“History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.”



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History 490 Section: 01 Time: MWF 1:00-1:50 Room: GCB 184 Winter 2008


HISTORY 490 – HISTORICAL RESEARCH AND WRITING


History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.” (Napoleon Bonaparte)


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Professor: Michael G. Murdock Contact: SSC 145 / 675-3842

Office Hours: TTh 2:00-3:00 E-mail: michael.murdock@byuh.edu



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Aloha! History 490 represents the history major capstone requirement. Grounded firmly in the historiographical foundations provided by History 485, this class allows students to conceptualize, research, and promulgate a unique thesis. By this point in your educational career what historians do and how they do it should be clear. Your task here will be to convert that knowledge into practice by producing an original historical paper. Whether you become a professional historian or not this assignment represents a profoundly valuable opportunity. It will reflect the apex of your analytical, organization, management, creative, writing, cooperative, technical, library and persuasive skills. Employers, graduate and professional schools, grant boards, and others will ask to see this paper (or a writing sample like it) because it provides a window to your inner abilities, maturity, and competence. As a statement of your abilities, this paper is invaluable and should not be viewed as anything less.
This class highlights research rather than discussion. As a result we will meet rarely. Nevertheless, students are expected to keep to the course schedule and meet with me regularly for feedback and assistance. Students are also expected to present their research findings at the Undergraduate Research Conference held here on BYU-H campus. (Sadly, the Phi Alpha Theta conference will occur too early for us to present there this year. Nevertheless, I strongly encourage you to submit your papers to other conference opportunities and publication venues.)
Your research must be based on primary source materials. Major repositories include the BYU-Hawaii archives, published collections in the BYU-H or BYU-P libraries, the Bishop Museum, the UH libraries, and other archives and library collections. Primary sources on the internet vary dramatically in quality and should all be cleared with me before use. Due to the grievous complications involved in using live subjects, students are strongly discouraged from interviewing people. An enormous range of printed materials is available. Your challenge will be to find an appropriate theme that makes a significant contribution and can be supported by primary documents.
You are free to select any modern historical topic. Nevertheless, keep in mind that some categories serve better than others. Students choosing to research a modern Asia-related topic, for example, will enjoy unique mentoring and assistance from me. Students choosing Pacific Island topics have access to BYU-H’s excellent repositories. Students selecting US or British topics can find ample primary documents in English. Students capitalizing on the general topic of their 485 class have ready made familiarity with the historiography. Be sure to select a topic that provides some advantage beyond simply satisfying your curiosity. Recognize too that while researchers select topics, documents offer them. Do not choose a topic that isn’t “available.”
I intend to reinforce the value of effective life skills. Many students do as little as possible, believing that they’ll pursue excellence once they enter the “real world.” I say seek it now because the spirit that possesses your body at BYU-Hawaii will continue to possess it after a career, spouse, children, a mortgage, and a cat arrive. A university education is not about grabbing a diploma so you can score a high-paying job. It aims to shape the thoughts, behavior, and character you’ll develop during the first critical years of adulthood. Therefore, like the so-called “real world,” I reward behavior that augments class success and “de-reward” attitudes that detract. Your ability to be accountable, cooperate with others, and maintain a positive relationship with me will impact your grade.
I want all of you to succeed and am very sympathetic to concerns about language, health, performance schedules, work, family, and so forth. Most will earn my empathy and full support if they come to me early and sincerely. Students who routinely miss class or fail to submit assignments and wait to the end of the semester before seeking assistance, however, will find me less accommodating. Late work will be penalized 20%—no exceptions. One week after the deadline the penalty rises to 50%. No late work will be accepted after the final class of the semester.
Course Requirements
I. Participation—50 points: Good writers and researchers do not function in a vacuum. Interaction and associations provide feedback, clarity, and insight. Seek it. All students are expected to contribute thoughts, views, and critiques to each other, as well as attend the presentations of each others’ papers.
II. Research Assignments (RA)—40 points each: These basic steps help advance the preliminary research process.
RA#1: Topic Selection: Identify the general topic and describe the approach you used to find it. What justifies doing it? What kind of answers or materials do you need to look at to explore this topic?
RA#2: Book Notes: Submit book notes on the three most important books/articles dealing with your topic. Identify clearly what each book contains. Why is it important? How does it support your paper?
RA#3: Annotated Bibliography: Prepare an annotated bibliography encompassing no less than twenty secondary and primary items. Explain how each item will contribute to the completed paper. Again, clear any internet sites with me beforehand.
RA#4: Historiographical (or Theoretical) Essay: In two pages, outline your paper’s historiographical (or theoretical framework). Describe how your research fits into a larger debate or conceptual matrix. What have others said about your topic? What contribution do you make? Why are they significant?
RA#5: Thesis and Projected Outline: Identify a preliminary thesis question, the one you believe your research will answer. Append an outline identifying how you think the paper will develop.
II. Writing Assignments (WA): These steps represent the stage during which the research paper coalesces, evolves, and endures the polish needed to make it a clean, persuasive, and engaging final product.
WA#1: Research Proposal—50 points: Submit a research proposal that summarizes your specific topic, identifies a preliminary thesis, comments on the sources, and postulates expected findings. Be sure to include elements from RA#1, RA#3, RA#4, and RA#5.
WA#2: First Draft—50 points: Submit a rough draft in triplicate. In addition to the draft itself, be sure to include full references to primary source materials, a title page, the paper’s historiographical (or theoretical) context, a clear thesis statement, a conclusion explicating your primary arguments, and an annotated bibliography.
WA#3: Draft Critique Worksheets A & B—25 points each: Fill out a Draft Critique Worksheet on each of the two student drafts you will be critiquing. Provide useful commentary rather than meaningless one word responses.
WA#4: Final Draft—100 points: Hand in the final 25-30 page paper. Be sure that valued critique has been addressed if not incorporated. Polish several times over before submitting. Make this a solid reflection of you as a scholar. Standards presented in the texts below will be used to assess the quality of your writing. To receive a grade on the Final Draft, students must present at the Undergraduate Research Conference. Failure to present will deem the paper incomplete and thus ungraded.
Texts:

