin Humanities Center, ex. 1736
Office Hours: MWF 11:00-11:50; W 1:00-3:30, also by appointment

Required Texts:

The Pursuit of History, 5th Edition, John Tosh
A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses and Dissertations, 7th Edition, Kate L. Turabian, et al.

Reserve Text with Required Readings:

James West Davidson and Mark Hamilton Lytle, After the Fact: The Art of Historical Detection, (New York: Knopf, 1982)

Electronic reserves found on D2L
Outside readings students are responsible for locating

This course is designed to introduce you to the theory and practice of history while developing basic skills to both work as professional historians and succeed in the academic study of history. It will both introduce history as an academic discipline and provide students with hands-on research experience. The most important element will be a project of original research based on primary sources, resulting in both a high quality oral presentation and a paper suitable for publication. Assignments are designed to develop critical reading, writing, and research skills as well as analytical ability. Please note that as the instructor of record, I alone can grade assignments and assign final grades.


Research Project – 35% (25% paper, 10% presentation)
Peer Review – 5%
Short Assignments and Quizzes – 20%
Participation – 20%
Career Development – 10%
Light Final Exam – 10%

Research Project

Students will, based on original research in primary sources, produce both a publication-quality research paper of at least eight (full) pages and give a presentation to the class of a length to be determined based on de facto class size late in the semester. Students may select their own topics subject to the approval of the professor. Finding appropriate primary sources will be the most important limiting factor in topic choices. The course D2L site includes links to on-line primary source collections and archives in the area. We will also spend two days in Lehman Library for orientation to sources available on campus. Because a key aspect of this class is to mentor students in the production of such a project, internal deadlines for specific project elements will be rigorously enforced by a penalty of 10% of the possible research project grade (or 3.5% of the possible final grade). As noted, that penalty is doubled for the rough draft of the paper. Any student who fails to complete this project will automatically fail the course.

These internal deadlines are:

1.) March 11, 10 a.m. – Submit via e-mail a one paragraph project proposal that includes a topic, possible research questions, primary sources and an example of how you plan to use them, and one relevant secondary source. In addition to being a paper requirement, this will be graded as a 10-point “short assignment.”
2.) March 25, class time – Bring two primary sources to class for detailed work on using sources.
3.) April 2, class time – Bring to class an introduction that sets up the historical problem, your method for solving it, and your tentative solution (thesis).
4.) April 9, 11, 13 - Prior to an individual meeting with the professor, you must produce a two page précis, or summary of your paper.
5.) April 20 – Bring to class a rough draft for purposes of peer review. This deadline carries a double penalty of 20% off the total project grade.
6.) May 3 – Research papers are due at class time. Final submission instructions are forthcoming.

Peer Review

On April 20 in class, students will do a peer review of another students’ paper. The peer review assignment cannot be made up without a documented university-sanctioned excuse.

Short Assignments and Quizzes

As noted on the syllabus, students will frequently be asked to do short written assignments prior to each class. The professor also reserves the right to add short assignments and to give pop quizzes. Short papers must be typed and properly cited using Turabian-style footnotes unless otherwise noted. Nothing in this category can be made up. Because of legitimate excuses for missing class, the lowest grade in this category will be dropped from the final grade calculation. If you are unable to print an assignment before class, please e-mail it to demonstrate that you have the work completed and then submit a hard copy as soon as possible.

The most common type of short assignment is the article review. Each of these is to be exactly three paragraphs. In the first paragraph, you will explain the author’s thesis and any historiographical context. In the second paragraph, you will summarize how the author made this point, paying attention to both argumentation and how he or she used primary sources. In the third paragraph, you will provide an overall evaluation of the article, possibly but not necessarily using ideas from Tosh. Even if you only refer to the article under review, article reviews must be footnoted to stay in the habit of it and perfect forms.


This class will be conducted seminar style, which means the onus is on you to prepare and participate. This also means attendance is critical at all times. Every missed class above three will result in a penalty of 10% off the maximum total participation grade (or 2% off the maximum total grade). This does not differentiate between excused and unexcused absences. Note that perfect attendance alone will not earn an A.

