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Course ID:HIST 4990. 3 hours.
Course Title:Senior Thesis in History
Students research and write an original and substantial thesis under faculty mentorship. Students formulate their own research questions, identify and analyze primary sources, synthesize historiography, present and discuss their work as part of the research process, and explain the significance of their findings for understanding the past and present.
Athena Title:Senior Thesis in History
Nontraditional Format:This is a faculty-mentored, independent research course in which students gain the experience of a practicing historian by producing an original and in-depth thesis in the framework of a specific time period or theme about which department faculty members hold recognized expertise (e.g., Race in the Twentieth- Century U.S., The Early Middle Ages, or Nuclear Culture). The premise of the course is to offer a cohesive program of Experiential Learning in the discipline of history, both through extensive research in primary sources (the “raw data” of the field of history), as well as through new kinds of collegial engagement. Performing their own research for 10-12 hours per week, students independently formulate original research questions, learn to use both the physical and digital holdings of a research library, identify and analyze primary sources contained in a variety of online or brick-and-mortar archives, synthesize historiography, present and discuss their work in a group setting on a regular basis, explain in writing the significance of their findings for understanding the past and present, identify what questions still remain or follow from that research, and present their overall findings in a semi- public, end-of-semester colloquium. This class provides an in- depth and highly translatable version of particular aspects of our research capstone by holding students responsible for communicating their findings both to fellow student researchers as well as to faculty and the campus community. Students will benefit from one-to-one intensive mentoring with the supervising faculty member, who has particular field expertise not replicable elsewhere. The mentor will give extensive written and verbal feedback, will guide students to the appropriate troves of primary sources, and will help students continually re- formulate their research question, especially if they run into roadblocks (e.g., a sufficient number of primary sources do not exist for a particular topic). The mentor will also put the student in contact with historian experts in the field at other research universities across the country and beyond. This last task – a requirement of the course - will help students learn how to cultivate and tap into intellectual networks, articulate the import and originality of their research in concise communiqués with fellow researchers, and learn how to benefit from the suggestions and cautions of experienced practitioners in the field. Finally, the faculty mentor will help students prepare for their end-of-semester presentation, offering suggestions on audio-visual as well as spoken aspects of the public talk so as to most effectively and engagingly bring across the core significance of the student’s research.
Prerequisite:One 3000- or 4000-level HIST course
Semester Course
Offered fall and spring semester every year.
Grading System:A-F (Traditional)