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HTY 499: History Senior Seminar: Course Syllabus

Senior Seminar Professors: Dr. Douglas Astolfi Fall 2014 Dr. Anthony Esposito Student LibGuide Developer: Charles Arliss Spring 2014

Course Objectives: Students will:

  • Gain a clear understanding of how the disciplines of history and/or political science acutally work
  • Develop an original research proposal and paper using both primary and secondary sources
  • Understand historiography and the ways that historians and or political scientists beliefs,biases,and circumstances effect the ways they present their research
  • Confront the challenges of doing historical and or political science research to analyze data coming to grips with the fact that all data is incomplete making all research in the soical sciences interpretive
  • Present clear evidence in support of a thesis both in writing and orally


Your grade is based on the following five factors:

·         15% Classroom participation and discussion including the thoughtful critical analysis and discussion of the presentations done by your peers

·         40% Three preliminary component parts of your thesis paper as described below

·         45% Final research paper including the three component parts, the main body of the paper and the conclusion.

Class participation inevitably includes attendance as you cannot participate in class discussions if you do not attend the class. You are to come to class having read the assigned material for the week. You are expected to take an active part in discussing those materials. At times you will be assigned to lead discussions. If you choose to absent yourself form class, your grade will suffer. This class is a seminar and meets only once a week. Three unexcused absences will result in an F grade. 

About the Course Format by Your Professor

In most undergraduate history and political science classes, you have studied the subjects being presented to you. You have written papers on an aspect of those subjects. In this seminar you have the opportunity to select the subject you want to develop, analyze data and draw your own conclusions from primary and secondary sources that both challenge your ideas and allow you to develop supportable conclusions. In other words, in this seminar, you both think about the practice of scholarship and conduct that scholarship by doing a research project. While the best experience comes from topics you choose because you have an interest in the topic, if you do not choose a topic by the second class week, I will select on for you. As a seminar, there are not lectures associated with this class. The course revolves around weekly meetings in which you will discuss the practical aspects of conducting research and scholarship. Class meetings will focus on readings you are assigned as well as on your topics for analysis. Students are expected to respectfully and professionally challenge one another and to discuss issues in a professional manner. 

Thesis Paper Guideline

1.  Project description:  a 2 to 3 page paper describing your topic, explaining your interest in the topic—your reason for selecting the topic—and the relevance of the topic to existing scholarly work. In this paper you will tell me and your classmates what you initially think you want to say about the topic and what you hope your central argument will be. This paper will form the introduction to your final paper but the preliminary thesis you present here may be changed or modified as you confront the realities that your research presents. (5% of your grade)

2. Discussion of primary sources: 2-4 page paper. In this case, you describe the primary sources you intend to use. What are those sources? Where are they located? How will you be able to access them? If the material is in a language other than English, you must be able to demonstrate that you have the ability to conduct research in that other language and that there is a second reader—a faculty member—on campus who is proficient in the language. How do you intend to use the materials you have identified? Have other scholars used them in the past? If so, what new knowledge do you hope to uncover? This will eventually be a part of your annotated bibliography. (5% of your grade)  

3. Historiographical/secondary source essay: In this four to six (4 to 6) page paper you will discuss the secondary sources that you will use to help you develop your research. What have historians/political scientists said/written about the topic? Is there an argument among scholars about the topic? If so, what is that argument? If not, what is the consensus? Where does your research fit? This second part of your annotated bibliography. (10% of your grade)

4.  The main body of your paper (10-15 pages): This is the body of your paper. In this part of the paper you will use the primary and secondary sources you have researched to present your research findings. Your main argument or thesis will be clearly stated in this central section of your paper. This section should be a coherent narrative that explores your topic providing readers with the causes, consequences, and outcomes of the events you have examined.

5. Conclusion (2 to 5 pages): This segment of your paper will be a clear distillation of what you have discovered and a statement about why it is important. Finally, in this section you should discuss what questions are left unanswered, what further research might be done. 

Course Members' Group Photo