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In this course the plus/minus system will be used.
The grade breakdown is as follows:
98 – 100% = A+
93 – 97% = A (outstanding performance)
90 – 92% = A-
87 – 89% = B+
83 – 86% = B (good performance)
80 – 82% = B-
77 – 79% = C+
73 – 76% = C (acceptable performance)
70 – 72% = C-
67- 69% = D+
63 – 66% = D (poor performance)
60 – 62% = D-
0 – 59% = F

History majors must earn 73% or higher in this course to receive credit. History majors earning grades of 72% or lower must repeat the course.

Keep all assignments and exams returned to you so that any discrepancies can be easily and fairly straightened out.

Participation: 20%
Preparatory assignments: (3.3% x 9 assignments): 30%
Reading responses (2% x 10 responses): 20%
Final Project (Research Proposal): 25%
Attendance at a history event: 5%
*You cannot pass the class unless you have an average of 50% or higher in ALL of these categories.*

Readings: You are expected to read, digest and consider all of each week’s readings. CSUF expects three hours of outside work for each hour spent in the classroom. That means that this class can have as much as 7.5 hours of outside work each week. You should plan to spend approximately 3-4 hours each week reading for class. If you find that the reading is taking up more time than that, come meet with me to discuss reading and study strategies.

Reading responses: TEN times during the semester, starting after week 3, you will post substantive commentary on the day’s reading to the class blog. This blog is meant to be a conversation amongst scholars (you and your peers). These should be more than simple summaries – they should demonstrate a critical consideration of the day’s reading. Through these response papers, you will develop the skills necessary to critically read historical monographs and articles. In the early weeks of the course, you will be responsible for identifying the central thesis of a reading. Over the course of the semester, you will work to be able to identify supporting arguments and types of evidence, and to critique authors’ use of evidence in making their arguments.

For every response after the first day of posts, you must also substantively reference a response written by one of your peers. This should not merely mention something someone has written (“I agree with X”) but build on it (“X wrote that … and this makes me think about …”)

These responses should be between 250 and 350 words, and can be written with informal, personal prose. However, direct references to others work must be accompanied by a citation or hyperlink. You should budget between 30 minutes and 1 hour for each response.

These responses will be assessed as:

  • Excellent (nuanced commentary on both readings and peer responses): 100 points
  • Satisfactory (commentary on both readings and peer responses free of factual errors): 80 points
  • Unsatisfactory (did not comment on either readings or peer responses, OR substantive factual errors): 50 points
  • No submission: 0 points

Your overall response grade will be an average of the grades of your ten responses.
Participation: An essential component of the craft of history is expressing yourself clearly in a variety of ways, including orally. In this course, your learning depends upon your regular, informed and thoughtful participation in discussion, writing and blog posts. In order to participate fully you must have completed all of each week’s reading.
Participation will be assessed both by how much you contribute in whole-class discussions, and how much you contribute to discussions in group work.
Participation will be assessed as:
• Excellent (multiple comments / questions in class or in group work): 100
• Satisfactory (one comment / question in class or in group work): 80
• Unsatisfactory (present in class, but no engagement): 50 points
• Absent (see absence policy for a discussion of permitted absences)

I understand that speaking in class can be a stressful or daunting experience for some students, so I expect that everyone contribute to making the classroom a comfortable and respectful intellectual environment in which everyone can participate. If you have anxiety about public speaking, please arrange a meeting with me as soon as possible, so that we can discuss alternative means of engagement.

Your overall participation grade will be an average of your daily participation grades.

Preparatory assignments: These assignments are designed to model historical practice. They provide students with the opportunity to explore different kinds of historical writing, and practice that writing in advance of the final paper. Together, and with revisions, some of these papers will constitute a first draft of your final research proposal. More detailed instructions and rubric for each preparatory assignment will be distributed throughout the semester.

Final project: The final project will take the form of a 10-12 page research prospectus for a project on some disaster in American history – either one we’ve covered in class or another that you are interested in. A list of disasters and brief bibliography of readings concerning them will be circulated early in the semester to help you choose.

The final paper will contain:
• A topic statement
• A review of FIVE secondary sources (articles/chapters AND at least one book) from the relevant historical literature.
• An argument about the state of the field as exemplified by those secondary sources.
• A series of historical questions that remain to be answered on the topic.
• A discussion of the kinds of primary sources you might use to answer those questions.
• An identification of TWO archives that hold primary sources that might be of use.
• A brief primary source analysis that shows how you might use one of the identified primary sources to explore identified historical questions.

History event: Once during the semester, you must attend, and within one week, write a brief (250-350 word) report on a public history event. This could be a campus lecture, a lecture in a local library, a museum exhibit or (with prior approval) a historically themed movie, play or other performance. If you attend and report you will receive full credit. If you attend and do not report, or do not attend at all, you will receive no credit. The grade for the write-up for this event will replace your lowest blog post.