Schedule

WEEK ONE – INTRODUCTION
Monday – 8/22/16 – Introduction to the Course

Wednesday – 8/24/16 – What do historians do?
Robert Darnton. “Workers Revolt: The Great Cat Massacre of the Rue Saint-Séverin” in The Great Cat Massacre [T] • Rampolla. A Pocket Guide to Writing History. Part 1
Watch 4 videos (don’t just do the first four!) from “What I Do: Historians Talk About Their Work” [T]

Focus Question: What is good historical practice?

By the Monday, August 29 make sure you have set up a user name for the course blog.  See here for instructions.

WEEK TWO – WELCOME TO THE GILDED AGE
Monday – 8/29/16 – What was the Gilded Age?
Charles W. Calhoun. “Moving Beyond Stereotypes of the Gilded Age” in OAH Magazine of History. Vol. 13, No. 4, Summer 1999. [T] • Richard Schneirov, “Thoughts on Periodizing the Gilded Age: Capital Accumulation, Society, and Politics, 1873-1898.” The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era , Vol. 5, No. 3 (Jul., 2006) [T] • Rampolla. A Pocket Guide to Writing History. Part 2

Wednesday – 8/31/16 – A particularly disastrous age?
• Stephen Biel. American Disasters. Introduction
Bergman, J. “Disaster: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis.” History Compass 6, no. 3 (2008): 934–946. [T]

Focus Question: What are the central questions of histories of the Gilded Age and American disasters?

WEEK THREE – HISTORIOGRAPHY
Monday – 9/5/16 – NO CLASS – LABOR DAY
Wednesday – 9/7/16 – What is Historiography anyway?
• Jeremy Popkin. From Herodotus to H-Net. Preface and Chapter 1
• Rampolla. A Pocket Guide to Writing History. Part 3a and 3b

Preparatory assignment #1 (see Titanium for more detailed instructions and the assessment rubric)

In 700 to 1000 words, write a formal synthesis of THREE of the articles or chapters we read in week 2. In doing so, make sure to make an identifiable argument about the state of the field. This should include what central questions your three articles or chapters share, how those questions have shaped historical arguments, what questions seem to remain unanswered, and where you would like either field to go in future. Due by 5:00 PM on FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 9th.

Focus Question: What are some different historiographical approaches?

WEEK FOUR – THINKING HISTORIOGRAPHICALLY: ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY
Monday – 9/12/16 – Thinking environmentally
William Cronon. Nature’s Metropolis. Prologue and chapter 1 [T] • Rampolla. A Pocket Guide to Writing History. Part 3d
Wednesday – 9/14/16 – “Taming” the West
William Cronon. Nature’s Metropolis. Chapter 2 [T]

Focus Question: How did nineteenth-century Americans understand their environments and the natural world? Should we think of the stripping of the plains as a natural disaster?

WEEK FIVE – PRIMARY SOURCES
Monday – 9/19/16 – Experiencing fire
• Rampolla. A Pocket Guide to Writing History. Part 3c
• From Herodotus to H-Net. Chapters 2 and 3.
“The Great Chicago Fire” website [T]

Wednesday – 9/21/16 – Interpreting the fire
• Smith, “Faith and doubt: the imaginative dimensions of the Great Chicago Fire,” in American Disasters

Focus Question: How did Smith use primary sources to illustrate competing historical interpretations of fire?

WEEK SIX – HISTORICAL FICTION
Monday – 9/26/16 – The Inundation
• Larson. Isaac’s Storm. Chapters 1-3

Wednesday – 9/28/16 – The reaction
• Larson. Isaac’s Storm. Chapters 4-6

Focus Question: What is gained by Larson’s style of writing? What is lost?

Preparatory assignment #2

Assignment overview:

In 700 to 1000 words, write a formal analysis of one source related to the Chicago Fire. This essay should situate the sources in the time and place of its production and make a concrete argument.  It should answer a more focused version of the following question: How did Chicagoans experience the fire?

Writing process:

First, pick a primary source from the list of eyewitness accounts.

Before you begin writing, carefully read (and re-read) your source, extracting as much information as you can.

Think about the source’s production: Who produced it, when, and why?

Pay attention also to what the source is not telling you: its unstated assumptions, the partiality of its perspective.

Think about the source’s potential audience. Who was the intended recipient? Who else might have seen this source and reacted to it?

Think about the significance of the source more broadly: What can it tell us about its author/creator? What can it tell us about the context in which it was produced?