Career Development

Another goal of this course is to make sure you have some clue what you want to do after graduation and how to go about giving yourself the best chance to do it. Because of this, you will complete two career development assignments. By February 8, you must complete the Focus-2 Assessment at the web site of the Shippensburg University Career Development Center. You will need to log-in to the Focus-2 site on the Career Development Center (CDC) webpage, and then work through the site’s sections. At the end, the program will summarize your results in a personal “Career Portfolio.” Dr. Ulrich can view your progress via his own access to the site.

In addition, on February 22, you will hand in a career exploration executive summary. This should be three paragraphs, including 1.) the nature of the job, including employment possibilities and salary information 2.) the training, knowledge, and experience necessary for entry-level positions in this field and 3.) what you need to do to get that training, knowledge, and skills, including the identification of specific possible intern sites or graduate programs. Be aware that especially in the third paragraph, this assignment will probably require on-line research, and perhaps even telephone calls or e-mails.

In order to get the most out of these assignments, please discuss the results with the Career Development Center, your advisor, or the History-Philosophy Department’s undergraduate internship coordinator, Dr. Allen Dieterich-Ward.


Plagiarism is bad, and all information in papers must be cited, regardless of whether it is an exact quote. The minimum penalty for plagiarism will be a zero on the assignment in question and, if it is a step in the research project, application of the appropriate late penalty.

Disability Accommodation

If you feel you may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability, you should contact me privately to discuss your specific needs at least 72 hours prior to the activity which requires the accommodation. If you have not already done so, you must contact the Office of Disability Services. This office is responsible for determining reasonable and appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities on a case-by-case basis, and more generally, for ensuring that members of the community with disabilities have access to Shippensburg’s programs and services. They also assist students in identifying and managing the factors that may interfere with learning and in developing strategies to enhance learning. I cannot approve an accommodation without you registering.

Schedule of Readings and Major Assignments

January 23 – Course Intro
January 25 – Tosh, pp. 1-25 (historicism and social memory)

January 28 – Hand in a 2-page, typed and properly footnoted paper in which you identify which of the “distorting effects” discussed in the reading affect the presentation of the past in at least three examples drawn from contemporary popular culture (movies, novels, that sort of thing), as well as how those distorting effects matter. See Turabian, Chapter 17 for citation formats, and know that because of the nature of this course, we cite everything, including the movies, etc. (historicism and social memory)
January 30 – Tosh 29-55 (uses of history)
February 1 – Career center presentation (CUB 108J)

February 4 – Turabian, pp. 3-23 (conceiving the project)
February 6 - Tosh, pp. 58-65 (political and diplomatic history)
Read also the following articles from the “Political History Today” special in the May 2011 Perspectives (D2L link):
“Political History Today: Plural Perspectives on a Protean Creature,” Pillarisetti Sudhir
“The Interdisciplinarity of Political History,” Julian Zelizer
“The Business in Between: U.S. Foreign Relations and Domestic Politics,” Christopher Dietrich
“Searching out the Sacred in U.S. Political History,” Darren Dochuk
“Research Resources for Diplomatic History,” Carl Ashley
“Political Resources Waiting to be Mined,” Donald Ritchie
“Revisiting the Early American Republic: The New Nation Votes Database Enables a New Political History,” Rosemarie Zagarri
February 8 – Documents and databases, meet in Lehman Library 112 (Focus-2 assessment due)
February 11 – Tosh, pp. 65-73 (social history, history and social sciences)
Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913 (D2L link, read “On this day in…” case on left sidebar, which will hopefully be interesting)
Steve Poole, “Tales from the Old Bailey: Writing a New History from Below,” History Workshop Journal 59 (2005): 282-284. (article you find)
Leo Lucassen, “Administrative into Social Control: The Aliens Police and Foreign Female Servants in the Netherlands, 1918-1940,” Social History 27 (2002): 327-42. (article you find)
Hand in article review on Lucassen
February 13 – Laurie A. Wilkie, “The Mermaid’s Lagoon,” The Lost Boys of Zeta Psi: A Historical Archaeology of Masculinity at a University Fraternity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010), pp. 122-140 (EBL)
Michael Bruce, “The Virtual Bra Clasp: Navigating Technology in College Courtship,” College Sex: Philosophy for Everyone, ed. Michael Bruce and Robert Stewart (Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), pp. 40-50. (EBL)
February 15 – University archives, meet in Lehman Library 205

