Fall Semester 2011

Dr. G. Dameron

Library 306; Office Hours:  Monday, 8:30-10:30; Wednesdays, 4-5, and by appointment/Office phone:  x2318

Seminar Meeting:  Thursday evenings, 6-9 pm


E. H. Carr


                                                         PURPOSES AND GOALS

The principal goals of the seminar are the following:  1) to produce a senior thesis of at least 40 pages in length on a topic chosen by the student, 2) to complete the capstone course for the major, 3) to meet the requirement for History majors of a second writing intensive course, 4) to develop and improve the oral presentation by students of research results to an audience of peers, 5) to provide a collaborative environment in which students can assist other students to do their best work, 6) to explore the ethical and moral dimensions of the historian’s craft, and 7) to offer a valuable experience in high-level research and writing to those students who intend to pursue graduate degrees in History.


                                                 REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING

The principal requirement of each student is the completion of the senior thesis (40 page minimum, about 10,000 words).  About twenty per cent (20%) of the final grade depends on attendance in the seminar (required), completion of the assignments listed below, degree of effort, and maintaining regular appointments with the supervising professor (or thesis advisor).  The thesis advisor will determine the final grade in consultation with the seminar instructor (if necessary) . The required length of the thesis (40 pages) excludes notes, bibliography, and other supporting material (appendices, illustrations, tables, etc.). The thesis is due at the last seminar meeting on December 8 (last day of the seminar).   Submission of the thesis after December 9 (last day of classes) will result in an “F.”


Criteria for evaluation of the thesis may include the following:  1) the degree of clarity and appropriateness of the historical problem being posed and explored, 2) the quality of the critical use of primary sources to address the problem, 3) the degree of familiarity with the relevant secondary sources and historiography, 4) the plausibility of the thesis being argued, and 5) the quality of the organization and writing.  Students should consider this seminar to be the capstone course of their undergraduate career and their most important course this semester.



Students will choose a historical problem as a focus for their thesis in collaboration with an advisor from the History Department (or with an advisor acceptable to the department).  The student will work closely with the advisor on a weekly basis for most of the semester, and (s)he will not pursue a topic that an advisor has not approved.   Students are required to identify their topic and advisor by the September 8 seminar meeting.  The Department encourages students to consider expanding upon a previously written research paper completed for an upper level History course (seminar). 


At mid-semester there will be a 15-20 minute interview of each student on her or his project by the seminar leader and one other History Department faculty member.  Those interviews will take place on October 13 and 20 during the regular meeting time of the seminar.


A first draft (usually a third to a half of the full manuscript) is due on November 10.  Advisors may wish to generate their own criteria and deadlines for first or subsequent drafts.


The meetings of the full seminar will be infrequent, and attendance is required.  Students should assume that whenever the seminar meets, it will meet for the full time.


Attendance of all seminar members is required when students will be making their thesis presentations at the end of the semester.  The tentative date is for the morning and the early afternoon of Saturday, December 3.  A Saturday date is preferred so that department faculty can attend (and also to avoid the possibility of inclement weather in the evening).  The final draft of the senior thesis is due at my office on December 8 (Thursday).  We will not accept theses submitted after December 9; they will receive a failing (“F”) grade. 



The Department awards the Pfeifer Prize to the student who has written a thesis of superlative quality during the calendar year.  The Prize is not awarded every year.  We will consider theses written in 2011 this year.


Students with documented learning differences should feel free to discuss any special needs regarding the completion of seminar requirements with their advisors and/or with the seminar instructor.


Plagiarism is a serious academic offense.  According to the Policy on Academic Integrity, plagiarism is the presentation of “another person’s ideas as your own, by directly quoting or indirectly paraphrasing, without properly citing the original source. This includes inadvertent failure to properly acknowledge sources.”   The penalties for plagiarism can range from receiving a failing grade for the plagiarized assignment to receiving a failing grade.  In some cases plagiarism can result in suspension or expulsion from the college.  If a student is in doubt whether a source should or should not be cited, (s)he should play it safe and cite the source.  For information on plagiarism, please consult the College policy (linked above) or Rampolla.


                                                               REQUIRED TEXTS

Mary Lynn Rampolla, The Pocket Guide to Writing History (Bedford St. Martin’s 2009).  6th edition.  ISBN-10: 9780312535032  ISBN-13: 978-0312535032

E. H. Carr, What is History?  (Vintage, 1967). 


                                                            SEMINAR SCHEDULE

September 1 (Thursday)

Introduction: discussion of syllabus and seminar requirements               

Film and discussion about use of primary sources in film:  “Hearts and Minds” (1974)


September 8

1-2 page Topic Essay due (one copy to seminar instructor, one to supervisor)        

Student presentations of topics to seminar

Discussion of Carr, chapters 1-2


September 15

Discussion of Carr, chapters 3-4

Library visit (review of research resources with library staff)


September 22

Prospectus and annotated bibliography due (one copy to instructor, one to thesis advisor; 3-4 pages; primary and secondary sources treated separately)

Review of writing and research process, formats for citation (Rampolla)

Interview schedule to be established

Discussion of Carr, chapters 5, 6


September 29

No seminar; individual meetings with advisors


October 6

No seminar; individual meetings with advisors


October 13

Mid-semester interviews


October 20

Mid-semester interviews (most research to be completed)


October 27

No seminar; individual meetings with advisors


November 3

No seminar; individual meetings with advisors


November 10

First draft of thesis due (one copy for thesis advisor)

Brief presentation of argument of thesis to seminar

Discussion of presentation expectations


November 17

No seminar; individual meetings with advisors


November 24 (Thanksgiving)

No seminar; individuals meet with advisors during week before break


December 1

No seminar meeting; individual meetings with advisors


December 3 (Saturday)

Thesis presentations (morning and early afternoon; exact time and place tba; attendance required; each student will make 15 minute presentation)


December 8

Completed final draft of thesis due (one copy to seminar instructor, one copy to thesis advisor)