Develop a thesis about the past that the source(s) can support. It is more important that this thesis be specific and sustainable, rather than large and ambitious.

Remember, you have a VERY limited source base; avoid making sweeping, reaching claims. Contextualize. A well-crafted thesis should make a claim that can be proved with your source. (Hint: successful papers will not make claims about “all Americans” or “all Chicagoans”)  Your thesis will lead smoothly into an essay discussing these sources and what we can learn from them.

Be sure to include support from the sources (and correct citations) for your arguments and for any secondary sources you find it appropriate to include.

Due by 5:00 PM on FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30th.

WEEK SEVEN – INTERPRETING ISAAC’S STORM
Monday – 10/3/16 – Authorial intent
• Rampolla. A Pocket Guide to Writing History. Parts 6 and 7
Craig Offman. “A tempest around ‘Isaac’s Storm’” in Salon (1999) [T]

Wednesday – 10/5/16 – Storm recovery
• Patricia Bellis Bixel, “”It Must Be Made Safe”: Galveston, Texas and the 1900 Story,” in American Disasters

Focus Question: How did the Galveston Hurricane shape American ideas about disaster preparadness?

Preparatory assignment #3

Come up with three options for the subject of your final paper proposal. These should have temporal and spatial markers, but need not be too specific. (i.e. “Something about the Chicago fire – maybe about race?” is perfectly ok.) Due by 5:00 PM on FRIDAY, OCTOBER 7th.

WEEK EIGHT – LIBRARY SESSION/INDIVIDUAL MEETINGS
Monday – 10/10/16 – Library session
• Rampolla. A Pocket Guide to Writing History. Part 5a

Monday – 10/10/15 or Tuesday – 10/11/16 or Wednesday – 10/12/16 – Individual meetings (schedule using http://shrouta.youcanbook.me)

Preparatory assignment #4

In 400 to 500 words, write a polished paragraph describing the subject of your final paper proposal. This paragraph should include a snappy title, an announcement of the topic, two or three historical questions (see Rampolla for a discussion of what makes good historical question) and a brief discussion of potential primary sources. Due by 5:00 PM on FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14th. – In addition to posting to TITANium, also post your topic to the course blog.

WEEK NINE – MARX, LABOR AND INDUSTRY

Monday – 10/17/16 – Doing history in the nineteenth century
• From Herodotus to H-Net. Chapter 4
Wednesday – 10/19/16 – Marx
• “The Communist Manifesto” watch (this version) and read (the text)

Focus Question: What do we think about Marx as an historical figure? What do we think of him as an historian?

Preparatory assignment #5

Goals: In addition to developing your writing skills, which are central to every assignment in this course, PA #5 has three goals:

 

  1. To help you locate relevant primary sources with which to research your historical question
  2. To encourage you to clearly and succinctly explain the relevance of these sources to your historical question
  3. To encourage you to view these primary sources in terms of your field of inquiry, and consider how your own historical question can be situated within that field

 

Assignment: At the top of the page, put a possible title for your final project.  Also clearly state your principal historical question, and a few sentences further elaborating on that question and/or establishing the boundaries of your project.

 

Next, identify 2-3 primary sources which will help you research your historical question.  Describe – to the best of your ability – the author and audience of each work in one or two sentences.

 

Finally, justify your choice of sources by explaining, in two to three sentences for each source, how each work is relevant to your historical question.  Consider not only how the source will increase your knowledge of the particular historical context, but how it may shape your analytical framework and approach to your object of inquiry.

 

Please format your work correctly using Turabian/Chicago style bibliographic references, double-spaced, 12 pt, Times New Roman font, with 1” margins.

Due by 5:00 PM on FRIDAY, OCTOBER 21st.

WEEK TEN – THEORIZING CLASS
Monday – 10/24/16 – Race and Quake
• T. Steinberg, “Smoke and mirrors: the San Francisco earthquake and seismic denial”, in American Disasters.
• Rampolla. A Pocket Guide to Writing History. Parts 5b and 5c

Wednesday – 10/26/16 – Meanings of earthquakes
• Kevin Rozario. “What Comes Down must Go up” in American Disasters
Mike Davis, Ecology of fear: Los Angeles and the imagination of disaster (Vintage Books, 1999). Introduction [T]

Focus Question: How do these scholars incorporate ideas about class and Marxist historiography into their arguments (hint: it might not be explicit)?

