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download pdfSenior Seminar in History (HIST 498)

Fall 2019, Truman State University
MC201, TR 10:30-11:50
Office: MC 227

Marc Becker
Office Hours: TR noon-1:20, and sometimes Tues 3-5
Phone: x6036

Senior Seminar is the capstone for history majors. Combining and building on the knowledge and research skills you have acquired, it culminates in a major, independent, original research project that is subject to rigorous academic standards. Passing the course proves that you have understood what it means to be a historian and earned your degree in history.

Course structure
            The course has two aims. The first is to communicate the standards according to which professional historians work. The second is to create an environment conducive to executing an independent research project that is consistent with those standards. We work in increments, following each step in the writing process together, from deciding on a topic, choosing sources and developing a bibliography to writing drafts and revising.
            A research paper is one that advances a persuasive, clear, and original argument. That it is original means that, although, it often builds on a topic that you have begun to explore in another class, the paper must be a new project, not a recycled one. Academic dishonesty (whose definition includes recycled papers) in any aspect or at any stage of your work triggers an automatic F in the course and is grounds for expulsion from the university. More importantly, it is part of your job as a historian to demonstrate that your work is original. This is why you always see real historians contrast their work to what has previously been written on the subject.
            The on-time completion of all assignments is required to pass the course. See Course Calendar below for due dates. The completion of a portfolio is a graduation requirement. (Even if you are not graduating, you turn in your portfolio in conjunction with the capstone course at
            See the syllabus addendum on Blackboard for additional class policies.

Assignment                                                                                         Points
Participation                                                                            100 pts
Zotero                                                                                      100
Rough draft                                                                             100
Peer Review                                                                            100
Final paper                                                                              600

Class Schedule

Aug 20: Introductions
Aug 22: Read the assigned essays in The Apprentice Historian (on Blackboard). Rank and grade them. Be prepared to justify your evaluations.

Aug 27: Present the topic of your paper to the class.
Aug 29: Meet in the library classroom, Pickler 103 for Zotero training

Sept 3: Identify, meet with, and get the commitment to work with a faculty member with expertise in the area that your paper topic engages.
Sept 5: Report back to class on your faculty reader.

Sept 10: Via Zotero, turn in a bibliography that lists all the primary and secondary sources that you have identified for your paper.
Sept 12: Work on your annotated bibliography. Identify and annotate each source you plan to use in your paper by (1) explaining who the author is, (2) summarizing the content, and (3) describing its value to your project.

Sept 17: Submit your annotated bibliography via Zotero.

Sept 19 through Nov 14: Individual conferences.

Nov 19: Presentations
Nov 21: Presentations

Give a formal, professional, ten-minute presentation to the department. Describe your paper’s topic, what’s been written about that topic previously, your contribution to the field, and the sources you use to make your argument.

Dec 3: Rough drafts & peer editing (see guide on Blackboard).
Dec 5: Peer group meeting

Final paper due: Mon, Dec 9, 9:30-11:20pm. Turn in a 20-25-page research paper that makes a clear, persuasive, original, and historically significant argument.

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