Course objectives: In History 400, the Local History
Seminar, students will learn how to form a thesis, to create a research
strategy, to conduct primary and secondary source research, to find and
interpret these sources, and to write a coherent research paper.
In the end, the course provides students with the chance to use their
knowledge, and research and writing skills to produce a 15 to 20 page
essay (between 7,500 and 8,500 words of text, excluding notes) based on
primary sources and secondary literature that they will hand in at the
end of the semester. In the end, I have this advice: Don’t
Course Materials: Book Purchases.
John Storey, Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: A Reader.
Kevin Kruse and Thomas Segrue, editors, New Suburban History.
W. Dennis Keating, Norman Krumholz, and David C. Perry, editors, Cleveland: A Metropolitan Reader.
William Storey, Writing History.
Turabian, A Manual For Writers
of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations,
6th edition. This book is not listed at the bookstore as a book
required for this course, but I expect all students to have it, or an
older edition of it, by the end of the first week. It is available at
most book stores, including the Cleveland State Book Store. We will
refer to it throughout the semester and it provides students the style
guidelines for setting up footnotes or endnotes, and for compiling a
Students will write a one paragraph summery of all
for a particular class,
with the exception of William Storey
These assignments are due
on the date when
the class discusses the
compels students to read the mater
ial and to be ready to discuss it in class.
The goal is for you to be able to recognize an argument so you learn how to write an argument (thesis) for your own paper.
I will randomly collect ten (10) of these paragraphs, and they are worth 5 points each.
Topic: Due25 January 2008.
Students will hand in a one paragraph description of the topic for
their paper. By that time, I expect students to have conducted
preliminary research into the topic to make sure it is a viable
research project. While the specifics of the paper will undoubtedly
change, I will accept fundamental changes in the paper topics only
under extreme circumstances. Please take the time to consider your
topics carefully and as thoroughly as possible before you commit to it.
This assignment is worth 15 points.
Preliminary Bibliography: Due 15 February 2008. This
bibliography is a list of the primary and secondary sources you will
investigate to find material for your papers. I expect them to be in
proper format according to Turabian. This assignment is worth 15 points.
Due 3 March 2008. This
is a statement that outlines what you will write about in your paper.
This working thesis will also include a preliminary outline of your
paper and will include a list of primary and secondary sources you will
use or have already read. Use the guidelines established in Storey and
Turabian for your preliminary bibliography. I will mark down for
improper style in the bibliography. This is worth 50 points.
Presentations: Each Student will make a 5 to
10 minute presentation of his or her thesis, and will field questions
from the class. This is worth 25 points.
Due 25 April 2008. This
is a completed draft of your paper that you will submit to me.
Students will make an extra copy of their rough draft to give to a
fellow student, who will also read and review your paper. In all,
students should come to class with two hard copies of their
paper. I will comment fairly extensively on your papers, and
student reviewers will also be required to comment on your
papers. Reviewers should always remember that constructive
criticism is much easier to follow. Your rough draft is
Final Drafts: Due 7 May 2008.
Students should hand to the instructor a finished copy of their paper
on the day of the final exam. Any student who does not hand in a final
paper will fail the course. Students will also provide to the
professor copies of the rough drafts reviewed by me and a student
The final paper
LATE WORK WILL BE ACCEPTED ONLY UNDER
AND MUST BE ARRANGED WITH THE PROFESSOR BEFORE THE ASSIGNMENT IS DUE
14 January: Course Introduction: Writing a Research Paper.
16 January: Objectivity v. Subjectivity: Discuss Lepore's article.
18 January: Writing History: Discuss Storey, chaps. 1 and 2.
23 January: Growth of a City: Discuss Cleveland Reader, 1-48.
25 January: Writing History: Discuss Storey, chaps. 3 and 4. Topics Due.
28 January: The Great Migration: Discuss article by Geib.
30 January: The Black City: Discuss essay by Hirsch in New Suburban History.
1 February: Writing History: Discuss Storey, chaps. 5 through 8.
4 February: Neighborhoods: Discuss Borchert article and Cleveland Reader, 177-261.
6 February: Marketing the Suburbs: Discuss essay by Freund in New Suburban History.
8 February: Writing History: Discuss Storey, chaps. 6 through 10.
11 February: The Black City: Discuss Weise essay in New Suburban History.
13 February: Restricted Housing: Discuss Cleveland Reader, 263-308.
15 February: Restricted Suburbs: Disucss Jones-Correa essay in New Suburban History. Preliminary Bibliography Due.
20 February: Urban Politics: Discuss articles by Reuben and Segrue.
22 February: Urban Politics: Disuccss Cleveland Reader, 87-175.
25 Febraury: Redevelopment: Discuss Cleveland Reader, 309-370.
27 February: Suburbanization: Disuss Cohen article, and essay by Siskind in New Suburban History.
29 February: Dollars in the Suburbs: Discuss essays by Lassiter and Self in New Suburban History.
3 March: Suburban Politics: Discuss essay by O'Mara in New Suburan History. Working Thesis Due.
5 March: Suburban Politics:
Discuss essay by Frug in New Suburban History.
7 March: Researching your topics.
SPRING BREAK: 10 MARCH TO 16 MARCH. DO RESEARCH. DO NOT WASTE THIS TIME. DO RESEARCH.