Kate Turabian. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.

William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. Elements of Style.

Meetings and Assignments Schedule
We will meet as a class on the following dates. Be prompt and ready. Actual assignments will be marked late if not in my hand by 1:30 on the day indicated. Be prompt and ready because the class needs you there. Keep in mind that further instruction and coordination will be provided on the days that we meet so be ready to spend the full hour together.
1. Jan 9-W Course Introduction and General Business

2. Jan 11-F RA#1 Due

4. Jan 16-W RA#2 Due

7. Jan 23-W RA#3 Due



9. Jan 28-M RA#4 Due

11. Feb 1-F RA#5 Due



15. Feb 11-M WA#1 Due

30. Mar 17-M WA #2 Due

33. Mar 24-M WA#3 Due

35. Mar 28-F Pick up critiques of your paper

43. Apr 16-W WA#4 Due

University Standards
While all students sign the honor code, there are still specific skills most students need to master over time in order to correctly cite sources, especially in this new age of the internet; as well as deal with the stress and strain of college life without resorting to cheating. Please know that as your professor I will notice instances of cheating on exams or plagiarizing on papers. If I catch you cheating, you will fail the course. See http://www.byu.edu/honorcode for specific examples of intentional, inadvertent plagiarism, and fabrication, falsification.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination against any participant in an educational program or activity that receives federal funds. The act is intended to eliminate sex discrimination in education. Title IX covers discrimination in programs, admissions, activities, and student-to-student sexual harassment. BYU’s policy against sexual harassment extends not only to employees of the university but to students as well. If you encounter unlawful sexual harassment or gender based discrimination, please talk to your professor; contact the Equal Employment Office at 378-5895 or 367-5689 (24-hours); or contact the Honor Code Office at 378-2847.



Brigham Young University is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates qualified persons with disabilities. If you have any disability which may impair your ability to complete this course successfully, please contact the Services for Students with Disabilities Office (378-2767). Reasonable academic accommodations are reviewed for all students who have qualified documented disabilities. Services are coordinated with the student and instructor by the SSD office. If you need assistance or if you feel you have been unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of disability, you may seek resolution through established grievance policy and procedures. You should contact the Equal Employment Office at 378-5895, D282 ASB.

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