What are Hist 300 and 586?

Enrollment in HIST 300 is open to all interested students; requires Departmental permission to enroll.

Enrollment in HIST 586 is restricted to History majors ONLY.

HIST 300, our "gateway class," provides history majors and other students with an introduction to the ideas, concepts, and skills required to earn a history degree. More specifically, we have designed the class to achieve the following:

  1. Convey a sense of "what it means to be a historian."
  2. Explain how a major in history is different from other majors.
  3. Introduce the concept of "historical thought," emphasizing the importance of perspective, complexity, and ambiguity in the historian's work.
  4. Provide instruction and exercises in the essential skills required of a history major. These include:
    • Locating and researching online databases.
    • Locating and researching manuscript collections.
    • Learning Chicago Manual of Style citation style.
    • Applying the fundamentals required to prepare research papers, book reviews, critical essays and case studies.
    • Locating and using reviews in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals.
    • Locating and assessing "academic" websites.
    • Preparing and delivering oral presentations.
    • Conducting oral interviews and presenting the results.
    • Mastering the basics of library use.
    • Preparing and delivering critiques.

For Spring 2023, the topic for HIST 300 is:

HIST 300-A: Introduction to Historical Thinking, #12158

  • Prof. Phil Tiemeyer

Tuesday 12:30 - 3:20 p.m. Calvin Hall 308

Topic: No specific topic.


HIST 586 focuses on developing the skills, techniques, and methods required to research and complete a major research project (what in former times would have been called your college "thesis"). Please note that 586s have broad organizing topics, e.g., Nineteenth-Century America or Imperialism. You will research a subject consistent with the broader topic of your particular 586.

The exact form of the final product varies by professor, but a 25-page research paper is typical. Your research paper will not merely offer a narrative history or explanation of your topic but instead will present and support a new perspective and argument that differs significantly from currently existing scholarship. First, you will be adding to historical knowledge through a new interpretation of your topic. Second, the sources you employ in preparing your paper will be mainly primary sources - documents produced by the historical actors involved. Third, you will drive much of the class's content and discussion. For example, in many 586s you will prepare a PowerPoint presentation of your penultimate draft and will be responsible for formal critiques of your classmates' work.

For Spring 2023, the topics for HIST 586 are:

HIST 586-A: Advanced Seminar in History #12328

  • Prof. Louise Breen

Wednesday 12:30 - 3:20 p.m. Calvin 317

Topic: The purpose of the Advanced Seminar is for students to write a piece of original scholarship based on primary sources. My section will focus on Early America through 1850, which affords a broad array of topics that students can work on, including the numerous wars fought from the colonial period through the War of 1812; the efforts of women and enslaved people to pursue greater liberties; the interaction of Euro-Americans and Native Americans through diplomacy, trade and conflict; the lived experience of religion, etc. In the first few weeks of the class, we will work on developing topics, so that they can begin producing drafts of the paper, offering and receiving peer criticisms along the way. Instruction and feedback on finding and interpreting primary sources, constructing an original argument, writing effectively, and footnoting, is provided.

HIST 586-B: Advanced Seminar in History #12329

  • Prof. Suzanne Orr

Tuesday 12:30 - 3:20 p.m. Calvin 308

Topic: U.S. immigration history. In this course, students will produce an original research paper on American history during the nineteenth or twentieth century. Examples of how to conduct historical research and construct arguments will focus on the theme for this course--U.S. immigration history. Topics related to this theme may address major issues such as the construction and meaning of citizenship; the development of immigration restriction, deportation, and the policing of borders; refugee policy; and how immigrants’ experiences differed because of race, class, and gender.

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