The key to success in this course is to treat it as a job. This is a course called the “craft” of history. It is specifically designed to train you in certain of the skills you will need in your Independent Study project. These of course include the particular approaches and techniques of the historian. But, more importantly, they also include the skills needed by any researcher/scholar regardless of field or discipline. The class is built around teaching you how to do a job. The tasks involved in this job are reading, writing, finding things and talking about reading, writing and the things you find. These will be the only things I will ask you to do. If you do the reading and the writing and the finding and the talking you will have done your job. And you will do very well in this course. Like any job, you are expected to show up to work. If you have to miss work, there should be a very good reason. Like any job, you are expected to arrive on time and to work until it’s time to leave. This is not a boring job; it’s pretty easy to show up and be engaged for eighty minutes twice a week.
Book Summaries. (25%)
For three of our four secondary texts, you will write a three-paragraph summary of the book. which three is up to you. You will include in your summary the book’s argument, where it fits in the historiography, its use of evidence, and its basic story. This is not a review, though qualitative statements are expected. You will receive two grades on this assignment – one based on its content, described above. The other on paragraph/sentence structure and other basic grammar. Failure to demonstrate mastery (defined as a letter grade of B+ or higher) of either of these basic skills will result in no credit. A rewrite of the piece will be due in one week and must be accompanied by Writing Center consultation. A second rewrite, if necessary, must be accompanied by a visit to my office hours and a Writing Center consultation. Of critical importance in this assignment is the paragraph. This self-contained unit of expression is the most important element in non-fiction writing. A paragraph develops one main idea and supports that idea with facts. There are four essential elements to the paragraph: unity, coherence, a strong topic sentence, and development. Unity simply means that it only develops one main idea. Coherence refers to the logical arrangement of the information and sentences connected with helpful transitions. A topic sentence is the point where you the author express the idea that you will develop, with evidence, over the rest of the paragraph. And development means that you support your ideas with adequate and appropriate evidence that support your contention. Students who demonstrate mastery on three of these assignments will receive full credit. Those who do not will receive partial credit based on letter grade average of their best three summaries.
Research Paper. (50%)
Writing a research paper is a process. And, while organic, there are also specific disciplinary standards to which a finished product must adhere. Your research paper grade will be divided into parts reflecting both the procedural reality and the academic expectations of the project. Scholarship, reflected in an annotated bibliography (an ongoing project) is five percent of your grade. Structure of the paper is another five percent. The rest of the paper grade is based on process: note-building/outlining (an ongoing project) is fifteen percent. Drafting is the last part of the grade. The first draft is worth ten percent, the second draft ten percent and the last draft fifteen percent. The last two drafts will include grades for editorial, stylistic, and research fixes. each of these documents will be stored in a shared dropbox folder.
Annotated Bibliography – This will be an ongoing project. Students will maintain a working annotated bibliography through the semester. Entries will include full Chicago annotation and 1-2 sentences on the book.
Footnoting – Based on the finished project this grade will be based on proper and professional footnoting. Put another way, your footnotes should like the footnotes in the academic texts you read.
This is based on the final product. Is the paper organized into five main parts? Is there a proper Introduction? a proper Conclusion/Outro? Is there a main argument supported by three main points, built upon a variety of appropriate primary sources? does the paper explain its its place in the scholarship? Does it, in other words, look like a history research paper is supposed to look?
The first stage in the process is building up a solid foundation of notes. You will share with me the Dropbox folder where you keep your secondary and primary notes. During particular workshop days, you will guide the class or a small research group through your notes and themes. You will base your first outline on the themes you develop in your notes. Secondary note documents should include historiography and content. Primary note documents should include content (especially great quotes) and the themes the notes develop. The outline should be based on the themes within the notes. This is fifteen percent of your grade. Your first draft, due April 3rd, will be evaluated by its coverage, its argument, the development of that argument, its use of sources, its organization, its writing, and its style. It is worth ten percent of the grade. The second draft, due April 17th will be evaluated on the criteria of the first draft, but also on editorial, stylistic, and research/scholarship fixes of the draft. It is worth ten percent of the grade. The third draft, due May 4th, will be evaluated on the same criteria as the second draft, with a slightly greater focus on style, and will be worth 15% of the grade.