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Department of History

What are Hist 300 and 586?

Enrollment in both HIST 300 and HIST 586 is restricted to History majors only.

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:

  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 Fall 2020, the topics for HIST 300 are:
HIST 300 Introduction to Historical Thinking, Sec. A #13295
  • Prof. Suzanne Orr

T U 9:30 - 10:45 AM Calvin 317

Topic: U.S. Immigration History

In this course, students will produce an original research paper on American immigration history during the nineteenth or twentieth century. Topics may address major themes in immigration history, 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.

HIST 300 Introduction to Historical Thinking, Sec. B #14760
  • Prof. Mark Parillo

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

Topic: This section will use the World War II era as the chronological period for the students' own reading, research, and scholarly writing projects. NOTE: Students are not required or encouraged to select a military history topic - ANY topic of historical study during this period may be accepted.


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 Fall 2020, the topic for HIST 586 is:
HIST 586-A: Advanced Seminar in History #14763
  • Prof. Phil Tiemeyer

W 12:30 - 3:20 p.m. Calvin 308

Topic: Cold War Cultures

In this course, students will produce original research into one of the cultural conflicts that arose during—or were exacerbated by—the Cold War (1945-1991). One potential focus for students’ research is domestic affairs in the United States, including analysis of how various social movements (race-based civil rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, anti-war movements, and youth rebellions) were impacted by America’s global political engagements. Another potential focus is America’s cultural influence on other societies during the Cold War, as a result of military deployments as well as its deepening economic and diplomatic engagements around the globe.

Undergraduate Resources

History major checklist

Click the image for the checklist for History majors

Double major checklist

Click the image for the double-major checklist