February 18 – Tosh, pp. 74-6, last paragraph on p. 78 (economic history)
John S. Lee, “Feeding the Colleges: Cambridge’s Food and Fuel Supplies, 1450-1560,” The Economic History Review 56 (2003): 243-64. (article you find)
Hand in article review on Lee
February 20 – Robert M. Citino, “Military Histories Old and New: A Reintroduction,” American Historical Review 112 (2007): 1070-90. (military history) (article you find)
February 22 – Career exploration executive summary due

February 25 – Tosh, pp. 76-8 (religious history)
Peter J. Thuesen, “Some Scripture Is Inspired by God: Late-Nineteenth-Century Protestants and the Demise of a Common Bible,” Church History 65 (1996): 609-23. (article you find)
Hand in article review on Thuesen
February 27 – Tosh, pp. 88-93, 108-15; Turabian, pp. 24-35 (primary sources)
March 1 – Tosh, pp. 93-98 (narrative sources)
J. Michael Farmer, “The Three Chaste Ones of Ba: Local Perspectives on the Yellow Turban Rebellion on the Chengdu Plain,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 125 (2005): 191-202 (article you find)
D.O. Morgan, “Ibn Battuta and the Mongols,” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 11 (2001): 1-11 (article you find)
Hand in one page reflection on things to consider when using narrative/literary sources, based on readings

March 4 – Tosh, 98-107 (documentary sources)
Davidson and Lytle, “Declaring Independence”
March 6 – Davidson and Lytle, “The Mirror with a Memory” (photographic evidence) Bring to class a historical picture, perhaps found in a book or printed out on-line, which we can examine as a primary source
March 8 – Catch up day or discussion of possible topics

March 11 – Paper topics due!
March 13 – “Background on Archaeological Methods” (link) (archaeology)
Kent R. Weeks, “Archaeology and Egyptology,” Egyptology Today, ed. Richard H. Wilkinson, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), pp. 7-22 (D2L pdf)
Pam Crabtree, “The Archaeology of Medieval Europe,” History Compass 7 (2009): 879-893. (D2L pdf)
Hand in 1-2 page explanation of modern archaeological methods and how archaeology contributes to the study of history
March 15 – Tosh, pp. 313-23 (oral history)
Mary Kay Quinlan, “The Dynamics of Interviewing,” The Oxford Handbook of Oral History(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 23-36 (D2L pdf)
Davdison and Lytle, “The View from the Bottom Rail”


March 25 – Tosh, pp. 119-43 (using the sources – bring to class at least two primary sources you plan to use for your research paper)
March 27 – Tosh, pp. 147-71 (historical writing)
March 29 – Turabian, pp. 36-71 (writing your paper)

April 2 - Turabian, 71-81 (planning the paper, bring paper introduction to class)
April 4 – Tosh, pp. 175-94 (nature of historical knowledge)
April 6 – Tosh, pp. 214-42 (history and theory)

April 9 – Individual meetings on two page précis
April 11 – Individual meetings on two page précis
April 13 – Individual meetings on two page précis

April 16 – Tosh pp. 195-210 (postmodernism and linguistic turn)
April 18 - Tosh, pp. 246-71 (cultural turn)
April 20 – Rough drafts due, peer review of rough drafts (double late penalty!)

April 23 – Tosh, pp. 274-85 (gender history)
Michael A. LaCombe“’A continuall and dayly Table for Gentlemen of fashion’: Humanism, Food and Authority at Jamestown, 1607-1609,” American Historical Review 115 (2010): 669-87. (article you find)
Hand in article review on LaCombe
April 25 – Tosh, pp. 285-99 (postcolonialism)
April 27 – Turabian, pp. 98-126 (revisions and oral presentations)

April 30 – Presentation of Student Research
May 1 – Presentation of Student Research
May 3 – Presentation of Student Research (Final papers due)

Final Exam: Friday, May 10, 10:30 a.m. (This may also be a presentation day)



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