Preparatory assignment #6

Locate 5 secondary sources (at least one must be a book and at least three must NOT be texts that we have read for this class) that might help you explore your chosen topic. Use them to create an annotated bibliography, which includes proper Chicago style citations and a brief (1-2 sentence) description of the significance of each book for your project. Due by 5:00 PM on FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28th.

WEEK ELEVEN – THEORIZING RACE AND GENDER

Monday – 10/31/16 – New historiographical directions
• From Herodotus to H-Net. Chapter 6
• Rampolla. A Pocket Guide to Writing History. Parts 5c, 5d and 5f

(materials for in-class activity) (map)

Wednesday – 11/2/16 – An unsinkable ship?
• Steven Biel. ‘“Unknown and Unsung”: Feminist, African American and Radical Responses to the Titanic Disaster.’ In American Disasters

Focus Question: How did the politics of race, class and gender inflect expectations about the Titanic?

Preparatory assignment #7

Assignment Overview:

In 700 to 1000 words, write a formal analysis of one of primary sources you identified. This essay should situate the source in the time and place of its production, as well as in the historiographical literature you’ve read so far. In doing so, make a concrete argument about how the kind of analysis you undertook is appropriate for your final project topic.

Writing process:

Before you begin writing, carefully read (and re-read) your source(s), extracting as much information as you can.

Think about the source’s production: Who produced it, when, and why.   Make sure you include this information in the essay.

Pay attention also to what the source is not telling you: its unstated assumptions, the partiality of its perspective.   Make sure you include this information in the essay.

Think about the source’s potential audience. Who was the intended recipient? Who else might have seen this source and reacted to it?   Make sure you include this information in the essay.

Think about the significance of the source more broadly: What can it tell us about its author/creator? What can it tell us about the context in which it was produced?   Make sure you include this information in the essay.

Then think about the kinds of methods and approaches we have used so far.  Will a Marxist approach help you to understand your source?  A gendered approach?  Social history?  Be clear about the kind of analysis you are doing.

Having interrogated your source(s), develop a thesis about the past that the source(s) can support. It is more important that this thesis be specific and sustainable, rather than large and ambitious.

Remember, you have a VERY limited source base; avoid making sweeping, reaching claims. Contextualize. A well-crafted thesis will lead smoothly into an essay discussing these sources and what we can learn from them.

Be sure to include support from the sources for your arguments.

As always, be sure to use correct citation. This applies not only to references from your primary source but also to any secondary sources you find it appropriate to include.

Due by 5:00 PM on FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4th.

WEEK TWELVE – POLITICS AND TECHNOLOGY

Monday – 11/7/16 – The politics of water
Clayton R. Koppes. “Dusty Volumes: Environmental Disaster and Economic Collapse in the 1930s.” Reviews in American History. Vol. 8, No. 4 (December 1980) [T]

Watch The Plow that Broke the Plains (1937) [T]

Wednesday – 11/9/16 – New historical technologies
“Scaling the Dust Bowl,” in Placing History: How Maps, Spatial Data, and GIS Are Changing Historical Scholarship [T] • Explore Mapping Indigenous LA [T]

Focus Question: How can we put these readings in conversation with our other texts on the gilded age? On the practice of history? With the present?

WEEK THIRTEEN – CHOOSING A THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVE

Monday – 11/14/16 – What is theory for, anyway?
• From Herodotus to H-Net. Chapter 7
Listen to your assigned episode of the In Theory Podcast. [T]  Make sure to make note of (1) the theories engaged with in the episode (2) how the podcasters apply those theories to everyday life and (3) what other things you might apply that theory to.

Wednesday – 11/16/16 – Theory in action
Judith Walker Leavitt. Typhoid Mary – all students read the first chapter, groups of students will read different book chapters [T]

Focus Question: How do different theoretical perspectives lead to different historical arguments about different topics? About Mary Mallon?

Preparatory assignment #8

Assignment Overview: In 700-1000 words, write an essay in which you explore the scholarship that has been done on your chosen research proposal topic. Place the writings of different scholars in conversation with each other and to your historical question. Be sure to articulate a clear argument for what you see as successful or unsuccessful approaches to the topic.

You must discuss five works.  At least one must be a book and at least three must be articles.  No more than two can have come from our course readings.

