What are Hist 300 and 586?
HIST 300, our "gateway class," provides history majors beginning their study 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:
- Convey a sense of "what it means to be a historian."
- Explain how a major in history is different from other majors.
- Introduce the concept of "historical thought," emphasizing the importance of perspective, complexity, and ambiguity in the historian's work.
- 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.
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.