17 March: Interpreting Sources: Discuss Marx and Engels essay in Storey, A Reader.
19 March: Interpreting Sources: Discuss Gramscii and Thompson essays in Storey, A Reader.
21 March: Working with sources.
24 March: Interpreting Gender: Discuss Ang and Tasker essays in Storey, A Reader.
26 March: Interpreting Race: West and hooks essays in Storey, A Reader.
28 March: Working with sources.
31 March: Interpreting Culture: Discuss Williams essay in Storey, A Reader.
2 April: Interpreting the Popular: Discuss Foucault essay in Storey, A Reader.
4 April: Interpreting the Popular: Discuss Bourdieu and Althusser essays in Storey, A Reader.
7 April: Setting up the paper: Arguments.
9 April: Setting up the paper: Sentences.
11 April: Setting up the paper: Paragraphs.
someone else's ideas or phrasing and representing those ideas or phrasing
as your own, either on purpose or through carelessness, is a serious offense
known as plagiarism. "Ideas or phrasing" includes written or spoken
material ranging from whole papers and paragraphs to sentences, and, indeed,
phrases, but it also includes statistics, lab results, and art work. "Someone
else" can mean a professional source, such as a published writer or critic
in a book, magazine, encyclopedia, or journal; an electronic resource such
as material we discover on the World Wide Web; another student at our school
or anywhere else; a paper-writing "service" (online or otherwise)
which offers to sell written papers for a fee.
Any student caught plagiarizing will fail the assignment, and perhaps the course. I will fail students who plagiarize.
Attendance. All class meetings
and individual sessions are mandatory. I will lower by one full
letter the grade of any student who misses more than 6 (six) classes,
the equivalent of two and one half weeks worth of classes. If a student
fails to turn in on time any of the prepatory assignments or misses an
individual conference or meeting, the professor will deduct one letter
grade per day from overall grade of the assignment. Failure to
turn in rough drafts, comments on papers assigned to students for
editing, or the final copy of the paper will result in failure for the
course. Exceptions may be made to these rules after speaking with
the instructor, and only if students make prior arrangements with the
instructor. These rules may be strict, but they are designed to
keep students on schedule and to avoid lingering incompletes. The
task of defining, researching and writing a term paper is difficult,
and become incredibly burdensome when one falls behind.
Seminar Method. The course
depends on group participation and on individual meetings with the
instructor. In meetings of the full
group, we will spend much of our time analyzing each other’s projects
critically but constructively. Active
participation in these discussions is imperative to the production of a quality
paper, and will make all of us develop stronger topics, and research and
writing skills. Individual meetings give
students the opportunity to discuss your project with the instructor and to ask
specific questions not otherwise addressed in the group meetings.
Steps Procedures. The course relies on a
method of teaching that divides the process of writing the research
paper into a series of steps: defining a topic; finding sources; doing
research; and, writing the paper. These steps rely on a variety
of small-scale written assignments that may appear to be busy work but
serve several purposes for both instructor and student. Please
keep in mind that my goal is for you to complete this course
A. Each step enables students to learn
something different about the most fundamental components of being an
active scholar. The separation of these methods into distinct
steps is somewhat artificial, but professional historians perform these
tasks routinely. Although historians sometimes do these steps
“in their heads,” they do them nonetheless and only do them
“in their heads” after years of practice. By
separating them, I hope to give students a clearer set of objectives
and to allow you to learn these methods a bit at a time. This
method also allows students to break down the process of writing a
research paper into manageable bits.
B. In that same light, any instructor or I
can lecture endlessly on what professional historians do, and I
probably will, but I sincerely believe that students will best learn
these tasks by doing them. Only then can students learn to
perform these tasks themselves. As a result, I stress concepts
such as historiography, and other steps such as writing an outline,
that historians wrestle with constantly. By grappling with these
issues, and with your topics, sources and organization and writing of a
paper, students will get a feeling of what it is historians do, and
students will contribute to historical knowledge while they do it.
C. Writing is the difficult and complicated
task of conveying certain ideas in a coherent, analytic manner.
No one does it right the first time. Further, I cannot hope to
catch every miscue or always point students in the best direction when
writing. Students will write consistently about their projects
during the semester, and will offer up a draft of their paper to
another student of my choice to offer constructive yet critical
commentary. As important as the work is to us, we must learn to
let others read it critically.
D. Above all, we are striving for the same goal:
I want you to finish your paper successfully as much as you do. The method employed in this class will break
down what appears to be an enormous project into a series of steps that can be
completed in a timely manner. If done on
time and correctly, much of what you write in the earlier steps will be
integrated into the later versions of the paper. In that respect, students will write their
papers as they proceed through the semester.
Further, by asking you to write smaller papers on a regular basis, I may
minimize the daunting task of writing the preliminary draft.
Assignments and Evaluation. A student’s final grade depends most
heavily on the final draft of the paper.
The paper, however, is considered to be the culmination of an entire semester’s
work, so students are required to complete all intermediate steps and,
particularly, to participate in the seminar.
Failure to complete the intermediate steps will result in a failing
grade. Failure to participate in the
class will also affect your grade.
Conversely, doing well on the preliminary assignments and participating
in the class can help your grade.
Students will also be required to hand in a portfolio that contains all
of the material produced during the course with my marks on them. You may hand in a copy of these papers, but
they must contain my comments as well.
Please place this in a binder or folder.
Peer Review and Assignments. Peer review is a key
component of this course, as it is in the academic world. I do
not send out articles for publication without having friends and
colleagues read the material. They sometimes too happily agree to
criticize my work, but I welcome that criticism. Although most of
your college classes have not prepared students for this kind of peer
review, I entirely expect you to take this work seriously. You
will be asked to write your comments on the preliminary draft of
another student’s paper, and that student will hand in your
comments with their final paper. If I see that you have taken
your job lightly, and I will know who reads what because I will assign
it, I will reduce the grade of the reviewer.