Make sure you include all of the following components in your synthesis.  These should not merely be bullet points, but rather coherent prose:

Relation to topic: You must make clear how all of the works under review relate to a topic of historical inquiry.  This must be more than just “readings for 300A.”  They might represent different approaches to a topic, different aspects of the history of a topic, or examples of other scholars’ approaches to similar topics.  You must make clear how each work relates to a single historical question.

Thesis: By contrast with the book review, a synthesis essay is organized around a thesis. The bulk of your paper will be devoted to proving this thesis. This thesis can take several forms.  Possible forms include the identification of a theme in the three works, the identification of a development in the three works or the identification of common approaches to a particular topic.

  • Theme: Since X book was published in [YEAR], the scholarship on [TOPIC] has been organized around [CONCEPT]
  • Development: In the past Y years, scholarship on [TOPIC] has changed in the following ways…
  • Approaches: Books [X], [Y] and [Z] each approach [TOPIC] from different perspectives, but are united by…
  • Analysis of individual historical works: Your synthesis must include brief analyses (a few sentences) of the historical works under review.  In these analyses, it is imperative that you identify the author’s approach, argument, and relationship to a broader historiography.

Compare/Contrast: In order to illustrate how each work relates to the broader historiography, you must explicitly compare and contrast the approaches, arguments and evidentiary uses of the works under review.  In doing so, you will discuss points of convergence among these works as well as points that are in dispute.

Historical question: Finally, a historiographical review should position your historical question in terms of other writing on your topic.  You should clearly and explicitly explain how your historical question fills a hole or offers a new approach to your particular topic.

Due at 5 pm on FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18h.

WEEK FOURTEEN – FALL BREAK – NO CLASS

WEEK FIFTEEN – HOW TO WRITE

Monday – 11/28/16 and Tuesday – 11/29/16 – Individual meetings (schedule via http://shrouta.youcanbook.me)
• Rampolla. A Pocket Guide to Writing History. Parts 5e and 5g

Wednesday – 11/30/16 – Historical writing practice –or – what makes good historical writing?
William Cronon, “A Place for Stories: Nature, History and Narrative.” The Journal of American History, Vol. 78, No. 4 (March 1992), pp. 1347-1376 [T] • George Orwell. “Politics and the English Language” [T]

WEEK SIXTEEN – PEER REVIEW AND WRAP-UP

Preparatory assignment #9

Bring a rough draft (Introduction + historiography + primary source analysis + discussion of further primary sources) TO CLASS on MONDAY, DECEMBER 5th.

Monday – 12/5/16 – Peer review

SUBMIT ROUGH DRAFT HERE

 

Wednesday – 12/7/16 – Wrap-up

Final paper

This final assignment provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate your mastery of each of these elements of the historian’s craft, by asking you to develop a research proposal.  While you will not actually be completing this research, you should imagine your proposal as something that would be appropriate for an Advanced Seminar: i.e. something that would position you to write an original, primary-source based paper of 20-25 pages.

Your research proposal will take the form of a narrative (rather than an outline) of approximately 10 pages, along with an additional bibliography.  It should follow the formatting guidelines stated on the syllabus, as well as the citation procedures detailed in the Rampolla.  Your proposal need not answer the following in precisely this order, but it must include each of these elements:

1.     Innovative, interesting and descriptive project title (not just “Final paper”)

2.     Topic, historical question, and preliminary argument (3-4 pages).  What are you going to write about?  What specific question do you propose to answer?  Why is that question significant to larger concerns or conversations?  And although your answer would develop – and almost certainly change – through the process of research, you should also include a working hypothesis or line of explanation that suggests your preliminary answer to the question you have posed.

3.     Historiography (3-4 pages).  What have previous scholars said about this topic?  Make sure to review between 5 and 7 secondary sources.  What have been the strengths of their works?  What have been their weaknesses?  What needs to be explained better or further?

4.     Primary sources (3-4 pages).  What kinds of primary sources will enable you to answer your question?  Make sure to name specific sources (this should be particular archival collections, articles in newspapers, books or letter collections etc.).  Where are these sources held, and are they available to researchers?  Why are these particular sources relevant?  What insights do they promise?  What cautions need to be taken in working with them?  Use this part of the proposal to demonstrate your ability to work with primary sources to develop a coherent, persuasive argument that addresses your historical question.

5.     Bibliography.  Your bibliography will be divided between primary and secondary works, and it should include both works you have cite and those you would plan to consult.  (Check with your workshop Instructor regarding the approximate number of each kind of source you should include.)  Please pay careful attention to the formatting of your references.